I have been called many things over the millennia. Karma. Kismet. Fate. Destiny. Demon. Oftentimes I am summoned by heartbroken and jilted women for the purpose of exacting vengeance on their former lovers. Women from all walks of life from every century have elicited the aid of a strong witch -conjurers of the forbidden arts- to call me from my primordial state into their realities to bring some sort of justice for their poor broken hearts. And for my reward, I get to collect their souls at the end of their lifespans, tipping the scales of favor in my direction. What humans do not understand is that every fiber of their pathetic existence is part of one big complicated conspiracy for the Light to win. They are nothing more than pawns in a game older than Adam and Eve. However, very few demons like myself are allowed to toss their chips on the table. I play to win. I always win.
Well…almost always. There was one point in time when I bet on the wrong horse, and my foolish decision cost me everything I ever loved-including my freedom.
But this time, the cards have been shuffled. There are some new players at the table and one thing I am not about to do is allow any of those fuckers to screw over my chances of winning this eons long battle. This game is almost over. Time is running out. I just need one more soul- well one particular soul for that matter, and then it is game over. My contract will be up for renegotiation. Territories that once belonged to me will be mine again. And everyone that ever fucked with me, betrayed me; or drew the line in the sand against me will cower as they should. But most importantly…
I will be free.
Free to roam the earth and all of its dimensions again instead of being contained to a hellish dimension filled with imprisoned demons from every realm is no walk in the park. The only time I can come up for air is when I am summoned-by a human no less, to do their dirty work. Once the deed is done, I return “home” and wait for their karmic card to be pulled and their souls come right on to me. I keep them safely tucked away in special canopic jars made of glass, secreted away in my den. My powers as a demon are strong in my world, so there is little concern for a rival demon to waltz in when I am away on “business” and steal my hard earned stash.
So, who am I?
You are about to find out.
Dana Smith glanced around the shady neighborhood uneasily, shoving her icy hands into her pockets and taking slow even breaths. Her cousin instructed her that this is where the woman lived and conducted her “business”. A year ago, Dana would have never thought she would consider doing something like this. She was raised in a ‘praying family” where all troubles were given to God in Heaven. But this ache, this indescribable pain in her chest, right at the seat of her heart would not go away. For all of her praying, sobbing, nights of lack of sleep and more praying, it seemed that the heavens fell silent when it came to matters of a broken heart. Anger set in at the thought of her ex-boyfriend Carlos and his latest betrayal.
Move on her friends told her.
It will get better, they said. Give yourself time, they said.
Three months, one week and six days later, her heart still felt like it took a battering ram. She was bruised. She was broken. She was hurt. And all because of a man. A man she trusted with her soul. A man who made her feel safe. A man who awakened things within her that she never knew existed. And for what?
She walked three blocks down the dark streets, trying to ignore the sounds of gunshots off in the distance. The stench of the homeless filled her nostrils as she walked by a group of transients that were huddled together, struggling to keep warm by the bonfire one of them created. Keeping her eyes to the ground she walked quickly until she reached the single row of houses with matching unkept lawn, porches that were in desperate need of repair. The houses were left unprotected, no fencing whatsoever, therefore leaving them open to collecting waste from passerbyes. Dana pulled out the address she scribbled on a piece of paper, checking to see which house matched the address, and surely enough, it was the one on the far end.
Gathering what little courage she had, she marched up the five steps that led to the mustard yellow house that proved to be an eye sore even under the cover of darkness and knocked on the screen door.
“Who is it?” Came the sweet voice of a woman from behind the door.
“My name is Dana,” Dana announced. “My cousin LaVonne sent me. She said you can help…”
Slowly the screen door creaked open. “Come in,” the woman said.
Dana stepped inside, grateful for the warmth the house offered despite its outward appearance. She managed to catch a quick glance of the woman before she disappeared into the hallway, leaving her alone in her eclectically designed living room. The woman had to be a little over four feet. Kemetian locks covered her head in a messy bun, decorated with seashells and beads. Rich dark skin, marred by only a few wrinkles- a true testament of time- revealed itself under the low lighting offered by the lava lamps that rested on the end tables. An old torn velveteen couch greeted her, along with the décor that presented an interesting mixture of past and present.
“Have a seat,” the woman said, reappearing from the hall. In her hands she carried a small leather bag, an empty vial, and a small chicken she gripped tightly around the neck.
