I’m alone but not alone. The voices whisper back, “No.”
Hell is empty. All the devils are here.
They keep me away from their other prisoners. I’m a special prisoner to them. I am the father of Lilith, the little girl destined to grow up and marry the Demon King. They paraded me around in a dark lit room with satin sheets. It’s as though they want me to forget there is a window and I can look inside to see the truth of where I’ve been taken by the demons.
From my window, I can see the mist growing like a sea of mysticism. The mist curls around the demon fortress concealing it. In the darkness, I can hear the sound of building. I can hear the sound of creation. They were building tools of destruction so terrible that I choked on fear behind the bars of my window. There is the darkness built on the darkness in those shadows. Fear built on fear in those shadows.
Was this what hell on Earth was?
“Help me…please…” I state.
“Too much,” they whisper back.
“What the hell does that mean? What the hell does that mean?”
My jailor opens the door at that moment. He looks in the room. He sees no one there with me. He sees no one on the other side of the room. It’s nothing but shadows. He looks at me and I think he feels as though I’m going mad.
“Who are you talking to?”
He looks so concerned. Genesis Bah, the old king of Eden was finally going mad. Maybe I am. I might as well be talking to myself at this point.
“Quiet.” The thing that is my jailor instructs.
I still have been trying to decide what exactly this thing that is my jailor is. It’s some creature from hell, I know that much but I’ve never quite seen the jailor’s face. All I know is that it is an eerie figure standing in a dimly lit hallway. It comes in to change my sheets and offers fresh linens only when I’m in my deepest sleep. Sometimes in the dark, I can feel it stalking me. The creature that has been assigned to keep me locked up in this room at the gates of hell.
“I need to see the Demon King.”
I don’t get the demon king. I get someone else instead. He walks in within the next hour. It’s the person that they always send when I ask for an audience. There is this heavy clunk of armor. The dark shadow enters the door and brings cold with him that causes me to shiver a bit.
“You needed something?” he asks.
The voice is cold, dark and frightening. It echoes in the darkness causing my hair to stand on end. There was once a time I wasn’t so frightened by things like this but I’d been with the demons far too long. I’d seen far too many horrible things.
“Yas…you’re not looking too good…” I tell him.
I look over at Yas. Possession didn’t take well to some people, especially someone who was once a hybrid. He’s a monster now. What was once his skin has turned black as tar.
“What did you need?” he asks again.
His voice is solemn. I wonder what he could have been doing that makes him feel so irritated by my disturbance. Was he peeling the flesh off of some poor victim? Was he making a murder list for the demon king?
“I need to see my daughter.”
“You know that’s impossible,” he states, “He will not allow it.”
“Maybe he will if only I could speak to him. If only for a minute. I asked to speak to your master directly.”
“He has nothing to say to you.”
“Do you not have a soul. Is there nothing left behind those dark eyes of yours. No trace of the person I once knew? Yaser…come back to yourself.”
There is nothing behind his eyes. No soul what-so-ever. They say only a weak mind could be possessed by demons. Maybe that’s why they never possessed me. Yas was different even before the possession though. His mind had been slipping. He wasn’t always with us and when the demons attacked he was one of the first ones to be turned.
I take a few steps towards Yas. I look at him with a worried look. It’s a concerned look.
“You need to fight it Yas. Fight it. Think about Walid. He’s out there somewhere. He’s probably worried sick about you.”
I didn’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. Everything had a weakness. Yas had a weakness named Walid. When Yas was a Beta he was stuck on Walid as his Alpha. I was told by Walid the times he used to gloat about things that there was a connection that a Beta wolf had to his Alpha that was unbreakable. Maybe that’s why the dark demon that Yas has become stops moving. It’s as though it’s thinking.
Could it be that Yas was in there, remembering that unbreakable connection?
“Walid…” he stutters off into the darkness.
I don’t wait!
I can’t. I charge forward slashing at Yas using a sharpened bedpost that I’ve been preparing for weeks. As his blood spills on the ground, I watch him reach out to me! He grabs my foot. The ancestors are hungry though. They are hungry for the blood. The room fills with shadows. The shadows of the voices I’ve been talking to. I watch as they bounce from wall to wall rapidly distracting Yas long enough for me to kick him.
