Fantasticoe -- 2012
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Walking with Demons

Samuel Kerby

            Running, always running, he never stopped. He couldn't stop. They'd catch him, oh yes they'd catch him if he stopped. For a while they'd torment him, slowly tearing his mind and body apart, then they'd devour him, cleaning their teeth with his bones. He could hear them getting closer, the thrumming of footsteps, the cackles,  laughs and jeering taunts, "Come out little one, we're only here to play with you."

            His heart hammered, his lungs ached, his legs wobbled beneath him as once again his flight began, terror lending him speed. He couldn't let them catch him, not now, when he was so close. He could smell the fresh air, the breeze cooling him as the fires behind him raged, their ever engulfing flame yearning for his return.  The light would be there, just up ahead, the old one had said it was. It was his only hope.

            "There, get him!" the voice echoed behind him as the tunnel rang with the grating bark of a greater demon. For a split second, he turned to look, casting a fearful glance over his pursuers. Three of the wretched beasts were pounding up the tunnel after him, yellow eyes glimmering in their horned heads. The tattered black wings sprouting from their backs flapped uselessly as they chased after him.

            Horror filled him at the sight of the gnashing teeth and snarling jowls of the demons and new speed filled his body. The tunnel became a blur as he took turn after turn, relying on instinct, and ironically, prayer to guide him. Slowly the air began to grow fresher and the pounding footsteps receded behind him. Then came the light, pure and bright. Almost blinded by the beauty of something so beautiful, he staggered and dropped to his knees, from exhaustion and from exhilaration.

            All around him the world materialized into being. A great grassy field lay before him, and beyond it a small forest, and beyond that  the human world appeared. The towers and buildings of some institution lay before him, offering refuge among the humans. Somehow, Gysery, lesser demon of pity, had escaped from hell and all its torments. For a moment, he merely sat and stared in awe at the world, before standing and walking on shaking legs towards the world of man. But he failed to notice those who watched him from the maw of hell which he'd emerged from.

            "That weakling has escaped us," Lust growled, slamming a massive fist into the wall.

            "Yes but not for long, brother, not for long," Hate laughed as he watched the tiny figure running across the fields. "He can go unnoticed for a time in that world, but sooner or later, the Angels will find him, and they shall cast him back to us. All we must do is wait."

            "Or must we, cousin?" A third voice more sinister than the last whispered, as Deception slipped from the shadows to stand with the others. And so they watched as the tiny, tailed figure of Gysery scampered away from them, into a world they could not cross into.

.    .    .

            Thunderheads roared over head as Jessica Dalen dashed back to her dorm room. A flash of lightning illuminated the glass paneled front of the dorm as she just ducked under the metal porch. "Always rains in this damn state," she grumbled, as she fumbled with her keycard. Not that she didn't like New York, but the brutal winters and never ending rains in spring took some getting used to. "Guess that’s part of college," she thought as she staggered under the weight of her book bag while getting up the four flights of stairs to her room. 

            Jessica let out a groan as she rummaged through her bag looking for the keys she knew she'd left in the room. Her roommate Daniella wouldn't be back till late, if she got back at all from visiting her boyfriend.

            "Damn slut," she thought as she slammed a fist against the door. Then she heard the latch click and unlock.

            "Gysery, you know you shouldn't do that, exposing yourself more than necessary isn't worth it."

            "Jessica we've been over this, a brief blip in the real world isn't going to bring Gabriel down on my head any more than you having a few drinks is going to get you expelled." The small figure sitting on her shoulder sighed.

            "Still you don't need to risk it just for the sake of my convenience."

            "Who cares, it's my inconvenience too you know, the more frustrated you are, the worse my mood gets," the small demon said, leaping off her shoulder as she opened the door. He landed on the desk, or at least, hovered over the desk. He never interacted with the physical world while he was in this wraith-like form he assumed, a shadowy mask formed from the energies he leeched off Jessica.

            "Don't remind me, you little parasite," Jessica quipped as she peeled off her coat and sank onto her futon. 

            "Didn't you just learn in biology that this is called mutualism?"

            "Oh, so unlocking the door for me a few times counts as an equal exchange for me letting you feed off my emotions, huh?"

