“WHO CALLS UPON- OW!”
Andromalius, Great Earl of Hell, Commander of Over Thirty-Six Legions of Spirits, did not know how he ended up conjured in the basement of a row house in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Andromalius was a large man-shaped form, crouched in the summoning seal, his great snake wrapped around his arm. His ‘OW’ was from banging his head on a steam pipe.
“Damn bro, that shiz worked!” Malik said.
“I told you,” Alfredo said, “Eddy hooked us up!”
Andromalius, Finder of Wealth and the Wicked, moved his head slightly away from the pipe. He could feel the summoning seal still binding him, screen-printed on a large yoga mat.
“WHO CALLS UPON ANDROMALIUS?”
“You gonna wake my moms upstairs!” Malik hissed.
Alfredo pulled a book out, flipped to the last pages.
“I, Alfredo Pereira, call you, Andromalius, to cause I and Malik,” pointing to the black boy, “no harm through action or inaction, and to engage in tasks as dictated by this summons and your abilities. Do you accept these terms for your freedom from this summoning seal?”
“How did you summon me?” Andromalius asked, confused.
“I, Alfredo Pereira, call you-”
“Yes I accept these terms, I am bound to your service. How did you summon me?”
“My cousin,” Alfredo said, “he’s a taumaturgo out in Chicago, and when he heard that Ricky Watkins stole Malik’s bike and kicked me in the ribs he Fed-Exed the hookup.”
Andromalius stepped out of the circle.
“My cousin Eddy’s moving here,” Alfredo said, “he got into Saint Peters, but I needed help now so he made a kit so I could summon you.”
“Pre-printed summoning circle” Malik pointed to the printed foam, “phonetic guide to the conjuration, ritual components, and he sent Alfredo YouTube videos on all the steps. You gotta chant the calling hymn six hundred times, but eff that, Alfredo recorded that shiz on his phone and put it on loop while we played Overwatch.”
“You used technology to summon me?” Andromalius raised his voice with each word.
“Yo, I told you to keep it down!” Malik grumbled.
“I did,” Alfredo said, “and you are bound. Says here you track down thieves and find wealth. Go find Ricky Watkins,” Malik held up his phone with a picture of the tall, fit upperclassman, “get Malik’s bike back.”
Andromalius closed his eyes for several seconds.
“Do you wish this Ricky Watkins dead?”
“No! Just get the bike,” Alfredo said.
“A thousand bites from the snake, perhaps?
“I don’t want him dead,” Malik said. “Maybe kick him in the ribs and give him a swirly?”
“Yeah,” Alfredo said, “And make him promise he won’t bother freshmen again, or you are going to eat him. Even if you won’t do it.”
“A kick to the ribs, extract a promise that he will not harass the ‘freshmen’, and a ‘swirly’?”
“That’s when you dunk someone’s head in the toilet and keep on flushing,” Malik said.
“And the bike.” Alfredo reminded Andromalius.
“Oh, and it says here,” Malik took the instruction book from Alfredo, “you can find hidden treasure. Cash is good.”
Andromalius, Punisher of Thieves, closed his eyes, sighed, and rubbed his forehead with his hand, the one with the snake.
“I cannot do this. This is not the way of things.”
Malik threw his hands up.
“We followed the rules!”
“Yeah,” Alfredo pointed at him, “you are bound to do-”
“This. Is. Not. The. Way. Of. Things.”
Andromalius grew, as much as the basement would allow, and more, twisting and bending around the pair. One snake became hundreds, dancing and hissing at them.
“I have been summoned by John Dee and the Shemari Hags! I have exposed the most hidden treasures, revealed the most wicked and underhanded dealings, and you would use toys to summon me?”
Alfredo and Malik trembled, the magic bending and twisting away.
“CONJURING THE MASTERS OF HELL IS NOT A BOYS’ GAME!”
Alfredo breathed outward, his teeth bared in a Broad Street snarl…
“Hell no, skillet! I conjured you, and I followed the rules. Don’t hate the player, hate the game! I don’t care who John D or your girlfriends are. Ritual went in, Andromalius came out. Dem’s the rules, and YOU ARE PLAYING THE GAME! This is Elizabeth, New Jersey, and I compel you to cool your shit right now!”
Hundreds of snakes became one. Andromalius twisted and bent against his will, his might, his desire, to his normal form with a shudder and sigh.
“It would seem this is the way of things now…”
Caias Ward is a thick-wristed HVAC technician from New Jersey with an English degree. He’s previously released fiction for reluctant readers through Ransom Publishing as well as fiction and setting material for Onyx Path, Aetherco, and other roleplaying game companies. He regularly encounters strangeness on a level you would expect to find on an basic cable anthology series among his family and friends. Learn more from his Facebook page.