Monstrous Femme

The Exorcist of Epitaph Street

The Exorcist of Epitaph Street

The Moor was steeped with lazy energy, and two demons youths sat beside a pond, as much a part of the tranquility that hung over that lonesome place as the looming, mossy trees and the mosquitos that hovered over the black river, courting and spreading themselves ever further.

The smaller of the two boys held a makeshift fishing pole in his claws, his short horns poking through the wide brim of his straw hat.

“You’re not goin’ to catch anything,” the larger, older demon said, laying on his back as he smirked to himself. His scales were blue, his green eyes burning into the night when he opened them.

“Shut up, Murk,” the younger demon said, jiggling his rod lightly so his brother couldn’t hear him as he superstitiously tried to will a fish to try for the chunk of hamburger he had baited his hook with.

“Give up, Periwinkle,” his brother taunted, singing his brother’s full name.

Periwinkle’s pointed ears turned a deeper shade of yellow, and his blue eyes became slits as he bit his tongue.

Murk watched a small swarm of wandering ghosts pass overhead, aimlessly floating through the tangle of branches far overhead. They whined and moaned, their thin voices scattered and muffled by the heaviness of the swamp’s humidity. As he did everything, Murk jumped up and thoughtlessly began to climb one of the trees. Periwinkle watched him go, bored by his inanimate line. He knew there were fish and creeping things below the surface; he could sense them with his latent demonic senses. He knew he could heat up the pond with his corrosive breath if wanted to, but he wanted to catch something with his rod. There was no sport in roasting helpless swimmers who couldn’t escape his childish wrath, and Murk, unimpressed, would just call him a flame-breath before he shoved him into the death-strewn pond.

Murk climbed away, his attention on the tiny clouds of ectoplasmic misery floating in slow circles above. It wasn’t as if they were an uncommon sight, but whenever someone got too close to a wandering ghost, the tiny spirit would inevitably explode with a howl, dispersing its essence as a defense mechanism. It was believed that, due to the never-ending supply of wandering ghosts, they eventually reformed, but no one really knew for sure, and Murk certainly wasn’t interested. He wanted to know what they were congregating over in the branches above.

“Murk?” Periwinkle called, watching his older brother jump from one tree to a taller one. The older demon ignored him, digging his claws into the bark of the tree as he went ever higher. Periwinkle looked to the calm face of the pond, and set his fishing pole down in the scraggly grass. He stood anxiously at the base of the tree, watching as his brother disappeared and reemerged among the higher branches.




Murk scrambled onto a branch that seemed thick enough to bear his weight. It was thin, long, and bent as he hugged it, his eyes fixed on the lump on the tree not even seven feet away. There was a mass of rags stuck to the trunk of the tree, and the spirits hovered around it like luminous flies, moaning to one another and no one in particular in voices like hungry cats. Periwinkle was shouting at him from far down below, and as much as it annoyed him to hear the pipsqueak’s voice, he ignored it. His prize was right ahead of him. The closer he got, the slower he went, and the more pungent and richer the scent from the mass grew. He reached out, feeling the trunk he was holding onto bend lower as he shifted his weight towards the other tree, holding his breath. He knew what was in the mass. It was the desiccated remains of a human child, captured and sucked dry, then cast away like an empty soda can. His fingertips brushed against the peeling, yellowed flesh that still clung to the tiny, rounded skull, the empty eye sockets expelling small swarms of flies as he just barely touched it. A beat. The flies buzzed irritably, momentarily frightened from their cool, cadaverous home. The wandering ghosts slowly realized they weren’t alone, but being simple, shrinking spirits, were slow to act has they cried and coasted around the epicenter of misery, fear, and death that was stuck to the tree. And Murk reached out, teeth gritted as the tree limb below him began to give way.

“MURK! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE COME BACK!” Periwinkle screamed, hopping up and down in panic, his hat flopping ridiculously on his head.

“Fucking Hell-damned brat-fucker!” Murk snarled, and angrily punched the branch as he glared down at his little brother. He looked back up in time to see a swarm of ghosts flooding into him, howling like starved, frightened dogs as they expanded many times their circumference, their hollow eyes and toothless mouths empty black holes in their shimmering, translucent bodies. They burst with audible pops, frightening the young demon as he cried out in shock and threw himself backwards, straining the branch past its breaking point. He fell, helpless before the power of gravity, banging his head, arms, and body against the branches and vines that he had taken such pains to climb past. The ghosts that hadn’t burst flooded him and shot throughout the swamp, howling and screaming in mindless terror, and Periwinkle shrieked in terror as several flew through his body, passing through as if he weren’t even there. His organs felt ice-cold as the ghosts went through him, and he cried, shedding hot tears as he helplessly fell into the grass.

“You little bastard!” Murk shouted, wiping blood from his scaly forehead.

