The main idea is "Girl gets abducted on a date by satanist cult (cute guy and friends) but she has already given her soul to the Greek god Hermes".

I read this story sometime in the 1980's. It was probably in Fantasy & Science Fiction or Asimov's monthly (could have been anything). The header really describes it. Two young girls get obsessed with the Greek god Hermes and pledge their souls to him with burnt offerings etc. (kind of jokingly). Later in life, one girl goes on a date with the perfect guy, lo and behold he is a satanist. He and his friends stake her down and sacrifice her... but there's a catch.

Satan is displeased that her soul is already spoken for, he instead takes the main assailant very gruesomely (as memory serves). Hermes is taken aback that he still has a follower and gives her a gift. A key that can unlock the sleeping subconscious of someone so she can say goodbye.

  • I have a feeling it may be one of Tanya Huff's short stories. Unfortunately Amazon only gives the titles of the collections, not the individual stories.
    – sueelleker
    Oct 9, 2018 at 18:41
  • Ok, first of all...thanks for commenting. I hope when I do find it, that it was as good as I remember. I looked into Tanya Huff's work and some of it looked very similar but after looking thru a synopsis of all her short stories I couldn't find it.
    – Rob Church
    Oct 10, 2018 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


This is "The Skeleton Key" by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1993, and nominated for the Nebula award. The plot is essentially as you described it. The Amazon summary is:

Tess and her best friend decide to worship Hermes when they are children. When college-age Tess falls in with people who worship someone else, things go wrong, and then sideways.

The Satanists attempt to sacrifice her, but Hermes comes to her rescue:

"I'm sorry," he said touching the smaller wounds. As he touched them, the pain faded from them. "There was so little energy for me in this era that it took your great sacrifice for me to manifest. I would not have had you die for me."

You can read the story at the Internet Archive.

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