you reap what you sow ft scaled

You Reap What You Sow

by Nina Tveden

Dodging the devil is a tricky game, and our character learns this through years of cunning and necromancy passed down by the generations of women before her.

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 ones 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 the 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 start trying to crawl in with you, 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.

   Its nearly 6 o’clock, the sun’s still high in the sky and the kids 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 my knees gush down the back of my calves like amniotic fluid burst fresh from my womb. I look down and 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, it’s 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 – and 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, as it was the only thing worth recording. Elzbet 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 who was 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 – they were the real heroes.

   The musty smell of the basement assaults my senses as I move to descend the stairs. No lights are needed, as I know my way down like navigating my own body. The stairs and banister 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 workbench my thorax, thick and well-built, sturdy, with good bones, able to take heavy hammering from not only hand tools but also heart against ribs. Chains hanging from the ceiling my arms, thick and heavy with good craftsmanship, unbreakable in their task at hand.

   Now, the gentleman who happens to be chained up, hanging, dehydrated, covered in shit and piss, bleary eyed and trying to cry with nothing to give – his body is not a part of me. 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, are trying 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 wildly darting, searching for any mercy within big green ones; how disappointed he will be to find there is none. I cup his chin in my hand, and lift his face to be only 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 begin to prepare for the ritual. This is an exhausting process, but this moon won’t last; it will hit its peak quickly, so I must work with alacrity. I take the piece of chalk in my left hand. Rubbing it against the smooth pad of my thumb, coating my fingers in the dusty residue, my right hand holds the worn pages of the incantation open. Moist lips loosely forming the sounds of Latin and Castilian dialect from which this must be performed, I have not done this in many, many years.

   Finally content, I begin to draw the symbols and sigils on the floor, creating a large circle, slicing it into sections like pieces of pie and in each piece creating a sigil and astrological placement. It takes me roughly thirty minutes to complete, and I can see the boy watching me with hazy eyes filled with curiosity and fear. I am on my knees, rocked back on my heels when our eyes meet.

   ‘You will be okay. In fact, you should be honored 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 are now smudging his dirty cheeks. He has no idea what is about to be his fate, and I cannot pretend that it will be pleasant, 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. Jars that have been passed down from generation to generation within my family, and now are being used once again for the magic that has been instilled within me through blood and knowledge.

   The sun is gone. I check my watch, keeping a trained eye on the time, as 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 is the time to prepare myself. As 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 the hooded garb of simplicity so that upon summoning you are not the focus, and remain a bland point of focus. Wearing nothing distracting or eye-catching is important 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 particular 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. 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 with arms full of candles – white for purity, black for summoning. Fire is what will bring him forth like a moth to a flame, without fail. Without the sun, the basement is horribly cold; the chill sets in, penetrating the robe easily, and I can only imagine what my poor assistant must be feeling. But I cannot allow 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 the 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, and 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 the bowl of milk and honey placed on top of a 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, ripping it, waking him as the sound reaches his ears. Eyes filled with panic; fear and rage meet calm, ocean-green eyes, and we keep our gazes 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, and 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 audible and filled with despair, as he knows that this does not bode well with 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 in agreeance with. He is evenly coated, and the bottom of the bowl is now visible, streaked with the left-over remains of the neighbour’s cat and the essential oils I concocted, cold and coagulated from the time that has elapsed. 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 is done, the body coated, and now, with the moon streaming fully into the room, I can light the candles and begin the incantation. Tonight, as another twenty-five years has passed, Solomon will walk the Earth, and once again the ancients will be summoned to do my bidding.

   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 that I need. My soul a beacon of light, drawing this Demon towards me, flashing my spirit out into the darkness and 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 decibels climbing, getting loud and louder, the floor shaking slightly. The fear that is mounting from the bag of flesh in the corner is palpable and 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, whereupon 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, smoldering and afire. The smell of sulphur invades my nose and my throat, so thick it is choking me, and I swallow hard, frantic to escape its weight. With a wry smile and a gentle flick of the wrist the sensation dissipates, and I am able to breathe again. I do so in large gulps, ragged with need.

   ‘Stay where you are, Demon! Solomon, Great King, come no closer! I have created barriers that you cannot 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’ve 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 that this is what he is witnessing. The idea that his death could be associated with a demonic necromancy ritual seems to have not been lost on him. It will be a horrendous reality for him soon enough.

   The demon licks his lips and flares his nostrils, taking in the scent, the smells of fear and blood, youth and despair, all of which excite him on an intense level that resonates in his bones. He begins his slow predatory stalk toward the youth, his body on fire with desire, the air now permeated with it.

   ‘Stop!’ I command, stopping him in his tracks. A low hiss escapes 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 takes a mere moment to consider the offer, his lust palpable, his body quivering with desire. With a curt nod, he flicks his wrist in acceptance. ‘You have a deal, Necromancer. Now let’s get on with it.’

   I look 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 those final, parting words, I give the nod – and then all the birds of hell descend on the poor boy. The sounds of ripping flesh; the unmistakable wet thump 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 rolls back, severed almost in one movement yet hanging on by a sinewy jugular vein. The last thing I see is the intense, blender-like shaking of the body, as the demon begins to climb inside the nest he has made, suckling and moaning in pleasure as he encases himself in his new flesh suit. Tucking himself into the thorax, his opaque skin becomes pink and flushed with the remnants of his soulless host, merging into one.

   As quickly as the flesh suit was ravaged, the sounds of bones stitching together, and flesh being reborn, fill the room. I know from experience that the ragged hole which was once the portal of entry is now flesh reaching for itself, twining together like fingers of lovers; and the hands, moving with awkward alacrity, now position 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 takes mere minutes, but it feels like an eternity. Only when I can hear the snapping of chains and the flexing of new muscle, the Demon resplendent in its new-found freedom, do I turn. The boy is no longer, and in its place stands a vessel of what once was, with smouldering eyes that are the sole identifier of what truly lives inside this shell. Only those who are not of this realm will truly be able to see and smell the Demon in its new clothes. Loved ones who perchance come across the boy will just think him changed, odd – perhaps mentally ill.

   The demon cracks 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 sits 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 seems satisfied at the feeling. Steepling his fingertips, he asks, ‘What is it that you want, Necromancer?’

   I smile sweetly as I take a few steps to stand across from him, the workbench between us, giving barrier and space; the smell of rotting meat is 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 curls, 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 which I gave you. Do you understand me, Demon?’

   He is slow to react, but the tiniest of nods is perceptible.

   ‘Excellent, then you are free to go. For now,’ I say, turning to head up the basement steps.

   The fading smell of rotting meat is the only notice given that he has disappeared, and I climb 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; my luck will run out with the Otherworld, and I will have to pay for my crimes. But until then, I will 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 I will remain on the run until Death shall find me and take what is owed to him.

   That saying, ‘Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes’? Well, it’s 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.

Nina Tveden

Nina Tveden lives alone with her 5-year-old son and black witch cat Ambrose Spellman. She spends her days slaving away at her 9-5 job and dreams up horrifying scenarios and encounters with devils and demons in her spare time. Currently she is preparing a novel of short fiction to publish in 2022 with any luck on her side.

Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

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