The forthcoming comic book Weird Luck #0 will include adaptations by Mike Bennewitz of two Andrew M. Reichart short stories: “Water Damage,” previewed here in June, and “Coked Out Demon Worshipers.” Here are a couple of glimpses…:
The original story was first published in the Sto*Nerd Press anthology Respect the Daysleeper. Here’s the full text.
Coked Out Demon Worshipers
by Andrew M. Reichart
I am awakened from my slumber in darkness and flame by the sound of her whisper. O Great Akaz, or something like that, I beseech thee: travel here to me, to me, and prove to those who scoff at me the extent of my power!
Phrasing sounds familiar; she’s probably reading it straight out of a book. Amateur. Whatever, it still works, which is annoying. I was sleeping for a goddamn reason, don’t remember what but I can sure feel it now. Last thing I wanna do is get traipsed off to the ass-end of nowhere by some black magic wannabe. In case it’s not obvious, summoning someone is a goddamn arrogant coercive dick-move, dragging you hither and wherever to their stupid worlds to address their petty little agendas. But whatever. Here I go.
As her voice drones on in my head, I see glimpses of her through the veil between the worlds. A flash of her bleached-blonde feathered hair… the image of her sitting in a circle of candles on the hardwood floor… reading aloud from the page, as predicted. At least she splurged for a hardcover. Next to her – inside the circle, no less – a little coke mirror. Classy. Then I recognize that buzzing from the portable eight-track as the Bee Gees. “Love You Inside Out.”
The mighty sorceress.
At least she’s not summoning me into a damn pentacle or whatever (not that it’d hold). Just made a magic circle around herself to keep me out.
These glimpses flicker and fade as the material fact of her world begins to manifest around me. Not inside the bedroom, but somewhere nearby. Shadowy trees. Dim light somewhere ahead. My body coalesces into the familiar form of an immense, otherworldly wolf-beast. I find myself awash in the smell of soil and plants, the scent-tracks of squirrels and housecats crisscrossing the ivy all around me. The dim light in the distance is her circle of candles, seen through the french doors to her bedroom. She ducks her head to sniff up another bump.
The scene around me resolves into final coherence: I’m crouched on a tree-lined, ivied bank, overlooking the back patio of her semi-fancy middle-class-lookin’ Earthling house. Sure hope I’m not stuck in this shithole world for long. Sometimes Earth sucks me of my powers. I stifle a pang of nervousness, forcing my mind not to dwell on the recollection of the time – all too recently, given my long memory – that I spent a decade or two stuck on some Earth or other… as a mute, ordinary dog, without so much as the ability to spit fire. Blanking my thoughts of this bullshit, I creep slowly down through the ivy, keeping my attention in my snout, focusing on the trails of tiny nocturnal beasts.
A little splashing sound, and a thought not my own: a simple, startled, “What’s that?!”
Ha, I truly have landed here in a disoriented state. I’m not alone, and I didn’t even realize it. There’s a dude, in a hot tub, at the tree-shadowed end of the deck. Short sideburns and fat mustache. Craning to try and see me. He can’t. “There’s nothing there,” he’s thinking to himself. “You’re just being paranoid, you stupid idiot.” Then an illuminating thought crosses his mind – illuminating to me, that is: “That coked-out ditz couldn’t summon a dead cat out of a wet paper bag.”
Interesting image. I wonder if that’s technically a mixed metaphor. He wipes his hands on a towel and does a bump of coke off of a mirror perched on the edge of the hot tub – ooh, livin’ dangerously, bro. And yeah, that’s not mixed metaphor, just cokehead gibberish. Piece of work, these two.
