The Second Coming of the Fallen Angel (full version) part 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
The devil is alive and well in Phoenix. And what are the two teenagers Debbie and Elaine going to do to try and save us from Armageddon?

Submitted: July 13, 2008

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Submitted: July 13, 2008

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"The Second Coming of the Fallen Angel" is a work of fiction, and any resemblance between the characters and any real persons living or dead or any fictional locations is unintentional and coincidental.
The Second Coming of the Fallen Angel

The day I conjured up Satan started like any other day, right down to my mom shouting up the stairs in a voice which could wake Count Dracula out of his coffin in the middle of the day.

"Elaine. . . Elaine . . .you'll be late for school."

I opened my eyes but the rest of me refused to move. (Being on the Internet all night can do that to a person.)

"What time is it?" I said.

"Seven."

Shit, I thought. And I remembered: today I had to give a speech to the Sceptics Club. I got nervous and I woke up.

The Sceptics Club is so cool because we talk about all kinds of weird stuff. Like, yesterday we had a heavy discussion about Satan and I volunteered to give a speech about him. My topic was how to prove the devil is bullshit. I'd do it by getting people to use a spell Satanists believed would conjure up the devil. When the spell didn't work, we'd know Satan was rubbish.

"Elaine, you up yet?"

"Yes, Mom."

"Don't forget your Dad and I are going to the Grand Canyon for the weekend. There's money on the table for groceries."

"Thanks, Mom."

"Bye, dear. Don't be late for school."

Thank God I don't wear lots of make-up. In five minutes I was downstairs eating my corn flakes and drinking a double-strength coffee. That's when I saw Mom's note on the table. In obsessive little strokes she had written:
Elaine,
St. Patrick's has a Friday night Mass.
Your father and I would be so happy if you went
Love,
Mom
The notes started exactly one week ago, the day I told Mom I was in the Sceptics Club. I wasn't worried she'd forbid me from the club or anything, but I knew there would be yelling. (Mom and Dad are into effective parenting and like me to make up my own mind, but they get upset when they can't make me agree with them.)

Mom was rational at first. "The principal has told me about your Sceptics Club," she said. "I don't think it's healthy for you because they talk about non-Christian ideas."

"Mom, we just talk about philosophy."

"The principal said you discuss things like paganism and witchcraft. He also said you talk about the death of God. I shudder to think of it."

"We only talk about things. We don't believe . . ."

"They're atheists," she yelled.

"They're not."

"How can you renounce God?"

"Don't be silly, Mom. I believe in God. I just don't believe in all that superstitious Hail Mary stuff."

She crossed herself. "I'll pray for you as a fallen Catholic."

I wanted to tell her even the Pope is a fallen Catholic, but Mom has high blood pressure so I said nothing. She never mentioned the Sceptics Club again, but for the rest of the week I kept finding funny little reminder notes hidden in all kinds of places. She probably thought if she wrote enough notes I'd feel guilty.

I finished my breakfast and went out to sit on the front porch swing and wait for Debbie. I love the swing. I can sit on it, push it back and forth with my toes, and dream I'm on the front porch of our old house. (I hate our new neighborhood in Scottsdale. We live in one of those new housing developments where all the houses look the same and there's no trees.)

The school sucks. It's in a bad area so Mom won't let me drive to school because she says my VW would be broken into, my stereo stolen, or worse. Actually, there are only two good things about the school: It has the Sceptics club, and Debbie goes there.

Debbie's my best friend and she's really cool. She wears huge earrings, lots of bracelets, and a ribbon choker with a small silver crucifix on it. And she knows all kinds of strange stuff.

I have to admit I'm a little jealous of her. Now, I know I'm pretty: I've got blonde hair and hazel eyes, and boys have told me I have a good figure and nice legs. But Debbie's the best looking girl I've ever seen. She's sensual, in a dark and mysterious grown up way which drives boys crazy. (I once overheard these guys talking about her, and one of them said Debbie looks like an archetypal gypsy temptress who wears sexy outfits.)

I feel sorry for her though. She never saw her real father, and her mom died when she was twelve. Now she lives with her alcoholic stepfather who doesn't care what she does.

I was still thinking about Debbie when I heard this whistling, kind of gentle and far off. I recognized the tune. It was The Devil Came to Alabama,Debbie's favorite song. I saw her when she came around the corner . . . and the bus came. Debbie and I had to run to catch it.
* * *

The bus started right after we got on, but I was so busy trying to balance myself as I walked to the back that I didn't see Brad Hawkins until I sat down. He came up the aisle and slid into the seat in front of me. He gave me this dreamy-eyed look. "Hi, Elaine," he said.

"Is Debbie the invisible woman or something?"

"Oh sorry," he said. "Hi, Debbie."

"Hi," she said.

Then he stuck this flower practically in my face. "A beautiful flower for a beautiful girl," he said.

Debbie suddenly seemed all involved in her biology book. I think she was embarrassed.

I looked at the flower. "You took that from someone's front garden." I pushed his hand away. "I can't take that flower Brad. I think you’re a really great guy, but Itold you I just want to be friends."

"I'm not going to give up on you."

"Brad, I need to talk to Debbie now."

"Girl talk," he said. "Cool." He went back to the front of the bus.

"Why are you so mean to him?" Debbie said. "I liked it when he used to hang around with us."

"You don't get it, Debbie. I can't handle him. I mean, Brad and I had a totally cool Platonic thing going until he got all gooey and romantic and stuff."

"Personally I think you need to see a shrink. Look at him. What more could you want?He looks like a movie star and he's on the football team and everything. Plus,he's so popular he can give you a flower on the school bus in front of everybody."

"Maybe you should go out with him, Debbie."

"You know I don't like jocks."

"You like the intellectual type, I suppose?"

