Chapter 0:

To Summon a Demon

There's a Demon in my Basement!

He always knew how one would go about summoning a demon. First of all, you'd have to gather the ingredients necessary for such a ritual.

Depending on the specific demon you'd want to summon most of those varied, while some stayed the same. Namely the blood of a virgin, a living sacrifice and loads of sugar.

For the sugar part, the normal one from the supermarket was completely sufficient. Even though the cashier had given him quite the look when he bought five kilograms of sugar.

The point of the sacrifice was to give the demon something to latch onto in the Mortal Realm. Vitality was a great source of energy and not much of it was needed. Therefore a simple plant was more than sufficient.

The virgins blood-part had been a little bit harder and he actually had to think about it for quite some time - before he realized that he was a virgin as well and nobody ever specified, it had to be a female one - despite the obvious association.

Still, these three turned out to be the easiest. Getting the other ingredients revealed itself as a rather tedious task. Of course, something like this was not easy - otherwise, he wouldn't be the first to summon this specific demon.

First of all, a symbol of extinction was necessary. Now, this could have been harder if it wasn't for the fact that more than 100 species went extinct daily anyways. So he managed to get his hands on the horn of the last unicorn (which was now a normal horse with a wife and two foals). For the next part, he needed a symbol of crushed faith. Which he took very literal by grinding a relic to dust whose age has surpassed a millennium. He was sure that whichever God it had been used to worship, they probably felt the destruction. However, the Occultist couldn't care less. What he was about to do would sever any potential ties he could have to any God. Past, present or future.

Those five ingredients had been thoroughly placed at the five corners of a pentagram drawn with white chalk on the ground. In the centre of it all was the last piece that completed the ritual. An old painting of a bird whose feathers were blue on its back and orange on the front of its torso. A Bluebird, as one would find out easily with a little bit of research. Apparently, it had a connection to a demon, therefore it was the perfect artefact to establish his own bond with the entity.

He smiled a little while he adjusted the position of the plant. Everything was perfect. For as long as he remembered he had dreamed of this. Tirelessly he worked, searched for what he needed and committed a few crimes.

Almost automatically his hands wandered to the Grimoire he had carefully placed on his chair. As if he was caressing a newborn child his hand glided over the book cover. With just the same amount of tenderness, he opened it. He knew instantly which page held the desired information. Not that he'd needed it. He had spent so much time reading it over and over again, he knew every single word by heart. Yet, he had never spoken it out loud. Doing so without the proper preparations would be the same as an incomplete ritual and he had heard stories about those. Apparently, one of his ancestors made that mistake once and tore a demon in half in the process. Obviously, the victim(s) had not been very happy about this and thus haunted the human for the rest of his days. A tragic tale, but also a cautionary one.

Since he couldn't practice reading the actual incantation out loud he did so with other texts. Similar ones to make sure he wouldn't stumble upon his words the moment it mattered. His eyes fell on the text written in Latin and he focused on the first word. Daemonum.

He stared at it for a few seconds, trying to ignore the dwelling feeling in his gut that was nagging on his vocal cords. He had to do this. Now.

He opened his mouth, taking a deep breath, ready to speak the first word out loud- But then his gaze fell upon the lonely lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. When was the last time he changed it? Probably a long time ago. What would he do if it burned out during the ritual?

This was a risk he couldn't take. No. It would be better if he - just switched it out. He could start after that.

The next evening came and he found himself in the very same spot in his basement he had been in before. However, this time he had brought down two additional lamps, and wore one on his head as well. Just to make sure he'd still have light even in case of a supply failure.

This time, he was ready.

He picked up the Grimoire and opened it. Once again he found himself face to face with the first word. Daemonum. He stared at it and the word stared back. Honestly, if you thought about it, didn't a capital D look like a half-opened eye? And don't get him started on the O…

Once again he closed the book.

Not because he was intimidated or anything. No, he had just realized, he hadn't eaten anything today. And summoning demons with an empty stomach sounded like a terrible idea.

Somehow the incantation circle did have something aesthetically pleasing, he thought while he sat on the single chair in the room and nibbled on a cookie. It was kind of tragic it had to be destroyed eventually. Maybe he should just leave it be and-

The pastry in his hand was crushed and the crumbles fell to the floor. What was he thinking? What was he doing? Procrastinating the one thing in life he had ever wanted? This was pathetic.

With a deep sigh, he got up and retrieved a handkerchief from his pocket and cleaned his hand from the cookie’s remains. His posture was once again as straight as a board he looked at the prepared circle in front of him before he picked up the Grimoire. There was no way he could keep on not doing it. And so he opened the book. Once more he immediately found the right page.

