I’ll be completely honest with you, it was funny as hell, at first. When you summon a demon, you don’t exactly expect it to work the first time, if at all.
When that puff of smoke started to belch from the planks making up the attic floor, I thought I had set fire to the god-damned house. Then… poof!
“You have summoned a demon, what is thy bidding, my Master?”
The thing looked impressive enough, twelve feet tall, so he had to seriously hunch over at the shoulders and crouch down around the knees to fit into the attic roof space.
I looked the thing up and down, it was a list of disappointments.
Wings? None. Horns? Even less. Claws? Hardly.
At least he was green. If it was a he.
I coughed and wafted the sulphurous smoke away from me so I could breathe. “You are to answer all my questions truthfully.”
It nodded. “Aye, Master.”
“Are you male, demon?”
It nodded again. “Aye, Master. But I can take female form if you so desire?”
I later found out that was the first lie it told me. By then, it was already too late.
When you buy a book on raising demons, its always going to be a joke purchase. You’ll almost certainly never read it. At least eighty percent of people buying such a tome got it just to put on the shelf to raise eyebrows. You know the type. They’ve got two friends, both of them are called Dave.
Less than ten percent will read the damn thing. At most, two percent will try summoning a demon. Of the two percent who try, it’ll be successful. Half of them will have one short interaction and it’ll be something to never tell the grand-kids as long as you live.
Then there are the unlucky ones.
Most people raise demons who excel at their jobs. Do you need curses done? In a finger snap. Streaks of bad luck? They’ve got you covered.
Then there’s the other kind of demons. The crap ones. The type who Satan himself laughingly refers to as The Idiots Of The Underworld.
The bad news for me was, I was the one percent. I had been trying to summon a demon called Luther. This lad was so awful, he couldn’t even hear mortal summonings correctly, so I had summoned up one called Uther. He was a complete and utter moron. He made idiots look like savants in comparison.
Do you remember he told me he could take female form if I so wished? Of course, there came such a day when I so wished. My lady had dumped me a few months earlier, I was in a dark place, I felt the need for female company and I suddenly found myself recalling Uther’s statement. So out came the demon summoning book.
It’s not an overly complex ritual when you break it down to bare essentials. A little chalk, some candles and a few straight lines. Nothing you can’t buy across the counter in any art supply shop. Heck, I bought the chalk and a long ruler from Toys R Us just before they went out of business.
So I had two thousand sticks of chalk and a ruler half my actual height. I found the candles marked down at the local market. I bought a box of a hundred for a fiver. An absolute bargain, mate!
I thought I’d try to at least make some use of Uther, seeing as he came when I didn’t call him. That twat Luther never turned up either, if you were curious.
“You have summoned a demon. Oh, it’s you again. What did you want this time?”
I smiled. “You said you could take on the female form if I so wished? I’m rather wishing so, right now. This one, if you can manage it?” I held out a picture of nineties lads model Jo Guest, in her prime.
Uther tried. Or more rather, he didn’t, he just came clean right away. “I, er, lied to you about that. I can do other demonic things though, if you’d care to try something else?”
With my libido quashed, I tried a few basic curses. “Uther. I want to afflict my co-worker George with a plague of ducks. I don’t want them to attack or hurt him, I just want him to be massively freaked out by the fact that everywhere he goes, a thousand ducks will be there with him.”
Uther gave me a grin, “That sounds like fun, Master. Consider it done!”
A few weeks later I checked in with not-so-good-old George at work. “Hey, Georgie boy! How’s tricks? Any odd shit going down in Georgie town?”
Of course, I expected him to be a gibbering wreck, to start babbling about ducks everywhere. Nope. Not with my luck. “It’s been pretty quiet actually, Jon. I was thinking of starting on a new model. Just got that new goods train. I was thinking it’d look amazing on my track, you know?”
I did not know, because I wasn’t a model train geek.
A plague of a thousand ducks was not to be his fate, but for every other man on Earth named George, it most certainly was. So while Uther’s skills weren’t entirely focussed on target, they did at least work.
I got a kick out of it, for a year or two. Trying to heap various evils at George’s door. Eventually, I worked out that I could hack Uther’s skills in reverse and stopped asking him to do things to George. I started asking for him to do things to every George on Earth. Sure enough, all his toast fell butter side down, his shoelaces were always untied, and his hair would constantly stick up, so no amount of gel or hairspray could keep it under control.
Uther became useful, once I worked out how to ask the right questions. And sure, it was nice to be able to prank Georgie boy, to the point where he finally stopped punching me in the arm or stealing my favourite chair every day.
Those days are dead and gone now, much like poor Uther. Because after all those years of trying, I finally invoked Luther’s name correctly, with the emphasis placed in exactly the right place.
Sure, poor old Uther popped up first, thinking I had called him, but Luther manifested a microsecond later. “Who’s this fool, standing in my summoning circle?”
I nodded at him. “Luther, this is Uther. He’s a bit deaf, a lot shit, but generally up for a laugh. Uther, I guess this is Luther, the demon I’ve been trying to summon all these years while you’ve been manifesting in his stead. He’s…”
“Seriously pissed off to learn that some feckless pathetic excuse for a demon has been stealing potential jobs out from underneath my nose.” Luther reached out a muscled arm, slid his hand into Uther’s face and pulled his brain out through his mouth.
On the whole, demons are immortal. My book on summoning demons had nothing to say on the matter of removing a demon’s brain. What I learned from observation was they die just like anything else, if it’s had its brain removed.
I only ever asked Luther to perform one service. Well, two, if you count the order of, “and never manifest here again, not even if your name is invoked.”
George left the company last week. The boss had rather tired of all the constant quacking, and duck guano all over the carpets.
It’s a lot quieter around the cubicles these days. I took the cover off “How To Raise Demons” and replaced it with “Quantity Surveying; A Market Study.” Now I’m using it to keep my desk monitor at an angle where it no longer reflects the sun into my eyes, no matter which set of office blinds are closed.
All I hope is dear Luther is being constantly bothered and annoyed by the idiots of the underworld. It’s the least he deserves.
Ray Daley was born in Coventry & still lives there. He served 6 yrs in the RAF as a clerk & spent most of his time in a Hobbit hole in High Wycombe. He is a published poet & has been writing stories since he was 10. His current dream is to eventually finish the Hitch Hikers fanfic novel he’s been writing since 1986. Tweet him @RayDaleyWriter