"Actually I do." She started reading her book again.

I started to go over the prompt cards for my speech but I couldn't concentrate. Brad kept throwing lost puppy dog looks at me.

Brad said he fell in love with methe day I saved him from being killed by Juan Ramirez, the toughest hood in school. I had just gone under the bleacher stairs at recess to study when Ramirez came up and put his arm around me.

"I seen you starin' at me in biology," he said. (Actually, I was daydreaming, looking out the window straight behind him.)

I shrugged his arm off. "Piss off," I said and walked away.

He caught up to me, grabbed my arm, and shoved me against one of the cement posts. I dropped my books. "Leave me alone," I said.

"So you wanna play hard to get, do you?" Then he planted this gross kiss on me. (I felt like I was being swallowed by a saliva machine.) Anyway, the kiss only lasted a few seconds because Brad pulled Ramirez off me and started to beat the shit out of him.

Juan punched Brad in the stomach, pulled out a switchblade and lunged at him. Brad jumped sideways so the knife only sliced through the skin on his side. Juan's back was to me, so I picked up my biology book and hit him on the side of the head as hard as I could. He dropped. I called the ambulance and the police. (After the trial, when Ramirez got ten years non-parole for assault with intent to murder, my mom said she wished I'd blackened both his eyes instead of one.)

It's because of Brad I don't have any girlfriends except Debbie. See, Julie Zawickie, who happens to be the most popular girl in the school, loves Brad. Of course, he doesn't even notice her, so she hates me majorly and has gotten all her friends to hate me too. (Also, I should add all the girls hate Debbie because she's so good looking.)

I woke up from my daydream when Debbie nudged me with her elbow. "Wake up, Elaine," she said. "We're here."
We got off the bus and went straight to J Block where our lockers were. Debbie had just opened hers when Julie came up to her and said, "Everyone hates you, you gypsy bitch."

Debbie smiled at her. "Of course," she said.

"You didn't hear me," Julie said. "You're a bitch."

"Probably the best bitch in the school," Debbie said. Then nice and polite she said: "Excuse me, I have to go to class now."

Julie followed her down the hall abusing her more and more and Debbie kept ignoring her. So Julie got mad and started yelling louder and louder, getting redder and redder in the face. Pretty soon she looked like a raving mad person and people were stopping and laughing. Mr. Jenkins had to run over and calm Julie down, and she ended up in tears in the infirmary. Not exactly a good image for the head of the cheerleader squad.

* * *

My speech started out fantastic. I showed a weird picture of Satan which got everyone's attention, except Mr. Jenkins. (He was in the back marking papers.)
"Last night," I said, "I found a spell on the Internet that Satanists guarantee will conjure up the devil." Mr. Jenkins put down his pen and looked up.

I went on: "Yesterday, you all said the devil was mere superstition. Would any of you be brave enough to put it to the test?"

Brad's hand flew up. I pretended not to see it, but he started waving it all over the place.

"What?" I said.

"I volunteer to help you conjure up the devil."

Mr. Jenkins jumped up. "Stop right there. You better sit down, young lady. You should know such behavior is not allowed on school grounds."

For the rest of the period we had to listen to Mr. Jenkins rave on about the rules. At least lunch was next.

* * *

When I got to the cafeteria, Debbie was saving me a place in line.

"Did you get anyone to do the spell with you?" she said.

"Only Brad, but I told him not to come. He'll try to kiss me or hold my hand or something."

"Couldn't you get anyone else?"

"No. Except for Brad, they're all chicken-shits."

"Doesn't matter. We'll test the spell ourselves."

She got a milk shake like she always did, and I got an order of fries. (We never got anything but junk food because the stuff they served and claimed was nutritious was garbage.)

Anyway, we paid our money and sat down. And I noticed Julie Zawickie was at the table across from us.

"Let's go," I said. "Julie and her friends are giggling and staring at us."

"I'm not leaving 'cause of her." Debbie sipped her shake and made a face. "Yuck, this is off." She put it down.

Julie leaned over and whispered something to another girl, got up and sashayed over to our table. "Hi, Debbie," Julie said with this bitchy pretend friendliness.

"Don't you like your milk shake?"

"Milk's spoiled," Debbie said.

Suddenly I noticed the cafeteria had gotten real quiet.

"Maybe," Julie insisted, "you should see what's inside your milk shake."

"I'm busy," Debbie said. "Go away."

"I better show you." And Julie pulled a little tiny dead frog out. Heaps of milk shake dripped off the frog on to the table. Julie dropped the frog and bits of milk shake flicked on to Debbie's face. Julie turned around and walked back to her table where all her jock friends were. She sat down and they all started pointing at us and laughing.

All of a sudden Julie's tray flipped up and dumped a plateful of stringy meat, mashed potatoes and gravy between her cleavage, all over the front of her sleeveless dress, and into her lap.

"Oh shit," she said. She tried to wipe the stuff off but ended up smearing it all over. One of the boys across from her pointed at her boobs. "You've got a piece of meat right in there," he said. "Let me remove it for you." He reached across the table into her cleavage and pulled the meat out. He held it up and waved it around like a trophy. All the boys around him clapped and cheered.

Julie stared at each boy at the table, one by one. I thought she was going to scream at them, but she didn't make a sound. It was eerie. She kept looking at them until their laughing and cheering dwindled away. Soon all you could here was a low murmuring from the rest of the room. Someone coughed.

Mr. Jenkins got to Julie's table in about three strides. He looked like he was going to have a fit, his face was so red. He pointed at the boys. "You characters get to the principal's office, immediately," he shouted. The boys scuttled away.

Mr. Jenkins looked at Julie. "Are you okay?" he asked her . "Maybe you should see the nurse."