Dana’s eyes widened as she took a seat on the couch. Doubt clawed at her mind. She should have known LaVonne would have sent her on a ridiculous adventure all in the name of-
“So, a man broke your heart?” The woman asked as she took a seat on a stool across from where Dana sat.
“He did more than break my heart,” Dana said sadly. “He torched my soul.”
The woman nodded with understanding. “Ah, he scorched ya didn’t he? No one tells the raw truth about love…it can burn. Set ya on fire. Turn you to ash if ya let it.” The woman looked Dana in the eye before continuing. “Tell me now, what exactly did he do?”
Dana swallowed thickly before answering. The painful memory of Carlos and her discovery made her almost want to vomit again. “He…cheated on me.”
“With who?” The woman urged.
“He is an actor. He told me she was just a cast mate. I knew something was up,” Dana said fighting back tears. “When he stopped answering my calls like he used to. He stopped putting forth the effort to call me back…”
“Could it be that you are just clingy?” The woman asked curiously.
Dana shook her head. “No. I thought I was just trippin’ at first. Tried to give him the benefit of the doubt because I knew he loved me. But, one night I had to beg him to come over. Like, seriously beg him. And when he finally decided to come, hit was obvious with me it just was not where he wanted to be. So, we are in the living room, watching a movie…he gets up to go to the bathroom. He leaves his phone…I go through it and there it was: text message after text message. Pictures of her in lingerie…responses from him…everything you could imagine…” Dana stopped to wipe a stray tear that rolled down her face.
“And then what happened?”
“He came out of the bathroom, I confront him…we fight. He leaves.”
“How’d that make you feel?”
“Devastated…” Dana could no longer hold in the torrent of emotion that threatened to drown her. She succumbed to it, allowing the floodgates to open. She sobbed openly, garnering the sympathetic look of the woman who was supposed to be “gifted” enough to make her pain go away.
“Did he call you?” The woman asked softly.
“Yeah,” Dana sniffed. “He apologized to me over and over…said he loved me and only me. Claimed that he wanted to work it out. But, I told him that I need time and space to figure things out.”
The woman sighed. “So who are you really mad at child? Did your cousin tell you that only people who want revenge come to me?”
Dana shook her head. “I just told LaVonne that I wanted the pain to go away because I can’t take it. You know what? I went to the woman’s Facebook profile right? Checked her out and she is gorgeous. And look at me…”
Before Dana knew it, the woman had moved from her stool, released the chicken and took her into an embrace, resting her head on her bosom, whispering, “Never compare yourself to another woman. Never. Ya hear me child? You are beautiful and for all of my wickedness, I sense a pure heart in you.” The woman then released her, and cupped her face in her hands. “Listen here, give me the name of the man who broke your heart. The only thing I can give you are some herbs to make teas with to soothe your nerves and help you sleep because it looks like you have not slept in days…”
“I don’t want to hurt him,” Dana sniffled. “I’m sorry… I should not have come here.”
“But you did,” the woman argued. “And I want to help. It breaks my poor old heart to see such a lovely young woman like you in such misery. I promise you no harm will come to him, but he will learn a valuable lesson when it comes to the heart. We just might be able to fix this.”
“We?” Dana asked wiping her face.
“What is his name?” The woman demanded.
“David,” Dana sniffled. “David Mendez.”
“Did you bring his picture?”
Dana reached into her bag and pulled out an old photo of the two of them together at a fair. The woman examined it and smiled. “Cute couple you are. And the woman. What is her name? I can search for her picture myself.”
With the blink of an eye the woman snatched the chicken that had strutted towards its departure into the hallway and snapped its head clean off. Dana screamed, but her cry went ignored. The chicken blood drizzled onto the hardwood floor, and the woman began to chant in a language that Dana was sure she had never heard before. Backing all the way up against the couch, she watched as the blood formed a pentagram star in the center of the living room.
“We ask for permission to speak with the goddess of revenge…Kalima of Darkness and Light. We summon you Kalima…” The old woman’s voice grew louder and stronger as the lines of the pentagram turned neon red. The temperature in the room increased slowly and Dana wiped beads of sweat from her brow. She searched the room frantically for an escape, but the woman and the pentagram were blocking the only visible route to freedom.
The woman turned to look at Dana. Her glossy eyed expression giving her a ghastly appearance. “When you leave this place, you will remember nothing that transpired here. You will not remember my face nor the house in which I reside. All will be as it once was before you arrived.”
Dana screamed again when a clawed hand forced its way from the center of the pentagram. And before she witnessed anything else, everything went black.