James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
She stared at me, her brown eyes pleading with me, begging for release. Her body convulsed on the ground in the shadow of the reeking dumpster, a bright street light standing watch on the scene of madness occurring in the broken alleyway. The EMTs tried to get a handle of their charge and the improbable situation.
They simply did not understand and their kind rarely did. The world of science would look down on the scene being played out and come up with possible diagnoses of epilepsy or if they saw the track marks on the inside of her arms maybe it would simply consider it to be the result of a bad batch of heroine and perhaps in some occasions they might be right. However science did not understand my world or what was truly manifest in the shadows of the streetlight.
There is nothing rationale about our world. Some would describe what I see as the world behind the veil. I would respond for me and others the veil does not exist. I see the world as it truly is and what I saw in that disgusting alley would have sent the EMTs running for their lives. Of course they would never stop running for the terrors I see are everywhere and on everyone.
Several monsters had attached themselves to the young woman and they were literally sucking the last remnants of her blackened soul.
Religions across the world have many name for these monsters; demons, ghouls and jinns. What they are called is not relevant to me. My focus was solely on the eyes of the prostitute, the heroin addict, the little girl beaten and abused by her father and ignored by her mother. My eyes focused on hers as she was gasping in her last gulps of air before the last of her soul was gone. When these demons were done she would simply become a carcass of rotted meat between these two young men whose own souls were grayed as they kneeled by her.
I wasn’t there to save them. I needed those I helped to want this help. I cannot save all those being corrupted in the world. Too many souls go the realm of Hell and all its varied Princes. Millions die without the benefit of what I can do for them. I simply cannot save them, because they simply do not do one thing, ask for my aid.
Despite her horrible life, a life she shared with me in those fleeting moments; despite the fact that the streets she lived on there were more demons walking then humans; despite that she had lived on those streets since she was twelve she pleaded with me for aid. She had run away from her loveless home where her father had raped her at ten and when she begged her mom to listen to her, her mother had cast her out. She went from homeless shelter to homeless shelter never giving her name for fear of her father. He had threatened her in his last harsh whisper that if she ever told anyone, that he would hunt her down and kill her and anyone she told. When she was a little older but still a child in body and heart she had fallen in love with a young man. She saw him as her savior and rescuer but before she knew anything different, he had forced her into a life of lying on her back and shooting poison into her arms.
She slept with men who brought diseases but also brought their demons with them and the men forced themselves on her, the demons attacked her souls as her flesh was repeatedly violated. She soon slipped into the world of drugs to forget the men and horrors but the drugs brought their own demons. Throughout it all, this pimp, this dealer smiled at her, getting his high from seeing the pain and misery he wrought on her.
All this pain, all these disgusting beasts writhing on her skin and sinking their teeth into the last vestiges of her soul and yet her eyes saw me for what I am and begged for my help. What I am is difficult to explain. I am here to simply save her, if not her life at least her soul. In order for this young girl not to slip into the darkness, I needed to do two things. I needed to distract the demons, so they could stop feeding on her and I needed to bind them so they would return to the netherworld and not return. No demon will leave its victim unless it is forced to do so and this is simpler if there is someplace, someone or something to latch onto instead, willingly or otherwise.
So first things first, I needed to get their attention. Despite common misperceptions or at least for me working outside the bounds of “organized” religion, screaming at the top of my lungs, “By the power of Christ, I compel you….go jump in that pig over there” simply does not work. When I first started on my mission I thought this was the way to go and all it did was bring me a lot of unwanted attention and pain of my own. Specifically at this time I did not want a couple of EMTs thinking that I would be their next patient, one that would have to be put in a straight jacket.
For the record saying, “Here little demon, here little demon, come here little demon” has the same reaction that cats do. If they even bother to notice you it is simply to tell you to Fuck Off! It all boils down to their name or the name of their master. There are a multitude of demons, probably as endless as the stars. There are some old dusty theologians that calculated it as 66,666,666 demons. Can’t imagine where they got that idea from? There is the impossible query, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” I guess my version would be “How many demons can murder and maul on the tips of a pitchfork?”
In this specific case the dying girl was being assaulted by several types and this is probably why at this late stage she was still alive. The different demon spawn were fighting against each other to get the last juicy morsel of her soul, to claim the final victory. If there is no honor among thieves, there is certainly is none amongst demon minions. For the minion who gets to eat the last piece of soul declares victory for their master, score one for their Lord whoever he is, in the greatest and sickest game of the universe. The more victories the stronger the master and many masters had legions on earth to do their bidding, and most people walked about their lives as if nothing occurred around them, nothing more important than to catch that train. I guess Hell was your typical political arena; backroom deals, loyalty only as it serves one’s interests and all the kings, princes, dukes and knights of Hell stabbed each other in the back on a routine basis. And there was no hard feeling, after all these are demons we are talking about. So in effect this was a larger, more devious and more evil version, if you can believe it, of Capitol Hill with much bigger consequences. Death is the end result for us all but the state of our soul is up to us. A fully devoured soul guarantees one thing, an eternity as a slave to one of Hell’s hierarchy.
