Problems, Problems Everywhere
July 5, 2010
Reyna sat out on Sybil Line’s front porch fanning herself with a Seventeen magazine, trying to cool her disgustingly hot skin. Grumbling under her breath as her actions only served to bat away the beads of sweat, she reached over to change the station on the portable radio she’d brought outside with her and then took a swig of her water bottle. “When is you’re A.C. getting fixed again?”
Sybil looked over to where she heard Reyna’s voice and smiled almost tauntingly, “You could always go back home if you want air conditioning that badly.”
Reyna grimaced and shrugged even though she knew Sybil couldn’t see it. After the whole ‘asexual fiasco’ back in February Reyna had all but moved into Sybil’s house, staying with Dunstan only long enough to keep her shopping plans with Sophie and Lilith. Dunstan seemed confused with the sudden change of living arrangements, but hadn’t voiced any concerns besides reminding her to practice her magic, especially focusing on making deals with Devils. So far, Reyna had two active deals in place, both with minor Devils, but still. It counted. Shaking her head, Reyna gripped her plastic bottle and froze half the water within it and took another swig. “Is that passive aggressive for you want me to leave?”
“No,” Sybil answered easily, rocking back and forth in her chair, “Just pointing out the obvious. You know you can stay as long as you’d like. Well, so long as you agree to be my slave, that is,” she joked. Reyna huffed out a laugh and rolled her eyes. “Don’t you roll your eyes at me.”
“What? How could you possibly know that?”
“Just because I can’t see, Reyna, doesn’t mean I don’t see. Now get me some more lemonade!” She ordered, extended her hand containing an empty glass. Throwing her head back and groaning, Reyna stood up, grabbed the glass, and made her way into the even hotter house. The mini T.V. in the kitchen was still on, making her wonder if Sybil always had some background noise playing, since she seemed to leave the thing on a lot. Shrugging away the thought, she opened up the fridge and began refilling the glass with lemonade.
“—These creatures are repulsive! They’re not human, no matter how much they look it. Look, it’s not like I hate Weres, really I don’t, but they don’t deserve the same rights as us normal humans do. They just don’t—”
Reyna looked up after hearing the rude words coming from a man’s voice on the screen. He was a middle aged white man with dark blonde hair and looked as stereotypical as a politician could get. He even looked like a generic character from The Sims. Reyna didn’t watch the news much—okay, at all. Why would she? She’s seventeen—but this ass wipe had gotten her attention.
“—Not like that at all, no. I don’t agree with you at all, Cindy. Magic is not natural. Humans aren’t meant to do it! I don’t care how much you try and spin it. It needs to be regulated and restricted. We can’t just let these people do whatever they want whenever they want without any consequences—”
“Reyna?” Sybil called from the porch. Jumping with a start, Reyna put the lemonade away and walked back out to the porch.
“Who was that on the news?” She asked after handing Sybil her drink.
Humming and taking a sip, Sybil asked, “How should I know?”
Giving her a look, one Jorge deemed the bullshit look, she responded, “You know.”
“That was Henry King. He’s the mayor of New York City . . . unfortunately.” She sighed and took a large gulp of her drink. “He’s thinking of running for president in the next election, which is also unfortunate. Very anti-supernatural, which is the politically correct term. I usually just refer to him as King Douche.”
“Think he’ll win?”
“You’d better hope not.” She told Reyna harshly. “He’s a zealot that would see our kind burned at the stake like in the dark ages.”
Sitting back down on the porch’s steps, Reyna took a sip of her own drink before asking, “Why?”
Sybil shrugged, “Because he doesn’t understand us, or magic, and that scares him. So he’ll try to control us by passing laws that have no business being passed. He better be careful, though,” she warned, her voice turning dark and ominous, “or he’ll end up with more enemies than he’ll know what to do with.”
