You Reap What You Sow
by Nina Tveden
Negotiating with demons is not a young woman’s game, as our character knows all too well. But staying out of Hell means it’s a necessary evil…
In my short time here, with the entire experience I’ve had I can only say that there is one thing you can count on and that is, everybody leaves.
That’s the entire narrative, in this story and every story that has been written before mine. Seasons change, people grow apart, you don’t want the same things, you can’t give someone what they need…. It’s a rusted out ferris wheel and nobody seems to know how the fuck to get off it.
These are the thoughts that catapult through my mind as I sit on the front stoop, cooking in the July heat that is permeating my flesh bag and causing the juices to pool behind my knees. I turn a pack of matches over and over through my fingers, wishing for a cigarette but knowing that I don’t have the cash, so instead I light every match in the pack, and watch each one burn down to my badly chewed nail beds. I wait for the heat to become too intense, to actually hurt before I flick the match onto the simmering asphalt, watching the white whisper of sulphur disappear into the acrid air.
This summer has been one of the hottest on record, and everyone is suffering. This neighbourhood is all cookie cutter style houses, built to uniform and cheaply made by greedy builders who used shitty materials, their shingles curling after 13 years when promised to last 25, and yet nothing can be done so the residents have to fix them themselves. Those who can afford air conditioning are boarded up in their homes, zombie apocalypse style, while the rest of us set up cheap fans that just blow hot air around, and fill up plastic kiddie pools, fighting our children to submerge our sweaty bodies for a few minutes of relief, before the neighbourhood dogs starting trying to crawl in too, looking for their own relief and a cool drink. The summers beat the winters, at least. That’s the joy of Northern Canada, and the ultimate fucking misery.
It’s nearly 6 o’clock, the sun’s still high in the sky and the kids are racing around on their bikes, mothers shielding their eyes from the burning sun, hollering for their kids from the shade of the doorframes to come in and eat.
The hasty goodbyes between friends, as they pump their legs hard to get home, and then suddenly the street is quiet and deserted. Just me, my matches and the growing pile of burnt sulphur sticks, blinking green eyes into the hazy evening light that’s started to fade slightly. Soon it will be time to work, it should be almost ready, and I am growing so tired.
I stand, my knees cracking and the pools of sweat behind them gush down the back of my calves like amniotic fluid burst fresh from my womb. I grimace. It looks as if I’ve pissed myself.
Heading into the house, I stop before entering the cool shade of the old wooden build to scan the streets with sharp eyes, checking the silence, the stillness of the evening. Straining to hear the almost inaudible crying coming from the basement, and slowly shut the heavy oak door, latching it behind me.
Time to work.
Being a woman is hard; hard enough in a world where higher education is valued, privilege is everywhere and without a leg-up, its incredibly difficult to really get anywhere. I’m thinking about all the challenges I’ve overcome and how I came to be the woman I am today, from heartbreak, despair, financial ruin, all in the name of love. Other women have been fucked over by their lovers before. Hell, it’s a tale as old as time and historically the only good story you’ll ever hear, it was the only thing worth recording. Elizabeth Bathory murdered virgins for their blood so she could stay youthful for her much younger lover. Juliet took fake poison to be with Romeo, only to have to commit suicide so that she could actually end up with him. And let’s not forget Catherine of Aragon, who was cast aside for Anne Boleyn by her husband, who had sworn his fidelity and his life to her after the death of his brother – her original husband.
Such a disappointment that men couldn’t figure out that they were the worst things to happen to women. It didn’t get any better as the years went by, the Queens and Senators wives, the housewives who put up with the embarrassment, the mockery, the injustice of it all, were the real heroes.
The musty smell of the basement assaults my senses as I move to descend the basement stairs. No lights are needed as I know my way down, like navigating my own body. The stairs and bannister are my legs, I think – running my hand down it as I descend each step, the grains like small, two-day-old stubble. The ancient work bench, my thorax, thick and well-built, Sturdy with good bones, able to take heavy hammering from, not only hand tools, but heart against ribs. Chains hanging from the ceiling, my arms, thick and heavy with good craftsmanship, unbreakable in the task at hand.
