This short story was rejected from an anthology I wrote it for. Therefore, I’m publishing it here for you to read. Enjoy.
Lucas Hanson walked into his spacious kitchen from his garage carrying bags of groceries that had been driven there in the trunk of his brand new Mercedes. In a few hours, his girlfriend, Jeanie, would be done with her personal training clients and come home. Then over a candlelight dinner he would propose to her. When she said yes, they’d get married, start a family and fill the suburban mansion he had bought with the fortune he had made from the mobile game company, Bellstar Gaming, he had founded at age twenty-six. People were willing to pay him small fortunes to unlock cheats and virtual items in the vast array of casual games the company made. Those numerous small fortunes had turned into one big fortune for him.
He was now thirty and it was time to settle down, especially since he bought the six bedroom mansion on a whim. Of the six bedrooms, he and Jeanie slept in the largest. One was an office and the others were all guest rooms. The other rooms were all furnished but aside from the kitchen he only ever used the breakfast and living rooms.
Lucas dropped the groceries on the granite countertops and began to put them away in his Subzero refrigerators. He would be making beef tenderloin with red wine sauce, a recipe he’d picked out online.
Furious galloping was heard as his two year-old black pit-bull Damien came bounding into the kitchen from the breakfast room and deposited himself by Lucas’s feet. Damien wagged his tail and looked up with wanting eyes.
“Beef’s not for you.” Lucas reached into a cupboard and pulled out a bag of doggy treats. Damien sat very still in anticipation. Lucas dropped a treat and Damien happily gobbled it up. Lucas patted his head and finished putting away the groceries.
He then walked thought the breakfast room, which contained four chairs and a circular wooden table, into the family room. The family room had a leather love seat and sofa in front of a high-end entertainment system, including a 52-inch plasma HDTV. Behind the furniture were the patio doors which led to his pool and the large grassy backyard.
Past the living room was his home office. Lucas sat down at the desk and turned on his laptop while Damien lay down at his feet.
After Lucas spent a few minutes checking his email, the doorbell rang and Damien rushed out of the room. Lucas went to the foyer between the living room and the dining room, pushed a barking Damien aside and opened the door.
On his doorstep was a harried but familiar-looking woman who had two suitcases by her feet. An idling minivan was parked at the apex on the circular driveway which was surrounded by brightly colored flowerbeds and the occasional marble sculpture.
Damien looked past the woman and growled. Lucas snapped his fingers and Damien whimpered and walked backwards, still keeping his eyes locked forwards. “Don’t mind him… Can I help you?”
“My name is Samantha Jacobs, you might not remember me but I remember you,” the woman said quickly. “Nine years ago in college we had an one night stand and-”
Lucas put his palms out. “Excuse me, slow down.”
”I got pregnant and had a daughter, your daughter…” Samantha placed the suitcases on either side of Lucas and then handed Lucas a piece of paper. “I hired somebody to collect some of your hair from your office and ran a paternity test which proves you’re her biological father.”
She handed him a second piece of paper. “I forged your signature on the guardian transfer forms, hope that’s ok.” Samantha turned and dashed towards the van. “Her name is Emily and you’ll need to home school her and…” The rest faded as Samantha ran around to the driver’s side.
The van sped off with a squeal, revealing a girl with long black hair who was dressed in a white gown. Her back was turned. She held a ratty doll in one hand and the handle of a small wheeled duffle in the other. The duffle had “Emily” blazoned in red letters across it.
Emily was looking at the opposite mansion which belonged to a large family of five named the Keiths. Faint sounds of laughing and playing drifted across the street. The neighbors to either side were obscured by the stand of trees which separated the properties.
A car slowed down as it passed, but then sped off. Probably lost, Lucas hoped.
Lucas’s mind was blank, still unable to process the realization that he had a daughter and she had been dumped on in his doorstep in less than a minute. Damien’s snarling brought him back.
“Damien, no!” Damien looked up at Lucas for a moment, but kept snarling. Lucas grabbed the dog’s collar, led him across the house and threw him into the backyard. He slammed the patio doors after the dog.