            "Sheesh, you make it sound so terrible, it's not like I'm a succubus or anything. Maybe I should introduce you to one of those so you'll appreciate me a bit more."

            "You know I'm starting to regret checking out that alley now," Jessica laughed. They'd played this game so often they both knew the final score. It was part of their bond, a bond that had formed when she chose to take pity on the helpless creature she'd found lurking outside a bar. He'd been honest with her, and that was the main reason she'd decided to protect him. Without a human's aura to hide behind and feed upon, smaller demons like Gysery were easily found by the Angels and sent back to Hell. After seeing the tiny creature lurking behind the limp bodies of the passed out drunks in the alley she'd felt something give inside her.

            "You can see me?" Gysery had croaked in fear and suprise, shrinking against the wall as she'd approached.

            "Yea but I'm not gonna hurt you," she'd replied, squatting down to look more closely at the creature. The large green eyes peered out from sunken eye sockets, the long thin black ears had drooped with the rain that was falling about them.  It had an almost catlike face, a triangle nose and high cheekbones, but it's mouth and eyes were human. It's body and hands were human as well, save for the three fingers on each hand. It was small even, barely larger than a cat, a perfect little demon.

            "Then why are you wearing that?" Gysery had asked, holding up a trembling blue skinned hand and pointing at the cross which hung from her neck.

            "Oh, this?" Jessica had smiled, and raised the cross with a single finger, "It was a present from my grandmother before she passed away. It reminds me of her, that’s all. What are you?" The creature had glanced about, its eyes shifting inside its head as an expression of contrite guilt had come across its features.

            "I'm a demon," Gysery had said. She should have been shocked, she knew this, but for some reason, Jessica had simply sat and listened as Gysery had told his story.

            "I don't know what humans actually know about demons, but we aren't all bad, though some are worse than others. When people die and are sent to Hell, their souls bring with them all the emotions which surrounded them when they died. Many bring with them lust, hate, rage, gluttony, all sorts of terrible emotions, but others bring with them pity and helplessness, emotions which belong more to those in Heaven. When there are enough of these emotions flowing together in Hell, it is enough to create a spark of life, well demonic life. I was formed by pity, I have memories, images in my head of terrible things, done out of pity. Murderers, rapists, gluttons, all feel pity in some parts, just not in great amounts, and they bring it to Hell with them, and they formed me. So I'm small and insignificant, and the others, like Rage and Hate, they hunt those like me, toy with us, play with us, finally eat us just for their own enjoyment. So I ran. I, Pity, fled from hell."

            The whole time Gysery was on the verge of tears, and Jessica felt a soft spot growing within her heart, a part she thought she'd hardened completely. Most kids adopt cats and dogs, she chose to adopt a demon.

            He'd been her companion for three years now, and in a way had become her closest friend. Maybe she was just crazy, and at times she admitted she probably was, but she couldn’t be happier than having this little demon as part of her life. Now they were at college together, barely into the second semester of freshmen year and life was pretty much the same. Gysery curled upon on her pillow and fell asleep, napping like he normally did, while she sat next to him and stared out the window.

            Raindrops plopped against the glass, blurring her view of the rows of evergreen trees which dotted the campus. The grass on the quad between her dorm and the student union was greedily soaking up the first of Spring's rains. The brick academic buildings lay scattered around the campus, partially hidden by the trees, each in its own grove.

            The rain reminded her of a similar storm two years ago, the first time she'd had a run in with another supernatural being. They'd been shopping  in downtown New York, separated from their tour group, when the storm broke and forced them to take cover under  the canopy of a hotel.

            "Something's not right with this Jessica," Gysery had whispered inside her head.

            "You've been saying that since we got here," She replied, tossing the annoyed thought at him. She was far more worried about her group leader's reaction to her absence than his bad feelings.

            "You're not listening, we need to get out of here."

            "Be qui…" She stopped mid sentence as the air around her permeated with a crackling energy and pure white light lanced out of the sky. Before her eyes an angel appeared, white wings unfurled and a halo of red flame circling his head.

             A booming voice called out to the street, "Come out demon, it is time for you to depart this plane." Jessica cringed at the volume, frozen in place from fear while the world around her continued to move at its normal pace. Gysery cringed and Jessica felt him pulling at her emotions, covering himself in a blanket of human terror.

