Demonic (Sex???) Possession Written By A 15 Year Old Virgin (ft. Loki)

(From the archives, like as in, exactly ten years ago in 10th grade. My nephew is currently pacing around in circles and has not stopped talking for ten minutes with enough energy to power all of China high off being six years old.)

TW: Loki boxing match, erotic lava, sex/possession as told by a virgin, and lots of… scythes?

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Middle School Samael and the No Good, Very Bad, Horrible Public Education

Snippets from the first novel I wrote about Samael from age 12-16, with commentary I made at 19 smattered throughout when I “spoofed” it.  Originally took place in a middle school, but updated freshman year to be a high school.  This is purely for entertainment value and besides astral travel, writing was the old way I talked to and got to know Sam.  The first time I ever talked to him officially in his Satanic form (I’ve known him since I was 2, and he is in fact my first memory, lol) was at 12 and can be found here.  Please enjoy, it’s ridiculous.  I do not endorse ancient beings hitting on minors.  I also do not endorse Samael’s obsession with squirrels or stealing homework.

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The Devil’s Advocate: Chapter 1

I suppose I have always known him.

He is etched on my hands like indigo dye, the bright stained-glass blue of his iris embedded in my skin. I cannot look at my fingers without thinking of how his interlock with mine. It is a strange thing to know your flesh is haunted. When I look in the mirror, I see him, grinning arcanely back at me.

I know that in the womb, he molded me to his will – I am as much his creation as God’s, perhaps more so than the Lord lays claim to me. Like my old china doll, he crafted me, with pale skin and flaxen hair. He says I am delicate as a robin’s egg, with eyes like silver coins to pay the ferryman across the Styx.

My fate is inscribed on my palm in indecipherable lines. Only he can read them. What he utters ices the marrow of my bones: “I have written my memories into you.” He read stories from my hands in my youth, would tell me tales of a Paradise long lost. Whether that place is now dust or a graveyard, I do not know. Still, he longs to return to Gan Eden, to at least tend the roses and thorns that choke the mausoleums of angels and demons alike, under the shade of juniper, willow, and elderberry trees.

He goes by many names, none of which I knew in my childhood. My restless shadow, brought to life by my father’s sins, would whisper sweet promises in my ear: “The time will come when I will show you the world, Jean. Together, we will travel it, and all the fruits of beauty will be yours for the plucking. I want to see their juices stir desire on your lips, to taste the world through your tongue, drinking down your visions. You are my poem to the world. How I will delight in breaking you.”

He has not broken me yet.

We sit in a Parisian café, him closing his eyes to inhale the rich scents of mochas and espressos and croissants as he pauses from his novel. It is The Picture of Dorian Gray, one of his favorites, and like the titular character, he is unchanging. After all these years, that self-same smirk still burns on his face. I take a slow sip of my white mocha confection, too sweet for my liking, and study him: that visage too cruel to be handsome, the cutting eyes like chips of glass. A predatory quirk of the lip. His fangs may be retracted, but he is still a vampire, immortal, midnight blood black as sin, his skin pale as bone.

He catches my gaze and smiles, unsure, then takes my hand in his. I allow him this small contact. Our fingers lock together, snug. Electricity zings from his palm to mine.

“You should paint your lips crimson and sparkling like frost over holly,” he muses, looking out the window upon the crystalline snow. “My winter queen Jean, blush on her cheeks from the cold’s bite. Oh how I want to bruise your neck with my kisses and make your skin the color of dusk.”

“Fat chance,” I scoff, retracting my hand. “God, Sam. You need a Thorazine drip.”

He laughs low. “Perhaps. Shall we take a walk? Find some alley to warm up in, Jean?”

I shrug, my voice ambivalent. I toy with his thin pinky. “It doesn’t matter to me. Nothing matters to me, your incessant questions or not. Perhaps that is the burden of limitless time. Just let me finish my coffee, you absolute mad demon of a man.” I smile, poking out my tongue to tease him. He laughs.

“Very well. If that is your price: time, I’m afraid you’ll find it rather cheap in the nether realm.” He downs his black coffee in one fluid gulp and watches me, amused. I take one deliberate sip after the other, reveling in the taste of oversweet heat on my tongue. The snow falls like an elegy outside. It reminds me of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in winter, when the foundry is iced with ghosts. My shadow loomed the largest, and we would play in the iron and rust, hide and seek. I always sought the hollow places. Maybe that’s because I’m marrow, more quicksilver soul than body, and I wanted Samael’s bones to fill.

“I’m ready,” I finally say. We return our cups and walk outside into the winter air. Samael offers me his arm, bent at the elbow and ramrod straight, in an outdated manner. Demons always pick and choose mannerisms they favor from different epochs or cultures and play hard and fast with their humanity.

If they can be said to be human at all.

I rest my forearm atop his. Silent, we walk through cobblestone streets, jaywalking and dodging traffic. A bakery warms the wind with delicious scents. The crowds part, subconsciously making way for the Shadow Man and his betrothed. A gale follows Samael; black ice blooms in his wake. Nature curls up and dies at his touch, and my hand burns cold where it meets his, like freezer burn.

My wing stains shift their birthmark shape, and I wonder what they will look like tonight. Canary, eagle, sparrow, hawk. Perhaps some kind of owl. I’m feeling vaguely vespertine. I have an Audubon Society book that I’ve used to decipher the port wine stain shadows. Like silhouettes of avians in flight against an iron sky. It is my favorite feature.

Samael pauses as if eying a reliquary.

“What?” I say.

Frosted ivy husks twine over a trellis that stands at the entrance of a darkened alley between two brownstones. Samael grins like a shark, baring sharp teeth. “Perfect,” he hisses. His eyes gleam. Samael smooths snow from the neck of his tailored blazer. A light dusting of white has collected in his shoulders and hair, refusing to melt. Just my luck, my chthonic betrothed is cold as a morgue. He’s the original morgue after all, with billions of corpses on ice inside his manifold gullet. Satan devouring frozen sinners.

The Beast, the Dragon, Aleister Crowley be damned.

“This alley is perfect for what?” I ask, wary. “It looks obscure and dirty. Are we turning into hobos?”

He smirks, the left corner of his mouth curling deviously. He says nothing, then guides me under the trellis. Remnants of summer roses leave behind thorns on the brownstone walls. He pricks his thumb dumb and blind and wounded on a briar. Inky black blood wells up, thick with the stains of zuhama. He leads me into the shadow of the buildings, far from the streets. Swollen clouds block out the sun, pregnant with the yetzer hara

Samael gently presses me against the bricks, his eyes glowing flame blue in the black, oceans away from their usual Mariana Trench indigo darkness. My nostrils flare at the smell of must and trash left out to rot. Moss has found a haven by my ankles on the wall.

Sam presses his thumb to my lips, smearing them ebony with his galaxy life force. My mouth parts in surprise, the salt and chocolate and wine taste of his blood on my tongue. I swallow it like candy and wonder what his seed must taste like, all thick with Original Sin and licorice damnation.

It is something I have refused to ever let pass my esophagus. Something I refuse to even see. Tasting him like that would be the point of no return, and make my damnation come round full circle. Better to lay down next to Death than to sleep eternally with him. His kiss is utter destruction, but his vittles are arcane, forbidden fruit one must not touch nor taste. To see the Angel of Death exposed as God made him would mean oblivion. My Tam Lin and I may tease at deeper lusts, but never set the kettle to boil. Instead, the dregs of wine blossom in the noonday Isaac sun, kissing, caressing, and when he tastes me below, my wing stains burn as if I am a phoenix.

“You are so strange,” I murmur, then laugh slightly. I bite his thumb to tease him.

“I know, but I’m yours,” he replies, leaning in as if to kiss me. Instead, he licks the blood from my lips with a serpent tongue and presses my wrists to the wall, trapping my hands. “I could paint you any color, and still, your lips would be bee-stung rubies underneath, pliant as the petals of a rose,” he breathes, his sinuous body pressed against me. His voice grows husky. “Tell me, Janet – underneath that red flesh, do winter berries grow in your frozen heart? What will it take to thaw you?”

I contemplate the question. I am dwarfed by his presence, like a tiny planet orbiting a star. I can’t resist his erotic pull, the inescapable gravity between us. But he is a cold star. I shiver under him.

“Nothing will melt me,” I say, laughing softly like an ewe. That is how it goes – if I give him even an inch, he will claim a mile. I cannot relent.

Not yet, anyways. I’m not cheap in the ways of love, not even with Red Samael the Seducer, as Cabell says in The Devil’s Own Dear Son.

“I can give you anything, Janet,” he says, voice rough. “Jewels, riches, talent, fame. I care not if you take other men to bed. Whatever captures your imagination shall be yours. All I want is your word: marry me, and I will give you the world.”

I spit back the blood at his face, suddenly flustered. “Never! God, you don’t relent. I’m barely an adult! The last thing on my mind is marriage and a queenship over fucking Hell.”

He laughs, wiping spittle from his cheek. “But you love me.” It is more of a question than a statement.