She looked up at him, her face all contorted. She didn't say anything for a second, then let out a horrible moan, stood up and ran for the door. When she was halfway there you could hear these big sobs, which slowly faded as she ran out of the cafeteria and down the hall.
Debbie dipped a napkin in her water glass and wiped the bits of milk shake off her cheek. "Funny that," she said.

* * *

When we got to my house Debbie went straight to the liquor cabinet. She found a bottle of whiskey and filled two shot glasses. She handed one to me.

"A shot before meeting Lucifer," she said. She downed the stuff in one gulp without flinching. I sipped mine.

She went into the lounge room. "You realize your mother is a religious fanatic, don't you?"

"You say the same thing every time you come over."

"It's true."

"It's not," I said. "Mom's just very Catholic."

"She's more Catholic than the Pope. There's six pictures of Jesus hanging up, four statues of the Virgin Mary, and heaps of fiddly little religious things."

I ignored her comment and put the whiskey bottle back in the cabinet. I got my Ouija board from the secret hiding place in my room and put it on the coffee table between Mom's leather sofas. "Ready," I said.

Debbie sat across from me and we put our hands on the Ouija marker. I chanted the spell:
In nomine Dei nostri Satanas Luciferi excelsi
Hail Satan, the ruler of the earth
By all the gods of the pits
I command you open wide the gates of hell
To come forth from the abyss
The Ouija marker jerked out of our hands, smashed through my mom's favorite statue of the Virgin, streaked across the room, and buried itself into the brick wall.

"Excuse me," said a voice behind us. We turned and there was a guy in a three-piece suit, sitting cross-legged, floating above the floor. He had a long beard. "I am Mephistopheles," he said. His breath smelled of urine.

"No,"Debbie screamed. She ripped one of my mom's crucifixes off the wall and held it in front of herself as she advanced on him. She said: I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God.Satan didn't retreat from her, he just laughed. Then so fast I could hardly see it, he pointed his index finger at Debbie, and a red beam shot out of it, straight at her heart. Debbie whipped the cross up and stopped the beam. The cross began to glow, making a crackling noise and shooting off sparks.

Satan wove his finger around trying to get his beam past her cross but she held the beam with it. The stalemate went on for almost a whole minute. Debbie started sweating and breathing like a long distance runner. She said: Credo in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Satan roared . . . and vanished.

Debbie dropped the cross. She leaned against the top of the sofa and sweat dripped off her forehead making little marks on the carpet. She looked at her hand; it had burn marks on it. "My God," she said, "it doesn't hurt." As I watched, the marks vanished.

I grabbed her shoulders and shook her. "Goddamn you," I screamed. "You knew he existed and you let me conjure him up." I slapped her. She grabbed my arm and twisted it behind my back.

"Listen to me,"she said. "It's over. He's gone."

"Jesus, Debbie, that hurts. Let go."

She pushed on my arm again. "You promise to shut up and listen?"

"Yes."

She released the pressure, a little. "You didn't believe in Satan before you saw him did you?"

"No."

"Neither did I."

"Bullshit.You knew the words to get rid of him."

"My mother made me memorize those words when I was ten. I thought she was crazy because of her brain tumor. Do you think I'dconjure up Satan if I believed he was real?"

She had me there. "All right," I said. "I'll give you the benefit of the doubt."

She let me go. I rubbed my arm. "Are you an angel or something?"

"Don't be stupid. I'm a normal person except I was born with certain powers."

"I knew it. You made Julie's tray flip over on her, didn't you?"

"What makes you think I did?"

"Debbie, hello. You just got rid of the devil. I figure dumping a bit of meat down Julie's boobs ought to have been real easy."

"It was."

"Okay, you can levitate things. You got any other powers?"

"I can start small fires and make weak-minded people think the way I want."

"Is Satan coming back?" I said.

"I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?"

"Would you please not panic? I'll stop him again if he comes. Just listen, okay?"

I nodded.

"When I was eleven my mother told me she had a hundred year old book which was a copy of an ancient prophecy and spell about conjuring up Satan. That prophecy must have something to do with us."

"How do you know?"

"We made the spell work. I haven’t heard of anyone else who could."

"Okay, fine. But what did the book say?"

"I don't know. It's in some weird language."

"Then I think we'd better get someone to translate it." I went to get my keys off the entry table. Right next to them was this syringe. Instead of a needle sticking out of it, there was a pencil-sized plastic tube with a round hole in the end. And inside the syringe was this milky-white gooey stuff. "Looks like Satan dropped something," I said.

"Let's see," Debbie said. Real careful like she picked up the syringe, brought it as close to her nose as she could without touching it, and smelled it. "It's sperm . . . yuck."She dropped the syringe like it was burning her. "Satan was going it to stick that thing in us and make us pregnant."

"How do you know?"

"It's obvious. In movies about Satan he always wants to make demon kids. The idea is so common, it probably started with fact."

I pointed to the syringe. "Get rid of it."

"Where?"

"Down the garbage disposal."

Debbie picked up the syringe with a tissue and went into the kitchen. I heard the disposal start.

The phone rang. It was Mom. "You'll never guess what happened," she said.

I couldn't even think. "I give up."

"Your father is taking me to Vegas to get married all over again. It's so romantic."

"How nice," I said.

"We will be gone for a week. Take whatever you need from the account." And then I got this big lecture about not having boys over. (It seemed ages before I could say good-by and hang up.)

"Who was it?" Debbie said.

"My mom." I told Debbie what Mom had said.

"Cool. You can stay over at my house."

* * *

When we got to Debbie’s house, shebegan looking for her mom's old book by searching through the file cabinet in her room. At first she was very careful, but it wasn't long before she got frantic and started pulling out files and throwing them all over her bed. She emptied the whole cabinet. "I can't remember where I put it," she said.

