skonen_blades: (dark)
In many countries, a period of military service is mandatory. Young men and women are taken away, shown how to use weapons, taught hand-to-hand combat, educated in the ways of self-discipline and made to follow orders.

It’s no different with heaven and hell.

There are people here on Earth, people that you know, that are a little too wolfish of face or a tad too blue in the eyes. Perhaps a person’s fingernails are thicker and longer than one might expect. Maybe there is someone in your neighborhood who gives almost all of their earnings to charity and is always a pleasure to be around not matter how stressful the situation.

Small tells can give away these creatures.

Usually, it’s a physical deformity of some kind that isn’t immediately noticeable if one isn’t looking for them. An extra vertebrae in the neck, for instance, or abnormally strong ridges of muscle in the back. Sometimes it’s a personality trait that is difficult to keep secret, such as an uncanny ability to see the bad in anyone, or an efficiency bordering on the preternatural.

Common giveaways are the smile that is unchanging, the shout that nearly deafens, ears too small or nearly pointed, a leanness verging on starvation or conversely a rotundity that would suggest a serious heart problem in individuals that eat normally and have quick, healthy reflexes.

In both sexes, there is a sense of barely-restrained eagerness, either dark or benevolent, to do their master’s work.

And then one day they are gone, yanked up or pulled down without so much as a goodbye. They simply stop coming to the local neighborhood coffee shop, stop coming to the local night club, and stop returning calls. They are off to resume their true physical form in heaven or hell with new knowledge of how best to do their jobs.

They try to corrupt or inspire while they are here. They tempt, they encourage, they coddle, they seduce, and they bolster. They push wavering folk to one side or the other. Both sides fight dirty, it has to be said. Both sides are strong.

We finite and temporary humans house souls that are the bartering chips for these wars. We are the stakes.

I, for one, am sick of it.

I have a big basement. I have started hunting.

I’ll capture these demons and angels masquerading as humans and I will keep them in my basement until they disappear back to where they came. They will not sway me with pleas or illusions. I’ll make sure that they make no attempt to sway any more humans.

I am restoring the natural order or things. I am no puppet.

It was Jill who gave me this idea and I'm grateful. She doesn't return my calls anymore.




tags
skonen_blades: (jabbadoubt)
Cold tires and chicken wings. Dinosaurs and dice.

I have a dream-catcher the size of a bicycle wheel and it’s clogged with nightmares now.

The thing looks like a pizza. It drips and stinks and moans. I need some metaphysical Drano. I need some care-bear blood to throw through the cat’s cradle of the first-nation strings, something to melt the caught dreams like sulphuric acid splashed on the face of someone who owes a lot of money to bad people.

I have throwing stars with badly-drawn portraits of a smirking David Duchovny etched on them. I have a phone book filled with the names of people that have been accidentally erased from time. I have a magnifying glass that shows a different world on the other side.

I have a little hand-mirror that shows me, only me, as someone else. It’s very disconcerting. I won all these from a millionaire with sunglasses and a beard in a poker game in Nevada. I also won his bar and his wife.

I drank so much in those days that I don’t even remember why I burnt the bar to the ground. The wife ran off. I remember feeling just fine about both events. I remember that bar fire gusting high when the roof caved in, lighting up the Reno desert outskirts like all the jack-o-lanterns from every porch laughing.

I keep thinking about how that millionaire never took his sunglasses off. That’s not unusual for a poker game but there were a few times, while he smoked his cigar, that I thought I saw smoke come out from behind those sunglasses.

Like maybe his eye sockets were empty and the cigar smoke was somehow coming out of them. Good reason for glasses but not really human, y’know?

I have an extra finger on my right hand. It’s amazing how many people never notice that. That showed up one morning along with a streak of white in my hair and a lost week. I didn’t ask questions and I considered myself lucky.

I own houses in most states. They are all in disrepair. I am a vagabond with money. There are homeless people living in all of my run-down houses. When I show up, I have dinner with them and use swear words and listen to their stories and hang out. They do their drugs or have their episodes. I don’t judge. They don’t know that I own the place.

Somewhere along the way, every day for me became a mixture of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. A window from twenty years ago looped back with a bright fist and remembered me. I am a string puppet being manipulated by my future self. I am a raffle ticket on a fishhook.

I am an orange peel remembering summer on the tree.

Cold pizza and angel wings. Flying cars and rice.



tags
skonen_blades: (borg)
A tenth-dimensional hemigod will drive a human insane just from looking at it.

It has to be conjured while blindfolded. The words that it speaks while imprisoned by the magician’s will come all out of order, unglued from time. They have to be assembled after the hemigod has departed. These beings can only be called once by any given magician.

Years have to be devoted to trying to figure out the message but it is always good advice. Little glimpses of the future that don’t make sense until the situation is at hand, general words of power that can help, and very rarely, an object to increase the magician’s power.