“I’m sorry, Murk, I was scared you were going to hurt yourself,” Periwinkle said miserably as his brother stomped towards him.

“I almost fucking had it!” he shouted, savagely kicking his little brother with one of his bare feet. The younger demon fell backwards, sobbing openly now as his brother tore his hat from his head and seized him by the hair. He punched him in the nose, snarling in fury as he dropped him and stomped on his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. Periwinkle curled in the grass, hysterical as Murk breathed deeply, turning away from his brother. He was looking up at the spot where the corpse still was, trying to decide if it was worth another attempt. A splash from the pond drew his attention, and he saw that Periwinkle’s hook had actually snared something. The green army man his brother had chosen as a bobber was jumping up and down on the line as whatever was stuck on the hook flailed, desperate to get away.

“Would you look at that,” Murk said, feeling sorry for his anger now. He turned to where he had left Periwinkle, but his brother was gone.

“Perry?” he said, picking up the forgotten fishing pole.

Without warning, his brother’s thin arms wrapped around his throat. Murk struggled, too shocked to protest as he was dragged downward, unable to breath or shake off his brother’s iron grip on his windpipe.

“Kill you like momma said she wished she did,” Periwinkle hissed in his older brother’s ear. As Murk’s world went black, he felt Periwinkle’s hold vanish as he too passed out.




Delilah Shadowvale was none too pleased to have her fancy dinner party crashed by the Scourge, ringing her elaborate, musical doorbell. Her two sons were in the back of the Scourge officer’s patrol car, Murk bruised and sullen, and little Peri out cold.

“No trouble, ma’am, we’re just happy he knew our sigil,” the officer said as Delilah’s eyes narrowed on his shiny badge, affixed to the left side of his breast. It stood out dramatically against the red and blue of the demon’s tight body suit. “They should know better, after the spider pogrom.”

Murk refused to tell her what had happened in the Moor, merely insisting they had been fishing for catfish. Delilah couldn’t be bothered to press him for more, and sent him to bed. She had a party to return to.

Amongst her demonic guests, one stood out like an infected toe. Arcturus Starfrost, the CEO and face of the spacefaring Moonrise Guild, stood while her other illustrious guests sat, enraptured by the vampire’s words.

“How simple it would be to end life on Erde, one realizes, just by blowing away that soft, blue corona around the planet. It makes one feel fragile, a feeling not befitting a man traversing outer space in an artificial satellite,” Arcturus said, his eyes narrowing on the luscious red ichors in his glass. His grey suit, with its silver stitching, made one think of rays of starlight, and his lustrous black hair shone like a comet’s tail. He glanced at a framed poster that depicted Delilah holding a small pink bottle in the palm of her hand, her eyes wide with wonder. Her blonde hair was styled in a bombshell cut, and her eyelashes were preternaturally long, her purple lips full and puckered as she marveled at the expensive bottle.

“Infernal Allure, all for you. Release the Temptress within!” the caption read, with the Temptress brand logo beneath it.

Arcturus turned his attention to Delilah, who came into the dining room as if nothing had happened.

“Ah, and here is our hostess, the only one for whom I would stop speaking,” the vampire said, his hand extended for Delilah to kiss.

“Give it a rest, you old blood-sucker,” she said, and the other demons laughed. Though the framed ad was twenty years old, the hostess still maintained her charms. Her tail swished with the vigor of a teenager, her hair maintained its volume, and what wrinkles the skin between her scales had been cleverly hidden by the cosmetics her own company made. Temptress was hers. She had made her fortune marketing and selling enchanted creams, perfumes, and makeup to demons and humans alike, especially to the human women, many of whom were desperate to look like the demon ruling class at any cost.

“Your boys already getting in trouble with the law?” a reptilian demon asked, his scraggly teeth like the bars of a blood-stained cage.

“Nothing of the sort, Lohr,” Delilah replied, pouring herself a glass of ichors. “Just messing around in the swamp, being boys.”

“They should watch themselves out there, the spiders are still hanging around,” the reptile said.

Delilah didn’t bother to respond. Lohr was a hotshot newspaper reporter, and she was careful with what she said around him. With a gathering like this, Delilah couldn’t have kept him away, especially not with the CEO of the vampire space-travelling company here, but she hated Lohr with a passion.

“Arcturus, what’s the sex like in zero orbit? Do vampires drink each other’s blood when they fuck?” a fat, balding fiend asked, his beard littered with cake crumbs and ichor drops. Rosco Orville was the president of the environmental division of Harman’s, a company that specialized in baby products, and probably embodied their ethos toward recycling the best with how he managed his body.