Biting her lip, Reyna contemplated Sybil’s words. It definitely wouldn’t be smart pissing off some of the earth’s most powerful beings. The Weres and Castors wouldn’t do much—well, they’d fight King on it, of course, but they’d stay inside the law about it. Or, at least, most would. However, Reyna thought, if King focused his hate on the Immortal community . . . Reyna didn’t know which would be worse, popping up on the Vampire’s radar or the Fairies. Neither would end well for the man, that’s for sure.
“Kid,” Sybil continued in a much calmer voice, “could you mix in a bit of a breeze?” Humming in response, still in thought, Reyna twiddled her two pointer fingers until a healthy gust blew through to soothe their agitated skin.
Later that evening, after the sun had fully set, Reyna sat crisscrossed on the floor of the guest room she was staying in. Her tongue was sticking out from between her lips as she drew the summoning circle for the Devil Beelzebub. Reyna knew it’d be a miracle if she was able to seal a contract with him, since he was one of the four great powers that ruled over their dimension—or so her book said. Drawing her tongue back into her mouth, she pursued her lips and finished drawing the last symbol onto the circle she’d drawn in her notebook.
Blue flames flickered up from the paper and reached for the ceiling, making her wince and shield her eyes. When the searing light dimmed some, Reyna looked back into the demonic fire and found herself staring into the all-white eyes of a Demon-lord. “Oh, shit,” Reyna breathed out.
“Oh shit, indeed.” Beelzebub’s deep voice replied. Reyna winced at his tone. He didn’t sound very amused, or impressed by his summons. The dark silhouette tilted his head and seemed to lean in closer to the wall of fire that separated their dimensions. “This better be good, child.”
Clearing her throat, Reyna got straight to the point, “I want to make a deal.”
Sighing, he shook his head, “You’ve summoned the wrong Demon, then. Unless you want to unleash a plague upon your people.” Reyna shivered when she felt his eyes scan her. The fact that she couldn’t actually see him looking at her didn’t ease her mind any. “You’re what? Eighteen? You’ll want to summon my brother, Samyaza, for help with rebellion. Or whatever it is human children seem to do these days.”
“No! No, no.” Reyna said with a firm shake of her head. “Nothing like that. I want to make a long term deal with you. Like a contract, kinda. What I want is to be able to summon you—whenever, wherever—no questions asked.”
“Oh? And how do you propose to pay for my services?” He was too close to the flames again, making Reyna shiver. She knew he couldn’t reach out and grab her or anything, but the way he was looking at her made it seem like he could. “I don’t come free, you know.”
“I know,” she paused, scrunching up her eyebrows to think. “Dunstan—my Master—makes it seem that, like, every Demon just wants souls. Feed them enough souls and they’ll do whatever you want,” Beelzebub scoffed so harshly he actually blew some flames out towards Reyna. “But I know that anyone can promise souls, especially their own, but, like, I’d like to keep mine, you know? Anyway,” she drawled, feeling more than seeing the suspicion on Beelzebub’s face, “I also heard that Demons love to, like, come to this dimension. So,” Reyna exhaled and then inhaled quickly, “That’s what I’m offering. A body—well, kinda.”
“You’ll offer up your own body for possession?”
“Ah, no, but—!” She added hastily, seeing he was growing impatient quickly. “But, I’ll find you a body. For when I summon you.”
“And how will you do that?” The Devil asked with complete derision.
“Well, we’d have to test it first, but I think I’d be able to seal you into the bodies of comatose patients. Dusntan told me you needed permission to enter a person’s body, but, like, what if the body was vacant to begin with? You might not need permission then,” she said with a confident nod of her head.
“And . . . how long would I have in this body? Should it work, that is.” The way Beelzebub asked this made Reyna pause. He sounded almost hopeful. Brows furrowing, she tried to figure out what he could be hoping for.
