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An Introduction to Demonology

An Introduction to Demonology

A Story by Jorg

Bertrand Boskovich is your typical working-class demonologist, a mage who specializes in the study and containment of beings from the infernal realm. If you have a problem with demons, you call Bert.


Bert could hear the demon scuttling around behind the bedroom door. The poor thing must have been going crazy after two days in the mortal realm without being offered a contract. It had been summoned by Jason Hertz, a teenage would-be occultist who had gotten it into his head to reenact an ancient summoning ritual with a book borrowed from the public library while his parents were away for the weekend. Bert was honestly impressed that it had actually worked. Fortunately, the demon he’d summoned hadn’t been of the particularly lethal variety. Equally fortunately, the kid had decided to call Bert to handle the situation instead of an extermination squad. Still, the summoning would have registered on the government’s sensors, which meant a response team couldn’t be far behind. He had to work fast. Cautiously, he put a hand on the doorknob and began to turn it. The scuttling on the other side of the door suddenly ceased. Opening the door just a crack, Bert took a peek inside.

The sudden impact of the demon’s body against the door almost knocked him off balance, but thankfully he had suspected it was coming and braced himself for the attack. The demon scrabbled at the door for a second before retreating to get another run-up. That was when Bert saw it. It was about the size of a large cat, and it looked like a nose on legs. Insect legs, to be precise. Seventeen of them. The infernal being charged again. This time Bert slammed the door shut just before it hit. The impact of its body made the door shake on its hinges, but it held. He looked over his shoulder at Jason and his sister, who were huddled against the far wall, eyes wide, practically shaking in their shoes.

“This shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. He didn’t have to explain anything to them, but hopefully his voice would keep them calm so that they didn’t bolt. “What you’ve got here is a classic Seventh Generation, Grade A sensory demon. Killer sense of smell, but that’s the only thing killer about it. We’ll get this cleaned up before your parents get home tonight, I guarantee it.”

“How?” Jason asked in a trembling voice. Multiple rings decorated his ears, nose, and lips. His body was covered in tattoos of pagan symbols, and an ankh necklace was displayed proudly around his neck. Bert, on the other hand, looked clean cut in a light grey pinstripe suit and trilby. In other words, they both looked pretentious, but only Bert looked fashionably pretentious. He grinned at the kid and lifted the paper bag in his hand, shaking it a bit for emphasis.

“Everything we need is in this puppy right here,” he said, tossing it to the kid. Jason caught it, and his sibling peered over his shoulder excitedly as he opened the bag and looked inside. They stared for a moment, their expressions transforming from excitement to disbelief, then disappointment.

“Cold cuts?” The girl"Tiffany, he recalled--said, annoyance evident in her voice. “Is this a f*****g joke?”

“Language, young lady,” Bert scolded. “That there is prime material for a demonic circle.” Seeing their expressions, he sighed. “What, did you think we’d have to slaughter a live goat or something? That’s how the druids did it back in the day, maybe, but modern demonologists have got the process down to a science. First it was whole goats and pentagrams, then squirrels and circles, then just the entrails, and finally good old modern lunch meat. Turns out that the infernal realm doesn’t really care how recently the meat died. As long as it used to be alive, it can be used to make a circle.”

“It’s not supposed to work like that,” Tiffany protested, clutching at her ankh like a priest facing the devil. “Magic is…it’s magic! You’re not supposed to try to fine-tune it. It’s not a damn science. It’s more…profound than that.”

Bert smiled condescendingly at her. “Sweetheart, trust me. When it comes down to it, everything is science. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a con artist or an idiot.”

“So what do we do now?” Jason cut in, shooting a warning look at his sister, who bit her lip angrily and crossed her arms. Bert cracked his knuckles.

“I’m going to open the door and try to wrestle that poor thing into submission. While that’s going on, you four are going to run in, lay out a circle on the ground, and repeat these words exactly.” He reeled off a sequence of about a dozen important-sounding syllables. “That should set up a one-way circle of binding. I toss Snotbag in there into the circle, and he won’t be able to get out.”

“What happens after that?” Jason demanded. “I can’t have a f*****g demon in my room when mom and dad get back.”

