First published in The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction (November 1956 issue) by Isaac Asimov, this is a Science Fiction Short Story about a Deal with the Devil involving More than Three Dimensions.
Isidore Welby has signed a Deal with the Devil to gain a decade of good living, but now comes the price. He has until noon to find a way out from a perfectly locked room. If he succeeds, then he'll be made a full devil. If he fails, he will be merely a damned soul, suffering torture for eternity. Welby surprises his captor twice; by finding the way out, and by finding a loophole in the contract, too. A supernatural twist on the Locked Room Mystery.
"Gimmicks Three" has been reprinted several times; Earth is Room Enough (1957), Deals With The Devil (1958), Galaxy (issue #58, Italian edition, 1963), Fiction (issue #148, French edition, 1966), Special Wonder Volume 1 (1971), The Far Ends Of Time And Earth (1979), Devils & Demons: A Treasury of Fiendish Tales Old & New (1987), and The Complete Stories, Volume 1 (1990).
Examples of tropes within this work:
- Caught in the Ripple: After Welby goes back in time, his contract disappears, and Shapur, the demon, doesn't understand why. To get an explanation, they restore his memory of the original timeline and Welby happily brags about the escape clause he discovered in the contract.
- Demon of Human Origin: The protagonist signs a contract with a demon. After ten years of everything he wants, he will be given a test. Should he pass, he becomes a demon (Hell has a growing staff shortage), otherwise, he is a regular damned soul. Shapur, the demon he deals with, claims to have gone through the same process.
- Driving Question: With the power to move in any dimension, how do you escape from a perfect cube? Time is a dimension, so travel to before the cube was constructed.
- Evil Smells Bad: Shapur, the demon tempting Welby, smells overwhelmingly of sulfur dioxide, and the intensity of the smell also reflects the intensity of his emotions.
- Faustian Rebellion: Isidore Welby had just gotten a medical discharge from the military when he was approached by another recruiter. The demonic Shapur offered him ten years of supernaturally guided life, in exchange for taking a test that would turn him into a demon if he passed. If he failed, Welby would become another soul damned to hell. Unexpectedly, Welby uses his powers to find a loophole in the contract and escapes with no consequences.
- Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue: The two main characters, Shapur and Isidore Welby, don't get much description aside from Shapur's sulfuric stench and tail. The room itself is actually a blank bronze cubicle.
- In Mysterious Ways: Shapur tells Welby that by signing the contract, he will be blessed with supernatural good fortune for ten years, causing every wish Welby makes to be fulfilled by seeming coincidence. Welby's good fortune would occur if he placed faith in either God or the contract. Demonic contracts cannot go against the Will of God.
- The Legions of Hell: Shapur says that hell has plenty of common damned souls, but their ratio of demon to damned is growing too high, so they're offering a discount Deal with the Devil.
- Locked Room Mystery: Using supernatural elements, the protagonist has found themselves locked into a perfectly cubicle room, made from thick bronze. They are given the power to travel in any direction, and if they fail to escape before noon, they'll be a soul damned to eternal torment in hell. The solution is to view time as a dimension, and travel backwards.
- Loophole Abuse: Welby figures out how to use his demonic powers to break the contract without penalties. His powers allow him to travel in time, so he went back to before he signed the contract and decided not to agree to it.
- Magically Binding Contract: Isidore Welby signed a contract with demons to gain a decade of good living, but exactly ten years later, he must pay the price. He suddenly appears in a perfect cube made of metal, and if he cannot escape before noon, his soul will be damned.
- Make a Wish: Welby's contract provided him with ten years of supernaturally guided life, every wish he had could be fulfilled by seemingly coincidental events that happened to bring him good fortune.
- More than Three Dimensions: Welby and Shapur, both having demonic powers, have the ability to travel in any dimension, and that includes time.
- Race Against the Clock: Welby wakes up ten years after he signed the infernal contract (to the day!), and finds himself imprisoned in a cube made from bronze. He has until noon to escape, or he will become a regular damned soul instead of advancing to the ranks of demon.
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: The demon Shapur is suddenly confused because Welby and the contract disappear. They go to confront Welby, and restores his memories of events. Welby explains he had convinced himself not to sign the contract and instead lived with faith and confidence, achieving everything that the contract had promised anyway. Shapur leaves, visibly frustrated.
- Take a Third Option: Because of the contract signed by Welby, he has signed his soul away to hell, whether or not he passes the test to become a demon. However, Welby finds a loophole with his demonic powers.
- White Void Room: Welby must escape from a room with no features aside from bronze walls.