Writing Challenge: Week 2

It’s that time again: time for the weekly writing challenge. This week’s challenge: A group of people goes into the forest to summon a demon. Unfortunately… they accidentally summon an angel! The responses are below.

AAAAAH It’s an Angel

by Molly Claflin

We walked through the forest, holding candles, chalk, a photograph, and some matches.  My friends Dema, Jayan, and Sami and I were on our way to the heart of the Underwoods.  We were about to summon another demon.  Once we reached the heart of the forest, we began to set up.  Jayan drew the ritual area with his artistic expertise.  I began to light the candles and lay them around the star.  Sami set up the log with the picture and Dema stepped inside of the circle.  She was the one who actually could talk to the demons.  

            We held hands and formed the shield that protected the demon from the outside world.  We all started the chant, that would summon the demon.  As the spirit rose from the ground, Dema began to sense that something wasn’t right.  Even I began to sense an-evil presence.  When the spirit had arisen, we saw what the problem was.  We didn’t summon a Demon; we summoned an Angel.

            His halo glistened in the moonlight.  His eyes sparkled.  

            “H-hello.” he shyly said.  “D-do you know where I am?”  Dema looked terrified.  It was like she was more scared of an Angel then the scariest demon (which we summoned last week by the way).  

            I calmly walked toward the Angel, calling upon all of the confidence in my fragile bones.  “Hello.” I calmly said. “You’re on earth, in the heart of the Underwoods. We expected to see a demon, but we summoned you instead.”

            “Thank you so much.”  the Angel replied. “I’m Evan.  Do you know how I can get back home?”

            “I’m Saralyn,” I replied. “I don’t know how to get you home yet, but I won’t give up until you get back home, Evan.”

“Thank you so much Saralyn.  I think I have an idea of how to get home, but it’s dangerous. We need to find the bridge between heaven and earth.  Legend has it’s guarded by some deadly things.  I don’t want you to feel pressured to help me.”  I don’t know what it was but, I felt connected to him. Sami had the “you’re totally blushing” look on his face.  I was so embarrassed.  

“I don’t care how hazardous it is to get you home, but I summoned you here, so I’m going to help you get home.  Sami, Dema, Jayan, let’s get to work.  Evan, lead the way.”

Evan began to lead us through valleys, over rivers, and through dark forests.  I was so concentrated on our surroundings that I didn’t realize Evan come to a sharp stop.  I was about three inches away from falling off of a cliff.  I looked up to see why he stopped.  There was a massive drop into an endless abyss through the clouds.  

            The only thing between the two edges was a narrow bridge.  There was a sign next to it that said “To make it across, you must summon all the strength you and your companions have together.  Trust each other and you cannot fail.  There is no direct portal to heaven, but when humanity comes together, we can do anything.”  We all glanced at each other, joined hands, and began to walk across.  The sign was right, I could feel something.  It was as if anything was possible.  

            A light appeared on the other side of the cliff.  The clouds cleared, revealing a light shining down.  I knew we had done it.  Evan was going home.  He stepped into the light, his wings appeared and he took to the skies.  I learned a valuable lesson that day that the world could surely need.  When we all stick together, anything can happen. 

Call Me Al

by Mike Sullivan

On April 5, Winnie, Jack, Erika, and Scott first found the book under the floor in the vacation cabin they had rented for spring break, after Jack and Scott, well and truly day-drunk, were wrestling to impress the girls, and Scott’s elbow had slammed into and overturned what ended up being a loose board concealing a little cubby.  With the book was a bag of chalk, five black candles, and a monstrance with burn marks in the bit where the host is supposed to be displayed.   In the book were elaborate diagrams, runes, and transliterations from a language whose identification even Google could not manage.

            They were able to resist screwing around with this stuff for about four hours.  Then they decided to go into the woods to summon a demon, like you do.