I cannot deny the twisted affection I have for him. He is a lungful of air ten leagues under the sea. The only thing that makes sense in this cold world.

“Love is a disease,” I say, toying. That is my favorite game, playing with him. Just as he plays with me.

“Everything is fatal. Why not gamble, peach princess?”

“Because I’ve never been lucky.”

“Fair point.” He lets me go and reaches into his pocket, withdrawing a cigarette. He spits sparks onto the end and lights it. “But a promise is a promise.” He takes a contemplative drag. “Your father said you would be mine. And so you are. The seven times three tithe to Hell.”

“What about my choice? Don’t I choose whom I belong to, hmm? Are you so centuries out of fashion feminism has yet to dawn on your archaic empire?”

He smirks again. “You chose a long time ago. In the womb. I came to your sleeping soul and made you an offer: your life for your father’s salvation. Like a dutiful daughter, you agreed. Also, I am Nachash, Hebrew for Shining Enchanter. Look what happened to Eve. She was a moth of a girl to my scintillating snakeskin. I am all bestial fire dragging twelve sisters down to Hell out of love for a wicked dance. How could you ever resist me? Admit it, I’m irresistible. Even to a bookish girl like you.”

I step away from him, crossing my arms. “Infant promises count for nothing, Sam. You’re beating a dead horse to death! I am yours to hold, but never have. At least give me some semblance of a choice.”

“And yet, the deal is binding. I have the contract in fetal blood, if you’re so inclined. That’s where you get your wing stains from, my love. The blood of the covenant is thicker than the waters of the womb, my dear.” He stamps his cigarette out on the icy ground.

“I don’t need to see a document full of lies,” I snap. “Stop pushing! You know I hate it when you push. Let me be a Millenial obsessed with self-aggrandizement in peace!”

He shrugs. “Alright then. Temperamental today, aren’t you? Surprising. I’m actually getting a response from my cold diamond.”

“I’m nobody’s jewel, to be set in silver or platinum and displayed like some gaudy fashion statement. I’m more moldavite, a meteor that crashes to Earth in fury. Don’t deny the impact my temper has, Sam Sam.”

He ignores me, opening his mouth to catch a snowflake on his obscenely long, prehensile forked tongue. It flicks out, like a serpent’s, collecting the falling white. “Mmm. The taste of the sky.”

“Are you even listening to me?” I ask, exasperated. “You hate Sam Sam.”

“Partially. I’m too distracted to curse you to oblivion over that heinous nickname. Say, shall we go ride camels in Morocco? Or explore Venice in a gondola? Paragliding in the Barrier Reef? Swimming in the Amazon? I have an ache for travel.”

“You’re always antsy, dragging me halfway across the world on a whim. No, I don’t want to. I want to go back to my flat and paint. You can pose for me or not, I do have some fruit fitting for a still life.”

His shoulders slump. “Please, Jean? Just a quick trip to the Mediterranean? Don’t you crave warm weather? I admit it, I’m a reptile – I need to bask in the sun to restore my vitality. That’s why I made Hell so hot.”

“No. I prefer the cold. I’m not a lizard like you, o great Dragon.”

He narrows his eyes. “You truly are a creature of winter. Born on the longest night of the year, with a heart made of stone. I’m surprised you don’t melt come spring. But just wait, I will melt you something yet.”

“Air conditioning is the key to my survival,” I say drily. I turn from him, marching out of the alley, pissed at his outdated commitment to the institute of marriage. He follows like a shadow. He might as well be wearing a tuxedo bearing a wedding band. Devoted as the Sword of Damocles ready to slice off my head on the guillotine of holy matrimony.

I hail a cab. A gruff driver stops.

“Where to?” he asks.

“The Rimbaud Building on Rue Merlebleu,” I answer.

“Ah,” the driver snorts. “That place.”

I bristle at the driver’s judgment but say nothing. True, it’s hipster beyond belief, but it fits my aesthetic, Instagram be damned. Samael settles into the seat beside me. He casually rests an arm over my shoulder, as if we are an idyllic couple caught in a winter storm. Not the king and future, if ever, queen of Hell arguing over a centuries outdated institution meant to control women. He doesn’t even have a last name I could take. Jean Doe.

We drive past the Arc de Triomphe. Snow drapes the ground like a fur coat.

“Here you go,” the driver huffs, turning onto sleepy Rue Merlebleu. He eyes the Rimbaud Building skeptically, with its Gothic architecture and converted cathedral appearance. The driver mutters under his breath, depositing us on the cobblestone sidewalk.

Sam helps me out of the taxi with long, muscled arms. We make our way to the elevator, all gold metal, with painted cherubs on the ceiling. He smiles at the angels in a predatory fashion.

“So,” he asks, “what is the subject of today’s royal masterpiece?”

The elevator dings and the doors open. We walk down the narrow hallway, each door painted with stanzas of French poetry by Verlaine. Ironic, as he shot Rimbaud in a lover’s quarrel, but that’s kind of the whole French hipster point. The airy views are in stained glass from the Rimbaud Building’s cathedral backstory. It’s more artist commune now, and there are creative spaces and workshops where us poets, painters, and writers can collaborate in artistic harmony.

“A still life,” I answer, “you’re too antsy today, my love.” We arrive at my flat – I unlock the door with my old iron key. The lock clicks and we enter.

Sam settles on the antique leather couch in my living room and pulls out The Picture of Dorian Gray from his messenger bag. I go to the kitchen and select some ripened fruit from the fridge – a pomegranate, apple, and grapes – and arrange them in a glazed russet bowl. I grab a loaf of bread and fetch some eggs, then arrange the food on a black walnut table in the living room. Sam nods approvingly as I set up my easel and paints. I smear the paints onto my easel and dab a brush in, making broad strokes for a green underlayer.

“I love the way you paint,” he sighs. “It’s so delicate, like the flutter of a butterfly’s wing.”

“I don’t paint for you,” I say. My words bounce off the robin’s egg blue walls. “And remember, I’m a wasp, not a butterfly or a damn useless moth. I sting.

“I didn’t mean that. You are your own creature. I am merely here at your disposal. Don’t you know that, Janet?” He closes his book and rises. The book shakes in his grasp. “All I want is your happiness.”

“All you want is my hand,” I snort. “That, and for me to rule a kingdom at the tender age of 21. Ix nay on that, Beast.”

“Your hand?” Sam draws closer, stroking my shoulder. “In marriage? Yes. But also your joy. And in the true End of Days, just your fingers to interlace with mine and hold for all my days.” His face is earnest, his cruel features softened.

I set my paint down, turning to him. “I am betrothed to you because the universe demands it. I’m with you because I love you. But I will never be more. This arrangement will be the longest engagement you have ever known. Marriage is for WASPs, not actual wasp girls.”

He grins, sly. “I’m the Grim Reaper. I can wait. And time has stopped for you. You aren’t growing any older.”

I sigh, weary, reminded of the burden of my immortality. “You had to remind me,” I whisper.

“I’m sorry-”

Anger rises in me. He just keeps damn pushing, like a broken record. “No you’re not!” I snap. “You don’t care about me.” I swat his hand away. “All you care for is what I am! Your perfect china doll you’ve stowed away in the attic next to a hammer for the day you feel like smashing it. But you’ve forgotten something: that doll is adamantine. That doll cannot break.”

His eyes flash. “You are the thing I hold dearest, Janet. My finest creation. Of course you are indestructible.”

“Then why do you want to break me, if you know you can’t?” I whisper, almost crying. Emotions I like to suppress suddenly bubble over. I hate to lose my cool, but I’m doing it anyways.

He leans close to me, murmuring into my ear. “Because everyone delights in pressuring coal into diamonds.”

And like that, he lets me go, returning to the couch, absorbed in his book. I sigh, shake his venom off, then return to painting. I paint all the fruit displayed as rotting. There are little violet-black flies on their skin on my wet easel.

Night settles into the city like a nesting cat. Hours pass, the painting is finished, and Sam yawns, rousing me from my reverie. I blink, considering the canvas. A photorealistic rendition of the still life dries before me. That, besides the gangrene of the fruit.

He whistles low. “Nice. I’m hanging that in my office, if you’ll allow me. Very morbid. Kind of like my soul?”

I set to cleaning my brushes in the kitchen. “Whatever, your soul is more just a black hole,” I call. My stomach turns in hunger. “Ugh. I’m starving!”

Sam peeks his head into the small kitchenette. His black hair is mussed from the pillow. I have the instinct to smooth it but quash the impulse. His gaze is dreamy. “Dinner…” he echoes, looking like a lost boy from Peter Pan. That’s the thing about his face: it’s ageless, but can seem extremely young or infinitely old, depending on his mood. “Let’s go home, Janet. Back to Pandemonium. We can go to Pandemonium for supper.”

“This is my home. A hipster artist’s collective in the middle of Paris. Or Bethlehem, Pennsylvania if I’m feeling my roots.