Lucas went back to the foyer to find Emily looking straight at him. Her bangs obscured much of her pale face, but he could tell from her size and delicate features – along with the time line if Samantha was telling the truth – that she was around eight years old.
As his daughter strode across the driveway onto the doorstep, the flowers to either side of the stoop withered and died in seconds, leaving the painstakingly manicured flower beds graveyards. The grassy median of the driveway was brown, also completely dead.
Emily let go of the duffle and pushed her bangs to the side. Her piecing black eyes entered his soul.
This was his daughter, he just knew. He was now responsible for her.
Fear gripped his soul.
Jeanie wasn’t going to like this at all.
“Hello, daddy,” Emily said in a gravely tone. “Can I come in?” Lucas took two shaky steps back. Emily stepped inside. She walked past him and stood at the edge of the foyer and looked around. “Am I am going to live in the basement?”
The moment Lucas shut the door; the house grew darker and colder. The furniture took on a more ominous, almost gothic look. A fine layer of dust and cobwebs had suddenly settled on the walls and floors.
Forcing a smile, Lucas he took the suitcases. “I don’t have a basement.” He walked to the stairs facing the foyer. “Your room will be big and next to mine. Come on.” He walked up the stairs, leaving Emily behind.
At the top of the stairs, the suitcases hit the flood with a thud. Emily stood calmly by her bedroom door without her luggage or doll.
He turned, dashed downstairs to find the foyer empty. He ran back up to find Emily still by the door.
His face was flush with sweat. A headache pounded between his temples. Lucas kneeled down into front of the girl.
“Emily, honey,” Lucas said, putting on his best parental voice, “if you’re going to live with me we need to set some rules.”
Emily frowned and folded her arms. “Mommy didn’t want me and you don’t want me either.”
He put his hands on her shoulders. “It’s not that. It’s just that this is all new for me.”
Emily smiled and pushed the door open.
The guest bedroom had been changed from a brightly colored room with a fluffy bed to a dark dungeon lit by a half-dozen standing candelabras. Everything in it was black, from the carpet to the paint to the sheets on the bed. Even the windows were painted back. In the middle of the room was a small table around which sat two disfigured dolls, one with pins in its head and the other with no limbs. In the center of the table was a porcelain tea set. Steam was rising from the kettle.
“Want to have tea with me, daddy?”
He kept himself from screaming no and running from the house. He carefully said, “Yes, I would love to.”
They walked into her bedroom and sat around the small table in small chairs.
Lucas was silent as Emily poured black tea for Amanda, the doll with pins in her head, and Gwyneth, the doll with no limbs. Amanda came to life and reached for the cup with her small plastic hands and drank the tea. The tea in Gwyneth’s cup drained on its own.
Emily then poured a cup for her father and herself. Emily drank right up, but Lucas hesitated.
“Drink daddy,” her eyes sparkled in the candlelight.
“I’m not going to poison you like I did grandma and grandpa.”
Lucas drank the entire cup in one gulp. The tea tasted pretty good.
“Girls your age don’t have tea parties anymore,” he said.
“They dress up like sluts,” the eight-year-old girl replied, “at least that’s mommy told me.”
Amanda and Gwyneth jiggled for more tea, when Emily gladly poured. “Want some more, daddy?”
“Sure.” He held out his cup.
Emily poured and as Lucas drank, Emily asked, “Why you did leave mommy for that whore when she was pregnant?”
Lucas choked and coughed. “I—she—it’s complicated.”
He wasn’t sure how to tell his daughter she was conceived in a one-night-stand he barely remembered in his fraternity bedroom during his senior year in college. It wasn’t the first and it wasn’t the last. From what he did remember, the next morning Samantha had gathered her stuff and left before he even woke. He had never heard from her again until she showed up with Emily.
Emily sighed. “Mommy lied, didn’t she? She lied a lot. She kept me in locked in the basement and fed me table scraps. I’ve never had friends.”
