Unfortunately, I felt the pull of the summons take hold just as I reached for the pot of coffee.
“Damn, no, just give me a couple of minutes!” I snarled, my lips pulling back around my fangs. “I haven’t even had the first cup yet-”
But there was no denying the strength of those words. A fishhook rose up in my gut, setting itself among my intestines, and then *yanked,* dragging me… well, not back, exactly, but in a direction that didn’t really seem to exist. Imagine if you were a two-dimensional being, wandering around happily in your flat little world, and then someone tried to pick you up, off the page.
It’s a hell of a disorienting feeling, especially when you haven’t even had a single gulp of coffee.
It had been a while since someone summoned me, I thought, giving up on trying to resist the pull. Time was different down here, of course, but it had to have been at least… I tried to count, tried to ignore that sensation that my intestines were slowly being pulled through the eye of a needle. Two hundred years? Two hundred and fifty?
As the summoning took hold of me, I slowly stretched out my hand – and then just before it yanked me away, managed to close my clawed fingers around the coffee pot. Yes!
The sensation stretched on, but although the lines of the world blurred and spun as they were replaced by another, I managed to keep my body straight, throwing back my shoulders and wings so that I’d land in a posture of powerful command (and also tucking the coffee pot back behind me, out of sight between my leathery wings). I huffed out a breath to ensure that it smelled sufficiently bad, and then filled my lungs, getting ready to announce my arrival.
As soon as I landed, however, a little warning bell chimed in my mind, alerting me that something was off.
Still, there were traditions, rituals, for this sort of thing. “Tremble, mortals!” I declared, spreading my wings and baring my claws. “For you have summoned the dreaded Abraxas, render of flesh, destroyer of small to medium sized cities-”
My words, however, could barely be heard over a horrendous caterwauling, the screeching of a woman in pain. It seemed, I surmised, that torture was already underway, perhaps being applied to the young woman who twisted with agony in front of me. Indeed, she looked in dreadful pain, her mouth open and body contorted…
But again, something didn’t feel quite right. There were no manacles binding the girl, for a start. A glance around the room revealed no leather-masked torturers, but there did seem to be a lot of strangely fuzzy objects. And everything seemed to be colored in various shades of pink. I’d first assumed that this coloration was from dried blood, but it instead appeared to have been manufactured in these horrendous shades.
“Er, hello?” I ventured, looking back at the girl. She still moved and shook, but perhaps this was not torture, but instead some sort of summoning dance?
The girl paused, turned around to look at me – and then screamed, so loud that I feared even my own eardrums would burst. She threw something at me from her hand, a rounded pad with bristles and a handle on it, and then dove down under her covers, pulling them up to obscure half of her face.
I smote the oncoming projectile into cinders, but then paused, not sure what to do next. My brain still didn’t feel fully awake. I looked around, trying to see if there was another who had summoned me, but saw no one aside from the hiding young girl.
“Well, this feels like an impasse,” I grumbled.
After a moment, she poked her head up out of her comforter. “Who the hell are you!?” she gasped out.
I gave her my best demonic leer. “I am the dreaded Abraxas, render of flesh, destroyer of small to medium sized cities,” I repeated again. This time, however, the words didn’t seem to have quite the same ring of authority. “Er, who are you?”
The covers came down a little further. “I’m Kate,” she said. “Er, high school student, destroyer of, um, spelling tests? And I’m pretty good at cheerleading.”
I didn’t recognize cheerleading, and wondered how it killed men. “And why did you summon me, Kate, destroyer of spelling tests and cheerleading?” I asked.
“Summon? And you don’t destroy cheerleading, you- oh, never mind. Look, what are you? How did you get in here?” Kate grabbed a pillow and threw it at me. I decided not to vaporize this one, and instead let it sail harmlessly by. “Don’t you know that you’re in a girl’s bedroom?”
I was now starting to realize that yes, these words were true, and something was indeed wrong. Had the summoning malfunctioned? My head hurt. “Can you at least turn off the torturous screams?” I asked.
“The what – oh, you mean Beyonce? Isn’t she the best? I was totally singing along to her, although I’m super bad at the words so I just make stuff up.” Kate clicked something on a metal device beside her, and the screaming mercifully stopped. “Hey, where did my hairbrush go, anyway?”
So I’d been summoned by a young girl, one who didn’t seek the rending of flesh or the destruction of any cities. I dropped down onto the end of her bed, drawing out the coffee pot from behind my back. “Do you have a cup?” I asked morosely, wondering how the other demons would taunt me when they heard of this embarrassment.
Kate hopped up and bounced across the room, bringing me a mug. I looked at it. It was pink, and said “Unicorns for lyfe!” on it. I filled it full of coffee and took a long pull.
Kate stood back for a minute, watching me with a skeptical expression, but then flopped down on the bed beside me. “So, you’re like a real demon, huh?” she asked. “From Hell, and stuff?”
“Indeed.” At least the coffee seemed to have survived its interdimensional journey.
“And I summoned you? By messing up the words to Beyonce?”
“It does seem that way.” I finished off the cup’s contents, refilled it.
“And now what?”
I turned to look at her, so small and weak, sprawled out with her legs kicking in the air. “Now, you control my actions until you release me back to Hell,” I said. “I can destroy your enemies, ravage their crops and smite their livestock, bring a pox upon their families-”
“Uh, no. The only enemy I have is Rebecca, and she’s just basic, so I can totally shut her down. She likes Tommy, but I know for a fact that he’s totally got a crush on me, so she won’t get anywhere. And I’ve got Jamie and both the Maries voting for me for head cheerleading captain, so she can’t take that spot.” Kate nodded, as if this babble made some sort of sense. “So yeah, totally got the enemies thing in check.”
“So what do you need, then?” I tried to remember what my buddy Mephisto did. “Is there anything that you desire?” I offered half-heartedly.
Kate frowned. “I guess… it’s hard to talk to them.”
Them? “The Maries and the Rebecca and the Jamie and the Tommy?”
“Yeah. I mean, I know we’re friends, sort of, but it always feels like I need to be on my guard. I can’t just tell them about stuff, right? Dreams and worries and this ugly mole on my thigh and things?” Kate rolled, revealing a small blemish on her leg.
I pointed at the blemish and vaporized it. Kate squealed at the heat, but then grinned when she saw the results. “Oh my god, that’s awesome!” she exclaimed. “Hey, sorry about summoning you or whatever, but you wanna listen to my college essay? Tell me what you think?”
I shrugged, glanced down at my coffee pot. “Any chance that you might possess the reagent of cream from a goat?” I asked.
“Uh, we have half and half, I guess. Will that work?”
I did not know what the halves were made of, but I decided to make the best of the situation. “Very well, it shall be acceptable. Bring me this whole of two halves, and I shall listen to your essays and woes.”
Kate bounced up. “Stay right there,” she commanded, and dashed out of the room.
I stayed. Despite its abhorrent pink color, the mattress did feel soft and comfortable. I let my wings spread out as I sipped at my coffee. Perhaps this summons would prove enjoyable, after all.