His nose curls. “This is not your home. Your home is Hell now. My palace. This is just a place to while away the hours. A place I bought on a whim.”

I narrow my eyes. “Hell will never be my home. It’s always summer. Do you know what that does to my complexion? I have to moisturize constantly.”

He exhales heavily. “Whatever you say,” he says, tired, that dreaminess still about him.

My stomach rumbles again. I clutch it, embarrassed. Sam smiles.

“Ready to leave?” he asks.

“Wait. Let me change. You’re the one that demanded Mulciber make the entirety of Pandemonium hot.”

I go back to my room and select a scarlet sundress from the closet and strappy gold wedge heels. It’s always hot in Pandemonium, the heart of Hell. Some of the lower circles get colder, down to the icy heart where Samael likes to take his ice baths and chew on sinners as toothpicks or whatever. I don the dress. “Can you zip me up?” I call.

“Of course.” Sam enters my room. He obliges, his touch cool at the small of my back. He traces my shoulder blade, his fingers gentle, and runs his hand up to the crook of my neck. I turn to face him, blushing.

“Don’t do that,” I say. “You’re turning me on, idiot.”

“What?” He smiles like a cherub with a toothache, then cups my breasts and massages them.

I moan, then remember my hunger, and dash his hands away. “Let your hands linger on me. I need personal space, hah!”

He nods, sticking his tongue out. “Of course you do. My apologies.”

I falter. “Don’t think…”

“What?” he asks, confused.

“Don’t think I don’t like it, though,” I mutter. “I’m just… frustrated. With the whole marriage thing.”

“You’re always frustrated, dear. Your temper is legendary. Other demons quake at the mere mention of it.” He smiles slightly. “I remember when you were little, and you would build block towers. You would stack them so tall, taller than your head, and then be furious when they weren’t perfectly aligned, or they fell. I would have to rebuild them. You are a perfectionist and demand the best in yourself and others.”

“I am, huh?” I echo. “Well, being a perfectionist is a bitch. My expectations are never met. Look at my life, Sam: it’s in ruins. A starving artist with an expensive college degree. No one will exhibit my artwork, on Earth anyways, your office be damned. My career as a painter is frozen like the lowest circle of Hell.”

“No, Janet,” he says, voice fierce. “Your life has only just begun. Paint what you want. In truth, you are my queen. You belong by my side ruling with me, my tithe.”

I cross my arms and draw away from him, feeling suddenly cold. “You’ve caged me,” I murmur. “Clipped my wings. How can I be myself when I am so entwined in you? How can you say my life has begun when everyone I loved is dead and my friends have forgotten me through your magic?”

I shiver. He sighs, takes his blazer off and drapes it over my shoulders. “The answer will come in time,” he says, cryptic. “And not everyone you love is dead- you have me.” His eyes are almost pleading, searching for some sign, any sign, of affection in my face.

“You like your girls weak and reliant on you, don’t you?” I ask, my inner stone walls flaring up to block intimacy.

You are my only girl,” he hisses. He closes the distance between us and embraces me. I stand rigid, unyielding. “Now let’s get away from these paint fumes and fill our stomachs, eh?”

“I won’t bend to your will, dear Samael. Ever. I have no head for infernal politics.”

“It’s just dinner, Jean.”

My stomach roils. He laughs at the sound, smoothing my midriff fondly. I blush at his affectionate touch.

“Let’s feed the beast,” he whispers, his breath tickling my ear. And like that, the world spins around us, bending to his arcane will, and the fairy realm swells up like a pregnant sow. I instinctively grab him to steady myself, out of breath as I watch darkness envelop us in its womb. The thick tomb is like suckling at the breasts of a rampaging black boar, and I lose my throat in the black milk, coughing until doom.

 

 

Gasping, I land on the cobblestone streets of Pandemonium, Hell’s capital city. Samael’s arms are wrapped tight around me. I pull away and gather myself, smoothing the skirt of my dress. He looks at me with longing and reaches out to tuck a stray lock of hair behind my ear. I blush.

He is dressed in severe black robes, the traditional attire of the Grim Reaper. Cool tendrils of the hem of his robe snake out to skirt my ankles, as if in affection. It is a garment of living darkness, ebony as spilled ink. I step on the tendrils, squashing them with enthusiasm. They spring up hissing and new. Samael laughs low.

“Your defiance is amusing,” he says quietly.

“You find everything entertaining,” I counter. I stomp another snake. It squeaks and deflates. “This is as addicting as crunching leaves.”

“You have to find everything amusing, when you’re immortal. Otherwise things become very boring, very fast. Eternity is an extensive time to be bored.” The snake inflates again and wraps around my ankle, then kisses it. I laugh and shake it off.

Pandemonium’s citizens form a wide berth around us, instinctively avoiding Samael. As one of the seven princes of Hell and chief of Satans, he ranks above all others, and the demons can feel the power washing off him in waves. As a human, I have no such sixth sense, but even I find his presence intimidating. It is almost over 21 years that I have grown accustomed to standing in Samael’s immense shadow. My wing stains stretch, and I can feel the impressionistic feather strokes expanding to my forearms.

My stomach rumbles again. I clutch it, wincing. Samael snickers. “Come, Jean.” He extends his hand. “Let’s get a bite to eat.”

I do not take his offered palm. Instead, I turn from him, knowing full well he will follow like a shadow. I giggle. He sighs, gliding after me, leaving no footsteps in my wake. His ‘walk’ is an illusion put on for my sake, to make me feel as if he is not some Lovecraftian entity underneath his illusion of skin. Full of eyes, ells tall, burning and bleeding out despair. I know that pale, milky flesh masks horrors the void birthed.

I have seen him below freezing on a glass throne in the lowest circle, ice for bones, choked on regret in seas of blossoming red. The blood of the Damned as succor, the mutilated limbs of corpses his font. He is the abyss, pain, the severity of God. How the hell could a thing like that love? How the hell could a beast like him have a heart?

And yet he does, and I covet the Beast. I will have all of him in due time, but it will be on my watch, at my say, not his.

An open-air market surrounds us, wedged between the looming buildings of the street. Gray and black stone dominates, and the pale evening sun picks up the rich reds and yellows of the market tents. Fairytale spices scent the air, and everything is for sale: wishes, desires, sex, violence and hearts. Raw sounds echo from fighting rings as onlookers place bets on mythic creatures egged on by matadors. Vendors try and catch my eye, calling out as they offer firebird feathers and golden apples. Goblin fruit glitters under the early stars on the dusky purple horizon.

Strange love makings are enacted in alleys and demonic passion plays block intersections. There are sellers of souls, dealers in death, and strange drugs that can bear a man away on the whimsy of dreams. Above all, there is dancing, a chaotic frenzy as the night market comes alive with music from all quarters of the city. It truly is pandemonium. I weave my way in between dancers, keeping my eyes open for restaurants and food stalls, taking in the strange twists on ethnic cuisine. Samael laughs quietly at different distractions.

He puts a gentle hand on my shoulder. “Look. Pomegranate sweet wine, fresh from Hades’ groves. You must try some. Persephone lost her heart to Hades over it. It wasn’t six seeds she ate as the myths lead one to think: it was six sips of this intoxicating aphrodisiac that convinced her to stay in the underworld. Vintage of Hades was always sweet, not full of wrath like Up Above.”

“Aphrodisiac?” I ask, skeptical. I rib him. Pest.

Samael grins like the Devil he is. His smile could break bones. “Yes,” he says, quiet. He silently glides over to the vendor and pulls ancient coins out of his pocket and hands them over to the stocky demon. The demon smiles, the corners of his mouth reaching his ears, baring multifold rows of shark teeth. Combined with his pupiless gray eyes, the smile has a ghastly effect. The vendor hands over a bottle of rosy wine. Samael takes it and bids him good night, putting the bottle into his depthless pocket.

“Anything for your majesty and his lady, Prince Samael,” the vendor says, bowing deeply. I scoff at the display of fealty.

“Is that really necessary?” I ask him as we walk away. “For them to treat you like royalty?” I shake my head. “Hell is so backwards.”

“Tradition is sacred here, Janet,” he explains. “Look around you, at the dancers and music, at the wares and goods from all realms. We hail from all over the otherworlds. The fallen of all ages. It is tradition that binds demon kind together and unites us. These are the children of a third of heaven and spirits from all cultures. All walks of life find refuge in Hell.”

“I wouldn’t call it a refuge. It’s Hell. More of a holding pen until the End Times. Or a cesspool of wayward souls that got the short stick in the pile.”

Samael shrugs. “One man’s Heaven is another one’s Gehenna.”

I look down at the cobblestones, my eyes weary. “I’ll never find peace here. It’s not home…”

Samael loops an arm around my shoulders, his cool robe extending to cover me in its comforting darkness like a security blanket from childhood. It is like being enveloped by a bat’s wing, all silky sweet and warm.

“Find some peace in me?” he says softly, leaning against me. I sigh, yielding to his suggestion. I close my eyes, allowing myself a minute of silence in these bustling streets. But just as soon as I close them, I collect myself, pulling away.