            A wretched screech echoed across the street as a massive demon sprouted from the shadow of a very lawyer like businessman.

            "Damn you Michael, these humans welcome us into their hearts by their greed and lust for power, why should you stop us?"

            "This world is not your master's yet, your kind do not belong here. Begone!" A whip of flame lanced out and ripped the demon apart. It screamed in agony and vanished in a cloud of black smoke. Jessica saw the lawyer trip momentarily before shaking his head and continuing on.

            "He screwed up his cover, the Angels can only see us when we fail to balance the emotions you feed us," Gysery whispered, fear causing a quaver in his voice. The angel glanced about him for a moment before vanishing in a pillar of white flame. They had stood under that canopy for a long while, rooted in place by fear until a call from her group leader had jarred Jessica back to action.

            Jessica sighed and closed her computer, the snap of the cover woke Gysery. "C'mon, time for dinner." They headed to the dining hall in the student union, passing the academic quad on their way. Dinner passed quickly, Gysery making his snappy comments about her friends as usual while they spent the dinner deciding their nights activities.  As always, they decided which party to go to, argued over what to wear, and Jessica felt normal, despite the comforting weight of the demon on her shoulder.

            She went to her friend Justine's room to get ready, spending almost an hour scrupulously inspecting every inch of her 5'7 body. She hated her eyes, how plain they were, if only she could have blue or green eyes, instead she'd gotten stuck with a soft brown color that didn't go with anything. She spent 15 minutes putting on mascara, eyeliner and glitter. She slipped her lithe, athletic frame into a little black dress that barely fell to her knees and strapped the black heels onto her tiny feet. Overall, she looked beautiful, her long black hair pulled back and flowing elegantly behind her ears and the golden hoop earrings glinting glamorously when she tossed her head.  A sly smile slid onto her lips as she gave herself the once over before dashing out the door after her friends, purse and alcohol in hand.

            They made the long walk across campus towards Fraternity Hill, the small rise of land covered in houses belonging to the various Greek organizations on campus. After stumbling past the academic halls and the ancient gothic cathedral, through a small line of trees and up the hill, they arrived on the lawn of the Sigma Theta house. The house was a two story white manor, with four columns holding up a balcony above the porch. Four large windows pulsed light onto them from the porch as they approached, stumbling and giggling.

            The party was raucous and loud. The frat boys of Sigma Theta always knew how to throw a good one, and the house was the perfect place. The white washed walls glistened as music and lights roared from inside along with the screams and shouts of a typical college party. The basement thrummed with the bass from the dance floor, the ground floor was littered with couches and recliners, as well as a bar in the kitchen that would have put many proper establishments to shame, and upstairs was reserved for more illicit activities.

            Drinking, dancing, living, it was everything college was supposed to be. Eventually, Jessica found herself sitting on a couch in the living room, her head buzzing nicely as she watched her friends play truth or dare with a few of the frat boys. She watched as one of them lifted her shirt in response to a dare and rolled her eyes. "I’m not drunk enough for this," she thought, and managed to stand without falling, and made her way to the bar. Girls always drank free at Theta, especially the cute ones. "Gotta love frat boys and their money," She said to Gysery who looked at her balefully out of one eye before rolling it and returning to his nap on her shoulder. 

            She laughed and suddenly tripped, only to feel an arm curve about her slender waist and pull her back upright. Her savior put a hand on her shoulder and said softly, "Be careful beautiful, drink too much and your demons will start showing." Jessica whirled to face the voice as Gysery's eyes snapped open and he sat up, perching on her shoulder. The boy who had caught her was tall, well built with jet black hair and beautiful emerald green eyes. He smiled, "Andrew Lewry, we had our first year intro class together last semester."

            Jessica's next words caught in her throat as she look at him. Oh She remembered him, intimidatingly smart but he'd always been so nice to her and everyone who'd showed that they had at least half a brain cell. And those eyes, she'd always been caught by them, captivated by their perfect green glow.

            "Andrew yea. Sorry, I didn't mean to trip," She said bashfully.

            "I didn't think so. Just be careful okay. Don't want to show anyone anything," he smiled sadistically and wrapped his arm around her waist.

            "No of course not," She giggled stupidly and smiled back. "I didn't know you're a Theta.?

