My friends all say my English is terrible, so I’m writing to practice my English. It isn’t really my first language, so feel free to point out all the grammatical mistakes and awkward wordings if you may.


Chen Yi knew he was going to fail the Honors Analysis final. He knew he couldn’t do it.

The exam was in a week, and he knew he would fail. The kids in his class were too smart. The professor was too hard. Everything was stacked against him.

Fuck, I shouldn’t have watched that one episode of Friends last week.

Chen Yi knew he was a great student. He took multivariable calculus as a freshman in high school. He never got a grade that wasn’t an A before. He got in every school that exists on the US News Word Report ranking, but he decided to come here.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. What was I thinking? I should’ve taken that Harvard offer.

He knew that studying was hopeless against the monsters in his class, the geniuses who won international math Olympiad, the other freshmen who already had a math publication, the kids who were in MENSA. He couldn’t do it against them.

“I would give anything right now to get an A in this class!”

His voice lightly echoed off the thin walls of his dorm room.

“That can be arranged…”


Chen Yi turned around and…

“GAH! How’d you get in here?!”

The man simply stroked his goatee and smirked.

“I-I’m calling the cops!”

The man stroked his goatee once more, and smiled slyly.

“Well, that’s up to you. I thought you were willing to trade me anything to get an A in Honors Analysis.”


“That’s right, I’m the devil. And for a part of your soul, I am willing to grant you an A in Honors Analysis.”


“And you see, contrary to my negative public opinion, I am neither a price gouger nor an unfair entity. I simply provide you a service for something I desire.”

Chen Yi suddenly calmed down. He was willing to give this a try. He needed this. He was certain he’d get a C or worse if he took the exam in his current state. He needed a boost, or else his math career would be over. Then he would no longer be part of the elite. He couldn’t complete his dream and work in high frequency trading. He would have wasted his life studying for nothing.

“Ok…so, my soul, you say?”

“Not even! See, your soul is a rather strong one, as you will accomplish much for this Earth in your lifetime. All I ask is a little part of it. For something as simple as an A in Honors Analysis, I only ask for 1/1000th of your soul.”

“What? That’s it?” Chen Yi questioned immediately.

“I see you’ve entered negotiation mode rather quickly. Yes, that’s it.”


Chen Yi contemplated for a moment.


“I feel like there’s something you aren’t disclosing to me. What are the consequences of losing 1/1000th of my soul?” doubted Chen Yi.

“Not much for you. In fact, depending on the type of person you are nothing at all for you! You see your soul simply represents what you will bring in the future. It is an entity of positive energy that has yet to be released. I am simply siphoning some of this energy away! Since its only 1/1000th, you would probably be operating normally. The alterations in your future for this transaction are minimal. I promise!”

“…well. What’s in it for you?”

“What do you mean?” the man with the goatee asked, stroking his goatee questioningly.

“You see,” Chen Yi stated, “human beings don’t do things for no reason. Why are you willing to do me this service for such a small price?”

The devil cracked up laughing, with Chen Yi staring at him with his stone cold face. He fell on the floor and began rolling on the floor laughing. He seemed to be unable to stop, but Chen Yi patiently waited with a calm face. He suddenly rose from the floor and got inches away from Chen Yi’s face.

“Because, you see….I’m not a human. I’m a devil.”

Chen Yi uncomfortably drew himself away from the man with the goatee, and lay down on his bed.

“Well?” the man with the goatee pressed, “what will it be?”

“Will you give me a moment to think?” exclaimed Chen Yi. He stared at the ceiling and pondered. What could go wrong if I lose 1/1000th of my soul? I need a cost benefit analysis. I couldn’t understand his positive energy trash. He could very well not deliver. How can I trust him? I best test him out first.

“Ok, I’ve come to my conclusion. My answer is no,” concluded Chen Yi.

The man with the goatee stared at him in astonishment, “Wow that is a first. Congratulations. But I must ask, why?”

“Because you see,” noted Chen Yi, “I have no guarantee of you delivering. That is all. I am willing to take the risk in the side of my price, but I simply don’t want to pay and not receive anything in return.”

The man with the goatee once again started rolling on the floor laughing. He rolled back and forth between Chen Yi and the door multiple times before he stopped.

“I see, I see. There is more to make from dealing with you kids destined for greatness, but you are harder to crack indeed! Very well, what if I gave you one for free? I am an honest businessman after all. And if this can just lead to one more potential business opportunity with someone like you, I would be very happy indeed. So, how about it? I can give you something simple for free. Something you would think to be impossible. Go ahead, try me! Though of course, try and keep the costs down for me. Nothing as difficult as an A in Honors Analysis would you!”

Chen Yi stared at the man with the goatee. He was intrigued ever so slightly. And besides, it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. He can always turn away if it doesn’t work out.

“Ok. Bring me Scarlett Johansson,” requested Chen Yi.

Once again, the man with the goatee started rolling furiously on the floor laughing. He abruptly stood up, snapped his fingers, and Scarlett Johansson walked through the door.

Chen Yi reached out his hands to touch her, but the man with the goatee slapped his hand away.

“Well, this is only a trial after all. That would cost you extra,” the man with the goatee explained with a wide grin on his face.

Chen Yi crossed his arms as Scarlett Johansson walked out the door.

“Very well, I at least believe you have the power to deliver to some degree. While this may be interesting for later, for now, I want my A in Honors Analysis,” demanded Chen Yi.

“Ah, to easy, sir,” said the man with the goatee as he snapped his fingers.

“Great. So I’ll get an A now?” asked Chen Yi.

“Yes, you will. And now, for my payment…” the man with the goatee cackled as he reached towards Chen Yi’s chest.

Chen Yi felt a light tingling in his chest that spread to the ends of all his limbs. He felt a light feeling of something draining out of him, but he did not give it much thought.

“And, we are done sir,” smiled the man with the goatee, “it was a pleasure doing business with you. Enjoy your A!”

The man with the goatee disappeared in a blink of an eye, and soon Chen Yi was back to being alone in his room. And for the first time since he came to the University of Chicago, he slept before 3 a.m.

to be continued…