Daring the Devil

 

(1994)

 

Christian Carter-Stephenson

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm still not entirely sure why I did it. I suppose the need to be reunited with my darling Mary-Jane overcame my better judgement. I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss her. Suffice it to say I was prepared to risk eternal damnation to get her back. Unfortuntely, although my soul is undoubtedly condemned, my efforts were all in vain.

Still, I am rather getting ahead of myself. To begin at the beginning, my name is Carl Young. You may have heard of me, as I am an occultist of some repute, even if I do say so myself. I have done extensive research into various supernatural phenomena and had several books published on the subject of witchcraft. As far as appearances are concerned, I suppose I am fairly average. I am just under six feet tall, with wavy black hair and jade coloured eyes. My complexion is by no means perfect and my nose is a little too big for my face, but other than that these is is absolutely nothing of note about me whatsoever. Except, perhaps, that I have let myself go since I lost Mary-Jane, and am now more than a little unkempt.

The starting point of this story is probably to tell you how my beloved angel died, but I find I am unable to write about this, and must rely instead on a newspaper article. As I have said, I am a prominent figure in my field, so the death of my fiance was covered in several of the national newspapers. The following is taken from The Times:

 

EXTRACT FROM THE TIMES, 4TH JULY 1963

Fatal road accident kills author's wife

By D. S______

Mary-Jane Young, the 28 year-old wife of renowned author and occultist, Carl Young, was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident yesterday afternoon. The sad event occurred just three months after the couple's controversial standing-stone wedding.

It would appear both Mr. and Mrs. Young were keen motorcylists. They were out riding together on a country lane near Ingatestone when the accident happened. Police officers who attended the scene report that the cause of the disaster was some spilt oil at a bend in the road.

It would appear that Young, who had been riding ahead of his wife, had fallen foul of the oil as he negotiated the turn. He managed to regain control of his sliding bike, but in doing so, caused his wife to swerve violently to avoid him. Her motorcycle skidded on the oil-slick and collided with an

oncoming lorry, killing her instantly. Unsurprisingly, the lorry sustained only minor damage and its driver was unhurt.

Young has declined to comment on the death of his wife, but sources close to him have revealed that he is devastated. It has even been suggested he holds himself responsible and feels he should have been the one who died. The news of his heartache comes as no surprise. He had previously described his marriage as "idyllic", and he should have had a bright future to look forward to with his attractive young wife.

Sadly more and more people are dying on our roads every year, and this worrying trend looks set to continue. How many more have to lose their lives before the government acts on its fine words and improves conditions?


Mary-Jane and Carl Young  
on their recent honeymoon.

The newspaper article uses the word "devastated" to describe my feelings about the death of my sweet Mary-Jane, but that doesn't even come close. Not only did I have the crushing pain of losing a loved one to deal with, but I also had to try and come to terms with the fact that it was my incompetence that caused her death. I would give anything to have a chance to relive that fateful day, so I could do things differently and die in her place, as I so rightly deserved, but sadly the world doesn't work that way. I doubt I will ever be able to forgive myself for what happened. I adored Mary-Jane more than anything in the world; more than life itself even. We could have built a wonderful future together - the kind of future most people can only dream about. Instead, she was taken from me, at the very beginning of our shared journey through life, and I am left to wallow in misery and loneliness.

In the immediate aftermath of Mary-Jane's death, I was constantly reminded of how much I missed her. I saw her beautiful face on every stranger that I passed in the street and heard her lilting laugh in the sigh of the wind. It was almost more than I could bear, but the worst was yet to come.

As I was packing Mary-Jane's things away into boxes a month or so after her death, I happened upon her diary. I was fully aware that taking advantage of this unique insight into my wife's innermost thoughts would be like rubbing salt into my wounds, but I couldn't help it. With a heavy heart and a trembling hand, I opened the diary and began to read. It was not long before the buoyant optimism I found brought tears to my eyes, and once the tears had started, I thought they would never stop.