I’m running down the hallway as quickly as I can. My heart beating hard as I make my escape out of the room. I run into the dark hallway. And that’s all it is. A long dark hallway. It’s too dark to see exactly where I’m going but that doesn’t make me stop.
“I’m coming,” I whisper into the darkness.
My legs feel like jello. I’m holding hard to my wooden stick. It’s my only defense. I was expecting to have to get past more guards. What happened to the jailor? Had he gone? Why was this so easy? My mind is going but my legs are going faster. I don’t have time to figure anything out. I just have to keep from collapsing. MOVE GENESIS! Keep going! Someone’s depending on you now! You had RESPONSIBILITIES NOW! I haven’t been so active in a year. Sweat is dripping down ungodly places but I’m still running. I’m still running and running. It seems as though the dark hallway will never end. It seems as though it would go on forever. Until finally I see a light.
And on the other side of that door…with the light. It’s the exit but then right when I’m about to reach for the exit I hear crying. A baby crying.
“Lilith?” I ask in the darkness.
It’s coming back from where I came from. It’s coming back from the darkness. I look at the door with the light behind it and then I look back at the darkness. A part of me wants to cry thinking that it’s my daughter. Every part of me wants to find out if it is. And it isn’t until I turn back that I realize that Yas isn’t the only one with a weakness.
And when I see three dark shadows staring back at me down the empty hallway, I know immediately that the demons are well aware of my weakness.
I saw them: grim faces of evil.
“The Nameless, Innocent, Promise,” I recognize the Devil’s generals.
I didn’t believe in evil until I spent time here. Before I always knew there was a personality that if a hell existed I’d probably be headed there. I had come to terms with it. I was never a kind person but I defended my actions feeling like I did what I had to do. There was no good and evil in my world. There was only how far one was willing to go. Now I understood evil. Now I knew it existed.
The generals stare at me. It didn’t matter which one of them could mimic the cries of a baby. The three had been the one to take me a year ago. They had been the one to take my baby away from me. They knew what her cries sounded like. It had been the single worst day of my life. None of the betrayals hurt more than Innocent.
He was the one who had given me the baby. It was magic of course. It was always magic, but Lilith was supposed to be ours to protect. Instead, he had given her away to his master.
“Were your quarters not comfortable enough to your liking?” Innocent asks in the darkness, “Would you like us to bring you more pillows.”
I don’t know if they are playing mind games on me because the hallway seems shorter now. It seems as though it is only 20 feet across. All that running for only 20 feet? Presently it grew altogether dark: the air itself seemed black and heavy to breathe. When Innocent vanishes right before my eyes, I rub them feeling like I’m going crazy but sure enough only Promise and Nameless are left. My head is throbbing! In the corner of my left eye, a wisp of pale sheen that fades away; but others appeared soon after. It’s Innocent. I know it. He keeps reappearing like dim shiny smoke. He’s stalking me in the shadows using magic.
But how does one do such a thing without a sacrifice? How was he getting his magic?
“I’m not going back.”
“Who said you had a choice?” Nameless states.
I don’t know which of the three creeps me out the most until she responds to me. They were all unnatural but Nameless seemed to be the one I knew the least about. She had not lived like the others. She had been born and she had been turned before she could even be given a name. She had become a general. It was an unnatural thing. It was something that not even the spirits could have done. There had to be consequences for such an unnatural thing.
Every sacrifice had a price.
“We ought to just kill him,” Promise states, “It’s long overdue. What makes him so special.”
“The Demon King wants him alive,” the voice says in the darkness.
“There needs to be punishment for his actions. He tried to escape. What? Will you return him into his spa retreat?”
“I’ll deal with it.”
It’s Innocent speaking in the darkness to the other three. I don’t wait for it. I stab myself at that moment. I stab myself straight in the heart.
“LITTLE BLACK GIRL, LITTLE BLACK GIRL, LITTLE BLACK GIRL!” I plead to my ancestors.
