“And lift and kick. Lift and kick. Ten more seconds, fellas, you got this! Lift and kick and lift and kick and almost there, just another lift and kick and break. Great job everyone!” Kelly gave the group an excited clap, and a couple of the demons beamed at her.
They were starting to like her praise. Or at least, she thought they did. At first the demons had been pretty dismissive of her, only following her instructions because Chemosh had been standing in the corner and glowering at them. He’d stopped coming after the first week, which had been nice.
Except now that she wanted him here, she had no idea how to contact him. She’d tried the phone number he’d called her on initially, but it was a burner.
And she needed to talk to him. On top of what had happened last night, she’d woken up this morning with her shoulder length hair the color of fire, white at the roots and gradually darkening to blood red at the tips. It was a striking look, to be sure, but it was also a change she couldn’t hide easily. The contacts weren’t working as well as they could, and she’d had…urges.
There wasn’t a better word for them. But walking down the street, she’d seen people, and she’d found herself wanting to brush against them, like she had with Sean. See their sins. Some of them were stronger than others – one man in particular she couldn’t get out of her head. He had been a slightly nebbish looking man wearing a suit and with a pencil-thin mustache, and she’d almost given in and touched him.
Even now, she could still feel him, like he was calling her somehow.
She grabbed one of the demons as they walked towards the door. His human form was that of a pudgy man, but in his demonic form he was a corpulent mass, standing on six tiny legs that looked better suited to an infant, with a single eye in the center of his chest. “Belphegor, right?” she smiled at him.
He nodded back, a thick smile crossing his face as he reached out with pudgy fingers to shake her hand. “Kelly. Thank you. Hmmm. I’m already down to six hundred thirty nine pounds.”
She shook the sweaty appendage, marvelling at the fact that in his normal form it was a crab-like pincer. “So glad to hear it. I was wondering if you could do me a favor?”
“Ahh, well, favors are difficult. We don’t do much for free, you know. Demons and all that.”
“Right, of course.” She pursed her lips. “What would it cost me to get word to Chemosh, then?”
Belphegor’s smile widened, reminding her of the second toothy maw he had where a normal man’s belly button would be. “That, my dear, is not a favor, hmmm. Carrying word to my Lord and Master is a duty of mine.”
Kelly let out a sigh of relief. She didn’t know if she wanted to do more demonic favors…although the first one was working out well so far. Besides the transformations. And the ‘sinsense,’ for lack of a better word. “Great, awesome. Could you let him know I’d like to speak to him as soon as possible. There’s some things about the contract I’m…not sure I fully understood.”
“But of course, my dear, but of course. It may take, hmmm, a day before he can respond, of course. Chemosh is very, very…busy. Important member of, that is to say, the Infernal Hierarchy. Very important. Hmmm.”
Kelly forced a smile onto her face. But I need to talk to him now! “Great, thank you so much. See you tomorrow Belphegor!”
“See you, hmmm, tomorrow, Kelly.” Belphegor shuffled out.
Tomorrow felt like an eternity. She spent some time fumigating the studio. Sweaty demons left an odor something like meat left to rot on a pile of sulfur, although she found it less offensive now than she had at first. Oh god I hope that’s not how I smell. She’d just about got it smelling normal when the door chimed open.
She whirled around, but it wasn’t Chemosh. It was Shannon, her old roommate. “Kelly! You ready for lunch?”
Shit. She had completely forgotten they had plans. “Uh-”
“Oh wow, your hair! I love the look, it’s very striking!:” Shannon walked over and then her brow furrowed.
Kelly realized she’d left the contacts out.
“Girl, what did you do to your eyes? Please don’t tell me you got an iris tattoo, that shit can leave you blind!”
“Oh my god, it can?” Kelly latched onto the excuse. “I hadn’t…wow, I guess I got lucky!”
“You okay? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad business is booming, but…dying your hair, getting tattoos on your eyes?”
Kelly smiled as best she could. “Guess I’m taking to freedom a bit harder than expected.” She watched Shannon’s eyes track down her arm to her elbow, and Kelly felt her lips thin. “I’m still clean,” she said, harder than she expected.
Shannon winced at being caught. “Sorry, it’s just…”
“No, Shannon, I’m sorry. You were just worried. I swear though, I’m not turning in my five year badge.” Kelly pulled out the key to show the medallion still dangling there. “My last class ran a bit late, sorry. Come back to my place so I can shower and change and then we’ll go?”
“Sure thing.” Shannon’s smile returned. “I want to hear all about this Geek class you’re leading now. What’s it like?”
Kelly smiled at her. “It’s nothing like I expected, I can tell you that…”
The story Kelly told Shannon had enough fo the truth to be plausible. They were demon LARPers, trying to get into shape for some kind of big battle. They were in the kind of shape people who spent most of their time around tables pretending to be action heroes usually were, but since they had just joined this LARP they wanted to get into shape. They were super into it – they all used their demonic names even in class.
“That’s wild,” Shannon said. At this point they were at the coffee shop, sandwiches and drinks in front of them. “I bet they love your new look though. Fire hair, red eyes – do they spend the entire class leering at you?”
Kelly laughed. “Not really. I get some looks as they come in and leave, but they’re dedicated to getting fitter.”
Shannon caught Kelly up on her life too. When the company had gone under, she’d used her severance package to go into private practice as an accountant. Much more reliable income than personal trainer, and unlike Kelly Shannon actually liked doing the math. But it was boring as sin, at least in Kelly’s mind, and she found her mind wandering as Shannon began to drone.
Which means she wasn’t paying attention when Shannon reached out to grab her hand, noticing the new bracelet Kelly had bought with some of her demon money.
Immediately Kelly saw Shannon, but she was six, and hiding behind a car, her stuffed rabbit clutched close. She was staring at a burning house. Immediately Kelly knew what this was – Shannon had told her about it, the night her father had died. Why would I see this? It wouldn’t be a sin unless…oh no.
Shannon’s father came running out, flame still clinging to his body. Shannon hugged her rabbit closer, tears streaming down her face. Her father hadn’t been a good man, constantly drunk and often abusive. The drunkeness was why Shannon had been cooking her own meal. She’d wandered away from the stove.
“Call 911” The burning figure screamed.
Shannon just stared at him, still crying. Later on she’d tell therapists that it had been because she was so scared, but Kelly saw it right then, saw it in her soul.
She’d decided to let her father burn to death, although she hadn’t understood what she’d done at the time.
Kelly pulled her hand away from Shannon’s like it was red-hot. Shannon recoiled a bit, looking concerned. “Kelly? Is everything…where are you going?”
But Kelly was already standing up, already had thrown her money on the table. She muttered an apology and something about not feeling well before running out into the street. A burning desire to make Shannon feel what she’d done to her father was sitting in Kelly’s throat like heartburn, but on the other hand…she’d been a child. Did she really deserve that? Can a six year old really be guilty of murder?
She needed to do something though. The urge was building up within her, an irresistable force.
The man with the pencil mustache still called to her, and Kelly started wandering in his direction.
Let see what your sin is…maybe you deserve this.