In the interests of completeness, I have decided to disclose a few short extracts from the diary, to demonstrate to the reader how tragic Mary-Jane's untimely death really was. The comments given below are just a few examples of the many wonderful things she had to say about our marriage and her expectations for our future life together:

 
       
EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF MARY JANE YOUNG -
VARIOUS DATES

Since I married Carl, I am happier than I have ever been before. He is such a kind and generous man that I have everything I could ever wish for. It's no exaggeration when I say he treats me like royalty - catering to my every whim. He even refers to me as his princess. It sounds cliched, but I love him with all my heart - more! In fact, I am becoming increasingly aware as I write these words that I can't even begin to express the depth of my feelings for Carl. It is going to be so much fun to be married to such an adorable man...

 

To my considerable surprise, my darling Carl decided to come out horseriding with me again today. I have to admit he has shown some slight improvement from last week's disasterous attempt, but he still looks far from comfortable. I don't think he'll keep it up forever, although he seems pretty determined at the moment. It's all part of the effort he is making to be involved in as much of my life as he can.

I can see where he is coming from on this score, so I have been trying to play an active part in his hobbies as well. I have mentioned my lack of interest - or indeed belief - in the occult several times before, but there are plenty of other things that I do enjoy. One surprising example is motorcycling, which I can't seem to get enough of. Carl takes me out on his bike practically every weekend and I love every minute of it. Now the weather has turned nice again, we have started taking picnics with us, so we can spend entire days out and about in the beautiful countryside.

My parents would probably have a fit if they heard me say this, but my passion for motorcycling has grown to such an extent now that Carl is even talking about buying me my own bike. He says I should start small and work my way up, but I simply adore the amazing feeling of speed and liberation, so I am angling for something with a bit of power. Time will tell which of us will get their own way.

Motorcycling is just one of dozens of things Carl and I want to try together. Our future promises to be incredibly full...

 

I am so very excited today I can hardly sit still long enough to write this. Carl has promised to take me to Paris next Christmas, which is like a dream come true. Carl has been a few times before and says it is a hive of activity during the festive season. I can't wait to go up the Eiffel Tower - which Carl says is simply breathtaking - and to wander through the corridors of the Louvre. Then, there are all those exclusive boutiques, which my friend, Laura, has told me about. I should be able to get my hands on all the latest fashions in Paris, and once I do, I'll be able to look my best for Carl when we go to functions and parties. I have wanted to go to Paris for as long as I can remember, so I am counting the days. It is one of those places where there is so much to do you hardly know where to start. I know we won't be able to do everything, but we can certainly give it a try...

 

Carl and I spent this evening discussing future plans and have made a number of important decisions. Not that this was particularly difficult, as our outlook on life seems to be very similar. Once we have seen the world - Carl has promised to show me all the best places - and had our fill of excitement, we anticipate buying a little cottage in some remote part of the countryside and settling down. We have decided to have two children together, which we hope will be a boy and a girl. This seems slightly strange to me, as not so long ago, I wouldn't have even contemplated having children. I'm not sure what has led to my sudden change of heart,but with Carl, I am almost looking forward to it.

______________________________________


When Mary Jane died, I buried myself in my research. I was desperate to try and fill the gaping void her untimely death had left in my life. Anyone familiar with my work will know that this was a particularly prolific period for me, because I was so driven by my need to forget the past. It was my tireless research which was to offer me what appeared to be a means of escaping the terrible fate of life without my love. Sadly, this apparent glimmer of hope would prove to be a long way removed from what I expected. I was engrossed in a book about demonology, when the following passages caught my eye:

 

EXTRACTS FROM THE BOOK OF WITCHCRAFT AND BLACK MAGIC 
BY A. TANSEM


Demonology has always played an integral part in what we understand as black magic. It has been considered throughout history to be one of the greatest sources of power available to mankind, although it is widely accepted that there are a great number of risks involved in its use. Like so many other occult practices, the modern world frequently tries to relegate demonology to the realms of fantasy, but there are a number of well documented cases that appear to argue in its favour...

 

As we have already seen, many witches have claimed to be able to summon the denizens of hell to do their bidding. In doing this, they would use all manner or bizarre rituals and incantations. Perhaps not surprisingly, animal sacrifice was usually considered to be an essential part of such spells.

