It is known that the devil likes to challenge certain individuals for their soul. What is not as well known is that he once challenged Jesus to a writing contest. Here is how the story may have unfolded.
During the month of November, people all across the planet participate in National Novel Writing Month. Their goal is to write 50K words toward a rough draft of a novel. During this event, the devil sauntered into a local coffeehouse where Jesus and a few of his disciples were enjoying coffee and scones. The devil challenged Jesus to a writing contest. If the devil could write 50K words before the end of November, he would take Jesus’ soul.
The son of god quirked a grin and gave a wink to the devil. “I accept your challenge. If you win, you have my soul. If I win, you will no longer torment humanity.” The two shook on the challenge, as gentlemen often do. The disciples witnessed the bargain, and they began.
The devil ordered a Vente coffee with an extra shot of espresso before taking a chair at a little table in the shadows. He opened his laptop and began to write the rough draft of a novel. It would be a story about lust and power, of world conquest and domination. The stuff of best-sellers. His fingers hammered the chiclets of his writing machine, creating a staccato tattoo. The devil consigned his inner editor to hell where it would never slow his progress. Smoke issued from his ears. His face contorted as his brain worked on the devilish plot points of his novel. He “Beat the Cat”, struck out three acts, and followed the hero’s journey to the bitter end. With each passing day, his word count increased.
Now and then, the devil would look up from his labor to watch his prey’s progress. Time was passing. Soon the month would be over and the challenge would be complete. He would own the soul of Jesus at long last.
At the same time, Jesus sat on the opposite side of the coffeehouse. A chilly decaf coffee frappe perched beside him. His table located on the sunny side of the coffeehouse, his laptop loaded with Scrivener. Jesus set his daily target goal of 1667 words per day. With organic intuition, wrote a character-driven novel full of the trials that people face in their lives. Was it fate or free will that drove his characters? Only they would know which. Jesus trusted the characters to tell him what to write. He let his story unfold, writing by the seat of his pants. He seldom glanced at the devil. In tune with his inner muse, Jesus wrote his story in a slow and steady manner.
On the last day of November, the devil finished his novel. He attempted to upload it into the Nanowrimo word verifier, but the wifi at the coffeehouse was not running at full speed. “Upload, damn it! I want to win his soul.” The devil glared at his laptop and in a fit of rage, struck the machine with his hand.
There was a gurgle and a hiss. A blue light from the screen shone on the devil’s red face. “No! Where is my novel?” The devil did all he could to coax the laptop back to life, turning the machine off before rebooting the computer. When the operating system returned, he went back to his work.
“Corruption! It is gone. All gone.” The devil glared at Jesus who had plugged in his myfi and was about to upload his completed novel to the Nanowrimo verification page. The devil pointed a long finger at Jesus’ laptop and a bolt of lightning issued forth. His prey’s machine exploded, causing Jesus and his disciples to duck away from the debris. The devil rose to his feet and put his hands on his hips. “You will never finish now, your soul is mine!”
Jesus held up his hand. “It is not over yet. I have until midnight to upload my novel and earn my certificate.”
The devil sneered. “How can you? Your laptop is destroyed.”
Jesus shook his head in a gentle manner and held up a thumbdrive. Beside him, one of his disciples intoned, “Don’t you know? Jesus always saves.”
After a particularly grueling Nanowrimo where I met my challenge of writing 50K words, this story popped into my head and I quickly wrote it down, thinking that it would allow me to unwind after the event. Later, I submitted it to Far Horizons Magazine and it would become my first published fantasy fiction.