How I started this job was absurd. I was a two-bit waiter working at a tourist spot serving piss-poor pasta and burgers. It all started with a customer that lead me on this journey. The man sat in my section, and he was a big spender buying top-shelf cocktails and our most expensive plate. He didn’t look like a businessman. He wore a blazer with a Ministry tee-shirt underneath. I never worked up the nerve, though, and he was frankly a terrible tipper. I wanted to know what he did for a living. I was lucky that day. He left a business card underneath his measly twelve percent tip.
His card said Rupert Ellefson, Paranormal Investigator and Demonologist.
That is how I ended up sitting in the stale living room with a woman named Eleanor Brogan. She was an older lady who looked to weigh as much as a pencil. Eleanor had a big smile plastered on her face as she sat across from me sipping her tea. “How is your earl grey, Mr. Bennett,” she asked.
"It tastes good, but please call me J.J. if you don't mind," I replied as I took a drink from the mug of tea. I looked around the room to see different religious things. The typical Christian fiction, multiple bibles, and pictures of Jesus lined shelves and walls of the room.
“So how long have you been doing this?”
“A while now,” I lied as I gave a grin. The truth is, I had been at it for a couple of months. It turns out you don’t need any training, license, or anything to join the field. The community itself is unorganized, and I scoured forums to learn the ropes. In the last few months, I had been chasing ghosts with various meters and reciting some prayers here and there. I learned one thing during that time. It was that chasing ghosts doesn’t pay well.
It was the big game that pays the bills in this industry. The people like Eleanor would pay big money to perform this service. That was how Rupert made his cash from what I could tell from my time on the forums. He specialized in capturing and removing demons. It was hilarious to me. I didn’t believe in ghosts, and I especially thought demons were bullshit. The entire industry was just one big con. That is why I hopped in it because lots of people fall for cons.
"So, you have a demon in your study?"
Eleanor nodded and replied, "Yes, that is why I called Bennett's Demon Services. I spoke to I believe your secretary, and he said it sounded quite serious. That is why he said he would request for you to do it personally."
“It sounded like you needed the best,” I replied as I leaned back. Bennet Demon Services didn’t exist, and I didn’t have a secretary. I could do a pretty good British accent, though. “I didn’t want to send one of my apprentices to solve such a serious matter.”
“I am grateful for that because you were also the cheapest.”
I smiled. “Well, I am a firm believer that you can’t put a price tag on these sorts of things. That is why I offer such services at such low prices. I do have some questions I have to ask. ”
"How do you know it is a demon?" I asked while grabbing a small briefcase and resting it on my lap. I spent my time researching the past week on the best way to make it seem like I actually was getting rid of a demon. "How do you know it isn't just something else?"
“Well, J.J. I thought it was a ghost at first.”
“I see, did you have any idea who the ghost could be?”
“I thought it could have been my dear Morris.”
“Who is that?” I inquired when I popped the briefcase open and looked at my demon kit. I had to play the part, and so I found a few users who seemed to really believe that they were conquering demons. They were very convincing. I couldn’t tell if I was being conned myself or if they were quacks.
"He was my husband. He passed about two years ago."
"I am sorry to hear that, but what made you realize it wasn't your husband?"
"It was the way it spoke to me," Eleanor replied the smile left her face. The elderly lady now looked dreary and serious. I was a little taken back myself. She had never mentioned that it had spoken to her.
"It spoke to you? What did it say?"
"It said something vile that a lady such as myself should never repeat."
"I am sorry, but that is a little vague for me. I need something more specific, please."
"Mr. Bennet, I am sorry, but I can not repeat those words," she replied with a small tear running down her face. It sparked intrigue. I didn't think anything had spoken to her, but I wanted to know what Eleanor had heard. It had clearly affected her in some way.
“Was it something sexual?”
She nodded with tears in her eyes and said, “Yes, nothing has ever spoken to me like that. It would be impossible for a woman my age to do such a thing”
“Did it tell you to go fu — I mean go have sex with yourself?”
“I am sorry to hear that, Eleanor.”
“Such a vile thing, I want it out of my house,” she cried out. I bit my lower lip, trying not to laugh. I grabbed the items of my self-made demon kit and placed them on the coffee table. It was time to play a demon slayer.