Emily suddenly started to sob. Black tears ran down her face. “Mommy hated me. She called me a freak and was ashamed of me.” The evil was gone from her eyes. In its place was simply a lonely little girl. “Don’t leave me, daddy!”
Lucas ran around the table and hugged her. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her head in his shoulder. It felt good comforting her, as if some long dormant parental part of him was slowly waking up. She did sort of look like him, having his straight black hair and rounded chin.
But he didn’t cause plants to die or changed rooms’ appearances on a whim.
The doorbell rang. Damien barked from the backyard. The room snapped into a bright pink girl’s room. The queen-sized bed had shrunk to a twin and there was a desk along a wall. Dolls and stuffed animals littered the floor around the table. Amanda and Gwyneth were now just two fully intact normal-looking dolls. The tea-set was pink plastic. The kettle was empty. Emily was wearing a bright pastel dress. Her face was freckled and soft, not dark and demonic.
“I’ll be right back.”
Lucas ran downstairs, ignoring Damien from the moment. This time he peeked through the peephole to see an older Catholic priest with a rosary around his neck and a bag around his shoulder. The flower beds were still dead.
Lucas opened the door.
The priest burst past Lucas and looked around. “Come out, demon child, I know you’re here!”
“Sir, if you don’t leave right now I’ll call the cops,” said Lucas.
The priest glared at Lucas. “You know exactly who I’m talking about! Those flowers didn’t kill themselves!”
On cue, Emily skipped down the stairs with a big grin on her face. “Can I play with the dog?” She asked in a sweet high-pitched voice. The flowers mysteriously came back to life. The priest didn’t care.
The priest started for her, but Lucas grabbed his frock and pulled him back.
“Damien likes playing fetch,” Lucas said to Emily.
Emily skipped into the family room. The priest pulled away. “You don’t know what you’ve done!”
“Done what? She’s just a girl!”
“A demonic freakish girl! I have spent the last eight years keeping her trapped. But she got to her mother and made her set her free. You must trust nothing that girl says. She only seeks the inevitable destruction and death of all things!”
“I’m Lucas.” He extended his hand. The priest might’ve come on a little strong, but obviously he might provide some answers.
“Father Thomas McMullen.”
Lacus motioned to the living room. Father McMullen looked towards the family room. They walked in to find demonic Emily sitting on the patio in front of a disemboweled Damien. She clutched Damien’s still-beating heart in her bloodstained hands, raising it overhead while chanting in Latin. The sky had turned dark and a whirlpool of clouds had settled above the house.
Father McMullen pulled a vial of holy water and a bible out of his bag.
“Hold on,” Lucas opened the patio doors. “Emily, go to your room!”
The sky went back to normal. Damien was spontaneously re-emboweled. He sat up and happily barked.
“I’m sorry, daddy, I’ve just never met an animal I didn’t sacrifice.”
“I understand, just go upstairs and stay in your in room until I’m done talking to our visitor.”
Emily walked inside with Damien. Lucas held Damien’s collar as Emily walked out of the family room and went upstairs. The door shut.
“You’ve managed to do the one thing her mother could not, which is discipline her,” the priest said. “I wonder why that is?”
He held out his rosary towards Lucas.
“I’m not a demon.” Lucas reached grabbed the rosary for a moment and then let go, unharmed. “I’m not entirely sure this all isn’t one big fucked up dream meant to scare me out of having children. But the one thing I do know is that despite Emily’s abilities and appearance, she’s just an eight-year-old girl. Therefore, I should treat her like one.”
“Let’s sit, there is much you have to learn.”
Lucas sat on the loveseat with Damien by his feet, always looking up. Father McMullen sat on the sofa.
“So tell me everything,” Lucas said.
“When a child is conceived, the Lord implants a soul in it, giving it life. But when your child was conceived, a demon was implanted instead. From the moment Emily was born, she’s been evil, starting with turning the maternity ward into a twisted nightmare full of demonic babies,” said McMullen.
