Short Story – The Summoning
This story is an attempt to balance a little bit of horror with a little bit of humor. There is definitely some dark stuff going on but within that framework, I was working to keep the tone a little more comical.
I mostly wrote this because I wanted to write a story that included a demon named Clarice. I just thought it was a good name for a demon.
Most of my stories have had women as protagonists lately. That’s been a conscious choice because I’ve kind of decided that if the gender of a character isn’t relevant, I might as well make her female. This particular story, however, featured characters that really needed to be women. Sorry men! You’ll just have to read and/or watch most of the other popular culture being produced!
As always, please read, comment, share, or do none of those things! Thanks!
Wanda carefully drew a circle on the basement floor. She didn’t have a lot of extra blood and that meant she only had one chance to get it right. If she had to draw the circle again, she might not have enough blood for all the proper inscriptions.
“How is that magic circle coming?”
“Well hurry up! You know it has to be ready before 1:23.”
“I understand, mother. You could have given me a little more blood.”
“Waste not, want not!”
Monica wasn’t actually Wanda’s mother. She just insisted that all the girls called her that. It gave her a level of authority and control that proved useful.
Failure to complete the circle on time would hardly be a problem for the summoning spell. It could be done tomorrow or the next day or next week. The demon in question was not on any particular timetable. Unless you counted the fact the summoning had to be done at precisely 1:23 PM. Central standard time.
But Monica expected her girls to finish their tasks on time and when they were not completed on time, unpleasant things followed. That was what she called them – “unpleasant.” She had a gift for wrapping unspeakable horrors in benign sounding words.
The last time Wanda hadn’t finished a prescribed task, she’d been “unpleasantly” exposed to an “eccentric” troll with “digestive issues.”
In other words, she’d been devoured whole and subsequently regurgitated by a troll who really enjoyed the taste of little girls even though they were hard on his stomach.
As painful and disgusting as the experience had been, however, Wanda was forced to concede it proved to be a strong motivator. She was going to get this magic circle done on time if she had to use her own blood to do it.
At 1:20, she surveyed the finished circle. It was nearly perfect.
“Good! I’m on my way!”
Monica lightly skipped down the basement stairs wearing a flowery sundress. She looked just a few years older than Wanda but the girls knew she was much older. How old was a topic you simply did not discuss. She smiled a falsely benevolent smile as she surveyed the circle.
“Oh, what a fine job you’ve done, dear!” She patted Wanda’s head in a way that felt like she was patting a stuffed animal or a dog.
“Thank you, mother,” Wanda answered dutifully.
“Are you ready to begin?”
The two of them began the incantation that would summon a demon to do their bidding. Or rather, to do Monica’s bidding. All that needed to be offered was a soul to devour. Really a small price to pay.
As long as you weren’t the one paying it.
In the corner, one of Wanda’s sisters sat quietly. She had been bound but not gagged. A series of “unpleasant” experiences had taught her not to scream. But she could not be trusted to sit still when a demon was devouring her soul so the binding was necessary.
The foundation of the old house began to rattle as the portal to hell opened and a demon screamed in anger as she was pulled from the abyss. The circle glowed with an unholy light to hold their captive until the proper sacrifice could be made.
Demons didn’t look much as Wanda had expected they would. They looked pretty much like extremely attractive humans with flaming red hair, and cold blue eyes. When they spoke, though, you could smell the sulphur.
“What the hell?” the demon raged, “I was taking a nap!”
“Silence!” Monica barked, “You will bow to your master!”
“And that is you, I suppose?”
As demons went, this one was more casual than most. She was probably pretty new. The older ones tended to be a lot more dramatic.
Monica seemed unaffected by her new servant’s attitude. “I have a sacrifice for you, my minion. Devour her and serve me!”
The demon looked at the frightened girl in the corner and frowned. “You want me to devour her soul? She’s what – ten? What kind of monster do you think I am?”
Now Monica was a bit surprised. “But you…you have to accept my sacrifice. The spell compels you.”
“Does it?” The demon asked impatiently. “I’m pretty sure you need to know my name to compel me to do anything. What’s my name?”
Monica smiled. She was prepared for this question. “Obey me, Habestet, concubine of Goron! I have summoned you, named you, and provided you with a sacrifice.”
The demon laughed. “Habestet? Really? You thought I was Habestet?”
Monica looked at the demon with growing frustration. “Well if you aren’t Habestet, who are you?”
“I don’t think it is in my best interest to tell you that.”
“Well,” Monica tapped her foot, “someone here must know your name or you wouldn’t be confined by the magic circle.”
“It’s Clarice,” Wanda said.
The circle had, indeed, been almost perfect. If only Monica had noticed the subtle changes Wanda had introduced.
“Clarice?” Monica asked, “what kind of demon is named Clarice?”
“I am,” the demon smiled, “I must obey you, young lady. At least I must obey you if you indeed wish me to devour the soul of this child. I cannot refuse you.”
“No. I don’t wish you to devour my sister.”
“I didn’t think so. Have you a sacrifice for me?”
Wanda looked across the circle at Monica and a wicked grin crept across her face.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “this might be a little bit unpleasant.”