Short Story
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                     The Prince of Devils
                                            By Helen Mihajlovic

                    
I am veiled by darkness in a bluestone wall chamber where I am confined.  
The moon peers through the murky clouds while it faintly illuminates the night
sky.  Its light pours into my shattered window allowing the tiniest beam to
reach the walls; all I see are shadows.  I tremble as the bitter wind fills the
entirety of the empty chamber.  Through a crack in the decaying door, I see
his red eyes.

My limbs shake; my head begins to feel light.  I glance at his long, sharp red
horns and there is a loud thrash of his tail against the ground.  I fear he will
come near me, I fear the old door will open.  The grim clouds abruptly hasten
overshadowing the moon.  The wind grows furious as the sky develops into a
place of war among nature’s elements.

I hear his roaring footsteps but they do not come closer; they grow distant.  
As I endeavour to escape, I fall on the broken stone floor and my dress
covers in mire.  While the storm becomes fierce, a raucous trotting of horses
charges from the stables as he leaves with the carriage.

I muster the strength to rise and scurry to the door, striving to break it and
attain my freedom.  The hasty emerging rain pounds on my window and
seeps through the ceiling.  I am drenched and shudder with coldness as the
storm’s temperament further intensifies.  The olden door’s hinge loosens.  I
am free.  The door collapses with a piercing thump.

I dash down a winding staircase coated with cobwebs.  I hurry to an ancient
hallway with high ceilings, filled with decomposing furniture and walls.  As I
frantically look for an escape, a door behind me creaks open.  My heart
pulses with terror.  I look behind me to see it is the wind and a door that leads
to freedom.

I rush outside into the cold wind.  A lightning bolt drops from the sky
determined to destroy as it strikes the edge of the cliff and breaks the rim.  
The sky floods with light then fills with the fervent sound of thunder.  The sea
moves destructively crashing towards crumbling rocks.  I have taken a wrong
path.  As I turn I am horrified.  He stands before me.  His eyes are violent,
filled with fire.  His tail lashes furiously; his mouth spits vast flames.  

‘I will never let you leave, Serena,’ he says.

I cannot escape.  I am held captive by a devil.

I remember how I came to be here.  I met him on the worst day of my life.  My
dearest brother, the last of my family, had taken his life.  In my most somber
hour, I sat weeping at my beloved William’s grave.  A large shadow cast over
me and I glanced up to see a tall thin man with silver hair standing over me.

‘Is that your brother who lies here?’ he asked.

‘Sadly, it is true.  My life holds little worth now.’

‘For what is life without love?  One would rather be dead,’ he said.

‘Who are you?’ I blinked away a remnant tear.

‘I have come to help you.  I will bring your brother back to his living being.’

‘But how?’ I inquired, bewildered.

‘I have the power to do so.  I ask for only one thing in return.’ He stepped
closer and hovered over me.

‘Anything!’ I said, my lips quivered.

‘What I ask for is something you do not really own.  But it is only with your
permission that I may take it.’

‘I will give whatever you require to bring him back.  I love him so much.’ I
sighed.

‘Then you will give me anything I want?’ An evil grin crossed his lips.  

‘Yes, take whatever you must.’

He was in human form then, but I feared that our encounter would lead to a
dire destiny.  His true shape would not be shown until much later.     

As I sobbed by my brother’s grave, a figure of a man who reminded me of
William came from afar.  I could not yet distinguish him or yet believe it, but as
he came closer, it became apparent it was he.  I ran to him and we hugged.

‘But William, I thought you were dead,’ I said.

‘I was just sleeping.’ His eyelids were half shut as if he was waking from a long
slumber.

As I glanced back at the grave, it was covered in the greenest grass and the
man with the silver hair had disappeared.

We spent hours talking of childhood memories, the innocence of the time and
the freedom of ignorance.  I was enthralled in his presence and by his every
word.  We read near an open fire while listening to the evocative, nostalgic
Rachmaninov’s Barcarolle Opus 11.

The leaves of autumn had decomposed into the dirt, while the bare trees of
winter still stood.  I walked wearily carrying a heavy load of wood for our fire.  
When I arrived home, William’s body rested limp on the chair, his limbs frail,
his mind tenuous.  His illness had returned.  Each day William grew weaker.

One day there was a knock on the door, my head jolted up startled by the
unexpected bang.

‘Have some more food William.  There is plenty, you are looking thin,’ I
insisted.   The knock became thunderous.  I hastily walked to the door and
eased it open.  To my horror there he stood, the man with the silver hair.

‘Why have you come here?’ I asked.

‘To take that which you have promised me,’ he said.

‘I will not give it to you.  My brother is ill; he has not eaten for weeks.  He is
unhappy.  He is not himself,’ I yelled.

‘You must give me what is rightfully mine.’

‘No, I cannot.’  

His eyes widened and began to fill with blood.  I saw the flames in them.  I
remember little else, aside from waking in a chamber.

