(Heart of the Daemon, 10,867 words, Genre: Supernatural/Occult)
* Image courtesy of Alison de Bruyn-Williams
The woollen pattern of the couch wasn’t anything special. It had the same ambiguity as carpet on the floor. Some design from the nineteen sixties, the couch was probably crafted around that period of time. With the designs resembling something from a Mexican quilt or poncho. It had little dots and was not floral, but resembled the patterns produced by the Aztecs so long ago. Lex didn’t really care about where he had found the couch or where he had come across it. It was simply another piece of furniture in his single bedroom apartment in the city. Probably the least decorative piece. The rest of his home was filled with childhood memorabilia that he had built up over a lifetime of building a successful career as an entertainer. His job, a magician, most of the time he was entertaining children at their birthday parties and things like that. He sat on the couch of Aztec design, kind of just interloping in different mindscapes of his own imagination and fantasy. He was always working on a new trick, something to build up his act. Because every so often he would have to entertain an adult audience. And that was always something. Impressing children is an easy thing to do, but to entertain fully grown adults who are well travelled and cultured… That’s something else entirely.
And as he sat on his couch, kind of melting into the thing, he looked at his various instruments. Inseparable rings, countless decks of cards and his suit with its various hidden pockets. That stuff was all for the act. What brought on a serious mind was the texts that he had accumulated through his life. The real stuff. The grimoires, texts detailing occult, hidden rites and passages of actual conjuring. Stuff written by heretics and madmen. The papyrus of Ani or the Egyptian book of the Dead, the book of gates, and countless encyclopedias detailing occult and psychic phenomenon. That was the stuff that really interested him. Everything else was part of the day job. Something that he had to do in order to make a living. For Lex, the magic he always knew as an illusion. His bizarre fascination with the other stuff started in his teens. He remembered playing around with a Ouija board and communicating with hidden spirits. They had been giving him instructions ever since his early days. Those days were long gone now, but they had guided him to this point in his life. They had told him that he should get into the entertainment business as a magician and everything else would start falling into place. And so that’s what he did. Lex the Magnificent, Lex the Clandestine, he had to keep on rebranding his act and recreating himself as he increased in popularity and notoriety. Being an entertainer was just an act… He knew what he really was.
A corporeal body in this realm that acted as an agent between the different dimensions, a diplomat of sorts, finding odd occurrences in his own dimension and acting as a go to person to sort out any problems that occurred. And things always occurred. There was always someone fucking around with the dimensions: the heavens; the hells; the other planes… There were too many to count.
Sometimes he would experiment with different hallucogenic substances. He was currently preparing himself a dose of salvia divinorum, or divine sage. He used the stuff all the time to break past the different dimensional barriers of his own mind. Constructions of the self… That stuff was all an illusion. That’s why he did that sort of stuff, to break down the illusions. To break through the barriers of reality and constructions of his own dimension so that he could see beyond. He mixed himself some tea containing some of the substance and then sipped on the stuff, breathing in the fumes from the boiling water. It tasted like a herbal tea, with a smokey flavor. After consuming the tea he relaxed in his seat.
His initial feeling of melting into the couch with the Aztec pattern was soon replaced by this floating sensation that began overwhelming him. His mind started contorting and there were strains on the side of his jaw, like the corners were being pulled back by hooks in an ever increasing smile. He would occasionally have giggling fits and objects within his house took on different spacial dimensions. He saw a flash of a shadow. Knowing that he was not alone, and knowing that another entity was possessing the same space as he, he began to talk and converse, while controlling his laughter to a minimal amount, “Yes, yes… You’re here…” He had various communications with this shadow spirit before. It kept him informed of all happenings in his own dimension. “What’s going on? What’s the latest?”
A dark shadow appeared on the wall with beige paint opposite the couch, above his television setting. It was kind of like this dark mark on the wall. Dark, black oil… But it took on the figure of a wicked smile with two dark, malcontented eyes. They stared at him… Looking into his soul. “Ah… Lex. Back again are we?” The voice was distorted.
“Look… I just want to know if anything is going on?” Lex asked the mysterious presence.
“You should take a walk Lex. Down to your favourite bar.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“Something always is Lex… Something always is.” The thing, like an ink blot on the wall then started to fade as his hallucination and the effects of the tea did as well.
Lex prepared himself for the night. He went and had a shower. Soaping himself with scented body wash and making sure he was cleanly shaven. He applied deodorant to his underarms and stood with a towel around his waist, looking into his reflection in the mirror. His patchy white skin was red after the heat of the shower, his back covered in small patches of pimpled skin. Sometimes he questioned whether his mind had gone, the constant trips, afforded to him by entertaining children through the greater region of Melbourne. It was just one thing after another. If he had a rational mind, he would come into questions over his own sanity. However, as things were, he was used to the unusual and estranged.
The heater in the bathroom heated up the vicinity. It was in the dead of winter and he doubted whether there would be much rabble outside in the city’s streets. Even if it was a Saturday night. The heater in the bathroom caused him to perspire. So he cupped his hands and beneath the sink of the bathroom, greedily gulping down water. He looked at his reflection in the mirror once more. He was looking fine, just fine.
He put on a pair of black trousers, straining his torso as he did so. Then found a plain white shirt and then chucked over a blue, synthetic coat over the top. He wore a black flat cap hat that centered his round, elongated face. He then exited his apartment and took the elevator down to the ground floor of the apartment complex. The apartment complex was in the docklands of Melbourne, he owned the place, just the apartment. He had found a Satanic priest to come and bless the place before he moved in. Just to set up a barrier between himself and the lethal spirits, but welcoming those that would do him no harm.