            "I’m not," Andrew laughed, guiding her towards the bar with his arm, "The brothers just know me and I help them out with homework and papers if you know what I mean." He smiled sweetly, but with a hint of mischief in his eyes.

            "Oh you're a naughty one then," Jessica laughed, wondering if her makeup still looked alright.

            "You have no idea," Andrew laughed, ordering them drinks. The rest of the night was a blur of drinking, laughing, and dancing, and those beautiful green eyes. She couldn't get enough of them. They mesmerized her. She felt like she had his attention too. More than once she caught him eying her figure, mentally undressing her.

            Early the next morning Andrew, Jessica, and her friends walked back to her dorm. Andrew left her on the doorstep with a simple kiss on the cheek, and a smile that promised more. Amidst the oos and ahhs of her girlfriends, a single voice slipped into her mind and spoke, "Be careful Jessica, he's just like all the others," Gysery whispered his own opinion of the night.

                        "What do you mean? He seemed so nice," Jessica said, his words still fluttering in her mind, the emerald green eyes dancing before her face.

            "All the others were too."

            "Oh Gysery, he was just being a flirt, and a damn good one at that," she laughed and Gysery merely growled in response, and returned to laying on her shoulder, but his eyes stayed open until she finally stumbled up the stairs, back to her room, and passed out in bed happy with her fairy tale of a night.

                        Class the next week continued as always, only she had a new companion in them as Gysery stayed fully awake any time she wasn't in her room.

            "Shouldn't you be sleeping or something," She asked him, flicking the thought towards him.

            "Shouldn't you be paying attention?"

            "Smart ass, this is the first time you've been more awake in a class than I have."

            "Maybe that’s why you have a hard time with homework?"

            "Oh shut up," She flicked the final thought and him and turned back to the lecture.

            Over the next few weeks, she spent more time having these mental conversation with Gysery than she had since they'd first met.  Back then, she'd spent all of her time in class bugging him with questions about his past life and learning about him.

            "So, are there are many more like you?"

            "Like me, yes I suppose there are. I don't see many of them because of when we congregate, its like a beacon to the greater demons to come make some sick sport out of us."

            "So how do I know if I run into another demon like you, that it is you. I’m mean you're just Pity to me."  

            "Jessica your chances of meeting one demon in a life time are slim enough, let alone meeting two."

            "I know, but just in case I think I should have a way to know its you, besides I'm sick of just calling you Pity."

            "I'm not your pet to be named Jessica," Gysery, then pity, had groaned.

            "Yes, but giving you a name will make me feel more normal, if that’s possible."   

            "Fine, but I get my say in it," he snorted in resignation. After a week of Jessica tossing out names they had finally settled on Gysery, a little twist on guilt and misery the demon had found appropriate.

            Jessica smiled as she remembered the constant bickering they'd had over the incident and tossed a glance up at her shoulder where Gysery was starting to nod off.

            "See, staying awake all day is hard work," She poked at him.

            "Only because the things you take me too are so utterly boring," He replied.

            "How is lunch with my friends boring?"

            "If Julia starts talking about how to do her nails again one more time I might turn into a really evil demon," Gysery moaned pitifully  Jessica had to struggle to keep from laughing out loud at the blunt statement she'd been thinking for several minutes.

                        Slowly, life seemed to return to normal. Even Gysery calmed down for the most part, although he'd developed a nervous twitch in his ears when he was sleeping. Jessica didn't mind having the demon's constant companionship, but the nervous energy he gave off bothered her.

            "You're worrying me Gysery," She'd said one day.

            "I'm worrying me Jessica," He'd quipped back, investigating a cracked nail on his hand.


            "I'm jumping at shadows, and that emerald eyed kid just won't get out of my head, and it's not for the same reason he won't get out of yours."

            "Hey now, just cause I like to look at him doesn't mean anything. Plus he's barely said a word to me since the party so it's not like there is anything… "

            "Keep telling yourself that. Don't think I haven't seen you gazing at yourself in the mirror, wondering if your long brown hair and almond shaped eyes are enough for him? He's dangerous Jessica, I'm just not sure if it’s in a good way for us."

            "You're just jealous."

            "Of your obsession with a boy?  Why on earth would I be you irrational girl."

