It was an interesting thing to be counting, as I always did, (8 sets of 8 with one for good luck) when I heard the rapping on the window.
I stood with my cat in my arms. He all wild eyed and bristles, me feeling triumphant that the doors truly were locked as I heard the crrrk crrrk of someone trying to move the handle.
“You can’t get in!” I called into the night as my cat spluttered and hissed.
“That means nothing to me. If you hear my raps you hear me, and so let me be heard.”
I darted my eyes upwards to one of the rectangular windows that reached to the ceiling of the tall glass room, and bore witness to a most peculiar sight.
Its nails crooked and long scratched at the frame of the window, its eyes fully black as though made entirely of coal, and its teeth gleaming white as it smiled at me through gnarled thin lips.
My cat, I assume, saw this too, as he dashed from my arms to seek refuge beneath a wicker chair.
Despite how I felt with this creature’s eyes following me fixatedly, I turned my back and kneeled down to comfort the poor thing (as it still hissed quietly to itself between low grumbles).
“Hush, hush, hush, hush” I said, being sure to utter this four times, before I reached under the chair and tickled his head. A claw grabbed at me, tearing the skin of my hand and my cat slunk further back.
“You’ve frightened him silly!” I cried, turning on the creature accusingly.
“Let me in and I’ll soothe him”
Did this creature take me for a fool?
“I trust you no more than any would a stranger hanging from their roof and rapping on their window.” I glared at the creature as it grinned its eerie smile back at me.
“And those teeth that you’re so fond of showing, those are flesh tearing teeth and for that I trust you even less!”
The creature scoffed and dropped noiselessly to the ground, it was the height of the glasshouse if not slightly more as it leaned its head sideways to peer through the same window it had used to get my attention.
It, of course, had horns, that were visible now, as it stood in a stream of shallow light.
“I like you,” It said in its deep crisp voice. “I wish to grant you your desires.”
“You can’t like me very much if you wish to play these games with me,” I replied haughtily “and don’t think me so naïve, I’ve not seen the likes of you before but I know what you are.”
The creature’s grin widened and it tapped nonchalantly on the glass. “My dear”, it whispered “you have never known any the likes of me”
“Known? Thankfully not. Seen? Not in my darkest nightmares. But heard of? There isn’t a soul in the village who hasn’t heard of you!”
I empathised hasn’t, an appeal to vanity, for being decidedly lonely as I was the conversation was at least entertaining and at most interesting.
The creature was drumming its fingernails in a droll fashion. Drum, drum, drum, drum, drum, drum, drum, drum.
Thoughtfully rather than creepily did he look at me.
“You aren’t afraid of me, yet you don’t trust me. I know not what to do with you.”
“Oh,” said I disappointedly, worried that he might leave. “I was afraid of you but my fear lapsed under the knowledge that you can’t enter this room.”
And at that the creature laughed.
My heart beat quickened and that beat was all it took for him to be beside me within the security of my sanctuary.
“I can enter anywhere I choose, anytime I choose.”
I flew to the door, latching my hand onto the handle and shaking it vigorously.
“One two three four locked one two three four! Locked! Locked! Locked!” I cried.
The creature, its head tilted to the side, admiring the spectacle, took my wrist in its hot grip and pulled my hand away from the handle.
He leaned his head down to be only a few inches above mine and putting my finger to his thin cracked lips he said, “Shhh.”
I felt I was to feint. What was to become of me now this demon had welcomed itself into my home?
He still had hold of my hand, and, keeping his grip firm around my wrist despite the burning at my skin, he used that very same finger of mine and pointed it to myself.
“You are to take the wishes I grant you and make use of them. Do you understand?”
“And what if I don’t?”
A low growl came from beneath the wicker chair.
No sooner had the wretched demon released me from his grip did he have my poor cat in his grasp, and as it shrieked and it struggled he said, “I’ll eat your darling kitty cat.”
I reached out to take him but it was of no use, he only took him higher and opened his mouth, which gave a sickening crack as it unlatched, dangling my cat above his ready jaws.
“I’ll wish, I’ll wish!” I screamed.
He looked at me his proud black eyes shining with triumph.
“Your first wish?” he asked.
“Let go of my cat and never touch him again.”
He dropped the cat to the floor and it yelped as it hit the hard concrete.
I quickly dashed to its aid and found the pitiful thing to have broken a paw. Taking it in my arms I hissed, “you monster!” to the creature who stood smiling back at me, his mouth held wide, revealing those hideous teeth.
“I did as I was bid to do. You caused the harm you now seek to heal.”
Guilt surged through me as I thought back to what I had done, “You can never touch him again!” I found little relief in what I said, my cat purring quietly as cats do when in pain.
“That I cannot, so heal him I shall not,” it replied to me and smiled its wicked grin. With that it vanished, and I took my cat inside, sobbing into its rough fur.
We went to see the veterinarian first thing the in the morning and when I was asked what had happened I lied and said the foolish thing had leapt from one of the high top cupboards in attempt to catch a fly that buzzed about its head.
