The Devil Wears Nike

📅 Published on October 11, 2021

“The Devil Wears Nike”

Written by Richard Morgan
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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When there was a chill in the air and there were more jack-o-lanterns than plain pumpkins on every doorstep, I got called out to investigate a fresh crime scene. Somebody thought that it would be real cute to firebomb a Catholic church.

Now this wasn’t one of those boxy, smaller modern churches that you could level with a few Molotovs, no sir. This was one of those ancient, cathedral-grade churches with high ceilings and priceless paintings of angels with titties and pee-pees flying around.

I suppose it’s shocking enough that someone chose to target a piece of history like that. But even more shocking was the way that the blaze had gotten so intense.

Every fire truck we had at hand was there, and the fire just wouldn’t quit.

All that water and all those brave firefighters got for their efforts was a lot of steam.

It was days before the scene was cool enough to walk on. There was molten rock. The heat was so intense that some of the masonry melted. And there hadn’t been any explosions. Just the fire.

There were a few hundred people inside when the deed was done. It was some kind of late-night worship thing, and the arsonist chose that it wouldn’t be enough to just destroy the building. There had to be some lives lost as well. Forensics could only turn up one small bone fragment. The rest of the bodies had basically been cremated on site.

Like those bodies, there wasn’t much of a church left. Had any more damage been done, there might not have been any evidence that a giant church had even been there.

So they were desperate to get some kind of lead on what was used, let alone what kind of person would do such a thing. That’s why they got me out there to dig around.

I could feel the heat of the ground through my shoes. I didn’t know what they expected me to find just digging around in all the ashes.

Well, I found the first domino in a sequence of many.

It was a footprint. There were lots of those with all the law enforcement and rubberneckers about, but this footprint kinda stood out. It was made in the mud, if the crime scene hadn’t been a church, I might not have paid it so much mind.

The sole of the shoe had left the imprint of a pentagram. And not just any five-pointed star. This was the kind shaped like the head of a goat with a strange symbol at the end of each point. Not exactly the kind of shoe you’d see on the shelf at Footlocker. It was either a very limited run or it was custom made.

The next domino was the slender brownish-purple leaf that was laying in the footprint.

That leaf would have meant nothing to anyone else but me. Cuz you see, well, it was… I had been banging the chief of police’s wife for months. She and her husband and her two kids, they all lived on this really ritzy lakefront property. There was one park by the lake that was like the garden of Eden. The trees and flowers were so thick that they felt like walls that kept her and me a secret. Sheltered us.

Most rich white people are afraid to be out at night no matter where they live, so once the sun went down we had that park to ourselves, and well, we could pretty much do whatever we wanted.

There was one sort of flowering shrub in that park that overpowered everything. The smell stayed in your clothes and your hair.

Very suddenly that police chief transferred out and put his house on the market. Either it happened suddenly or she just decided not to tell me about it. Which was merciful when I think about it.

But just like that, she was gone. Hurt more than I thought it would. Closest thing to love I ever felt. Even though that’s not what it was. And that scent, that shrub, that was all I had to remember her by.

I got all sentimental and tried to find that shrub to keep it at home. There wasn’t a single nursery or greenhouse or nothing that carried it or could get it in. I kept my eyes and nose open for that shrub when I was out on the job. I swear it grew nowhere else in town except that park on the lakeshore.

And there was one of the leaves, lying there in the only clue I had found all day. I couldn’t turn a blind eye to it.

After a quick nip from the flask, I gathered myself to go pay a visit to the lakeshore. It had been a few months since I’d been there.

I don’t know if the vodka buffered me from the nostalgia or made it worse, but as soon as I smelled those flowering shubs, I pretty much forgot I was there on official business. It was like I was in a trance as I walked down the path paved with concrete that had been fancied up to look like cobblestone.

There could have been a mountain of evidence in front of me, a dead body or something and I wouldn’t have seen it. I missed her. I wondered if she missed me. Stuck with a man with plenty of money but no brains, not even enough to know that his own wife was stepping out on him.

Speaking of steps, there was the tread of that infernal sneaker imprinted on the brick path in dried mud. Pentagram, goat’s head and all.

The trail led to… what? The shrine of the Virgin Mary? It was just about the biggest and most extravagant shrine to the girl I had ever seen. Says something about the money that’s in the property on that end of town.

Either this culprit was really burning the candle from both ends or… hmm…

The shrine was surrounded by extremely thick greenery and shrubs. Yes, those shrubs. I took a deep breath like I was about to jump into a pool on the deep end, and I got down on all fours and pushed my way into the foliage that was starting to turn colors.