“Impossible,” I say, my voice fiery. “I haven’t had dinner yet.”

Samael’s blue sea glass eyes shimmer. “I wish you would learn to trust me,” he whispers, regretful. He smooths the hem of his sleeve and sighs.

“The only thing I trust you to do is prey upon me,” I say over my shoulder, walking off at a fast pace. “Oh, Janet, your hand in marriage! Oh, Janet, rule with me! Oh, Janet, my sweet tithe, sign a fetal contract in blood!”

He narrows his eyes. “I do no such thing,” he says, following.

“You want to wound me. To bleed me dry, until I am a husk of myself,” I challenge. I’m toying with him again, I admit it, but I can’t help it. It’s so, well, tempting, his apples be damned.

Samael blocks me, his breaths heavy, cornering me against the side of a building.

“You don’t mean that.” Without warning, he spears his tongue into my mouth and near devours me. Sucking, licking, biting, pushing my hands above my head and locking them in his grasp. I moan, wrapping around him with my hips as his wings envelop me, white and spackled gray feathers unsullied by the ages warm where he is cold. My own port wine stain wings blossom in response, and I run a ragged hand through his hair. I love him, I love him, I love my Tam Lin, though he be the death of me.

I sigh as I break away, his black venom saliva a string on my lips. I lick it. He growls.

“Come back to my embrace, you damn woman.”

Suddenly, I am exhausted. “I’m not fooled by your gestures, Samael,” I say, not meeting his gaze. It is a weary dance we have performed countless times. I make an accusation of truth, he tries to convince me I don’t mean it, then lures me further into his web of lies. I tire of it, sometimes. “The wine-buying, the trips to Andalusia, Tunisia, Brazil, New Zealand, Rome, granting my every wish: it’s all a plot to keep me complacent and blind to your intentions. Like a fat cow fed on sweet grasses, only to be lulled into trust and led by her master to slaughter. I’m no more than a prized heifer you’re keeping around until you grow hungry, milking me dry until the hour of my departure and the meat factory calls.”

Samael’s face grows shadowed. He smiles an empty smile. “When you put it like that, it sounds almost true. I do wish to tuck you away in safe pastures and shelter you from the world, taking from you what you’ll allow. But I can’t. To do so would be a lie.”

“Take from me what I’ll allow?” I scoff. “I allow nothing. None of this was my choice!” I grind the heel of my gold wedge sandal into the ground. “Fuck, I need a drink. Take me to a bar. Now.”

Samael bows. “As you wish.” He offers his hand to me. I grab it with a vengeance. I stomp away, trying to drag him after me, but just end up having Samael glide effortlessly by my side.

“Walking a bit fast, are you?” he teases.

“Talking unnecessarily, aren’t you?” I snap.

He sighs. “Fine, if you want my silence, you only have to ask.”

I round a corner and storm into a seedy bar, my flowing red dress a war flag warning sign of my wasp queen stinger. There are low wolf-whistles from several low-born demon men, who immediately choke on their cat calls when they see Samael enter after me. He glares at them but says nothing.

Samael speaks: “We can have the wine I bought-”

No.” I stake a seat at the bar. “Double vodka on the rocks,” I tell the bartender, a wolfish demon with yellow eyes. He nods and fixes the drink. Samael asks for a fluted glass and pours the pomegranate wine. He swirls it and brings it to his lips, savoring the rosy liquid. I down my drink in one gulp and slam it on the table in challenge. “Another!” I say. The bartender obliges.

I drink until my tongue is numb and the world is a blur around me. A hot buzz builds in my stomach and spreads like fire to my limbs. All I feel is rage, rage at him, at my condition, at my celestial cage. Samael lights a cigarette and smokes it contemplatively. There are deep bruising bags under his eyes, and his cheekbones are painfully prominent. I reach out to touch his face and trace the jutting bone.

“I could cut my finger on your face,” I sneer. “There’s nothing about you that’s not sharp places and shards of glass.”

He has finished the entire bottle of wine. He takes my hand drunkenly and kisses it sloppily. “Let’s get out of here. Back to my palace. To the courtyard in my quarters. The cherry trees blossom so beautifully there, like the pink blush on your cheeks, and the water falls from the fountain like your hair-”

“No,” I cut him off, drunk as well. I stand, only to be caught off-kilter as everything shifts. Samael rises to catch me. “Fuck!’

“You can’t walk, can you?” he laughs quietly.

“I don’t need your help!” He lets me go. I trip and curse. Everything swirls around me. “Damn it,” I say, bitter.

He helps me up. “I’m carrying you, Jean. Don’t struggle.”

“No! That’s humiliating!” I yell, a loud maudlin. He does so anyway, lifting me up gently. His robes snake around me to stabilize me, and he folds his sooty owl wings to shepherd me away from the public’s eyes. I flail about, too disoriented to put up a united front, and end up with a mouthful of owl feathers.

“What did you think would happen, pounding back all those drinks?” Samael says, his voice dry. He carries me out of the bar and further into the dusky hubbub of the streets. “You don’t have a demon’s temperament for alcohol, and you’ve never been able to hold your liquor.”

“It’s called drowning your sorrows, asshat. Alcohol is my crutch. The problem is you. Let me go.”

“If I do, you’ll fall again.”

“I’d rather fall than be carried by you.”

Despite my protests, he keeps me aloft, gliding like an omen through the streets. His robes are cold against my cheek, so eternally cold like his skin, just like the grave of his flesh. It is almost comforting in the summer heat of Hell. I relax, mind hazy under a bower of owl wings and inky black void, hating myself for enjoying being in his arms.

That is the problem that killed Schrodinger’s cat: I crave closeness from Samael, but I abhor him. He is the only thing that comes close to a family member anymore, and I hate him for it. I feel like a hothouse flower lovingly tended in solitude, kept separate from the rest of the plants. Just look at how his wings and arms and cloak chain me!

I love him beyond all words, but in the end, he is my ruin. The trap of eternal matrimony. A throne I don’t want. In the penultimate sense, responsibility for a whole race. This is nothing I had ever asked for, and the question remains, why me? Why did he choose me as his tithe? Has this ever happened before? Am I the first girl to dance in the Devil’s red shoes down to the bone of her soul or have others, hundreds of others, failed before me as tithes to Hell? What, oh what, will it take to win my freedom?

“You’re finally quiet,” he murmurs, ascending the great steps that lead to his imposing palace gates. He brushes back some flaxen baby hair from my brow. Samael’s palace is set miles back through the Screaming Hollow forest and rises over the trees in needle spires. The towers pierce the sky like arrows, obsidian black, reflecting the moonlight and stars.

I cannot help but think his sorcerous keep a thing of wicked beauty – it is the very essence of dark fairy tales, like beads of blood on angels’ lips. The scent of flowers hangs heavy on the air, and as the gates clang open, the aroma of a fallen paradise rushes past the castle walls, flooding the streets. Some memory of Eden haunts the gardens through which he ferries me. The trees grow tall and twisted, hung with emerald leaves and ruby fruits, and they whisper in the wind: I can almost make out their voices through my intoxicated haze.

Samael nods to the guards at the entrance and enters the palace. The Hellopolis and central focus of Hell’s courts, as Samael is crown prince of Hell, and the focal point of his halls is the fulcrum around which all infernal politics revolve.

The Hellopolis is an exotic blend of Grecian and Gothic architecture, with looming caryatids and long barrel-vaulted ceilings. The stone is alive, carved with gargoyles and fantastic beings. A marble manticore roars before me, but its voice is silent, for stone tells no tales.

The halls are quiet save for the strains of a violin from some distant room. Attendants and staff members from the arcane hierarchy of Hell pace the corridors, greeting Samael with familiarity. They look at me regretfully, as if I am a disgrace. No one much approves in Samael keeping me around, as long as I eschew my queenly duties as the tithe. I flip them the bird and fix them with a killing glare. Samael laughs off my rudeness. I give him a withering glance.

“I hate your associates. They hate me. Why do you even bother bringing me here?” I sigh. “I’m never happy in Hell. Here, I’m not free. On Earth, I don’t have chains. They hate me because I am a caged bird.”

“They don’t hate you, Janet.”

“God, I feel awful,” I moan, rubbing my temple. My other arm hangs limp by my side. “Why did you let me drink so much?”

“As if I could have stopped you. Better to let you settle your disputes with alcohol on your own turf and terms.” He enters the narrow, tapestry draped corridor that leads to his quarters. The ceiling is painted with constellations.

“You’re an enabler, Sam. It was your money that paid for the drinks. Doesn’t that make you the least bit responsible?”

Samael half-smiles. “When you put it that way, I suppose so. What can I say? You’re easier to deal with intoxicated.”

“I resent that, asshat.”

