The Trouble with Summoning a Demon
by Leanne Fitzpatrick
Eardrums imploded, and blood gushed from the previously standing human’s ears. The smell of charred meat filled the tiny loft and the tinkling of glass from the lightbulb mixed with the steady drip of blood from the rafters. Steam rose from the mess on the floor giving the air the delicious tang of cooking pork.
“Shit,” the thing in the circle murmured, staring at the remains.
It drooled slightly, then shook itself, condensing it’s mass into the approximate size and shape of a prepubescent child. A little girl. With golden ringlets and a beautiful dress made of silk and taffeta. It was a ridiculous ensemble, but that had been the attire of the humans the last time it had set foot in the realm. How long ago was that now? A couple of years? It was hard to tell when one lived outside of time and space.
Neat little boots trod carefully around the circle, staring at the chalk line, and it grimaced when it saw the scuff just behind a ridiculously eldritch candle.
It glanced back at the pile of red meat, grimaced and muttered something about targets and the boss being pissed in a language no human ear could withstand.
It stepped out of the circle, closed its eyed and thought really hard for a second.
“What the fuck just happened?”
It opened its eyes.
The human stood there. Male, it thought, although the layers of makeup and clothes made it difficult to tell. It grimaced again. Humans were so uppity about how they were addressed.
“What the fuck? Why aren’t you in the circle?”
“Words you speaketh, young lor- la- person, but i’faith the correlation to each scans nothing that mine ears can decipher.”
“Forsooth, what language dost thou speaketh?”
“A language I am most familiar with, but which resembles little the way in which you speak.”
“Y’what?” the boy asked.
It sighed and rolled it’s eyes, reaching forward and grabbing the boys head.
The boy shuddered. He could see a little hand with chubby fingers. He felt a giant claw, digging through his scalp and into his skull.
The thing rolled its head to one side and hummed to itself.
“Well your species certainly went downhill,” it said, releasing him. “What the fuck have you been doing the last few centuries?”
“Never mind, it’s not important in the grand scheme of things.”
“There’s a scheme?”
“What? No. It’s a turn of phrase.”
“But you’re a demon-”
“Right, let’s get one thing straight. I am not a demon. What I am is unpronounceable in any human language, especially one that’s become as debased as yours.”
“But I summoned you-”
“No. You put out a call. I answered because I had nothing else to do, and because one of my ancestors made a promise to one of yours- and by yours I mean a human. Not anyone specifically related to you. You aren’t that special.”
The little girl shrugged. It was a dainty movement and sent her ringlets bouncing.
“Buggered if I know. What did you call for anyway?”
It looked the boy up and down.
“I- er… I wanted you to blast someone into the deepest pits of Hell.”
“He deserves it.”
The little girl put her chin in her hand and watched him for a while.
“Straight to the big guns then,” she mused. “No working your way up to it? I’m here until you dismiss me either way.”
“I can’t do it.”
“I thought you were an all-powerful entity?
“I am. One of many in fact. A lot of your proto-humans worshipped us as gods. I miss that. Not the bloodshed. A bit of blood is okay, but you fuckers practically drowned us in sacrificial red-stuff.”
“So you don’t like blood any more?”
“Not so much. We prefer is as a treat. Like really good scotch, or a sweet port-like wine. Mead. Yeah, that’s good stuff. You wouldn’t happen to have any of that about the place, would you?”
“I’m too young to buy it, and Mum doesn’t drink.”
“You can’t send anyone to Hell?”
“Nope. Can’t send anyone to a place that doesn’t exist.”
“But you were a god-”
“Boy, clear out your ears. I said I was worshipped as a god, not that I was one.”
The boy slumped, his shoulders sagging.
“But I did everything right,” he moaned. “It cost so much money, and took forever-”
“Sorry, ‘everything right’? What’s ‘everything right’?”
Everything- I researched everything, the summoning spell, the candles- even the chalk!”