This ritual is often looked at as a rite of passage. Unlike most of the traditions of this type, however, it can be done at any stage of life.

Save this powerful incantation for the end of a career or do it right at the beginning? That’s the question that every magician has to answer. Use it as a sort of divining rod for your career when you’re just starting out in the hopes that it will reveal a sharper, quicker course of action? Or use it later, near the end, when the wisdom that it imparts can be used to increase your already impressive power?

It’s a hard choice. The young mages almost always opt for calling one up right away. They are headstrong and full of vigour. They are usually disappointed with the hemigod’s advice, not realizing the value of it until much later.

The old ones get advice that helps them greatly but in some cases, it helps them too late.

The hemigods writhe through time, nipping and tucking, collating the probabilities and talking to themselves.




tags
skonen_blades: (blurg)
When Brother Lazarro’s mutant ability kicked in, he was 19 years old. He’d been a novice priest for six weeks.

His blood glowed.

It appeared to those around him that an inner celestial light was pouring out through his pores. He was lit from within, veins clearly visible as streaks of light, toaster wires buried under his now translucent skin. A halo of divinity surrounded him.

The light also gave off heat. It was tied to his emotions. If he was at peace, the light was soft and comforting, merely a few degrees above normal body temperature. If he was angry or disturbed, it increased.

The archbishop proclaimed that it was a miracle and that the boy was a gift from god, an angel, a harbringer of the rapture, or maybe even the second coming himself.

The archbishop took Brother Lazarro into his chambers after this public proclamation to talk to him about a secret course of action. The archbishop had been contacted by Rome. There was a secret society of priests whose mutations had also become active in the last five years. They had been gathered to create a secret society of assassins whose purpose it was to kill those who opposed the church.

The archbishop asked Brother Lazarro to be a weapon in God’s war against the atheists.

Brother Lazarro had taken the good parts of the bible to heart. He wanted to spread God’s message of love and brotherhood and acceptance. He wanted no part of being trained to kill or to use his powers for murder.

The archbishop wasn’t happy with this. He beat Brother Lazarro with his scepter. He would have beaten him to death except that in his anguish and fear, Brother Lazarro became hotter and hotter under the blows of the archbishop. Within seconds, the archbishop’s robes caught fire and the metal scepter became too hot to hold.

Brother Lazarro fled the church, setting fire to the pews along the way as he ran crying, despondent, and concussed into the warm night.

The archbishop was burned but did not die. Scarred horribly and on life-support, he called a press conference. He reversed his earlier proclamation and said that he had never witnessed evil like he had in his quarters, alone with the boy. He said that the boy had tried to kill him in an unprovoked attack.

The archbishop named the boy as a demon. He excommunicated Brother Lazarro.

Brother Lazarro stumbles now, glowing, through the sewers of Brazil. He is a flame in the dark dressed in ruined priest’s robes. His memory is spotty but he knows he must hide.




tags
skonen_blades: (cocky)
Beaten to death with a floorboard. It’s a guy thing. I wouldn’t even say that it was spur-of-the-moment. I wouldn’t even recognize the term. The charges were spun out of wool, the jury was deaf and mean, and three consecutive life sentences later, they still don’t know why I’m not dead.

I made a deal that turns these cell bars into a xylophone for tin cups. The grandson of the judge that sentenced me sits on the bench now, following in his grandfather’s footsteps. Black hair, eager-eyed and ready to practice some law. He should have made shoes for horses. He has the arms of a blacksmith and no head for law.

He has this idea that right and wrong had a place in the courtroom. He was going to be ground down over a lifetime.

My room mate was a barrel of muscle, barely contained by the orange jumpsuit that we all wore. He was thick where I was thin. I knew that if he took a mind to make me more than just a friend, I wouldn’t be able to stop him. However, he never talked and he never laid a hand on me. It was five weeks into his sentence and I still didn’t even know his name. I liked it. It was like a game.

We learn to do without clocks in here.

The thing about deals with demons that need sacrifices is that they usually screw you over, genie-style. Here I am, immortal, and I’m in jail. To keep being immortal, I need to sacrifice a soul to the Dark Minion every six years. Coincidentally, I am also up for parole every six years. I know that this has been arranged by forces beyond my control and that there are smug smiles in Hell.

One day before my scheduled parole hearing. I need to say the prayers, recite the words, sharpen a toothbrush, walk into the courtyard, and kill someone. The actually killing doesn’t need to be complicated, it’s the words beforehand and the trance that are important.

If I don’t do it, I will age centuries over the course of a couple of days and turn into dust. To survive, I need to totally screw any chance of parole.

Hilarious, right? Yeah, I think so, too.