Of course, summoning a demon is far from easy. Apart from the basic, spell, it is also necessary to complete a number of other rituals to ensure the subject of the invocation is unable to harm the witch and is bound by the instructions it is given. To the uninformed it might appear there is considerable danger in opening a portal to hell, but practitioners of demonology insist that if everything is done correctly, it is possible to call up a demon with minimum personal risk. Once the demon is under your power, it can be ordered to give you your heart's desire.

The idea of having a demon fulfil your heart's desire may sound appealing, but it must be remembered there is a terrible price to pay. Every factual account of a witch using demonology speaks of the soul of the spellcaster being destined for an eternity of torment in the fires of hell. In other words, the cost of the demon's service is the soul of its temporary master...

 

For those who are interested in the rituals involved in demonology, there are a number of books available that go into great depth on the subject.

______________________________________


Having already had a number of notable successes in the practice of spellcasting, I dared to hope demonology might offer me the means of bringing my lost love back from beyond the grave.If I could successfully summon a demon from out of hell, I could ask it to return her to life, and if I failed or the practice proved to have no basis in fact, I was no worse off than I was already.

I gathered together as much relevant literature as I could lay my hands on and began an extensive investigation of how to execute my plan. Without stopping for a moment (even to eat or sleep), I spent the next two days familiarising myself with the spells involved, until I was convinced that if it was really possible to bring a demon out of hell into the world of men, then I had mastered the proceedure which would allow me to do it.

At last, the time came for me to put what I had learnt into practice. Not for a single moment, did I stop to consider the terrible implications of what I was doing. My soul seemed a small price to pay to have my beloved Mary-Jane back. The following is taken from a journal that I kept at the time:


EXTRACTS FROM THE JOURNAL OF CARL YOUNG

I am finally ready to cast my spell. If all goes well, it won't be long now before I am reunited with my sweet Mary-Jane. Her death was so very unfair I feel myself entirely justified in performing the necessary rituals, which many people would regard as fairly gruesome, perhaps even diabolic. I shall now begin the preparations for summoning the demon that will bring back my darling wife, though I am aware it will cost me my very soul. I do not deserve to go to Heaven anyway, for it was my stupidity which led to Mary-Jane's death...


I have decided to cast the spell in my spare bedroom, which will be bathed in the light of the new moon at the appropriate hour. In preparation, I have cleared out all the furniture, with the exception of a small pine table, upon which I intend to perform one of those animal sacrifices that are so essential to demonology. According to one of my many books, a demon by the name of Fruciessiere has the power to bring the dead back to life.He is the one I intend to summon
.

______________________________________


It may interest the reader to know a little bit more about the rituals that were involved in this grand scheme of mine. For this reason, I have decided to include some fairly detailed information, taken from the one of the more instructive of my grimoires. Having said that, I cannot stress enough how wrong I was to do the things described. Demonology is a satanic science that should not be attempted. If there is anybody out there who thinks that they would like to try and invoke a demon, even after they have read my story, then I feel it is my duty to advise them most strongly against it. Not only are you forfeiting your soul, but if you cannot control the demon, it could very easily wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world.

 

EXTRACTS FROM THE BLACK MAGIC GRIMOIRE - 
AUTHOR UNKNOWN


In order to summon a demon, you first need to sacrifice a dog, a hen and a cat. Place them in turn on an altar and kill them with a single blow to the throat. As you sacrifice each animal, speak the following words:

"I sacrifice thee in the name of X."

X is the name of the demon you wish to invoke. Skin the three animals, then burn them. Place the ashes in a cup of water, along with seven drops of your own blood. You should then drink the mixture.

Sew the animal skins together and adorn them with the Grand Kabalistic Circle, as described earlier. Draw this circle with blood from your own right hand, making a wound with your sacred dagger. Nail the skins to the floor. This is
your protective circle; while you stand in this, the demon will not be able to harm you...

 

Place three lighted black candles around the edge of the circle and stand in the middle. Ensure you have no metal in your possession, except a paper- wrapped coin to throw to the demon when it appears. Burn some sacred incense, uttering these words:


"I burn thee in the name of X"

When the incense is consumed, you should begin the following incantations:

1) "X, I command you to come from wheresoever you may be, to do my bidding."

2) X, come to me now and communicate with me in words I can understand."