The little girl looked at circle on the panelled wall.
“Why on earth did you go to so much effort?”
“Because that’s what you’re supposed to do!”
“Everyone! It has to be perfect otherwise the demon escapes and destroys your soul.”
“Well, I can’t say there aren’t those that are a little more capricious, and some of the older ones may be a little short tempered… But still-” It picked up one of the candles. “- this? Really?”
“It’s from Crowley’s stock- he carved the runes into it himself.”
“It certainly isn’t from Crowley’s stock. That selfish son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t spend the money for something so contrived.”
“Well the listing said he did.”
“Listing? What’s a listing? That’s what damaged ships do.”
The boy glared at it. It glared straight back until the boy looked away. They always looked away. It was really annoying.
“It’s an online auction site. People list an item they want to sell, and other people that want it bid on it until one wins”
“Oh, like a cattle or slave market. I remember those.”
“We- we don’t have slave markets anymore.”
“Really? What do you call the working class?”
The boy glanced at it again and rubbed the back of his neck.
“So you really can’t blast his soul into oblivion?”
“Is what he does really that bad?”
The boy shivered and nodded. The thing cocked its head to one side and reached out again. The boy flinched, then accepted the hand that clasped his head once more.
He shuddered at the feeling of claws digging right into his skull
“Oh I see. He is indeed a little shit,” said the girl. The boy nodded as the claws were extracted from his brain. “Still, he hasn’t done anything that means he deserves his soul being destroyed.”
“Then there was no point in summoning you.”
“You could always remove yourself from the situation.”
“How? I’ve go nowhere else to go.”
“Suicides always an option.”
Silence filled the loft for a long moment and then the girl began to laugh.
“That’s not funny,” the boy muttered.
“It is to me, and I’m the eldritch entity with a lifespan far beyond what humanity has managed so far.”
The boy continued to stare.
“By that, I mean I was birthed before your species converged from your common ancestor.”
The boy still stared.
“You understand that there is no Heaven or Hell, right? That every religion was created by humans because deep down inside you’re all tribalistic little shits that want to kill anything not like you?”
“You don’t know us-”
“I know you better than you think. Not individuals. You’re all too boring and short lived, but on a species wide scale, you’ve been doing this your entire existence. You’re bloodthirsty bastards. You made religion to justify it. Which makes you dishonest bastards too.”
“We’ve done great things too-”
“No doubt. Though you leave a trail of destruction in your wake. Hell, your planet practically has a halo of discarded metal orbiting it, half your land is covered in shit you throw away and you buy even more shit to impress people you don’t even like. Pretty much your species is fucked up in so many ways.”
“I didn’t summon you to lecture me on stuff I can’t control.”
“No. You summoned me to destroy a soul that called you names.”
“And beat me up.”
“Right. So you think destroying him will make it better?”
“It’ll make me feel better.”
“Except he won’t suffer. He’ll just be gone.”
“Wait- what? I thought you were being the moral high ground here?”
The little girl laughed, high tinkling notes with an undercurrent of solid steel.
“I’m not human. Your morality means very little to me. You summoned me. It’s up to you to use my skills as you see fit. The only caveat is that you make it fun.”
“So, you aren’t judging me for wanting him dead?”
“No. I’m judging you on your lack of imagination. You’re all so prim and proper. Every single one of you hides what you are under a veneer of niceties. Honestly, as a species, I think you should embrace every nasty facet of yourself.”
“Humanity would be wiped out in a week.”
“A week is generous. You have nukes now.”
The girl shrugged. “Something else takes your place. You aren’t the most important things in existence. A lot of things look at you the same way you look at bacteria.”
The boy sat down. It had been coming for a while, the strength slowly draining from him as the magnitude of the things words sank in.
“This wasn’t how things were supposed to go- you were supposed to appear and just do my bidding.”