            Winnie, alternating pulls with Jack from a bottle of cheap pinot grigio, decided she was going to take the lead on the whole thing.  She’d seen both The Craft and Hocus Pocus roughly a dozen times each, and all three Evil Dead movies besides, so she figured she could navigate a simple chalk circle of protection and a demonic summoning.  She flipped to the page they’d bookmarked, which they chose solely because the chalk diagram involved seemed like the easiest to draw:  a simple pentagram within a circle, with tiny crosses in each triangular cut-out.  She fell down once, laughing, and nearly brought Jack with her, who pulled her up and started drunkenly, deeply kissing her.

            “Not now!”  she flirted.   Jack made a gesture of mock apology, smiling, and backed away so Winnie could finish.   Erika and Scott were making out on a pair of stumps nearby, interrupting their necking with heavy slugs from a bottle of something purporting to be Tennessee sour mash whiskey, but which smelled more like rubbing alcohol mixed with liquid smoke.  Scott caught Jack’s eye.

            “Slug?” he offered, presenting the bottle.  Jack, naturally, accepted.  

            “OK, idiots, I think we’re ready!”  Winnie said.  She admired her handiwork.  Drunk or not, the lines were precise and looked just like the book.  She placed the monstrance at the center of the pentagram and candles at each tip.  She lit the candles.  “Hey, I think we need something to put in the metal thingy.  I think it’s supposed to be, like, a communion wafer.  Does anybody have a communion wafer?”

            The blank stares coming from Jack, Erika, and Scott told her that, in fact, none of them had a communion wafer.  Useless!  Winnie thought.  Who tries to summon a demon without a communion wafer?  She dug in her purse, and found oyster crackers from the crab shack they hit on the way to the cabin.  “Close enough,” she muttered, “the shack was next door to a church.”  She put an oyster cracker in the monstrance, and backed carefully out of the circle.

            All four of them took positions around the circle.  Winnie instructed the others to close their eyes and repeat after her.

            “Storkle, razbo, q’adiffel, ra.  Eelo, billo, zim zam zot” she intoned.  “Storkle, razbo, q’adiffel, ra.  Eelo, billo, zim zam zot,” they repeated.  “Ix!” she yelled.  “Ix!” they replied.  “NIX!” she bellowed.  “NIX!” they cried.  “STYX!” she finished, and before they could answer, the edge of the circle blazed with light.

            “Holy fuck,” Scott said.  

            Dark shapes were climbing over each other, struggling to pull themselves out of a black hole that had appeared under the monstrance.  The oyster cracker burst into flame, and burned with an unholy green light.  Licks of purple fire crept outward from the black hole, and when they reached the outer circle, a massive cylinder of purple and blue fire shot straight upward with a force that knocked Jack, Erika, and Scott to the ground.  Winnie stood firm, her feet seemingly nailed to the ground, as a massive spider-like creature with a distorted human face, dripping fetid, orange tears from endless gaping eyes lining its legs, pulled itself free from the hole to turn toward her, its horrible grin stretching impossibly wide and revealing rows of bloody, knife-like teeth.

            “Winnie,” it whispered.  “Come to me, Winnie.”  Transfixed, she took a step forward.  “Come to me,” the horrible thing purred, “let me take you, Winnie.”

            “NO!”  yelled Jack, who did the only thing he could.  He threw the bottle of tragically shitty whiskey and nailed the monstrous spider-thing straight in its stupid fucking face.  The bottle broke and the whiskey splashed everywhere, which was bad, but immediately caught the spider-thing on fire, which seemed probably good.  Winnie snapped out of it and backpedaled furiously; she had been one step away from breaking the circle.  The spider-thing screamed as its many eyeballs burst from the heat, and it seemed to crumple in on itself like a ball of newspaper, collapsing back into the hole.  Suddenly, the oyster cracker burnt out, and everything went pitch black.

            It took a second for everyone to start breathing again.  The circle was a mass of steam, like a raging fire had just been hit with a hose.  Winnie, Jack, Erika, and Scott all looked at each other.  Everybody seemed mostly fine.

            “Holy shit, I think I killed that fucking thing,” said Jack.