“Well, I am here now, and I will rid you of that demon.”
She looked curiously at the table and the items that I had placed on it. The first was a small vial of blood that I had bought from a user named NecroHunter58. He claimed the blood was divine and could trap a demon in a circle drawn from it. “My heavens is that blood?” Eleanor said shocked.
“Yes Ma’am, it’s very powerful stuff that comes from a religious order of monks,” I replied convincingly. I didn't have a clue who it came from, but I knew it cost a good chunk of bitcoin to buy it. She passed the sage and looked directly at the black leather book that was set next to it.
I had bought from a collector, and when I told him that I was about to start hunting demons, he was adamant in selling it to me. He said it was the ultimate failsafe against evil. He said he sensed something special about me when I went to pick up the book, and that it would take care of everything. "It's a very special book," I replied.
“What is it called?”
“It’s called the Book of Baba-ish-ta,” I replied. I hoped I had not mangled the title, but it didn't matter at the moment. The words were different, and I had been practicing using online translators to figure it out. Eleanor did not know the difference and would have believed anything I would have told her.
"You can read it, I assume?"
"Of course, I am a professional, Eleanor. Now, where is this demon lurking?"
"The door at the end of the hall upstairs. I will pray that it goes easily and quickly."
I grabbed the items from the demon kit and began to head upstairs.
“My name is J.J. Bennet, and I command you to leave this house!” I shouted as I stared down the hallway. I wanted it to sound authentic. The lights began to flicker, and all the doors slammed. A storm with strong winds must have been heading towards us. “Demon, I demand you leave this blessed home!”
It started to become frigid as stepped slowly down the hallway. I wandered to the last door and opened it to a small study. A tiny desk sat in the middle of the room with books lining the walls. "I don't know if you heard me earlier, but my name is J.J. Bennett, and I am here to cleanse this house!"
"No, I will not leave," a voice rasped as I stepped inside. The door slammed behind me as I nearly jumped from my shoes. I turned my head quickly, trying to find the source of the voice. I had to be hearing things.
"Demon leave now!"
"How about you leave?"
"Ugh, is this some sort of joke?"
"You're the joke."
"Seriously, is this one of those prank shows or exposed shows?"
I began searching for the room to see if I could find any sign of cameras or speakers. The strange sensation took over me. It felt like something was breathing on my neck. I panicked and searched my pocket, grabbing the vial of blood. “What are you doing?” the voice asked.
I fumbled with the glass for a moment and very nearly dropped it. I quickly dabbed some of it on my finger and drew a circle on the floor beneath me. It was the fire that startled me as I quickly jumped back watching blue blames shoot from the small crudely drawn circle.
A figure stood in the circle. It looked human except its strange skin color and odd-shaped eyes. It did look surprised as is stared at me. I struggled to compose myself. I had thought my entire job was a load of crap until I locked eyes with it, and it asked, "Where did you get that blood?"
“The i-internet with b-bitcoin,” I stuttered.
"You humans really are devolving, eh?"
"What do you mean?"
"Buying blood from strangers off the internet."
"To my credit, I didn't think it was real," I replied, staring at it and my mind spinning from the possibility of seeing an actual demon. It smiled at me as I stepped closer to it. "So are you a demon?"
"My name is Kerthuul, and yes, I am an actual demon."
"All right, well I don't want any trouble, so can I ask you a favor?"
"You want me to leave, right?"
I nodded and replied, "If you wouldn't mind. I am just a little behind on my student loan payment, so if you could just do me a solid and bother someone else."
"I like it here."
“Screw it then I tried,” I replied with a shrug and started to head for the door. I reached for the door trying to open it, but it refused to budge. Kerthuul started to laugh behind me. “Seriously, I am out, and you can haunt this place forever for all I care.”
"You think I am just going to let you go?"
"Well, I mean you seem stuck behind the blood thing," I replied, as I pulled on the door more. It sucked that this was a bust, but I started to realize I was in over my head. It was time to cut my losses and get the hell out of dodge.
"Blood seals only last for about 15 minutes."
