It was late at night when he visited the first time. Mama was knitting by the light of the fireplace, and papa was bouncing my brother on his knee, telling him stories from his childhood. I sat in the center of the room, playing with a jig-saw puzzle on the ground. Papa was the first to hear it - a car rolling up in our driveway. There weren't a lot of cars in our town - the mayor had one, and Mister Steinmen had another one. His was strange, because it was long and purple and the smoke that came out of the tail pipe smelt of roses, but he only came around to the market on Sunday so no one really paid any mind to him.
Papa got up from his seat and set my baby brother next to me before stepping out on the porch. We all ran up to the window to see who the visitor might be, despite Papa asking us not to.
The car was short and black, and very square, like it was built for carrying boxes but had the back cut off. After a while of trying to see past the headlights to see who the driver might be
The goat had been butchered, it's entrails transfered to the crystal bowl. The chalk circle was drawn expertly, no lines crossed, and I hadn't stepped into, or out of it, during the entire ritual. The incantations were pronounced perfectly. It was the proper time of day, it was the proper time of month, it was the proper moon cycle. Everything was done exactly how it should have.
Why, then, is the circle not containing a very angry, very loud demon right now? Where did I go wrong?
I step over to my bookshelf and browse for my copy of Richard Griffons 101 ways to Summon a Demon. It wasn't there.
I check my podium - also empty.
Desk - just paperwork.
Kitchen table - no such book.
I yell into the living room.
"MOM? Have you seen my demon book?"
She screams back. "The little red one? No, I haven't seen it."
"No, the other one. The big black one. Bleeds when you open it?"
"OH! Lillian came over and asked for it. I lent it out to her. Hope you don't mind."
Lillian. Fuck that ham sandwhich.
I strip myself of my cerimonial robes and get back into my jeans and t-shirt, before leaving the house and crossing the street. I considered kicking in the door, but restrained myself, deciding that if she was summoning a demon, it was best not to distract her. I knock twice, and wait. No answer. I try the door knob - door is unlocked. Guess in a way that I was being invited in.
No response. I begin to head towards her lab in the basement.
"Lillian, you need to stop fucking with my mom. She's got dementia."
Again, no response. I open the door to the lab and step in. Right away I see it - center podium. Not just one of my books, but three of them. Why the hell won't she just get her own library card? I pick them up and begin to walk out, only to hear quiet whimpering in the side room. I carefully push open the door, not wanting to disturb any of the constructs she might have tucked away.
That's how I found Lillian. Wrists cut, bled out on the floor in her robes. Across from her is a chalk circle and, inside of it, a demon. A demon who was crying. He looked up at me.
"Can you let me out? I've been here, for like, six weeks."
Oh. So that's why it wasn't working.