“Banished Demons Help-line. This is Gaguraxx the Annihilator. How may I help you?”
The voice on the other end of the line managed the seemingly impossible task of sounding both bowel-wrenchingly terrifying and timid. “Er, hello,” it started and then quickly stopped.
“There’s no need to be afraid. You’re with friends here. We can help you. Can you tell me your name?”
“It’s Jyfyskrunifordkanifdraugbast.” He answered.
“ Jyfyskrunifordkanifdraugbast? Now there’s a mouthful,” replied Gaguraxx. “Tell me friend, is there a nickname I can use?”
“Ma calls me Jeff.”
“Okay then, Jeff. Do you want to talk about anything? Are you having problems re-acclimatising to life here in hell? Girlfriend moved on, anything like that?”
“No. Everyone was waiting for me. They’re all supportive, it’s just…”
The voice stopped in mid-sentence. Gaguraxx could here sobbing through his headset. “It’s just not Earth is it, brother?” He said.
“No. I had not been on Earth long but I felt free. It was my first time. I could rip and rend and tear. It was a joyous time. I simply couldn’t get enough. Some dumb college kid had found a Grimoire in the library and called me up to extract revenge on his girlfriend.”
“A college kid? Are you sure?” interrupted Gagurraxx
“Yeah, why?” Jeff replied.
“Just not sure I’d ever seen one in a library when I was last on Earth. Anyway, please continue.”
“Like I said, he was after a simple revenge, nothing too fancy. Just a scare, really, no harm done. But he summoned me. I couldn’t just do a Halloween trick and vamoose. I got the clan rep to think of. We’re not into parlour games or terror-lite. We’re full-fat, high-tar, double-strength demons, you know.”
“I see you picked up some of the culture while you were there, Jeff. Tell me, what clan are you?”
“I’m a Flesh-Shredder,” he said with great gusto.
Despite his gloom Gaguraxx could tell Jeff was proud of his heritage. “Boy, did that kid not know what he was getting into. What did you do to his girl?” he asked.
“Well, I had to make her suffer first, so I tracked down her Ma and Pa and used them to decorate her college dorm.”
“Nice touch. Imaginative. You say you had never been there before? That’s usually the kind of thing a seasoned veteran would have done.”
“Yeah, it was my first. And thanks for the compliment.”
“So how did you know what to do?” Gaguraxx asked.
“I studied hard. Since I was a cubling I’d wanted to travel, see places, you know. And Earth, well that’s the place every demon wants to be. Sure the firepits can be spectacular, but it’s not action. I wanted the thrill, the adrenaline rush. I wanted to hear the rending. I wanted to make my folks proud of me.”
“So I looked to the humans for inspiration. I read through their horror books and watched their movies, decided to emulate a few of their worst ideas.”
“Great idea, Jeff. Let their darkest thoughts work against them,” Gaguraxx interrupted.
“Yeah, thanks again. Well, after the parents,” he continued, “I worked through her address book - she’d left it on the dresser when I did the extreme decorating. I found her best friends and sweetheart from high school and impaled them on a line of stakes out in front of the college.”
“Vlad the Impaler territory. Nice!” Gaguraxx said in an impressed tone.
Jeff continued. “Then I created a fake baby demon to explode out of the chest of her favourite teacher right on his own desk in front of class.”
“Alien, right? Now there was a movie. You picked a classic, brother.”
“I went berserk. I admit it. I got hooked on the killing. I burned and crucified and boiled and electrocuted and even shredded at times - you got to stay true to your roots, after all.”
“Yeah, when you got claws like that it would be criminal not to use ’em,” Gaguraxx agreed.
“It was glorious. But after a while I got sloppy. One or two survived. And, unfortunately, one of them recognised me. Bastard got a priest in to do the exorcism and…” Jeff started to cry again.
“And so here you are, back in hell,” Gaguraxx finished the sentence for him. “Back here when all you want is to be on Earth. I know where you are coming from. I’ve been on Earth four times. One time in the Fifteenth century I spent nine years terrorising villagers in Central Europe—oh, happy days they were. But despair not, my friend. Your days of killing are not over just because you were banished.”
“They’re not?” Jeff asked.
“No. Banishment need not last an eternity. New summonings occur every day. There are a lot of pissed off and hurt people back on Earth. And many of these people are vulnerable to suggestion, if you get my meaning.”
“I don’t,” Jeff admitted.
Gaguraxx continued. “We have a network of agents on Earth, spreading the Bad Word, so to speak. These people run support groups and help lines there - just like this one. Only they’re run for us. They look for the suggestible types. A word in the right ear at the right moment, maybe mentioning a Grimoire in a library for instance, and the door between us and Earth is opened for a demon to cross over.”
“So I could go back?” Jeff asked eagerly.
“Heavens, yes,” exclaimed Gaguraxx. “A demon with your imagination is a real find for us. You’ll be a real shoe-in for a quick return. And I may be able to help you prepare for your next trip. You know, make it last longer - make the kills more enjoyable, and make it harder for their police to trace to you. And, more importantly, harder for their priests to identify your race. They can’t exorcise what they can’t recognise.”
“I’d like that, what do I need to do?”