I’ve read everything in this library. I’m starting to think of this prison as my house. The guards keep coming and going as do the judges. By keeping my head down, no one has noticed me. I think that it might have something to do with the incantation as well. If anyone noticed that I wasn’t dead and it had been over a century, they’d probably do experiments on me and treat me like a savior. Hell will keep me from being noticed.

I listen to my cellmate snore.




tags
skonen_blades: (blurg)
He missed his horns.

It was no secret amongst the minions in this circle that Kartilk had the prettiest horns in Hell, rivaling those of Lucifer himself. The seven sins were in abundance amongst the minions and envy, greed, and pride were mainstays. The other demons coveted his horns. They worshipped them. They were jealous of his horns.

The nine massive horns of Kartilk were shining ebony. They curved out from his head in a majestic flower array like an exit wound poking out from the prow of a battleship.

Two were the wide, flat horns of a water buffalo, arcing out before coming to twin forward points. Two were thick, tractor-tire-sized spirals of the ram. Two were the twisting, corkscrew bloodletters of a desert antelope. The biggest pair were the licorice-coloured antlers of an elk, their many tips filed to points.

And there, in the center of his forehead, was the ninth. A unicorn horn of pure dark magic inlaid with the captured soul of a feral priest.

Kartilk’s head was very, very heavy. His neck started just below his ears and went in a straight line out to his massive shoulders. All of the succubae wanted him.

But he only had eyes for one.

Jezehela.

Even here in Hell, love blossomed. It was the love that lightning has for the ground, the love that a pedophile has for children, the love that wolves have for the crippled, young, and weak. It was a love steeped in centuries of abuse and torture. It was a love baked by the heat of breaths begging for mercy from mouths stuffed with coals. It was a love dyed in the blood of the impure.

But it was love. And Kartilk and Jezehela’s centennial anniversary was coming up.

Jezehela’s soul-catcher trident was left over from the original War. Rumour had it that it was used by the archangel himself. Stolen from Heaven’s warchest and put to use in the Underworld. It was an affront to Upstairs.

It shone with the purity of fresh-polished gold. It was encrusted with the twelve jewels of deceit, each carrying a drop of blood from the first twelve Adams. The handholds had been custom-molded for all four of Jezehela’s large, taloned hands.

Kartilk was looking forward to the look on her face when he presented her with his gift.

They’d spent too much time with each other over the last century and their soul quota had fallen behind. They had no wealth left with which to buy a gift for each other.

That’s why Kartilk had sold his horns. In exchange, he’d had a chip of the unicorn horn inset into the piece de resistance. It was a Dark Opal. There were only seven in all of Hell and the other six were in the belly of the Lethe Serpent. It was very rare.

It would look perfect inset into the base of the middle tine of Jezehela’s trident.

The walk back from the hornsmith had been a long one. People didn’t recognize his small head and when they did, they gasped in astonishment and then open laughter. The nine black circles dotting his head where the horns had once been made his head look a soccer ball.

He met her on the banks of the Styx where they’d met a century before, getting their weekly boatload of souls from Chiron the ferry man.

Her eyes met his and her face froze. She looked at the stumps where his horns had been with a darting, wide-eyed uncertainty.

She held out her quivering hands. There, in the chalice formed by her four claws, were dozens of enchanted horntips, custom-made to fit the tips of his horns and enchanted to give him power. They were priceless beyond measure.

She’d sold her trident to get them.

He showed her the jewel.

They both laughed. It was the best anniversary ever.




tags
skonen_blades: (gimmesommo)
Belhaven, reputedly the best safe maker in the world, was approached by a magician. The sorcerer asked him if it would be possible to construct a safe that would keep his spell book secured.

Belhaven stroked his beard and polished his glasses. After stretching his jaw and looking around his studio, he told the magician that he was up for the challenge.

The safe was made from iron mined near an earth chakra in Transylvania. The safe itself, while conventional in size and design, was engraved with over 200 runes of containment and power-channels routing back into itself. A mat with spiral glyphs of anti-zodiac charms was rolled out beneath it. An ingot of true ley-stone was embedded into each corner.

Spells could not escape. The wizard’s book of magic would be safe. None of the more dangerous spells would be able to break out and no one but the wizard himself would be able to open it.

Many other wizards came to Belhaven the safe maker after that.

The safety of his own spellbook made that first magician cocky. He played fast and loose with the underworld. In time, he lost a wager. His soul was forfeit. He died.

His safe was found empty. A demon must have tortured the secrets out of him before ascending to this plane and using the passwords to gain entry into the safe.

The demon must have been impressed with Belhaven’s handiwork.

Days after the magician’s death, Belhaven was approached by a Minor Duke of the Infernal. The demon appeared in his shop with a puff of brimstone and asked Belhaven if it would be possible to construct a safe that would keep any ‘extra’ souls (it said this with a sly wink) that it found during its usual rounds. A retirement fund of sorts. This safe would need to be concealed from demonic senses and the ruling class of Hell’s Nine.

