666 Things to Do With a Demon by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead
General Release Date: 5th October 2021
Word Count: 12,431
Book Length: SHORT STORY
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
When Cecily arrives at her new home with her fiancé, Raf, she’s looking forward to a happy life with all her fears behind her. No longer a put-upon drudge, she is loved and free, ready to explore their new world.
After a summer spent battling the forces of darkness, Raf’s happy to get back to the garden of his chaotic ancestral home. There are flowers to tend and vegetables to harvest and he’s determined to create a perfect sanctuary for Cecily to call her own.
But when a demon made of glass escapes from an ancient church window, the peace of their idyllic village is shattered. Neighbour turns against neighbour, crops turn bad in the soil and flies blacken the air. As a child lingers between life and death, bewitched by the glass demon’s bite, Raf and Cecily must remind the villagers of what really matters and unite the community in a battle to send their infernal tormentor back to hell.
Peri sat cross-legged on the floor in the middle of her chalked-out pentagram with Grizelda, her sleek black cat, on her knee. Supposedly this made looking for a boyfriend more effective, but all she was doing was swiping left on the app, with Grizelda occasionally intervening to swipe left for her. Why did none of the men on Spellr look even vaguely appealing? Some weren’t too bad. In fact, some were quite handsome, but they all lacked that certain something.
And Peri had no idea what that something was.
All her friends were getting married, one by one, and Peri’s wardrobe was bulging with bridesmaids’ dresses. But there seemed to be no sign of her ever adding a wedding dress to her collection.
Her friends had tried to pair her off, usually with their own brothers or their husbands’ friends. They told her she couldn’t keep hunting for the perfect man, because he just didn’t exist. But Peri couldn’t help it. Life was too short to settle for second best.
But the Assistant Great Wizard’s Halloween ball was that evening and Peri still didn’t have a date. She could have turned up as a merry spinster, but she just wanted to be able to sweep up the grand steps with a devastatingly handsome man on her arm.
Is it too much to ask for?
She got up to her feet and paced back and forth across the room. Spellr was hopeless. Her friends’ matchmaking attempts had been hopeless. Then her gaze fell on the pentagram.
What if I—?
She’d once found a spell that would conjure a demon who would materialise in the form of the most perfect man one could ever meet. He would exist for the night, then by morning would be gone—much like Peri’s last experience with the opposite sex. But at least he’d be her demon for a few hours, because after she’d summoned him, he would be hers, to follow her bidding. At least, within a carefully defined set of rules, because no one wanted to upset a demon.
Peri switched on her computer and flipped through a folder of photographs she’d taken on her various visits to the National Witchcraft Archives. She found the image she wanted, of crabbed handwriting on a page of parchment. A very rare spell, one that had been assumed lost, or known only to sorcerers of rank like the Assistant Great Wizard, until Peri had found it.
It hadn’t been in the grimoire’s table of contents, and had looked like nothing more than a blank page to start with. But slowly the words had appeared, as if bubbling up from the parchment beneath, and quite by accident Peri had found herself staring at Ye Spelle to Summune A Daemon Lover.
Or, as it had been whispered about at university, The Sex Demon Spell.
Peri hadn’t photographed the page with any intention to use the spell. It had been more of a trophy find. But that was then. Now she needed the perfect man for the party, and if that meant summoning a demon lover for the evening, so be it.
She made her preparations, lighting candles at the five points of her pentagram and sweeping the space with a bundle of lavender. She set up her cauldron on a trivet in the middle of the pentagram and added the vast number of ingredients demanded by the spell, including an Eve root and an Adam root in a pouch, rosemary oil and red rose petals, all stirred with a length of unicorn horn.
Which would have been easy had Grizelda not decided to help. She rubbed herself around Peri’s legs and nearly knocked her over. She sent a candle flying, spilling wax onto the floorboards. She climbed up the shelves of grimoires and ingredients and batted at the jars. She leapt with no warning over Peri’s head, hell-bent on catching a spider.
And brought down a shelf with a clatter.
“What are you doing?” Peri folded her arms as Grizelda nonchalantly rolled about on her back, tummy uppermost, and proceeded to have a wash. “Some witch’s cat you are!”
Peri crawled about on her hands and knees with a dustpan and brush, trying to clear up the mess. At least the jars were old and sturdy—none had broken, even though some had lost their lids, spilling their contents all over the floor.
But Grizelda continued in her efforts to be as unhelpful as possible. She walked through powdered centaur tears and chased a bead of quicksilver.
“Griz!” Peri picked the cat up and Grizelda slipped out of her clutches, purring as she slunk onto Peri’s shoulders and draped herself there. “Right, let’s hope you behave now.”
Peri carried on clearing up, balancing the cat as she worked. But when she went back to the cauldron, the ingredients had turned into a revolting soup. Peri gave it a stir, trying not to inhale the rancid stench.
Will this work?
She intoned the words of the spell anyway, hoping things might not be quite as bad as they seemed.
Lightning cracked overhead and she stepped back, holding the unicorn horn aloft and chanting the last line of the spell again over the motorboat roar of Grizelda’s purr.
“Demon I summon thee! Asmodeus, come!”
Peri fully expected the room to fill with the smell of scorching, swiftly followed by her perfect man.
But nothing happened.
Rain battered against her windows now, the storm growing keener all the time.
No demon appeared.
As Peri blew out the last candle, Grizelda hopped down from her shoulders and twined around her legs.
“You can’t really be my date, Grizelda, sorry…”
And now it was time to get ready for the party.
About the Authors
Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper's.
Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.
Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House.
Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.
She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.
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