3) X, I command you in the name of Adonai, Tetragrammation, Ariel, Jehovah, Aglaon and Tagla. Should you
fail to obey me, then I will condemn you to overwhelming torment."

______________________________________


In this secular world of science and technology, there are few people who will believe what happened when I cast my spell, but as surely as my name is Carl Young, the account you are about to read is true. I was successful in invoking the demon, Fruciessiere, and as you can probably imagine, my feelings at doing so were almost overwhelming. I was so excited every nerve in my body was tingling, yet I was also petrified beyond belief. Before me was a being that I believed to have the power to revive my cherished wife. The only downside was he had come to me from the pit of hell. In continuing this story, I feel it would be best if I refer you once again to the pages of my journal:

 

EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL OF CARL YOUNG

I was expecting some monstrous being, with reptilian wings and eyes of fire. Instead, Fruciessiere took the form of a handsome man, with honey-blond hair, an angelic countenance and eyes the colour of a sunlit ocean. He was dressed in a white linen gown that seemed to shine with celestial light, and had about him an air of profound intelligence.

I threw my coin to this unexpected vision of masculine beauty, and watched as he sullenly picked it up. "I have come in answer to your commands," said the demon in a rough voice that was quite at odds with his appearance. "Why have you summoned me?"

"I have a request to make of you," I replied, "and be assured if you do not grant it, you will be tormented for all eternity."

Fruciessiere smiled at me coldly. "I am already tormented for all eternity," he remarked, "for I live without God." The demon was, of course, compelled to obey me, but I have a feeling he wished it to appear he was not, as it was several moments before he deigned to resume speaking. "What is your request?" he enquired finally.

"I want but one thing - for you to bring my beloved Mary-Jane back to life," I told him.

Fruciessiere looked at me malevolently, but nodded his head. "Very well, I will do as you ask," he announced, "but there are two conditions. After all, every boon has its price. First and foremost, you must promise me that upon your death, you will give me your soul."

I hesitated and turned away from him. It was the first time I had really stopped to think about what I was doing, but even as I did so, I knew my decision was as good as made. The simple truth was my burning love for Mary-Jane meant I would gladly sacrifice anything to have her back. "I accept," I said quietly.

"Good," said Fruciessiere. "Secondly, you must undertake to never again ask for my aid."

I turned back towards him and looked him straight in the eye. "You have my word," I assured him, secure in the knowledge that with my beloved returned to me, I would never again be anything but content.

"Then I will reunite you with your wife. Release me from your spell, so I can begin, "Fruciessiere instructed.

I drew myself up to my full height and prepared to utter the final incantation, which would allow the demon to depart. "I am content and you are free to return to wheresoever it is you came from," I intoned, "but if you fail to do as I have bidden, overwhelming torment will be your punishment. Go now, I command you in the name of Adonai, Tetragrammation, Ariel, Jehovah, Aglaon and Tagla."

As soon as the last syllable had passed my lips, the demon vanished and I was left alone, surprised that the encounter had been so painless.


The hour was now very late and a debilitating exhaustion (which was undoubtedly down to the casting of such a complicated spell) had begun to take hold of me. Consequently, I had little choice but to avail myself of a few hours sleep while I waited for the demon to fulfil his part of the bargain, and made my way wearily to bed.

When I awoke the next day, I was of half a mind to believe I had dreamt my meeting with Fruciessiere, so incredible did it seem. It was only when I rolled over and saw Mary-Jane lying next to me that I knew it had really happened and I had accomplished my goal. I reached out and shook my reanimated wife gently awake. Her eyelids flickered open and she looked up at me with a zeal I had never before seen.

For a moment, I simply lay there, looking at her, allowing myself to drink in every detail of her loveliness. Her blonde ringlets seemed thicker and more luxurious than ever, falling in thick waves about her shoulders, and her pale skin was as smooth as silk. I can't begin to describe how overjoyed I was to see her again and I found myself overcome by a sudden rush of emotion. I threw my arms around her and exclaimed tearfully, "It's so good to see you!"

Mary-Jane's response was not entirely what I expected. "Make love to me," she entreated, running her hand through my hair.

