The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Demon and Miss Tumblety
by Naching T. Kassa
Gladys Tumblety stomped down the stairs to her basement retreat and lit the candle on the table. The flame flickered to life, casting its azure glow over the room and illuminating the collection of bottles on the shelf nearby.
Gladys poured the contents of each bottle into the white china bowl on the table. She mixed the mélange of blood, hair, and saliva with a wooden spoon, then poured it into the center of the pentagram she’d painted on the floor.
“Rise, Azazel!” she shrieked.
A curtain of orange flame rose before her. It hung in the air for several seconds before dropping to the floor, revealing a scarlet-colored, horned demon. His left horn seemed to be shorter than the other and the point had been blunted. He crossed his arms and arched an eyebrow.
“Another bad day at work, Gladys?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied, pacing before him. “Mr. Roundley demanded I pay him the rent in advance today.”
“And, if that weren’t enough, he told me he was raising my rent. I have to pay $10 a month more now. That’s $50 a month!”
“I really despise that man. I wish he would just drop dead.”
“Didn’t you hear me, Azazel. I want that man to drop dead.”
“Are you sure this time?”
“As sure as I’ll ever be. Make him drop dead right now!”
Azazel raised a hand in the air.
“Wait!” Gladys cried. “Wait, no don’t kill him. I want him to suffer.”
Azazel yawned. “How?”
“Hot coals on his bottom. I want him to feel as though his buns are burning.”
Azazel raised a hand.
“Wait! No, no hot coals. Something worse. Bad breath. I want his breath to smell like the devil’s own flatulence.”
Azazel stared at her.
“Azazel, what are you waiting for?”
“You. You’re going to stop me.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. I’ll raise my hand to snap my fingers and you’ll tell me to wait. You always tell me to wait.”
“I do not.”
“Yes, you do. I have been your personal demon for over a year, and you never let me do anything.”
“That’s not true. What about Lucy Faversham? I told you to cover her face with pimples.”
“And before I could do it, you decided it was too mean. You told me to stop, and you sent me away.”
“Yes. Just like you did with Chelsea Bellingham, Clara Worth, Jon Hamilton, and every other person on this earth who’s attracted your ire. You’re using me to sublimate, Gladys, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
“You mean, I haven’t used you for anything?”
“Well, I’ve been a sounding board, but that’s about it. Let’s face it, Gladys. You just don’t have a mean bone in your body. I’m sorry to say this, but you’re a crushing bore.”
The demon sighed. “You know, this deal just isn’t working out. I’m going to have to return your soul.”
“Oh, no. Please, don’t do that. I’ll find a use for you. I really will.”
“I’m sorry, Gladys. It’s not you it’s me.”
“What am I going to do? I get so angry. Summoning you is the only way I can alleviate my anger.”
“How about we get something better. Not only will I give you back your soul, I’ll also give you this gift.”
Azazel waved his hand in the air and a typewriter materialized on the table. Gladys clasped her hands together, and admired the pristine keys and unused ribbon.
Azazel waved his hand at the shelf of bottles. They vanished, only to be replaced by paper and fresh typewriter ribbon.
“Sit at the table, Gladys,” he said.
Paper, white as bone, appeared in the machine.
“This is not your usual typewriter,” Azazel said. “The paper was formed from the bones of Shakespeare, the ribbon is soaked in the blood of Poe. The keys…well…they’re all my own.” He pointed to his left horn and the blunt point.
“What do I do with it?”
“You are a natural storyteller, Gladys. I think you’ll figure out what to do with it.” He turned to go, then halted. “Just so you know, if you decide you don’t like the story, you must burn the page.”
“Burn it? Why?”
He grinned. “You’ll see. Goodbye, Gladys. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope I never see you again.”
He vanished in a puff of smoke.
Gladys straightened her skirt and adjusted the cameo on her high collar. She turned to the typewriter and her fingers found the appropriate keys.
“Mr. Roundley was a wicked fellow,” she typed. “Because of this his bottom was scorched by hot coals and—”
A scream sounded from upstairs forcing Gladys to her feet.
“My bottom!” The male voice cried. “It’s on fire!”
“Oh dear!” Gladys cried.
“Miss Tumblety! Miss Tumblety, help! I need water! Water right away!”
Gladys pulled the sheet from the typewriter and held it above the candle flame. She paused.
“Miss Tumblety, please! Water!”
“Just a minute, Mr. Roundley,” she said pulling the sheet away and dashing up the stairs. “Perhaps, we can make a deal.”
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Naching T. Kassa:
Crystal Lake Publishing proudly presents Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.
Edited by the Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Mercedes M. Yardley, Arterial Bloom is a literary experience featuring sixteen stories from some of the most compelling dark authors writing today.
With a foreword by HWA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Linda D. Addison, you are invited to step inside and let the grim flowers wind themselves comfortably around your bones.