The strange man with the big ears and hairy nostrils had looked at me in such a sceptical fashion I almost blurted out the truth, but in those few seconds that my brain recollected the truth, I realised it was a much wiser idea not to.
On our way home, my father driving, I in the passenger’s seat with my cat sat on my lap growling to itself, we happened upon a neighbour of ours.
She is a horrid thing.
We’d invited them over for dinner just a few months before and she lacked in any skill of conversation about anything other than herself. And the way she looked at my father! Why, it made my skin crawl so much I almost felt the spiders claw out of my flesh.
But there she was, basket on arm from fetching some food for her mother, leaning into our car suggestively as she always did and my father, being the kind but naïve man he is, invited her inside so we could take her home.
Oh she droned on and on about her new dresses and gems and the compliments she had received, not once did she question why my kitty was there in the car, and I know she had seen him! Then, that little snake, why she hinted and she hinted to be taken to a show I know she had little interest in seeing, but so stupidly had I mentioned to her in passing how my father wished to go.
Of course he offered to take her, and of course I kept my mouth shut and I just hoped that the demon would be returning that night.
And he did. The first man, if it were a man, to ever keep his promise to me.
It was after supper and father and I were both retiring after discussing the news, both of the neighbourhood, and international, that I heard a strange cooing noise from inside my bedroom.
I opened my door half in fear and half in excitement and there he was, sat on my bed besides my kitty. At first, in horror my eyes gaped wide as I thought he was touching my darling’s soft fur, but he wasn’t, his hand was but a few centimetres above it. Whatever he was doing I chose not to complain about as my cat slept soundly and purred complacently in whatever dreams cats do have.
“You came back.”
“I said I would.”
I sat beside the demon on my bed. He was less frightening now, by all means I should have been petrified but, after seeing that wretched creature earlier today with her deceit hidden behind fluttering lashes, I felt a sort of empathy for this demon who had kept his word and in comparison to that leech was a gem.
We sat for a minute in silence. The noises he was making to the kitty were so soothing I felt that they were putting me to sleep and soon shuffled back to rest my head on a pillow.
The demon rose from the foot of my bed and sat on a chair nearer to my head, such a gentlemanly action it seemed to have been.
“Are you going to make a second wish?”
I’d been expecting this question, and I’d been thinking over my answer to it all day. But first I had a question of my own.
“What do you get in return?”
There was something charming in his smile, when I looked away from his teeth I saw that it reached his eyes. Such an uncommon thing in humans, to see someone genuinely at peace, it was a comforting thing to witness.
“Humans are exceptionally give and take, aren’t they?” he said, a touch of his smile still lingering on his features.
“I suppose we are, but no more than demons.”
“That’s because most demons were once humans.”
“Then doesn’t that make your first statement void?” I was determined not to be thrown in circles this time.
“I’m not most demons.”
“There is a girl who is courting my father…“
“After what happened last night, I’d advise you to be a little more specific.”
“Elizabeth Green, she’s twenty years old and lives just two doors from us. That would be Bristled Cottage. Is that specific enough?”
The demon nodded, leaned his head onto a leathery hand and smiled, “Go on.”
“I despise her. I’m not so certain that I wish her dead, but I want her to keep away from my father.”
“Is that your wish? To keep Miss Elizabeth Green away from your father, a Mr Jonathan Coal.”
I almost complied, but thankfully my wits were about me that eve.
“I don’t trust your methods, so let me devise the plan.”
“That is no longer simply a wish, that is working with a demon. Are you sure your Christian heart will not shatter by doing such a thing?”
“If God is not willing to help me, then it shall be down to the work of demons.”
“But would God break your precious kitty’s paw?”
“I’ve seen him do much worse without permission.”
The demon leaned back on the chair, “I’d normally refuse, as it takes the fun away. But I like you-“
“Yes, you’ve said.”
“Be quiet. I like you and so I’d like to hear what you can come up with. However, if it is boring, I shall proceed in doing it my own way.”
“Agreed,” I said, and reached out my hand to shake his.
“And now you’re making demonic pacts. I’d say you were easily corruptible, but this attitude appears to have been in place since before I arrived. Are you not christened?”
“Surely a demon such as yourself would sense that, whether it were or were not true. Now let me think.”
He sat back, placed his arms behind his head and waited patiently whilst I deliberated in my mind. There were so many loop holes that without writing a contract for this I thought it would be an impossible wish, one that I would have revoked. But instead I decided to change the wording and keep it simple.
“You’re to keep my father away from her, not her away from my father. She is to contract-“
“Some hideous disease that makes her undesirable? I expected better of you, Katherine.”
His words hurt, and in that instance I realised I had been seeking to impress him, as well as see a way forward with this wish.
“I want to make sure my father is left unharmed, that nothing physical comes ail him, nor emotionally, nor have his reputations at stake either. Part of me wishes she’d never come into existence.”
“That wouldn’t be too wise, so much would be undone, who knows even where you would be. We all tie into each other’s existence; this becomes evident once we die.”
