The Devil’s Offspring

translated by Emad El-Din Aysha
A photograph of a hospital bed bathed in light in a room swathed in shadow
Photo by Edwin Tan /

Trigger warning for suicide and graphic violence.

Desperate to have a child, a couple takes an unorthodox route to conception. But did they bargain with the devil?

The door was unbolted. He was taken out, hands in shackles behind his back, being pulled violently till he reached the warden’s office. The guard asked permission to enter, harshly unbuckled the prisoner’s hands, then left while saying, “Affirmative, sir . . . Here is the accused, Kazim Al-Silihdar.”

The warden eyed him, a look of disgust on his face as he was not merely spying a killer but a man who had murdered the apple of his eye. To add insult to injury, he said, “You don’t deserve to live one second more.”

Those words by themselves were enough to kill Kazim a thousand times. The tears he had been holding back burst out, and he found himself screaming.

“Tears,” the warden said. “How could somebody like you cry, now?”

“You don’t know the whole truth,” Kazim replied. 

The warden rose from his chair, coming to circle around Kazim. “What could you possibly tell me? Everything’s clear as day,” he retorted. “You murdered your daughter, and your wife is locked up in a lunatic asylum.”

“No,” Kazim said. “Not everything. There are things that are hard to describe and explain.”

The warden granted him the right to talk.

“Then I’ll tell you from the beginning,” Kazim stated. First, he asked for a cigarette and the warden graciously lit it for him. He took several drags and began his tale, taking in a deep breath before explaining how it all started . . .

A love story erupted between Jackie and me after we met at a church wedding. We exchanged looks that first time, until I become a captive. Her smile never left her lips, and I kept getting closer and closer to her until we became like one person. There was no use in postponing, and we agreed to wed. 

After a year of marriage, problems began to creep into our nest. God didn’t gift us with a child, and it was then that my workload kept me away from her. I was the proud owner of a series of import firms, and I was known for my honesty and good reputation. But there’s always something to disturb your peaceful life. It’s a test from the Almighty in His wisdom.

An animal figure in red emerging from shadow
Illustration by Apirak /

There’s always something to disturb your peaceful life.

Not having a child drove Jacqueline wild. We went to so many doctors and had endless inspections, here and abroad, and the result as always was—there’s nothing to prevent you from having children. Jacqueline began searching on the internet and contacting major infertility institutes abroad until she finally found an advert from a hospital in Great Britain. 

A distinguished scientist in the field of infertility, Professor Antony Cohen, discovered a way to fertilize an embryo in vitro with preselected characteristics—down to the hair and nails. The desire to be a mom gnawed away at Jacqueline. She would have sold her soul to have a beautiful baby to hug and listen to its screams and wake up in the middle of the night and rush to it, just like any other normal mother. 

“Let’s give him a try. What do we have to lose?”

At first I became angry, and we were at loggerheads. How could I agree to have a child by design? That’s a violation of all the heavenly faiths. Our arguments got worse, and, as women do, she left the house to pressure me. Two months went by until I received a message from her family that she was ill. I went to her immediately, and the doctor told me point-blank that this was psychological, that her condition was getting worse, and that she had to be handled delicately. I embraced her and said, “I won’t leave you. I’m not losing you again.”

The following day, I went to the church to consult a priest I was close to. Once I told him, his features crumbled into an angry scowl. He spoke harshly to me before he finished and said, “You are reaping the fruits of the devil.”

I didn’t comprehend that phrase at the time, and I left the church knowing exactly what I’d do. All I could see was Jacqueline’s smile and how she’d come back to life again. 

I returned to the villa and decided to risk the experiment. I planned our visit, just the two of us. Everyone else thought we were on vacation and no more.

We went to that accursed institute and booked a meeting with the professor. As soon I set foot in that place, my skin began to crawl. I should have known better. 

I’ll tell you about the hellish occasion on which I met Antony Cohen. We had to do tests, endless tests, before we even met him. It was only then that they sent us a message for the meeting. But it was so odd. They even sent a car for us and brought us back, and we weren’t allowed to carry smartphones or mobile phones. It’s as if we were meeting an intelligence official, not a doctor. This only made me more and more afraid. I almost backed out, but my wife insisted on going through with it.