“Perhaps you’ll come aboard the Devil’s Defiance next month, she could stand to carry another passenger,” Arcturus said, and smiled sweetly. “Although I doubt you’ll find much in the way of orgies, bloody or otherwise. My astronauts will be busy watching the pressure levels, the stellar radiation, and making sure there isn’t any space debris on a collision course with the ship. The view though, is extraordinary, you might enjoy that,” vampire said, and sipped his ichors.

“Eh, I’m not dying in a cabin full of vampires and humans,” Rosco scoffed.

“If you truly have an open space, I would love a seat amongst the stars,” a soft voice said. It was from Father Whisper, a priest from the Church of Anti-Cosmic Satanism. Another reptilian demon, he was a serpent, his eyes red, his forked tongue flicking curiously at the air, his black scales as dark as smoke. Eight feet of thick muscle, he was coiled on his chair, a thick mass clothed in a long stocking, the serpentine version of the priest’s traditional robe. He wore the silver oath-chain that all Anti-Cosmic priests wore, the star of chaos soldered to the center link, a thick grouping of arrows pointing outward. Unlike most serpents, demonic or otherwise, he had slender arms and legs, modifications his demonic soul had impressed on his host body.

Before anyone could reply, Periwinkle’s voice suddenly rang out.

“All you vampires should get on your rocket ship and fly right into the sun. Go back home, and leave us in peace, blood-sucking scum,” he cried, and as Delilah’s guests turned in surprise, the boy began coughing, staggering backwards.

“Peri?” Delilah said, at a loss as her younger son vomited all over his feet, staining the rug with black bile. “He’s not well,” she said, running for him.

Arcturus didn’t react outwardly, but as Delilah returned to the dining room, she could tell that the tension levels had become dangerous. Rosco left soon, and after that everyone else made their exit. Only Father Whisper remained behind, buttoning his coat with his slender arms.

“Your boy seems troubled,” he said quietly, watching Delilah as she directed her servants with cleaning up after her company.

“Something happened in the swamp, I think he and his brother were attacked by a spider,” she said.

“Maybe. Could be, but I’ve seen your boys. They don’t always get along, do they?” the serpent asked.

“Not really, but they’ll figure it out. We have money, after all. Enough novums to buy our own country if we wanted to.”

“Perhaps, but not having a father can’t be helpful, and their mother being, well, I’m sure it adds its own pressures,” the serpent said, his head swaying pensively as he placed his small bowler hat on his head.

“I don’t appreciate what you’re suggesting,” Delilah said coldly.

“I’m not suggesting anything, but I think that maybe the little one could benefit from counseling,” he said with a hiss, the closest he could come to a friendly smile.

“I guess it couldn’t hurt,” the mother said as the serpent handed her a card with a name and a sigil on it. “I just wish you could lay off sometimes. I know you’re a priest, Father, but give me a break, I’m lucky to run a successful business, and it’s not my fault my husband died,” she said.

“You are indeed one of the lucky ones, I’m sorry to have offended. See you in church?” the serpent asked gently.

“We’ll see,” she said, looking down at the card in her hand.




Sunrise drowned the upper west side of Duskrim in rays of red light like streams of blood, slithering through the streets where fancy jewelry shops and upscale department stores stayed open day and night, across elaborate houses of concrete and steel where their demonic owners hid from the hated sunlight, and across the green patches that hung where they could. Father Whisper crept into one, silent on his thin, reptilian legs as he tasted the air with his forked tongue, close to his quarry. A bird-headed demon sat on the lone bench, reading from a book he held in his claws. His beak was large and hooked, and had a large crack in it, through which the burgeoning sunlight shone through, like a minute aperture in a cave wall. His feathers were bright yellow on his chest, sticking out of his white button-up shirt, but were a dark, verdant green on his head. Spikes stuck out of his head and ran down his back, and if he had wings, his shirt had no opening for them to reach out of.

“Fancy seeing you out, so close to daylight,” the avian demon said, and clacked his beak without moving his head.

“We really need to stop meeting like this, it can be bad for you career,” Whisper said, his chain rattling as he took a seat beside the avian.

“Speak for yourself, the bishops don’t care about anything but choirboys,” the avian replied.

“Careful, Haust, that’s what they say about you Universal types,” Whisper said, flicking his tongue.

“I’m reading, sir,” Haust replied.

“Doesn’t that collar choke you?” the serpent said, leaning back against the bench.

Haust wore a black collar under the lapels of his shirt, buttoned at the back of his neck, and as his feathers puffed up in annoyance, he could feel it tighten. He closed his book and placed it in his lap.

“Reading contraband? I would have never thought I’d see the day,” the serpent hissed, his head hanging over the book.

The Culling, the cover read in faded, gold-pressed letters. There was no author.

“If you want your illegal book back, just take it,” the bird snapped.

“What’s gotten into you?” Whisper asked, pulling away from his friend.

“I guess you hadn’t heard. My brother got attacked by one of those spiders,” the avian demon said, and took a deep sigh.