When he stepped outside, the cold wind that was synonymous with Melbourne’s winter nights, hit him like a slap on the face. The heat in his cheeks that were residue from his time spent indoors ceased immediately. He slanted his shoulders and began walking against the wind, towards the central point of the city. He placed his hands inside the pockets of his blue coat, sheltering himself from the cold wind where he could. He found a tram stop and waited for a period of five minutes before a tram arrived. The tram shuttled across the city streets, directing him past Southern Cross station and inwards towards the city centre. He took a seat towards the back of the tram. There were various people of a mixed breed that took inhabitance within the tram along with him. They were talking amongst themselves. It was the usual after work crowd and they were bitching about co-workers and things that had happened during the working week. The younger ones were, at least. The older ones were talking about relationships and more complicated matters. Just as a sample of the age differences and the types of conversations that they were having, the older the people were, the more complicated life became. There was always this struggle for the individuals to keep life as simple as possible. But it seemed as people started to relax, they eased their troubles by speaking their mind.
When he got close enough into the city, he exited the tram and then made towards Flinders lane between Swanston and Elizabeth street. There in one of the back alleys was Hell’s Kitchen. Hell’s Kitchen or Hells was a place that was quiet enough to grab a drink late at night and meet with the irregular crowd. There were always a few irregulars. Taking their time out of the dance clubs, for conversation and some music. It was a two storey place with drinks being served on the second floor. He entered the venue and made his way up the stairs. He went up to the bar and ordered himself a pint of Mountain Goat. Mountain Goat was an Australian handcrafted beer that was worth the money he spent on it. There in the corner of one of the tables sat someone he knew all too well. Simon. Simon was filled with stories of underground happenings around Melbourne. He was a loner and a bit of a freak, he got his information by talking to other crazies. Not many people would believe half the crap Simon told them, that’s why most people ignored him.
Lex took a seat opposite Simon with his pint of Mountain Goat in hand. “Simon,” Lex recognized him gracefully.
Simon looked up from his dark and stormy cocktail mix. His sleek black hair oiled back in a ponytail swayed as he did so. He stared at Lex for a moment, somewhat neglectful of recognizing the man. It must have been the drink, because then he snapped to. “Lex. Lex. How you been Lex?”
“I haven’t been that bad. Just the usual thing. What’s news? What’s the latest?”
“Oh, there’s a couple of things.” Simon grinned a smile so wide that it broke through Lex’s façade.
Lex looked down at the ground, “Look, are you going to tell me or do we have to go through the whole routine again?”
Simon thought about it, “No, no, I’ll tell you.”
“So what is it then?” Lex took a sip of his beer.
“Well, there’s a couple of things. I heard about this one guy. Out in the suburbs near Prahan. Sold his neighbour’s house.”
“Really? How does that work?”
“Well, he proclaimed that he owned the house. His neighbour’s house. So he started advertising to sell the house. It probably wouldn’t have sold, but he put it up for an incredibly affordable amount. Probably one hundred grand under the market value and he found a purchaser.”
“I see… And what did the actual landowners of the house think?”
“Well, that’s the thing. They didn’t have a clue what was happening the whole time. He advertised through websites and the newspaper. Then he pocketed away the funds into a secret bank account. Nobody knows what happened to the money.”
“I see… And the people who purchased the house?”
“Oh, they’ve moved into the place.”
“They’ve moved into the place?” Lex said in disbelief.
“Yes. They’ve moved in with the people who originally owned the house.”
“So what are they doing?”
“Well, neither one is willing to move out. So they’re just both living in the same house now together, I guess.”
“And this man… This man who sold the house. You’ve talked to him?”
“Yes, that’s where I got the story from.”
“What does he plan on doing?”
“Well, he says he’s going to sell the house again. Just keep on doing it over and over again and keep on moving people in there.”
“Really? That’s insane! Absolutely insane!”
“He says the government has been doing it to the indigenous population since the 1920s, so why shouldn’t he take advantage of the precedent?” Simon finished drinking his dark and stormy.
“And the other thing Simon? I know you always leave the good stuff till last. What else is happening?”
“Well…” Simon came into eye contact with Lex, a dark glimmer passing behind Simon’s eyes. “Somebody’s been tagging graffiti up and down the Werribee train line.”
Lex sighed, “So what else is new?”
“No, you don’t understand. They’re symbols. The graffiti is in symbols. It’s weird stuff. Looks demonic.”
“Got a picture?”
Simon took out his mobile phone and showed him a few different snapshots of the graffiti that Simon had taken with his phone. Lex looked at them. He recognized the symbols, but didn’t know what to tell Simon. Lex was in a bit of a shock and seeing the images. “Is this bad?” Simon asked.
“This is horrible. Those symbols Simon. They’re from the Goetia. The Lesser Key of Solomon. They’re basically conjuring symbols for daemonic entities.”
Lex didn’t have all the information he required. He only had the lead into what had actually happened. The circumstances called for further investigation. He knew what he had to do. He exited from Hells and then went looking around the main city streets for a taxi. He found one and called into the cab. The taxi driver was Pakastani and Lex gave him directions towards Clifton park in Brunswick. They travelled down Sydney road, past Albert street. Meanwhile, Lex and the taxi driver engaged in conversation with one another. The taxi driver was talking about how he had a university education back home, but all of that amounted to a big pile of shit when he migrated to Australia. Being a taxi driver was one of the few options allowed to him.
Lex nodded along to the story, he had heard this story a thousand times from different taxi drivers. It was always the same thing. One in which the migrant had to make compromises to his dreams in order to fit into a culture that he was completely foreign to. It was then that taxi driver recognized Lex from his practice as a magician.
“You’re the guy, the magician from the TV.”
“Yes, I’m that guy…”
“What’s it like?”
“I work like everyone else, the television appearances are irregular. I keep up the income by doing children’s birthday parties and things like that.”
“Oh…” And that was as far as the conversation went between the two. The taxi driver dropped him off at the corner of Sydney road and Victoria street. From there it was a short walk towards the park. When Lex had arrived, he found the house opposite the park. That all too familiar house. The one that he had dropped off a million times to get his supplies for his irregular activities.
The house had a small front yard, with a patch of dirt where there was meant to be a flower bed. Red bricks made up the building and there was a steel gate that he had to push past to gain entrance to the front door. The front door was made of heavy wood, probably pine. It was painted green and had a glass window that couldn’t be broken or be seen through. He rung the door bell and was greeted by the man he wanted to see.
The man, overweight and in his late thirties had rough hair and an overgrown beard that reached down his neck. He wore a white shirt with a caricature from an old comic strip on it. The shirt had food stains and the man looked slovenly. “Lex… What can I do for you?”
