The black disk rested on the massive white altar in stark contrast. Gideon bowed his head, closed his eyes, and balled his hands into fists. He crossed his arms over his chest and began to pray to the deity that was personified in a statue of quartz and gold behind the altar. Nausea set in, and he could smell something burning. He opened his eyes and looked up without moving his body. He continued to pray aloud, slowly growing in volume. The disk was bubbling with sickly-looking grey liquid that was thick enough he couldn’t see through. The foam began to expand violently upward.
A dome formed, and as more foam shot upward, a face became visible, silently screaming in agony. The face had no eyes and slitted nostrils, but no protruding nose. It’s mouth had no lips, and opened like a fish’s mouth on a hinge. Loud hissing filled the room as the foam expanded farther, and the hissing became louder. Gideon’s prayers increased in volume to match, and a long neck formed, cutting off the ear-less head. The louder Gideon prayed, the faster the being formed. Fingers slowly appeared, knobby and elongated. They were tipped in horrible claws that dripped blackness. The blackness hissed against the surface of the altar.
Still, Gideon continued. Arms began to rise, and the shoulders appeared. The hissing continued, until the being’s arms and chest slowly rose. The hissing became screams of agony, hoarse and high.
Two nearby priests stepped back, terrified as the calm man continued to pray over the rapidly-appearing entity. They raised their holy symbols, intent on banishing the grotesque thing. Strong hands on their shoulders stopped them as they looked back to see Gideon’s friend Eitan. The man looked made of brick and bristle, and his face always looked stern and cold. He gave each of their shoulders a squeeze before he spoke. “Don’t. He knows what he does.”
Gideon did not hear the giant man’s praise, and continued to pray louder, lauding the strength of the god of the temple, asking for boons of health and tranquility for others. He prayed for strength to fight the agents of sin and evil. The dark, being continued to form, and began to push itself up from the altar. It formed more quickly, and between its agonized screams, tried to lunge at Gideon with rapidly-forming teeth of grey that dripped black. Gideon did not flinch, even as the being’s spittle burned through his silk tunic and burned a blister onto his flesh. He began to shout his prayers in a strong, unwavering voice. Suddenly, he shouted “Amen!” and drew a cross that connected the thing’s head to waist, then shoulder to shoulder. “Now, we speak.” he said, his voice deep and quiet.
The being born of darkness snarled and struggled to pull more of itself through. It did not budge. “Release!” it shrieked. “Release!”
Gideon simply smiled as he pulled tobacco and paper from a belt pouch and rolled a cigarette. He paid no mind as the creature continued to shriek for freedom. He licked the paper to secure the roll, then walked to one side to light the leaf-filled tube of paper on a candle. He returned casually to the altar and inhaled deeply, then blew a puff of smoke at the creature imprisoned there.
The being sucked up the toxic smoke through openings that appeared in its skin. It hissed out steam into Gideon’s face– unwanted waste. “Why do you feed me, captor?” it demanded, its tone filled with curiosity now.
“I feed you because you must be strong to do my bidding.” came a casual answer.
“A mere human seeks to control me?” The being scoffed. “You know not my power.” It raised a hand, then dove it, claws-first into its own chest, only to pull out a long blade with neither handle, nor point. It dripped like the thing’s claws. It aimed the blunt, cut-off end at Gideon. “I will destroy you for your pride.” It laughed, sending spittle flying.
Gideon continued to stand strong. He drew a single dagger from his belt. “Be strong.” he urged, his voice on the edge of insult. He inhaled, then blew another puff of toxic smoke at the thing.
Finally, a priest spoke. “Please, do not smoke in here!” he urged, his voice pained.
“I know, I know. It stains the ceiling and makes the place smell bad. Trust me, you’ll be too busy cleaning other things to worry about a little smoke.” Gideon held onto his dagger as he watched the creature absorb smoke, then exhale steam. Each of the little holes looked like a small mouth of some kind of sucking creature. He felt strangely aroused by the sight of those tiny maws. Laughter slowly fought forth. Each time the holes opened and closed, he felt a throb in his groin.
“You enjoy my appearance.” the thing accused.
“I’m a bit twisted.” Gideon admitted with a chuckle. “Shall we get down to business?” He grinned. “It’s simple. I feed you for a time, and you just stay still. After that, I send you back home, where it isn’t so damn cold.” He chuckled. “Deal?”
The demon laughed. “You are foolish.”
“My kind always are. Is it a deal, or not?”
“What will you do during the time I stand still?” It demanded with suspicion. A bony brow ridge on its head lowered, creating the illusion that it had holes where eyes should be.
“I will smoke.” He smirked.
“Very well. I shall take part.”
“Glad to hear it.” He inhaled, then exhaled around the burning tube, making a smoke ring around the thing’s head. It sighed in happiness as it grew. Gideon continued to smoke, and the being soon became enraptured by the sweet pollution that fed it.
Finally, as the being let out a childlike coo of happiness, Gideon raised his dagger to his ear and held it by the point, then casually let fly. It struck true, landing in the right side of the being’s chest. A shriek filled the air, and stone rained down from the ceiling as the sound caused crumbling. Gideon stood still and finished his cigarette, then dropped it onto the plush carpet, only to snuff it with his boot. He turned and walked away as the being melted back into the disk, then burst into flame. “Come on, Eitan. We have payment to collect.” He chuckled. “This time, I got a quote on repairs first, so we make a profit.”
Eitan chuckled. “If you keep doing that, we might stop getting customers.”
“Doubtful. I’m the best there is at what I do.”
“Liar. you’re just the one that looks most like an action movie hero.”
“You say that like there’s a difference.”
“I doubt the ‘best’ gets an erection when they see a masculine demon.”
Gideon looked up at his giant of a friend, then laughed. “They just don’t enjoy their jobs well enough, then.”