Always in Your ShadowSummary: Peter accidentally summoned a demon as a pre-teen. Now as an adult and a successful businessman, the demon shows back up. What happens when she encourages him to indulge his deepest desires?
(This story features human/demon romance, but I'm using the term 'demon' relatively loosely. She's more like a creature who is from another plane of existence? Don't think too hard about it!)
When I was 12 I accidentally summoned a demon.
I know what you’re probably thinking. There’s no way! You’re just being dramatic; I bet the lights flickered a few times and you just got spooked and overreacted.
I wish that’s all it was. Over time I’d even sort of convinced myself that I’d made the whole thing up. But now, seventeen years later, I had unequivocal proof that I had, in fact, summoned a demon all those years ago.
See, this all started over the summer between sixth and seventh grade. I had gotten really into online forums. At first it was just creepypasta stuff, things that would make me too scared to sleep so I’d end up staying awake all night on my computer. I didn’t have to get up for school during summer vacation, so it didn’t matter if I stayed up all night and slept until noon. But from all of those hours online, I started coming across a lot of posts about the occult, and I got weirdly curious. Now, I didn't actually think any of it was real, you see. I just thought it was cool. Edgy. A form of rebellion against my religious parents, though I was careful to make sure my browser history was kept a secret from them.
That’s what led to me finding a post detailing how to set up a demonic summoning. I thought it would be funny to try out when I had my friend Mike come to my house for a sleepover. He readily agreed, and we laughed as we set up my basement for the ritual, following the instructions from the online tutorial very carefully.
After we’d compiled our water, oil, wine (which was actually purple grape juice from my fridge, hopefully the demon wouldn’t know the difference), and a candle, we set to work, reciting the Latin words exactly as the post had instructed us to. We added the specified amount of drops of oil into the cup, before washing it out with the grape juice first, then with water.
Nothing happened. For some reason, I’d been disappointed. It wasn’t like I’d actually thought it would work but… Maybe I’d hoped that I could look cool in front of Mike if the candle went out midway through or if the room suddenly started feeling cold.
But none of those things happened.
“Well, that was a bust,” I said, slowly starting to gather our things to clean up.
“Told you we should’ve drawn a pentagram,” Mike muttered.
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, I bet my mom would love to find that. I’d be grounded until college.”
Then I heard something behind me. For clarification, my basement was only partially finished, and there was a section behind where Mike and I were settled on the couch that had only a cement floor. It was where our HVAC system, washer and dryer were. It was dark over there, with no overhead light, only a string light dangling from the ceiling. It was after midnight, so that area was practically pitch black.
Mike and I both froze, staring into the dark where the noise had come from. We could see nothing.
“Wha–,” I started to say, but shut up immediately when I heard something again.
My immediate thought was that somehow an animal must’ve gotten in.
I got up to go check. Mike was staring at me in horror, and somehow that made me braver, to show off my fearlessness in front of my friend like I’d tried to do with the demon summoning stunt.
“It’s probably a cat or something,” I whispered, trying to act nonchalant. There were strays in our neighborhood sometimes, so it wasn’t an unrealistic assumption, but Mike just bit his lip, staring at me with wide-eyes.
I slowly made my way across the basement, hands out in front of me feeling for that pull-light. I found it eventually, and pulled the chain carefully, trying not to make much noise. I figured that a spooked animal might try to lash out if I startled it.
But when I pulled the light, what I saw wasn’t a cat.
It was a kid. Well… sort of.
Tucked into the corner of the basement was the shape of a person curled into the fetal position, with long black hair covering most of their body. The shape looked feminine, with the long hair and all, but it was hard to tell with how she was curled up. She was contorted into a ball, like she’d been trying to make herself as small as possible.
There was a long moment where I held completely still, afraid to even breathe lest this thing hear me. It reminded me of the girl from The Ring and I was utterly petrified.
The girl whimpered again, shaking like she was cold. A thud behind me indicated that Mike had possibly fallen off the couch.
I didn’t take my eyes off of the girl to check.
No, I watched, heart beating out of my chest, as the girl’s head slowly lifted and I caught a glimpse of her face.
She was young, she looked about 10, or maybe a little younger. Her skin was so pale it was nearly gray. What was more startling were her eyes. They looked too big for her face, like the proportions were off somehow. And the color…They looked almost purple.
“Y-You called for me?” she said in a high-pitched, trembling voice.
I swallowed. Did I? Did that stupid forum tutorial actually succeed in summoning a demon?
No. Someone must have been squatting in my basement, I thought to myself. Surely that made more sense. Purple eyes though…
“Who are you?” I asked. I hunched my shoulders and remembered what my dad always said when we went hunting together, They’re more afraid of you than you are of them. Granted, he was talking about deer, but still. It probably applied.
The girl flinched at the harsh sound of my voice and I immediately felt a little bad.
“I c-can’t give you my name unless you give me something of yours,” she said, and her weird purple eyes lifted up glassily to look at me. It was a pleading sort of look. Oh no.
Immediately I was on high alert. I hadn’t been reading all of that occult shit for no reason. I knew to avoid making a deal with an… entity like this (I refused to think of this thing as a demon, despite the mounting evidence).