Through all the madness, I needed to identify the types, the species I was dealing with. If I went blindly into this fight the girl would be gone, sucked into the netherworld forever. So I stepped away from the light pole, dropping the Lucky Strike onto the ground only half finished, crushing it under my heal. I pulled my duffel bag off my shoulder leaning against the pole and opened my box. My box looks harmless from the outside and for most people it would be harmless on the inside too. It was simply a jerry rigged tackle box, but the shelves with their little compartments as you opened the box and expanded, made ideal for this type of work. Each compartment contained something for each of the demons I had come across in my journey.
It seems that the longer a demon is with its victim, the stronger it becomes and the more it feeds and the more it craves. Most demons do not feed alone. There can be several of one type and quite often more than one type, each owing allegiance to different Lords of Hell. I have learned over many years that it is best to go after the big boys first, just like in a street fight you go after the biggest guy and punch him square in the nose, except in my reality the biggest guy can rip your head off and piss down your neck.
The larger ones were on her and through her as if she was riddled with the worst form of cancer imaginable. They were dark masses, always moving, never quite solid, as if there was no membrane keeping them together. These giant twisting things of hell, I have seen before. When they existed all light disappears, not a dim light with great shadows, but a place of utter blackness, a void from which nothing would return. How could I save the girl from the minions of the King Beliah? I did not stand a chance against so many. My mind became clouded, confused and soon overwhelmed with despair. This was not my fight, a fight I could not hope to win. I kneeled down to close my box of tricks to flee this place, to anyplace other than here, where all the hope was being drained from me.
As I turned to go, I caught one last sight of the dying girl’s eyes and it all came back to me, the “why” I was there, the “what” my life’s work was about and that I could indeed save her. I cursed myself for allowing the waves of the void, the waves of darkness and despair to reach me and affect me. I had let my guard down. I saw the EMTs walking away down the alley, leaving their charge, not realizing the power of Beliah’s minions was causing their actions as well.
Normally I would be able to shake the power off easily but there were so many present on this victim. I returned to my box, opened it again. I pulled my eyes away from those beautiful doe eyes of the shattered girl and stared straight into the utter darkness of the demons and then I brought my own power to bear. I first I had to get their attention and there was only one way to do so, to call them by name. The minions were not individually named but were bound to one of the hierarchy of Hell and by calling their boss’ name I would get their attention. It was almost a science, similar to bird watching. You had to identify quickly the species but the difference was that in bird watching you were never in any danger of having a bird turn on you and rip your throat out.
The calling by name was simply the distraction part.
Nothing, the creatures were not willing to let go that easily and give the victory to others.
One of the smaller ones lifted its mouth, for want of a better definition, and turned towards me.
-Beliah, chief lieutenant of Lucifer
More of them now turned to me completely distracted from their insatiable need for souls, by the name of their liege lord. But not all, so I continued.
-Beliah, King of Hell, master of power, I call all your charges in your name. Release her and come to me for I am no easy victim.
-Stinking human flesh, who dares to speak the name of our king, so great that your are less significant than the smallest grain of sand in comparison to all the shores of all the oceans on all the worlds that we will cause to boil.
-Beliah, a slave to a slave, a king of worms. Minions- you are fleas in his mane. See my soul, my lifeforce and know I am the greater prize. A great victory my soul would be for that vile creature you call master. I have sent dozens of your brethren back to Hell, never to return.
The largest, the darkest, eyed me with a strange puzzlement. As if there was something inherently wrong with a simple mortal, shouting such insults and boasts. However it had worked as they all released the girl and began to approach me.
-When we destroy your soul and fall into the utter darkness that is King Beliah, we will share with him the words of sacrilege you spoke this day. He will invent new tortures to inflict on you and each day for all eternity you will scream knowing only your ears shall hear.
Shit! There were seven of them. How the hell were there so many and this girl was still alive. I kept my eyes on the monsters coming to do much worse than kill me as I moved my right hand into box begging I enough of what I needed.
-I am flattered that the King of worms would take an interest in me and my tortures and I see that there are several of you so at least for your sake it will be a fair fight.
And with that I stood up straight.