We were whisked away to a huge, dimly lit reception room. My heartbeat raced ahead, and my body transparently shook to the point that even my wife began to hesitate, but it was too late. A terrible feeling of dread, like death, was awaiting us. An office door opened and shut after we went in, the temperature on the inside much higher than elsewhere. My heart leapt out of my chest when he turned to face us. He wasn’t what I’d expected at all. He didn’t have an intellectual halo around him. Instead, he was young, in the peak of his youth, with deep pits for eyes and dark, lush hair with paper-white hands and a pale, withdrawn face as if the life had been sapped from him. 

I didn’t utter a word as he boasted about himself and his science. Then he eyed my wife and added, “Welcome to the beauty queen. You want a little girl, right?”

We couldn’t swallow as he said those words since we hadn’t told anyone about what sex we wanted, and no one had asked us if we wanted a boy or girl and what the child would look like. I couldn’t reply, mentally exhausted and exasperated.

“This is a lifetime policy,” he went on. “We will monitor this child constantly and any other child you have after the operation. The only proviso is that you don’t have a right to name the first child. That’s our prerogative. We will be taking samples from the two of you, fusing them together, with some genetic modifications to the fetus. Our property, again. We will stamp the child with the institute’s logo at the bottom of her back. It’ll look like a tattoo but will contain all of the child’s essential data.

An illustration of a child in shadow with glowing eyes standing between two adult figures in silhouette
Illustration by Apirak /

We will stamp the child with the institute’s logo at the bottom of her back. It’ll look like a tattoo but will contain all of the child’s essential data.

“Finally, you do not have the right to break the contract or reveal any of its details. Mrs. Jacqueline will be under our care the whole duration of her pregnancy until birth. And, for your information, we will donate a million dollars to the child. And anything your wife wants, she shall receive.”

I looked at the professor in a daze. All these preconditions. What was this, the devil’s bargain? Then I asked, “What if . . .”

He cut me off before I could finish. “There’s no ‘if’ about it. If you violate any of the conditions, your life will be turned upside down. And what’s to complain about if everything is on offer? Money and a child and health care. Do you want heaven as well? You’re greedy, my friend. Now leave us in peace.”

Then he turned his accursed face and spoke to my wife. “Mrs. Jacqueline, what color hair would you like for your daughter, Lileth?”

She looked him in the eye and said, “Lileth? Who’s that, professor?”

“Your daughter, my dear. I’ll make her a beauty queen.”

The shock was overwhelming. Jacqueline had pushed us into the caverns of Satan, and there was nothing left to do but submit to that heinous act which all religions forbid. How can I meet my Lord like this? Sell my seed, my offspring, for a lust that transformed us into a commodity to be bought and sold. I’d rather murder myself than relive that moment.

Jacqueline wanted our daughter to be blonde and blue-eyed, with a circular face and high intelligence. 

Months went by, with tests and “samples” being taken, then the injection for my wife. I had to travel back to Egypt in the meantime, until the time came.

Typically, the child came out, screaming like any other baby. As soon as she was out my darling wife began to hug her, only for the nurse to snatch her from between her hands and take her away. We were just an incubator for these people, genuine pigs. We had to wait a week to see her again. They stamped the newborn—a tattoo made up of three intersecting triangles—top, bottom, and side. And there was a code beneath that logo with all the essential details of the child.

A month went by before the professor came to us to boast some more and tell us that we could leave now. We returned to Cairo, and to an extent everything was all right. We kept doing the checkups every sixth months until Lileth was three. 

That’s when it all happened. She began screaming in the middle of the night, every single day. She couldn’t handle the sunlight until we injected her with a cocktail of drugs based on the professor’s instructions. Everyone spoke of how beautiful she was, but her skin was cold, as if her body had no spirit animating it. Then she reached five, and God gifted us with another child, Albert, the old-fashioned way, without any interference from the doctors. That’s when things began to slip. Lileth turned vicious, her eyes turning pitch-black. Endless screaming and wailing like a dog. Sometimes she’d be calm; other times, she couldn’t keep herself under control. We spoke to the professor about what was happening, and his answer was: changes happen over the years. Once she matures, everything will be fine. 