            “I’ve never felt anything like that,” said Winnie.  “I knew it was going to hurt me, eat me, something.  But I just kept walking.  It was like I wanted it to happen.  Like I thought I deserved it.”

            “Yeah, cool story, demons are persuasive, we’ll talk about it in a minute.  For now:  who has pants I can borrow?” inquired a deep, resonant, oddly familiar voice from the center of the circle.  The four turned to find a bald, naked man with deep lavender skin, piercing amber eyes, and gigantic, blood-red wings staring at them.

            “W-what?” Scott said.  

            “Pants.  You wear them.  I’m naked and it’s cold out here, bro.  Tell you what, just toss me your sweatshirt and I’ll make like a little kilt out of it until I can find something to wear.  And hand me that pinot gris, summoning makes your throat dry.”  The lavender, winged man turned to catch Jack staring at his crotch.  “Yes, my penis has barbs on it and is shaped like a corkscrew.  As near as I can figure, God made angels like some kind of cross between a human, a cat, and a duck.  I’d rather not talk about it; hence, the pants.”  

            Scott tossed the angel his sweatshirt, which the angel promptly tied around his waist, mercifully concealing his horrifying genitals.

            “So, you’re an angel,” Winnie said.  “Was it you who defeated that thing?”

            “No,” said the angel, “Danny Dick-Looker over there defeated that thing by burning it, but whatever he used to do it must have reversed the portal before closing it, ripping me down from my sweet-ass loft in Heaven.  And now I’m here with you hayseeds on the side of a mountain in – ” here, the angel briefly sniffed the air “ – Wyoming.  The only explanation is that one of you dummies used an oyster cracker instead of a consecrated host.”

            Winnie’s eyes widened.  “How did you know that?”  The angel smirked, then licked the back of his hand and nonchalantly began rubbing it against his bald head.  “The shape of an oyster cracker really messes with cosmic energy,” he explained, continuing to alternate licking his hand and rubbing it against his head.  “Haven’t you ever wondered why all the scariest stories take place in New England?”

            “I thought that was because Stephen King was born there,” Erika scoffed.  “He sets all his stories in New England.”

            “But why,” said the angel, “was Stephen King born in New England in the first place, eh?”

            “What?”  Erika said.

            “wHaT?” the angel mocked.  Erika stared at him for a while, then grunted and turned her head dismissively.

            “Do you have a name?”  Winnie asked. 

“Yes,” the angel responded, “but it’s none of your business.  Knowing an angel’s true name could give you power over me, and – ”

            “Is it Billy?” interrupted Scott.  The angel blinked.

            “An angel named Billy?  You’re a fucking moron, Scott,” said Erika.

            “It’s not Billy.  Stop guessing it.  You’ll never guess, anyway,” the angel said.

            “Is it Frederico?” asked Scott.

            “Please stop,” replied the angel.

            “Warren!” exclaimed Jack.

            “This is the world’s most annoying game,” sighed the angel.  “No, it’s not those, either.”

            “Are you sure it’s not Warren?” said Scott.  “It looked like you blinked faster when he said Warren.”

            “My name isn’t fucking Warren,” said the angel.  “Just call me Al.  Can we head back to your cabin now?  I could use a drink and the aforementioned pants.”  Al started to walk to the cabin, with Winnie, Jack, Erika, and Scott following behind.  

            “Albert?  Alfred?  Alison?  Aloysius?  Alta Vista?” Scott called out.

            “Yes, that last one,” said Al.

            “Alta Vista?  Really?” replied Scott victoriously.

            “No,” said Al, “now shut your meat-hole.”

Back at the cabin, Al borrowed a pair of jeans from Scott.  Jack offered him a shirt, and Al stared at him for a second, then pointed at the giant red wings on his back.

            “Oh, right,” said Jack.

“Well, I’m stuck here for – ” the angel wet his lips and seemed to taste the air “ – 23 hours and about 31 more minutes.  What do you guys want to do?”