"God, Debbie, you're not supposed to forget where the prophecy about the end of the world is."

"Sorry I'm not 'Miss Straight A' like you."

I let her little comment pass.

We looked and looked. Finally, at11:58PM on the second day after we conjured up Satan, we found the book. Debbie's stepfather was looking at it while he was watching a movie on TV.

Debbie went into the TV room, but I hung back. I didn't want to be in the same room with him, he was so gross. His beard had bits of potato chips in it, he had wine and food stains all over his shirt, and, even from where I was standing, he smelled like cheap wine and unwashed gym socks.
Debbie went up to him. "Where'd you get the book?" she said.

He looked up, his eyes all bleary and bloodshot. "Found it in the attic. Brought it down to look at the pictures during the advertisements."

"Give it to me, it's mine." She grabbed it from him and clutched it to her chest.

"Jeez," he said. "No need to be bitchy." He belched, got up and stumbled across the room into the bathroom. We could hear him peeing.

Debbie put the book on the kitchen counter. "I wish he'd close the door sometimes." She opened the book.

"I recognize the letters," I said. "I can translate it."

"Where'd you learn that language?"

"From playing knights and dragons."

"What language is it?"

"Actually, it's not really a language. It's Anglo Saxon Rune, a code Druids used to write secret stuff. They substituted rune letters for normal ones."

She started turning the pages. "Shit."

"What's wrong?"

"He spilled beer on it. Look, these letters are smudged."

"Doesn't matter, the smudged bits I can work out from the context."

The toilet flushed and her stepfather came out pulling his zipper up. His stomach hung over his belt buckle.

"You dribbled beer on my mother's book," Debbie said. She was so mad I was scared.

He stood there for a second, swaying. He could hardly focus on us. "Tripped when I sat down," he said. "It spilled. Sorry." He weaved down the hall toward his bedroom.

Debbie followed him. "You soused pig," she shouted.

He didn't say anything. Then I heard a bed squeaking real loud for a second. (I guess he was too drunk to lie down properly and fell on to it.)

"Hey," she said. "I haven't finished."

The only answer she got was real loud snoring.

"Asshole," Debbie said, more to herself than him.

We went into her bedroom to translate the book. It had lots of pictures of angels and things, but it was the same stuff I'd seen in Sunday school. There wasn't much writing (maybe about five pages).

I started with the cover which didn’t make any sense because it was written in Rune. I looked up the rune letters I didn't know on the Internet and started transposing the letters. This is what I got:

THE MOST HOLY PROPHECY PERTAINING TO THE DEMISE OF THE FALLEN ANGEL

"Cool," I said. "It's in English. I was worried it might be Latin or something."

"The book's bullshit."

"What do you mean?"

"Don't you think it's awful convenient those words translate into English? Come on, Elaine, how could ancient Druids know English?"
"They have modern-day Druids, Debbie. I learned about them in the Sceptics club. The Druids' philosophy has been passed down from generation to generation."

"Oh."

I opened the book and started translating the whole thing. Debbie watched for a while, then her head was on the table and she was asleep. She started snoring.

I nudged her. "I can't concentrate. Go sleep in your bed."

She staggered to the bed, her eyes half shut. "You're mean," she mumbled. She threw the files off her bed, flopped on to it, grabbed a teddy bear, and curled up.
Translating the stuff was boring. After a while I started wishing Brad was there. He'd figure out a way of doing the job faster. (He was smart at figuring things out. He could always show me a better way to do my algebra homework or fix my car.)

It took me all night to translate the whole book. The first and second chapters weren't very interesting because they explained what had already happened. But the rest of the book scared the hell out of me. I went over and shook Debbie. "Wake up."

She pushed at me. "Leave me alone."

I shook her again. "In two days Satan is going to steal Julie Zawickie's soul so he can get strong enough to come after us. We gotta go save her."

She sat up and rubbed her eyes. "You couldn't possibly know it's Julie."

"The book says Satan will come back in five days after being zapped and attempt to take a soul from a weak-minded person spiritually connected to us. It hasto be her."

"I don't get it, you said two days before, now you said five days."

"I meant five days after we zapped him, which was three days ago. Five minus three . . ."

"Fine," she said. "I get it. But what if he's already here?"

"He can't be. He's forbidden from coming earlier than five days."

"What about later? Couldn't he . . . ?"

"Look, it's already seven o'clock in the morning. We're wasting time; I'll explain it on the way."

* * *

I pulled out of my driveway so fast I almost made my VW burn rubber. Debbie buckled her seat belt. "Okay, tell me."

"The prophecy says two women will conjure up Satan. They are described as being blonde and brunette and are called the chosen ones. Because Satan arrives weak they are able to zap him."

"I guess we're the chosen ones," Debbie said.

"Obviously. The book also says Satan will try to make the women who conjured him up pregnant so he can get demon sons to help him create chaos and havoc on earth. So, you were right about the syringe and the sperm."

"Of course," she said.

"Anyway, the prophecy says every 1000 years Satan is allowed three trips back from hell. The first one he has already used up. The second one will be when he attacks Julie in two days. If we zap him then,he can't make the third trip for twenty-nine and one-half days. Which means we have time to go see a guy called the Man of Knowledge. God has appointed him to teach us how to send Satan back to hell for another 1000 years."

"Why can't we go and see the knowledge guy before we see Julie? We got two days."

"It could take longer than two days to find him."

"Find him?"Debbie said. "Don't you know where he is?"

"No, but . . ."

"How are we supposed to find him?"

"The prophecy says I'm supposed to use my intuition."

Debbie stared at me like she couldn't believe what I'd just said. "Jesus, Elaine. You're supposed to find him with feelings?How in the hell . . ."