“Richard, I need something… Something dreadful’s happened and I need something.”
“Come in, come in,” Richard gestured inside his home, “I’ll get you sorted out.”
So Lex followed Richard down the hallways of his home, to the lounge room. Half the room was filled with a hydroponic set-up cultivating marijuana, but there were a couple of couches and a television set-up. Lex took a seat on one of the couches, as did Richard.
“So what’s the latest Richard?” Lex asked.
“Well… If you really want to know, my brother’s been giving me shit about what I’ve chosen to do with my life. Once again. Just because the bastard works for the tax office, doesn’t mean that the rest of the population are like that, y’know what I’m sayin’?”
Richard had a twin brother. They were identical at birth. As time increased and they aged, there were small differences between the two. The main one being that Richard’s brother Paul was a law abiding citizen. He worked a nine to five job in the city, working computer systems and sorting through the country’s tax returns. He had gone to school, did an accounting course at university and gained employment at the Australian Taxation Office. Richard’s journey had been a little bit different. He was a cultivator and marketer of high grade hallucogens. That’s where Lex picked up most of his supplies. Paul was always giving Richard crap, because whenever Richard got picked up by the police he would act as if he were Paul. This gave Paul a lot of problems, but got Richard off the hook most of the time.
“Yeah, I do Richard… But you’ll have to cut Paul a little slack. He’s a nice guy. I’ve met him a couple of times.”
“Oh, that was me…” Richard replied.
“Well, I gotta say. That’s one hell of an act you got going on there then. You should take it up professionally.”
“Nah, I’ll be right.” Richard lit up a cigarette and started smoking in the lounge room. Every so often leaning over to a coffee table and ashing in the ashtray. “So what do you need?”
“I need access to the daemon dimension. Something’s happening on our plane and I need to find some information about what’s going on.”
Richard sighed, “So more of the LSD eye drops then, is it?”
“Yes, please.” Richard never believed in any of the stuff that Lex told him about the daemon dimensions and what it was like there. Richard just believed that Lex was tripping balls with most of the stuff that he told him. But he was one of Richard’s regular customers, so what else could he do?
Richard went into one of the other rooms. He had a hidden place where he kept most of the stuff that he sold. Apart from the marijuana plants, nobody knew where he kept any of the other stuff hidden. And for the most part Richard didn’t invite guests into his home, Lex was an unusual case and they had developed some form of a repertoire between each other. There was a level of trust between the two that was uncommon in drug taking circles. When Richard emerged from his hidden stash, he had a small liquid bottle with an eye drop container. He had gone to a pharmacy and found a bottle of liquid solution for eyes, emptied the bottle and put in some liquid LSD into it.
Lex knew the routine. He tilted back the sofa seat that he was in and leant his head back. He handed over a couple of fifty dollar notes to Richard and Richard then stood over him. Measuring the amount of liquid in the bottle, and then carefully letting out a couple of drops of the solution in the corner of Lex’s eyes.
Afterwards Richard asked, “Will that be all?”
“Yes, that’ll do.” And so Richard saw Lex out of his home and into the streets of the night. Richard figured that Lex would just wander around the park for a couple of hours, gradually making his way home. And at first that’s what Lex did. He went off and into Clifton park, making his way down different pathways. Then that’s when it began to rain, or at least the unaccustomed to accessing the daemon dimension would think it was raining. This is how it began, this is how it always began.
Slowly the downpour of the elements continued raining down hell upon the landscape. Lex had to bare the elements and press on. As he walked against the elements there were flashes of colour all around him as slowly, the barriers between our dimension and the daemon dimension folded down. At first there were flashes of colour, like lightning bolts of a rainbow hue. Lighting up the sky and casting their light onto the landscape. Lex kept on walking against the wind, baring the forces pushing against him, begging him not to enter. But he pressed on, and like a woman giving birth to a baby, he pushed through to their reality.
The sky was red and there was a swarm of bats that swooped up around the sky. All around him were barren trees, dark and baring no green leaves or fruit. The trees were like these dark skeletons, acting up as shadows to the red colour of the sky. The earth was made up of red dirt and dust. It looked as if he had entered a world that had seen nuclear fall-out. All around him were these weird creatures. He dare not approach, knowing that each one of them was more deadly than the last.
He knew what he had to do. He had to find and speak to Venomiel. Venomiel was a duke in the daemon dimension, they were all bastards, to be sure, to be sure… But this one gave him information. Helped him out sometimes. Venomiel was a Duke under the hour of Panezur, under Tartys’s rule. He dare not bother Tartys with the trivialities of what was occurring unless it became too problematic that he couldn’t handle it. But Venomiel, he’d see to. He knew where he spent most of his time too. His home, how shall we say it, was always on the move.
Lex began running past all of the smaller daemonic creatures. He knew where he had to go. Through years of training, his senses had become attuned to this sort of thing. Like riding waves of wind, he gathered pace and was travelling at a high velocity. There, up on a hill was Venomiel’s home. His home was a giant spider and it moved along different pathways, travelling in no direction in particular. Lex closed his distance in on the creature. The creature was gigantic, about the size of a house. Its eight legs moving in different directions all the time. Like little spikes, hair grew from its legs and spread across the rest of its body. Lex got close enough to jump up on one of its legs. The hairs, firm as nails, made climbing an easy feat despite the constant movement of the creature.
Lex ascended up the creature’s legs and mounted its body. From there he had to find the opening of its flesh and the pathway into the centre of the creature’s heart. There, at an edge on the left side of the creature’s body was an opening. And so, like a parasite, Lex burrowed into and beneath the creature’s flesh. Making his way through the creature’s innards and towards the creature’s heart. When he had reached the chamber of the heart, he entered. It’s pulsating walls were living and breathing flesh, his feet and ankles were entrenched with the creature’s blood. And there with a table and chairs sat the Duke. Venomiel was sitting alone in what appeared to be a game of solitaire. Lex approached him.
Before Lex could say anything, Venomiel addressed him, “Ah… Lex, Lex, what is it that I can do for you this time?”