“I was the priest called in by the hospital to exorcise Emily. Although I’ve performed several exorcisms around the world previously with success, I failed that time. I couldn’t exorcise the demon out your daughter. Her body and the demon are one,” continued the priest. “I then tried to kill her, but Emily cannot be killed for she is not of this world. Instead, I consulted the Vatican and we set up a special room protected by holy seals in Ms. Jacob’s parents’ basement. This is where Emily would spend her natural life.”
Lucas had not been a religious man. He didn’t believe in souls and demons.
He did now, as there was no other explanation.
“If she can’t be killed, how do you know she’ll die?”
“’From dust to dust.’ Her soul might be demonic, but her flesh is of this earth. But the demon will not let her perish until it decides it is time. So for eight years, I watched her grow from an infant to a toddler to the girl she is now, trapped in the basement. Then, a few weeks ago, Emily started demanding to go live with her father incessantly. Against my warnings, Ms. Jacobs broke the seals and brought Emily here to finally get rid of her. But make no mistake, Ms. Jacob will not get away free. She’s probably committing suicide as we speak.”
Father McMullen muttered a prayer while making the sign of the cross.
Jacob held his head for a moment and then muttered. “And why wasn’t I contacted about this?”
“That I can’t speak to; it was Ms. Jacob’s decision, not mine. However, regardless of what you want for her, she is still a demon and must be contained.”
Lucas sat forward. “I’m not keeping… my daughter locked in her bedroom for the rest of her life.”
“You have no choice!”
“Yes I do, this is my house and she is my child.”
Lucas stood up. “I’d like it if you’d leave now.”
Damien sat up and wagged his tail.
Father McMullen did not move. “I cannot leave a demon free to walk to earth. It is my responsibility as a servant of Jesus Christ!”
Father McMullen’s head tilted back as his eyes rolled back into head. His arms forcefully flew outward to either side. The priest lifted into the air. Wounds formed on his wrists as he the priest gasped for air.
“Emily, stop this!” cried Lucas.
The girl’s demonic visage appeared on the television. “But why, daddy? That man will never stop bothering us as long as he lives.”
The pounding headache returned. “But—but—as long as you’re in this house, you can’t kill anyone!”
Father McMullen disappeared as Emily stepped out of the TV. “Fine, I’ll go play with the neighbors.”
She walked out of the family room.
“Where’d he go?” Lucas called.
“Into an oven,” she replied.
The door opened and slammed. Lucas figured Emily had sent the priest to Hell and there was nothing he could do about it.
Lucas ran into the kitchen and pulled a bottle of aspirin and downed two pills. He then leaned against the counter holding himself up with his hands pressed against the granite. Lucas stared at it, tracing the shapes and squiggles with him eyes.
A tear dropped onto the granite, forming a small puddle, then a second, and then a third. His limbs gave out and he fell onto the floor. Lucas curled up into a fetal position and cried.
An hour or two ago at most his life was looking up. Now it was in shambles. He just wanted someone to hug him and tell him everything was going to be alright.
He couldn’t run to his parents, he didn’t have any. They died in a horrific house fire his senior year in college, and he was an only child. But he wasn’t alone. He had someone, and that lifeline to her was sitting in his pocket. Lucas sat up and pulled out his cell phone. He pressed the power button but it wouldn’t turn on.
The charge was dead.
Lucas threw the cell phone across the floor, where it came to rest in front of Damien. The dog sat and stared at him, tongue hanging out. He looked just fine. Before he was barking and growling at everything, now he was passive and happy.
Damien’s eyes had that same evil aura that Emily’s did.
His ability to influence Emily was an illusion. She was playing him the entire time. She brought Damien back, but brought him back evil. She went to her room, only to appear in the TV and kill Father McMullen, the one person who could contain her. Now she was across the street, playing with the—
Lucas sprinted out the front door and down the driveway. Laughing emanated from the house as before, but as Lucas draw closer the laughs turned to cries and agonizing screams. A short ways up the Keiths’ driveway, their house exploded in a red fireball, sending Lucas to the asphalt.
His entire body ached as heat and smoke rolled over him. His resolve and hope vanished. Emily might have been his daughter, but she was pure darkness. He could never love her.
