He was praying at the altar in an old rundown catholic church in Soweto before he got the house call. The candles burnt ominously on the altar before him. As soon as he answered, father Jacob leered at him from a candlelit limestone corner and Neo stepped outside.
‘It’s my son,’ the woman was frantic. ‘I’ve been told you can help?’
‘I’m not a Doctor.’
‘It’s the devil!’ The woman moaned, and he managed to get fragments of an address before hanging up.
The cobbles leading up to the doorway were rough with no thought to visitors. But he never expected a warm welcome or a baked pie. It was cold, and the sun hid itself from view behind a prodigious expansion of dark clouds.
He had seen demons on sunny days, but the eerie storm clouds made it harder. It made them fierce. Fierce like thunder whipping the clouds. The host almost never survived on days like these. When he came up to the door a cool breeze swept by and he noticed the street was empty. There was no sign of human life. When he knocked, a hollow sound echoed from behind the door. He waited patiently, while the rumbling clouds raged on.
The door creaked open. A young brunette showed her face, and her pale white fingers curled around the edge of the door. ‘You’re black?’ She said with utter astonishment.
He stared at her with a stolid expression.
‘M-My apologies,’ The brunette forced a smile. ‘I’m Carrie, and you must be Neo?’ She pushed out a trembling hand.
Neo ignored the hand and pushed through. As soon as he stepped inside he turned his head left and right, breathed in and closed his eyes. Carrie closed the door and folded her arms, fighting to keep her composure. When Neo opened his eyes, he stared at the stairs. They were white, most everything in the fucking house was white except the counterpanes, they were made of oak.
‘He’s up ̶ ’ The woman started.
Neo just raised a hand to silence her and started climbing the steps slowly. In the motion he pulled out a silver knife from inside his jacket. The knife bore religious symbols, some known and some unknown to the majority of people. From underneath the other side he pulled out a vile. For a moment the contents of the vile appeared to be water, but that was changing. Within a few seconds the water turned velvet red. He always used the vile first. The strength of the demon would be compared to the intensity of the colour. The darker the blood in the vile, the stronger the spirit.
As soon as he reached the platform at the top, his breathing ritual started again. The second door down the hall caught his attention and he approached. The knob on the door felt warm when he pushed it open.
The room was dimly lit by a lamp next to the bedside. The walls were festooned with crucifixes. The most prominent was nailed above the bed’s headboard. A bronze Jesus carrying his cross. A beacon for dark things.
The body of a child laid on the bed in a way a corpse might lie in a coffin. Auburn hair, with bushy brows and a pale face. Neo walked over to the bedside table, placed the knife and vile on it and closed his eyes. When his eyes reopened, a pair of eyes akin to death itself were staring at him. Expressionless.
“Father forgive me,” the demon said in the child’s voice, “I’ve been a bad boy.”
Neo remained silent. He picked up the vile and held it close to his face. The liquid inside turned black. It never turned black. Something was wrong he knew, but his face showed no indication of perplexity.
“What’s your name demon?” Neo asked calmly.
The thing on the bed rolled his head from side to side and grinned showing most of the boy’s adolescent teeth.
“Every demon has a name.”
This time the demon spoke throatily, “Call me what you like peasant of God.”
“You want to play a game?” Neo made eye contact.
The boy nodded slowly.
Neo bent down and whispered in the boys ear, “Guess my name.”
The boy grinned profusely. “Solomon the wise?”
Neo opened the vile. “Just because the prophecies of Enoch are lost, it does not mean they won’t be fulfilled.” He said curtly.
“Enoch is dead.”
“It is said,” Neo continued, “In the last days Michael will sweep down upon the earth and plant his seed inside a woman’s womb.”
The boy frowned.
“He shall be born in the last days and he shall have power over darkness.”
“Lies!” The demon throated.
Neo wore a black coat. He walked to the boy’s feet and took it off. His skin was dressed in scars and memories of pain. He looked at the child, and suddenly the demon could not stare back. Every second of Neo’s glare seemed to burn the demon’s eyes. Neo folded his jacket over the feet of the bed and walked back to the head of the bed. The demon started to squirm uncontrollably, but he was fixed to the bed by restraints. Neo leaned down, until his face was an inch away from the boy’s. Fear made its way on to the boy’s expression. Then Neo kissed him. The kiss was soft. Waves of anger and bewilderment pulsed through the boy’s body. Neo stood upright. The thing on the bed was stunned and still.
Neo opened the vile. Dark fumes escaped the opening. He inhaled it and closed his eyes simultaneously. When he opened his eyes they were white. At the same time the boy opened his eyes too and they were navy blue and stolid. Slowly the boy’s head turned to him.
“What are you?” The thing on the bed growled.
Neo remained quiet.
“What?” its voice was weaker.
In one violent movement Neo grabbed the boy’s neck and lifted him up to his face. Neo stared into the boys eyes and spoke, “Demon. What’s your name?”
The boy started shaking. Neo shouted, “Demon what is your name!”
The thing started to choke and laugh, “This boy will die!”
“Demon! I command you to tell me your name!”
“I am the sovereign chariot of death. I am second to God. I am the one who fought Elijah in the kingdom of heaven. I am God’s first love. I am Legion.”
Neo’s eyes grew wide. He released the scrawny thing and it fell back onto the bed. Suddenly the darkness left the room. And with it the weight of two spirits. One smaller and one far more ancient. Neo left the corpse on the bed and walked down the stairs.
Before he could walk out of the front door the woman barred his way. Tears rolled down her red cheeks.
“I failed.” He managed to say.
The woman balled her fists and hammered Neo’s chest, crying.
Neo grabbed the woman’s arms and he embraced her. After a while she asked him why. Why he failed.
“Death comes for us all.” Was all he managed to say.
Bio: 25 year-old aspiring author from South Africa.