Monday, August 17, 2009

John Darksword Pulp Theologian in "SUFFER THE CHILDREN"

(This was previously posted and ignored on Goodreads, hopefully, it will have a better home here.)

It was approaching one o’ clock and Mrs. Henderson knew from the stories that he was never late. She looked down at her watch once more and shivered a little. This man was not like other men. This man did not fear the dark around him, the uncertainty, the void, but embraced it, this man did not faint at the sight of blood, but fought on, wounded or otherwise. This was a powerful ally and a powerful enemy, the man who was never late. He walked into the Denny’s and the waitresses whispered among themselves. He was tall and broad, John Darksword, with a face both stern and handsome and hair black as the hearts of the men he called his enemies. Mrs. Henderson was frightened and excited, as most women were in his company tended but be, yet also she was relieved, for anyone could help her son, it was John Darksword.
“Elizabeth Henderson?” John Darksword asked the nervous, middle aged lady, who might once have been beautiful, but had been worn away by time and concern.
“Yes. You must be John Darksword.”
“I am,” said John Darksword, his voice gentle and yet possessed of unwavering confidence and authority.
“I was told you could help my son. I think he’s involved in a cult.”
Concern came over the tall, strong theologian’s features, concern but not fear.
“Why do you say that?”
“He’s into some strange things.”
John Darksword nodded, knowing that strange things could often be the province of the devil, but through his years of studying scripture and folklore knew as well that the devil was not involved as frequently as people would like to believe.
“I would like to see your son’s room,” the theologian said, “I need to check for satanic paraphernalia.”
Mrs. Henderson nodded. “Thank you,” she said.
“No problem,” replied John Darksword, “the community college has me on sabbatical.”
Mrs. Henderson paid for her Moons over my Hammy and they left together.
The Henderson’s house was an underwhelming 50’s ranch house painted eggshell white. John Darksword, man of the world that he was, found it quite dull, it reminded him that the locals were not used to the exotic and the supernatural. As he walked in, Mrs. Henderson’s beagle, Snoopy attempted to take a bite out of the tall, strong man’s black cloak, but John Darksword was fast from years of dueling and darted out of the way before the dark, imposing garment was torn.
“My goodness!” Mrs. Henderson cried, “may I take your cloak?”
“No thanks,” replied John Darksword who removed his cloak for no man.
Mrs. Henderson shrugged. “All right, Nathaniel’s room is this way.”
Mrs. Henderson’s suspicions were not unfounded, for when John Darksword entered, he found many things oft associated with worship of the Prince of Darkness. There were Black Sabbath, Gwar and Metallica posters, Dungeons and Dragons supplements, neglected unread textbooks and shoeboxes filled with Magic; the Gathering cards. When he finished looking through the evidence, his stern face lit up with epiphany.
“Where do kids around here go when they skip school to smoke pot and start mischief?”
Mrs. Henderson didn’t need to think long, as she was a clever woman in spite of her dull, peasant stock. “Usually the Watkins Place on Oak Street. It’s been abandoned for years.”
Without a word, John Darksword rushed out the door and onto Oak Street where he knew he would find the missing children who had been skipping school lately and staying out at all hours of the night. The rituals necessary would require much time and many different incantations at sunrise, sunset, midnight and noon, indeed at all hours of the day. It would only be a matter of time, but he knew the peril he would face would be great as the rituals had surely just been completed.
The Watkins place decayed ominously between other brightly lit houses whose occupants were surely at work or asleep. The perfect place to perform feats of dark magic. Dread almost pierced the theologian’s steely heart as he saw that a cloud of darkness hung overhead, a cloud of black magic. He drew his twin scimitars, enchanted in the names of Osiris and his foul brother, Set by an obscure Egyptian cult, as these weapons would be the best for defense against and the destruction of demonic entities. With a mighty Tae Kwon Do kick, John Darksword burst through the door and was met by the evil’s first line of defense.
The beast stood eight feet tall, reaching the house’s low ceiling. It had the head of a drooling warthog and the body of a great ape. In its mighty hands it held an enormous battle axe, which it brought down in hopes of putting an end to the mighty man of academia. But, John Darksword sidestepped the blow! With a deft slash, he sliced open the creature’s side! The monster bellowed and pain and backed off. Other men would have let the creature flee, but John Darksword was not other men. He leapt forward, scimitars at the ready and sliced with each blade. Blood and maggots spewed forth from the wounds and it roared again. What John Darksword didn’t know was that the demon was calling for help!
Goblins the size of young children with heads like bats and vicious little knives in their gnarled, deformed hands rushed into the entry way. Surely there must have been at least twenty. John Darksword backed off, sheathing his swords and drawing his twin forty four magnums and open firing. While these were surely creatures of darkness, the enchantment binding them into existence was nowhere near as strong as that which had conjured the demon. Excellent marksman that he was, the bat faced devils could not get nearly close enough to do him any harm. Effortlessly, one by one, he shot the monsters dead until few enough were left for him to dispatch with his swords. With a fervor that equaled that of the Arabian dervishes he spun his swords, taking heads and limbs as he advanced. Even the retreating demon was slain with little effort.
Suddenly , a cry pierced the air.
“FUCK! Dude, it sounds like someone’s shootin’ our fuckin’ demon!”
He followed the frightened yell and came to a room in the attic where four teenagers sat smoking reefer in a circle. At the center standing on a pentagram that had been carved into the floor was a hideous hooved monstrosity with great black batwings and a disfigured goatlike face. It’s massive, swollen member dragged against the ground.
“Stop!” cried John Darksword.
“You’re too late,” the devil cackled, “their souls are mine.”
“Not so!” John Darksword screamed defiantly.
“What do you mean?” asked a confused young man in a Marilyn Manson shirt.
“Kids, you’re not dealing with the devil at all. You’re looking at Baal, a perfectly innocuous Babylonian fertility god. This guy’s not going to give you any immortality in exchange for your soul.”
“You’re clever, John Darksword!” the goat god exclaimed, “but there is nothing you can do now.”
“These boys sold their souls to Satan who didn’t show up. If he had, he would have had their souls. That contract is void because you are not Satan. Go bug some Wiccans.”
“Damn you, John Darksword! I’ll get you for this!” the fertility god cried as he disappeared in a cloud of grain.
One of the boys, who had a more than passing resemblance to Elizabeth Henderson approached the wise and powerful swordsman.
“How did you know?” he asked.
“Well, Nathaniel, , your history textbook doesn’t have a chapter on Mesopotamia, so I figured this rascal would be up to his old tricks… and I was right. It’s all thanks to that goddamn No Child Left Behind!”
“Now that’s evil!” Nathaniel quipped. A good laugh was had by all.

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