"I think the idea is we should have a bit of trust. Think of Job. He got all kinds of shit dumped on him and he still trusted in God."

* * *

We got to Julie's house at seven-thirty. (She lived in an average house like mine, which surprised me. I always thought she was rich.)
I parked in front and started to get out.

"Wait," Debbie said.

I stopped. "Why?"
"I have to psych myself up. I’ll probably have to hex the whole family to find out what I want." She took five deep breaths and opened the door. "Wait here," she said.

"Forget it, I'm going too."

"You can't. You're giving off way too much negative energy right now. It could mess up the hex."

Debbie went to the front door and rang the doorbell. She only waited a few seconds before someone answered. I couldn't tell who it was because the person didn't come out. Instead, Debbie disappeared inside.

She came back in twenty minutes, alone.

"Where's Julie?" I said.

"In the state mental hospital in Shellburne."

"Jesus, why?"

"She climbed on to her roof and said it was the end of the world and she was going to go to heaven to meet Jesus. So she jumped up in the air expecting to be taken up by God, but instead fell back on to the roof and slid off into her mother's dark purple rhododendrons. She's lucky the garden bed was soft. All she did was fracture her wrist."

"Was she trying to kill herself?"

"No," Debbie said. "Her mother said Julie is manic-depressive."

"Which?"

"It means a person can be very depressed one day and hyper the next. When they're hyper they can have delusions."

"How long is Julie in for?" I said.

"They don't know. Depends on how long it takes them to adjust her pills."

"And her mother just tells you all this stuff?"

"I hexed her, remember."

* * *

"We should've been there already," Debbie said.

"I'll ask directions at the next town."

What we got to was hardly a town. It had only eight buildings and one street.

And there was only one gas station. It had really old pumps and a run-down workshop witha little office attached to it. When I drove in a bell went off.

"What's that?" Debbie said.

I turned off the engine. "We ran over a hose which rings a bell. It's really old-fashioned, it tells the guy when to come out."

But a real cute tomboy wearing a skimpy tank top and jeans came out of the workshop. She had red-hair. I couldn't see much of it because it was hanging out in wisps from underneath her baseball cap. She pulled an oily-looking rag out of her back pocket and wiped the grease off her hands as she walked over.

Debbie got out and asked where the rest room was. The girl pointed to a small wooden outhouse at the side of the building. I didn't think Debbie was too impressed, but she jogged over to it and went in.

I watched the girl walk the rest of the way to the car, and I wished I'd brought Brad. He's a car nut and he'd love a girl who was a mechanic. (I know because the first time he tried to kiss me was when I was all greasy from working on my VW. He said the grease smudges made me look sexy because it emphasized my good points.) And this girl would be greasy full-time.I could divert Brad on to her easy.

"Fill 'er up?" she said.

"Yes, please."

She put the nozzle in. "Check the oil?"

"It's okay."

She clicked the nozzle on automatic, took a squeegee out of the water bucket next to the pump, and started washing the windshield.

I got out. "Could you tell me where the turn-off to the mental hospital is?"

"Go back 'bout twenty mile. It's one mailbox past Frank's Quarter Horse Stud. You can't miss it. You visitin' someone?"

"A friend."

"No point goin'. There's cops everywhere. They ain't lettin' no visitors in."

"What happened?"

"A loony committed suicide by jumpin' out the top floor. Heard it on the news an hour ago." She started cleaning the back window.

I looked at my watch. The news would come on in a few minutes. I pointed to the office. "You got a TV in there?" I said.

"You wanna catch the news 'bout the loonies?"

"Yes."

"TV's on the counter. Feel free."

I found the TV stuck behind a potato chip rack. I moved the rack and faced the TV toward myself. The news wouldn't be on for another couple of minutes so I went to look for a map while I waited. I bent down to pick it off the bottom shelf and I saw Debbie walk past the window. She didn't look sideways, but kept going right to the car. It was like she was on a mission.

The tomboy came in. I paid her and the news started. There was a bunch of boring stuff first, after which Hal Brinkley came on with a story about how a teenager named Julie Zawickie had committed suicide. My first thought was they had the wrong person, until they showed a year book photo of Julie.

And right there in that dingy shop in the middle of nowhere I knew I had never really hated Julie and had been so stupid and cruel those times I had called her bimbo and stuff. Silent tears fell from my eyes. People like Julie aren't supposed to die.

I could see her in my mind at the football games. How she jumped and laughed and how happy she was. I remembered the time we beat Rosemont High fourteen to nothing and she ran over and grabbed Brad in a big hug and he twirled her around, her legs flying out behind her. I remembered the way the crowd cheered, and how they loved her. (And I wished Brad was here in this stupid place to hug me.He would know exactly what to say to make me feel better.)

The pictures the news showed were gross. Julie's body was covered in sheets, and sticking out of it was an eight foot tall pole with a pointed tip. (Except for the sheets, the whole scene reminded me of a drawing I had once seen of Vlad the Impaler's victims.)

The announcer said the guard on duty had been found unconscious, no employee had seen anything, and the police hadn't bothered with what the nuts had said.

The station then switched to a reporter at the mental hospital who said the nuts had told him that they saw a monkey go into the guard's station and come out with a set of keys. The monkey used them to turn off the security system and open one of the windows. The animal then led Julie out of her room, helped her up to the window ledge, and jumped out with her.

I went back to the car. When I opened the door Debbie woke up. I told her what had happened.

"I'm not going to cry," she said.

"I never said you should."

"But I want to. God, I feel like shit. We should've at least tried to be nice to Julie. All I could ever do was humiliate her in front of her friends. We're nothing but a couple of petty little bitches, that's what we are." And she cried, so quickly and intensely, I think she surprised herself. I tried to hug her but she wouldn't let me. It took her a whole minute to get back to normal.