Belhaven stroked his beard and polished his glasses. After stretching his jaw and looking around his studio, he told the demon that he was up for the challenge.

This safe was made from the skin of innocents. He had a contact at the midwifery and was able to gain access to the bodies of newborns that didn’t survive. It was like nuclear material to a demon. It was the closest thing to angel skin that Belhaven could find. By braiding the dried skin of sixteen babies together into a deep bowl, he formed a chalice for the demon’s soul collector. To the damned, the bowl of baby skin was invisible. It was a black hole of perception that demons could not see. Beyond taint.

Goggles blessed by a saint and gloves made from the skin of two repented murderers enabled the demon to see and handle his safe.

Further magic gleaned from grateful wizards added everyday concealment charms for humans and sorcerers alike.

This safe was hidden from Hell. One chip from the demon’s horn, freely given and dropped into the bowl, was all that was needed to enable the Minor Duke and no one else to open it. The demon was pleased.

It bragged to its Infernal Court in moments of pride.

Many of the Infernal came to Belhaven the safe maker after that.

The amassed soul-wealth of that first Minor Duke made it play fast and loose with its summoners. In time, it lost its essence to a scientist far in the future. It was torn apart for definition by the science-mage’s future machines.

Its babyskin bowl-safe was found empty. The man from the future must have seen through the concealment charms now that he possessed the demon’s essence.

Days later, Belhaven was approached by a first time-traveling science-mage. The S.M. appeared in his shop with a burst of radio static and a flash of light and asked Belhaven if it would be possible to construct a safe that would keep the history of this timestream intact no matter what changes befell it from other time travelers. By keeping a record free from the paradoxes of change, it would be possible for an alternate self to rebuild his life were his grandfather were to be killed by a rival or some such. It was an insurance policy. The safe would have to be accessible throughout time yet free from it.

Belhaven stroked his beard and polished his glasses. After stretching his jaw and looking around his studio, he told the time-traveling science-mage that he was up for the challenge.

This safe was comprised of compressed tachyons held in stasis by a box of neutrino-drenched papier-mache. The papier-mache would rot after a while but before it did, the quantum equations that it generated as it decomposed would make the universe, in effect, ‘lose track’ of it temporally. A high voltage of alternating current shot through it for the six months is took for the papier-mache to flake apart would keep the neutrinos held in an invisible circuitboard of sorts.

The trapped box of energy would resonate from the dawn of time to the end of the universe. It became one possible but defined safe anchored at both ends of the time stream. It was a thread shining from the very beginning to the very end.

Its genius lay in its lack of material walls after the papier-mache was gone and the current turned off. It became a field within which time existed all at once, which is to say, not at all.

The time-traveling science mage was pleased.

Belhaven was visited by many time-travelers after that.

At this point, by way of favours and services rendered, Belhaven joined the ranks of minor gods in terms of longevity, connections, wealth beyond imagining, and power over the timestream.

Belhaven stroked his beard and polished his glasses. After stretching his jaw and looking around the studio, he told himself that he was up for the challenge.
skonen_blades: (hluuurg)
When I was sixteen, the demon laughed at my requests. Looking back, I don’t blame it.

I had the neighbour’s cat staked to the center of the portal design I had chalked on to the floor. My incantation, while talented for such a novice, was full of holes.

I truly think that the only reason that the demon didn’t take my soul right there was out of pity. I remember the demon showing up surprised, almost as if it was in mid-conversation. It had had a busy day. Its soul chamber was heavy and glowing.

I was lucky that I had summoned it so late in the day. One more soul, especially one as weak as mine, wasn’t going to make a difference and I guess the demon had already hit its quota. It was at the end of its shift.

With a something like a sigh, it gave a shake of its shaggy head. Its massive horns swayed back and forth as it chuckled. It looked down at my designs and then back at me with a smirk and a raised eyebrow.

“Demon, by the laws and conventions of Agramm-Nohep with the agreed upon truces set forth in the Conflict Convention, I bind you to this plane!” I shouted.

It shrugged, set its soul-jar down on the floor near its smoking hooves, stretched, and stepped out of the circle over to where I was standing.

“Do you bind me to this place peacefully without recourse to harm to do your bidding?” it asked. It stopped about an arm’s length away from me.

I pissed myself. My homework caught on fire. The lampshade near my workstation started to melt.

“Uh, yes?” I squeaked.

“And do you realize that you used an incantation to call a sixth-level mage collector from the timestream while only using binding spells that wouldn’t hold anything above a time-anchored third-level?” it asked. Its braided tails traced a smoking trail on the floor through the chalk of the failed binding design.

I nodded, paralyzed.

“And do you realize that the cat is spayed? And that you have to use cocaine or bone dust to draw the sigil? Hm?” it queried, looking back at the design.

I could feel my eyebrows singing. I was getting a sunburn.