Dude reclines, peeking from the shadows in through the french doors, sipping a gin and tonic or whatever. He stares at his wife as she reads aloud. His cokehead heart ratatats. His thoughts jangle around on the theme of his wife’s shortcomings, all of which seem plausible enough, though his snippy tone and petty complaints imply shortcomings of his own in at least equal measure. He starts with an inventory of what he perceives as the “flaws” in her appearance, ho hum. Then he ruminates over the spat they had only minutes ago, debating whether or not she should “try to summon Great Akaz,” and whether to do it with or without him. He (of course) asserting she both couldn’t, and shouldn’t, alone; and (b) he had no such intention to help her do that right now and wanted to soak in the goddamn hot tub. Blah blah motherfuckin’ blah.
Then, in his ruminations, he dwells a bit longer on the topic of her ineptitude as a sorceress; and various images flicker through his mind: books, candlelit rituals, group sex with fellow dilettantes preceded by mental foreplay in the form of cokehead debates about esoteric lore, bantering loudly at one another like college students arguing about the themes of a novel they haven’t read.
His train of thought screeches to a halt on the image of a white guy with a permed afro and an even fatter mustache than our hero in the hot tub himself. A self-styled Adeptus, reeking of charlatanry, fucking all the housewife-cultists, including Mrs.
All of which reinforces my impression that neither Mr. nor Mrs. California here have a clue what they’re doing, sorcery-wise. And it’s gonna take a miracle for them to pull off banishing me the hell back home.
Maybe if I can get one of them to run through the ritual more or less properly, I can siphon some of my own energy into the spell to fuel it. Wish I’d gotten a goddamn full night’s sleep; gonna have to muster whatever juice I can.
For starters, I tune into the jackass in the hot tub voyeuring his wife. Sipping his G&T, heart rattling, thinking his miscellaneous bullcrap. I still my body and mind, matching my energetic resonance to his (ignoring the actual content of his thoughts). Tapping into the intricate web in the fabric of reality stretching between us. Such that any trembling in him will carry through the web and into me.
And then I rustle the ivy.
I hear the last jingle of an ice cube in his glass as his body stiffens. I hear his breath stop (voluntary) and his heart race even faster (not). I wonder if there’s any chance he’s coked out enough for a heart attack? If I ingest it right, scaring him to death could give me even more juice than killing him directly. Better stay hid for now, to maximize the shock of the big reveal when he finally sees me.
Hmm. And let’s hope that her loathing of him masks a long-starved, disappointed, yet profound love for him. Her grief at his death could be just the final bit of oomph to get me out of here.
I stay hid in the darkness as he, in his shadows, turns his head ever so slowly towards me in my shadows. Trying to see something which he is now all too sure is, actually, something. His mind races with fears of dreadful beasts brought forth from some nether world. And races with the sudden (and rather long overdue in my opinion) realization that the only protective spell in her ritual was a circle around herself, leaving him totally exposed to demonic attack (not to mention buck naked).
And, embarrassingly enough, his mind is also occupied by a large helping of envy and inferiority that this “ditz” had managed a feat he himself never had: the physical manifestation of an otherworldly entity. Embarrassing yet not surprising.
I rustle and pause, rustle and pause, allowing him to glimpse only the vaguest shadowy presence moving slowly past him through the trees… towards the bedroom. Could that be just a housecat? Or a big fat East Bay raccoon? Or maybe a massive hellhound stalking his wife.
Deliciously, his thoughts are all aclamor with the feud in his mind over what to do to save her. He must warn her, the woman he once loved, and (poignantly) the woman he could learn to love again… if only they could get another chance, instead of being eaten by a demon right about now….
Versus his certainty that exiting the hot tub and racing naked and dripping across the deck would be his final act as a living man. As would a shouted warning.
So, the winner is: a self-deceptive hope that maybe, just maybe, her protective circle would keep the beast at bay (a little bit amnesiac about the fact that he was just harping on what a shitty sorceress she is)… keep it at bay just long enough for him to run for help….
Also in the mix are a scattering of visions of being eaten alive, either or both of them; and him bargaining with me to spare her and eat him, or to spare him and eat her; and images of other women he wished he’d married instead, those he slept with, those he hadn’t slept with and wished he had, blah blah motherfuckin’ blah. His heart is racing pretty fast, but he’s such a predictable, insincere, self-important, self-absorbed prick it’s hard to resist just killing him right the fuck now.