"You okay?" I said.

She blew her nose. "Yes. But I think you better check your translation. Satan's not supposed to be here yet."

I compared my translation to the book. "Here's the mistake. This smudge your stepfather made when he spilled beer on the page changed the number symbol enough so I was two days off."

"Any other mistakes."

I checked. "No."

"Good. Now let's concentrate on getting your intuition to work."

"It already is working: I got an idea. I mean, we found Satan on the Internet. I'll bet we can find the Man of Knowledge there too."

We started for Tucson because it was closer than Flagstaff and I wanted to get on the internet as quick as I could.

* * *

Debbie looked up from the map. "How much longer 'till we get to Tucson?"

"Forty-five minutes."

"Pull over,"she said. "I gotta wee."

After she got back in, I checked the rear view mirror and saw a magpie sitting on a cactus. I drove off and forgot about it, until I looked in the mirror again. The magpie was flying twenty yards behind us. I accelerated, but he kept up.

"How fast can magpies fly?" I said.

"I don't know, why?"

"I'm doing seventy and there's a magpie back there keeping up with us."

Debbie turned around. "It's him." We rolled the windows up and locked the doors in one second. She took off her choker which had the crucifix on it.

I watched the magpie in the rear view mirror. It caught up to us and flew up out of sight.

"He's over the roof," Debbie said. She pointed her crucifix at the roof and chanted the Latin words she had used at my house.

There was a loud thump on the roof and suddenly the magpie was flying directly in front of the windshield. It made a u-turn, dropped on to the hood, and changed into a tiny monkey. I hit the brakes and accelerator over and over to throw the monkey off but he grabbed a windshield wiper and was only flung forward and backward on the hood.

The monkey started punching the windshield. His hand was so tiny it was like: tap - tap - tap.A spider-web of cracks materialized across the glass. I pulled off the road because if the window shattered I wouldn't be able to see.

The monkey kept tapping and tapping and the windshield started to sag a little more inward each time he hit it. Debbie said the Latin words again but nothing happened. Sweat poured off her and she was breathing like someone gets when they're turned on. "The words aren't working," she said. "You gotta help me."

"I can't."

"You're wrong. You have the power. I sense it in you."

"What do I do?"

"Imagine the monkey is on fire and focus your mind on that picture as hard as you can."

In my mind I saw the monkey turn into a screaming and twisting pillar of fire. But the real monkey kept punching and hitting until he made a little hole in the windshield. He pushed his hand through and it stuck. I wished I had a knife . . . and I lost the picture of the flame.

"Concentrate harder,"Debbie said.

I made the image come back. I visualized so hard I got more out of breath and sweaty than ever before in my life.

The monkey tore pieces out of the windshield making the hole bigger and bigger. He pulled his head and arms through, hissing and lunging at me with his teeth. I kept ducking out of the way but held the image of his burning. There was a pop like a cherry bomb exploding and the monkey ignited all over becoming a screaming ball of fire. He backed out the window and jumped off the car. The flaming mass of shrieking monkey winked out in mid-air. Ashes floated to the ground.

"You got him," Debbie said. "You sent him back to hell. I love you." She kissed me on the cheek and collapsed into her seat. We both had the worst case of B.O. ever.

"I didn't do anything," I said. "You did. You used your powers; you just didn't realize it."

"I was too weak. It was you."

"That's crazy. I don't have any powers."

"You do," she said. "I could feel your energy." She pointed to a rock at the edge of the road. "I'll bet you can make that rock float off the ground."

"That's impossible."

"Try. Like you did with the monkey. Visualize what you want."

I concentrated and imagined the rock floating. It started to lift off the ground. "Holy shit," I said. The rock fell.

"You got distracted. Try again."

This time I made the rock lift up and it kept going higher and higher. It stopped when it got as tall as my house. "I don't want it to go so high," I said.

"You're concentrating too hard. Let go a little."

I did. The rock slammed into the ground with a whump. "Damn," I said.

"Try again."

I concentrated half as much and visualized the rock circling a small bush. I got it going around and around, but it kept crashing into the branches. I let the rock fall.

"Once more," Debbie said.

I focused as hard as I could. I made the rock do ten perfect circles around the bush, then float to the ground. "This is so cool. I projected my idea at the rock, felt a twitch in my head, and the rock did exactly what I wanted."

* * *

We had to drive with no windshield, and it was gross because we got lots of bugs in our faces. (If I hadn't driven so slow, it would have been worse.) We didn't get to Tucson until midnight.

We decided to stay the night at the Arizona Motel because it was across the street from the university, and close to this garage that specialized in windshields. And we could use the internet at the university library.

Anyway, in the morning we took the car to the garage, then went to the student union cafeteria to eat breakfast. (It was a nice place, it even had eggs and hash browns.)

We sat down and I proceeded to chop my eggs into gooey bits and mix my hash browns in. I put lots of salt on top. The first bite was heaven until I saw Debbie pour ketchup all over her fried egg and put sugar on it.

"Gross," I said. "Now I knowyou're an angel."

She looked up, all serious. "I already explained I wasn't."

"Only an angel would put ketchup and sugar on their eggs."

Her face relaxed, but she didn't laugh or even smile. "Don't call it yucky until you've tried it," she said.

"I suppose." I mixed more hash browns into my eggs. "I got an urge to walk through the university."

"What about going to the library and using the Internet?"

"We'll do it after we walk. I don't think I should ignore any sudden urges I get. I'm supposed to be using my intuition, remember."

We ended up in the Anatomy Museum of the university medical school looking at a head in a jar of formaldehyde. The head was squashed and white with one hair on the left eyebrow sticking up. Light brown hairs poked out of its nose.

"Yuck," Debbie said. "Even a head in a jar deserves to be well-groomed."