Venomiel’s hands were like wires, inside one he enclosed his hand around a brass goblet of spider’s venom. He had black skin like that of a spider and his face opened up to filed and sharpened teeth. He was humanoid in the sense that he had the same limbs and make-up as a human, but he was dressed in a robe of red velvet, the colour of scarlet blood. The robe had a black pattern on the seams, like that of a spider’s web. His nose was just two holes in his face that were in constant flux as he breathed through them and his eyes were like a cats’, they were yellow and similar in the pupil dilation.
“No Venomiel, what is it that I can do for you?” Lex attempted to make the reminder of all the things he had done for Venomiel in the past.
“Cut the shit Lex, you’re after information. You always are. Join me for a game of cards and then I’ll talk.”
Lex took a seat opposite Venomiel at the table. In this dimension, they played cards with Tarot decks. They had a special game, the game of fate. The rules were so intricate and complex that you couldn’t explain them in the English language, the game itself had to be felt out with extrasensory perception. Lex was a decent player, that’s why Venomiel had taken a liking to him. Venomiel dealt out the hands from the deck and they both picked up their hands, looking over their cards. “So… Someone’s found themselves a copy of the Goetia. An uninitiated.”
“Ah yes… I may have heard something.” Venomiel placed a card down, they had started playing the game.
Lex’s hand was a mix of swords and cups, there was a couple of the major arcana in there. But nothing too powerful. And they entered the game. The game would go on for a couple of hours before Lex would be able to get the information he needed. But it was always like this… Dealing with Venomiel, they would play cards first and then he would get the answers he wanted.
The game was played out. It was an intense match, swords and the intellect always made it that way. But gradually Lex fought for his place and survived the game. But just barely, only always barely. The game was lethal for those who weren’t skilled players.
After the game was over, Venomiel picked up the cards and began shuffling the deck. “So the Goetia, in your localised area is it?”
“Yes.” Lex answered.
“An underground writer purchased it from us. But of course he didn’t know it was us. Everything’s done online these days. He gave one of the texts to a graffiti artist who was living with him. The graffiti artist is masked by one of us. You won’t have any luck finding him. But I know the writer’s address. If you want to stop whatever’s happening, you best speak to him.”
Venomiel wrote down the address on a stripping of manuscript and handed it over to Lex. “Thank you,” Lex thanked him and then made his way out of the giant spider. Exiting the heart and its innards, climbing back down the hairs onto solid ground. Then he just had to find an opening from the daemon dimension back to his own plane.
Lex woke up in a skipper bin. He had found the exit from the daemon dimension and somehow landed in one of those things. The skipper bin was housed in an underground parking lot. He peeled off a chocolate bar wrapper from his forearm and noticed that he was lying on top of a pile of broken glass. Some of the glass shards were digging into his forearms. He was covered in the stuff and it brought about searing points of pain. He stood up upon the pile of trash and climbed up and out of the skipper bin. Then he made his exit out onto the streets. He found that he was on little Collins street of the city, at the corner of Swanston street. He made his way home from there.
Smelling of trash, he undressed and showered. In the shower, he picked pieces of glass from out of his upper torso and forearms. There was a small degree of blood involved in the process as he did so. Picking out little cubes of glass that had wedged themselves in his skin, he grimaced in pain. The blood that came from his arms was washed away from the warm water that was coming down over his head from the shower tap above. Washing down his naked body, his arms and legs. Then being drained down the sinkhole of the shower.
After he had finished showering, he took a can of deodorant and first sprayed the cuts in his arms before wincing at the burning sensation that that brought, sealing the cuts. He then took some bandages out of his medicine cabinet and wrapped his arms where the cuts had occurred. He then sprayed the rest of his body with the fresh scent, eliminating all lingering fragrances from the skipper bin. He then got dressed in a fresh pair of clothes. Then from his old clothes retrieved the stripping of manuscript with the writer’s address written upon it.
He was dressed in a light faded blue business shirt, with a new pair of black trousers. He rolled up his sleeves that exposed his bandaged arms and made himself a cup of coffee. Usually he didn’t smoke cigarettes, but considering the night that he had just had, he took one out of the deck that he had hidden away for emergencies like this one. His coffee was made black, with a couple of teaspoons of sugar. He poured a little bit of cold water into the coffee mug to adjust the temperature of the liquid. Then sat down on his couch with the Aztec pattern inscribed within its design. He looked out the balcony window that overlooked the docklands, smoking his cigarette and drinking his coffee.
His mind felt putrid. It wasn’t a hangover, but he felt exhausted. He had just been through an overload of the senses and on top of that, slept rough. The last part of exiting the daemon dimension was always a blur, crossing over from dimension to dimension was always one of those things. It was kind of like the entrance, but a more gradual and prolonged experience. He sipped at the coffee and then went over and out onto the balcony. With cigarette in hand, he breathed in the air that felt fresh and crisp at this altitude.
He looked down over at the other skyscrapers in the area. The different blocks and cubicles where people kept their inhabitance. All of the people, dwelling in these small apartments. The location was ideal, but the space was quite confined. He flicked the cigarette butt out from the balcony and watched it fall down to the Earth’s floor. It was quite a drop, whenever he looked down towards the ground, it gave him a sense of vertigo.
He went back inside to his apartment and poured the remnants of his black coffee down the kitchen sink. He was told he wouldn’t be able to find the graffiti artist, but he thought he’d try anyway. He went to the spare room where he had a replica made of John Dee’s Holy Table. The Holy Table consisted of the seven ‘Ensigns of Creation’ that were distributed around the table, corresponding to the seven classical planets: Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn and the Moon. The names written around the edge of the table were a re-arranged version of the Heptarchical Kings and Princes (written backwards) without their initial letter ‘B’. The dimensions of the table were two cubits square.
He used the Holy Table as a device for divination. Holding above it a pointed amethyst crystal. He would first say an incantation, invoking spirits to guide the crystal, and then dangle the crystal above The Holy Table. The crystal would then point to various symbols and then he would be able to decode the message from the ritual to receive guidance from the heavens. He spoke the incantation and dangled the crystal, but try as he might. The heavens could not guide him towards the location of the graffiti artist. Venomiel had been correct, something was masking the graffiti artist’s location. He would have to do this another way. He had the writer’s address and so he picked up some car keys and made his way to the basement of the apartment block where his car was housed.