I found that the ground at the base of the shrine had been disturbed recently. Somebody had no clue how to cover their tracks. It didn’t take much to find the cavity in the earth where the ground ended and the shrine began. It was a simple waterproof duffel bag wedged in there.

It could have been my imagination, but I swear that bag felt a little warm.

I looked it over. Something about it told me that it hadn’t been sitting long. I threw my eyes around to make sure that I was alone, and I unzipped it.

The shoes were the very first thing that I saw. I kinda felt them and saw them both. If the footprint was blatantly evil looking the shoes were something else entirely. They were black with red accents, oh, and never mind the shiny metal pentagram hanging from one of the shoelaces. I turned it over and what did I see, but the very sole that had left the footprint at the scene of the crime. I was thrilled to have made the discovery on my first hunch, but I was also disappointed that it had been so easy. So sue me, i like a little bit of a challenge. This character just fell into my paws without a fight. But then again, who else would have recognized the foliage from that shrub? Leave it to a sinner to incriminate the devil.

I thoughtlessly started to trace the diabolical patterns on the bottom of the shoe. I burned my finger and I dropped the shoe. I couldn’t believe it. To the point that I had to do it again. That time I tried a finger I didn’t think I’d use much. Agh! It happened again! I felt inside the bag for anything that was warm, anything that could give me a rational explanation for what I was experiencing. And nope. The shoe was hot. So I put my hand inside the shoe. Nothing.

That’s when I did one of the dumbest things I think I ever did. I took off my shoes and proceeded to put the evidence on my own feet. I had thought they might be a size too small, but when I got them on, they fit great. Maybe they uh, stretched or something.

The shoes had a few metal accents besides the dominant pentagram that proudly hung in the middle of the shoe. I thought about putting on some latex gloves to inspect further, but I was already wearing both of the infernal things on my feet. My DNA was gonna be in there no matter how I went about it. I started running my fingers along every part of the shoes like a blind man trying to read every little bit of information.

I found nothing. Not until I touched one of the metal pentagrams. The shine looked genuine, like they could have been a low-carat gold. I lifted it up to see how the light bounced off of it, but the little thing was so sharp that it nicked me. Ow! I had barely touched it! How razor-sharp was that thing?

The cut spilled a few warm beads onto the metal. I didn’t want my DNA on it like that. I thought my eyes must be playing tricks on me. Cuz it looked like the blood was soaked into the metal. I tilted my foot a bit, looking for the shine of my blood creeping under the metal symbol. But no, the shoe was dry.

The pentagram drank my blood?

I got a bad feeling about the whole thing and I went to untie the shoelaces. The knot wouldn’t budge. I tried the little kid method and got a grip on the shoe with both hands and pulled. The shoe’s hold on my foot was sure. Same went for the other shoe.

I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that at all. The devil had a death grip on my feet or something. But then I noticed something. The shoe that drank my blood, the metal of the pentagram had turned a coppery red color, like my blood had mixed in with the metal. The other one still had that light gold color. And that foot started to get warm. I got the message all too quick.

“Uh-uh. No way, uh-uh,” I said.

It didn’t like that. It got even warmer.

Okay, okay.  Jesus.

I touched the other pentagram and my skin cut all too easy, like I was an old man.

The metal drank deep and turned that copper color. Then my foot stopped burning.

“Okay, you got what you want. Now what? Let me go now?”

I didn’t stop to think if it would be a good or a bad idea to directly address a pair of evil shoes. Cuz they listened. Or something was listening. I watched as my shadow underneath me got darker. Two long shadows like tentacles writhed out from underneath me and then snaked across the ground and up and around the shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Now this particular representation of Mary looked like she could have been the daughter of Marilyn Monroe. The hair was blonde and the rags looked expensive, and I swear she was wearing some kinda lipstick.

They had stuck to tradition in one detail, her eyes were closed. Well, they opened. They were like two embers. The expensive weatherproof paint began to peel away and the gray stone underneath was laid bare. The statue of Mary grinned at me. She had sharp teeth. She opened her mouth like she was going to say something. But she never did, her mouth kept opening, kept widening. Her chin sank further and further past her breasts, past her waist, down to her feet.

Next thing I knew, that statue’s mouth had become as wide and tall as me, and it was filled with a shivering crimson light. A doorway. The frickin thing had stretched into a doorway, or a, uh, a portal of some kind. Sounds, awful sounds, drifted out of it. Cries. Screams. Wailing. Misery. Human misery. Somewhere in the mix was laughter and howling. I thought it was thunder at first. But thunder doesn’t laugh.