Might as well give the heart attack a shot, though. Could be comical. As well as practical; gotta get outta here.
I leap out of the dark at him. He shrieks, flings his gin and tonic at me. I land looming over him, forepaws on the edge of the tub, snout near his face. And he doesn’t fight or flee. He doesn’t start gasping and grab his arm or chest. Actually, actually, he splashes me with water. Yes, he really does that. It’s touching, in a way; the little ways you humans get programmed to reflexively act like ineffectual ninnies. So fragile; so endearingly flawed. So human.
His terror flows orgasmically through me.
But not a heart attack. Oh well.
I grab his head in my jaws, haul him out of the tub, and slam his body against the deck. His ultimate feelings of horror come over me in a wave. I shake him, vertebrae grinding seductively against one another between my teeth, skull flexing in my jaws but not cracking. His fear and pain provide a dizzying rush. In the background, as if far in the distance – or behind a protective circle, perhaps – I can feel the faint shriek of woe and surprise coming from the Mrs., a tasty hint of courterpoint to the heady sensation from devouring Mr.
I step on his torso with a huge paw and pull his head off. Crush it in my jaws like a walnut. His life-force howls, gusting into the vortex of my heart. Where it burns brightly. Entranced, I savor the exquisite aromas of his soul.
It’s tempting to just suck on it till it’s gone, but “how many licks” is not the name of the game here, it’s “get the fuck off this stupid planet.” Especially this decade, ugh; nothing to look forward to but the “Reagan Era.” No thanks, man, been there done that, and the hardcore punk scene isn’t enough to make up for the rest of it. I snap out of my soul-sucking high and proceed through the french doors.
She crouches there amid her candles, screaming and clutching her book, mind a torrent of everything you’d expect. But I can’t focus on any particular details; the euphoria from her husband’s soul is almost more than I can handle. Maintain, dude, maintain. I look at her. Hard not to feel a little sad, seeing a bug squirming so, whilst its wings are torn off.
Then again, hard to resist pressing such a big button. So I spit out her husband’s slightly-smooshed head onto the floor just outside her ring of candles. She freaks on a whole new level; it’s pretty amazing.
I sit and watch her as she shrieks. “Dude,” I say, glancing pointedly at the book. Yes, she fucking clutches the book and shrieks.
I roll my eyes. Knock over a candle with my paw, breaking her protective circle. I look pointedly back and forth between her face and the book. She clutches it and shrieks.
I take a deep breath. Snatch the book away, fling it open on the floor, nose through it to the goddamn chapter of banishing spells.
But when I get to the page she is gasping, too much for the poor critter, the aforementioned cokehead heart attack has made an appearance after all. God fuckin’ dammit. “Amateurs!” I roar in her face. “Dilettantes!” She makes croaking noises and I suck out her soul.
Staring at the book with my mind roiling, I start trying to settle myself into the banishing spell, but it isn’t easy. Riding the disorientation of the double whip-it soul hit. Trying to parse this stupid rendition of a banishing spell into actual usable magic. Trying to mentally transcribe an on-the-fly inversion, so it works on the caster as the subject of his own spell…. But I can barely focus, barely wrap my head around the intricate geometries. And the two souls are so delicious, I can barely resist just devouring them both outright. But no. The banishing spell, save them for the spell….
Then there are shouts and gunshots and I barely know what’s going on. It’s the last straw. I simply go berserk. Both souls burn up inside me and burst forth as gouts of flame. Men in uniform burning and screaming. Curtains afire, trees catching, copmeat sizzling and popping. More souls sucked into my gullet but I’m maxed out, wasted upon wasted, and the souls of dead pigs just get puked back up as fire that engulfs the house, the neighbors’ houses, the hillside.
And the goddamn book.
I find myself staggering off into the neighborhood, drunk as fuck on soulstuff, trying in vain to stick to the shadows. Now and then I puke a bush on fire.
Goddamn it, earth, why you?