Before he exited the apartment, he thought he best be equipped. So he took with him his walking cane. The walking cane he used as part of his act for magic shows, but it served a double purpose as a weapon of defence. He had picked it up in a nameless opportunity shop in remarkable condition. He had then performed a great number of rituals of various religious sects to have it blessed and enchanted with power. It was the only thing that he could use against the dark forces that lay beyond his own dimension.
The writer’s address was in that of Malvern. He lived in a room above a shop. The shop was a convenience store that sold coffees and also acted as an internet café. Internet cafés were going out of business, but there was still the odd one around that were useful to travellers passing through the area on their holidays.
He ordered himself a coffee from the service clerk and asked where he might be able to find a person named, ‘Alvin de Vaulle’. The service attendant looked at him for a moment before answering.
“He lives here, why? Are you a friend?”
“We are yet to be acquainted.” Lex answered.
“The guy says he’s a writer. But we don’t believe that crap. What do you want with him?”
“Well, as a fellow artist I thought he might be interested in working with me on a project.”
That’s when the service attendant recognized him, from the television, “Oh, I know you. You’re Lex the Magnificent. From the TV. Yeah, I’ll get him. He showed me his writing once, it wasn’t very good. So prepare to be disappointed.” The service attendant went out back and called out Alvin’s name a couple of times.
Lex could hear footsteps walking down a series of stairs. And there emerged a man, dishevelled with an overgrown beard. Dressed in a trench coat where he wore a hooded jacket underneath. He looked as if he hadn’t slept for days and appeared malnourished. “Yeah, yeah… I got it. I got.” Alvin looked up and over at Lex. “What do you want?”
“To talk about your writing, of course.” Lex answered.
“Well, I’m here aren’t I? Speak away.”
“Is there anywhere we could do so in private?”
Alvin groaned, “Come on up then.” Alvin led him out to the back of the store. At the back of the store were a series of corridors, a lounge room with a television and DVD player and also a couple of staircases that led up to various bedrooms. Alvin led him up towards his own dwelling. A bedroom with a single window that overlooked the backyard of the establishment. The backyard was nothing more than a series of concrete blocks.
When they were alone, in private, that’s when Lex began asking questions, “Alvin, you haven’t met me before, but this is a very serious matter that I have come to talk to you about. Have you ever heard of a text called the Goetia, or otherwise known as the Lesser Key of Solomon?”
Alvin looked at him with confounded eyes, he suddenly had some idea about what this was all about. “I bought a copy of it once, off the internet, why?”
“I see… And what purpose did you have in mind for it?”
“I thought I could use it as inspiration for my writing. Why do you ask?”
“Alvin… Did you ever look at the book? Or should I say books?”
Alvin was stunted for a moment, “How do you know there was more than one?”
“One of those books, Alvin, contains all of the harmless spirits. The other one, how shall I say, are not so harmless. Do you have any idea what I’m going on about here?”
Alvin looked at Lex, then down at the floor. “Oh… I thought they were the same. I thought the publisher had sent me two identical copies of the same text by mistake.”
“No… It wasn’t a mistake. The books, what did you do with them?”
“I gave one away to an old housemate. The other one I kept for myself.”
“The one in your possession, can I have a look at it?”
Alvin then went to his cupboard and shuffled through a secret library that he had, contained out of sight. From it he emerged with a hardcover print of the Goetia. Then handed it over to Lex, “There you are.”
Lex looked through the pages of the book. Trying to figure out which book it was. Having a look at the various symbols of the daemons, he recognized them almost immediately, “Ah… Just as I thought. You have the harmless spirits. Where is the other book? Your friend, where is he?”
“The landlord kicked him out. He was smoking weed and doing a whole lot of other things. Remarkable work though…”
“What do you mean remarkable work?” Lex asked.
“The visuals… The graffiti… It was all farkin’ incredible! People like that don’t come along very often.”
“Oh, I see…”
“Where is he now?”
“He told me he’s staying in Hopper’s Crossing. In a factory with a bunch of other artists. He told me I should stop by there if I ever got the chance.”
“Ah-huh… Do you have the address?”
“Well, it’s about time we go and visit this friend of yours’ and see what he’s been doing with the other text.”
“I don’t want to…”
“His friends… The other artists… They seem like fuck-heads to me. A bunch of junkies and swindlers, arseholes and bullshitters.”
Lex paused, looking up at the ceiling where a spider had found a home, “Sounds like most artists I know… This is important. We need to get the other book back. The other book is dangerous. I think he’s already been using it to summon daemons up around the area.”
“Why do you need me?” Alvin asked.
“It’s always good to have someone watching my back.”
Lex and Alvin hopped in Lex’s car. The sun was coming down, creating shades of pink and orange in the sky, in a display of what was known as dusk. Lex had told Alvin to bring his copy of the Goetia with him, just in case they had to call on some of the benevolent spirits for their assistance. Alvin also took with him a flask of whiskey that was half full of cheap scotch. He sipped on it occasionally. The whole stream of events seemed like lunacy to Alvin, but he was willing to roll with the punches. As a writer, he was always open to new experiences, no matter how ludicrous they appeared.
In the car as they were driving to Hopper’s Crossing, Lex asked him about his writing. “So have you been published yet?”
“Not professionally yet, I write for a blog and then tell people about my writing, trying to get them to read the stuff. Trying to build up an audience.”
“I see…” Lex made a left at the traffic lights, “So if you don’t make any money off of it, why would you do it?”
“It’s a matter of survival.”
“A matter of survival? I’m not sure I understand, explain.”
“Well,” Alvin explained, “I fit into this category of the human race that most people don’t know it exists. Some people will deny it exists and others who don’t fit into that category will say that they fit into that category because they believe they will gain something from it.” Lex nodded his head to Alvin’s words, listening, but still concentrating on his driving. “I’ve worked before, in various jobs, but never feel myself fitting into the surroundings. So usually some drama occurs because I’m different from the other people who work in the same area. And because I’m different from the other people, they call me into question and put me under scrutiny.”