I wondered at his knowledge, at what great things he must know and that maybe one day I could come to know. I had been raised a Christian girl, but since my mother had died my faith had left me. It left me. I had been faithful to our lord up until the moment she breathed her last breath. And, faced with demons, his existence had become real to me once more, unfortunately it mattered little. Belief and faith are different things, you can believe in something, but to follow blindly? To follow a promise that is never truly given… that he will look after his children, he will care for them and keep them from harm. He cared little for my mother as she fitted and convulsed… as she swallowed her tongue, and so I cared little for him there on after.
The demon was real. I could reach out and touch him and for all his evils I could trust at least that he was present and the words said would come from his mouth and not a fraudulent messenger.
“Then what do you have in mind?” I asked the demon.
“Fun. I want to have fun with the girl.”
I admit that I smiled. It was as though he’d looked deeper into my mind than I ever had and found what I wanted. He described something called kleptomania, the irrational need to steal. He told me how it would be a good idea to allow my father’s meeting with Miss Green to go ahead, and that if I just left it up to the demon it would all be okay.
I asked him his name before he went to leave, and he said to me, “That is of little use to you, for once your wishes are up, which very soon they will be, we will no longer meet. Goodnight, Katherine.”
I sobbed myself to sleep that night. My dear kitty curled up beside my head, but his comfort couldn’t take away my thoughts. No, nothing I presumed could do that.
Had I come to have feelings for this grotesque demon? I think I had, and it was this that woke me early and led me downstairs to my father’s study.
My eyes still stung from the tears. I’d scorned myself for this, being so foolish of heart to cry as I did. So now I put my mind to work. I scanned each book title until I found it, my father’s small copy of an encyclopaedia of demons. He was a god fearing man; so much so that he had taken it upon himself to learn of demons, so that he in turn could create god fearing children. My parents only had one child, one that lived that is, and that was I.
The sun was rising when I had finally decided upon which demon was most probable. It was Vrytolka.
The picture bared slight similarity to how the demon looked. I wondered if he appeared differently to others, and then I disliked thinking of him helping other lonely girls, so I read further.
In the hierarchy of demons Vrytolka resides within the higher circles. His image has been spotted in artist renditions of hell for centuries. He is tall and lean, with leathery black skin and large, feline ebony eyes. His teeth are pointed and in contrast to his skin a startling white. Upon his head are two smooth horns which protrude from the skull, these do not bare a leather appearance alike his skin, but instead appear of bone.
Sightings of him are rare from survivors. Many who witness the Vrytolka are unable to be saved. They speak of being granted wishes, although the number is unknown, it is usually three in mockery of our holy trinity. Needless to say, where the Vrytolka lurks, there will undoubtedly be trouble as wishes, often unjust, are granted.
Once the wishes are used the Vrytolka consumes its prey, devouring the heart and inhaling the soul so the child of God may not ever step upon the cool stone of heaven.
There is little known evidence of defeating the Vrytolka, it will pursue its prey until all wishes are granted; appearing in an alternative human form if necessary to hear the utterance of a wish from the one it stalks.
Vuhuuu! That was a long flashback, huh?! It’s also a kinda vision into the future. Meet Katherine, one of my Ironbridge Asylum characters. Unsurprisingly, she is one of the patients… What? What’s Ironbridge Asylum I don’t hear you ask? It’s the sequel to Samson the Storyeater! And is something I first started thinking about years ago (this was written in 2011 – uuurgh time stahp, stand still a bit!). Ironbridge Asylum is a book that I actually recently mentioned to Bia. I wanted it to have a bunch of little extras in there, such as character cases and letters and diaries and their own versions of what happened – mostly so readers could make up their own mind on whether or not these people were mad. This was one of them.
Anyway, the fun bit. I don’t really understand what style of voice I was going for with this, I think it’s just how I used to write. That or I’d been reading a lot of fantasy or Victorian stuff again. I had to edit this one because I think I wrote it very quickly in draft form, there were a lot of red squiggles telling me off when I first opened it. I also trimmed down a couple of sentences that were really running on (let’s call them Forest Gump sentences) to get some sense out of them. Other than that, it’s pretty much in its original form. One thing that is obviously wrong with it is that it’s not finished, and I have no idea where I was going with it or if I can even write in this way anymore, so finishing it even for Ironbridge Asylum might be quite clunky and awkward. Another flaw that bugged me while reading it is that I never named the damn cat. How hard is it to name a cat? I’ve never lived in a house without a cat. I thought I was a cat when I was a child – I’m ashamed to say this is true, I’d even meow and scratch at doors until I was
seventeen I don’t know how old! I should’ve named the cat! Boris or something. Anything!
I think I have more longer pieces for flashback fiction Friday but I might post them in bits because I’m not sure how well it works to post such long pieces on here. I also use this blog as a bit of a portfolio though and I understand if these ones are a bit too long to read. I’m not sure where else I could post them, if anywhere!
Thank you for stopping by though, I’ll see you next time with hopefully something a bit shorter or a bit newer! X