“N-n-no. Actually. I didn’t.” I stammered.

“Kids.” Said the demon with a laugh and stepped back into the circle. I heard screams from his soul jar when he picked it up. The cat caught fire.

“Going down.” It said, and disappeared.

I put out the fires in my room. It was a long night after that.



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skonen_blades: (didyoujust)
The royalty payments killed us.

As a magician, you know that in order to have an edge, a partnership is required. One needs to make deals. Friends in the shadows. Being that are Not From Here. Demons. Entities. Librarians. Sleight of hand is not enough.

Other planes need to be tapped for power and knowledge.

These extra-dimensional beings have management. There are signed contracts. There are disputes.

There was a strike by these beings in recent years. For two centuries, there was no magic on the Earth.

Humans had been getting away cheap. You see, for the initial outlay of a soul, a firstborn, a sense, a few years of life, etc, a human could be gifted with their greatest dreams or access to powers beyond mortal ken; powers that they could use over and over again.

The beings that brokered the deal would get no richer. It was a bad deal.

It worked in favour of the humans but the power economy of the other planes was suffering.

The strike started in 1790 was settled five years ago. The top five sorcerers from Earth, Donald Trump, Andre the Giant’s cyborg corpse, George Bush, Paula Abdul and the ghost of Jim Henson all banded together to form a human council called the ‘The 9 ½ ‘.

Together, they came to a deal with the twenty-four representatives from the other planes. An entire neutral ground dimension was created to be able to hold that much power.

All parties concerned reached an agreement about royalty payments for magic. No longer would the initial price be enough.

These days, the first payment is negligible. However, every time a human needs access to the source of nefarious or divine power to bend the laws of the universe to their own will, another payment is required.

Another few minutes of one’s life. The ability to see certain colours. The incremental dulling of the sense of touch. A steady shrinking in height. A slice of the soul.

Dying by inches was the price that all powerful magicians paid now. It insured that moderate but steady flow to the other dimensions was guaranteed. It also acted as a power cap on the magicians themselves, forcing them to be responsible with their magic use.

It was a situation that left all parties mutually dissatisfied but got the wheels turning again.




tags
skonen_blades: (thatsmell)
I’m tied up better that Bettie Page and struggling not to choke on my gag. I’m squirming around in the spacious red vinyl back seat of an old Chevy. It’s like I’m in a restaurant booth going 100mph down the ragged highway of bat country.

It’s night out. There’s a one-eyed vampire at the wheel shouting my secrets out the window into the ears of jackrabbits and coyotes. The engine is becoming one with his low, ravaged voice. It sounds like he’s powering the engine with what he’s stealing from me. His teeth click together on the consonants like he’s eating these treasures, these things I struggle to keep inside.

They’re more valuable than blood to his kind. The wind dives into the car playfully as our passage shreds the calm of the night-time desert. His long hair turns into medusa turbulence and tugs at his eyepatch.

I can’t give up. I try to saw my bonds with my ragged fingernails. Maybe if I bleed enough, I’ll be able to slither free. There’s too much blood in my nose. I have to breathe around the gag.

My life has been a whip in motion since my birth. Free will is choice. Choices are made based on values. Values are instilled during childhood. The years of my life have been long braids of leather strung together and my childhood has created a destiny that’s pulled the years tight into an arching thrust that has only one inevitable outcome.

My entire life has been a beating and I was never told the safe word.

The arm is coming down now. The end of my life is about to break the sound barrier with a snap that every dominatrix is familiar with.

The demon driver pulls a hard left with his one good arm and now we’re off-road, bumping into the night, kicking up dust.

He’s getting low on secrets and looking for other people to exploit. His desperation is making him take a straight line across the desert to another victim. I can’t let that happen.

I managed to get one hand free. I stop moving. I’m slick with blood and burning from the ropes. I reach up to the gag and undo it.

The vampire-demon driver screams “I am free!” out the window, pauses, and slams on the brakes in panic.

Too late.

I arch up over the back seat like a gymnast. We become each other’s nightmares.

His teeth worry the flesh of my stomach in a wet, chattering maul. With my one arm free, I punch into the weakening flesh of his chest. I’ve put toothpicks under my nails. Five stakes pierce the driver’s heart.

I can feel myself getting dizzy in time with the driver’s slowing pulse.

The car is now a coffin. We die together in a supernatural suicide pact, our corpses in a fully-clothed 69 that will confuse the police if they ever find the vehicle.

We die in the desert but it feels like burial at sea.




tags
skonen_blades: (incredulous)
They were all there.

Wormking towered over the rest of the Host. It’s thick, rubbery body was covered in mucus and its splintertooth mouth gasped for blood like a fish on a shore gasps for water. Its puckering mouth sphincter searched blindly for sustenance. It was a very intelligent beast but its all-consuming hunger caused it to be unreliable. Wormking was a great motivator when placed behind the host, though.