We reach the end of the hall. Samael utters a word in demonic speech and the great mahogany doors before us open. He enters the spacious personal library that fronts his quarters. Great windows peer out onto the moonlit courtyard that is surrounded by his rooms. The shelves rise dozens of stories into the air, built for winged beings, with narrow decks at each level that run the length of the library. Samael was thoughtful enough to install stairs for my use, seeing as I lack the necessary anatomy to fly between shelves. The library is one of the few treasures I now have, filled with books that span the ages and worlds. Classic human novels and new books line the bottom shelves, within easy reach for me. After human writers die, in Heaven, it’s said they continue writing even greater masterpieces, so books that never tasted mortal tongues are here – there are also a few damned romance novelists to boot. And of course, endless spell books.

He’s even included mysteries and psychological thrillers by my favorite authors, a kind afterthought. But there’s more: living grimoires, erotica by demons that may well be written by Cenobites, and people’s wickedest sins recorded like the Screwtape Letters littering the place galore. There are the life records and deeds of every Damned in Hell, recorded in lurid detail by Penemue, the fallen angel of writing.

He notices me look longingly at the books. “Shall we read?” he asks. “We can devour books on a blanket, out under the stars.”

I shake my head no. “I’m too drunk to read – my eyes wouldn’t be able to focus. The words would blur. Read to me instead, my demaniac.”

Samael laughs softly. “You really did a number on yourself. Perhaps I can read to you? My Father used to…” He peters off, a raw look touching his face as he remembers his heavenly Father.

“He what?” I ask.

“He told the most fantastical stories to my brothers and I. What you would call folktales.” Samael comes to my favorite wingback leather couch and deposits me there, smoothing a blanket over me. I snuggle into it, a pounding headache bearing down on my skull. I cringe.

“I shouldn’t have drunk on an empty stomach,” I say. “We never had dinner…”

“I’ll cook. Something light. Breakfast food. I know you love breakfast for dinner.”

“Yay,” I sigh, head pounding. I groan. “Ugh. Why is vodka in Hell so heavy?”

“Everything is richer here. I’ll be back. I’m making French toast.” Samael glides off, glancing back over his shoulder at me fondly. I roll over, avoiding his gaze, and close my eyes and groan, trying to make the headache lessen as I massage the side of my head. Flashes of color burst against my closed eyelids. Restless, sleep eludes me, and I realize regretfully that no quick nap will be had. Instead, I rise, determined to read, my flagging vision be damned.

I choose a Stephen King paperback – Salem’s Lot – from the lower shelves and struggle to decipher the pages, my curvy body sinking into the cushy couch. I’ve always been more size 12 than two, and look like those dumb pictures of Eve – soft sloping stomach, pert breasts, and hips for days. The words of my chosen book all turn up like mush. The leather smells like the cigars Samael smokes, the spice of his orange and musk cologne, and rain. It smells like him. I close my eyes, inhaling the scent. Memories of him from my childhood haunt me, the man cloaked in shadow, the owner of my soul.

The trauma of his words stretch across my mind: “How I will delight in breaking you.”

I let out a soft cry, tears forming in my eyes. Here, in solitude, I can give in to the empty ache within me and cry over the childhood I never had, over the life I never will possess. I blot at my tears, cursing them.

“Janet?” Samael asks with concern, suddenly materializing at my side with a plateful of French toast. He catches the wet rivulets on my face. The plate wobbles in his hands and he nearly drops it as he hurries to sit beside me. The syrup slides around.

“Go away!” I sniff, not meeting his gaze. I hate this sign of weakness I’m exhibiting, the admittance that I feel pain. Any pain at all goes against my wiring, of keeping my father together, of raising myself in darkness in the clutches of Death. After my father died, many times, I just feel empty.

No,” he says, his voice fierce. He gathers me in his arm, wrapping the blanket tight around me, and wipes the tears from my cheek. “I refuse to let you ever cry alone. What kind of monster do you think I am?”

“The kind with sharp fangs,” I say, my voice uneven.

“Janet, I will never harm you. I say many things I don’t mean. It’s the poetry of the fallen, inherent to my nature as fey, other, a sorcerer king. But to lay a finger on you would be a cardinal sin. You have to know that.” His eyes implore.

“All I know is that you want to break me,” I say.

He bites his lip. “That was… a poor metaphor.”

“That’s a sad excuse for a justification!” I pound his chest in anger. He recoils at the display of violence, shocked. “How does that feel, Sam? Can you feel your heart dislodge under your ribs?” I punch him again. Again. “Can you feel it break? Like you broke me!” He lets me hit him hard with a volley of right and left hooks. I sob, bruising my knuckles, punching until I have spent every last ounce of energy and I collapse in his lap. I weep, an ugly crying with snot and gasps like a dying man. Samael rocks me, crying himself, a low, raw sound.

“I break every time I look at you. What have I done?” he laments. “What have I done to your soul?

I can’t take his question. His guilt. As if I can explain his madness! I stumble to my feet, distancing myself from him. I can’t breathe in the same room as Samael. I trip over my feet, out into the courtyard. The fresh air floods into my lungs. I sputter, my body wracked with sobs. I am finally doing it. Breaking. For the first time since my father’s death, I am crying. Something I promised I would never do in Samael’s clutches. I sink onto a stone bench and watch the heartbreakingly beautiful fountain stream water into the air. It is in the shape of a gorgeous woman pouring water over herself from an amphora. She is as curvaceous as me, ample-bosomed, derriere like the doublet of two moons. I focus on her, and only her. She calms me.

The glass door onto the patio opens. Samael approaches cautiously, bearing a plate of French toast as an offering. Tears still shine in his eyes. “I… well, you must be hungry. Jean.”

I shrug. “Maybe.” I make no withering comment, my olive branch to him.

I eat the French toast in silence, dipping it in the maple syrup that is pooled on the plate. It feels good to have something in my stomach – I hadn’t realized how empty it was until now. Samael watches me from a respectful distance, sitting on another stone bench in the shadow of a blooming cherry tree.

“It’s really good,” I acknowledge. “The food.”

He nods but says nothing.

A breeze picks up, spreading the cherry blossom petals like rice thrown at a wedding. Samael catches a handful idly, crushing them between his fingers. I cringe at his act of destruction. He winces at my reaction and discards the pulp.

“I didn’t mean…” he trails off.

“I know,” I say, too quick. I chew my upper lip, cheeks burning. I am embarrassed for my show of weakness and even more for lashing out with violence. “I- I shouldn’t have hit you.”

“It’s nothing.”

Cricket chirps and the gentle buzz of cicadas stretch in the silence between us. Fireflies light the air like will-o’-the-wisps.

“I – I wouldn’t mind if you told me a story,” I say.

Samael looks at me in confusion. “Really?”

“Yes, really. Like you did when I was young.”

He smiles tentatively. “If you’re sure…”

“I am.”

He rises, coming to sit beside me. He drapes his cloak over my shoulders to keep me warm.

“Thank you,” I say.

“It’s nothing. Shall I – do you want me to begin?”

“Yes.”

He does. The tales spill from his tongue like jewels. I fall asleep somewhere in the space between his words, leaning against him, only fully trusting of his plans for me in sweet black slumber.

Cursed As The Beasts In The Fields We

Blood streaks his back, wings in tatters. He lies spread-eagle on the sand, at the lip of a gravelly cliff. Oh brother- you’ve turned on me. I drive my heel into his face, crushing it to the ground. He hisses, laughing madly under cracked ribs. All my fury broils over- my brother has become a Beast.

“Do you feel nothing!” I roar. “No remorse? Nothing at all!” I cry as I kill him. The last bits of his immortality drain from his once blue eyes. I hurt him because I love him, just as he has tore my heart a thousand times over. My brother, executioner of our kind. My brother, the traitor.

Perhaps his betrayal has not yet passed. Perhaps he is still innocent, but time is a funny thing: I have stood at the beginning and end of creation: Alpha and Omega are my blood. We are the twin serpents that circle each other, spiraling into eternity. Time has no meaning, to one such as me.

I know him, as Lilith does not. I have seen him, as Eve has not. I know what his sin will bring. The fields of damned stretch out before my eyes. My slain men rot. A legion of shadow cold as Dumah desecrates my home. He has brought death into the world.

A hole rots where his heart once shone. Nacash, the Shining One, has cast his aside raiment. Even I do not understand his blind sacrifice.

A girl stands beside him, centuries down the line. She witnesses his humiliation. “Why?” she cries. The man she sees is broken, and the one she stands by, mad. What broke you?, whispers her heart.

Why indeed. Why.

My brother, the howling void. I see what he becomes. His eyes are black pits now. The War has wasted him. Razor-thin, obscenely pale, he whispers into her ear:

“You lose yourself to the madness, and the pain wraps around you like a mother as you become one with the Abyss.”

I kick him over the edge, then spit on his disgusting form. I tremble. I want to die.

“I fell for Eternity,” he says, voice cold like the winter wind. Does he speak to her, or me?

My brother wakes in the Pit. He howls against his bondage. He tears the Abyss from around him and burrows in like a freezing wretch. Lucifer steps out of the shadow, watching coolly. Waiting. The North Star has followed the Morning.