The place was creepy. Cases and cases of human body parts were displayed with little cards describing the muscles or bones or whatever. It wasn't a very popular place. There were only two other people in there, an old guy and a young guy with him.

I heard a big saw start up and the tone change as the saw cut into something. A few minutes later this professor came out from the back pushing a little trolley that had something covered with a sheet on it. (Of course I didn't know the guy was a professor, but from the way he was walking, and from the way he was acting, I guessed he might be.)

The young guy walked up to him.

The professor-looking person stopped. "Can I help you?"

"Professor Hencke," the young guy said, "I'm Jay Blake. I'm in your anatomy class." He gestured toward the old guy. "This is my father. I'm showing him the museum."

"I think you'll find this interesting," the professor said. He lifted up the blanket. Underneath was a pasty gray part of a female torso.

The professor pointed to the thing on the trolley. "I've prepared this specimen for my lecture today." (He said specimen like he was talking about a piece of meat, which in a way I suppose he was.)

He took a probe out of his pocket. "This is the urethra," he said, and touched it with his probe. He continued: "Here is the vagina." And he stuck his probe into it. That made me think of Satan's syringe with the sperm. I ran for the rest room.

I was lucky there was an empty cubicle because once I got inside I barely had time to get the toilet seat up and crouch over the bowl before the remains of my eggs and hashbrowns came up, right through my mouth and nose.

I flushed the toilet and lowered the seat and its cover. I sat down, pulled a bit of paper out of the little toilet paper box, wiped my eyes, blew my nose, and threw the paper on the floor. I would've killed for a toothbrush.

The cubicle started to move all funny, like when you turn yourself around and around and stop and the room still seems like it's twirling. I heard Debbie calling, but her voice sounded hollow and had a funny echo, like it was at the end of a long tunnel. Then, all of a sudden, I had a vision . . .

I was sitting yoga-style in the middle of the school library. It was empty except for one table. On top of the table was an upside down crucifix resting on a model of a water molecule. A voice came over the microphone. It started saying, The Man of Knowledge, over and over. I turned and saw Debbie on the other side of the room, waving and calling my name . . .

The cubicle door rattled. "Are you okay?" It was Debbie.

I came out. "I had a vision."

"Yes!"she said. We did a high-five. Clap!Someone in the end cubicle farted. We giggled and ran out.

I asked her what the vision meant. She told me the Man of Knowledge must be a scientist who had something to do with Satan. "The water molecule equals science," she said. "Plus, the upside down cross means the devil."

* * *

Lucky for us one of the computers in the library was free. We slipped behind the keyboard hoping no one would notice. But this lady did.

The minute I saw her look at us from behind her desk we knew she was the librarian. I mean, she stared at us kind of bossy like. And she was old, pear-shaped, and had thin, frizzy white hair. Her glasses were perched on the end of her nose. She got up from her desk and came over.

She looked over the top of her glasses at us. "You must have your student identification in the slot on top of the monitor," she said. "These computers are only for university students.

"I have my card right here," Debbie said. She took her driver's license out of her bag, and put it in the slot.

"Just a minute," the librarian said. She picked up the card and started reading it.

Debbie snapped her fingers. The lady looked at the card with this puzzledexpression. "I must be getting old," she said. "For a second, I thought . . . " Her voice mumbled off and she stared at the license for the longest time. Then she put it in the slot. "Never mind. Your card's up to date. Just don't forget to renew it in September." She walked off.

We could hardly stop ourselves from giggling.

"That was lucky," Debbie said.

"What do you mean?"

"She was hard to hex. I had to get pretty deep into her mind to find out what the student card looked like so I could make her see that card instead of my driver's license."

"You were so cool," I said.

"I love hexing people like that. My stepfather calls them officious. He hates them. So do I."

I clicked on my favorite search engine and started looking for scientists who were linked to Satanism. After about an hour, we found three. Two were members of The International Satanic Church, and one was a Christian.

"He won't be with the Satanists," I said. "The Man of Knowledge would be against Satan."

"Go to the page about the Christian guy," Debbie said.

I did. The name that came up was Johan Von Helgermeyer. "Look," I said. "It says he exorcised a demon from a priest in June 1999. It's him."

"There has to be more." Debbie said. She took the mouse from me and scrolled to the bottom of the page. She clicked on a link called biographical information. That told us Johan was twenty-four, earned his Ph.D in quantum physics from Harvard when he was sixteen, won a Nobel prize when he was eighteen, and drove a 2000 Ferrari.

"Sounds like a nerd who bought a Ferrari to look cool," I said.

Debbie pointed to the bottom of the screen. "Go to that link there, the one that says, Johan Helgermeyer Fan Club."

"He's got a fan club?"

"Probably because he exorcised a demon. Click on it."

The page I got said the fan club was unofficial because Johan hated fan clubs. It also told us Johan went to the Wayfarer's Tavern in Phoenix every day after work at 4:40 p.m. to have a brandy.

"Now all we have to do is find his address," I said.

We never found it. There was nothing in the phone book or in the Internet White Pages.

I wrote down the address of the Wayfarer's Tavern. "We have to go to Phoenix," I said.

"We better make sure this Johan Helgermeyer is the Man of Knowledge first," Debbie said. "I want to keep looking."

"I know he's the right one. I trust my intuition, and I trust God."

"So we're simply going to go up to him and say we're the chosen ones? What if he doesn't believe us? I mean, even if we use our powers in front of him, he might think we're just witches."

"We don't have to use our powers to prove who we are."

"How else would he believe us?"

"The prophecy says the a brunette (which is obviously you) must say certain words to the Man of Knowledge, words only he and the chosen ones would know. That'll prove to him who we are." I took a piece of paper out of my bag. "I've written the words down here so you can memorize them."

