I appear in the middle of a crudely drawn pentagram, the energy of a weak containment spell crawling across my skin like a thousand tiny spiders. Beyond my mystical prison stand five humans in a windowless basement apartment. They wear what look suspiciously like bathrobes dyed black, and not one of them is a day over twenty-five.
I don’t have time for what is clearly amateur hour. I was in the middle of a torture session with my five o’clock, and, if these motherfuckers put me behind, Baal is gonna have my ass.
I need to get this show on the road. “Which of you assholes summoned me?”
One of the humans lowers the hood of his robe with a flourish, like he’s Obi-Wan fucking Kenobi or something, revealing an angular and surprisingly handsome face. “Harken to me, demon. I am Arthur Edgerton, and — “
“Can we not do the whole Dungeons and Dragons rigmarole, Arty?” I say. “Cut to the chase.”
“Uh, what?” Arty says, startled. Maybe he didn’t expect me to speak. He glances back at his compadres, four other pasty white dudes. One of them shrugs.
“Look, man, somehow you idiots pulled off a summoning ritual,” I say. “So, you know, bravo for that shit, but I got things to do. What do you want?”
Arty regains his composure, clears his throat, and straightens his shoulders. “I command you, demon, to do my bidding.”
He called me “demon” again, and I realize Arty doesn’t know my true name. That means only a weak containment spell prevents me from ripping his guts out through his asshole. Well, okay then. This might be fun.
“Sure thing, Arty.” I smile, revealing my three rows of shark teeth. “How can I do your bidding?”
Arty brightens. He thinks he’s in charge now. “Demon, I wish you to destroy my enemies, to visit upon them incalculable suffering, to — “
“Can you just give me a fucking name or something?”
“Oh, um, yeah.” He reaches into his bathrobe, pulls out a piece of paper, and holds it up. It’s a picture of a young woman with dark hair. It looks like a Facebook profile pic.
“What’s her name, Arty?”
“Jessica Monroe,” he says, and I feel a little tremor in the air. Demons are attuned to human evil. We can smell it like a ripe fart in an elevator. Ol’ Arty really hates Jessica and wears his bruised ego like a fucking halo.
“What’d she do to you, Arty?” I ask, intrigued by this wannabe Satanist’s hate-on for young Jessica.
“She insulted me. Publicly,” he says and frowns. His lips tremble like he might cry.
“You send her a bunch of dick pics or something?”
“No!” he says and recoils. Apparently snapping a photo of his junk is over the line for Arty, while summoning the minions of hell is not. “She posted one of the emails I sent her on Facebook.”
I sigh. “What was in that email, Arty?”
“Nothing. I just . . . like her, and she told me to stop emailing her, and . . . I was just being nice!”
“Uh-huh. So you want to me what? Kill her? Possess her?”
His eyes light up. “You could possess her?” Behind him, his cadre of fellow dumbshits nod and grin.
Morons. “Yeah, I could do that, Arty,” I say. “But you gotta drop this containment spell.” It’s true; I can possess humans, but only ones who open themselves up to it. I seriously doubt Jessica Monroe has been dabbling in the dark arts, but I know five motherfuckers who have.
“Oh,” he says, and his eyes narrow. “Wait a second.” He runs over to a bookshelf and grabs a paperback with a black cover and a bunch of spidery symbols on it. I recognize it immediately. It’s the Simon Necronomicon, a book of “spells” you can purchase at Barnes & Noble for $8.99. I don’t know where Arty learned how to do an honest-to-god summoning and containment ritual, but it sure as fuck wasn’t from the Simon Necronomicon.
He comes back, stands before me, and flips through the pages of his “spellbook.” He finds what he’s looking for and begins to read aloud. I suppress a big shit-eating grin and try to look scared and pissed off as he finishes his “demon control” spell.
“There,” Arty says. “Now it can’t hurt us.”
“Hey, man, are you sure,” one of Arty’s fellow Satanists says. “That thing looks — ”
Arty whirls and points at his acolyte. “Shut up, Dave. I got this.” He turns back to me. “Now, demon, you are under my power.”
“Yes, Master,” I say with just the right amount of angry subservience. “Free me and I will serve you.”
“Fantastic,” Arty says and smudges one of the lines on the pentagram with his foot. I feel the containment spell wink out.
“Fantastic indeed,” I say. “Let’s go to work.”
Being in Arty’s body is not an unpleasant experience. He works out, and I didn’t have to expend much demonic mojo to get him moving at a good clip. I lick the blood off Arty’s fingers and look down at the four corpses I helped him create. The idiots didn’t have any real weapons, but the butcher knife I found in the kitchen did the trick.
Arty’s horror as he watched me/him murder his friends was delectable, but I couldn’t take my time like I normally would have. Things to do, souls to torture. Of course, all these assholes are gonna end up in hell, so I have eternity to get intimately acquainted.
I reach down and pick up Jessica Monroe’s picture. I hold it up so Arty can see it and put the blade of the butcher’s knife against his/our throat. I draw the knife across Arty’s jugular, reveling in his panicked terror as the blood leaves his body in throbbing jets.
“Jessica,” I say. “This one’s on me.”
This Story took second place in our Monster Flash contest!
Aeryn Rudel is a writer from Seattle, Washington. He is the author of the Acts of War novels by Privateer Press, and his short fiction has appeared in Factor Four Magazine, New Myths, and Pseudopod, among others. Learn more about Aeryn’s work at www.rejectomancy.com.