Samael’s eyes open. They are red like spilled blood. I cannot stand that sight- I howl to my wretched God, I tear out my eyes like Azazel. They return like Prometheus’ liver. I, witness to Creation, cannot even be spared the sight of his damnation.

You ask me why I do not smile. Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. Answer me, my God. You have been silent far too long.

She reaches for Samael, through the bonds of time. Lucifer sees the girl. His melancholy lifts- another pawn to play.

Death burns her flesh like acid. She screams into the darkness: Release him, oh dear God. God that never answers. God that doesn’t exist. He hath forsaken me. I must bear his likeness. I must bear the blame. Puppets of the Architect, in his endless shadow game.

The angels turn to me. They weep at their betrayal, for the war they did not want. Am I nailed to a cross? I do not know. We both are. Samael on Catharine’s wheel, nailed to turning time.

Do not comfort me. I bear this cross alone.

Osculum Infame

There’s the record scratch of some Runaways jam, a leather studded belt around your waist and booze for days.  Your jeans are torn and as distressed as my mother would be if she ever saw us together.  You’ve got on a Nine Inch Nails black tee and your hair is as mussed as bedhead that befits the King of Sloth.  Oh wait, your sin is Wrath, pardon my French you cliche of all cliches.  Black locks cut with shears in a back alley, so silky that I strangle my fingers in their ocean.  We’re drunk, we’re stupid and young and horny, and you smell like endless cigarettes and sweet rum, and I’m in a pink pop of a rose petal dress with sticky bubblegum lip gloss, every bit of softness to your edges, but I find comfort in dark things and your fangs at my neck, so as you bite down into me, your dinner, and my blood bubbles up like the hottest new fad this side of the Styx, uptown Pandemonium, in your penthouse near the court of Sanhedrin, I sigh and bend into your body arced over me as you tease me with your talons.  Your room is messy as fuck, with strewn newspaper and a sax in a beaten brown case, posters of bands and David Foster Wallace books lining the wall, Infinite Jest is what we are, my dear, and there’s Aretha Franklin’s Blue Moon playing.  I’m not much of one for the classics, in fact right now I’ve got this Taylor Swift song running through my mind as we ponder making love.  New Year’s Day, squeeze my hand three times, and you give me the osculum infame, the kiss of shame as Aretha’s voice cantos, Blue Moon, I saw you standing alone… without a care in the world, without a place to call home. Meanwhile I’m begging you to never become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.  It’s tones of dun and wood and earth in your room, only a vanilla candle the light, and I shuck off your ripped Nine Inch Nails shirt and run my hands down your chest and abdominals, and I’m fumbling with your pants in the dark.  You’ve already torn through my dress with burning passion, and its pink wreckage is lying on the floor like an afterthought.  I put my nose to the crook of your neck and inhale sharply.  Your lips are lush and bury into the crown of my blonde hair, and you say blondes give the best blowjobs as you’re teasing me, calling me a spoiled princess, saying I don’t belong down here, not down here where anarchists and goths and crust punk parades share joints and drink their sorrows and splendor away.  You’ve got whiskey soaked wings, Israel and the Red Tide, no Heaven’s Gate, you won’t through your money away but will take my highs, I’m your Vaseline, after all, a balm for your gloomy soul.  You’re feasting at my breasts, knee dividing my legs like Moses raising his staff to part the ocean, and now it’s your time to find a map to my heart as the record switches to Tom Waits.  It’s Grapefruit Moon, if only we could eat a citrus lunar fruit, like I ate your heart like an apple, or wait, you stitched it into my flesh and I finally figured out why whenever my soul flees my body I fly straightaway to you, Samael.  It’s because the heart wants what it wants, but to be someone’s heart herself, Shakti to your Shiva, the source and seat of your power means I seek my nest in your arms, in your ribs, in your marrow that I want to race through like lymph, blood, and stardust.  You call me a lovely coffin, vessel, vassal, Vaseline.  Vaseline, hot in the summertime.  Vaseline, the smell of it like Carmax at a dirty bus stop on some chapped hipster’s lips.  We’re still not making love love yet, just in love with foreplay and fooling around, and I don’t need to elaborate on what a man and woman do in Hell, down here where the bane apple grows, down here where roses weep blood and cursed asphodel carpets the plains, but your gardens were always rotten, a beautiful decay, and you are my stone angel masoleum.  You’re freezing today, a weight of outer space between my legs.  That’s a fancy word for a forked tongue, saying it’s a black hole going down on me, and then some.  Your mouth has got the gravity of the Leviathan, which is what you also are, and third base with the serpent of the seas, sweet Nachash, shining seraphim and unholy archdemon, is kind of like squeezing your sex around a Popsicle on a hot summer day.  You’re a wolf on the hunt through the taiga, and as you part me and claim me I smell glacier frost with rime and moss and see the Aurora Borealis reaching up into my womb.  Do you remember my favorite middle school book, I want to ask as you’re romancing me with winter, the retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon, where a girl named after the compass rose searches for her enchanted polar bear prince in the land of impossibility where the trolls have him captive?  It’s a silly metaphor, I know, for if anyone is the handsome villain here that curses sleeping beauties, it is you, dark enchanter, necromancer, forcing me to see sigils and ceremonial magick seals and burning Proto-Hebrew letters and your own name in glittering gold on the stairway to heaven, planetary symbols shifting in the long inked Martian kiss.  I’ve been under your spell for a long time, and it smells like incense, sandalwood, as you give me a finger to suck on to silence my moans.  Osculum infame, osculum infame, osculum infame, damn did those medieval theologians get this witchcraft shit all wrong.  It’s not the witch that gives the kiss, but she who receives, anointed with the Devil’s cum and sweat and spit and blood, like Dracula bleeding into Mina’s mouth, and my dear darling vampire, we are in the undertow of damnation, but Hell is my favorite place, and you are my favorite person, and when we finally get to fucking, I’ve lost all sense of the lie of separation, and it is just girl and god, Death and the Maiden, the May Queen and the Reaper, sharing one soul, and honey, you hold my mortality in your hands, so let’s make this short life a fucking poem.  Lead me on like the Pied Piper and we’ll dance off granite cliffs into the starry sky.  I am always stretching my beginning to bridge your endings, and you know me well, as well as Hell.

Hell is beautiful because it is a lie, and you are gorgeous in your Prince of Lies truths, and as you thrust away with abandon, I get the sense of conquered and conqueror, and my body is a battlefield, don’t you know?

You won a long time ago, Satan.

And you are the Prince of this World.

Trickster’s Bride, or The Journey Home

In one week, I got three full requests from the top agents in middle grade!  Happy Valentine’s to me!  Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger, Emily van Beek of Folio Jr., Daniel Lazar of Writer’s House all requested it within a week of each other (cue seeing stars!), and Brent Taylor of Triada and Thao Le of Sandra Djistrika all have the fulls.  The partials of my  middle grade are still with a few other agents, and my old novel, Firebird, has a 75 page partial with Joshua Bilmes of Jabberwocky!  This is the most success I’ve ever had querying a novel, but what inspired Chwal?

Chwal is a coming-of-age tale set in the South, New Orleans country specifically, about a girl raised by angels and spirits.  Like May, I was raised by angels, including Raphael, who is her guardian angel, and I knew Kalfou, or Mister Carrefour, the fiery dark horse Petro lwa from the age of two.  His blackness is still a real nightmare-wrangling threat, and he goes by many names: the Witchfather, the Man in Black, the Devil of the Crossroads, Kalfou, Satan – he changes names like the wind changes direction.

Unlike May, I ended up in a maryaj lwa with Kalfou because goddamn do tricksters act forceful when they want your attention.  They can drive you mad if you refuse them or scour you with bad luck, and dealing with the Evil Jazz Man that looks like a Demon Bob Marley with red (or just abyssal) eyes, midnight skin, dreads, a snake pommel cane, pinstripe suit, Cuban cigars at hand, and a sultry baritone serenading you in a dive bar in Hell on the piano is, well, otherworldly, to say the least.

Kalfou and I, we go way back to the age of two, to my first memory.  Samael, when he is not Middle Eastern, is often an African man obsessed with Peabo Bryson, rum, Satchmo, monocles, well-tailored suits and Cuban heels.  He told me early on that “Kalfou is one of my many names.  I have as many names as the wind,” an apt title as he is the samiel wind, and who but the Devil has as many guises as the phases of the moon?

His oldest form, this Man in Black, is this ancient African god of darkness, with eyes like the blankness of space with stars in them, wild dreadlocks, in lion skin loincloth, dealing in death and magic and the wilderness.  I call him Ubuntu as an inside joke.  He was at the core of my psychotic break, the savior that restored my sanity, where I cycled through all of Samael’s forms to the core of his most primal nature.  Ubuntu was the mantra of my psych ward where I was held without razors to shave or shoelaces to strangle, plastered on the walls as a motivational poster, used in therapy.