"Why didn't you tell me this before?" Debbie said.

"The prophecy said I was not allowed to tell you about the words until we found the Man of Knowledge."

"That's pretty stupid."

"Don't get shitty with me. We have to do things the way the prophecy says."

"Give me the paper." She snatched it from my hands and read it:

Melkiresha will come forth

To place his seed into
.
The women chosen of God

Behold, the chosen ones

Shall find the Man of Knowledge

And Melkiresha may be cursed and destroyed

She read it again to, to herself. "What's this may be stuff at the end?"

"It means we might not be able to send Satan back, that we must have . . . "

"What kind of shitty prophecy is that? I thought a prophecy was supposed to guarantee that as long as you followed the directions, you'd win."

"You don’t get it, Debbie. Maybe means that if we don't have faith, we won't beat Satan even if we do follow directions."

"That's just great," Debbie said.

* * *

We were bored. We had been sitting for an hour in my VW, parked in front of the Wayfarer's Tavern in Phoenix.

"What if he doesn't show?" Debbie said.

"Stop worrying. You know the Internet said he always stops here."

A few minutes later Johan's Ferrari pulled into the parking lot. The guy who got out looked like a male model. He had the coolest shades, and the height-of-fashion pants, shirt, tie, and shoes. Everything was color-coordinated with his leather jacket.

"He's drop-dead gorgeous," Debbie said.

We waited for him to go into the tavern, but when we tried to go in ourselves the bouncer stopped us. "Let's see the ID," he said.

Debbie winked at him and held out her hand. He started reading it like it was our IDs. "Have a nice evening," he said.

We went in and saw Johan sitting alone in a booth at the end of the room. We walked up to him and in one motion sat down.

"I have something I'm supposed to say to you," Debbie said.

"Well, say it."

She repeated the words she had memorized.

"Very good," he said. He drained his glass and put it in the middle of the table. "Now levitate the glass."

"There's people in here," Debbie said.

He waved his hand at the whole room. "They won't remember."

Debbie gripped the edge of the table and stared at the glass.

"Not you," he said. "Let blondie do it."

"My name's Elaine, not blondie," I said. I decided to teach him a lesson.

I picked the ice cubes out of the glass and put them in my hand. I held them out in front of me and looked up at him.

He picked the glass up. "I said levitate the glass, not the ice."

"Too easy," I said. I concentrated on the ice cubes and made them slowly float off my hand and stop, level with Johan's eyes. Then I made them slowly circle his head. I didn't think that was very impressive, so I made them speed up until they were going so fast around his head they were a blur. Johan didn't do anything except to look at me, kind of disgusted like.

I got mad because I knew he was playing a game with me. So I flung the ice cubes back to the opposite end of the room, made them float there a second, then made them fly straight at his face. I stopped them one-half inch from the tip of his nose. He didn't flinch. Debbie looked at me, her mouth open.

I plucked the ice cubes (half-melted by now) out of the air and put them back in the glass. I looked in his eyes, and I felt this . . . force. I had to look away.

"So you think you're a clever girl?" he said. He dumped the ice cubes out of the glass, and pointed at them. They boiled away into steam without leaving any marks on the wood table. He then stared at the glass and it shot off the table and started twisting and weaving all around us. It got going so fast Debbie and I had to duck heaps.

When it was over, he smiled. "You did well, Elaine . . . for a beginner. You're a smart-ass, but I respect your courage."

* * *

The outside of Johan's house didn't look ritzy, but when you went through the big double doors it was awesome. The floor of the entry was marble, and polished so much I could see my face in it. On each side of the room was a staircase circling up to an inside balcony. From where I was standing, I could see the doors of the rooms upstairs.

"Look at the ceiling," Debbie said.

I looked up and all I could see was a huge glass dome. I could see clouds through it.

After we finished gawking at the ceiling, Johan took us between the two staircases and down these steps to the living room, which was awesome. It had carpet so thick and white I felt guilty wearing my shoes on it.

The room looked like a rich person's house you see in the movies. It smelled of leather, marble, and polished wood. The only decorations were a few artistic statues and three Salvador Dali paintings. (I recognized them from art class).

Anyway, we went into a little alcove off the main part of the room. It had a bar, but not one of those cheap ones. Johan's bar was solid wood, with a long thick polished marble top and brass rails on the bottom for a person's feet. To the left of the bar Johan had a wine rack with heaps of different types of wine. Behind the bar there was a mirror, and under the mirror, all these upside down bottles of brandy, vodka, and whiskey sticking into measuring dispensers like in a night-club.

We sat on the bar stools and Johan offered us some wine.

"I rather have whiskey, neat," Debbie said.

Johan filled a shot glass from the whiskey bottle under the mirror, then poured two glasses of wine, one for himself and one for me.

I picked up my wine glass.

"Wait," he said. (It was an order, not a request.)

"What for?" I said.

"I want to pray," he said. He took hold of both our hands, then made Debbie and I hold hands too. "First," he said, "I want to give us time for our own meditations." He bowed his head . . . and didn't say anything. (I felt a bit stupid. I mean, here we were with a guy we didn't know, holding hands over a bar.)
Finally, he took a deep breath, and in a voice like one of those ministers on TV, said:
,
The Lord my God is one Lord
Now and forever.
Lord,
We come to do battle not just against
Flesh and blood
But against the Devil incarnate
Lord
Please give your warriors
The power to cast Satan
Into the lake of fire and brimstone
To be tormented for 1000 years
I ask in the name of Jesus
Amen.
,.,..

I sat up and let go of their hands. Debbie didn't let go of his.

"I never thought of myself as a warrior," Debbie said "The idea frightens me."


© Copyright 2017 Barry Shrapnel. All rights reserved.

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