He took a deep breath and swallowed down the knot that was forming in his throat. It didn’t help though, he still felt as if someone had tied a rope around his neck. Maybe he should drink something first? Surely, it wasn't a good idea to do this with a dry throat.

Frustrated he shook his head and brought up his hand to his face to smack it. "Stop acting like a coward", he told himself. This was ridiculous. He was no child. So he did what an adult should do in his opinion and followed through with his plan.

The moment the first word left his tongue, he felt how everything that was keeping him on edge disappeared. All that anxiety and fear of failure was just gone as if it had never been there in the first place. He felt like he was flying and nothing could stop him. A weird form of euphoria flooded him. It was as if he had always been meant to do this - this had to be the reason he existed. Everything just clicked and felt so perfect while he was speaking the ancient words.

Not once did he have to look into the book or even think about which words came next. No, it was as if those phrases had always been inside of him and just waited to be finally freed from their prison.

It just felt natural, despite the fact that it was the exact opposite of that, as he knew deep down. However, for him, that didn't matter. Just like the fact that a wind was blowing through the closed basement despite the impossibility of this occurring. Or the books scattered on the floor he couldn't have been bothered to pick up starting to lift themselves into the air to float.

He only ever stopped once he was done. Out of breath, he stared at the air above the circle, not knowing what he was expecting to happen. He just felt... tired. But also deeply satisfied on a level he would have never been able to fathom before today.

It started with a spark. Small and unrecognisable, one would think it had just been their imagination. But just a few seconds after that there was a second one, a small lightning flashing through the air. And another one followed, tearing apart the emptiness and creating a floating mass, swirling and growing around its centre. On the edges it has a deep red colour but the closer you'd look at the middle of it all, the brighter and more radiant it would get.

And yet the summoner could not stop staring at it. The portal was almost hypnotizing.

Once it had reached the point where it couldn't grow any further due to the ceiling of the basement something came through. Something similar to a hand, pitch black and with long claws reached through the portal and grabbed onto the edge of it as if it was a normal doorframe. Shortly afterwards the other hand followed. The demon seemingly used them to pull the rest of their body through the gate. The arms were impossibly long and feathered around the elbows. However, those were minor details in comparison to the head that showed itself soon after. Round, glowing red eyes were fixating the summoner immediately as if the creature knew on instinct where to find him. The head itself was shaped like that of a fox and just as dark as the rest of the demon's body. On the back of it, blue flames were dancing, like hair would in a nice summer breeze. Curly horns grew between the flames - maybe they were fireproof, maybe they were just never really touched by them.

The demon's torso followed, with wide shoulders and a muscular upper body that seemed to be less like that of a human and more like a bird. Two furry legs held the weight of the demon and while they were long and slender they didn't seem to have a problem carrying the massive creature.

With a loud clattering noise, the entity set down one of their hoofs on the cement. That noise seemed to be all that was needed for the room to remember the laws of physic. The floating books fell, the wind halted and the summoner realised that at some point he stopped breathing. He pressed the Grimoire closer to his chest even though he never had realized that he closed the book to begin with.

The basement's ceiling was too low for the demon to stand upright. So they had to take on a rather crouching position, the lightbulb carelessly pushed aside with its body. One of their hands supported their body while the other was lifted up.

It took the summoner a second to realize that the long claws were heading in his direction. He felt the urge to run away, yet his feet seemed to be glued to the ground and he was unable to move. With widened eyes, he watched as the hand came closer and closer and finally gripped his shoulder. It was cold. Like metal. No, it wasn't just cold - it seemed to be actively sucking the warmth out of everything it touched. Or maybe just from him. A shudder ran down his spine.

The sensation didn't stay for long. A dark cloud of smoke engulfed the demon fully and hid their appearance. Confused, the summoner tilted his head a little bit - the hand on his shoulder was still there but it felt less cold and… smaller. More human.

The smoke got thinner before disappearing completely, granting the possibility to take a look at the creature inside it in the process. Their appearance had changed. Instead of looking into the eyes of a monster, he was face to face with another human. Or at least something that looked like one.

The young face he looked into was way too familiar, to be precise. He knew those tired, grey eyes and the paper coloured skin - that was his own. The demon had taken on the appearance of the human.

Little did that help to clear the summoner's confusion. It actually just gave it more reason to grow. The demon didn't seem to mind though, and so they smiled.

"You called, mortal?"

Real Aire
Joe Gold
Taylor Victoria