“Do you understand Samedi?” The demon growled, leaning in close to the hook-nosed spirit. It shivered for a moment before nodding once. Slowly, the book flipped open and as careful as a man handling antique china, the spirit climbed atop the book and slowly sank into it, black slime bubbling out of the pages as he slowly vanished within the confines of the tome.
“Samedi was a man that, in life, accomplished a great many things. He consorted with demons and cultists of old gods, frequently terrorized locals, and created zombies from the freshly deceased.”
“Zombie?” Terrance repeated, obviously confused.
The demon turned, a glint in it’s malevolent stare. “A walking corpse that can become violent if necessary. They are excellent laborers and need very little in the way of supervision.”
“So what now? How do we pay you?” Opal asked. Her answer was the book being thrown at her feet with a soft thud, kicking up dirt and soot.
“To keep the pact going it must be fed blood often, any kind of animal will do but human is preferred. Merely hold the animal over the book and cut an artery, the relic will do the rest.”
“So that’s it? What about sowing chaos in our enemies ranks and freeing our people from abject poverty? What about setting an example that the Romani are to be treated as equals?” Martha said, scowling at Opal. “You’ve messed this up, you stupid little girl! I’ll see to it the first bit of blood it receives is yours!”
Opal took a step closer to the fire and kicked the circle of molten silver, breaking it with a sudden crackling of lightning in the distance. Within seconds Martha was grappled by the demon, it’s large hands grabbed her by the biceps and lifting her high into the air.
“I think we found our first volunteer,” the demon said neutrally. He looked back at Terrance, whose slumped shoulders appeared even more defeated than normal. “You as well Terrance.”
“I know… just, take care of Opal, will ya? I know you really don’t have a stake in this, but I worry for her.”
The demon’s tail looped around Terrance’s waist, lifting him up into the air, stomping over to the book, the blank pages turning of their own accord.
“The Book will teach you spells it knows you will need in life. When you raise your offspring to take over your mantle, then they will do as we do now.”
The Demon held Martha over the book, her nudity seemingly a pointless factor to the demon. It looked down at the ritual knife in Opal’s hand. “Do it,” he commanded.
Opal, thinking back on the times her mother had berated her, told her she was a fool and a coward… Opal had no problem sliding the blade through her mother’s throat and pulling it through, spilling pint after pint in a disgusting spatter over the book, which absorbed it like rainwater. After the demon squeezed the old woman to wring out extra blood, he tossed the corpse to the side and looked expectantly at Opal.
She winced as she looked at the disappointment in her father’s eyes. “Do what you have to dear, I won’t hold it against you…”
Tears forming at the corner of her eyes, Opal turned, a flash of the knife being thrown into the sand with a puff of dust.
Terrance smiled. “I knew you wouldn’t do it, Princess, you’re a good person deep down. Now the book is half charged and we charge it with – whoa, why am I so dizzy?”
Terrance leaned back, revealing a razor thin line going from his neck down to his hip. The demon tilted him and cackled madly as a deluge of crimson poured forth from the screaming man, splashing the parched earth with enough fluid that the dirt’s might prayers to the sky were finally answered, though not by a merciful God.
No, it was a demon that answered them. And after he finished crushing up the pulpy remains of Terrance, the demon turned his attention to Opal. “You’re not like other humans…”
“No,” she said, leaning down to pick up the clean book amidst the gore. “I’m not.”
“You’ll find your deeds in a New York, Brooklyn, and Austin public records office, as well as originals and copies for your own perusal. The land you asked for is near a small town in the panhandle that was started about three years ago. Farming community with maybe a hundred families that are in desperate need of a doctor.”
“So I should pose as one?” Opal asked, surprised at the suggestion.
“The Book will offer you recipes for tonics and potions to help what ails the common folk. You own a large chunk of land out there now, so I would suggest getting to it and making my way there.”
“That might be best,” Opal said, looking around the bloody site, carnage and gore spread out across the crossroads. The fire burned brightly and the demon, now done with its task, began to crumble in on itself. Opal stayed long enough to collect her clothes and the skull from the ashen mess the demon left behind.
Whistling as she walked to her wagon, she smiled for the first time in ages. Things were finally looking up!