Her words set the fires of passion burning inside me and I rolled on top of her voluptuous body. As I did so, I happened to glance into a full length mirror set into the oak wardrobe opposite the bed, and noticed something unsettling. Mary-Jane did not cast a reflection! I looked down at her, trying to decide what this anomaly could mean, and was struck by something else - her evident perfection. Every tiny flaw had gone from her body, and was it just my imagination, or had she not been quite so curvaceous before? "Make love to me," she repeated fervently.

At this point, I sensed that something was terribly wrong. I couldn't believe Mary-Jane capable of such single-minded lust. "What's happened to you?" I demanded suspiciously.

It was immediately evident that this question had angered her greatly. She snarled in fury and flung me from the bed with a strength which belied her petite frame. I picked myself up from the floor and looked across at her, just in time to see her vomit blood across the bed. She had assumed a kneeling position and stared at me with those brilliant blue eyes, which were now full of a devilish vehemence. "Make love to me!" she urged.

I started back as I noticed a distinct change in the sound of her voice. Gone were the delicate tones of my wife; replaced by something harsh and uneven, like the grating of stone on stone. There was no mistaking the voice I heard. After my experiences of the previous night, I would have recognised it anywhere. It belonged to Fruciessiere.

Realising in an instant what had happened, I struggled to remember the words which would banish the demon to the underworld. They came to me in a flash of inspiration and I hastily recited them. The demon let out an agonized scream and fell back on the bed, where he lay motionless. Uttering a sigh of relief at the apparent removal of the threat, I walked cautiously across the room to examine the body. It was as I thought; the creature known as Fruciessiere was gone. A tear trickled down my cheek as I gazed down at the body. The features before me were those of my wife, exactly as I remembered her and she was beautiful in a way that easily outshone the carnal manifestation I had seen before.

I sat down on the bed and reached out to hold her, trying not to think about the way in which my hopes had been shattered. To my surprise, as I cradled her gently in my arms, her eyes slowly opened. The vehemence was gone, replaced by a wisdom and serenity which seemed to shine from within. "One day, we will be reunited," she promised, in the voice of my dear Mary Jane, "but not like this. Never forget how much I love you."

I was on the verge of crying and it required a supreme effort of will to stammer out a reply. "I love you too," I told her, bending down to kiss her softly on the lips. "Oh Mary Jane, what have I done?"

"You made a mistake, my love, that's all. Have faith in the power of God and in his unconditional love," she said with a knowing smile. "Look to the words of Luke, chapter seventeen, verse twenty-one." With these words, her eyes slid shut and her soul departed.

The tears were running down my cheeks in rivers and there was a terrible emptiness inside me that robbed me of the power of rational thought. I flung myself to the ground and lashed out randomly with my fists. This fresh blow was almost more than I could take. I had brought back Mary Jane, only to lose her all over again!

Only later was I able to gather my thoughts enough to analyse what had happened. The upshot was that Fruciessiere had tricked me. As far as he was concerned, he had never promised to bring back Mary Jane's soul, only her body. In assuming control of this, he had hoped to gain the freedom to venture out into the world of men. Had I made love to my wife's body, he could have made me release him from the bindings I had imposed upon him, and he would have been free to do whatever he wanted; free to ravage our fair world to his heart's desire.

______________________________________

 

Thus I come to the end of my dire story. I used magic of the darkest kind to try and bring my beloved wife back to life, and because of this my soul will spend eternity in hell. In the meantime, misery is my constant companion. I have lost the only thing that ever mattered to me and do not think that I shall ever come to terms with it.

One thing remains before I draw to a close. This is to look up the Biblical reference given to me by Mary Jane, which for reasons that I can't explain, I have always avoided doing.


EXTRACT FROM THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT LUKE

...the kingdom of God is within you.

 


______________________________________


Having read those few simple words, I am starting to think that I can still achieve salvation. I believe what Mary Jane was trying to tell me is if I have faith in God and am truly repentant for what I have done, then he will forgive me my sins and save my soul. If this is truly the case, then Mary Jane and I may yet enjoy a blissful future together in the afterlife.

THE END

 

The right of C. J. Carter-Stephenson to be identified as the author of this story has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author, or a license permitting restricted copying. Any breach of copyright will result in legal action. Wherever you are, there is no escaping the long arm of the law.

 

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