“Bullshit,” Heath said, sitting down on the rock beside Jena. “There’s no way this is for real.”
“You’re always so pessimistic. Can we please just try to do something fun one Halloween? That’s all I want,” she sighed as she pulled a strange, worn book out of her bag.
“You know I don’t believe magic is a real thing. Why would I sit here and play pretend with you, Jena? I’d much rather go hang out with the guys; they’re actually going out this year.”
“Then I’ll just have to put a curse on you. There’s a page right here that says it’s ‘to solve problems.’” Jena laughed as she flipped through the book, illuminated by the dimming amber light. The page she stopped at looked like it had been written on notebook paper and placed between the other pages, which had several handwritten notes scrawled over them as well as partial English translations of the presumably Latin text.
Heath rolled his eyes and plucked the book from her hands before attempting, and ultimately failing, to read the title properly. “Eos qui stultus doctrinam advocandam daemoniorum? Where did you even get this? A witch shop?”
“No, Heath. I got this from that old used bookstore on the other side of town. Besides, I’m not even sure if it is a spellbook or not. It certainly looks like one.” She yanked the book back out of his hands. As she opened the book again, the page to ‘solve problems’ fell out of its home and onto the grass in front of them. Jena picked up the piece of paper and examined it before deciding. “Let’s do this one, Heath. It seems simple enough.”
“It’s all make-believe, Jena! Nothing is actually going to happen. You’re just gonna make yourself look stupid.”
“Shut up. If you really don’t think anything is going to happen, then why are you so against it? What could possibly be the harm in humoring me for a few minutes?”
“Whatever. I’m not doing it.” Heath rolled his eyes and went to sit on Jena’s cold truck bed. “I’d leave but you’re my ride back,” he said as he crossed his arms.
“Be that way, then.” Jena read over the instructions on the piece of paper. It didn’t offer much more insight on what it was meant to do other than to ‘solve problems,’ and she certainly had a problem with Heath at that moment. The paper had an image of some sort of circle on it, which she was instructed to draw in the area that she would be performing this ‘ritual.’ She picked up a small branch off of the ground and began to draw the circle in a part of the field that was mostly dirt.
“The hell are you doing now?” Heath questioned as he watched her prod the earth.
“I thought you weren’t interested in this,” she said, continuing to draw a large, strange looking symbol inside of the circle.
“I’m not, but you look pretty stupid poking that stick in the ground like that,” he scoffed.
“Shut up,” Jena said while finishing the last few details of the circle. She heard him cross his arms, but continued to ignore him and focus on the task at hand. When she had finished she pulled her phone out of her pocket and turned its flashlight on so she could see. She pulled the paper back out and checked the drawing against her own. Close enough, she thought. Heath begrudgingly continued to watch her work in silence. He knew she was ignoring him, so it didn’t matter what he said to her at this point. She would keep doing what she wanted to do.
Next, the paper instructed her to light nine - preferably black - candles around the circle. She ran back over to the truck and opened the passenger door while Heath watched her every move. He couldn’t understand why she was so set on doing this. Jena dug through her glove box in an attempt to find a pack of birthday candles they had used the week prior for a friend’s party. After sifting through napkins, packets of ketchup, and a pair of jumbled up earbuds she finally found the candles and a lighter. She checked the package to see if there were any that weren’t too melted down, and found that she just barely had enough for the circle. She ran back and placed each multicolored candle equidistant from each other.
Heath checked his phone for the time. It was beginning to get late and his friends had sent several texts asking where he was. He replied that he was with Jena and was hoping to be done soon. “Is this going to take a long time?” He sighed.
“I’m nearly finished,” she sighed back, mocking his impatience. Before lighting the candles she read the final instruction. Sit in the circle and chant ‘Bethiesach’ 27 times and wait, it read. She tucked the page into her pocket, lit each candle, then sat in the middle of the circle she drew earlier and began; “Bethiesach, Bethiesach, Bethi-”
“The hell are you saying?” He interrupted.
“It says to chant this word 27 times and wait. Now if you will please stop interrupting me I can finish this and I will take you to your friends, Okay?” She rolled her eyes behind closed eyelids.
“Fine,” Heath moved to the passenger seat where he sat with his feet dangling out of the truck.
Jena began chanting the word again and felt Heath’s impatient stare on the back of her head. On the 27th repetition she opened her eyes and waited quietly, but nothing appeared to be happening. After a moment she pulled the page back out of her pocket to see if there were any further instructions. All it said to do was wait, which she felt she had done long enough for anything to happen at this point. She stood up and brushed the dirt off of her jeans.
“What did I tell you? Nothing is going to happen,” Heath smiled, glad to be right for once.
“And I asked you to humor me,” she said. She began to step outside of the circle, but as she did the ground began to shake. She grinned and immediately looked over to Heath whose eyes were wide and his face paler than death. “What was that about nothing happening?”
“I-it’s just a coincidence. It has to be… Like an earthquake, or, something,” he muttered, holding a death grip on the grip handle above the truck door as the earth continued to shake below them. The air grew dense and the temperature felt as if it had dropped 10 degrees. Jena backed up towards the truck, keeping her eyes on the circle the entire time. There was no way she was missing a moment of this.
A strong gust of wind appearing to have come directly from the center of the circle caused the candles to blow out. The once clear sky had now filled with clouds that seemed to have appeared with the candle smoke, leaving the world around them pitch black as everything grew eerily calm.
“J-J-Jena?” Heath’s voice trembled.
