This is an excerpt from a work in progress. I couldn’t wait to share some of it, but first, a content warning: language and mild violence.
Daniel’s fist ached from hitting the demon repeatedly, but he swung one last time for effect. Alastair had fallen silent, except for the little taunts that would cause Daniel to flare up and swing once more. Thankfully his dominant arm wasn’t the one that had been injured, although his knuckles were bruising. The demon felt as if he were made of stone.
“Your petty outlets of human rage are hardly enough to do any real damage.” Alastair squeezed his fists where they hung above his head. “Although I’ll give you credit. You’re quite hefty for a mortal.”
“A lot of years of football does that to you.” Daniel slipped back into his room, everything still in darkness save for the setting sun through the curtains.
“You do realize this isn’t going to accomplish anything for you, right?” The demon breathed, his boredom growing. “You can’t kill me. That’s already happened once.” Alastair chuckled, ignoring the man shuffling around in his drawers.
“I can make you hurt enough. Besides, I’m pissed off and I needed a new punching bag anyway.” Daniel came back with a knife that he flicked free from its safety handle. “Guess I’ll just have to dig deeper.”
The demon finally took in the man before him, observing the way the human’s eyes glistened with malice. There was no kindness there to be seen, not for anyone. “I can see why your partner left you. You’re a ticking time bomb.” Alastair smiled. “Ah, yes. Someone’s hurt you, haven’t they? You’re certainly capable of compassion — that much is obvious. You feel too much and you act on impulse. You’ve driven away many, haven’t you—”
“Shut the fuck up.” Daniel swiped at the demon’s face, leaving a blood trail that bled for only a moment before closing. “You have no idea what I did for her. How much I love her.”
“I know more than you realize. You’re a stereotypical case of obsessive love — the locker room boy who practically bleeds testosterone and fights just to look tougher than he really is. But you cry at night, don’t you?”
Daniel paused as his chest clenched. “I don’t cry.”
“Not even over your lost love?”
“I haven’t lost anything.” The knife teased along bare skin where Daniel pulled the demon’s shirt open, leaving a trail of glistening red flesh that started to close before the knife dug deeper. That finally gained a hiss from the demon. “You’re going to make her realize that.”
Alistair growled low in his chest. “Not only are you petty and vile, you’re an idiot. Haven’t you read a damn thing in the books you referenced? Or have you chosen to ignore everything but the shortcuts you foolishly thought you found?”
“That’s the point of summoning a demon, isn’t it? A shortcut.” Of course, he’d read all he was able to comprehend. He wasn’t the uneducated moron everyone made him out to be. He did realize, however, outside of referencing a book that had already translated the language he needed and provided the symbols to make, there was a lot this demon could tell him that no book would cover. He stuttered, losing his composure. “But — but tell me anyway. Not that I don’t already know it, but I want to confirm it for myself. What do you think I’m missing?”
“Oh, ready to listen now, are you?” A sharp smile returned across Alastair’s pale face. “I’m not certain you’ve earned the right to hear anything from me.”
“You’ll tell me or I’ll start here.” Daniel raised the knife to the demon’s neck and pressed it against flesh. A sigh from above was enough to distract him, and he looked up to see the demon’s eyes lowered with a dusting of red across sharp cheekbones. An awkward feeling settled in the young man’s stomach and he drew the knife back. His face twisted in disgust. “Fuck, you’re getting off on this?”
Alastair hummed in agreement. “When you were looking to summon a demon, tell me, how much research did you do, exactly? What were the qualifications?”
Daniel paused and squeezed the knife tight in his hand, looking anywhere but at the tall form before him. “I needed a demon who knew what it was like to be human — who would know what it felt like.”
“So you thought anyone would do? That any ex-mortal would have some sort of sympathy and understand what it was like to love?”
Daniel huffed, annoyed that he was even humoring the demon with conversation. It would bring the answers he sought, at least. Although, now that he thought about it, he really had been a bit careless and rushed in his decision-making. Demons were demons, and they were all alike. Or so he thought. “That had something to do with it, yeah,” he ground out.
Alastair laughed again, this time with honest humor. “Do you know what becoming a demon does to someone? Over time, being human is an afterthought. It no longer plagues you — the disease of the human condition and petty morals are beneath you. You’re something greater and much more powerful despite the one curse you take on from your shallow existence as a mortal.” Alastair’s eyes lowered, causing Daniel’s skin to crawl. “Do you know what my curse is to bear, silly boy?”
“Besides being sick in the head?”
“Lust. And a love for the good old ultraviolence,” Alastair drawled. “So hit me. Penetrate my flesh like the sadistic artist you are. See where it gets you.”
Daniel’s words were robbed from him as he turned to search through his desk. The books he’d borrowed for longer than he should have were beneath papers and notes he’d taken, and he flipped to the back. He’d been an idiot to turn to the internet to search for keywords, but no matter how many times he went through the appendix of the books in his grasp, Alastair’s name was nowhere to be found. He finally turned to face the demon before him, the exposed flesh healed over already. There wasn’t an injury to be seen, but he would find a way to dig deep enough to leave a mark for good. Surely that wouldn’t be pleasant even to a masochistic freak.
It seemed the seals only did one thing, and that was to remove the demon’s power to overcome him. He had indeed become the demon’s master, but not in a way he’d intended.
©2020 Shane Blackheart