Kerthuul laughed and said, "You have no idea what you are doing, do you? "So you either need to banish me or kill me." "
I started to panic when I remember the fail-safe in my possession. The book that the collector had given me. The demon's demeanor changed. Kerthuul's eyes widened when he saw me pull it out, and he asked, "Where did you get that?"
"I got it from a guy that I met on the internet."
"That book is beyond your comprehension. And why do you keep buying weird things from people on the internet?"
"Why don't you want me to read it?" I asked curiously. I could read fear on its face. The expression Kerthuul told me that the book was legit. I opened it and noticed that he had started to cower.
"Don't read from that!"
"You mean this little thing," I said while waving the book at him tauntingly. The way it seemed to him was like I was holding a shotgun to his face. "Are you scared of this?"
"Please, stop before you get both of us killed."
"IT ERA THA LEAH HOO AN DEE NAA GOOSE!"
"You can't even say the words correctly," Kerthuul laughed when the lights started to flicker again. He may have been making fun of me, but I was doing something right.
"WE DAH EASEL ALL EM ME YIMMY TEE!"
"All right, all right, I will leave!" Kerthuul shouted as the room started to shake. It startled me as it felt like a small earthquake was happening around us.
I smiled and said, "I guess you should have not been such a dick. AH WINK LEE!"
"Who called upon me?" A new voice said as both Kerthuul, and I turned to see an older man with black hair. He sat behind the desk with a look of annoyance on his face. “Why have I been brought here?”
"Are you an angel?" I asked
"No, I am a demon."
"Be respectful when talking to him!" Kerthuul shouted.
"You must be the one that I was told about. What is your name?"
"J.J. Bennet," I answered. I quickly realized I had made things much worse. The thing that worried me most was the look of panic on Kerthuul's face. I could tell he was terrified. It started to affect me too.
“Why did you summon me?” he asked.
“I was just trying to rid of this demon,” I mumbled as pointed to Kerthuul. He started to tremble like he was a small child that I had just tattled on. “A woman hired me to get rid of him.”
"Why didn't you just say that in the first place," he said with a huge grin on his face. He snapped his fingers, and Kerthuul disappeared instantly. I stood stiff while I tried to think of something to say. "Now wasn't that easy?"
"Where did he go?"
"He was taken back to the deepest bowels of hell for his transgression."
"Thanks, I guess."
"I wouldn't thank me quite yet," he remarked. He leaned forward on the desk and stared me down. It felt like the new demon was sizing me up. "Now we need to talk about how you are going to pay me back for this favor."
"I mean, I just--"
The knock on the door interrupted me, as I could see Eleanor face as she poked her head inside. She looked confused and said,"I heard noises and I just wanted to make sure everything was fine."
“I mean, I just—“
The knock on the door interrupted me, as I could see Eleanor face as she poked her head inside. She looked confused and said, “I heard noises, and I just wanted to make sure everything was fine.”
"It's fine, Eleanor, just go back downstairs while I take care of this."
"Who is that sitting at Morris's old desk? Is that the demon?"
"It's kind of hard to explain, but he is a demon," I answered as Eleanor slowly stepped inside the room. She looked over to the man trying to make sense of everything.
"I don't have time for this, and I don't do things for free."
"What do you want?"
"A sacrifice, one of you has to die."
"Is he going to kill us?" Eleanor cried out.
"I demand it now," the demon growled. He stood from the desk and walked over to me. My legs shook as I looked into his eyes. He smiled again and patted me on the shoulder. "So, we need to get this finished so I can get back to my job."
"Well, I really don't want to die here," I muttered. It was then that I heard the sickening noise of bones cracking. The sound of a body dropping to the floor, as I turned to see Eleanor's head almost twisted off her shoulders.
"I am glad you picked her, kid. I mean after all who is going to stop the prophecy if you are dead."
He nodded and replied, "The prophecy of The Reka, you are humanity's only hope, and I always like playing a good game. I will see you around, J.J. "
The man disappeared, and I looked around the room. I quickly ran over to Eleanor, who was motionless on the ground. I had so many questions running through my mind. What was this prophecy? Who was that demon that I accidentally summoned? But one lingered the most.
How was I going to get paid?
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