My mind was racing. I ran my hands along the aperture of the stretched-out mouth of the virgin Mary that formed that twisted portal. It was a little too warm to rest my hand on. It was solid. A wave of heat hit me in the face and I had to step back, tears rushing up to rescue my seared eyes.

I snapped back to the moment when I heard crazy laughter that was coming closer. I got my revolver out and cocked the hammer and backed up good and far from our lady’s gaping mouth.

It was a kid. Maybe early twenties. He was sweating buckets. His face was blackened with soot and ash. Madness shone in his eyes and his yellow teeth. He was wearing something that looked an awful lot like the robe or whatever was in that bag I found. He was also wearing those sneakers. Their metal pentagrams were glowing like molten rock. His whole shape was twitching with the jerky movements of a squirrel.

“Marcus?” he said in a voice that oozed instability. “Is that you?”

I wasn’t sure if I should answer or not.

“We’ve been waiting for you and the new recruit for a long time, Marcus. We’re getting tired of waiting. We might have to haze you along with him.”

Acting on instinct, I reached into the duffel bag and pulled out the robe and tucked it under my arm.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” I said, stepping forward. Kid jumped like a crackhead hearing a police siren.

“It’s ok. Marcus is indisposed at the moment. I’m on my own for this round.”

He looked me up and down, did some kind of mental calculation and apparently arrived at an answer that made sense to him.

“Well then. Are you ready to burn a church with the very fires of Hell?” he said, salivating.

“Oh, is that what’s on the itinerary?”

“Marcus should have told you.”

“Orientation was cut short. He said you’d guide me the rest of the way.”

“Marcus usually isn’t that sloppy. How do I know you’re telling me the truth?”

“I got the portal open didn’t I?”

“Okay, fine. Make sure you have your Hell pellets.”

He must have read the confusion on my face, because he patted the pocket of his robe. I took that as my cue to put on the thing I was carrying. Like the shoes, it didn’t seem like it should fit. But it did, as if by magic.

I reached into my pockets and found some things that felt like heavy metal balls, like musket shot or ball bearings.

I pulled out what I expected to see, something that looked like a round lump of lead. It smoked where it made contact with my skin.

My new friend nodded and said “Okay, let’s go,” and he went into Mary’s mouth, practically skipping along the way, whistling. I took a deep breath and followed.

If I had been swallowed alive by a gigantic snake with a thorny throat, that’s the closest thing I could compare walking down that corridor. Blood-red light lit the far end, which seemed to be an eternity away. But we reached the end and I found myself inside a cavern of porous rock where everything was jagged and spiky and rough.

There was a group of more kids in robes. They each had a set of those evil sneakers poking out from under their clothes. The volcanic rock, or whatever it was, had formed a natural platform from which one of them stood and prepared to hold a meeting.

Every last one of them were kids, but they also were kids that had each seen 40 miles of bad road. They were all missing teeth and had lines on their faces that had no place on the face of anyone under fifty.

The one on stage had eyes that never stopped looking like he was shocked, and he surveyed the room like a bug-eyed fish.

“Where’s Marcus?” he said.

“He wasn’t able to make it. But he sent in the latest recruit,” said my new associate, as he gestured to me. The shift in the room was solid enough to be a billy club. They all looked at me, this hulking, aged specimen that was sorely out of place.

“Don’t you think you’re getting started a little late in life?” one of them said. Even in the red-tinted light of that chamber, I could tell that the face of the kid on the platform had turned colors.

“You dare mock the choice of Marcus, my second in command?”

Before the kid could say he was sorry and that he’d never do it again, the others seized him and took his robe and his shoes. He must have known what that meant because he howled like a monkey. He was then dragged to one of the exits to the cavern, where there was a lot more light, hinting at an open area.

“You are excommunicated!” the kid on the platform said.

Just as soon as the orange light fell on him from that opening, all manners of claws and tentacles were on him and the meat was stripped from his bones before the ushers had let go of him. It was a wonder they weren’t injured along with him.

I must have been transfixed because I was startled when the kid onstage was suddenly next to me, taking me by the elbow.

“Welcome to your new family, child,” he said. Dang, that kid looked high.

“I’m guessing the robes and the shoes are more than just uniforms, eh?”

“Indeed, child, indeed. The robes cause the minions of darkness to turn a blind eye. And the shoes, oh, those are new.”

“Yeah, I haven’t seen anything like ’em until recent.”

“Brand new shoes, child, brand new shoes. They’re the first of their kind. They were invented by one of our top officers who has infiltrated the popular music scene.”

