I’ve been going along here this summer, busy, busy, busy writing and editing. Yesterday, a story came along that I’m tentatively going to call A Demon for Time. Right now it’s probably going to end up novella length, 20 to 30k words or so. And to start I’m going to post, chapter by chapter, as it comes along.
**Standard disclaimer: this work is totally unedited, written 7-17/18-13, story may or may not change by the time it goes to ‘print’**
I was thirteen when my first, only and last séance made me a believer of ghosts. The possession that followed gave me intimate awareness of the demons that came with them. Demons that come through a person to get into the world turns that person into a toe dancer, board stiff, finger tendons strung tight. It lifts them up off the ground or floor in this case, into the air by the swiftness of its passage.
Ghosts and demons. One after, and sometimes with, the other. It all made me know that I wouldn’t ever pick up another Ouija board, ever in my life. It didn’t inform me that I would one day become a demon hunter.
I found out fast, at that young, tender age, before there were boys even, that the dead weren’t especially fond of the living. Most of them hated us with a passion. Hated us for breathing.
I learned at 15 that hatred brings all kinds of bad mojo right back at you, living or dead. And so the bad ones, well, they were really bad, piss your pants and freeze your breath in your lungs bad. They were like the robber prowling the streets of the city you didn’t go to at night, except with a crowd and only for special occasions. Those robbers, well they had their own special Angel of Death hanging on their shoulder, egging them on, encouraging them to do all the bad things in the world. The good guys don’t generally get those kinds of spirits. The good ones are few and far between.
When there are too many bad ghosts, coupled with an alive bad junkie, thief, rapist, murderer – take your pick of any of that breed of man – when too many of them came together in a twisted concert of evil, in the conflux, all that negative energy brought a demon.
Well this usually led to the death of the mortal. Almost instantly. Within an hour or two at most…except the one time. Mortals and demons are only compatible in certain extenuating circumstances, which is a good thing for the living. The demons aren’t gentle or imps or anything but life rending monsters, and they don’t care if they are compatible or not. They’re in the world and their intention is to stay in it. By whatever means necessary. Lots of people die when a demon comes through. Lots and lots.
Killing a demon, as you might expect, is oh my God nearly impossible.
Killing a demon that has found a compatible?
It hasn’t been killed yet.
The other part of the equation here, is the demon hunter. That person is a special type as well. You have to have balls of brass, coated in…I don’t know, something stronger than brass to face a demon. The hunters have to be cunning, which makes the whole not succumbing to the evil influence of the Bad Guy very tricky and difficult. Cunning isn’t exactly what people consider a good trait, like be kind to your fellow man, be a donor kind of good trait. Someone who is cunning might not be so trustworthy. A lot of demon hunters started out right and ended up sitting on the shoulder of a psychotic killer, drawing one in with a conflux, worshiping the thing in their delusion. It never ends well for the worshiper.
Can’t trust a demon to not suck your soul right out of yourself and send you off to the lock down. The Firey Pit. Home of Satan and all that. In you go. Never come out. Lots of hunters ended up that way in time, after being used and broken.
You have to be able to tolerate quite a lot being a demon hunter. Everyone’s got them apparently and I have a talent.
I don’t just see dead people. I smell them. Some of them are not so bad, but no, most just reek. It’s impolite to say so. I try not to look like I’m holding my breath. Best to be nice to the not fully dead.
I feel them, these ghosts. Yes, that is just as creepy as it sounds. I hear them – in places you can’t believe and might make you afraid to walk out your door. Oh except, they’re in your house too. Here’s the end of the misconception some people have that only certain places are ‘haunted’. No. Ghosts are everywhere. All the time. The number of them is somewhat dependent on population density and how many people have had a particular connection to your area over eternity.
So you can imagine, there can be a literal crap ton of dead people all crammed in. I’ve seen them that way, packing in so tight I wouldn’t dare try to make my way through. The older continents are the worst. Do not go to Damascus. Just don’t.