Ubuntu.  South African, the core of human origin, where millions of years ago a genetic bottleneck occurred and we were descended from all those mitochondrial Adams and Eves on the cape.  I imagine Kalfou was there, as he always is, in the darkness of death and magic of underground caverns, trickster par excellance, venom of the black mamba.

But I know his kindness, and his wrath, and his seduction.  Also, how he has kept me from the lips of death, which are his very own, always denying me his poisonous kiss.

For what is to love someone than to forever lose them?

Ubuntu (Zulu pronunciation: [ùɓúntʼù])[1][2] is a NguniBantu term meaning “humanity”. It is often also translated as “humanity towards others”, but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.[3]

I was pumped full of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers but still my psychosis and mania raged.  I found myself in a dark cavern at the core of the earth, with a fire glowing, snake skin and lion skin around, with Ubuntu cross-legged in a Yogic pose, his eyes black stars, and he was Trickster.  He was Trickster, Trickster, Trickster, and he said I was the Trickster’s Bride.

The Trickster’s Wife is a Trickster herself, heyoka, backwards, Baba Yaga, he said.  My path was the Coyote Road.

All the Tricksters he cycled through.  Tezcatlipoca, the Devil, Loki, Maui, Raven, Coyote, Thunderbird, Hermes, Legba, Kalfou, some so old they did not have names, mad dancers that frothed at the mouth with thunder.  I would walk backwards through this world with Trickster at my side.

Death is the ultimate Trickster, and I am the Bride of Death.  To trick, you must be the Deceiver, the Adversary, the one who when riding a chwal people flee from, your poison pure leaves medicine to some, curses to others.

And so I tasted Death, and I kissed him despite his protestations and a major part of my soul died.

I couldn’t read.

I couldn’t think.

I was a puppet for madness, but the small frightened teen in me still flickered when the medicine was just right, and the spirits called

Enter Zora Neale Hurston’s works.

I was doomed to be a catatonic hallucinating vegetable in a madhouse.  I’m not going to dress my words plainly.  I was a madwoman, I was a bag lady, I was the kind of scary crazy you warn your kids about.

But I still loved to read, and so I taught myself again.  Sandman comics at first, but then, Zora’s short stories.

I promised myself I would not die if I could read my favorite author again.

I could barely hold a book.

But I loved Their Eyes Were Watching God in high school, and Mules and Men, and so I picked up Seraph on the Sewanee and read all hundreds of pages of it by the time spring semester rolled around.

I wasn’t sane yet, I went back to school severely depressed, but Trickster kept whispering in my ear: Dance on.  Us Tricksters, we are storytellers.  Us Tricksters, we got business to do, people to make laugh, dances to perform.

You are a Trickster’s Wife, and so you are able to come back from Death.  For I am Death.  And you are Death.  And Death is the most alive god.  Death is Trickster, Trickster is Death, but we are the most brilliant stars.

So I sipped the wine of life, and I persevered.  I dreamed of my demon, my angel, my god, my crossroads Gebo Tawu madman, the X my marking on my tattooed angel hands.  Perhaps that meant I was his treasure.  He drank my  blood, and I drained him of magic, and years later, I wrote the story of a girl raised by angels, raised by gods, who must drive back the darkness of her own mind –

and find the light.

Cain the Vegetarian, Jesus Drives a Yugo

Beginning of the sequel to Fifty Shades of Satan: All Hail Samael! in which Shannon-reincarnation-of-Eve goes to the afterlife to find the map to God, Jesus – call him Yeshua – fixes up Yugos for joyrides, and Cain is an exhibitionist.  Purely for entertainment purposes only.  Yes this was written in college at 22.  I have hopefully matured since then!

The land of Nod wasn’t so hard to find with Jesus behind the wheel.  Well, technically, tweenage Yeshua was sitting shotgun, doing Sudoku.  With my petersword wedged into the ignition of Christ’s favorite 1985 Yugo, which were apparently plentiful in Limbo – a repository for forgotten things like horrible cars – we were cruising down the celestial highway.  Yeshua periodically reassured me the Yugo’s engine wouldn’t explode:

“See, I tinkered with it for a couple decades, blessed the wheels, then got myself a solid vehicle,” he explained.  “When it comes to cars, there’s nothing more poetic than a Yugo.”

“Will I be back in time for classes?”

Yeshua kicked his feet up on the dashboard.  “Time is inconsequential when you’re riding the galactic freeway.  Don’t worry, Shana.  I can call you that, right?  Means beautiful.  You look just like my favorite disciple.  Bloodline of Solomon and all.”

“Um, I guess?”  I took a left at a neutron star, then, after the highway narrowed to two lanes, sped past a nebula.  “This is what I imagine an acid trip would be like: me cruising the galaxy with Christ.”

“Yeshua, please.”  He scribbled something onto the newspaper puzzle he was doing.

“Right.  So who are we looking for?”

“The bearer of the Mark.  The Mark will point us in the direction of Dad.  The Mark’s owner is a bit of an asshole.  He got all the bad genes from his father.”

Mark?  Like Mark Zuckerberg?  Were we using a social network to stalk Yahweh?

Wait – land of Nod?  Something sounded annoyingly familiar.

I screeched the Yugo to a halt.  “We are not finding Cain.  He’s the first murderer!”

Yeshua looked at me with honey eyes.  “Huh.  A pity.  I told him you were coming.  He’s already started making salad.  Even cleaned his bathroom, which is surprising, considering how disorganized he is.”  Yeshua rummaged through the globe box and pulled out sunglasses to fend off the glare of a supernova.

“Cain’s like the Biblical definition of asshole.”

“Nah, he’s only as bad as his father.  They both have a roguish charm.  Oh, park here!”

Despite the exploding star, I pulled over to the side of the road, by a run-down joint that boasted “Milky Way’s Best Burgers.”  I pulled my petersword out of the ignition and looped it around my neck, glad to have a sacred weapon in my possession when confronting the world’s worst brother.

The celestial highway was what I imagined the love child of the Great Plains and Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy would look like.  Rolling hills of grass and wildflowers on the ground, astronomic monstrosities of black holes and dying stars above.  Everything was washed in psychedelic colors from galactic combustion.

Yeshua led me to a recently mowed path behind the burger joint.  Sunflowers tall as saplings bordered the freshly cut grass. “Cain dwells in the wilderness.  When you’re cursed to eternal exile, you kinda have to like liminal backwaters.”

“At least he can get his cheeseburger fix?”

“Cain hates meat.”

“Sure he does.”

I glanced at the resturant: the burger place was hosting what looked like the Wild Hunt motorcycle gang, complete with helmeted valkyries.  I was pretty sure I saw one-eyed Odin sweet-talking a waitress.  With its greasy windows and broken neon sign, it was a dive, but if the Norse pantheon, who were licked out of ice by a cow, dined there, it probably had good beef.

The breeze carried the scent of lavender and my own summer sweat.  The Border, as Yeshua called the supernatural highway, sure was pretty, in a kind of forgotten way.  Maybe Cain’s taste in a podunk nowhere wasn’t so bad.  All it needed was a trucker strip joint, maybe a casino, and it would have a definite vibe going on.

The farther we got from the highway, trees started creeping up from the plains, until after wandering for a while, we were in a picturesque forest, hung with vines.  The sunflowers gave way to shrubs, and everything looked lovingly tended, as if someone had clipped the pungent brier roses and trained the wisteria to artfully drape from the willows by the stream.  Round a bend, a wind chime made of bird skulls and river-smoothed glass clinked in the breeze.  I felt like I was meeting the village witch.

I turned a corner to find a certain ghostly menace bathing in a bend of the stream, where it eddied around jutting rocks.  Black hair spooled down his back, veiling his face from my view.

Man, he had a nice butt, despite it being paper-white.  His perfect, sorry ass was probably on a bender again.

“Samael?” I called.  “What are you doing here?”

Samael turned.

Only it wasn’t Samael: he had grass green eyes, with a constellation of freckles over his face, just like me.

Not-Samael covered his well-endowed nether regions and, to my surprise, blushed.  “Mother?  Um, you weren’t supposed to be here yet.”

“Did you call me mom?”  I stuttered.  “You’re older than me, freak!”

I looked to Yeshua for help with the confused nudist.

The Son of God had stripped down to his boxers and, with a definitive plop, cannonballed into the stream.  He surfaced and treaded water, a serene smile on his face.  “Cain, Eve doesn’t remember.  Recall how reincarnation works.”

Crap.  I was Eve.  I felt like barfing.

Cain’s face softened.  He pulled a green towel from a rock and wrapped it around his waist.  “Right.  Well, I suppose this is awkward.  You look just like her.  You are her.  I thought that, if you saw me, you would remember.  I just wanted to see you again.  After what father did to you, to us, I never thought I’d see you again.”

I squelched my shoe in some mud.  “Um, Henry and I, er, your father and I aren’t really a thing.  Like at all.  He’s kinda a jerky Harry Styles lookalike.”

Cain’s lips, who had the same dramatic Cupid’s bow as mine – urgh – parted..  “I wasn’t talking about Adam.”