“No, I hadn’t,” Whisper said softly.

“It’s his own damn fault. He went with the crowds, into the Moor, breathing fire and calling for their death and all that barbarism. To hear them tell it, he was defending a runaway orphanage when a gang of dark-weavers ambushed them out of nowhere and bit him,” Haust said.

“So, what did you do?” Whisper asked.

“Nothing. I visited him in the hospital. Offered him Dissolution Rites, which he rejected. I’m a priest of the Universal Church of Satan, aren’t I?” Haust said sourly.

“Not much more we can do, is there?” Whisper prodded.

“Any suggestions?” Haust asked.

“What should our role be? Demons exploiting humans is one thing, but genociding our own kind? I mean, is there any line? Anything demonkind should be thinking twice before doing?” Whisper said.

“We weren’t in the Moor attacking the spiders, it was a minority…”

“Spurred into action by the usual characters though, radio shock-jocks, newspaper editorialists, and, of course, over-zealous religious leaders,” Whisper said.

“I, and no priest in my parish, encouraged any part of these atrocities,” Haust protested.

“Oh, you Univeralists and your parishes, give it a rest,” Whisper hissed.

“Don’t be sore that Anti-Cosmic Satanism doesn’t have the reach of our church,” Haust retorted.

“Nothing to do with that, you just have an issue accepting responsibility for the organization,” the serpent pressed.

“I’ll be honest with you,” Haust said, scraping one of his foot talons in the dirt, “I’ve been having trouble with my faith.”

“Oh, do tell,” the serpent said, head cocking inquisitively.

“Not foundational enough for me to consider believing in your church’s heresies, if that’s what you’re hoping for.” He paused, and Whisper flicked his tongue as he gently put a diminutive claw on his friend’s shoulder.

“We all have dark moments. You really think your brother will sunder, then?” he asked.

“Already has. You should have seen him. His flesh was all purple and red, and his scales were just rotting away. He had beautiful feathers, and he was naked as a supermarket chicken. Our mother is beside herself. This whole thing just has me thinking about The Monstrum and everything we’re told. Sure, Great Satan defied his angelic brothers for their hypocrisy, and ultimately fell for his love of Queen Melodia, but we’re told that all this was just a prelude to his destiny,” Haust said.

“Yes, yes, The Great Destroyer, the indomitable King of Hell, sworn to an eternal state of war,” Whisper recited from rote memory.

“Both of our holy books teach similar things. The Monstrum teaches that Satan was shattered in his final conflict with the angelic cities, cast down to Hell like lightning. Liber Runia is no different, you just believe that his consciousness lives on, conspiring to return the cosmos to chaos,” Haust said, preening his feathers mindlessly.

“So where is your contention? Is this another dogmatic war of words?”

“No Whisper, my issue is that we both represent two different strains of Satanism that effectively teach that we, demonkind, all of us, are the remnants of his spirit. Our ancestors’ spirits were formed from the shards of Great Satan’s broken spirit, and as such, we are destined to continue his eternal war to the rest of planet, and Lords of Hell allowing, the cosmos at large. It’s just, you look at the praxis of this idea, and you have this horrific pogrom just last week. Have you heard anything about any arrests?”

“In relation to the attack on the Moor? Of course not,” Whisper replied.

“Exactly, because the Scourge, the Hexehedron, the Senate, probably the Misericord too, all see this as just another expression of the Struggle. The stupid Struggle!” Haust cried, and covered his eyes with his claws.

“It is silly, isn’t it?” Whisper said quietly.

“What part?” Haust asked.

“All this machismo and wrath being ascribed to our progenitor. I for one find it hard to believe that the same being who expressed such adoration for his queen and longed to look upon the demiurge with a proto-scientific eye could have such pure venom in his veins,” Whisper said.

“I could be defrocked for this conversation,” Haust said, his hands wet with tears.

“There’s a word we haven’t used in years,” Whisper said with a pointed flick of his tongue.

“Your faith isn’t much different. You believe that Great Satan is the adversary of all creation, the void at the heart of all things,” Haust said, changing the subject.

“And who’s to say the anonymous writer of Liber Ruina really spoke with the discorporate mind of the Devil to write their book? I have something for you, if you want to feel like helping for a change,” Whisper said.

“I’m not taking an opening at one of your seances,” Haust said.

“Nothing so droll, Haust. There’s a boy who can use some counselling, maybe some of your unique talents,” the serpent said, his voice just above a hiss.




