Rocky River High School
Instructor: Ashley Morris
Eve hoped her parents wouldn't notice how much salt she'd stolen. The fine crystals were scattered in her best approximation of a circle. A few grains remained wedged under her fingernails.
Inside the salt circle was a smaller circle marked in white chalk. This one consisted of twisting symbols and strange runic configurations. She'd never had much talent for drawing, but it looked almost identical to the picture in the brittle, yellowed book page. At least a dozen candles rested on the ground. Her garden shed looked far more sinister than it had an hour ago. She just hoped her parents wouldn't get it into their heads to come home early.
She grabbed the cylindrical Morton container and poured again into her scooped palm to form a third circle around her feet across from the other two concentric circles. The candlelight flickered as she straightened her knees and observed her handy work. She'd already triple-checked the scripted summoning circle along with its outer containment circle.
Eve rubbed the silver cross charm on her necklace before tucking it under her gray hoodie, the cool metal against her skin.
It was time to summon an angel.
She planted her feet and picked up her instruction book from the floor.
After today, all of her problems would disappear.
With an angel helping her, she could…well, she could do anything she wanted.
The pages were inscribed in Latin that she had only succeeded in reading thanks to Google translate. The words were undeniably a celestial summoning ritual. She took a deep breath and read the summoning words. Her mouth stumbled over unfamiliar words. The text-to-speech function had been incredibly valuable to help with the pronunciation, but she questioned if the robotic Google voice had actually gotten it right. Still, she could feel the air vibrate as if charged. Her throat dried up, but she continued to recite the Latin.
Only a few more lines to go and she'd be done. The book seemed to get heavier as she spoke, gravity stronger, the time between breaths shorter. As she closed her lips on the last syllable, the chalk circle flared white, like a strobe light, before blinking out just as quickly. Something had definitely happened. Ordinary chalk circles didn't glow.
Still, nothing appeared in the circle. She must've messed up the incantation. Taking a breath, she scrutinized the page again, resigning herself to another painful reading of the ancient Latin. Maybe she hadn't rolled her "r"s correctly. She flipped back a page to start the ritual again.
"I heard you the first time. You don't need to botch that poor summons again." Someone stood in the circle, someone who definitely hadn't been there a few seconds ago.
When Eve first started planning the summoning, she'd expected her personal angel to have the poised grace of a ballet dancer and fluffy white wings framing a perfectly haloed head. She'd even been prepared for a heavenly creature resembling the diagrams of Biblically accurate angels like she'd found on the internet with whirling atomic rings covered with unblinking eyes.
She hadn't been prepared for a girl only a few years older than her looking like she'd raided the nearest emo's closet, complete with ripped jeans and a black t-shirt.
"It's rude to stare," the angel commented.
"Sorry, I mean, I have a holy task for you 'O Great Divine Angel…person," Eve silently cursed herself. She'd already messed up her script almost as badly as she had the Latin.
The angel raised a dark eyebrow, "I think you might've messed up your fancy ritual. I'm not a great divine angel. I'm probably closer to an infamous hellish demon." Eve's stomach dropped. Her hand reached up instinctively to tug her brown hair, a nervous habit of hers. There had to be a mistake. But, the girl—no, the thing—definitely lined up with Eve's idea of a demon. Straight black hair with white tips, golden eyes, sharp fingernails, and no trace of any wings. How could she have mistaken her for an angel?
"How do I send you back?" Eve blurted, suddenly extra grateful that she'd taken the time to create a protective salt circle for herself.
"I'm required to complete whatever task you had in mind when you summoned me." She eyed the old book in Eve's hands, "If you think you need to personalize a deal with me, you don't. Deals were all standardized ages ago to minimize trickery, tomfoolery, and anything remotely fun." She rolled her golden eyes. Eve could feel a headache coming on. This wasn't the way the summoning was supposed to go. What's more, she'd been stuck in a musty shed with burning candles for long enough that she wished she'd left the door open. She could use a deep clarifying breath of crisp fall air.
"I actually didn't have a specific task in mind," Eve muttered, "Is there any other way?"
The demon gave her a smirk, "You could die." Eve's palms began to sweat. She could almost see it now, the salt turning crimson from her pooling blood, the killer demon disappearing only to be accidentally summoned by another unsuspecting girl just trying to figure out her life.
"Relax. I'm not allowed to kill you. Told you the angels were real buzzkills. You'll probably wish you were dead though, cause it looks like you're stuck with me for the rest of eternity." She let out a quick sardonic laugh.
"There has to be another way." Eve tried to relax, tried to ignore how unnaturally sharp the demon's teeth were.