The shadows come. They lurk everywhere. They are here with me. All my ancestors. And there in the darkness, she is there.
They have come to me.
“Attack them…kill them…” I plead with my ancestors.
But nothing. Nothing at all.
“Too much,” is the reply.
“I’m sorry,” Innocent states, reappearing behind me and scooping me in his arms, “No one is going to save you. Not here.”
He carries me like a newborn child but not back my old room. He takes me to what looks like prison cells. I’m guessing this is my punishment for disobedience. He looks down at me. He doesn’t look like Yas. He doesn’t have the black tarred skin. He looks normal. He is just as handsome as when I first met him. I look up at Innocent.
“You ought to give me a kiss,” I state looking down, “And let me go.”
“The Demon King doesn’t want me touching you. He wants you alive and untouched.”
There is no answer. He acts like he doesn’t hear the question. He opens one of the doors of the dungeons and gently lays me down inside. He locks me up and walks away. I want to run to the gate but I don’t. I just sit there. I’m so defeated.
I look at my chest. My wound has already healed up. My ancestors were able to do that but they abandoned me with everything else. They left me in my time of need.
“You look disappointed,” a voice states, “If I knew I was going to have company I would have worked on the Feng Shui in this joint. Maybe put the skulls over there, add a little more rotten corpse aroma and get the soundtrack to demon torture going. You know—set the mood.”
I turn and realize that I’m not alone in this cage. I have a prison-mate. He’s a young boy, Asian who was relatively attractive. He is beaten up. One of his eyes is missing. They could have at least given him a patch for it.
“Who are you?” I ask.
“Names Puck,” he responds with a smile and grins, “And you are…”
“I mean, holy shit I would piss myself if I wasn’t severely dehydrated,” Puck grunts getting up at that moment to try to make his way towards me as best as he can, “You’re THEE Genesis? I knew I recognized you but I couldn’t put my finger on it. That’s probably because I don’t have feeling in my fingers anymore—-but that’s a whole different story—”
“Do you always talk so much?” I ask.
“Only when I meet the witch king of Eden. Holy shit. If I knew all I had to do was get imprisoned by demons and tortured for the past year to meet THE Genesis Bah, I probably would have done it earlier.”
I grunt. By now I’m laying on the ground. The kid was distracting me. He was so excited to see me as though I was going to save him. I couldn’t even save my damn self.
“Is that what happened to your eye?”
“Oh naw, this? I was just trying to do the whole sexy pirate swag. Nah, mean?”
“Oh well, in that case, one of the demons ate my eye,” he grunts, “Goddam shame. Been alone forever too. Started talking to myself, imagining shit. Am I imagining you? You really there?”
He comes over and tries to grab my hand and literally gives me a pinch. I push him away hard as hell.
“You touch me again and I’ll turn you into a fucking offering.”
I would think this would scare him. When he smiles I think it’s just confirmation that I’ve lost a lot of the person who I used to be. The respect isn’t there. It’s as though no one fucking respects me. Not anymore.
Puck clasps at the chains and smiles, “I forget you’re one of those Sacrificial witchdoctors. I have been working on this magic circle. Don’t you guys specialize in that?”
He points at the ground at this 4th graders imagination of a circle. He shows me the piece of chalk he’s been using.
I roll my eyes, “You call that a Solomonic circle?”
“First off, I said magic circle. You added all that fancy shit. Secondly, I said I was doing it for fun. Clearly, I’m not a sacrificial user. I am not conjuring up anything. I am just remembering what Headmistress Angelica tried to teach me the one day. I shouldn’t have been falling asleep and thinking about boys.”
“Wait…. say that again.”
“The thing about thinking about boys. Well, I used to be boy crazy. Had a crush on this guy name Mickson.”
“No dumbass. The thing about Angelica teaching you.”
“Yeah, she tried.”
“Gimme the chalk.”
He hands it to me. I break it down for him slow.
“The common feature of these practices is that a boundary is traced around the working area. This specific circle is one that I’ve seen Angelica use. It has elaborate patterns for circle markings which can be found in grimoires and magical manuals, often involving angelic and divine names. Such markings, or a simple unadorned circle, may be drawn in chalk or salt. Since we don’t have salt…this will have to do.”