Now, the gentlemen who happened to be chained up, hanging dehydrated, covered in shit and piss, bleary-eyed and trying to cry with nothing to give; that was no part attached to my body. Not anymore, at least.
The last hint of sunlight illuminates the dingy room and he lifts his head weakly at the sound of my light footsteps, his lips cracked, dry and bleeding try to form words, yet nothing but low whimpering escapes.
“You should really relax. Sobbing doesn’t have any effect on me.”
My fingers deftly move his dark hair, matted and dirty, off his forehead. Brown eyes dart wildly, searching for any mercy within my big green one. How disappointed he will be to find there is none. I cup his chin in my hand, and lift his face until it’s inches from my own.
“Sobbing just dehydrates you, and then you’re no good as a host. No one wants dry body bits now, do they?” I ask him, almost as if asking him to confirm my thought process. Silly, silly me, I think to myself as I release the coconut that is his head and let it fall, heavily with no resistance, to his chest.
Moving back to the work table, I being to prepare for the ritual, an exhausting process but this moon won’t last, and it will hit its peak quickly, so I must work with alacrity. I take a piece of chalk in my left hand, rubbing it against the smooth pad of my thumb, coating my fingers in the dusty residue as my right hand holds the worn pages of the incantation open. Moist lips loosely forming the sounds of Latin and Castillion dialect from which this must be performed, and I have not done this in many, many years.
Finally content, I begin to draw my symbols and sigils on the floor, creating a large circle, slicing it into sections like pieces of pie, creating a sigil and astrological placement. It takes me roughly 30 minutes to complete and I see the boy watching me, hazy eyes filled with curiosity and fear. I am on my knees, rocked back on my heels when our eyes meet.
“You will be ok – in fact, you should be honoured that I have chosen you,” I say in a soothing voice that even surprises me. He averts his gaze, his chin trembling with the onslaught of tears that smudge his dirty cheeks. He has no idea of his fate and I can not pretend that it will not be unpleasant, but I do know that if done right, his body will remain intact.
Lucky for him, I don’t need any blood or body parts from him, I have already procured the sacrifice and the offerings, so he will be whole during the transition.
The jars of flour and salt are ready on the worktable Jars from Greece that have been preserved beautifully for centuries, passed down from generation to generation within my family, and now being used once again for the magic that has been instilled within me through blood and knowledge.
The sun is gone and I check my watch, keeping a trained eye on the time; this must be done exactly when the moon is at its fullest and most potent. Necromancy demands perfection within moon phases and this ritual will be no exception. Time is ticking. Now, to prepare myself. I recheck that he is still tightly bound. I feel at ease leaving the dark basement and ascend the stairs to my room, to the back of the closet, where I bring out my robe.
It is a tradition to wear black, to wear a hooded garb of simplicity, so that upon summoning you are not the focus, and remain a bland point of indifference. Nothing distracting or eye-catching so as not to confuse the Demon as he becomes one with the mortal realm. I bathe in warm water scented with rosemary, frankincense and myrrh, traditional herbs that cleanse the body and the soul. A completely clean slate is essential, and I wash my dark hair with rose water and witch hazel, scrubbing my body with rough crystals to slough off any maleficence and to produce a clean scent. Demons are very impartial and disgusted by cleanliness, anything holy. A towel dry off, and I slip my naked body into the scratchy burlap robe which will encase me as I work. My hair is left free, flowing down my back in wet tendrils/ I feel my most powerful when crowned with my hair in all its witchy glory.
It is time.
Down the stairs I go, bare feet on cold stone stairs, arms full of candles. White for purity, black for summoning, as fire is what will bring him forth like a moth to a flame, without fail. Without the sun, the basement is horribly cold and the chill sets in, penetrating the robe easily. I can only imagine what my poor assistant must be feeling. Yet, I can not bring myself to think of such trivial things, for if I do I shall surely back out, and we cannot have that now, can we?