"Nope," the demon tossed her ebony hair back, "Magic has consequences, kid. Not my fault you messed up a summoning so badly."
"How dangerous are you?" Eve almost didn't want to hear the answer. She almost wished she could take back the question.
"Very," another shark-toothed grin, "but not to you. And probably not to any of your human friends."
"Probably?!" Eve repeated. She swallowed even though her throat was still as dry as a desert. The demon smirked. Eve tried her best to not cringe.
"I'm Oriel by the way," the demon said as she stepped over the salt circle. Eve stumbled backwards, breaking her own circle. "I know, it's a pretty cool name."
"How? The salt should have stopped you!" Eve glanced around for a weapon, but the garden tools seemed just out of reach.
"You used some pretty low-quality salt. It was too finely ground to really do anything." Oriel held out a hand. Eve stared at the hand with no plans to touch it.
"Oh. I'm Eve." She tugged her hair again.
Oriel grimaced, "I've had some bad experiences with women named Eve. Well, really only the one, and it wasn't actually me, but still."
"Sorry," Eve didn't know what etiquette demanded for dealing with hellspawn. Knowing her social skills, she'd probably end up offending Oriel no matter what she said. "I need to clean up here. I don't want my parents to see this." She motioned to the floor.
"Good luck, I'm gonna go explore your house." Oriel laughed at Eve's horror, "I probably won't destroy anything." Eve stared down at the mess. She'd need a broom and some water to clean up the salt and chalk. If only she could figure out how to clean up her life.
Oriel found herself in a disgustingly pink room. The human, Eve, seemed to have found every single pink object imaginable to cover the room . Who even created such odd things in such awful shades? A flamingo watercolor hung in one corner, pink rice lights rimmed the walls, and a bubblegum desk sat against the far wall. Oriel considered that maybe she had found herself in some odd corner of the underworld. She dismissed the possibility quickly. This whole decor scheme was too weird even for that. Still, no human had summoned anything in hundreds of years. And now, somehow a child had found an ancient book, had the patience to translate it, and perform the ritual.
Oriel flopped on top of Eve's watermelon bedspread. The human would probably be too terrified to come upstairs for a while. What could she tell about the girl just from looking around the room?
Definitely religious. Oriel could spot at least a dozen crosses around the room and she was pretty confident that the leather book with the cracked spine on the bookshelf was a Bible. Looking at the bookshelf, Eve clearly liked to read. Most of the books looked contemporary, but Oriel managed to spot a few books that she knew.
A well-worn pillow-pink of course-lay smushed on the floor. It looked like some sort of chair based on the indentation. Either the chair was really old or Eve didn't get out much. Oriel would bet on the latter. People who got out tended to avoid summoning demons.
The rest of the room looked tidy and organized despite the nausea-inducing pink. Everything had its place. The only thing on the desk was a line of perfectly aligned pencils. Oriel suspected that if she hadn't laid on Eve's bed, it wouldn't have had a single wrinkle. Other than the bean bag chair, the room barely looked lived in. It made Oriel's skin itch.
She heard a soft buzz from the corner of the room. A small, glowing rectangle sat on Eve's dresser. Curiosity was enough to stir Oriel from her place on the bed. The rectangle's light went out as she drew closer.
Based on its scent, the rectangle must have been some sort of human built device. She hadn't expected them to ever have technology that advanced. Then again, it had been a very long time since she'd last been summoned.
In her hand, the device was surprisingly light. She clicked a button, and the screen lit up with a pink rose. When she pressed the largest button, numbers appeared and requested a password. Maybe Eve wasn't as clueless as Oriel had thought. Humans rarely created passcodes for items in their own home. They much preferred convenience over safety. Maybe Eve had some secrets to hide. That might be a little more interesting.
"Please don't damage my phone," Oriel was surprised Eve had already gathered the nerve to come see what she was doing.
"What's the password?"
Eve blinked in surprise for a moment, "No." Oriel rolled her eyes. She might be able to scare it out of the human, but it didn't really seem worth it. She wouldn't want Eve's chestnut hair to turn prematurely gray. She set the device down.
"Your room has a lot of pink." Oriel motioned around.
Eve flushed, "My parents read an article on how pink is the most soothing color, so when they had me…"
"They made your room look like a blended flamingo. And they say I'm a demon." Oriel flopped back on the bed. How long would it take before she could redecorate? Preferably with some shade other than pink.
"Talking about my parents, you can't let them see you," Eve's gaze intensified into a glare.
"No problem. I try to avoid crazy parents anyhow. Last time, a guy's parents tried to stab me with silver daggers." Oriel raised her eyebrows in expectation, but Eve didn't thank the demon. Maybe human conversation skills had seriously declined too.