“Well, for however long I’d need you, I guess. Plus twenty four hours afterwards, too. So you could have some fun in my dimension—within reason, of course. But we can talk specifics when we actually write up the contract. Or, like, if we write up a contract, I guess. Why?” She asked suddenly, feeling as if he was disappointed. “What were you thinking you’d get out of it?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. Look, that seems like a great deal, and many Devils will jump at the chance, but I don’t think—”
“Wait,” Reyna interrupted, “Tell me. Tell me what you want and we’ll see if we can make a deal.”
“No, it’s asinine, just a stupid—”
“Tell me,” she interrupted again, iron coating her tone.
Sighing, a large hand appeared in the blue flames and began to pick at the embers, reminding Reyna again of the inkling that he could pass through the summoning circle with no problem if he wanted to. “I want . . . I want to live in your—in your world. I want to live a human life.” He grounded out.
Reyna’s mouth popped open and she took in a breath. “Oh,” she breathed out. “That’s—I was not expecting that. Um,”
“You don’t have to worry about hurting my feelings, girl.” He spat the words out like poison. “You wouldn’t be the first Caster to deny my request.”
“No, no—oh, would you calm down!” Reyna snapped once she heard him growl. Which, in hindsight, probably wasn’t that smartest thing to say, but when he didn’t do anything about it, she mentally shrugged it off. “I’m just—why do you want to live a human life? I mean, like, you did say human life right? So, like, what does that mean? I thought you guys just wanted to, like, cause havoc and gain pleasure from this realm, not actually live in it or anything.”
“Looks like I’m the exception to that rule, then, aren’t I?” He asked with a bite. “I—” he sighed, “I hate it here. I’ve seen glimpses of humans before, mostly through my brothers, but I’ve seen enough to know that I want to try it out. Being human.”
“You really wanna give humanity a go?” She asked incredulously. He nodded, almost shyly, and Reyna got this overwhelming sense of sincerity from the creature. “Okay,” she said with a slow shake of her head and felt her brows reaching high above her bangs. “Okay, yeah, let’s do this. Why not, right?” Grabbing another notebook—one that wasn’t connecting one dimension to another—Reyna began to write out a contract between herself and Beelzebub.
Tomorrow Reyna would be tasked with finding a body for him—one that fit his descriptions, which kind of weirded the young girl out with his specificity—and determining if he could possess a body without permission. In return, Beelzebub agreed to come to her aid when called. They even went through hypothetical scenarios that would warrant such help, and what would not. Once they both felt content about the contract, and Reyna had reread the thing four times to make sure she wasn’t being swindled, and that, in the chance that Beelzebub didn’t use the human body for his requested purpose, she’d be able to banish his lying ass straight back to his own dimension, Reyna pricked her finger with a safety pin and signed her name in blood on the bottom of the sheet. Holding the paper up to the fire, as he instructed, Beelzebub’s hand passed through the blue flame, causing Reyna to sharply take in air, and pressed his clawed fingertip next to her signature. She pulled the paper back and saw the black dot where he’d touched it began to squiggle and move, stretching out and morphing into letters that read out his name.
“Huh,” Reyna’s mouth turned into a frown as she inspected the finger print turned signature closer. “Gotta admit, that’s pretty cool. So I’ll summon you tomorrow, then?” He nodded. “Great, bright and early then. Soon as I wake up—like nine-ish.”
“That means nothing to me, but all right.” And with that as a goodbye, Beelzebub disconnected the summons. The blue flames scorched into nothing and a black, greasy looking slash appeared over Reyna’s circle. Letting out a sound of disgust, Reyna tore out the destroyed piece of paper, crumpled it up, and threw it away in the trash bin.
Just as Reyna changed into her pajamas and was about to brush her teeth, she heard scratching noises coming from the other side of the room. Stepping lightly, Reyna tip-toed closer to the source of the noise and was surprised to find carvings appearing in the wood floor. Recognizng it right away as a summoning circle, Reyna let out a panicked squeak and slapped her hand to the floor in an attempt to stop it. Pouring her magic into the wood, Reyna saw some of the scratches beginning to fade and she released a shaky breath. Making sure the scratches had stopped, she lifted her hand from the floor and stared at the spot. For two seconds, nothing happened. The floor remained how it was, and Reyna stayed down on her knees staring with baited breath.
