Featured Story, Week of June 17, 2018: "Honeyed Hellfire"
Each week we feature a story written by one or two of our group members at our weekly meetings. For this week's featured storey, we pulled out all the prompt generators in our notebook of tricks and mashed them all together. We each picked a genre, a first (or last) sentence made of three crazy sections, and a magazine photo to base it all off of. We had 20 minutes to write.
By Kate Weize
Argyle Sweeney McFadden the Fourth read from the Necronomicon while sucking down a Miller High Life, feet propped up on the arm of the couch, in his Power Ranger boxers, facing the living room doorway and the long, empty white hallway behind it. This is important--the hallway, its emptiness, him facing--so pay attention. Argyle licked a finger and turned the page, skipping the boring prologue with all those dire warnings in ancient chicken scratch. He went straight for chapter three. The good stuff. His favorite. There were no pictures in the winding spiral of text that took up both pages in a spread, yet he felt a woman’s gaze on him as he scanned the text. It was weird. Weird and hot.
Argyle took another swig of beer, cleared his throat, and began to read.
“To summon the Succubus particular of the third hell, fifteenth circle, of most arcane persuasion. ONe must do so at their own peril, for the succubus is as voracious of appetite as she is pleasing of form. The following precautions must be--
Blah, blah, blah,” Argyle crossed his eyes. So the chick was thirsty. He could handle that--in fact that was the whole point. It’s not like any of this was real anyway. He flipped the page, ignoring the sting as he gave himself a papercut. It was about to get good. He could practically smell her now--a sort of ashy sweetness, a honey-barbecue scent.
“--once all is in place, and the most meticulous care taken in their arrangement, the summoning may take place. To bring Her of the Third Hell forth requires of the seeker both blood and breath--”
Argyle sneezed right onto the page. Aw, crap. If his spooky roommate found out he’d borrowed this thing he’d be in major trouble. Hastily he swiped his hand across the page to get rid of the sprayage. The papercut, which he’d forgotten about, left a smear of blood right across the spiral of text. Great. Maybe he wouldn’t notice; it wasn’t like Gregory Leiderburg would have any use for a succubus.
Argyle grinned, took another sip of beer, then traced his finger across the text to find his place. The book felt warm after the cold beer. The scent of charcoal intensified.
“After these have been presented, speak then these words.”
Instead of words, the rest of the page had only weird scribbles. Of course it was just a bunch of gibberish. Cheap fake old book. Argyle was about to slam the book shut and go find a new Miller when he felt a pull toward the book, like a magnet had been embedded behind his sternum. His voice went on without him, rolling over words that seemed to caramelize in the air, sizzling and strange. His hair stood on end.
Argyle’s eyes locked on the empty white hallway--the woman, tall, in a white robe. His thumb stung. As he watched, color crept down from her shoulders and puddled scarlet in her shoe. Argyle dropped the book. Beer foamed into the carpet. “Holy shit.”
* * * * *
Three hours later, Gregory Leiderburg returned from class to find the Necronomicon on the living room table. Smoke still hung in the air, tinged with sweetness and burning flesh. Miller High Life had thoroughly soaked into the carpet, and a pile of ash lay under a pair of Power Rangers boxers at one end of the couch.
He groaned. “Not again!” Argyle made the fourth roommate this year. Wrapping his jacket around his hands, Gregory picked up the Necronomicon and gingerly deposited it back on his bookshelf. He blotted at the beer spot, swept up the ash with a dustpan, cracked open a new beer, then sat down at his computer to put out a new ad on Craigslist.
Wanted: Roommate - bedroom fully furnished, move in today.
He thought for a moment, then added ‘asexuals preferred.’