It brought up the rear.

Shattered Knight stood in front of them, jet-black skull frozen in mid-ignition, his burnt armour halted in shards around his body, and his hands clasped over the hilt of his sword. He was an archgod of shrapnel. Explosives were his children to command. He was a living snapshot of kaboom. His entire body was a burnt skeleton encased in a hanging array of pieces of blackened metal. He was permanently in the middle of blowing up. The dark hollows of his eyes glinted. A silver bullet in one eye socket and in the other a bullet of shined lead with a cross carved onto the nose. His looks killed every day.

He took point, leading. Right now he stood, surveying what was in front of the Host.

Rangding the Bellman stood off to The Shattered Knight’s left. His armour was made of resonant metals and thin glass. His red fez suited his giant ginger moustache and squinting red eyes. His head was the only remaining part of his that looked human. His armour was composed of firebells, dinnerbells, strips of church bells, jingle bells, alarm clock bells, wine glasses, and musical triangles. Down each arm were the metal tongues of xylophones. Wind chimes hung off of his ears. His armour was hollow. It rang when struck.

If called upon, he could direct the sounds, deafen enemies, falsify alarms, or shatter bone. Security alarms were his to command. Right now he stood, hammers cocked, looking at the sight in front of the Host.

He kept his bells silent.

The Host has seventy-six members. Illegitimate children of the four horsemen of the apocalypse gathered over the years. Half-gods like Hercules but ignored by myth. Bitter bastard offspring looking for answers.

They wanted to be involved in the coming apocalypse and wouldn’t take no for an answer. They’d traveled to Hell to get direction to their parents.

They got the same answer everyone else did:

Go to the end of the world.

They stood on the cusp of it now. They looked at the shimmering window in front of them. Their fathers were on the other side.

The Shattered Knight looked over at Rangding. Rangding nodded, setting of the high-pitched squeal that only Wormking could hear. It lumbered forth with a thundering grunt. The Host ran forward.

Rangding sounded the alarm.

All seventy-six of them charged through the window into their parent’s house.





tags
skonen_blades: (hmm)
This is a Wyoming parking lot in 1976 outside a diner. It’s dark.

The town is sleeping except for the few straggling, heavy-lidded partiers that are trying to get home. The buzzing neon sign that says ‘open’ turns off and silence comes to the front row of the night. The only sound now is the wind pushing a couple of losing lottery tickets in little swirls underneath the streetlight.

There’s a smell of car oil and chicken strips still lingering in the air. It’s really still. The greasy moon hangs fat, peeking yellow through scudding clouds.

The town is asleep and those few that are awake aren’t around here.

This was the point of entry. A heartbeat sounded underneath the asphalt.

What looked like a drawing in black chalk started to show up in the center of the parking lot. It was a circular symmetrical design. Glyphs familiar to a few living scholars peppered its perimeter while angled lines pointed towards its center.

The heartbeat struck again. The center of the black seal bulged in time with this second beat.

A slight creaking sounded underneath the concrete like the sound of ice breaking deep under winter snow. It was a sound that could be felt more than heard.

A crack appeared in the center of the black circular design. The design was burning itself into the pavement like it had been drawn in acid. It moved.

The heartbeat struck again.

The outer glyphs spun like the combination on a safe door before clicking into place in a new configuration. The glyphs changed from black to glowing red. The crack spiderwebbed out in a stress fracture.

The heartbeat was something hitting the pavement from below, trying to get out.

This was a birth. This was a prison release.

With a final heartbeat, the center of the glyph pushed upwards with a soft crack. It was like watching a baby bird’s beak thrust against the inside of an eggshell.

The asphalt folded up and over in the center, blooming like a flower. The red, glistening expanse of a huge back pushed up and through. Black horns like a water buffalo and a massive collection of red muscle followed. The creature’s head was bowed down and its arms were crossed. Its legs were last to appear and looked almost dainty with their hooves.

The monster was wet and steaming. He was asleep. He spun slowly as he rose like he was being unscrewed out of the earth.

Gravity took over and he fell to the ground.

The gateway in the pavement stopped glowing. The glyphs turned to ash and started blowing away in the wind. The parking lot gained a pothole but other than that, no evidence existed that the gateway was ever there.

Except for the shivering mass of horned demon on the pavement awakening from a nightmare.




tags
skonen_blades: (angryyes)
I guess the wings should have given it away but I was pretty high at the time. Accepting the occasional hallucination had become a way of life.

I was hungry, I was poor, and I had just killed a woman in the process of stealing her purse. Turns out she had no credit cards and sixteen dollars in cash. I vomited into the purse when I saw how much she had died for. I looked up at her body. Plain face, wide open eyes, and blood washing off of the plastic of her bright raincoat in the rain.