“Language, kid. You’ll see. Now, watch and learn. You’re about to witness a professional at work.” Unbuttoning his suit jacket, Bert dropped it onto the floor, followed by his trilby, and rolled up his sleeves. He faced the door and began to turn the handle. The scuttling once again ceased. “Ready? Three. Two. One!”

Bert threw open the door and rushed forward, arms outstretched. The demon hit his center mass like a bowling ball, knocking the wind out of him. Still, he managed to wrap his arms around the thing before it could scuttle away. “Go!” he managed to gasp. The kids ran in and began to set up the circle. All seventeen of the demon’s legs scrabbled against Bert’s face and chest like dry, brambly tree branches. The demon heaved and pulled, but it couldn’t escape his grasp. Clear snot ran from its nostrils onto his shirt, hot enough to be scalding, but Bert didn’t give an inch. The classic struggle of infernal nose against man lasted for what seemed like an eternity as the combatants rolled about on the floor. Bert’s arms were just beginning to tire when Jason suddenly shouted, “That’s it!” Silently hoping that the kids had performed ritual properly, Bert fought his way to his feet, located the circle, and tossed the demon toward it with a shout.

It passed over the first line of cold cuts unopposed, its legs skittering in the air. But on the other side of the circle it came to a halt in midair, as if it had hit an invisible wall. Then, slowly, it began to slide down to the ground, leaving a trail of mucus hovering in space as it did so. “Gross,” Tiffany commented, taking a step back.

Panting, Bert ran a hand over his face. It was covered in scratches, but none of them seemed to be bleeding. His shirt was snot stained and torn to hell, but otherwise he was unharmed. Satisfied, he walked up and clapped Jason on the back. “Good job, kids,” he said breathlessly.

“Th-thanks,” Jason replied, watching as the demon regained its feet and began to throw itself vainly at the walls of the circle, searching for some way to escape. “What does that incantation mean, anyway? The one that made the circle.”

“Oh, that? Nothing. I just gave you some gibberish to focus on so you would be able to concentrate.” Ignoring Tiffany’s spluttering protests, he continued. “What really made the circle work was the two of you. I told you what it was supposed to do, and it was your belief that that was what would happen that made it happen. Does that make sense?”

“I guess so,” Jason said somewhat skeptically. Bert smiled and patted him on the shoulder.

“Of course, it wouldn’t have worked if you hadn’t been magically gifted enough to pull it off. But then, neither would the summoning that got you into this mess. You’ve got real talent, kid. You just need to learn how to focus it.” The compliment left Jason practically beaming, and Bert had to restrain himself from chuckling. “Alright. The hardest part’s taken care of. Now we just have to get this little guy gone.”

“And how do we do that, Mister Science?” Tiffany asked, eyes shooting daggers at the demonologist.

“Watch and learn, sweetheart,” Bert replied. He stepped outside of the room for a moment to grab his suit jacket, then walked back to the circle and got on one knee. “Easy, little guy,” he said in a gentle voice, as if trying to calm a dog. The demon took no notice, continuing to scuttle about in a panic. “No need to get so worked up, Snotbag. I’m here to help. I want to forge a contract with you.” At the word ‘contract’, the demonic nose suddenly froze. Then it turned its nostrils to Bert and settled down like a dog sitting on its haunches.

“What are you doing?” Jason asked, eyeing the demon suspiciously.

Bert kept his eyes on the nose as he explained. “Contracts are like narcotics to demons. When they take physical form, usually through being summoned by a mortal, an itch in the back of their mind ached to make a contract with that mortal, with any mortal. When the contract is finished, it gives them a high like no other. But that itch stays in their head until they make a contract, and it grows and grows until it drives them insane. You ever seen a heroine junky who’s gone without a fix for a few days? Now imagine that junky can throw fireballs and bend steel beams.” Snotbag sniffed loudly and tapped an impatient foot against the floor.

