|Daughter to Demons chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6||Ashes to Ashes chapter 7 8 9 10 11|
|Daughter to Demons
by Jeffrey M. Mahr
©1999 Jeffrey M. Mahr -- all rights reserved
PART TWO: THEURGIC EDUCATION
All You Need is Love
No matter what the bus companies say about how clean, bright and safe their terminals are, they lie. This one had garbage overflowing the lone wastebasket, only two bums sleeping it off in one corner, and a young couple quietly arguing over something in another corner.
It was after midnight and Jackie was sitting on a bench looking as prim and proper as she could in order to minimize the pickup attempts, but she still looked stunning and she had been propositioned five times in the half hour she had been waiting... for a bus, any bus. She hadn't noticed the hunger when she was back with her friends, but now it was back. The hunger was back. If a bus failed to arrive soon Jackie was afraid she would accept the offer of the next man to proposition her.
She hated leaving her friends, but was convinced it was best for them. She knew if she remained they would do their best to protect her, no matter how much their loving efforts to help pained him or put them at risk. If the angels failed to get them Jackie was afraid she would harm them herself. When he had touched her check as they sat on the couch in the dorm earlier that evening she had felt her power welling up inside her, preparing to jump out and engulf her friend, preparing to consume his very essence.
Another few minutes and the bus would be arriving, assuming it was on time. Jackie offered a silent prayer to what ever god or demon was responsible for her kind. "Please be on time. Please."
She was so intent on her prayers she missed the tall, well dressed man who sat next to her until he spoke. "Hungry?"
"Huh?" Jackie snapped back into awareness.
"Hungry?" He had a candy bar in his hand.
Jackie stared blankly at the proffered candy bar. "No thank you."
"The name's Ngelaf. Sam Ngelaf. It's Middle Eastern." The candy bar was gone, but the hand was still there, waiting for her to shake it. When she hesitantly offered her hand his hand engulfed hers but his grip was remarkably gentle.
"Jack, I mean Jackie Renfrew."
"I'm on my way to Coksackie. It's the next bus. How about you?" The voice was so warm and friendly Jackie felt compelled to respond.
"I'm on that bus also."
"Oh good. It will be nice to have someone as company. Sometimes, when I make this run, I'm the only person on the bus besides the driver." Jackie said nothing.
"I'm on my way back from visiting family here. Normally I live at the Jesuit monastery a couple of miles outside of town." Jackie remained silent.
"You're running away, aren't you my child."
"What?" Jackie's shock was evident in her voice and face, but also by the way she drew in on herself. "What do you mean?"
"Why, exactly what I said. You seem to be running away from something or someone." He examined her face carefully. "No, make that both something and someone."
He held his hand up to stop her before she denied his allegations. "Please my child, don't say anything you'll regret later. We both know my observations are factual. Of more importance is why and what to do about it. Why don't you tell me about it?"
"Thank you for the offer... Father is it?" Jackie looked for a sign to determine what to call him but neither a correction nor an acknowledgment was forthcoming, merely benign interest. "But I don't think I can do that."
The silence continued, growing and becoming uncomfortable. "Excuse me. I need to go to the bathroom." Jackie jumped out of her seat and ran off. At the bathroom door she debated continuing on past it and into the street where she could try hitching a ride but for some reason she decided she didn't want to do anything that would end up causing her statements to the Father, or whatever he was, to be a lie.
The bathroom was even worse than the waiting area with a brownish black ooze covering a good portion of the floor and some of one wall that had an odor that seemed to reflect the worst of bleach and several bodily excretions. The stall doors were missing, the mirror had more graffiti than reflective surface and Jackie was afraid to get close enough to the toilets to examine them more thoroughly. Rushing out the bathroom door and slamming it shut behind her, Jackie leaned against a nearby wall of lockers and feverishly sucked in the slightly fresher air of the waiting room.
"Attention please. Adirondack Excursions bus number fifty one from Montreal has arrived and is disembarking now. All passengers please report to the departure gate. Bus fifty one will be departing for Glens Falls, Saratoga, Albany and points south in ten minutes." With a shrug of resignation Jackie moved to stand before the small counter beside the gate while several bedraggled people straggled past.