I was filled with revulsion at myself, my actions over the last six years, my upbringing, and my self.

It was an epiphany. I’d heard alcoholics refer to it as The Moment of Clarity. I could see my entire life spooling back down a stairwell, all the way back to the foster homes that had whipped and raped me into the person I was. I was a frankenstein’s monster made from molestations and beatings. I had no concept of love except as a tool for bartering. I had no concept of remorse except for when I was in danger of getting caught. I had no concept of loyalty unless there was a reward. I had no concept of empathy except as leverage. This was not the first person I had killed.

My last piece of humanity died that night. It came out of me and sloshed into the dead woman’s purse.

I used the sixteen dollars to get high. I climbed up to the top of a water tower. I looked down. With a sigh and a smile, I jumped off, racing the raindrops to the gutters. I didn’t flail or scream.

Before I hit the ground, I was caught. Strong arms circled me and slowed my fall. I heard the flapping of great wings. I didn’t struggle. I was slowly lowered to the ground in a comforting embrace. I lay back on the wet cobblestones and gazed up into eyes that understood me.

From that day forward, I no longer felt bad about myself.

I understood then that I had been chosen and that I was a soldier in a powerful army and that I could do no wrong in my commander’s eyes.

In fact, I felt like I had been given a purpose.

The understanding eyes I had gazed into were glowing and red. The wings that had slowed my fall were leathery.

I’ve killed more people in the last week that I have in the last year.





tags
skonen_blades: (jabbadoubt)
The beginning of fall gave us reasons to do what we did. A darkening of our souls. A return to shorter days. More night. We all had our birthdays in October.

Halloween is celebrated much more in North American that in Europe. There’s a day of the dead in South America but it’s not the same thing. Halloween was the only true holiday left in America that hadn’t been ravaged by the rampant consumerism that plagued the rest of the society. Easter had been turned to chocolate. Christmas had been turned to greed. Halloween had candy and you could buy costumes if you wanted to but the spirit of it, the center of it, that never changed. It had no connection to Christ, for one thing.

Imagine something for me, if you will. Imagine you were seriously deformed. Imagine your presence in the daylight in a downtown restaurant would cause silence at best and panic at the worst. Imagine you were offered a chance to walk around unencumbered by screams and stares.

For one night.

This is what we offered them.

They called us Talk Show at school. Our names were Sally, Jessie, and Raphael. We always hung out together because we were the only people in our small town who liked the Smiths, who even knew who the Bronski Beat were, and didn’t wear black just for funerals. Sweaters in the summer kind of people. Not big fans of the sun. The regular beatings and teasing forged the bonds between us into iron.

Sally was the scarecrow. Jessie was the fat one. Raphael was gay. In a town of 8000 people, this meant that when we were kids, God said “You’re it” and tagged us. We had no hope of help unless someone transferred in that was the same as us. At least they’d be ‘new’ and the heat would be off of us for a while. No one ever did, though. This town was the kind of place you moved away from.

It wasn’t too hard to dig up the books.

Or the names of weaker demons with a vanity that we could manipulate.

One night on earth. The one night where a demon could be mistaken for a human. Where a demon could be mistaken for one of God’s favourites. This is what we offered them. We practiced the incantations and the protective spells. We sewed the symbols of armour into our clothes. We wore the amulets that we made according to the instructions.

We called up a demon for each of us.

They never touched us.


tags
skonen_blades: (meh)
I hear it plays with them down there. On the bottom of the lake.

Rumour has it there are skeletons down there of varying freshness. Kids mostly but when the pickings get slim, it’ll take an adult. Long hair is something the disappearances have in common. Colour of eyes is irrelevant since the crabs get those almost right away. Dresses are a common theme. So you can guess the majority of these victims are little girls.

They’re down there where the village used to be before the dam and the flooding. The government logged the valley for the timber, evacuated the village, tore down the town and then overnight, they fired up the dam and flooded the entire valley.

Some house foundations still stand down there in the silty depths of the man-made lake. And some of the tree stumps are almost as big around as tables.

The little girl’s skeletons sit around one of the largest stumps. They sit on chairs built from spongy sticks and fastened together with lakeweed. There are nine of them. The oldest is barely still there. She’s just bones and a few shreds of a dress. The newest is still fresh enough that you can see the surprise on her face. The eyes are gone, of course, but the dress is almost new. The flesh of her is not rotten yet. It’s starting to bloat but it’s not yet grotesque. Except for the eyes and her stillness, you could easily imagine her still struggling for air.

There are china cups in front of the dead girls. Flecked and cracked and mismatched. A scavenged tea set. They wait.

Something clinging, silent and huge comes toward them in a cloud of silt. It’s tentacles drag it’s bulk up to the empty space at the stump table. A long tentacle snakes out over the stump table and almost daintily picks up the teapot. It mimes pouring tea out for the dead girls.