Right as Reyna was about to shrug it off and get up, the summoning seal cracked the wood open and green flame poured out of the wood. Scrambling back, Reyna could feel her heart beating in her throat as she stared into the eyes of a new Devil. “Shit.” She hissed. Dunstan never told her this could happen! The book he gave her never even mentioned the part about Devils opening their own seals. “What do you want?” She asked with as steady a voice as she could muster. Magic flooded towards her hands, ready to eviscerate the floor boards if that’s what it took to break the summoning circle.
“You.” The Devil hissed. “You’re the witchling Reyna?” Gulping, she nodded. “Bub just told me about you. He went on and on about how he was going to live like a human and how excited he was about it and blah, blah, blah. Look,” he said sharply, “What game do you think you’re playing?”
“Ah,” she stalled, glancing down at his seal and recognizing the symbols. “You’re Samyaza, aren’t you? Beelzebub’s brother? I don’t—” she sighed and drew her hand down her face. “I’m sorry, what are you asking?”
“You’d better not be messing with him, witch. If I find out you are then I’ll,” he stopped to reach one dark hand outside the flames and drag his fingers against the abused wooden floors. Feeling her mouth going dry, Reyna was going to throw a fit at Dunstan next time she saw him. Demons can’t hurt you unless you fully summon them—her ass! The murderous laugh drew her attention back to Samyaza. “Well, you get the picture.”
“T-trust me,” Reyna stuttered. “I’m not, like, deceiving your brother or anything. We just made a deal is all.”
“Oh, yes, he told me about your deal. How you’ll be possessing the bodies of vegetables. How dense do you think I am? You think Caster’s haven’t tried that trick before? It doesn’t work.”
“Well I—I think it will! Okay? I—I have an idea of how to make it work.” And she did. Reyna had been researching catatonic possession ever since she’d learned about the whole ‘permission’ aspect, and she hypothesized that with the proper seals printed onto the person’s body they could get around it.
“You’re sure about this?” Samyaza asked skeptically.
“Ah, yeah. Pretty sure.”
“Hmm,” he seemed to consider this news for a few moments before nodding. “Then I want in.”
“What?” Reyna squeaked, sure she’d misheard him or that she’d hit her head and began to hallucinate.
“I want in. On the deal.”
“You—you want to live a human life?”
“What? No! Never!” He made a gagging noise, which allowed Reyna to relax some now that she didn’t feel her life was in immediate danger. “The other deal. The twenty four hour one that you first offered Bub. I want in.”
“Yeah, I get that. Why?”
“It’s a good deal, that’s why.” Samyaza began to hiss again, apparently losing patience. “Better than any other deal I’ve gotten in a while. So write it up, witch.”
When Samyaza’s clawed hand passed through the green flames again, Reyna shuffled away quickly and began to write up a new contract with unsteady hands. She didn’t feel as good about this deal as she had the earlier one, but that could be due to the fact that Beelzebub hadn’t been threatening her. Whatever, Reyna thought snidely, if he wanted a contract she’d give him one. It’d be the tightest deal he had ever encountered, of that she was sure. Reyna even added a clause that if he ever threatened her again the deal would be off, with no chance of a new deal in the future. In the end the contract was five pages longer than Beelzebub’s, but Samyaza hardly batted a white-eye at all her safety measures and they both signed it with little fuss.
“Pleasure doing business, witch,” Samyaza half-taunted, then clawed a scratch into his own circle and disappeared with the green flame.
Sighing with relief, Reyna stood on shaky legs and forwent brushing her teeth. Instead she plopped her body face first onto her bed and tried to focus on her breathing instead of the scorch marks left on the floor just by her feet. Moaning, she buried her face into her pillow, suddenly dreading tomorrow morning.