"Still running my child? Is there nothing you'll let me do to help you?" Jackie jumped and then blushed in embarrassment for not expecting the Father to be on line with her.
"Please Father, I'm doing what I must."
"And what does he think about your decision?"
"He?" Jackie was perplexed.
"Isn't there a boy involved?" Father Ngelef smiled benignly.
"There was." Jackie smiled unhappily, but she was technically accurate, having been born male.
"Not yourself, my child. I meant your friend."
Jackie's poker face slammed to the fore as she frantically wondered, "How did he know?" She frantically reviewed her interactions with the strange cleric trying to figure out what she might have said or done to expose herself. Almost as an afterthought she checked for magical auras and was blinded by the white glow surrounding the Father. What was he? Fearful of being this close to anyone with this much magical power Jackie backed away. She stumbled into the counter, then blindly ran towards the door, but only made it another two steps before slamming head first into someone. They both fell to the ground and Jackie scrambled to get up, panicking even more when she felt hands grasping her and holding her so she could not. In a flash of insight she remembered that she was a magical creature herself and tried to float through the hands of the person holding her and out of the building, but found she could not do that either.
Jackie was ready to scream in fear when she heard the Father. "Be at ease by child." A wave of serenity washed over her. "You have nothing to fear."
Looking around Jackie realized that it was Frank that was holding her. "What are you doing here?" She slowly untangled herself from him.
"Shouldn't I be the one asking you that question?" Frank asked from his position beneath Jackie. "Oof!" Jackie's hand accidentally pressed on his stomach as she tried to stand up. Suddenly a large hand was under Jackie's arm gently but forcefully lifting her to her feet.
"Thanks." She watched as the Father offered Frank a hand, lifting him to his feet as if he were a light bag. Frank grunted and nodded his thanks before rounding on Jackie.
"Why are you running away? I thought we were your friends."
"You are and that's why I'm leaving, before you get hurt." Jackie sighed. "We've talked about this..."
"And you were the only one who thought you should leave."
"And I'm the only one who knows how much all of you are at risk."
"And you seem to be the only one worried about it enough to try to leave your friends because of it."
"Children?" They both stopped talking and looked at the Father questioningly.
"Excuse me, but this is a private conversation."
"No my son. No loud conversation occurring in the middle of a bus station is private, and this one seems to meet both of those conditions." He smiled and gestured. "Why don't we take a seat over here and discuss this. Maybe I can be of some help." When they didn't move he came around and gently but firmly pushed them over to some benches near the building's two vending machines. Not sure why, they moved as he guided them to the seats without objecting.
"Now my children," he began after they had cleared the trash away enough to sit, "what seems to be the problem?"
Frank and Jackie looked questioningly at each other wondering what the other was thinking. Finally Jackie shrugged and looked down. Frank took a deep breath and began. "Father? Is that what we should call you?"
"Why don't we just avoid fancy titles? Call me Sam." He waited expectantly.
"Fine. Sam. I don't think this is something you can help with." Turning to Jackie he continued. "What do you think?"
"Yeah. I guess so. I don't know. Oh, heck. Tell him. It can't hurt."
Frank debated for more than a minute before offering his dubious response. "Okay. If you think so." He glanced over that the Father. "But I'm pretty damn sure you're not going to believe it."
"Try me my son. Start at the beginning and I promise not to interrupt until you're done."
True to his word, the cleric never opened his mouth once while Frank explained, initially alone, but shortly with asides from Jackie and finally with her doing most of the speaking while Frank listened also. When they were finally done, they both sat cautiously watching and waiting... for laughter, condemnation, they knew not what.
"A fascinating tale."
"But?" Jackie nodded her agreement with Frank's anticipation of censure.
"You believe it?"
"Most of it."
"Ah ha!" They glanced knowingly at each other. "What part don't you believe. The existence of magic, succubuses, that I used to be a man? What?"