It has friends now. It couldn’t be happier. It will get more when these wear out.


tags
skonen_blades: (heymac)
Looking for sin in these people is like twiddling the knob on a radio in a crowded city. There are stations between the stations. Every person I walk past is broadcasting their own shock jock phone-in radio talk show. What gets me the most is what people think is horrible.

I walk past a kid in his teens who’s still flagellating his soul because he didn’t visit his grandmother before she died. There’s a guy on the steps over there who practically suicidal after noticing that his very young daughter looked pretty hot in the bikini she wore to the family outing at the beach. There’s a clean cut man in his thirties who’s still overcompensating for the fact that he tortured a cat to death when he was eleven.

These people are haunted over nothing. When I walk through the slums of Shanghai, I’m genuinely turned on. God give me El Salvador again. These little sins here in Idaho? They’re nothing. Not even sins. Just fears of possibilities of sins. Even the monsters that lurk in these people are cuddly and innocent. Nothing to work with.

I had a future downstairs. They were going to promote me. I had to get lippy and ambitious, though. Seems like the impatience of the humans was starting to rub off on me. I’ve never been a ‘long con’ kind of demon. I like the get in, get out, get a soul kind of business. When I tried to take those ten souls off of that cruise ship before the signal was given, I ruined the whole operation. Parts of my backs and thighs still hurt and that was ten years ago.

Stupid rules. Stupid plans. They think we’re getting stronger and I think we’re just getting watered down.

I’m hoping to find someone here to tempt, to crush, to entwine, when suddenly a black hole walks by me. It’s like I’m looking into a black grand canyon filled with spiders. It’s like I’m looking down an old well with babies at the bottom. I shake my shaggy head and look again.

Just a dude in a grey suit. Blonde hair, forties, looking a little ragged around the edges. He’s dragging a dog leash beside him with no dog. Walking quickly.

There’s a stink on this dude that I haven’t smelled since…well…ever. A few of the Germans that were deep into the necromancy, possibly. I mean this guy reeks of evil. Before I know it, I have a raging hard on. I’m drooling. I have to compose myself.

This is a prize worth taking. This is a prize worth bringing home. This will get me reinstated to somewhere with a future.

I follow the grey suit into the alley.

He stops at the end of the alley and stands. I’m thinking that he’s going to take a piss or something but he just stands there. I cock my head.

The sunlight behind me chalks out and the alley’s shadows stop moving. I get the sense that a door just slammed behind me but I heard nothing. I don’t even have time to be scared.

Grey Suit splits down the back and the storm lashes out. Something like an orgasm of pain rips through my entire being. I’d scream but my mouth is filled with dancing razors. My whole sense of self is whisked away on the back of searing agony that I didn’t think was possible for one born in fire. My flesh is peeled back hotly like a banana skin and my screams are sounding like hysterical laughter. I feel myself getting thinner. I feel myself getting smaller. I’m being whittled.

I’ve been caught by an angel. When my corporeal being, the person I’m wearing, and my soul are all rags and splinters, he’ll forgive me as a coup de grace. I’ll be pulled against my will up into the light where I will overexpose and die for real.

I let myself get trapped. I’m a stupid demon. There’s one less of me now.


tags
skonen_blades: (borg)
I found the first marking when I was rooting through the garbage in an alley behind Chin’s restaurant.

There’s lot of graffiti around these parts. Now when I say that, I guess I’m also saying that there are a lot of murders as well. And a lot of robberies. There is a distinct absence of millionaires. This is and always will be The Bad Part of Town. I try to find whatever I can in the dumpsters here to eat or sell. I usually venture uptown to the rich bins but I had found some wine that afternoon and I was still a little drunk.

I looked up from the digging I was doing and there it was on the wall. Sort of like an eye but with a circle around it, some backwards numbers and what looked like some zodiac symbols. No pentagrams or anything. It was really detailed. It looked extremely odd nestled in amongst the “J-Crew” and “T-Bone Kills” tags that peppered the brick in the alley.

I saw the second one later that night and a third in the morning.

Now, if it was just a stencil or some crude spraytag name I wouldn’t worry. These things were, I don’t know, they just gave off an aura of being precise, y’know? It wasn’t like they were saying ‘I was here’. It was more like they were saying ‘I am coming’.

I was scared.

I saw about a hundred of these things by my count after a month. Then they started disappearing.

I thought maybe they were being erased by the cops. I was wrong.

Turns out they were portals.

Someone was summoning an army. I saw the first red skinned longtooth homeless dude about a week afterwards. I noticed that as the markings disappeared, extremely sunburned people that didn’t look like they were in pain started showing up. They milled about my part of town with no challenge. I guess it was one portal per person/thing and I guess it was a one way trip.

So far nothing’s happened. But I worry. It’s like they’re waiting. They look pleased and at peace and that can’t be good.


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