Delilah hadn’t been directly involved in her company, Temptress, in years. At this point, she was just the celebrity face of the corporation, a fading movie star selling the dream of her charms to a world desperate for homogeneity. Human females sprayed themselves with the perfumes her face marketed, eager for their soft flesh to smell like fresh-shed scales, and painted themselves with her makeup, filling their pores with oils and chemicals. Delilah Shadowvale, sexpot and star of countless films, rarely used her own products, and indeed rarely ventured beyond her upper-class world of Epitaph Street, with its stores and mansions, and Baphomet’s Hill, with its theaters and upscale restaurants. She was wealthy, possessed of the type of wealth that keeps a person from thinking about money as a number. Her wealth was an abstraction that she simply had unconditional faith in. The imaginary novums in her accounts paid for every issue in her life, as disconnected as her relationships with everything else. Meeting with Father Haust beside the Purple River, which ran through Duskrim and linked it to its sister city, Howl’s City, felt like just another formality, the right person to deal with an issue before she went back to her diamond-studded universe of cigarette smoke and piano music.

“Does Periwinkle have a history of epilepsy?” the colorful avian demon asked, his head turned completely around to face Delilah as she gazed at the turbulent waters of the river, breaking against the rocks.

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Have you seen him pass out ever? Ever bite down on his tongue?”

“He’s mostly very gentle, most of the trouble comes from his brother,” Delilah answered, annoyed at the priest.

“But he attacked his brother,” the priest asked pointedly. “Do the boys fight?”

“Murk starts trouble,” Delilah said.

The priest swiveled his head away, thoughtfully watching the stream as well.

“Is their father involved at all?”

The question was like an arrow aimed at Delilah’s heart.

“Periwinkle’s father and I haven’t spoken since he was born,” she said icily.

“I see,” the priest responded.




Delilah’s mansion wasn’t anything Father Haust was unaccustomed to. Most demons had at least nominal membership with the Universal Church of Satan, the oldest and most powerful church on the continent, and he often made house calls to counsel families in crisis.

“How are you doing, Periwinkle?” the priest asked, leaning forward in his kitchen chair.

“Fine,” the small demon said, playing with his face nervously.

With his monocular vision, the priest saw a small red bird outside, perched by the window.

“Do you want to talk about what happened in the Moor?” he asked, watching as the bird appeared to be looking from Periwinkle to the priest, and back again.

Just a bird, just a little bird, the priest thought to himself.

“I went fishing,” the boy said simply, staring through the priest with his huge, blue eyes.

“Was your brother fishing too?” Haust asked.

The boy blinked, and then shrugged.

Father Haust opened his beak to ask another question, but did a double take. The boy suddenly had what were undeniably the little black circles humans had in the center of their eyes; he had pupils.

“Do you know how far the river goes?” the boy asked, the pathetic lilt of his voice replaced with something new.

“What river is that, Periwinkle?” Father Haust asked.

“My name is Peri,” the boy snapped, and the priest’s wine glass shattered behind him, drawing his attention as he swiveled back to look at it in alarm.

“I asked you, how far does the river go?” Periwinkle demanded, stomping one of his bare feet adamantly.

“Do you mean the Purple River?” the priest asked, leaning forward.

The boy shrieked, and the glass of the breakfront beside him shattered next, making the priest leap up in alarm.

“I wander and wander and wander and wander, and the river is deep and long and I drown and come back and wander and wander and no one can hear me screaming!” Periwinkle shouted, and the white walls turned black as ooze seeped from the roof, the white paint streaming.

“Peri, tell me what’s wrong!” the priest shouted, taking a bold step forward.

Delilah stood in the doorway behind Periwinkle, her ruby-red scales a clammy pink as she nearly fainted in shock at her son’s behavior.

“You want to help me, fucking die and help me pass the river, you ugly bird fuck!” Periwinkle screamed, and stood up. The hatred contained in the boy’s small frame rippled through the room, and priest and Delilah both buckled under the psychic assault.

“You’re not even a real priest, you’re a phony, a fake, a fraud!” the boy screamed, and Father Haust squawked as his black steel collar began constricting, crushing his neck feathers and choking him. The boy whirled on his mother, who had fallen to her hands and knees, and he screamed. Her lipstick flew out of her purse and extended, then began tracing a picture onto the wall.

“Rowdy wanders too, Haust. He wanders and he sobs, wishing he had done absolutely anything else with his time on this planet!” Periwinkle howled.

Father Haust took a step backwards, his beak agape.

“What is he talking about?” Delilah asked.

The priest fled without another word, not even stopping to close the door behind him.




“You look like you had a near-sundering experience,” Whisper said. They sat at a table in the back of the bar, surrounded by humans that ignored them as they drank and made merry. A pinball machine lit up and whistled, and boisterous human heavy metal music shook the plaster and props of the walls. Through the smoke, movie posters and action figures peered at the drinkers, seemingly a part of the neon-lit watering hole as well.

Father Haust wasn’t disturbed by Periwinkle’s telekinesis. All demons had some degree of magical ability, even if it just amounted to the ability to generate a weak light in the palm of their hand, but he could tell, from the mother’s reactions and the stable appearance of their house, that his behavior had been erratic, to say the least. Furthermore, he was too young to be as powerful as he was.

