Plugs

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Archive for the ‘Demon Catchers’ Category

(Not Just) Knee Deep

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Everything happened exactly as the night porter had described. A whirlwind erupted out of the marble floor, clawed hands ripping out of it. They caught the light of this world awfully clearly.

We behaved like sensible, fearless exorcists and ran full tilt for the door. Outside, the heat of Istanbul brought us up short.

“At least the tourist season is almost over,” sighed the director.

I answered, “No exorcist worth their bell stays to be killed. Now I think we have the measure of it. If you will excuse us.”

I too began to have doubts after the second day, though. Octavia plowed through manuscript after Byzantine manuscript, searching out references to whirlwind demons haunting Hagia Sophia. But I didn’t want a reference, I wanted a solution, and I didn’t think medieval people had found one, though they had had much more experience with demons than modern ones have.

Iskender, Octavia’s husband, just shrugged and made us more Turkish coffee. He does ghosts, not demons.

Me? I did my meditations, sought out the spirit messengers, read everything I could find in English, Italian, and my newly learnt Greek and Arabic, scribbled frantic notes to the sound of my pirated tapes. The neighborhood bootlegger specialized in funk and disco, stuff I’d never wanted to listen to back home. Here, I was getting an education.

The third day, high on caffeine, P Funk, and medieval Greek, I had a brainstorm.

“Let’s just try it,” I said to Octavia in the cab back to Hagia Sophia.

“You’re mad,” she said.

“Yes, yes—I know! But let’s just try it,” I repeated.

“I’m standing behind you. And let’s keep the director out of this.”

So we stood there, or rather I stood there, in the center of that grand and ancient marble paving, with a beat-up boombox. I waited for the whirlwind to begin. It swirled out of the stone right on time. I saw the claws flick and flash.

I knelt and pressed “play.”

George Clinton did what I couldn’t do. The whirling claws couldn’t take the rhythm. They spun faster, flung out further.

“You’re feeding it!” Cried Octavia.

“I don’t think so,” I said.

Suddenly the demons gave it up to the funk. There was a gorgeous explosion of dust. Then silence.
I still haven’t figured out why it worked. Perhaps they didn’t have anything like that way back when.

Emilio’s Case

Monday, May 19th, 2008

The case is slightly longer than a man’s hand—call it a man’s hand and two knuckles—bound in black leather, with enameled iron fittings. It could be tucked in the pocket of a well-tailored jacket.

Near the catch, someone long ago stamped and gilded the name G. G. Della Torre. Above it are other names, some stamped and gilded, some cut carefully into the leather, some painted in white ink in the script of other days: G. L. Della Torre, Martegno D. T., Stefano Strozzi Della Torre, and more, a long column of names, and at the bottom of the list, close to the hinges, in an elegant gilded script, Emilio Roberto Della Torre.

The back of the case has a deep scar in the leather, and there are singe marks near the hinges, so with a bit of Milanese history we can guess what the case is for, but only when it’s open can we be sure. Only then do they show themselves, neatly stowed each in their compartments: Bell, book, and candle.

The book is singed like the case. The pages are of good hemp paper, edges finger-dirty with the ages. Many hands have written recipes and rituals for contending with all that humankind can raise from the depths, with notes in the margins, and notes on the notes. “Ineffective variant of early Byzantine exorcism.” “Works well on lost spirits.”

The bell is small and brass and battered, but gives a sweet sound, a little-sister laugh that mocks the big sister church bells of the city. It’s easy to imagine how a demon might rise to the surface at the sound of such a bell; anyone would.

The candle is a stub of yellow beeswax. A box of matches from Ristorante Nobu, the good sushi place in via Manzoni, is wedged in next to it.

The case holds a few other items, like 13 silver nails, each individually strapped to the wood, an excellent fountain pen, and a grocery list written in a grandmother’s hand—”500g of grana, eggs, butter, olive al forno, tickets to La Scala for next Friday, Nonno’s razors, stamps”—this last obviously tucked in by a busy grandson, this Emilio.

But let us put the case away, back in the drawer in his desk; we are not ready to face what he faces.

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