I sometimes envy the people who can walk through a crowded hall stuffed full of ghosts and not know it. They might feel the hairs on the back of their neck or on the arms stand up. Cold breezes. Cold heart, hands, nose. When your whole body goes that way, that’s when you need to hope they don’t decide to stay in your nice warm self. The possessed are also everywhere, so it’s a better idea to have a clue. There are preparations to take against such invasions, oils and elixirs have on hand. Chapstick, for instance. Turns out that ghosts don’t like it.
There are words to say too, that come out a lot like a spell. I’ve definitely freaked a few people out looking wide-eyed and muttering under my breath. They back away pretty quick, whisper about what the hell is wrong with that one, and cast me a glance or two as they move off.
It’s a living though.
Also, I just saved their old, frumpy-assed selves from the giant monster about to cause a heart attack right there in the mall food court, make the grandkids sad (or maybe happy that you’re gone fake-sad) and your kids go through the whole estate thing you still haven’t set up so there’s no bickering over the ‘stuff’. So, lady, don’t look at me like I’m nuts.
I only wish. I got used to the stares and whispers and mostly stopped worrying about it, but that’s been a recent acceptance of my situation. I’ve been fighting this off for a few years now, taking on this damn job. It doesn’t pay the rent, so for saving your life, I don’t get the Ritz or even a Motel 6. See, occasionally, just every once in a while, I will get a ghost to bump you. They may accidentally knock a person over, but I try to get them to be gentle about it. And I run over and help you up, and help myself of your wallet, and/or the money in it. Girl’s gotta eat. Sometimes I take a card, but those are two easy to track. You old people carry cash more than younger ones. Walking around as if the world has not changed.
Okay, so it hasn’t that much.
Not the way people act anyway.
Technology is coming along at a pace. We’ve got space ships. Still no flying cars though, damn it. Someone lied about that ever being possible.
War’s mostly a thing of the past. We haven’t killed ourselves off yet and it even seems that we mostly get along. No one thought that would ever happen. We all even get along with the North Koreans. Well, they all but killed themselves off and had a national implosion, civil war and then they finally quit fighting. That was the last big war. Finally put a stop to it.
We can thank the aliens for that.
They ransacked every store on the planet, took whatever they wanted out the door – even in Poe-dunk, Mississippi folks – Armed up too, and then hunkered in as if the world was ending. Scared the shit out of the aliens. They left and have not been back since.
Getting an answer to that big question put people in a different mind. Wars started ending and we all collectively decided that it might be a good idea to get the fuck along. We are all way more the same than the green goblin that got off the ship and tried to make friendly with us.
We were having none of that. Black, yellow, pasty white, brown as a berry, red and all the variations there to, but not green. Everyone drew the line at green. Kind of a pity there. They might have been friendly, these alien people, but we didn’t give them the chance to find out. Obviously, civilization still has some growing up to do. Accepted.
We started building spaceships pretty soon thereafter. Some spy group got into their computer brain and sucked out all the schematics. We launched maybe a year later. Talk about putting the space program into high gear. A year more and we had ten ships. Another year after that, over a hundred. We rocketed off to places we thought we knew. Some did not come back.
Some found some pretty amazing stuff and finally, they found another planet we could live on. It’s just around the corner in worm time. Warp time. Whatever you want to call moving space and time without moving. I still don’t get it, but whatever. They have engineers for that. Takes a week to get there.
The other planet they found is two days beyond the first. P10 and P11 they are now called. The space agency is so full-on creative. There are requests everyday to name them, but no one can agree on what. We haven’t changed all that much.
The pioneer spirit is alive and well. People left earth in droves. By the thousands, until there were a few million gone. There’s regular back and forth now. The New Worlds don’t have other people on them, I mean before us, though there are signs that maybe they were once there. Lots of woods now. We’re still exploring. There’s a few cities growing up. Natural resources abound. We’re still not so great at managing them, but at least we don’t clear-cut whole forests anymore.
I left earth for the first time when I was 18. I didn’t want to go to college or small college or get any more book learning, so I signed onto a freighter going to P10 as part of a one way crew. I cleaned the toilets and mopped the floors. Food was even included. Best I ate for a whole week, so it wasn’t a bad deal.
I left because I thought I could get away from the ghosts.
Turns out, I was wrong about that.