Only the outline of objects is visible. The shapes of tables, of benches, the bag of flesh that hangs in a corner, not moving, not making a sound. The windows that line the basement wall, small and rectangular, face the sky at such an angle the moonlight is creeping upon the sill. Soon, when it is at the highest peak, it will flood the room, washing me in its waves.
Candles are set upon the floor, making a perfect circle, white and black intermingled in their pattern and rubbed lovingly with oils to draw his attention. The jars are placed perfectly at four quadrants and my bowl of milk and honey placed on top a marble slab, drawing him to me. Now is the time to tend to my assistant.
I approach him, passed out from exhaustion, and I begin to undress him. Cold hands grasping my knife and slicing through the thin fabric of his t-shirt, cutting at it easily and ripping it, waking him as the sound reaches his ears. His eyes, filled with panic, fear and rage, meet calm ocean green eyes and we keep our gaze locked as I continue to remove his clothing. He does not say a word, and neither do I. For we both know that this was a long time coming.
With clothing removed, I can anoint his body with the combination of oils I have made. These are heady oils, thick and cloying, not the most pleasant of scents when mixed with blood, as they are now. I am painting him, coating him in the stench which the demon will devour with greed and lust – being the wanton creatures, they are. The unpleasant stench is not lost on him, and the low moans emitting from him are filled with despair. He knows that this does not bode well for him.
“Sadly this is part is not nice, but it will be over soon, I promise,” I whisper more to myself than to him, but it gives no relief to either party. We are both wanting this over as quickly as possible. That much we are agree upon. He is evenly coated, and the bottom of the bowl is now visible, streaked with the leftover remains of a neighbour’s cat and essential oils I concocted, cold and coagulated from time that has lapsed. Fresh blood is always best, but sadly it took me a while to coax the creature into the house unnoticed before I could hang it upside down and empty its poor, writhing body.
The deed was done, the body coated and now with the moon streaming fully into the room I could light the candles and begin the incantation. Tonight, Solomon will walk the Earth and the ancients will be summoned to do my bidding, as always, every 25 years.
With steady hands I light each candle in the circle and begin to chant lightly under my breath, silencing my mind and opening my soul to the astral plane, allowing it to be reached, to be sought out and found by the one I need. My soul a beacon of light, drawing this Demon towards me, flashing my spirit out into the darkness creating my web, my trap to lure him to me. It doesn’t take long; he has been waiting.
There is a slight rumbling sound. It begins low, the decibel climbing, getting louder and louder, the floor shaking slightly. The fear that is mounting from the bag of flesh in the corner is palpable. I want to tell him to be calm, that this will only excite the Demon. The vibrations continue moving up my feet into my legs, abdomen and finally my throat, where I am forced to open my mouth and a man’s voice, deep and succulent escapes,
“My, my has It been 25 years already?” Honeyed wine is that voice, dark with spices of the orient and rich with the tapestries of Arabic art. Stepping from the shadows comes the monster, dressed richly, skin opaque and eyes that burn with fire. The smell of sulphur is invading my nose and my throat causing me to swallow hard, so thick it is choking me. With a wry smile and a gentle flick of the wrist the sensation dissipates and I am able to breathe again, which I do with large gulps, ragged with need.
“Stay where you are, Demon. Solomon, great King, come no closer as I have created barriers that you can not cross in your unholy state.” I hold up my right hand in the sign of the evil eye, and he hisses at me.
“What witchcraft is this, Necromancer? Why do you lower yourself to such petty talismans?” The smouldering in his eyes, lit with fire and interest.
“Enough,” I say firmly. “ I brought you here to continue our contract. Do you accept?” I gesture towards the boy whose eyes are all but bulging out of his head, his face slack with disbelief at what he was witnessing. The idea that his death would be associated with a demonic necromancy ritual seemed to have not been lost on him. It would be a horrendous reality for him soon enough.
The demon licked his lips and flared his nostrils, taking in the scent, the smells of fear and blood, youth and despair, all of which excited him on an intense level that resonated in his bones. He began his slow predatory stalk toward the youth, his body on fire with desire, the air now permeated with it.
