Staring at her digital clock as the numbers flashed from eleven fifty-nine to midnight, Esther breathed in a quick gulp of chilled air, surprised at how cold her room had become over the last half hour. Putting down her treatise on demon summoning of the fourteenth century, she sighed.
“Now’s the time,” Esther said, steeling herself for her confrontation with her new servant, “Sin…”
The sound of the traffic outside, of the faucet dripping in her bathroom, of the apartment shifting in the middle of the night… all of it began to peter off and die out, sputtering away like the dying whistle of a teapot taken off a burner. She was plunged into a world of silence as her bedroom door edged closed with a silent click. Once she was sealed in the room, the light flickered and died, the world being plunged into penumbra darkness with a few burning motes of light sparking to life to float around in the eerie silence, like faeries of old.
One light sprang to life next to the face of a young boy, jaundiced and weak. Yellow eyes and greasy hair with opened sores, the child twitched and flickered in spot as it stared at Esther with the appearance of a dying street urchin. In its chest were a pair of knives, both stabbed into the hollows beneath its clavicles. A series of tattoos in an ancient script circled its body, the symbols appearing to bleed as it moved in a stiff gait, taking slight steps closer towards Esther, one arm pulled up close to its chest as it drew closer.
“You came,” Esther said with reverence.
“You called,” the child croaked with the voice of a bullfrog.
“You are bound to serve me for the rest of my mortal days, am I right?” Esther asked.
“Correct,” The child, Sin, nodded, drool dribbling from its scowl.
“And you’re suited for what I want you to do, correct?” Esther asked, pressing for details.
“During the heat of the ritual, yes.” Sin replied.
“Then you must have an idea of what I want you to do?” Esther asked.
The boy, Sin, frowned, his sickened features growing fouler as he seemed to commune with something greater than he. His eyes rattled in his sweat-slicked skull while his body seized and shook. Esther stared at the boy, who shook so fast he almost looked like an animation from the computer or from a horror movie rather than a person.
Then, he stopped and was smiling.
“The master says he knows what you plan, and approves,” Sin said.
“The master? You mean Lucifer?” Esther asked.
“Yes,” the boy drawled.
“I thought I was your master?” Esther asked.
“You are, but you serve Lucifer, do you not?” Sin asked.
“Of course, why would you even ask?” Esther demanded.
“Because I can only serve the faithful,” Sin replied, “I lay claim to the souls of those that cross my path that aren’t devout, or are in my way.”
“And you can do what I need you to do? Without me getting caught?” Esther asked.
“It should be a simple enough task at first, but the longer it takes the more difficult it will be,” Sin said, “what would you suggest?”
“I have an idea,” Esther said, having though long on this, “chime in should you have something you think could make the plan better.”
And so, Esther launched into detail her plan to expand her power-base, garnering the attention of the townsfolk while raking in wealth at the same time. If she played her cards right, she thought, then it would be a simple enough task. Sin remained silent the entire time, sloped over like an ape with unblinking eyes fixated on Esther as she spoke, taking in her every word. By the time her clock struck one thirty in the morning, she’d finished her initial plans with her bound spirit, and looked on with anticipation.
Sin bobbed his head up and down belching forth his answer after several moments worth of consideration, “very simple. Lots of moving parts, true, which can be a problem, but they can be removed with little effect on the result; each one just adds to your overall benefit.”
“So, you can make it happen? All of it?” Esther asked, hugging a pillow to her chest.
Sin nodded, crossing his arms, “I’ll need fuel. To exist here in the over world is difficult and taxing, so sacrifices must be made.”
“I thought we did what we had to already?” Esther asked.
Sin sneered, “you gave me a form to hold while here in the mortal realm, true, and a soul to feast on for the first few weeks. But I’ll need more sustenance to stay strong, to do as you bid.”
“What do you eat,” Esther asked, dreading the answer.
“Souls,” Sin replied, rolling his sickened eyes, “honestly, what witch doesn’t know that?”
“Sorry,” Esther said, looking down at her hands. She’d have to sacrifice living beings to her personal demon to keep it fueled. Why hadn’t the girls mentioned this?
“Don’t worry,” Sin said after a few moments of tense silence, “the boy’s suffering is sufficient for now.”
“Good,” Esther said, mostly to comfort herself, “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when you need to feed.”
“That we will,” Sin said, “now do you want me to go scouting for prospective matches?”
Esther perked up at that. One of the things she’d asked for was a man that was handsome, smart, and comfortable with her powers. She wanted companionship desperately, and would be willing to almost pay for it. Hell, in a way, she already was.
“Yes,” Esther said, “yes, go hunting for a prospective match. How long should it take?”
“In this town, it may take some time,” Sin said, “I can feel the sinners plaguing La Reeves, but most of them are run of the mill liars, thieves, and adulterers. Not many are keen on witchcraft. Add to the fact I can’t sense inside hallowed ground and it makes it difficult for me to properly map out the city.”
“There’s a lot of hallowed ground here?” Esther asked.
Sin nodded. “We’re actually close to some, which is making me uncomfortable. Start looking for a new lair for us.”
“Oh,” Esther said, looking around her apartment, “I’ll find something.”
“Good,” Sin said, “now stand up and walk closer to me, I’ll show you how to contact me.”
“Okay,” Esther said, standing from the bed. Her dimly lit room did little to provide her the best perception of her new servant, but she could tell that he was beginning to smolder, his skin cracking, falling into himself.
“I fade away when not needed, or when off doing tasks. I can only appear to you through your shadow. That is where I will rest and recover, as well as digest my meals.”
To illustrate, Sin crouched to Esther’s feet, where her shadow stretched out towards the far wall, and gripped the edges of her leg’s shadow. Somehow, the demon stretched the darkness wide, and began to slither in like a serpent into a burrow. As it wriggled in, she could hear his voice in her head.
If you need me, Sin echoed from the back of her mind, just call to me mentally. Try not to call me before mortals you like, as I’ll be forced to kill them. That is one way to feed me, though it can be gruesome to see.
“Thank you,” Esther said to the empty room, and she felt a warm curling around her heart, like the purring of a cat. With that, a flickering of the lights occurred and they all returned to normal, the dancing fairy’s now gone without a thought, like a forgotten dream.
Walking over to a shelf, she put her book up and began to get ready for sleep, now giddy as a schoolgirl. Her dreams would finally be coming true! A handsome young rogue to come sweep her off her feet, while she gained financial independence and authority over those that had mocked her before in life. Why, she could barely contain herself knowing how good the next few weeks would be.
“I should really start considering a suitable sacrifice for Sin though,” she hummed, padding over to her bed. Slipping under the covers, she reached out and turned off her lamp, still noting how odd everything sounded to her. Her voice sounded as if she were underwater, and while nothing was muted, she could still detect a slight softening of sounds, as if she were wearing headphones.
“I’ll ask the girls about it later,” Esther promised herself, snuggling into her bed, ready to doze off to sleep.
It didn’t take long, even when she noticed her shadow stretched high onto the wall, further than it could have gone, with two eye holes staring at her. She giggled and waved at the shade, which waved back, before fading into the darkness, a black rock sinking into a lake of oil.