“A popular musician is a disciple of the devil, huh?”

“Most of them claim to be, but only a handful are the real thing. But ohhh, yesss, he performed a foul new ritual of his own design and transmuted the body of a glutton into these wonderful shoes. They can open the gates to Hell and they can open gates out of Hell.”

“How do you know it was the body of a glutton?”

“There were 666 pairs of shoes made from just one body.”

“Ah, I see.”

“So, this night, child, this night, you prove your worthiness of wearing your shoes. With the Hell pellets you have in your pocket, you are going to start a fire at a church that cannot be put out.”

I took out one of those balls and held it up. “You mean with one of these?” The kid nodded vigorously. I looked for a target to test it on. There was this ugly cube of some kind, and I thought it was as good a mark as any. But when I drew my arm back for the toss, the little leader guy nearly messed himself.

“Don’t do that! You must not defile the dark altar!”

“The what?”

“The dark altar. It’s the means by which Hell has granted us safe passage through the realm. The robes and the shoes are an extension of its power.”

“Eh. So if the altar’s defiled, all Hell turns on you.”


“That sounds like a living nightmare.”


I opened my robe and immediately started peeing on the altar, and I hocked up a big grayish-green loogie and spat it, you know, just for good measure. Monstrous, bestial roars and squeals filled the cavern. I zipped up my fly and began running back the way I came.

The conduit or whatever that took me down into Hell was still open. I heard the sound of my brethren getting butchered behind me. I was one step ahead of them and I made it out.

I erupted out of the portal like a cannonball, and I nearly plowed over a kid. It appeared that the original user of the shoes and the other accouterments that went with them had decided to come back for his gear.

He was mostly what I had expected. A kid of about fourteen or fifteen. Like the others, he looked much older. His mouth dropped open when he saw me, exposing all three of his teeth.

I didn’t waste any time. I grabbed him by the hair.

“Nice to meetcha, I’m from Hell!” I said as I grabbed him by his long, scraggly hair.

“No you’re not, I’m from Hell!” he protested. I didn’t expect this. He just might have been dumb enough to give me some useful information.

“No, I’m the one wearing the devil’s shoes!”

“They’re my devil shoes! You stole them from me! I’m the real disciple of the devil!”

“Oh, yeah? Prove it.” I threw him down on the ground. His lower jaw protruded and his sparse teeth looked like angry little fingernails.

“I used fire from Hell to burn down a church. Then I used the shoes to escape into Hell itself.”

“And that’s the confession I’ve been waiting for! I got enough now to put you away in a place where you’ll wish you had a portal to Hell, ” I said just a little too loud. He got that OH CRAP look on his face.

“Oh, yeah? Well, I know all about you and the chief of police’s wife,”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I bluffed.

“The devil does. He was the one that set you up for temptation. So if you take me down, I’m taking you down. Neener neener neener!”

I dug my fingers deep in his scalp and held him up like a prized trout.

I looked him up and down and I took a deep breath.

“Alright. I supposed that not every situation calls for following the exact letter of the law. There’s gotta be room for alternative methods of resolution.”

His painful scowl melted into something relaxed and smug. I dragged him over to his robe and I reached into one of the pockets and I pulled out one of the cubes. It smoked gently where it made contact with my skin.

“That’s some bouillon ya got there,” I said. He didn’t see the humor in the statement.

“So here’s how it’s gonna be. You’re gonna go your way and I’m gonna go mine. After I get rid of all the evidence.”

I dropped the cube onto the grass where it immediately turned into a puddle of churning magma that began burrowing into the ground and forming a pool.

“Hey, uh, those shoes won’t burn.”

“I know,” I said.

I yanked him up into the air and I caught him by the ankles. With that swift movement, I had him hanging upside down. I lowered him down into the Hellfire head first. Once his head was burned up, his body stopped twisting and squirming and destroying the rest of the evidence was much easier.

I dropped the last of his toes in the liquid fire and I took a moment to regard the shoes that allowed a living man to walk through Hell. There was no point in adding them to the fire. Nothing could burn them.

Same could be said for the other stuff.

In a few months’ time, I was known as the detective that was always one step ahead of the city scum. Some of ’em called me The Phantom, since no matter where they tried to go, I was there waiting for them.

No matter what shortcuts they knew or how fast their getaway was, I was there.

How? Simple? I had the fastest shortcut of all. All I had to do was wear those infernal shoes inside of my Wellingtons, so’s to hide the treads, and just like that, I had the best bus pass in town.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Richard Morgan
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Richard Morgan

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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