“Stop!” I commanded, halting him in his tracks, a low hiss escaping him. “ You know the deal. I give you a human vessel and you grant me another 25 years of youth and life. Yet again, as always, “ I hold up my finger. “You will also do my bidding with this vessel.”
He took a mere moment to consider the offer. his lust was palpable and he vibrated with desire. With a curt nod, he flicked his wrist. “ You have a deal, Necromancer, now let’s get on with it.”
I looked at the youth, trembling with fear.“ My apologies for what is about to befall you. Do not struggle, embrace your fate. It will go faster for you.”
With these final parting words, I gave the nod, and in that moment all the birds of hell descended on this poor boy. The sounds of ripping flesh, and the unmistakable slap of internal organs hitting the concrete floor, the gushing of fluids like the dumping of an upturned bucket of water slapping the ground. The head of dark hair rolled back severed almost in one movement, hanging on by a sinewy jugular vein. The last thing I saw was the intense blender-like shaking of the body as the demon began to climb inside the nest he had made, suckling, and moaning in pleasure as he encased himself in his new flesh suit. Tucking himself into the thorax, his opaque skin becoming pink and flushed with the remnants of his soulless host, merging into one.
As quickly as the flesh suit was ravaged, the sounds of bone stitching together, and flesh being reborn filled the room. I knew from experience the ragged hole that was once portal of entry was now flesh reaching for itself, twining together like fingers of lovers and the hands moving with awkward alacrity now positioned the pendulum of a head onto its shoulders, allowing for neck to reconstruct and bone to reattach, creating a mediocre version of the previous owner.
This entire sick dance took only mere minutes but felt like an eternity, and only when I could hear the snapping of chains and the flexing of new muscle, resplendent in its freedom did I turn. The boy was no longer and in his place stood a vessel of what once was, with smouldering eyes that were the clear determining factor of what truly lived inside this shell. Only those who were not of this realm would truly be able to see and smell the Demon in its new clothes. Loved ones who come across the boy would just think him changed, odd and perhaps mentally ill.
The demon cracked his new neck, once then twice, like an MMA fighter ready to enter the ring, a slow smiling spreading across his face.
“Now that the debt has been paid, let us discuss the next order of business….” He sat down on the stool next to the workbench, gracefully sidestepping the puddles of organs still steaming and sweating on my concrete floor. Crossing his new knee over his leg, he seemed satisfied at the feeling. He steepled his fingertips.“ What is it that you want, Necromancer?”
I smiled sweetly as I took the few steps to stand across him, the workbench between us, giving barrier and space, as the smell of rotting meat was already settling into the host body. “You will be mine, mine to control, mine to summon at any time that I need you, as per the rules of Necromancy set by Solomon himself.”
His lip curled, a small snarl audible. “And when I call upon you to devour, destroy and do my bidding, you will come. Or so help me, I shall take the body back of which I gave you. Do you understand me, Demon?”
He was slow to react, but the tiniest of nods was perceptible. “Excellent, then you are free to go, for now,” I said, turning to head up the basement steps.
The fading smell of rotting meat was the only notice given that he had disappeared, and I climbed the stairs slowly, I would clean up the mess tomorrow. Scrape up the remains, and dump them in the woods for the wildlife to devour and enjoy, a gift to Gaia, one could say. Take from the Earth and give back to the Earth. I know my time will come and my luck will run out with the Other World, and I will have to pay for my crimes, but until then I do my best to give offerings to the Gods. Nobody gets away without paying the piper, yet I’ve been evading him for over 400 years and will remain on the run until Death shall find me and take what is owed to him.
The saying, “Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.” Well, its true, and I can tell you that Lucifer and God are not happy with me as I’ve managed to slip the noose time and time again, but what can I say?
We female Necromancers are from a long line of women, used, discarded and abandoned by men, taught by Lilith herself, Adam’s first wife, to take what we want, to live longer, and use ancient magic to evade the very men who would see us destroyed.
After all we were built by the very men who seek to destroy us.
All is fair in love and war.