He looks down at my drawing.
“Looks a hell of a lot better than my chicken scratch.”
I point at the symbols that I’ve made on the ground, “The four cardinal directions are often prominently marked, such as with four candles. In ceremonial magic, traditions the four directions are commonly related to four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel or to the four classical elements, and also have four associated names of God. Other ceremonial traditions have candles between the quarters, i.e. in the north-east, north-west and so on. Often, an incantation will be recited stating the purpose and nature of the circle, often repeating an assortment of divine and angelic names…”
“Fuck I’m sorry I was falling asleep—” he grunts desperately trying to wake himself up.
I roll my eyes.
“Clearly you aren’t a Sacrifice witchdoctor, so what are you?”
“Talisman magic—all the way.”
Talisman magic. The Talisman users were mostly from swamp countries back in the Human world. They studied the ins and outs of creating magical objects to manipulate the spiritual world. They came from Louisiana and the Bayous. Most of them had a deep Cajun accent. I never knew an Asian Talisman user, but nothing really surprised me much anymore.
“Can you get us out of here?” I ask.
It’s a wild shot clearly but it was worth asking.
“Nah lost an eye last time I tried,” he states, “I specialize in dolls. Don’t see dolls anywhere.”
“You can make a doll. Use some stuff around the cell…”
“Tried that too. These demons have a strong will. The most I could move them was a few feet if I created a voodoo doll. But if we ever get out of here and you need a voodoo sex doll let me know. Speaking of sex…”
“You haven’t even heard what I was going to say?”
“You want to fuck?”
“OK…I got a big dick though and I mean we’re probably going to be here for a while and—–and —– I should probably just shut the fuck up because you’re giving me a look right now that tells me you are thinking about chopping off my dick and sacrificing it to your ancestors to take away my voice.”
“I assume you like your voice…and your big dick.”
“My two favorite things.”
“Then shut up and give me time to think.”
I turn away from Puck. I lean up against the nearest wall. My heart is pacing. I can’t understand what’s happening. Why aren’t the ancestors helping me? Why aren’t the ancestors helping me out of this situation?
Sacrificial Magic is sometimes seen as immoral but actually, it’s the most moral form of witchcraft. It’s because it is an equal exchange. It is used to draw power from the death of a witch’s victim, which, depending on who or what is sacrificed, has the potential to make the witch not only mystically enhanced, but also physically stronger. It worked easy. I gave to my ancestors and they gave back to me.
The spirits won’t come to me here.
“Too much, Genesis,” they tell me in the darkness, “ Too much.”
That’s what they whisper before they abandon me again in the cell with Puck. I’ve pleaded to them for a year now. A whole fucking year.
Hours pass and I just break the fuck down. My tears streaming down my face. Genesis doesn’t cry though! Not me. Not Genesis the king, but Genesis the father is emotional as all fuck. Maybe it was the hormones from the pregnancy. It’s funny how magic could get a man fucking pregnant but couldn’t help him escape. The priority of my ancestors were all fucked up. I have literally taken my fingernails and clawed at my skin. Each day I lash myself 50 times with anything I can find. I give them the sacrifices. I give EVERYTHING I have, but they won’t come to save me. I’m still a prisoner.
Nothing in return. I don’t understand.
I stare down towards a unique smell of death and decay. Dead bodies were being smoked from dark and noisome pools. The reek of them hung stifling in the still air. Far away, now almost due south, the demon king’s hall was. They had completed it in the last month. All above that place is this black storm of rugged clouds darkening the fog-bound sea.
And that’s when I see it. That’s when I see a bee. It’s the only living creature outside of the demons I’ve seen in months.
“Looks like that bee is having a worse day than we are,” Puck laughs.
He notices as well how the bee dies. And then it all clicks. It all fucking clicks.
It’s not until I watch a bee drown in its own honey that I understand.
“I figured it out,” I state.
“Figured what out?” Puck asks.
“You said you could use your talisman powers to move someone just a few feet right?”
He nods, “Won’t do much good.”
He wasn’t thinking big enough.