Emily stood above him. Her dark eyes poked out from behind her bangs.
Lucas scrambled back, terror etched on his face in stone.
“I’m not going to hurt you, daddy, because it’s ok if you’re afraid,” said Emily. “You just don’t understand, but you will!”
“But everyone will see this, everyone will know!”
“They can’t see us. When the firemen come, they’ll rule the fire an accident. They’ll never know.”
Lucas a car pulled into their driveway and headed towards garage. “Mommy’s home, she’ll explain everything.” Lucas sat up and looked behind him. It was a Jeanie’s black Ferrari he had bought her.
Lucas shivered. “But but—Mommy’s gone. She drove off and will never come back.”
Emily pointed. “No she didn’t. My old mommy never left the driveway.” The van was crumpled against a tree on the side of the property. Lucas had seen Samantha drive out of the driveway and take a right, but it was another illusion.
“Jeanie’s my new mommy, my true mommy! Together we’ll be one happy family.” Emily faintly smiled, freezing Lucas completely solid.
Emily held out her hand. “Come, daddy, mommy will make everything better.”
Fighting against every fiber of his being, Lucas took her hand.
Hand in hand, they walked across the street as alarmed neighbors ran towards the inferno, oblivious to their presence.
As father and daughter walked to the house, all the plants and the trees died again. The sky turned blood red. The commotion behind them because quiet and distant.
The house was quiet inside. Lucas dragged his feet as they walked into the family room, where Damien was standing next to Jeanie, who was looking out onto the patio. Jeanie, still in her pink jogging suit, was a toned woman with long blond hair and baby-blue eyes.
But as she turned, Jeanie’s eye had turned purple. A snake-like tongue flickered. This was not the woman he loved. They were acquaintances in college, but it wasn’t until she became his personal trainer later on that they became an item. She quit training him and moved in. But for all for that time, she had never displayed the side she now did.
That Jeanie had been a lie.
“Hello, Lucas,” she said in an emotionless tone. Jeanie walked forward and stood toe to toe. Lucas tried to pull back, but Emily’s grip kept him in place. Jeanie pulled his head forward into a kiss.
A warmth filled Lucas. Emily and Jeanie stepped back. The warmth increased, filling his entire body. The warmth became heat, the heat became burning and the burning became agony. Lucas collapsed onto his knees as his skin began to char and burn. He screamed as he burst into flames. Then he laughed as he stood up, in control and on fire.
He now understood. He had a demon soul. Many people did, but normally the darkness inside of them stayed hidden and manifested itself through ambition, greed and violence. Politicians, businessmen, serial killers, all those who would profit from the misfortune of others had demon souls.
But for some, the demon was too strong to keep inside, so it took possession of the body in full. The vessel became a thing of pure evil, twisting reality to fit its desires. This usually occurred after birth, but for Emily it had happened in the womb.
Lucas extinguished the flames, his figure now burnt beyond recognition. But Emily and Jeanie were ecstatic.
Emily clapped and jumped for joy, “Horary, daddy!”
Lucas hugged his daughter. “I’m so proud of you,” he said in a deep baritone. “I love you.”
Emily buried her head in his blistered chest. “I love you too, daddy.”
Emily released and Jeanie kissed him with lustful eyes. “You don’t remember, but that one night stand you had was a threesome. You got me pregnant but not her. In order to draw suspicion away from us, I transferred the embryo to Samantha, making her a surrogate. But for various reasons, I didn’t get to Emily after she was born before the priest laid the seals. It took eight years to wear down Samantha’s resolve to the point she’d break the seals. In the meantime I took your heart and positioned us so that when Emily would be released, we’d become a family!”
“Glorious plan,” Lucas said in a deep baritone. “I couldn’t stand being locked inside that man!”
An aroma filled the room. Lucas sniffed. “Smells delicious. What’s for dinner?”
“Roasted priest,” Emily said. She held out her hands. Her father and mother took her hands that they walked into the dining room.
There they had their first family feast, dinning on Father McMullen. His flesh was crispy and juicy. He was the first of many to come…