            "I don't know.  Maybe you are just a miserable little demon who likes feeding off a depressed and lonely girl, because that’s what I've been since you showed up." She replied sullenly.  She regretted the words even as they left her mouth. Gysery's large ears drooped and his cat like eyes drooped as his entire frame sagged in exhaustion, he didn't say anything, just turned his back and disappeared into mist.

            "Wait Gysery," She called, but the little demon did not reply. For a long time, Jessica sat on her bed, wondering at what she had done, not knowing if she should cry or feel relieved and in the end she simply fell asleep, a lonely ache filling her heart like never before.

            The next weeks passed slowly, classes crawling by as Jessica sat through them, missing the little mental conversations she'd always had with the little demon. In the cafeteria she'd sit with her friends , laughing at their jokes and commenting on boys, but it was empty. At night she'd sit alone at her computer typing papers or talking to old friends on the internet and the room seemed so empty. Her ever absent roommate made the small dorm room feel large and uninviting.

            "Pull yourself together Jessica, it's just like losing a cat or  something." She'd tell herself day after day. Eventually it seemed liked she was returning to normal and by the time her friends dragged her to another Theta party, she felt more like living life again.

            Walking up Frat House hill took just as long as normal, filled with stumbling, giggling and bitching about heels, but as always, they arrive at the front door to Theta house fully prepared to enter the temple of debauchery.

            "Helloooooo ladies," one of the frat boys hooted. Almost incoherent from the alcohol in her blood, Jessica laughed and winked at the blonde haired, blue eyed boy wearing a pink polo with a popped collar.

            "The hell am I doing?" she thought as she stumbled into the house. She wanted to forget the past weeks, wanted to have some real fun for once. Staggering up to the bar, she latched on to the wooden counter and waved to the senior who was tending bar over.

            "What can we do for you missy?"

            "I…I need a shhot of summthing," Jessica stumbled over the words as they came out.

            "Whatever you say missy, let's try something light for ya," the bar tender produced a shot glass and a black bottle from which he poured a full shot of whiskey. Jessica roller her eyes at the drink, then in a well practiced motion,  threw she her head back and let the alcohol slide down the back of her throat, the warming sensation tingling as it flowed down.

            "Damn girl, you know how to take a shot," A voice to her left said. She turned to see Mitch Hammald, the quarter back of the football team standing next to her. He was tall, dark haired, handsome, and built like a rock. Jessica felt her heart flutter for a second as she couldn't believe her luck.

            "Guess I've had some practice," she giggled. Mitch ordered two more shots for them, and the golden liquid slid down her throat, burning harshly, as she coughed and clutched her chest.

            "Not so much of a tequila girl?" Mitch laughed, rubbing her back as she kept coughing.

            "Guess not," She gasped, loving the smooth motion of his palm on her back. She took 2 more shots with Mitch and another football player who came over, Jason, before the room really started swimming.

            "C'mon Jessica let's dance," Mitch laughed, playfully grabbing her arm and tugging her towards the dance floor. Jessica failed to notice the malicious glint that flashed across his face as she stumbled after him into the basement.

            The bass was blaring the low dull beat of a new rap song as the mass of bodies gyrating against each other ebbed and flowed as Jessica and Mitch wormed their way into the crowd. It was hot, terribly hot with that many people around, the music blaring and the strobe lights were flashing across Jessica's face as they began to dance. She was clumsy and falling all over the floor by the time the first song ended. She felt ashamed and was more than happy when Mitch leaned down and whispered, "Why don't we go somewhere else, you're not really in any shape for this."

            "Souundzzz good tooo mee." Jessica slurred, willing the room to stop spinning around her. Mitch led her up a staircase and out a back door into the cool spring air. They were on the back side of the hill, looking out over the small forest which separated the college from the large mountains to the north.

            "I think we should get you home," Mitch said, and Jessica was more than happy to agree. She stumbled down the hill, along a small path which was carved into the side. "It's only a short cut," She thought as they came off the hill and through a small thicket of trees and into a little clearing in the grove.  Only when Mitch stopped did her muddled mind start to feel the slightest hint of panic.

            "Mitch, what's going," She stopped as she saw Jason, the other football player, step out from the thicket of trees into the small clearing. Panic began to flood her body, but she couldn't move, she couldn’t scream. Jason sidled up alongside Mitch, grinning from ear to ear, as he eyes Jessica up and down.