I no longer could see the girl lying on the floor. The EMTs fleeing the scene were no longer in sight. In fact I could see nothing in front of me. The alley was gone, that stinking dumpster was gone though the smell remained. All of my vision in front of me was filled with utter darkness. To orient myself I looked down and saw my feet, behind me the street light still shown casting my shadow forward, where it suddenly ended at the black wall slowly approaching me. The stars dimly lit the sky of the city that surrounded me.
The void in front of me, while it was pure blackness from one wall of the alley to the other, I could see the mass undulating and I could still perceive seven different forms, though they blended sometimes and fluctuated constantly. I did realize that the demons were lined up in a straight row, probably to prevent my escape to the front. They were not staggered or lined up behind each other.
-Thank you for making this easy for me fellas.
-We will destroy you but maybe not right away. We will make your brains to mush as you go slowly mad and then we will suck your soul and watch you die.
-I am already mad, worm, I think certified by three separate facilities, but death will not be my friend this day.
And I laughed the laugh of a madman. With that I opened my right hand dropping the items into my left with a clanking sound. In quick succession I flicked seven golden coins in succession, from left to right as quickly as I could. I spaced them evenly hoping to hit each of the demons coming towards me.
I heard the screams of pain and frustration, a demonic chorus that was music to my ears. The seven golden coins floated in the air and the void around them began to shrink. Soon I was able to see scattered pieces of the alley behind them, like parts of a jigsaw puzzle. The darkness continued to disintegrate as the demons began to be sucked into the small coins, one for each. It was then that the demons briefly just for a moment took on a more human form, a reminder perhaps of what they were once.
True mouths appeared to utter their final screams. Hands formed clawing at the empty air trying to hold onto this realm, this existence in futility and then they were just as suddenly gone. The alley had returned, the girl lying on the ground and seven gold coins floating in the air. My work was not done for the minions of Beliah. I took out a golden plated jar and opened the top and the gold coins one by one came back to me and were absorbed into the jar. They did not go into the top as I opened it but attached themselves to the side. As they were absorbed the jar lit with a light brighter than the street light. Indecipherable runes glowed on the sides as the coins disappeared inside.
When they had been absorbed fully and the runes dimmed, I put the cap back on the jar. The very second the cap was secured the coins fell out onto the ground, clanking loudly and rolling in small circles. As I picked them up, I smiled as being a big fan of renewable energy. Hey everyone has to do their part.
My own energy was leaving me, each battle causing horrible headaches and making me sway on my feet with sudden tiredness. As I looked down at the young victim I knew my night was not over. The other demons had not stopped to observe the battle above them and had taken advantage to continue to feed on her soul. At least there were less of them and the largest and strongest were restrained in my box. Beliah’s minions were some of the most difficult to vanquish and it took me many years to obtain the money for those gold coins and jar, and tonight it took a lot of luck to achieve the initial success.
Beliah’s minions had been attached to the poor street girl because of the sex that was forced on her, not by the johns but by someone with power. I could only assume her pimp. Even still this was no ordinary pimp to have so many of Lucifer’s chief lieutenant’s scions transferred onto a victim.
Now I returned my attention to the demons that helped her become an addict. Not every addict was possessed but this one was a special case and had several more additional demons that would need to be extracted for her to survive.
If Beliah’s minions had been dark as the bottom of a deep hole, the last group was almost indiscernible. They were translucent flowing on her and inside her like a clear liquid. It was only with the practiced eye and the visible thinnest of membranes around each of the minions that they were able to be identified. They leaked out of her nose, the track marks on the inside of her arms and thighs oozed with them.
The girl was almost gone and despite Beliah’s best efforts, it appeared that the servants of Duke Focalor would claim victory and leave with the girl’s soul for their master. Some call Focalor the Drowned God. Blasphemous I am sure but I walked the streets of blasphemy every day and night. His minions did not drown their victims with water, though I heard that his victims in Hell were drowned and then revived for all eternity. Instead they drowned their victims with the poison of alcohol and drugs. In this case from the identifiable marks on her arms and legs the drug of choice was heroin. I am sure another present from her pimp/dealer. He must have first whispered sweet words into the ears of a malleable twelve year old and once he possessed the girl, the demons went to work on her soul as the drugs and johns went to work on her body.
I pulled out a simple glass cruet with a glass stopper and gave the appearance it was empty. I know longer had time to weigh my options. I no longer had the strength to exchange clever banter. I just needed to quickly finish this or the girl’s soul was damned for all eternity.
-Minion of Focalor, I call you.
They attached themselves slightly from the girl. They were not as powerful as the minions of Beliah but in my weakened state they did not need to be.
-Water demons of the Duke of Hell, I summon you.
With that they stopped feeding and moved off the girl. I almost did the sign of the cross in thanks for this time there were only three. I had only the one cruet and if there had been anymore I do not believe I would have been able to defeat them and as a result I would have died as well that night.