“He knew my brother’s name,” Father Haust said, dipping a finger absent-mindedly into his beer.

“So? You said he was throwing things around. The boy can read minds, big deal. Did you talk to the older brother?” Whisper asked with a hiss.

“No, and that isn’t possible. I have a protective charm on my mind at all times. Besides, he made it sound like Rowdy’s spirit was just…floating out there,” Haust said.

“You are a trained exorcist, no? If he’s being possessed by one of the spiders, just do your thing and kick the bastard back into his own hairy body,” Whisper said nonchalantly, lifting his glass with both of his small claws. Despite how frail his arms looked, they easily held the drink together.

“It just shook me, I guess,” the avian demon said, watching the small dance floor with one of his eyes. “I’ve been trying to make sense of everything ever since the pogrom. The dark-weavers had nothing to do with the Over-Seer’s treachery.”

“True, but try telling that to a horde of angry, stupid people desperate to do something because they’re too scared and inarticulate to do anything except blame someone else for their messed-up, crapsack world. So, a dark-weaver spends a thousand years tending to our sleeping emperor, and then we find out it was that very dark-weaver who was keeping him in that slumber? Yeah, I figure a group of people as stupid as the denizens of this empire are going to do something brutish and savage like we have been doing to the dark-weavers and all the other insectoid demons,” Father Whisper said, sipping his beer. His demonic eyes glazed over, and Haust thought of the regular, non-demonic snakes he had seen; their eyes were sinister, vertical slits, more malevolent than any demon’s. Every demon’s eyes were empty pools, the pupils lost in the process of incarnation, when a newborn demonic soul took over its host body. Most demons incarnated in their mother’s womb, but if the mother was unable to produce children, the baby spirit would be captured in a crystal for protection, to be incarnated into a suitable clone body. Possession though, that was a different matter altogether. During incarnation, the host body was altered at a genetic level, morphed to suit the demon taking over it. Once safely incarnated, a demonic spirit couldn’t leave its body for long without dissipating, and even then, only at great difficulty. Most demons couldn’t even perform such a feat.

However, a demon could send their spirit into another demon’s body, especially a very young demon’s body, one who hadn’t settled into their host and didn’t have the natural defenses that came with getting older. Especially a dark-weaver with an axe to grind against the rest of demonkind, sitting in the burnt ruins of their tree, seeing nothing but sorrow in their stargazing.

“We could visit a necromancer if you want, see if they can make contact with Rowdy,” Father Whisper suggested.

“No, I don’t need to get in trouble with the Church. Besides, you know they’re charlatans,” Father Haust replied.

“I don’t understand how those stiffs can have an issue with something that causes no harm, and is proven to be a reality,” the serpent said.

“I mean, the wandering ghosts are real, but you know as well as I that they have no sentience,” Father Haust retorted.

“Do I know that because your church calls it heresy?” Whisper asked smugly.

“It’s heresy because it’s true. The mind doesn’t survive death. There’s no recorded evidence of a ghost speaking,” the avian demon insisted.

“Says you. You haven’t heard the ghosts that infest this city crying?”

“The faded imprint of memories, just an echo of life, nothing more,” Haust said.

Father Whisper laughed derisively.

“We’ll see, won’t we?”




Periwinkle sat in the confessional booth, his thin wrists chained to the arms of his seat. Father Haust’s eyes burned on the other side of the divider, peering as far into the boy’s soul as he could.

“Tell me your name,” the priest said as softly as he could.

“That is none of your business, demon scum,” the boy snarled, and lunged for the divider, his chains jingling.

“You cannot fool me, spider. I am a priest ordained in the blood of our father, Satan, the Destroyer of the universe, the father of all demonkind, the defier and defiler. It is I who lights the candle of the soul, and it is solely in the howling train of Satan’s fall that we follow. You do not frighten me, craven possessor,” Father Haust said, a copy of The Monstrum held tightly in his claws.

“Set me free, let me burn everything you built,” Periwinkle hissed, struggling against his chains.

“Oh Lionskeep, the proud, the brave, the noble; revel in thy grave! Thy skull is crack’d, thy blood and brain lay about the ruin, crown and halo deep in the miserable hole that serves as thy throne. Ne’er again will your princesses prance amidst flowers, for they art trampled under foot and hoof, the sun blotted out by my desolation. Oh, Lionskeep’s sons and daughters, strip the cloth from thy withered, starv’d forms and prostrate thyselves before thy new masters, for thou’rt delivered unto my children, and thy angelic masters art worm-feed. Ne’er shall we relent, ne’er shall thou know mercy at the hands of thy lord and conqueror, the wrath of Great Satan,” Father Haust said, holding his book open.

