A Devil 悪魔
by Hoshi Shinichi 星新一
That lake, it was in a northern country. Though it wasn’t all that wide, it was terribly deep. However, now it was winter and a thick layer of ice had hardened over its surface.
N came here to enjoy his winter vacation. He had created a small circular hole in the lake’s ice. Through it, he dropped a line and attempted to fish. There were, however, no fish to be caught.
“This is dull! I don’t give a damn what, just please anything take a bite” he mumbled. As he lowered his fishing line further the rod began to quiver.
“It doesn’t feel like a fish, what have I got here now?
N pulled up his line. There attached to its end was an old pot.
“This? It was just this junk? Properly throwing it away would be a pain and I bet even if I tried to sell it no one would give me much for it. Well I might as well give it a look over.”
As N unsuspectingly removed its lid a black smoke began to escape from within. Taken by surprise N closed his eyes, then slowly, bit by bit opening them, there appeared standing next to the pot a figure he did not recognize; a small man with jet black skin, pointed ears and a tail.
“What do we have here?” Asked N, half in disbelief.
The figure answered with a a smirk, “I am a devil.”
“I see, well you do look like the devils I’ve seen drawn in books. Though I never thought they actually existed.”
“Those that don’t want to believe don’t have to believe. I am nevertheless right here.”
N rubbed his eyes several times, calmed himself down and asked timidly, “So why have you appeared here?”
“I was in that pot, sleeping at the bottom of the lake. When you pulled me up, you woke me. Alrighty, it has been a while but, why don’t I give something a try.”
“What can you do?”
“I can do anything, what do you want me to show you?”
N thought for a moment, then gave this proposal, “would you mind, would you please give me some money?”
“Huh? Oh that? No problem, look here”
The devil stuck his hand through the hole in the ice pulling it back out along with a single gold coin. It had been, almost anti-climatically, too easy. Tilting his head from side to side, N took the coin in his hand. There was no doubt, it was a real gold coin.
“Thank you very much! What an amazing power. You wouldn’t mind giving me a little more would you now?”
This time there was a handful of coins.
“Since you’re already at it, a little more…”
“Well your a greedy little fellow now aren’t you?”
“Say what you will, but this just isn’t an opportunity I can let pass, please.”
N begged persistently, doing so each time the devil then pulling out more coins. Soon N had amassed so many coins that the light they reflected was blinding.
“Alright, how about calling it quits now?” Said the devil. N, however, begged earnestly. N was sure that he would never be faced with big break such as this ever again.
“Please, don’t say that, just a little more. Just once more, please! I’m begging you. It’s only once more.”
The devil nodded, once again pulled out some golden coins and placed them there by his side.
It was just at that instant that an ominous sound began to echo. Due to the weight of the gold coins the ice had begun to crack. Realizing what was happening N frantically hurried for the shore.
Reaching it, N turned back in relief. The ice, making a frightening din broke and the gold coins, the pot, the devil, who was now laughing maniacally, they all disappeared as they sank to the bottom of the lake.
Translated Feb 24, 2009