“Alright, little buddy, clam down. I want you to…” Bert paused for a moment, trying to think of some relatively harmless task it could accomplish. He looked around the room, which was about as filthy as a teenager’s room was expected to be; dirty clothes on the floor, discarded cans and burger wrappers, and most egregious of all, video games discs that hadn’t been returned to their cases. “I want you to clean this room,” he said. “And I want it done in under fifteen minutes. In payment, I grant you this.” He reached into his jacket pocket and withdrew a small vial of blood. “A fresh vial of my life’s blood, just like mom used to make. Do we have a deal?” The demon snorted, which was about as good a sign of assent as it could give. Bert smiled. “Good. Let it be sealed.” Reaching out, he brushed aside some of the cold cuts, breaking the circle. The snot that had been hanging in midair fell to the ground with a slightly nauseating splat.

Tiffany stepped back nervously. Jason went a little pale, but Bert didn’t fail to note that he held his ground. Slowly, tentatively, the demon stepped out of the circle. Bert uncorked the vial and held it out to the infernal being. It took a delicate sniff of the blood, savoring the scent. Then it inhaled sharply, pulling the entire vial from Bert’s hand into its nostril. It shuddered pleasurably and immediately scuttled over to a pile of clothes in the corner of the room. It sucked the clothing into its nostrils, then scuttled to the empty laundry basket. As everyone watched, the nose sneezed the miraculously snot-free apparel out into the basket, then started toward another pile.

“That settles that,” Bert said, standing up and dusting off his hands. “Keep an eye on the little guy until he finishes the job. If the men in black drop by, try to stall them until he can finish his job and go home. They should leave you alone after that.”

“I will,” Jason said. “Thanks for everything, man. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”

Bert shrugged. “It was nothing, really. I’m just glad everything turned out okay.” And the universe’s sense of irony being what it was, that was the exact moment that a massive roar and the sound of splintering wood came from downstairs. Everyone, including Bert, flinched at the noise.

“What the hell was that?” One of Jason’s friends demanded.

“I believe that was the sound of the front door getting kicked in,” Bert replied, struggling to keep his voice calm. Anything that could shatter a door like that was probably Grade B or higher in strength. He could hear footsteps approaching the stairwell, then beginning to climb. The demon nose shivered and scuttled behind the laundry basket, which was enough to tell Bert that whatever was coming wasn’t there to sell girl scout cookies. “Kids, do me a favor. Go hide in the closet for a while. I’ll deal with this.” The teens scrambled to obey, all except for Jason, who hovered uncertainly for a moment before Tiffany ran back to pull him into the hiding spot. Bert backed up, putting the circle of deli meat between him and the door. Casually, he crouched down and reconnected the circle. Whatever was coming, it sounded big. A physical barrier probably wouldn’t hold it. He would need to try something a little more creative. Closing his eyes, he envisioned the trap in his head and began charging the circle with energy. He was almost done when the bedroom door exploded into powder and the intruder stepped inside.

He had to duck his head to do so. The demon that now stood before him resembled the classic minotaur in almost every way. A bull’s head sat atop a shirtless male torso that looked like it belonged on the cover of a fitness magazine. Below that, it wore a pair of khaki shorts and brown sandals. The only thing that differentiated it from the mythical beast was that, in place of horns, two human arms jutted from its head, swaying and grasping at the air. The bull demon snorted as he stared at Bert with bloodshot eyes. “Bertrand Boskovich,” he rumbled in a deep voice. “I am fortunate to have found you. Thank you for igniting that circle. It was quite convenient for tracking your location.”

“Really, now,” Bert replied in his best attempt at a casual tone. It didn’t help that his voice was suddenly a few octaves higher than usual. “And why were you out looking for little old me, exactly?” He was nearly done. He just needed more time.

The bull demon glanced down at the circle, snorted, and began to walk around it towards him. “Your name has been prescribed for death, little mortal,” he rumbled. “When I return to the infernal realm with your soul in hand, my lord shall surely welcome me with open arms.”

Bert edged around the circle in the opposite direction as the demon drew closer. “And which lord would that be, exactly? There so many, I lose track sometimes.”

The demon’s eyes narrowed, its nostrils flaring as it expelled a breath. “Perhaps an introduction shall elucidate matters. I am Sanguis, of the house of Abaddon, Lord of Sloth. Of the Seven Demonic Generations, I am honored to be of the Fourth.”

