If You Want to Piss Off the Devil, Mess Up a Ritual
He came up through a hole in the ground but only half of his body made it. There were two swords spinning around his giant oak torso and one giant sword slamming into the earth after each of my footsteps.
So I walked down the other path. There were birds on this one. Sweet birds with songs about sweet bird things like eating crumbs. But in the distance always the slamming.
The birds as I walked along were picked up from their branches and slammed into the earth at my feet. This big mound was building of dead birds in front of me, piling up into a torso. I know where this is going, I said to the pile. I didn't know where it was going. But I knew where I was going, and that was down the third path. Without the birds, without the devil.
A voice said from somewhere, The devil is everywhere here. The devil is in you. Have you ever thought of fighting your demons instead of running from them? To which I said, Not even once. And the path at my feet quaked. It felt like the earth was ripping. I wondered what would come up through the ground if it tore apart.
Baby thumbs. Little human saplings. Little knives circulating around the little thumbs. The devil still spinning his sword. The air rending like metal, like a man pulled through a wormhole.
I ate a lot of dead birds. The pile was still getting bigger. I wondered where all the birds were coming from, if there was this hole in the world where birds pour out of. Or if lizards were unzipping themselves and birds poured out. I wondered why I thought birds had to pour out from somewhere. I leaned back to yell at the sky and a thousand black doves poured from my mouth. I sewed my mouth shut and ran down the path waving my arms like a bird. I'm sorry, birds, I thought, for eating all of you.
There were no birds left on the path. There was only one path left. I walked the one path for a long time, and my hair grew very long. I shaved my head and sat cross legged. I buried myself to the waist. I looked like a thumbs up.
Everett Warner lives in Lilburn, Georgia. His stuff is places, and he edits things. He is full of blood. He can be found on Twitter @danielwolfer.