“Round peg in a square hole sort of deal?” Lex asked.
“Yeah, pretty much. So I get the work done and work at these places for a limited amount of time before I have to move on. And then I have these periods of time where I find myself with nothing to do. Most people in that position would find themselves playing computer games and other bullshit. But I like to keep my mind active, otherwise it would be a lot of bullshit. If I ever got a job again, I wouldn’t be capable of the work involved. So I like to be productive, so I write. Even if I’m not getting paid, I’m keeping up the habit of working my mind out. Reading, writing, exercise… Just keeping myself healthy so I don’t waste away.”
“But if you kept the job, you wouldn’t be in that position in the first place.”
“Yeah, the flak that I get creates these bullshit scenarios from other people around me is usually from these perfectionist types who can’t deal with an imperfect world.”
“Yeah, the type of people who live a sheltered existence. The people so used to other people having to do the work for them that they don’t put into practice their own skills and find out how flawed the human condition is. These kind of people believe that they’re better than everyone else, because they live in such a small box that they neglect to acknowledge the majority of what’s going on in the world because they only pay attention to whatever mainstream media shoves down their throat. The winners, man, the winners…”
“I don’t know what you mean by the winners?” Lex was interested. To him, what Alvin was talking about was genuinely interesting.
“Yeah, these people with this win at all costs mentality. The people who keep on throwing people under the bus in an effort to advance themselves in society. Those farkin’ bastards… The motherfucking winners.”
Lex was stuck behind a truck doing sixty in an eighty zone, he had to monitor the road. He couldn’t give his full attention to what Alvin was saying, “I see…”
“There are people in those sort of workplaces who are looking for the scapegoat. The guy who isn’t perfect and I stick out like a sore thumb because of my interests. So they just blame me or someone like me for whatever the fuck goes wrong and nobody thinks twice about it. That’s why I have to keep on moving on from these places. It’s all bullshit. But it gets people ahead and that’s how the world seems to operate. There’s not much I can do about it apart from keep on doing my thing.”
“But how did you become this way? What makes you so different? Why are you so niche?”
“I come from a dysfunctional family. And I kept on running into these bullshit situations over and over again. Hanging out with criminals and that sort of thing, because that was one of my few avenues allowed to me for social interaction while I was growing up. The further along the line I went, the more fucked up I became. I had to find a release for it all somehow. So I release it in these weird stories.”
“There are plenty of opportunities out there for writers. Competitions and that sort of stuff…”
Alvin was frustrated, “Man! They’re not like me. I’m a fuck-up. These people went and got educated. They go and get their university education, mimic and create stories like their favourite authors. But for a true original, they’re never created by any training that an education system can give them. They go through life trials and all of these fucked up events. They’re created by God or fate, or whatever the fuck you call it. They’re writing about fucked up things because they’ve lived through fucked up things. They’re writing from experience.”
“Yeah, I guess you can’t really teach that…”
“Exactly. All of those guys. They went through things in their life that shaped them. Vonnegut was a war hero, so was Heller… All of these guys are survivors of horrible events. They all had a unique and somewhat deranged perspective because of all of that shit. There’s new authors that go to creative writing schools every day, good for them, it’s something to do. But to do something unique, you can’t follow the advice of others, you have to take the lead yourself.”
Alvin took another sip from his flask of whiskey. He had said what he needed to say, gotten it all off of his chest. But he probably wasn’t explaining it to the right person, Lex had been driving and paying attention to the road. More or less, his opinion had fallen upon deaf ears. But, nevertheless, they had arrived at their location in Hopper’s Crossing. An old factory in an industrial area. True night had fallen down upon the location with only the slightest remnants of light.
Outside of the old factory there were three haggardly looking individuals. They were dressed in dirty clothes, they looked sixty years old, but were probably in their forties. They were all pale skinned, however, they had scabs and flaky skin that covered their bodies. Scabs that they had been picking at on their faces, up and down their forearms. They had yellow and missing teeth, their hair uncombed and in want of a shower and shave. There was one woman and two men who made up the three.
“Daemons…” Lex whispered.
“What do you mean daemons? They look like a bunch of meth addicts to me.”
“They’re all possessed. They won’t react normally to anything we say. They’re protecting their master who probably possesses your friend.”
“Look man… They’re probably dangerous and delusional. But they’re not possessed, alright? They’re just fucked up people that the system threw under the bus long ago.”
“Yes… That’s your opinion. Whatever the case, they won’t let us through without some trouble. I’ll handle it. You stay in the car.” Lex unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car, leaving Alvin in the front seat to watch what was about to happen.
One of the daemons, meth addicts, whatever the hell they were, noticed Lex get out of the car and called out to him, “Hey buddy! Got a spare smoke?”
Lex ignored them and went to the back of the car to retrieve his enchanted walking cane. The walking cane was thick and sturdy, those that had blessed it all had painted something on it. A sign, a symbol of protection and power. It looked quite colourful with all of the various symbols of protection painted across it. The three haggardly looking individuals were all grouped together and huddled amongst themselves, talking about something to each other.
The woman of the three then pointed at Lex as he walked towards them and yelled out, “Hey, we don’t like being ignored!”
One of the men screamed out a battle cry in what sounded like gibberish, but Lex recognized as Enochian, “Ol sonf vorsg!”
The man rushed towards Lex, building up momentum in order to launch a powerful strike. When he was within striking distance of Lex, Lex flung up the walking cane and in a quick movement poked the other man in the chest. This stopped the man in his tracks and knocked the wind out of him. Then Lex, with all the power he could muster, used the walking cane like a baseball bat and struck him to the side of his head. Knocking him out cold. The man fell down to the pavement path, with a few more broken teeth and blood trickling out the side of his mouth.