"No, actually I believe all of that." The cleric smiled benignly.
"You do? Right." The sarcasm dripped from Frank's words. "And I suppose you also believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy?"
"Well, Santa Claus anyway. I've never met the Tooth Fairy."
Frank threw up his hands. "Where do you find these guys? He's crazy as a bed bug." Frank stood and tugged at Jackie's sleeve. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
"Wait." Jackie took Frank's hand and gently pulled him back down onto the bench beside her. "I believe him. He's got an aura of magic himself."
"You noticed." Sam's smile grew even larger. "Let me introduce myself, but first, let me promise you that you have nothing to fear from me."
When he was not interrupted he continued. "My full name is Sam A. Ngelef, but some people have mistakenly called me Semangelaf." Jackie gasped and then a confused Frank also gasped as her hand squeezed his painfully. Her eyes began fearfully darting about looking for a way to escape from the angel assigned to kill demons like her while Frank, finally catching on, moved ever so slightly to place himself between Jackie and the cleric.
"I see you're better read than most, but please," he raised a hand and Jackie flinched waiting for lightening or something to engulf her, "I told you that you have nothing to fear from me.
"Yes, you understand my role, but please allow me to confirm your friend's suspicions." Jackie nodded in resignation, knowing she was merely postponing the inevitable and wondering if it was normal for angels to show such sadistic streaks.
"I am an angel. I am one of three assigned by our Master to destroy all the demon spawn of Lilith, Mother of all demons."
"Run!" Frank lunged, or at least he tried. About three feet from the angel, Frank found himself slowing and before he had gone another foot he was stationary, floating in the air between Jackie and the angel.
"I must say I'm disappointed in your lack of trust, I am a representative of your Maker after all. May I suggest you listen as patiently as I did for you while I explain." Frank floated back to his seat and Jackie grabbed him protectively.
"You have much of the story correct. Lilith was Adam's first wife. She did leave him and she did refuse the entreaties of my brethren and I to return to him. She is the Mother of all Demons and Sanvi, Sansavani and I were assigned to destroy all her abominations."
"Attention please. Last call for bus fifty one for Glens Falls, Saratoga, Albany and points south. Bus fifty one departing in five minutes."
"As I was saying. We were assigned to destroy all of Lilith's demon children, but that does not include you." Reading their expressions was easy. Jackie was incredulous while Frank was cautiously hopeful.
"I see I must explain further. I've always liked Socrates. He was an amazing teacher, nice sense of humor too. We'll use his method.
"Jackie?" She nodded. "When we first met, were you feeling, shall we say, 'hungry?'" Another nod.
"But I offered you a candy bar. May we assume it was not food you craved?"
"No. It wasn't food."
"When you were back at your dorm, were you hungry?"
Jackie considered carefully, before answering. "No?! No, I wasn't hungry."
"Are you hungry now?"
"No, but I don't see where this is going."
"Have you, ah... taken nourishment since you were at the dorm?"
"No! I refuse to hurt other people because of what I've become." Jackie was indignant. "Now what's the point of these questions? I have a bus to catch."
"No you don't!" Frank blurted the words out. He grabbed her hand. "I love you. You can't leave."
Jackie flinched, expecting a wave of pain, not a little shocked by the meaning of the words she had just heard from one of her best friends. An instant latter she realized that she was not feeling any pain and was even more confused.
"Confused my child? Don't be. Everything is as it should be."
Jackie thought furiously. She should be starving, but she wasn't. She should be in pain, but she wasn't. She should be getting the hell out of here before she hurt someone, but she wasn't. She should be punching that damned angel in the face to get rid of his smug knowing smile, but she didn't. There had to be a reason, an explanation. Was something different? Frank was present and there was a link. Could it be that she'd been feeding off him without realizing it? That must be it. She was sucking her best friend dry. Now she had to get out of here, but before she could rise there was a hand on her shoulder, the angel's.
"No my child, you don't quite have the answer yet." The hand gently pushed her back into a seated position despite her efforts. She even tried to become insubstantial but still could not accomplish even the most basic magical action.
