Jimmy groaned and looked through blurry eyes at the glowing red numbers a short distance from his face. Eventually the crimson smudges came together and formed a sight that both shocked and horrified him.
The display read 8:09.
"Well shit," he said, his mouth dull and heavy from a night's rest, "Fucking useless alarm," he muttered, rolling off the lumpy mattress and pulling on some jeans that had lain sprawled on the (all things considered) relatively clean floor.
After working through his morning routine with utmost precision and efficiency, Jimmy finally clambered down the stairs. His grogginess had almost receded and all that was left was the usual bored, dissatisfied depression.
Wandering into the kitchen he half-heartedly threw some bread into the rusty old toaster on the worksurface. The toaster had a temperature dial of course, but that had long since stopped working and it was pretty hit-and-miss nowadays. Well, mostly miss, Jimmy thought to himself as the toaster worked its 'magic' on the poor, unsuspecting slices of bread held in its steely jaws.
He had grown pretty accustomed to the taste of charcoal in his mouth over the years - well, perhaps 'accustomed' is too strong a word. Suffice to say he could appreciate the extra dimension of flavour a bit of burning could add to his morning meals.
As he was buttering up a bread-knife, wondering idly which shade of black the toast would be, it arrived. Two extra-crispy, smoking black boards popped up out of the lumpy metal excuse for a toaster and landed with a hiss. One was on fire. One of the pieces of toast was actually on fire. Jimmy shook his head in disbelief as he blew out the miniature inferno and quickly threw the two burnt-out husks into the sink... where they promptly shattered.
"I'd sell my soul for a decent piece of toast," Jimmy sighed as he took two new, bready victims from the bag and placed them delicately into the toaster.
What happened next would probably be considered quite unusual by most folks, and Jimmy was no exception.
The toaster belched. A cloud of dark grey smoke erupted from the top, followed shortly by the forceful expulsion of the bread several feet into the air. The metal at the top two corners then contorted and twisted to form two short horns. Glowing red slits opened on the front face of the toaster and stared at Jimmy as he, naturally, stared back at the strange transformation.
"How unusual," he remarked.
"That can be arranged," the toaster eventually spoke after a short pause. Its voice was grating and metallic with a slight undertone of evil - and also rather squeaky.
"I'm sorry, what? What can be arranged?" Jimmy asked with an air of boredom, checking his wristwatch.
"What do you think?" the toaster squeaked, evidently slightly annoyed, "You said you'd sell your soul for a decent piece of toast! I'm here to arrange the deal."
"Are you serious? You were sent from hell to provide me with toast in exchange for my immortal soul?" Jimmy asked incredulously.
"Yes," the toaster responded.
"Does this happen often? I mean, do people often ask to sell their soul for toast?"
"You'd be surprised."
"How many times?"
"Look, it doesn't matter. Are you gonna give me your soul not?" the little toaster-demon fumed.
"Uhm, no. Look, I've got to go to work. Can you dispossess my toaster please?" Jimmy impatiently checked his watch again and started making his way to the kitchen door.
"It'd be pretty freakin' sweet," a little voice chirped up behind him.
"What? What will?"
"The toast of course! It'd be the best damn toast you've ever eaten. I mean, seriously, that shit will blow your mind."
Jimmy stopped and turned to the toaster that was staring at him intently, "Look, I appreciate you coming all the way from hell for this, but-"
"Don't mention it," the toaster interrupted.
"But," Jimmy continued, "I'm not really interested in exchanging my soul for some toast. Regardless of how amazing it is." And he turned to leave once again.
"Listen you piece of shit!" a squeaky voice raged, "You think I like being a toaster demon? It fucking sucks OK? I can't get any chicks. Not even the succubi, and it's their job to screw anything that moves!"
"Sorry to hear-"
"Shut the fuck up! If the next words out your mouth aren't 'Alright, you can have my soul', I'm gonna start burning shit."
"Yeah, so, I'm gonna call the police now," Jimmy said, pulling out his mobile and dialling 999.
"I warned you!" the toaster screeched. Flames erupted from its top, bellowing out and singeing the ceiling.
"Hey, stop that!" Jimmy called out, his mobile at his ear, "Yeah, hello, can I have the police please?"
The demonic toaster was rocking back and forth now, trying to unplug itself from the power socket; all the while flames were shooting out in various directions, shattering crockery and setting the tablecloth alight.
Jimmy had to speak up over the racket the now glowing red-hot toaster was making, "A toaster demon. Yeah it's burning stuff," he paused briefly to douse the flaming tablecloth, "I already told it I didn't want to sell my soul!"
The demon was growing larger now. The power cord was being whipped about like a tail and the little toaster body now sported little toaster arms and legs.
It hopped off the worksurface and began to advance on Jimmy who took a couple of steps back, slightly less certain of himself now.
"Just give me your soul and I won't have to rip it out of your chest," the now not-so-little demon said menacingly, "You'll get some damn tasty toast to boot!" it added.
"Uh, can you do that?" Jimmy asked hesitantly, "I mean, can you just take someone's soul without their consent? Isn't there some sort of Demon Code against it?"
"Hmm, no, mostly it's just frowned upon," the demon shrugged.
Jimmy was starting to get a bit uneasy now. Suddenly relief swept through him at the sound of his front door being kicked down violently. Not the usual emotion that accompanied this action.
There, stood in the now-doorless doorway was the tall, muscular figure of a man dressed in a tight-fitting, navy-blue policeman's uniform. The name-tag haphazardly pinned to his broad chest simply read 'Bob'.
"There was a report of a toaster-demon?" the policeman asked, peering around the entrance hallway.
"Why did you kick down my door if you weren't sure there was actually a demon here?" Jimmy called back from the kitchen.
"How else would I open the door?" came the reply.
"I dunno, the handle maybe?"
"Look, nevermind, the demon's here, in the kitchen," Jimmy called, sighing
As if on cue, the demon whipped its power-cord tail around, snaking out to wrap tightly around Jimmy's wrist. He let out a yelp and staggered.
The policeman skidded into the kitchen at the sound of the commotion, "Release that man at once!" his deep voice ordered, "You are under arrest for attempted soul theft!"
The demon threw Jimmy aside into a pile of broken and singed crockery and turned to the policeman, "And what can you possibly do to me, mortal?" the demon sneered, "I hail from the darkest nether regions on the Abyss!"
The policeman just shrugged.
"I'm going to tear you apart one muscle at a time," it growled, leaping at the bewildered policeman.
He took one look at the red-eyed and terrifying toaster bearing down on him, whipped out his handgun from the holster at his waist and fired several loud shots at point-blank into the possessed hunk of metal.
It fell back with an ear-splitting shriek and screeched along the tiled floor, collapsing in a mangled heap at Jimmy's feet.
"Bloody toaster demons," the policeman muttered before holstering his gun and making his way out of the kitchen.
"Hey, what do you mean 'bloody toaster demons', how many cases do you get of people trying to sell their soul for toast!?" Jimmy called out after him.
"You'd be surprised," was the only reply that came.
Jimmy stood up after a minute and dusted himself off, giving the quite unrecognisable toaster an idle kick.
"I think I'll just have Weetabix."