“I’m not letting you trick me into giving you my soul,” I said, balling my hands into fists to stop them from shaking. Despite being terrified, I held myself together. I had to be smart about this.
The girl’s face looked pained, eyebrows scrunched. “N-No, I — just let me st-stay, I’ll be whatever you need. Just let me stay here. I don’t wanna go back,” she begged, shaking violently, on the verge of sobbing, and oh god, now her eyes were brimming with unshed tears.
“Let you stay… What does that mean?” I asked carefully, though my own voice sounded far away to my own ears.
The girl perked up at that, sniffling and wiping her eyes with the back of her hands. “I’ll be yours! And I won’t ask for anything in return except for….” she seemed to pause, considering. Her eyes lit up, “one hair off of your head! And then I won’t have to go back!” She chirped a bit, making these slightly animalistic noises from her chest.
I didn’t know what the hell to do.
“You’ll be whatever I need?” I repeated dumbly.
The girl nodded.
“And you only want a hair off my head?”
I licked my lips. What kind of jacked up deal was that?
I looked at her pathetic form for a few moments, and all I could feel was sympathy for something so pitiful. At this point, I think my brain pretty much checked out. I sort of… dissociated. Looking back on it, I think I possibly started believing that this wasn’t real. It made more sense that I was just having a weird dream. A nightmare.
So if this was a dream, what harm was there? May as well see it to the end, I figured, and then proceeded to tug out a strand of my hair. I could see the moment the girl realized that I was agreeing because her formerly gloomy face transformed into absolute joy and relief.
The girl stood up then, and I saw that she was hardly wearing any clothes — just one piece of fabric wrapped around her chest and one around her hips — which was distinctly uncomfortable for me, a 12-year old boy, to see. Especially since she was sickly-thin to the point of looking skeletal. But the girl reached out with tiny hands adorned with discolored dark fingernails to grab the hair from me, which she then tied around her finger. She mumbled a bunch of words in an unfamiliar tongue.
As she did, her black hair started to float around her face as though she was underwater. I stood, just watching this happen like it was a movie, in shock or something like it, until she finished. Her gaze at me turned adoring. I’ll never forget that look. It was beyond gratitude. It was like a flower blooming for the sun. Open, worshipful, doting.
“Now I’ll get to be with you, always. Always in your shadow. Thank you,” she purred, looking up at me through thick eyelashes. I noticed that when she smiled, her teeth were insanely sharp.
The girl walked up to me, and again, I was pretty much having an out-of-body experience, so I just watched like a bystander as she wrapped her arms around my waist to hug me. I saw something swishing over her shoulder. And was that… was that a tail I saw sweeping back and forth behind her?
It didn’t matter, because as soon as she wrapped her body around mine, she was dissolving into darkness.
The next day, Mike and I woke up on the couch in my basement. We sat up in silence, staring at the basement corner where only hours ago, there’d been a girl.
Mike and I didn’t really ever talk about it, and the one time I tried to bring it up, he laughed awkwardly and said something about us being sleep deprived and hallucinating.
I don’t think he ever fully believed that what we saw was real. And sure, I wasn’t totally convinced that it was either, but I knew that something about that night was too vivid to be a dream.
The more time passed though, the easier it became to pretend it hadn’t happened. Despite what that girl had said about ‘staying with me’, I had never seen her again. And so, time went on. I grew up.
Occasionally I would think of that night and feel a chill down my spine, but that was it. Looking back on it now though, for the last seventeen years, I noticed things. Unusual things. People would say I was blessed, but I wasn’t sure.
Friends used to call me Good Luck Pete because I was lucky; things would always somehow end up going my way.
For example, when I was a freshman in high school, we had a big storm and tons of trees got destroyed and there were fallen branches all over town.
Our house was the only one on our block that wasn’t hit. Every other house in the neighborhood had debris all over their lawn, or power lines down in their yard. Some had to have shingles on their roofs replaced from where heavy branches had caused damage. But not our house.
In fact, one fireman mentioned to my dad during the cleanup that it almost looked like something had diverted the tree branches from damaging our property. Sure enough, when I looked around, there were smashed up twigs and leaves scattered all over the sidewalk in front of our house, but as though there was an invisible fence, our lawn and house were untouched.
Other things, small occurrences that could’ve been coincidences, continued to happen to me.
If someone spilled a hot coffee, it would land around me, never on my clothes, no stray drop of spray landing on or burning me.
If I dropped a heavy weight at the gym, it would somehow land next to my foot, never on it.
When I got on the football team, I made varsity as a sophomore even though I wasn’t really a stellar athlete. Somehow every pass I threw landed though, without me every having to work on my aim. And our team ended up making it to finals all four years I played, when before our team was pretty much known for being terrible.
Once I graduated, the football team went back to sucking.
So… I was fortunate, I supposed. It wasn’t like I was some kind of good luck charm who could pick the perfect lottery numbers or anything. No, it was almost like I had a guardian angel or something.
I didn’t think much about it at the time, though. Surely it was just dumb luck. In hindsight though…
I’ll get to be with you, always. Always in your shadow.
Sometimes when I was alone, I would look deep into the darkest recesses of my room at night. Looking to see an outline of a young girl.
I never did.