I peered out from behind my grandmother’s unoccupied armchair. The air sizzled and popped – still alive with energy. Overwhelmed by the reek of sulphur, I vomited. How could this have happened? I looked at the smashed phial on the floor and cursed myself. Nana had always accused me of being a clumsy girl; today I made her right.
I’m such an idiot.
Sounds of skittering over in the corner. The haze cleared to reveal a thing – hunched over like a gargoyle. Sharp nails on wood, slick flesh, and sharp teeth. Leathery wings. Whispers all around me: voices calling my name. Growing dread. I locked eyes with a creature: profane, and I wet myself like an infant. A sense of horrific realization made me feel like I was falling. The house creaked, as it swelled to accommodate the thing. Birds took wing outside, screeching.
Am I getting out of this alive?
I reached around cautiously and snatched a roll of tape from a box of my nana’s belongings. I hurled it at the demon, expecting it to bolt like a frightened cat. The thing bristled, slapped its tail on the ground, and chuckled.
Am I a joke to you, you bastard?
The demon made a vulgar gesture with two clawed fingers and its forked tongue. I stood up.
“You’re disgusting!” I yelled.
“Ego daemonium non?” it asked.
“S-Sure. You could act with some dignity, though.”
The sound of footsteps in the hall made me cower. There was knocking on the walls and scuttling in the attic; the place was teeming with entities.
The demon advanced and I shrank back further.
Clumsy girl. Stupid. Useless.
I looked up at the photo of Nana on the mantel; her grim face seemed to judge me still. My first feeling was shame, my second was anger.
I’m tired of this guilt shit!
I stood and marched over to the demon.
“I summoned you... sort of. You will do what I say! I’m in control!”
“Quidquid dicis, cunnus”
I closed in – my face so close to the creature’s that I could smell its hellish breath.
“You will respect me, or I will never release you.”
The thing held my gaze for a moment, before looking down at its hooves.
“Now where is that list?” I said.
I snapped my fingers at the demon and it mobilized. We both hunted around the room, moving furniture and shifting ornaments. I was so pumped that I could barely hear the spiritual tempest around us. Years of suppressed anger was bubbling to the surface like magma. I was now the most dangerous thing in the house.
“Here it is!” I brandished the yellowed parchment at the creature. “To Megan, be sure to respect my wishes after I cross over, lest it revisit you threefold. Summon Arioch (do NOT forget to scribe the circle first, forgetful girl!), and pay a visit to my enemies, listed below. Be careful not to break the profane phial. I trust you’ll make a mess of it, yet I have no choice but to trust you.”
I screwed up the letter and tossed it into the fireplace.
“Come on,” I said, taking Arioch’s hand. “We have a lot to do.”