Bert’s mouth went dry. Not every demon was evil, of course, but then, most Germans weren’t evil during World War II. That didn’t mean you wanted to run into Hitler. Generally speaking, the closer to the First Generation of fallen angels a demon was, the stronger, smarter, and crueler it was. A Fourth Generation demon was nothing to sneeze at, and typically it took the coordinated efforts of multiple demonologists to take one down. All Bert had at the moment was himself. “Abaddon, huh?” he said, hoping to buy for time. “Don’t tell me he’s still pissy about that thing a couple years back. I swear, if I’d had any idea that that was his mansion"“

“Spare the pleading, demonologist,” Sanguis snarled, voice dripping with disdain. “Stay still, and perhaps your end shall be relatively painless.” He continued circling around towards him, and as much as Bert tried to scramble away, the demon was gaining ground. “Your pathetic little trap will not succeed. You cannot overcome me in a physical contest, and you cannot defeat me with magic. You are lost.” As he spoke, he passed within a foot of the closet. He ignored it completely, his attention focused on Bert, until someone inside cracked the door open an inch or two. Sangsuis paused, head tilted slightly to one side, the hands of his horn-arms clenching and unclenching. Slowly, he began to turn around.

Well, that was it. Bert hadn’t managed to fully charge the circle, but he wasn’t about to let some demon with a petty grudge kill a bunch of kids. “Alright ugly,” he said, surging to his feet. “You want me? Come get me.” Then he promptly turned and ran for the window on the opposite wall. Sanguis whirled and charged after him, bellowing in triumph as he went. He caught Bert before he got even halfway across the room, slamming a fist into the demonologist’s back and sending him flying into the wall. Bert gasped as he impacted and crumpled to the ground in a heap, the breath knocked out of him. He could hardly think. He could hardly move. He could do nothing but stare at the wall as he struggled to fill his lungs with air. He barely heard Sanguis’ mocking laughter as the demon approached. “Coward. You cannot hope to escape. Your soul is mine.” Bert took a shuddering breath, probably his last, and closed his eyes. The demon stopped less than a foot away, tensing to deliver the killing blow.

Then he stumbled backwards, grunting in surprise. The grunt quickly transformed into a cry of outrage, then a high-pitched, bestial scream. With an effort, Bert rolled over to see what the hell was going on. Sanguis was still stumbling back, clawing desperately at its face with all four arms, where Snotbag had latched itself onto him with all seventeen legs. Steams billowed upwards as it gushed boiling snot over Sanguis’ face, causing the bull demon to shriek in agony. Breathing easier now, Bert struggled to his feet. Behind Sanguis’ bulk, he could see that the closet door had been thrown open. Tiffany and Jason’s other friends were still huddled inside, eyes wide, but Jason Hertz knelt on the ground, his hands on the circle, charging it with energy.

Sanguis came to a halt just outside of the circle. He raked his nails along hiss foe’s skin, drawing large droplets of green blood, attempting to find a handhold and pry the little demon off of his face. In a moment, he would be free again. Quickly, Bert backed up until he was against the wall. Then he got into a slight crouch and sprinted towards the bull demon. “Move!” He shouted. Snotbag, sensing what he was trying to do, complied. Detaching itself from Sanguis’ face, it used its legs to springboard away just as Bert hit Sanguis at full force square in the chest.

In all honesty, Bert’s full force wasn’t much. He only knocked the bull demon back a pace or two. But that was all that was needed. Sanguis staggered back into the circle, and the trap was sprung. As soon as he was inside, the demon began to float in the air. He removed his hands from his damaged face and looked around in confusion as he began to turn weightlessly end over end. He tried to reach out and touch the ground, but his fingertips barely brushed the carpet. He tried to swim through the air, but some invisible leash kept tugging it back into the center of the circle. And he was beginning to spin faster and faster.

Bert let out a sigh of relief and wiped his brow. “I honestly thought I was done for there,” he said to no one in particular. He walked around the spinning demon and clapped Jason on the back. “Great job, kid. Antigravity field with an inertial dampener? I couldn’t have done better myself. Now I owe you.” The teen practically beamed at the compliment. “By the way, sorry about the wall.”

“What do you mean?” Jason asked, puzzled.