“Uh… okay then.  Look, sorry I look like your mom or whatever, but you’re a stranger, and whoever your mysterious father is, if he’s not Adam, I’ve never met him.”

Cain laughed.  All dark and earthy.  God, he sounded just like Sam.   Why?

The world’s worst brother squeezed water from his long, luxurious hair.  How the hell did he bathe and not get a rat’s nest of tangles?  “I’m sure you two are very close.”

Dread gripped my stomach.  Yeshua was busy blowing bubbles.

I sat down on a boulder, dizzy.  “Wait, no.  That’s not what the Bible says!  Sam doesn’t have a fatherly bone in his deadbeat ossified body.”

Cain deftly changed into a black and green cloak that hung from a clothesline.  “Apparently you haven’t been reading between the Biblical lines, or the Kabbalah, for that matter.  That John fellow even calls me ‘son of the wicked one’ in the New Testament.  I never did like the apostles.”

Yeshua was sunbathing on a rock.  “John liked to exaggerate.”

“But Sam hasn’t mentioned you once!”

Cain gave a wild laugh.  “He inherited his parenting habits from his Father.  Both like to sacrifice their sons and ignore their cries for mercy.”

Yeshua rolled onto his stomach and sighed.  “Dad’s not all bad.  Just consumed by his Work.  I served my purpose.”

Cain rolled up the sleeves of his robe.  “At least your Father cares for you, Yeshua.  Mine?  He’s an idiot.”

My skin prickled.

Draculina

Crooked teeth, or maybe they’re just my busted fangs honey, sinking into the meat of my back to make me your little Draculina.  I’m the demon in your mind, the devil at your ear, wolf mother at your door and poison cobra curled around your wrist.  I lick your pressure points, I devour you in one sitting, and as my poison sinks into you, you wonder.

Will her tortures ever end?  Will she keep flirting with my blade, courting my punches, crawling broken footed to my arms and crying me a river of joy?  Forget about wounding me.  She is always crumbling around me, like a stone fence bent by age, rocks scoured by wind, salt licked clean bare by deer.  She is the eidolon cleft from my ribs, but really, she is my own heart, weeping aorta the color of black lichen.  You know, the kind that grows on cliffs in the farthest reaches of Hell and feeds on blood, or is it wine, or is it blood?  Down here getting drunk off your wives is in fashion – a spritz of lung, a nibble of the ear, a bit off the waist, all to make you thinner, love.

I only eat you because I believe I can save you.

Whatever happened to Wonderland?
And where’d Alice go? Oh.
I took a night train with knife in hand,
And cut out to the next show
Back in her living hell.
I wish to dwell, I long to be,
In the blood and the guts
With the birds of prey and the stinging of bees and bullets maybe.
Leaving heaven behind for good this time, the angels can keep it.
I’ve got a demon in mind and she’s standing behind my dark secret.
Draculina.

Golden Spoon Girls

She is born into radiance, she is born into splendor, with a golden spoon in her rosy mouth.  All of Heaven holds its breath when she inhales, and her first exhalation outside the womb blows out the fires of Hell, leaving smoldering coals of impossibility and bittersweet dreams on infernal tongues.

She grows as girls do, and the angels and demons appear in the quiet hours, in the blank spaces, liminal beings of shadow and starlight that guide her above cherubim backs to the outer rims of the cosmos.  Girls with golden spoons taste moon dust like silver jelly.  Girls with golden spoons scoop out the eyeballs of Mother Nature and use them as mobiles in their cribs.  Girls with golden spoons, why, their tears are rainbows, and their fits are storms that become ravenous hurricanes.

Girls with golden spoons are blessed, but they are also cursed, for spirits demand much, and a spoon of bronze or a spoon of silver is just paean versus privilege.  But golden spoons are from the heart of the sun, they flourish in a cosmic dance reflecting twirling neutrinos and colliding atoms.  Golden spoons are nuclear, ticking time bombs, and they coat girl’s throats in rose petals until they drown in flowers.

She is all fire and water, all ice and flame, and to know her is to sashimi her lungs and sample them on a diamond platter.  To drink her blood is to taste red champagne with hemoglobin bubbles – the fruit of strawberries etched in buttery resonance.  Oh, how hell rides, oh, how heaven flies, oh, how golden spoon girls breathe like the cadence of falling rain and plie in tulle and satin.

They dance with golden spoons abreast falcon arms, and their legs are skyscrapers, and those golden girls are as dangerous as they are pure, as fragile as they are steel.

Golden spoon girls will make you or break you, and to love them is the Ballad of Marie Curie.

Carbon to gold in their goddess arms.

 

Will My Literary Agent Dreams Come True? The Importance of Patience in the Query Trenches!

So longtime followers of my blog will know I completed a revision request on my retelling of Stravinsky’s ballet, Firebirdset during the Cold War, with witches and a family of monsters, but most importantly, Baba Yaga.  This is the first novel I seriously queried, and I averaged about a 50% request rate out of the 50 total queries I sent out to top agents.  My query letter was killer, and I’ve had a lot of great agents fall in love with the prose but not the plot, or think the plot and concept are amazing or that the prose is lacking, or some say it was a wonderful novel but they simply didn’t fall in love with it.  Firebird is now with Brandon Sanderson of Mistborn and Charlaine Harris of True Blood’s agent, which makes me giddy.

This is probably it’s last shot, otherwise I am trunking the novel for another time.  I love Firebird to pieces and would love to see it published, and Joshua Bilmes is an absolutely stellar agent.  I think it is worthy of being published and is a very literary fantasy and is hard to pin down.  I would love to someday have it available to eager readers, but I know this is it’s last chance.

It’s a great novel, but I’ve evolved as a writer in the calendar year I finished revising it, by blogging and continuing to write prose and poetry, and my new middle grade novel is absolutely my favorite thing, hands down, I have ever written!  It’s about Marie Laveau’s heir saving New Orleans with her best friend, Raphael, and Papa Legba from Marinette and Mister Carrefour and their zombies and loup garou.  It incorporates a lot of my personal spirituality into it, seeing as I’m technically in a maryaj lwa with Carrefour – Samael’s second favorite form, rife with jazz, canes, saxophones, dreads, and cigars, and also because it has the angels I know and love as May Laveau’s family.  May first came to me when I was 18 a long beautiful summer ago, when I wanted to write a novel about my beloved Uriel and Raphael.  In it, Uriel’s avatar is a precocious thirteen year old, and Raphael is her guardian angel.

It got a lot of requests from #DVPit last October, and I spent some time revising according to several kind agent’s feedback, and now it’s back on submission again.  The first agent that ever gave me a revise and resubmit on Firebird enthusiastically requested the full, and despite being my one of my top choices for agents, Thao is absolutely a wonderful personality and has amazing books under her belt, my favorite being Roshani Chokshi’s Star-Touched Queen and the Abyss Surrounds Us.  There’s no guarantee she or Joshua will like my books, but it feels amazing just to have gotten this far!  If not, I’ll get great feedback and go back to revising, perhaps shelving Firebird and moving on to my new projects!

So what’s in the works for Allie?

Birds Away is my YA contemporary project about a group of teenagers at a science and tech school that get a grant to do a Big Year, in birding terms, seeing as many bird species as you can in the continental US.  Jack Black did a lovely movie called The Big Year and my own experience going to America’s top science and tech school in the world inspired me.  We were a bunch of nerdy, passionate weirdos at my high school, and had everything from a satellite to a cloud-watching club.  Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology has dreamers above all else, and I was one of them.  How fun would it be to read about a group of friends with biological and technical backgrounds road-tripping for a year birding!  This is the novel I needed written yesterday!

Spider King is a YA Fantasy Beauty and the Beast retelling with… well, with a spider prince, and a fantasy civilization that has grown over the milennia after the collapse of a dystopian technological empire that created mutant animal-human hybrids that now live in different kingdoms where ancient tech is few and far between.  A rebel spider prince named Saroth and his blood enemy warrior Princess Melania team up to take down an empire.

Harold the Dragon is an illustrated children’s book about a girl named Maude that has a bashful, scared dragon with glasses named Harold that lives in her closet.  Dragons have to earn their wings by doing good deeds.  They have tea with the little girl ghost in the attic, help zombies cross the street as they are quite slow, and save kittens from trees, which is hard when Harold hasn’t yet earned his wings.

Space Oddity is 20,000 words in and is a David Bowie tribute about stoner Anunnaki aliens, bi girls in space bands, kissing pretty alien princesses, and punk rocking a galactic empire down.  It’s a hoot and a bit like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy mixed with Octavia Butler Lilith’s Brood.  Enki and Ishtar are the main aliens, and it is steeped in Sumerian mythology as befitting a vast alien conspiracy about King Bowie.

So yeah, I’m taking a break from writing novels for a while, as I have a ton of books and comics I want to read.  But four are in the works, along with a devotional chapbook of my poetry about Samael and one for Michael!  Also working on a Norse devotional.  We shall see where 2018 brings me!