After taking on the first assailant. The other two split apart in an attempt to confuse Lex. They were coming at him from different directions. Lex backed away, attempting to keep his eyes on both of them at the same time. He knew that he had to pick his timing if he was going to do this correctly. He spun the walking cane around in both of his hands, spinning over the top of his head in an effort to ward them off somewhat. Because of the show they were slightly hesitant in engaging him. He kept on walking backwards until he saw the back of a building backing onto an alleyway. He slowly stepped backwards towards it. Keeping his eyes on both of them as he did so. And then one of them, the woman, went to engage him. That’s when he turned around and ran towards the brick wall. The woman chased up after him and with his own momentum, he ran towards the brick wall and jumped towards it. Then launched himself off of the brick wall and back towards the woman who was now within close distance. With that momentum and flipping himself around, he fly kicked the woman in the chest, who fell to the pavement with the wind knocked out of her and she was temporarily disposed.
The other man came rushing towards him and with the walking cane, Lex delivered an uppercut knock to the man’s jaw that had him stepping backwards. Lex then launched a series of hits with the cane to the side of the man’s body. The man attempted to block the hits, but there was nothing that he could do. Lex was too quick with his series of hits to both sides of the man’s body. The man was confused and looking both ways, giving Lex enough time to build up a swing and smash the left side of the man’s head with the cane. The man fell down unconscious.
The woman, by this time, had gotten back to her feet. She looked at the two men unconscious on the ground, then at Lex, before deciding to run away. Down and off into the alley. Lex dusted off his pants and made his way back to the car. Opening the door for Alvin.
Alvin was more than a little impressed by the display, “Jesus Christ! You took ‘em all down! What sort of magician does that shit?”
Lex looked at him, then with a serious tone, spoke, “I’m not just a magician. I am a diplomat between the Heavens and the Hells. A defender of life as we know it. And a decent martial artist to say the least.”
“Don’t forget to take your copy of the Goetia with you,” Lex was delivering a series of instructions to Alvin. And with what Alvin had just seen, he was ready to do anything Lex asked. Alvin grabbed his copy of the Goetia from the backseat of the car. Then stepping outside, they ventured towards the factory. “So what can you tell me about this place, will there be others?”
“Dreyden said that he was living with a group of other artists, but I’ve never actually been to the place. I’ve met some of his friends once, I didn’t like them.”
“Dreyden… That’s his name?”
“You have to remember that Dreyden won’t be himself.” They walked towards the entrance of the factory, Lex was formulating a plan. “Listen, I know a daemon that may be able to help exorcise whatever is possessing your friend. But I don’t know who is possessing your friend. If what I do fails and I get incapacitated, you’ll have to do something. Hand me the Goetia for a second…” Alvin handed over the book and Lex skipped through the pages, finding what he was looking for, he handed it back. “There. There’s the text that will let you summon Tartys. If something goes wrong with what I do, I want you to summon him. Can you do that for me?”
“If they’re both daemons. The one possessing Dreyden and this one, why would this ‘Tartys’ help out. Daemons are evil, right?”
“It’s all about territory. There’s a lot of infighting that goes on in the daemon world. I try and use it to my advantage. I am particularly aligned to the hour of Panzeur.”
“What’s the hour of Panzeur?”
“It’s their royal house… I can’t explain everything. I can only call upon that one if it’s more than I can handle. We just need a plan B if something goes wrong, okay?”
They found the entrance of the factory and Lex forced open the door. Alvin trailed behind him. Inside the factory, it was dark. There were cobwebs and little light. The little light that existed came from a fluorescent tube light that was flickering in between on and off. The place was a complete wreck, there was debris from broken furniture and ceramic plates scattered through the venue. There was a broken sewerage pipe that hung from the ceiling that was leaking, or trickling, rancid water down and onto the floor. Creating a puddle of brown water, probably tinged from the rust of the pipe.
“You said other people lived here?” Lex asked.
“Yeah, that’s what he said…”
“I think a whole lot of other shit has happened since then.”
“Dreyden! Dreyden!” Alvin called out and his voice bounced off of the walls of the abandoned factory.
“Shut up!” Lex stated seriously in a hushed tone, “You’re taking away the element of surprise.”
There was movement somewhere in the building, with the little light that was provided. It was difficult to see anything at all. The sound was probably coming from rodents that infested the area. They made their way around the factory in silence. They found a staircase that led up to a second storey and Lex, leading the way, led them up the staircase to the second floor.
On the second floor of the place, there was a little bit more light. There were various fluorescent lights hanging down from the ceiling that made up different hallways, leading to different rooms. But they were also flickering and every second second, they would be caught in a blanket of darkness. The walls of the different rooms were covered in different graffiti markings. All markings reminiscent of the symbols from the Goetia. There were also markings of faeces and blood covering the wall.
The stench was unbearable. It smelt of urine, shit and stagnant water. There was the hum of mosquitos in the air, which would flicker past their ears every so often. By this time Alvin had lost his nerve to speak loudly or call out to his friend, so he kept his silence as they moved through the place. Exploring the different rooms. Every room was a little bit more fucked up than the last. Broken furniture, foul smells, shit covered walls. It was difficult to understand how anybody could live in a place like this.
Then they came to a room with a dead cat. The cat had had half of its face ripped off by rats and rodents. Its dead, lifeless eyes bulging and staring at a symbol drawn up on the wall opposite. Its corpse was being eaten out and devoured by maggots. The sight of its decomposing body almost made Alvin retch.
Then they finally came to the room where Dreyden was hiding. He was clothed in a navy blue hooded jacket, with his sleeves pulled up to his forearms, he had a razor blade in one hand and was cutting into his own flesh. It seemed as if he had been doing this for a long time and he was using the blood from the cuts up along his arms, to make more markings up on the wall of the place.
“Dreyden?” Alvin whimpered.
Dreyden turned around. His face was pale white and his face was marked with blood that appeared like war paint across his face. The small amount of light that entered the area revealed that his face was breaking into a sick and sinister smile, “Alvin! Man, am I glad you got me that book!”
“Dreyden, what’s happened? What’s going on?”
Dreyden stood up from his seated position on the floor. “That book man. It’s real… They’ve been talking to me. I didn’t believe you at first. But then shit started to happen. They started talking to me…”
“They started talking to you?” Alvin stood there in disbelief. As Lex was doing something else, making hand signals and preparing for something.