“What did you-”
His question was cut off by the candles suddenly bursting into flames much larger than the small birthday candles should even be capable of. They continued to stare straight ahead as the flames traveled the circumference of the circle, growing taller and hotter by the second. Heath lost his hold on the grip handle and fell out of the truck. As he hit the ground he clung to Jena’s pantleg, terrified of the sight before him. Though she put on a brave face, he could feel her knees shaking like the earth just moments ago.
Just as suddenly as the flames appeared, they shrank to half their height and a tall, horned, dark figure stepped right through the fire and walked toward them, leaving scorched grass trailing behind it. The closer it came, the smaller they felt. This thing had to be at least nine feet tall.
“You rang?” Its booming voice echoed in their skulls. Heath shrieked and held as tightly as he could to Jena’s leg.
“I- um… Maybe…” Jena attempted to muster her words, any words, but they just wouldn’t come out. The figure glanced at the still-flaming candles and circle that it seemed to have manifest from and pointed a spindly, clawed finger at it.
“That looks like my sigil in the middle of that circle, and are those… Birthday candles? That’s a first. Well done.” The figure’s eyes glowed with the flames behind it, which appeared to remain in place.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU?” Heath screamed, halfway under the truck.
“Dude, please don’t use the name of my home like that. It’s rude,” the figure bellowed back. Jena was beginning to get a headache between this thing’s voice ringing inside out through her head and Heath’s yelling.
“Wait, so your home is Hell? But that would make you-” Jena began.
“A demon, yes. Not a very high-ranking demon, though. Halloween is the busiest time of year for me. All of you stupid humans think it would be a good idea to summon one of us for the night. But, you look like you weren’t entirely sure what you were doing when you chanted my name,” it boomed as the flames moved in a way that looked like it rolled its eyes. “Either way,” it sighed, “I’m here now, so that obviously means you want something. Whether you meant to summon me or not.” Heath stood up and moved behind the open truck door.
“So, do I have to give you a virgin sacrifice or something? Because I’m not sure that I know any virgins that I would feel comfortable offering to you,” Jena said.
“I can’t believe you actually just asked it that,” Heath hissed at her in a whisper.
“Trust me, if we still required virgin sacrifices we’d almost be out of business by now,” Bethiesach stated. “So the short answer is no, and the shortened long answer is that we’ve both got to agree on payment in order to make a deal. Lucky for you though, I’m feeling pretty generous tonight. You’ve been the most calm, and will hopefully be my last client for the night. So, what will it be?” The demon grinned ferociously, displaying its razor-like teeth.
“Take him,” Jena gestured to Heath who continued to whimper behind the truck door. “That can be the solution to my problem, as well as your payment.”
“Wait, seriously?” Bethiesach asked.
“Yeah, sure.” She stated plainly.
“What the hell, Jena?” Heath slammed the truck door shut, opening the space between him and his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend.
“You’re a big baby, Heath. You’ve never been good to me and you’ve been especially terrible all night,” She said.
“That’s fine with me. I wasn’t expecting a soul from you, so I’m not going to complain,” Bethiesach said.
“S-s-see Jena? It wasn’t expecting a soul. You don’t have to offer me.” Heath whined as his entire body trembled.
“Too late, dude. I’ve already agreed to the trade. Your soul is mine,” Bethiesach’s razor teeth glistened from the flames.
“Jena! Please!” Heath begged.
“You heard the demon,” Jena shrugged. “I really don’t think there’s anything I can do.”
Heath cautiously watched the demon, fearing what would be next for him. He couldn’t believe Jena could be so cruel to him after he’d been such a great boyfriend to her all this time. Bethiesach snapped its slender claws causing a bolt of lightning to crack in the center of the circle. The hair on his arms began to stand on end as the temperature dropped again and the earth trembled along with him. He stared in disbelief as the flames surrounding the circle lowered enough to see inside; the sigil was glowing bright as the earth broke apart around it. He turned to look at Jena, who was staring with her mouth agape at the unbelievable sight.
Suddenly, Bethiesach bellowed a laugh that shook them from the inside out as the earth fell through, creating a perfect circle inside of the flames. The earth trembled again and began to crumble around Heath, causing Jena to move backward toward the truck bed. Several disembodied shadow-like arms burst through the cracks to take hold of Heath from all sides. Jena held her hands to her mouth and dropped to her knees as she watched Heath struggle beneath the ghostly extremities. Heath’s shrieks were muffled by the hands as he was pulled from beside the truck and through the flames into the glowing pit.
Just as suddenly as the pit came to be, the earth pieced itself back together. Jena continued to stare where the pit once was as if she were waiting for something else to happen; for Heath to jump out from behind the demon, laughing and telling her that everything was just a joke because she made him wait so long. Bethiesach lowered its fiery gaze toward her.
“Keep that up and you may be working right alongside me one day,” it laughed ominously.
“I didn’t really mean to…” Jena’s head grew heavier and dropped toward the ground as tears rolled down her cheeks, turning to steam as soon as they touched the soil.
Bethiesach stood in front of her, getting close enough to whisper in her ear, “be careful what you wish for, girl.”
Jena’s ears tingled and she felt her chest burning as the demon made its way toward the circle and disappeared with a burst of flames and thunder. She sunk deeper toward the earth as the magnitude of what she had done began to weigh on her. She finally managed to glance where the circle once was, but there was no evidence of anything having happened there save for a few spots of scorched grass. These were her only solace as she questioned everything that she just witnessed, teetering on the brink of hysteria.