"Thanks," Eve glanced back at Oriel before grabbing her phone and leaving the room. Oriel allowed her muscles to relax. Mattress-making had definitely improved in the last few centuries.
Closing her eyes, she listened. She could hear a bird calling, probably a robin. When she'd walked from the shed to the house, she'd heard the rustling leaves. It was one of her favorite times of the Earth year, when gold and crimson coated the ground in a crunchy carpet.
She could hear slightly less natural sounds too. Occasionally, something large would move with a woosh. It must have been some form of transportation based on the sound.
Her heartbeat began to slow with the hypnotic sounds of the human world when the door downstairs opened. Eve's parents must have come home.
Eve had only mentioned that her parents couldn't see Oriel, not the other way around. It was time to learn more about the human she was stuck with for the next few years.
Eve tried not to fidget when her parents came in the door. She'd wanted to change clothes in case she still smelled like candle smoke, but the demon had been in her room.. There was no way she was sticking around to grab an extra shirt and certainly not changing when the demon was there.
"How was the picnic?" she hoped her voice didn't sound weird. Her parents looked up for a split-second while hanging their coats
"Kind of boring," her mom said, "what'd you do while we were gone?"
"I read my book." She waited for her parents to ask any follow-up questions. If they checked her bookmark, they'd see that it hadn't moved. Worse, if they glanced in her room, they'd see a person-looking thing with scary teeth who definitely wasn't supposed to be there. Her dad just nodded.
Eve chewed on her lower lip, "I'm gonna keep reading. I'm at a good part." No protests from either parent. She stood up, willing her legs to stay steady as she walked up the stairs. She stopped at the top, curling and uncurling her toes for a few seconds before reopening her door and stepping on her ballerina-pink carpet.
Her room was empty. Her watermelon bedspread was rumpled but demon-free. Had the demon miraculously disappeared? Maybe Eve had imagined the whole thing. She blinked slowly, then opened her eyes again. Still empty.
"Don't get too excited. I'm still here," Oriel leaned against the doorway behind her. Eve, recoiled again; she couldn't help but note that she was trapped in her own room. The only other exit was her window, but that was locked.
"I told you to stay away from my parents."
"You told me to not be seen and I wasn't." Oriel twirled a dark strand of hair as she strolled over to Eve's bed reclined on top again. Eve resisted glaring at her. It probably wasn't wise to keep offending her new celestial roommate.
"We need to come to an agreement," Eve said. She couldn't bring herself to sit down with the demon on her bed.
"How about: you brought me here, you do what I want?" Oriel stretched her arms like a cat, not even bothering to look at Eve.
Oriel rolled to face her, leaning casually against her hand, "Then what's your idea?"
"I'll provide you with food, clothes, and a place to stay, you stay out of my way." Eve crossed her arms. She tried to look confident, but she suspected she looked more like she was cold. It probably didn't help that she shivered as Oriel considered her.
"So I have to suffer through the human world, and I don't get any freedom to explore?" Oriel still wasn't taking her seriously.
"I don't want you here."
"How about this? I get my basic needs met and I can bother you."
"Fine, you can interact with me. But you can't hurt anyone or do other bad things."
Oriel stuck out her hand for a second time, "deal."
Eve hesitated, "Do demons actually keep deals?"
"I guess you'll find out." Eve grabbed Oriel's hand. Goosebumps prickled her arm from Oriel's chilly fingers. Maybe demons were cold-blooded.
Eve glanced at the demon on her bed then sat on her pink bean bag chair. She needed to give herself a pep talk. All things considered, Oriel wasn't that bad. At least, not yet. Maybe having a demon around would be like having a secret roommate. She could deal with that. Besides, she had no obligation to be polite to a demon and that would make interactions much simpler. Oriel certainly hadn't been polite to her.
"You can stay in the guest room," Eve said.
"I'm staying here," Oriel extended her arms and legs into a giant X over Eve's bed for emphasis.
"Or I can get you some blankets for the floor," Eve had a sinking feeling she already knew where the conversation was going.
"I'm going with this bed, but those blankets are an excellent idea for you," Oriel smiled. Eve scowled. She supposed she could live with sleeping on the floor for a while until they found a new arrangement.
"Fine," she conceded. She could have sworn Oriel's victory smile dropped for a moment before returning—mask-like—to her face. If Oriel wanted to be difficult, Eve vowed she would be equally accepting and low-maintenance. She'd been hearing for years about turning the other cheek to her enemies and treating others how you wished to be treated. Even if her intentions weren't entirely pure, she would follow her parent's instructions.