“Yeah… Inside my head. I didn’t believe you at first. But they started giving me this vision. This vision of an awesome world. All I had to do was follow their instructions and they said they’d help me remake the world.”
“Remake the world?” Alvin looked at the man he once knew, he had never been the exemplar of health, but now he looked haggard, absolutely in a rotten state of affairs.
“Face it man. We got fucked. Our whole generation did. People like you and me did. While all of the other artists were out there creating their bullshit, we were working our arses off.” Dreyden started showing an aggressive tone, “And now what!? We’re meant to sit here and let the fuckheads get away with it! Have children and continue on with their bullshit world! I don’t think so! This time it will be different… This time things need to change.”
“How will it change Dreyden? What are you talking about?”
“The world that they promised me man… It’s a world like none other. Anyone who wants their time in the spotlight will get their time in the spotlight. They just have to accept the fact that they can’t have kids, and that’ll be the sacrifice that they have to make for their journey of fame and fortune. It will be brilliant man! People like me and you, well, we’ll finally get what we deserve and all of the families and famous dickheads can eat shit for all I care.”
“I don’t think that will work Dreyden…” Alvin murmured.
“Why the fuck not!?” Dreyden screamed. “I sacrificed my life for this shit! They told me to be different! To be unique! And you know what I got, I got farkin’ nothing!”
“No! I’m farkin’ sick of it! Sick of all the bullshit and lies that people are constantly shoving down my throat. They tell you to go and talk to someone about it, talk to someone about your problems. And the person you end up talking to ends up being someone paid to listen to you. Someone who’s paid and educated by a load of horse shit that perpetuates a false belief in a fair system. When really the only reason why they say that crap is because their livelihood depends on it. So they talk and talk until you’re convinced that we live in a fair and just world that’s looking after them and you have nothing to worry about. Either you’re convinced or you’re so disgusted by these sort of people that you take pity on them and leave them alone. Because they’re fed the same load of horse shit as you, they’re fed the same load of horse shit as everyone else. Talk about it! What the fuck is talking about it ever going to do? Talking about it isn’t going to pay my rent, isn’t going to get the things I want and need. That’s the farkin’ world we’re living in!”
Lex had finished doing whatever he had been doing and stepped forward, “If you were in a more stable situation, you’d probably want to have kids too. As for everything else you said, the world is cruel, but it would be a hell of a lot crueler if we didn’t have those things.” Lex took a step back and started chanting in Enochain, “Il sa va Venomiel. El mort sam dasca.”
“Oh! Two can play at that game!” Dreyden then started chanting in Enochian back at Lex.
Alvin looked at the two of them. Both caught up in some sort of hypnotic trance. Locking eyes with one another. Both of them chanting in Enochian, both of them raising their voices until they were practically shouting at one another.
The small amount of light that the overhead flickering light provided was minimal, but it did cast a shadow on both of the figures. As Alvin watched on, the shadows caught his attention. There were two figures, daemonic in presence that were cast in each of the figure’s shadows. The shadows began wrestling with one another in an intricate display of skeletal figures.
The whole of the building began to shake. At first it was just small tremors, inconceivable that there would be an earthquake in the suburbs of Melbourne. But those tremors grew and grew until everything around them was shaking violently. Alvin started stumbling around, unable to hold his footing.
Alvin noticed the shadow that Lex cast was being beaten back by the shadow that Dreyden cast. The tremors kept on growing in intensity. Until the ground beneath Lex gave way. A hole opened up beneath Lex, creating a crack in the cement floor. The floor gave way of the second storey and Lex fell down with ground beneath him crumbling.
Alvin ran over to where the hole was. Looking down, he saw an injured Lex lying in the cement rubble on the floor that had broken through. His leg looked twisted and it appeared as if the bone was protruding from the flesh of his left leg. Lex called out to Alvin, looking up at him, “Call him! Call upon Tartys! Do it! Do it now!”
Alvin was freaking out. He was looking down at Lex confused as to everything that was happening around him. He looked to Dryden, who appeared as if he had elevated off the ground, and was levitating or sliding towards both of them.
“Say it! Say it now!” Lex screamed out.
Alvin fumbled through the pages of the Goetia looking for the marked page. He was erratic, sweating profusely and in a state of heightened panic. Muttering to himself quickly, over and over again, “Fark! Fark! Fark! Fark! Fark!”
Lex was in a similar state, screaming out, “Say it! Say it! Say it now!”
Dreyden was slowly gliding towards the two. The tremors were still occurring and everything was shaking. Alvin found the page and pronounced the evocation, “Dam satre il e mort Tartys.”
As soon as Alvin spoke the words, all of the bulbs of the lights in the factory exploded. In the last figure of light that lit up everything to an excessive degree, you could see the shadow protruding from Lex and Alvin, with their two skeletal, daemonic shadows enveloping the shadow cast from Dreyden.
In that split second, all three of them: Dreyden; Alvin; and Lex, lost consciousness.
When they all woke up, the sun had risen on a new day and light was seeping in through the factory’s windows. Alvin was the first to regain consciousness. He saw where he was and patted himself down to check and make sure that he was still alive.
Then he went over to where Dreyden lay and shook him awake. Dreyden came to and looked around, “Man! What the fuck happened, I can’t remember anything for like the past two weeks or something.”
From the first floor, Lex called out to the other two, “Guys! Guys! Don’t forget about me.”
The other two went and looked down at Lex, Dreyden was confused, “Who the fuck are you?”
Alvin and Dreyden got to their feet, went down to the first floor and helped Lex up with his broken leg. They all then hobbled out of the abandoned factory and into Lex’s car. Alvin drove as Lex was unable to, taking a seat in the back.
“Where are we going man?” Dreyden asked.
“I’m taking us to the hospital. I’m booking us all into the psychiatric ward.” Alvin stated, keeping his eyes focused on the road in a dead glare.
“Yes,” Lex said, “It’s a bit like that. Human beings with their limited range of experience and senses have difficulty processing some things that happen in their life. That’s why we all need to talk to someone from time to time.”