"Let her go!" That was Frank, his hand over the angel's hand trying to pry it away. Suddenly Jackie felt a wave of magic and wondered what the angel had done since she was still alive. Then she saw Frank's hand returning to his lap as he sat quietly beside her. Only his eyes revealed his panic.
"That's twice you've attempted to interfere. I will not permit a third such attempt. Now you will sit quietly until I permit otherwise."
Semangelaf turned his gaze back to Jackie but before he continued she spoke with tears welling up. "Please. If you're going to destroy me, do it already. Just leave Frank alone."
"So close and yet so far." He sighed. "I told you, am not here to destroy you. I am not here to harm you. I am here to enlighten you and offer you a new career choice, so to speak."
"But that's your job isn't it, to destroy succubuses?"
"Yes my child, but you are not a succubus." He waited while the thought percolated through Jackie's confused and frightened brain.
"But that's impossible. What else could I be? I've become a demon that floats through walls, sees magical auras, and sucks the sexual energy out of others. Isn't that the definition of a succubus. It's certainly what Lilith said I was."
"You've become, like me, a creature of magic who floats through walls, sees magical auras, and has a duality of nature that you do not understand. You must choose the path you follow whether it be away from or towards the light. Should you choose the darkness you will live as a succubus, a vile creature that lives off the sexual energy of others, like Lilith. You will be the proverbial 'one night stand' who leaves your partners drained but somehow unfulfilled."
"And I have a choice here?" Her cynical comment turned to a slight smile as she thought it funny that she was being flippant with an emissary of an all knowing, all powerful being. The smile was fleeting, changing to a look of wistful hopefulness. "You mean I do have a choice?"
The angel nodded.
"I don't have to leave to make sure I don't hurt my friends. I don't have to spend eternity, or at least until one of you finds me and destroys me, sucking men dry?"
"But what? How? I don't understand. Please," she beseeched, "explain."
"All beings, even our maker, have a duality of nature. We all make the choice to be good or evil, and not just once, but every time we act. Your choice is to be an evil succubus or a creature that spreads love and joy, a cupid."
"Cupid? But Cupid is supposed to be the Greek god of love, a small winged boy with a bow and arrow. How could I be Cupid? For that matter, if I'm Cupid why did I feel pain when George and Julie were together?"
"Whoa. Slow down." The angel's all knowing smile seemed to glow. "First, you are a cupid, not the Cupid. It's a convenient label to describe the function, not a specific physical form... although you may appear to others in that manner if you wish.
"To explain, you are what you think you are. You appear to others as you, or if you allow it they, wish it." The angel went through a dozen body transformations, from young to old, male to female, tall to short, black to white, in a matter of moments. "It's that duality I spoke of. If you think and act as a succubus you will feed off the baser instincts of lust and feel pain from the joy of those in love, but if you think and act as a cupid you will feel pain from lust and joy from love. It is not truly a matter of nourishment as Lilith usually describes it. In fact, you no longer need any nourishment although it may take a while to convince your body of that.
"Beware of how you choose though. Once you take one path it will become more and more difficult to retrace your steps and take the other. Most take the easy route, so familiar to their corporeal bodies. I hope you'll take the road less traveled." Suddenly the angel was gone.
Frank moved first, shaking himself as if coming out of a deep sleep, he turned to Jackie. "Let's get out of here Jackie. I just don't understand why you wanted to come here in the first place." He stood and offered her his hand.
"Uh, okay. I guess we can go." They headed out of the depot hand in hand.
"Wait here and I'll get the car." Frank left and Jackie glanced about. Just inside the depot were two people, the couple she had noted earlier, still arguing over something. Jackie concentrated for a moment and watched them silently stare at each other for a moment and walk off hand in hand, smiling into each others' eyes. Jackie hoped they would be happy together. When Frank returned she slid into the car and over next to him. Taking his hand from the wheel, she slipped it over her shoulder. It felt good. Life was good. Love was good. She couldn't wait to see what tomorrow brought.