Horla Flash Fiction (July 2020)

THE BOOK

by TOMMY ELLIS

‘WHAT’RE you reading?’ Pandora drained her goblet and leaned over her daughter’s shoulder.

‘A magic book.’

‘What, like card tricks?’

‘No, Mother. It’s a book of real magic.’

Pandora smiled.

‘I’ve been talking to a spirit. He can help me.’

‘Help you do what?’ Pandora’s smile slipped. Lilith was talking to something from another realm. ‘You be careful.’ She’d heard stories about spirits not being what they claimed to be. ‘Just be…’ She’d imagined the flash of colour in Lilith’s eyes, hadn’t she? And what about her daughter’s expression? So brief she wasn’t sure she’d seen it. More than a change of expression, it was a change of personality. OK, Lilith was thirteen-years-old and going through puberty, but this was different.

‘Mother, I…’ Lilith never finished her sentence, at least not in English. Words spilled in a near-breathless cascade. Latin? Lilith couldn’t speak Latin.

‘Lilith?’ Pandora backed away as the girl rose to her feet and kept on rising. Striped socks no longer in contact with the carpet, she floated across the lounge, spewing ancient words.

The book. It had opened a portal to… well, somewhere. If only she could get to it. Burn it, and her daughter would be saved.

Lilith stared down from just below the ceiling, arms outstretched. The cursed book was behind her.

Before she’d even planned, a golden light lasered from Lilith’s eyes, blistering Pandora’s face. She staggered backwards into the wall, knocking the decorative goat skull to the floor.

Then she fled. She careened off the walls, her face in over-done sunbed agony. She had to call someone. She needed help. She needed a priest.

*

Father Barbatos was only twenty minutes away, but in that time Lilith’s ravings had degenerated into something hideous. The Latin was now peppered with English. Demon, Hell, Jesus, and the most disturbing; mine. She daren’t look into the lounge anymore. The last peek revealed wings.

‘I came as fast as I could.’ Father Barbatos placed his trilby on the coffee table. ‘It sounds like possession.’

Pandora opened the lounge door and pointed at her levitating daughter. ‘You think?’

‘OK, has she been reading anything unusual?’

‘A magic book.’

‘Title?’

‘I haven’t seen it properly. It’s in there with…her? It?’

The priest opened his briefcase and pulled out a crucifix. ‘I know how to deal with this.’ He straightened his dog collar that shone red in the glow of the overhead lamp. ‘Stay behind me, the spirit is strong.’ He opened the door once again and stepped into the golden light.

Lilith’s hands covered her bright blue eyes, her rosy smile contorting in agony at the sight of the religious emblem.

‘On the table!’ The priest had to shout to be heard above the screaming. ‘The book!’

Pandora could now see the gold embossed cross. It was worse than she thought.

Father Barbatos stepped forward, both hands gripping the upturned crucifix. ‘The power of Satan compels you!’

 

 

***

Tommy Ellis has been published in Writers’ Forum, Horla and has two books out on Amazon – The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby and The Midas Cat: The Harrington Collection. Before lockdown, he was a full-time gigging musician playing care homes, clubland and functions. He lives in Wales. In a new development, he reports that an audio book by him has been accepted by Amazon and will be out in a few weeks. The audio of The Midas Cat: The Harrington Collection has a bonus story that’s not in the eBook.

Title photo credit – Photo by Sergiu Vălenaș on Unsplash

Standard Horla disclaimer – image has no direct connection with the fiction