Albert turned two. One night, late, I was out in the garden, exhausted and preoccupied with the company accounts. My wife was having a bath, and Albert was by himself, playing. That’s when the screams began. Jacqueline rushed out of the bathroom and was speechless at what she saw. Albert’s neck was between Lileth’s teeth. She was chewing and his blood was pouring. I almost went insane. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Jacqueline began beating Lileth savagely, losing control. I trapped our daughter in her room and kept sobbing over my lost boy. My own true son. But what could I do? A crime had happened. Premeditated murder. 

I told the professor everything, in detail, immediately, and within an hour a team came over, accompanied by a vicious dog. The beast attacked my son and tore a portion of his neck off. I shot the animal with my hunting rifle. It was written off as an animal attack. My wife had to leave the villa for therapy. 

Where was my son? My wife? Where was I? There was only Lileth, residing on the throne by herself. Even my work, I lost it all, so I could devote myself to taking care of her, as if I’d become a lion tamer. I locked her in a dark, dank room once and went to the church to atone for my many sins. I sat on the confessional chair, and I revealed everything and cried and cried until I lost consciousness. The monk came to me afterward. He couldn’t believe my story, then he told me the same thing as the priest: “My friend, you have plucked the fruits of the devil.”

But then he added, “And you have to pull them up from the roots.” He also quoted a story from the Qur’an about Moses and the Khidr who killed a child on purpose to stop him from hurting his gentle, loving parents. “That was God’s wisdom on earth. God had denied you a child to test your faith, but you have thrown yourself in the embrace of Satan. Then God gifted you with a child and took him away to tell you: I am He who giveth and He who taketh away. Then He left your life to the Devil. Cleanse yourself, my boy.”

After revealing all my secrets, I left the church and went straight back to the villa knowing what would happen to me if I declared what I’d done. 

I went into “her” room only to find her glued to the ceiling. Then she attacked me, cursing me for keeping her locked up. She bit into me, so I pushed her away, violently. Then she smashed open the door. I found myself running again to the armory to get my hunting rifle as she clawed at me from behind. I finally aimed my rifle at her chest. She didn’t die. That’s when I knew she was satanic.

I lay on the ground for a moment of rest, then I tied her up before she could regain consciousness. I dragged her blood-soaked body to the garden and tied her to a tree. I got a canister of fuel from my car and poured it all over her. I lit a match and threw it on her.

An illustration of a demonic red face emerging from the darkness over the silhouette of a child
Illustration by Apirak /

She began to wail like an animal, becoming some satanic chimera that walked the earth.

She began to wail like an animal, becoming some satanic chimera that walked the earth. I sat there and lit a cigarette, watching what was happening, with a smile on my face. I saw her turn to ash, nothing left of her but dust. Then I went to the police to hand myself in, facing all the consequences . . .

“And now I can live free. Now I can meet my God. That, Mr. Warden, is my story. Now please, let me return to my cell. I deserve my sentence.” 

After Kazim had completed his story with that demonic fetus, he returned to his cell to rest. But the following day it happened.

The prison guard called out to the warden over and over again.

“What happened? What’s all this yelling?”

“Sir, it’s the prisoner, Kazim.”

“What’s happened to him?” the warden replied. “Let me into his cell.”

They entered his cell and found him butchered. Next to him was a slip of paper with the three interlocking triangles.

The warden tore up the paper with the logo and told the guard to get him a knife. He soaked the knife in Kazim’s blood and then placed it by his side. 

Translation from the Arabic

Mahmoud Fikry is an Egyptian author, born in the Suez province. The author of novels and award-winning short fiction, he has numerous publications in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror/thriller genres. These include Malgia (an adventure story involving both science fiction and myths/magic) and Metaverse (in the cyberpunk genre but also fantasy/historical). Both books were presented at the Cairo International Book Fair, and Metaverse attained the status of the most widely read novel by its publishing house. 

Emad El-Din Aysha is an academic researcher, author, translator, and freelance journalist residing in Cairo, Egypt. He is a native speaker of both English and Arabic and a member of the Egyptian Writers’ Union and Egyptian Society for Science Fiction. He has one sci-fi anthology to his name (in Arabic) and one nonfiction book (in English) as a coauthor and coeditor, Arab and Muslim Science Fiction: Critical Essays (McFarland, 2022). He has also translated a variety of novels, in different genres, from Arabic to English by Egyptian authors.