“You’ll see,” Bert replied. He gave Jason another pat on the back, then walked over to the circle. Snotbag scuttled up to him, and he smiled. “I owe you, too, buddy.” He picked the little guy up and cradled it in one arm, scratching it as it purred like a contented cat. Sanguis was now spinning so fast that he was practically a blur, bellowing in rage all the while.

“You shall pay for this humiliation, Boskovich! You cannot outwit us all. Your death"“

“"has been prescribed by your lord,” Bert finished for him. “Yada yada yada. I’ve heard it before. Trust me, I’ve got some friends of my own that your lord will want to think twice about messing with. In the meantime, how about a physics lesson? What you’re doing right now is building up tons of potential energy. The more you thrash around, the more potential energy gets built up. And what happens when potential energy gets unleashed?” He crouched in front of the circle and placed a finger on one of the cold cuts. “That’s right. It becomes kinetic energy. Enough for a one-way trip to Lake Michigan. Enjoy your flight.” With a flick of his wrist, he displaced the cold cut and dispelled the circle.

Sanguis let out a final bellow before vanishing into the distance, taking a large chunk of Jason’s bedroom wall with him. Bert stood and dusted his hands off as sawdust rained down around them. Snotbag had left his arms and already started cleaning the room again, sucking up the sawdust like a vacuum cleaner. Jason’s friends continued to stare out from within the closet. They would probably never touch anything demonic again, which was good. Amateurs like them had no place summoning demons. But Jason, despite the destruction of his room, had nothing but awe in his expression. There was potential in that kid. A lot of potential.

Bert put on his coat and gathered his hat up from the hall. “No need to worry about our angry friend. I doubt he’ll come back here once he manages to fish himself out of the water. He knows where to find me if he wants me. It was a pleasure doing business with you.  Oh, and kid...” He reached into another pocket and handed Jason a business card. “That’s for my office. I make a business out of training up new demonologists. Give me a call if you ever feel like messing with demons again.”

Jason took the card reverently. “Thanks, man. I will.” With a final nod to the teens, Bert turned and made his way downstairs and out of the house. As he walked down the sidewalk, a car passed him heading in the opposite direction. A quick glance over his shoulder showed that the car was pulling into the Hertz’s driveway. Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Hertz had gotten home early.

Bert quickened his pace, wanting to get as far from the blast radius as possible. By the time a woman’s high pitched shriek split the air, he was rounding the corner onto the next street, where his car waited. It seemed Jason wouldn’t have an opportunity to awaken his talents any time soon. That was a shame. But on the bright side, he had saved a demon in need and survived a run-in with one of the Lord of Sloth’s lackeys. All he needed now was a trip to the dry cleaner’s, and the day would be almost perfect.

© 2017 Jorg

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-The whole cursing thing. It's not funny anymore.
Familiar things keep the story from being try-hard hipster (which it isn't) but, really, not funny. They can curse, but no need to point it out.

-Same goes to the "Is this a joke?".
Maybe find another way to poke fun at how ridiculous the alternative meat is.
It's funny, but not the way you're telling the readers that it's funny ISN'T funny.


-Flexible story-telling right from the start. No info dump. Questions triggered, later answered, in a non-rigid story-oriented blissfully non-consecutive way.

-Subtle humor and fresh takes. (Or at least, most of them are not blasé nor cliché for me.)
First, I know physical/aesthetic appearances typically serve to show non-visual characteristics, but to bring up that they're "pretentious" breaks the fourth wall and sends potential chuckles down and through the throats of readers who've read enough.
Second, the whole "science, not magic" thing deserves some claps. Fit for modern readers with internet access.
Third, the video games' not being in their proper place is so real, modern, and concrete; not something repeated from other stories.


-There were four kids there? Why? Until Bert mentioned it, I only thought it was Jason and Tiffany. The siblings had every reason to be there.

-What happens to the demon after the contract is fulfilled? I guess it's not particularly relevant for this short story (since the main point of conflict here IS, "Will Snotbag be stoped from causing danger because of lack of contract?").

But for the next stories after this introduction, I will look forward to the answers.

Posted 3 Months Ago

Great story :D I hope you write more to it

Posted 3 Months Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on September 20, 2017
Last Updated on September 20, 2017




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