            All four stared at him.  Al sighed.  “Look, meat puppets, you cast a 24-hour summoning spell, and now I’m here.  You pulled me from my house, I was in the middle of binge-watching Demon Kings, so it’s only fair that you entertain me.”

            “Demon Kings?” Erika asked.

            “Trashy documentary series on Cloudflix about hillbilly angels who wrangle demons.  Super-addictive,” Al said.  “But I doubt you’re all going to wrangle demons, so let’s just do whatever you all were going to do tonight, presuming you survived summoning a demon.”

            “Beer pong?” asked Jack.  “Fine,” said Al.  “21-cup format, Winnie and I versus you, Scott, and Erika.”

            “How did you know our names?” gasped Scott.

“hOw DiD yOu kNoW oUr nAmEs” mocked Al.  Scott stared at Al for a while, then grunted and turned his head dismissively.  Al turned to Winnie.  “I’ll play two-handed, so it’s fair.  Whaddaya think?”

“Sounds good to me!” Winnie smiled.  Al winked at her.  

            “Hey, don’t get any ideas!” said Jack.

“dOnT gEt aNy iDeAs” mocked Al.  Jack stared at Al for a while, then grunted and turned his head dismissively.

Al was good at beer pong.  He was good at flip cup.  He was phenomenal at quarters.  His supernatural coordination meant he could play with both hands simultaneously, meaning Jack was incessantly begging him to come back to school with them and “tear shit up.”  Scott tried to play the dozens with Al, but quickly found out that Al basically knew everything about all of them from birth onward, so telling Al he looked like Barney fucked Archangel was met with an extremely detailed burn about Scott wetting his parents’ bed when he was 12.  

As he explained, angels didn’t process alcohol like humans do, so he would have to drink basically until the summoning was over to get intoxicated.  Winnie, Jack, Erika, and Scott obliged him, and their bender raged on unceasingly, with the various humans occasionally passing out for a bit, then rallying.  Through it all, Al cracked jokes, shared wisdom, and was generally That Guy who ends up as the life of a strange party he’s wandered into.   After you got over his odd appearance and the fact that he only ate cubes of bread (without chewing), constantly licked himself clean, and flapped his wings when he got surprised or agitated, he was a pretty great guy.

            With an hour to go, they were all happy, tired, and hammered.  Even Al was a little loopy.  Winnie turned to him with a smile.

“That summoning was the dumbest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done.  And I never apologized for inconveniencing you.  I’m sorry we dragged you here.  But I’m so thankful for however we managed to screw it up, because it means we met you.”  She punctuated this sentiment with a small, chaste kiss planted on Al’s lilac-colored cheek.  Al smiled, then stood up.

“Well, that means a lot.  But Winnie, you should know that you didn’t screw it up at all.”

Winnie laughed, thinking Al was joking around again.  “Of course I did!” she exclaimed.  “We went out there to summon a demon and got an angel instead!” 

Al laughed.  “Oh, Winnie,” he said.  “Those lines are much, much blurrier than you all recognize.”  His amber eyes flashed, and his smile widened in an unnatural way that turned Winnie’s blood cold.  Jack, Erika, and Scott bolted to their feet, suddenly sobered by adrenaline and fear.

“It’s you!”  Jack screamed.

“iTs yOu” Al mocked, but this time his eyes were malicious, and his smile was still widening, revealing rows of bloody, knife-like teeth, and his voice was the purr of the spider-thing.

“But you said I killed it!”  Jack yelled. 

“I lied,” Al said, and struck Jack with a backhanded slap to the chest that sent him spinning over the couch and into the bookcase.  His wings buffeted Scott into the bar and sent Erika sliding into the hall.  He turned to Winnie, legs sprouting from his torso, spider-like, covered in gaping, sightless eyes.  “You cast the spell perfectly, Winnie.  It’s the spell of judgement.  You placed something from your own possession in the monstrance.  You requested judgment.  Judgement of yourself.  AND NOW, I WILL TAKE YOU TO BE JUDGED!” Al roared.