-Human scum, why do you call on us? Are you so eager for your death? Wait and we will give it to you shortly but first we must finish our feast and claim the soul beneath us for our master, Focalor the Great.
-Great? (So much for no banter, I really can’t help myself) Your lord is a water sprite in a land filled with fire. If he goes near any of the great Lords of Hell, I am sure he turns to steam.
The three demons reacted in and in unison cried out.
-We will first eat your soul, since you are so eager to die and when we are finished all your water and soul will be given to the great Duke and you will be left a dry husk that will be blown away in the next stiff breeze.
I said nothing, for once simply removing the glass top of the cruet, placing it in the front pocket of my overcoat. They attacked seeing me as no threat, seeing my simple glass container as nothing more than a memento I wished to hold as I died. While these demons had the ability of speech they mostly worked on animal instinct, and did not meet the true definition of intelligence. They saw me simply as prey and circled me to ensure I would not escape, coming at me at the three points of a triangle.
Inside the vial was the only defense against the demons of Duke Focalor that I had yet to discover. I had captured the water from a running stream. Back in the ancient days, folk would flee Focalor’s creatures by wading across running streams or building bridges over the same running water knowing they would be safe for even a bridge the minions dared not cross. I had discovered this as I did most of my knowledge in the musty old texts of lore, forgotten in the libraries of our great universities.
While I had filled the cruet with running waters, inside the cruet the water was inert. If I dropped it and the cruet, the water would be useless. If I failed to uncap it, again the water would be useless and if I failed in its use I would be dead.
So as the demons attacked I completed a 360 degree turn, as if I it was a rudimentary pirouette. As I did the water from the cruet released allowing it to run again. When the running water struck each of the three demons they began to dissolve as a certain wicked witch once did without the banter about “beautiful wickedness”. When I was done I stood there surrounded by dissipating steam.
I began to feel wobbly on my feet and kneeled next to the girl. Her seizure had ended and a slow steady breathing resumed. Most importantly my mind’s eye looked inside her and all her enemies were gone and a last vestige of her damaged soul shown, a beacon of hope.
I smiled down at her, albeit it was a tired worn one. Her eyes finally focused to look into my own. There was no smile there. The injuries to body and spirit were too severe. I didn’t expect a smile or anything else. My feelings were not ones of disappointment. Too many years had numbed my own spirit to such expectations. My body and spirit was also too tired from the recent battle.
I took the time for a brief respite and sat with her as I tidied up the contents of my box. I always made a mess of things while battling the demons. I put the gold coins back in their compartment and put the now empty cruet at the bottom of the box with all the other items that needed to be replenished or replaced.
I looked back and the girl was raising herself into a sitting position. Her scars still remained those of the body and the soul. The ones of the body would always be with her to remind her of the past and the demons that had resided there. The ones on her soul depended on the actions of her future, a future that she should look at as the old adage said, “one day at a time”.
I looked around to get a bearing of our surroundings. This was a horrible area of town. Most people would not dare to step foot within blocks of this alley. Of course, my definition of unsafe was a little skewed considering I fought demons for a living. We still sat there by the stinking dumpster, its stench only again reaching my sense of smell, but it was a reminder of the fact we were still alive, so I did not mind it so much. My duffel bag still lay at the feet of the street light and I took a deep breath and slowed raised myself to my feet. I gathered up the makeshift rope I had attached to the two sides of the box and pulled it over my head so the rope crossed over my chest with the box resting on my right hip. I reached out to the young girl with my hand to help her up, just as I looked down the alley towards where the EMTs had fled not long before. I knew they were long gone from this place and I really could not blame them.
As she began to get up next to me, as unsteady as I was, I saw a perfectly formed darkness in human form slowly walking towards us. I did not see demons attached to the soul of this man, nor did I see the contorting membranes of a shadow signifying a demon that had me earlier. What I saw was the complete outline of a man with only darkness on the inside.
“Tony” the girl whispered. I looked at her to see on her face, a complex group of emotions. There was fear, revulsion but also love and I knew who Tony was to her. Tony was the man who she had fallen in love with on the streets, the one she thought was her rescuer, who returned her love by pimping her out and keeping her ensnared by drugs. This was Tony who knew that she was supposed to die in that alley that night and he did not care for he had dozens ensnared like her.
What I saw was far worse than a pimp or a drug dealer. Only thing could be void of pure darkness and human at the same time, a man who had literally made a pact with the devil. Coming towards us was an obligate demon and his host, a symbiotic relationship that gave the human great power and strength and the demon complete access to our world, not just a simple foothold. This was something far stronger than everything I had fought this night. My night was far from over.
I sighed, pulling the box back over my head and spoke to the girl with as much authority as I could muster, “Run!”