“You were supposed to draw the circle properly. That’s pretty much the only stipulation. Also, you might have nightmares for a bit. Mostly about searing heat, explosions of blood… That sort of thing.”
“I drew the circle perfectly.”
“Nope. You smudged the line. Do you know how big the sonic boom would be is something human sized just appeared from nowhere? You’re lucky I can warp reality and undo the damage. Also you’re welcome for me reinstating your life.”
“I- I died?”
“And you brought me back?”
“Because I can’t go home until your bloody wishes were fulfilled, and no offence, but humans are disgusting and you fucked your planet up and who in their right mind would want to be here when you lot are?”
“You don’t have a very good opinion of us.”
“Individually a minute fraction of you are ok. The rest are either power mad, ridiculously sanctimonious, or both.”
The boy slumped and ran his hands through his hair.
“This is all wrong,” he muttered. “It was supposed to be easy. Everyone said it was easy.”
“Nothing is easy. Not for you lot. You’re really unevolved. Truly. It’s kind of embarrassing at this point.”
“Don’t you have anything nice to say about us? At all?”
“Someone made a bloody glorious cheesecake once.”
“That’s it?” The whole of human history and all it comes down to is a cheesecake?”
The girl shrugged.
“You don’t fuck with cheesecake. I guess pizza’s pretty good too… Except you monsters have a thing against putting pineapple on it. What the fuck is that all about?”
“Cheesecake and pizza,” he groaned. “Unbelievable.”
“Could be worse.”
“You could not have either of those things.”
“I can’t believe this.”
The little girl smiled, sat on a stack of boxes and swung her heels. For a long time, the sound of her boots hitting the cardboard boxes was the only sound in the loft.
“So what now?” the boy said at last. “Do I just send you back?”
“If you want.”
“You can’t do what I want you to do.”
The girl shrugged.
“Can’t send a soul to somewhere that doesn’t exist. Can terrorize the little shit though.”
“You think I actually look like this?”
The air around her chilled. The boy shivered as steam rose from her pores and his stomach lurched as her skin bulged and collapsed.
“I can look like anything. Your worst fear. His worse fear. His dream girl even. Makes no difference to me. Want him beaten to a pulp or psychologically destroyed? I can do both, if that’s what you wish. The only limit is your imagination.”
“It’s not my imagination that’s watching you bubble like a thing out of a horror movie. Please stop. I’m gonna be sick.”
“Just making a point,” the girl said as she settled back into a slightly older, less Victorian form. “So what’s it to be?”
“I don’t know- everything’s gone tits-up.”
“Not really. Do you want me to torment him into madness?”
“I just- I just want him to leave me alone. That’s all I ever wanted.”
“Right, well… You’d best have a think about it then, hadn’t you?”
“What about you?”
She shrugged, looking around the loft.
“I can amuse myself up here for a while.”
“You won’t hurt anyone?”
“I’m not a monster,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Besides. Your wish is my command, or something like that.”
“You don’t seem like a very obedient sort of person.”
Again she shrugged.
“Look, I’m not going to move from this room. I won’t be seen by anyone until you want me to be and I won’t do or say anything that’ll influence anyone until you’ve made up your mind. Okay?”
“Yes- and I never break a promise. That’s one thing most you lot forgot.”
“You really don’t like us much do you?”
“Most of you don’t deserve the lives you were given.”
“I’ll- I’m gonna go downstairs and think about things.”
The girl nodded, already staring into the rafters and losing interest in him. He moved to the ladders, gave her a last look and then descended into the main body of the house.
She watched as the ladder came back up and the hatch clicked closed, leaving her with only the dim glow of the lightbulb. She lay back on the boxes and sighed, idly tapping the heel of her boot against the box once more.
“Well?” a voice no one but she could hear asked in a language no mortal could conceive of.
“He’s gonna take a bit of work, but I reckon he’ll be a good investment.”
There was silence for a long time.
“Stay close to him.”
“Yes boss,” said the little girl with a small smile.