“You said it was the oyster crackers!”  Winnie cried

“It was,” grinned Al.  “Because they were YOURS.”

“There has to be a way to stop this,” gasped Winnie.

“tHeRe hAs tO bE a wAy tO sToP tHiS,” mocked Al.  “You humans always think you can get away with something.  You cannot get away with this.  Unless . . .”

“Unless?”  Winnie whimpered.

“Unless you give me a sacrifice in your place.”  Al intoned.  “I’ve seen all your lives.  You’re the least blameworthy here, but you still won’t escape eternal judgement and recording in the Book of Death.  But HE – ” here, Al gestured to Jack, struggling to stand “ – HE has secrets that would chill you to the bone.  Like the rabbits, right, Jack?  Tell her about the rabbits.”  Jack wordlessly gaped his mouth, still trying to regain his footing.

“But you’re an angel!  You’re supposed to be good and kind and helpful!” Winnie cried.

“There are all kinds of angels,” Al said.  “We don’t exist to serve humans.  I serve nothing but my purpose.  I am neither good, nor evil.  I perform my function, and my function is judgement.”  

“FALLEN ANGEL!”  cried Erika, leaning against the hallway doorframe.  Al rounded in fury.

“fAlLeN aNgEl” mocked Al, but with a note of fear in his voice.

“Fallen angel who demands a scapegoat, who lives in desolate places, who purports to judge!”  Erika gasped, holding her ribcage.  Al hissed and recoiled, his spidery legs curling in as if to protect him.

“From the book of Enoch, I know you!  From the false name Al, comes your real name!  AZAZEL!  I name you, command you, and cast you back to the realm from whence you’ve come!” Erika howled.  

Azazel screamed, writhed, and tried to lunge at Erika, but slammed into some unseen barrier, crumpling his spindly legs.  He turned, eyes blazing with amber fire, lavender skin bubbling, and tried to strike at Winnie, but his arm shattered against the invisible prison that now held him.  

Scott, on his feet, grabbed the fireplace poker, screamed “AZAZEL!” and struck Azazel in the head.  The poker stuck as Azazel ripped his head away from Scott, mewling in a legion of voices and a gaggle of tongues.   Jack followed suit, yelling “AZAZEL!” and hitting him with a full bottle of the cheap whiskey, which broke and whose contents burned and sloughed the angel’s skin off in sheets.  “AZAZEL!” Erika shouted, flinging a stock pot she’d grabbed from the kitchen, which made a huge dent in the angel’s chest.  Some unidentifiable pink, pulsating organ began to leak out from the gap. 

As Jack, Erika, and Scott frantically looked for more weaponry, Winnie, as if entranced, approached.   Her gaze was at the floor, and her hands demurely held the monstrance in front of her as she slowly, rhythmically, approached the flailing nightmare in the cabin.  As she walked forward, Azazel gradually shed his monstrous form, and seemed to be Al again, friendly Al, beer pong Al.

“Winnie,” he said gently.  “Please, come with me.”  Winnie paused, and looked up with shining eyes.

“pLeAsE cOmE wItH mE,” Winnie mocked.  “AZAZEL!”

And Winnie shoved the monstrance through the bottom of the angel’s jaw and into whatever ichor-bloated sac sat within his skull, which promptly burst and disgorged its contents, streaming down her arms, her face, and into her screaming mouth.  

*******************************

Winnie, Jack, Erika, and Scott awoke, heads splitting with the worst hangover they’d ever imagined.  They say the headache from a hangover is literally the membrane guarding your brain splitting away from your skull due to dehydration.  True or not, that seemed like a very accurate description.  

            At first, they all panicked, but as they slowly took in their surroundings, there was no sign of a struggle.  The unstained poker sat in its place by the fire.  The stock pot was on the counter in the kitchen.  Neither whiskey bottle was missing.  According to their phones, it was noon on April 5.  The cubby in the floorboards was there, but nothing was in it.  

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