Periwinkle howled and stomped, and priest went on.

“In nakedness and shame will you serve and strive to pleasure thy new princes, the true kings of all the world. So saith our sundered Father, unto the prophet, and so we act in his will, carry out his words,” the priest went on, reading from the unholy book.

“I don’t want to hear your demon books, set me free!” the boy screamed, straining harder against the chains.

“Sit in darkness and silence, oh Lionskeep; never again will you be called the Jewel of Erde, for my children were thy whipping-trasks, but they have found my fire and fury in their hearts, and stolen thy own flesh for their own. Oh honor-mad kingdom, thy angelic ruler believed him to be above reproach, set himself up as a god, this is why disaster befell you. Honor and glory, these are as useless as dried grass cast into fire. Thy angels and magicians cannot help you, and did not help you. Wither away, Lionskeep. Thy allies perish, thy people starve, enslaved and fading away. All disappears, Lionskeep. Even thy name shall be erased,” the priest intoned, as Periwinkle’s screams became higher and higher. The glass panes in the windows trembled, and Deliah felt her blood vessels constrict, sitting in her pew.

The revelation pit yawned before her, the towering statue of Great Satan poised above it, his scarred, red, muscular physique erotically rendered in thick, carved wood. The podium where Father Haust would stand during services seemed so small and insignificant beneath the ferocious sneer of the Devil, and she tried to focus on the small bit of negative space as her tiny son screeched from the confessional booth in the corner. The contents of her purse vibrated, and she clung to it with all her might, closing her eyes in a vain attempt to make the circumstances go away.

“Hear me, my children! Swear allegiance to my Struggle, and never feed on thy fellow void-spawned brethren, for they are the legacy of Hell, and—,” Father Haust cried, but was drowned out as Periwinkle’s chains were torn from the seat. The boy rose into the air, crashing through the roof of the confessional. The boy fell, screaming so loud and harsh that his face contorted as though made from clay, his scales flushed and wet with perspiration. His chains rattled against the tile, and Delilah stood in shock, powerless as the priest emerged from his cell, holding his Monstrum in his claws as he continued to read. The glass windows shattered, the images of Apollyon and his Locust warriors broken and lost as glass rained down on the church, and Absalom and Great Satan all lost as the boys fiendish screams shook the very foundations of the building. The book fell from Father Haust’s claws, and he took a helpless step backwards, his beak opened in abject shock. Delilah went towards her son, cringing as his single long, unbroken scream made her body tremble uncontrollably, from her horns to her toes.

“Peri,” she said, but the sound was lost. Her purse fell from her claw, and burst open as the screaming, possessed boy turned his wrathful, human eyes on her. Her lipstick, compact mirror, and makeup cases burst from the bag, smiting her as they opened and assaulted her. She fled from the church, screaming as she tripped and fell again and again, makeup brushes painting her scales, her lipsticks drawing incoherently on her neckline and arms.

Father Haust drew close as the boy’s scream tapered off. “Release me” was written across Periwinkle’s forehead, and the priest knelt down and lifted the child up as he slept, the possessing spirit having exhausted his mortal prisoner.




“And so, we’ve come to this,” Father Whisper said, eyeing the avian demon with the child in his arms.

“I’m at a loss,” Haust said as the serpent slithered aside and tossed his head lightly to invite his fellow priest inside his house. He wrapped his tail around the doorknob and shut the door with a creak as Father Haust went within, laying Periwinkle down on a loveseat in the center of the drawing room.

“Call the mother, we will need her essence here,” Father Whisper said.

“What for? Will you not just drive the ghost out?” Haust asked.

“Oh, so it’s a ghost now?” the serpent taunted.

“I tried this my way, now it’s time we let the Anti-Cosmic way try,” the avian replied, clacking his great black beak.

“Do you think it’s possible that this is a lost spirit, taking refuge in a youthful body?” Father Whisper asked, slithering towards the sleeping child.

“When the invader speaks, it demands to be set free, and regards me with fear and disdain. There’s trauma there. If it were just a dark-weaver trying to upset me to satisfy its vengeance at what some other demons did to it, it is really committed to the bit,” Haust said.

“I agree. You’ll have to show me what the little brat did to your church,” Father Whisper said. “Now please, call the mother.”




Deliah stepped into the house of the serpent priest gingerly, trembling when she saw her son.

“It’ll be okay, I promise,” Haust said as he led her into the kitchen. Father Whisper sat on the table, coiled up tightly, his tongue flicking as she entered.

“Forgive the dust, I barely come in here,” Father Whisper said. “Most of my eating is done in the yard.” Delilah went to the window, peering at the overgrown grass of the yard. She spotted a fat rodent, and sighed, collapsing into the nearest chair.

“Is my son going to be alright?” she asked.