I knock at the jailor’s door. “I need to see the Demon King.”
Yas is there at that moment, yet again. He walks into the cell. He seems pissed when he sees me standing there. Puck is on the other side of the cell. Yas hardly notices him though. All eyes are on me. I notice Yas closing the cell behind him though. He wants to make sure that what happened earlier doesn’t happen again.
“Sorry about our little issue earlier Yas,” I state.
He has no time for this.
“What the hell do you want?”
“Help me,” I state, “I know there is a part of you in there. Think about Walid. I might have enough favors from my ancestors to reach Rory. He has a nose on him. A good nose. He can track down Walid for you. Help me and I’ll help you.”
This time something is different. This time he doesn’t stop when he hears the name Walid. I wonder if the Demon Generals had gotten to him somehow. I wonder if they corrected that little flaw somehow. This time he doesn’t hesitate.
“Fine, let’s do it the hard way.”
That’s when Puck hops on his back from the other corner of the room. Yas has this amazing power and he flings Puck off his back so hard that I’m afraid that Puck may have broken his back. The little Talisman user is tougher than I think though because when he lands he goes straight to work. It doesn’t take long before Yas notices something different.
“Got you motha-fucker…you’re missing a hair follicle,” Puck states.
Puck has a huge smile on his face and sure enough, he stole one of Yas’s hair follicles when he jumped on his back. He has created a small doll out of wood sticks and cloth. The only thing he needed was something from his victim. I watch the young witchdoctor immediately go to work.
He stretches one foot out on his doll—-Yas stretches one foot out.
He stretches another foot out—-Yas stretches the other foot out.
One slow step at a time.
“He’s resisting,” Puck warns me, “He’s fighting it!”
Just at that moment, I hear something shatter. Puck doll shatters completely in his hand. It just breaks and crumbles into dust right in his hands. There is an impact as well…a slight explosion that causes Puck’s body to slam up against the wall. I know it’s coming from the demon will. I don’t have the time to check if Puck is OK. I turn immediately to Yas.
“Did you really think that would work?” Yas asks, “Did you really think a voodoo doll would work against the might of the Demon King?”
“Look below you…” I tell him.
Yas looks down. He notices that he’s standing in a circle. A magic circle—as Puck would call it. He tries to leave the circle attempting to take a mad run towards me but it holds him back slightly. It only barely holds him back though.
Yas is laughing, clearly entertained, “What is this?”
“If you don’t want to help us, I’m going to force the old Yas to come out and help us…”
Yas laughs, “Didn’t you try your magic a million times already. It seems like your ancestors have abandoned you, witch doctor….”
“No. They haven’t…” I explain to him, “You’re wrong. They were telling me this whole time that it was too much. This whole time I’ve been sacrificing to my ancestors so that they can offer me their spirits and their help. They always told me it was too much. I thought this place was cursed. The smell of death and destruction all around. You guys have killed so many people in this place. My ancestors were trying to tell me that there was enough magic here without them.”
“I shouldn’t have been sacrificing to my ancestors. I should have been sacrificing to your victims. There was too much magic in your victims already.”
That’s when I do it. I bite my finger. All I need is a drop of blood. I put it in the circle.
That’s when I see Yas start screaming in pain. It was working. I look down at him hoping and praying. I’m joined by Puck who is standing next to me.
“The guards are coming,” Puck says.
“We won’t have time to escape!”
“I know—Puck shut up for a minute. Look.”
We both turn to see Yas. He seems so focused on that moment. He’s gone completely quiet. He’s gotten really still. It’s as though something was trying to break out of him and just for a moment the magic circle has helped that thing come out of him. I bend down at that moment. The black tar has faded slightly. I don’t know how long it would last but right now I’m not looking at a demon. Right now I’m looking at Yas. It’s not even the Yas that I had known before. This was a Yas that was gone a long time ago. This was a pure Yas. This was someone who was mentally sound and stable. He looks up at me and he seems more than desperate to help.
“I can’t hold it off much longer,” he warns me.
“I need a way to fight them Yas,” I state.
“I know a way,” Yas tells me, “I can tell you where Santos is buried…”