            "This will be fun," He laughed as he reached out a hand to grope at her breasts.

            Why couldn't she move. She tried to move her legs but they wouldn't budge. Her arms were locked in place, and as she turned her head, only then did she see the piercing green eyes of Andre Lewry gazing down at her, his icy cold hands clamped on her wrists.

            "Well by all means, enjoy," Lewry said, removing a small cloth from a back pocket. Jessica squirmed at the sight of it and struggled against him as the choking scent clogged her system. Then the screams started. Her vision was blurring but for a second she saw a flash of blue then a spurt of red followed by a ragged scream into the night. Another second passed and a second scream accompanied the first. The cloth dropped from her face and Jessica fell onto the soft grass as she watched the pale blue form of Gysery chase down the fleeing Andrew Lewry and impale him with a jagged, dagger like claw.

            The little figure stalked over to her, the dagger like claws receding to their normal form and his eyes returning to their soft and normal demeanor from the hard dilated pupils they had been.           

            "You stupid girl," Gysery whispered quietly, kneeling on his small frame to look straight into her eyes. Jessica smiled, speechless at the little creature standing before her. She was still locked in a haze of alcohol and even as she opened her mouth to apologize, Gysery squawked like a bird as he was jerked upwards, a large black hand closing on his neck.

            "Oh well done Gysery, we didn't know if you had it in you."  Deception's voice cackled across the field, his emerald green eyes flaring with glee.

            "Taking a few humans so quickly, who would have imagined it. Maybe some time in the human world was what you needed," Lust laughed, his demonic form emerging from the now paling body of Mitch.

            "Too bad I'm still going to squash you, then drag this girl to hell with us," Hate laughed insidiously.

            Jessica merely watched through the haze of alcohol as the three massive demons stood before her, their sulfurous breath fogging the air as their tattered black wings blocked out the moonlight behind them. Gysery squirmed in Deception's hand, bringing his jagged teeth to bare and sunk them deep into the scaly arm of the demon. Deception roared and dropped Gysery out of reflex as he reeled back, black blood dripping from the wound on his arm.

            "Impudent Imp!"Deception roared, a black fire raging behind the emerald eyes as he swung a heavy fist down at the small blue demon. Gysery let out a roar of his own and jumped to one side, dodging the punch and raking Deception's arm with his claws. The others closed in around Gysery, pummeling him with fists and scratching at him with claws. The fight was short lived as Gysery collapsed in a bloody heap, his chest heaving ,  ears tattered and eyes swollen.

            "You really think you can contest with us?" Lust laughed, retracting his claws.

            "WHY! Why do you things have to torment him. He's nothing like you, nothing at all. He shouldn't even be a demon. Can't you just leave him alone here." Jessica screamed, her head spinning at the effort.

            "Foolish human, we are demons, we do as we please. This is good sport for us, why should we give it up simply because a little human objects?" Deception laughed, slowly advancing towards Gysery's limp form.

            But Gysery rose, his body seeming to float upright. His claws unsheathed from his nails, narrowing to deadly points. The normal blue tint of his skin began to more, splotches of red and purple began to appear as the small little creature transformed into a six foot tall monster standing between the demons and Jessica. Rippling muscle coiled along the arms and the three long nails narrowed to knifelike points. Glistening white fangs protruded from the wickedly curved mouth as Gysery roared at the other demons,

             "I'm not just Pity anymore you fools. I've tasted love, fear, jealousy, rage, all sorts of emotions since Jessica chose to protect me. She has made me stronger, strong enough to resist those like you. " In a flash, Gysery slashed Deception across the throat , spewing black blood across the field. The other two began to flee, Lust launching himself into the air and Hate sprinting across the clearing towards the trees.

            Gysery reached a clawed hand upwards and grabbed Lust by and ankle and ripped him back down to earth. After one last unearthly howl, Gysery silenced the demon with two claws through his eyes. Hate ran full tilt into the tree, not daring to look back as fear coated his black body in a layer of sweat. Behind him Gysery's form began to shrink and his skin returned to its normal bluish tint. He knelt his small frame next to Jessica and stroked a lock of hair behind her head.

            "Come, let's get you home," He whispered.