“We will expel the spirit that is dwelling within him. That is why you are here now,” Father Whisper hissed.

“Oh? My lack of a husband won’t disrupt the power of the exorcism?” she asked, tossing her hair.

“I think we’re past that prudishness,” the serpent replied, and Haust looked away uncomfortably.

“Rest assured; you are Peri’s mother. He loves you, trusts you, and I’m not worried about anyone else, husband, brother, anyone. A mother’s love for her child is closest to that which Satan has for his spawn,” the serpent said, and slithered off the table.

Father Haust’s feathers puffed up as they left the kitchen.

“Awaken, and hear me,” the serpent said, slithering onto the backboard of the loveseat. Periwinkle’s eyes fluttered open, and the serpent recoiled, not expecting the human eyes of the demonic child.

“His horns have shrank,” Delilah muttered.

“Are you another monster? Do you want me to go back to the river?” the child said, propping himself up on his elbows.

“We are all demons here, but we don’t want to hurt you,” Father Whisper said, and moved his head in the direction of the two other demons in the room. “The boy you’re holding on to has a mother, here she is. And this is the priest you’ve met already. He meant you no harm, I promise,” the priest hissed, drawing himself back to the boy.

“There is no end to the river, it’s just long and long and long and when I try to get away, I drown and I see so many others, and there’s no end,” Periwinkle said, screaming the last word.

“I understand. Tell me who you are, and we will forgive you, poor lost soul that you are,” the serpent said.

“Forgive?” Delilah asked, touching the arm of the loveseat.

The possessed child looked directly at her, his human eyes sending a chill shooting into the pit of her heart.

“You must let little Periwinkle go, he suffers now as only you can know,” Father Whisper said.

“I want to live again, I want my parents back,” the spirit protested.

“That which was taken can’t be given back,” Father Haust said, kneeling beside the child.

“I want them back!” the spirit screamed, sending the priest reeling.

“They aren’t here anymore, little ghost,” Father Whisper said, and drew himself upwards. On his belly were markings like wood etchings, and he hissed, turning his head down towards the possessed child, who was suddenly unable to tear his attention from the writing on the snake’s belly.

“Their lives were stolen from them, just as yours was, yes?” he asked, flicking his tongue.

“I’m Jenny. The spider stole me from my bed, covered my mouth so I couldn’t scream, and crushed my arms and legs. And he carried me away, and bit me,” the spirit said, and then Periwinkle’s body began to jerk violently, his arms and legs lashing violently, his head pressed back into the couch as he shrieked.

“Satan’s horns, he’s going to break his neck!” Delilah yelled, seizing Periwinkle’s wrists. And he stopped thrashing, just like that, staring up into Delilah’s deep blue eyes as though comatose.

“Jenny, a monster stole your life from you. I daresay that spider is dead now, and demons don’t see the river when they die. This I promise you. Delilah, mother of Periwinkle, do you forgive poor little Jenny for her violation of your boy?” Father Whisper asked, slithering around Periwinkle’s head so that his body formed a figure-eight.

“I do,” Delilah said, and planted a gentle kiss onto her son’s head. A sigh sounded from deep inside the tiny demon’s chest, and his eyes fluttered open. The pupils were gone.

“Little Jenny, with Great, Benevolent Satan’s song, go forward, and find the strength to float on the river to your rightful rest,” Father Whisper cried, as Delilah sobbed, hugging her son close.




“Having a crisis of faith, Father?” the serpent asked, slithering through the grass.

“I don’t know what the protocol even is for giving up my church,” the bird replied.

“You could douse everything in gasoline, toss a match, and lock the doors,” Whisper said, lunging forward. The rodent he caught squealed helplessly as he forced its furry body down his gullet, twisting his body to crack its neck. The creature’s back legs ceased their frantic thrashing as he swallowed his prey whole.

“Perhaps in the future, try not to be such a parrot. I find that my flock prefer when I listen to them,” he hissed, coming towards Haust.

The avian demon turned his steel collar over in his claws, thinking.

“Would you be willing to visit a necromancer with me? Perhaps Jenny was telling the truth, and we can help my brother along the ‘river’,” Haust said.

“Hmmm, I thought they were charlatans and liars, Father,” Whisper taunted, slithering against Father Haust’s leg.

“I’m not a priest anymore. No more ‘Father’ nonsense,” Haust said, turning a wistful eye to the twinkling, distant stars.

“I’ll be Father enough for both of us then,” the serpent hissed.

There was music playing to the north, back on Epitaph Street, and Haust’s feathers ruffled uncomfortably as he settled down in the grass to allow Whisper to coil smoothly against his head. How many dark-weavers and other innocent insectoid demons huddled in their trees, fearful of another pogrom? Here he lay, in the coils of his lover’s muscles, a fallen priest; when would it be he and Whisper’s turn to be blamed for some fault of society?