And now my body quivers as I stand with him on this corroding cliff, his loud
roar rouses me from my remembrances.  All I love is dead.  There is no one
to come for me, no one to be my saviour.  He unfolds his gargantuan red
wings; my head feels flimsy, my limbs quake.  His large nostrils breathe a
treacherous flame which destroys part of the decrepit cliff.   His sharp claws
dig into my limbs as he clutches at my dress; blood floods through the cuts of
my wounds.  He carries me up into the thunderstorm towards the haunting
castle.

I am thrown into the decaying chamber.  I sit there alone.  I believe that he
hears my thoughts.  There is no way to escape this vile existence.

For days, I do not eat well.  My stomach aches and my mouth is dry.  He
leaves little pieces of food to keep me alive, but weak.  Why does he feed
me?  I have slept but three hours in the last two nights.  As delirium
descends, my mind wanders.  I think of love, of my great need for it.  I think of
a man with red-tinged hair whom I so wanted to care for but would not return
his affection.  A question lingers in my head.  Will anyone ever love me again?

Dawn is fast approaching.  The sun’s light peeks through the sky and I smell
his horrid scent as he approaches.  I tremble with trepidation as he draws
nearer to this dismal chamber.  With a loud screech the door opens.  It is the
man with the silver hair.  His eyes become red; two of the largest horns grow
from his head with the sharpest edge.  My heart clatters with terror.  His skin
changes to a less human form, red and jagged.  His ears are pointy and his
nostrils large.  Fire blasts from his mouth.

His claws reach for me; he glimpses my neck and withdraws.

‘You will come with me now,’ he demands.

He leads me to an underground tunnel enveloped in filth.  The odour is foul
and as we approach I can hear the intolerable groaning of people in pain.  My
body shudders and my teeth clench.  The dimly lit torches reveal his
gruesome scalding skin.  I grow warmer as we near the tunnel’s end.

‘Where are you taking me?’

He does not answer.  I know that if I do not follow him I will irrefutably die.

As I enter, an insufferable heat prevails upon me; all-embracing flames leap
from deep within a pit.  Loud screams of many men and women being
tortured fill the abyss.  A naked robust woman is tied to a wrack and viciously
beaten with a long cane.  She yells in pain.  Near her, a man sits on a rock as
a demon sadistically pulls the right eye from the man’s skull.  Another young
man lies on a table as his toes are cut off, one by one; he screeches with
agony.  A woman’s decapitated head sits on a bookshelf.

‘I am the ruler of the fallen world,’ the devil says.

The fire never ceases to be.  I follow him to a deeper tunnel leading to a
slender man with extraordinary beauty.  The demon spreads the man’s limbs
and bends him over, sodomising him.  Two other demons rush to his side and
cruelly indulge in him.  His struggles are futile.

I breathe rapidly, the sweat pours from my skin, and all is darkening in front of
me.  As he touches me, his skin dreadfully coarse, his energy penetrates
me.  I no longer feel faint.  A venomous green snake slithers on the searing
ground.  I am not frightened.

I am surrounded by wickedness.  There are others like him everywhere.  He
takes me into an arcane tunnel where the inferno is a visual splendor of
colours; red, orange, yellow, blue fire cloaks us.  I watch the devils before me
as they feast on a man’s flesh.

‘What name do you go by?’ I ask.

‘I have been called Lucifer.’

The prince of devils, Satan!  I am horrified; I lose consciousness.

My bones protrude through my skin.  My body is weak.  I drift in and out of
sleep for months.  While I lie on the cold ground, I think of my mother.  She
was a religious, traditional woman who attended church each Sunday.  I touch
the necklace reminiscent of her.  I wish she was alive to comfort me.  Instead I
face this alone.

I hear the thunderous plod of his cloven hooves.  Perchance I should die
here with no one to mourn me.  He strides into the chamber holding a long
blood-red staff with a fork-shaped top.  It is a grand and powerful staff, a
majestic weapon filled with malevolence.  My head pounds and my stomach
grinds with fright.  His red eyes are more furious than ever.

‘I have not done anything bad to anyone.  I have spent my life being good,
yet I have had so much tragedy.  Why have you chosen me?’ I ask.

‘You have bargained with me.  You told me I could have your soul.’

‘Then why won’t you take it?’ I retort.

He raises his pitchfork and takes aim in my direction.  My breath quickens as I
start to sob.  The pitchfork flies through the air.  While it draws closer I know I
will die.  Suddenly, a deafening sound tumbles from the tunnels of Hell, a
blast that shakes the Earth.  As the pitchfork rushes toward me, the Earth
begins to ferociously shake beneath me and splits open, throwing me against
the bluestone wall.  The pitchfork misses me.  I look up to see the prince of
devils diving into an inferno beneath the Earth.  My head rises; tears emerge
from my eyes as I am overwhelmed with joy.  I leap to the olden door.  I run
outside.  Is it the end of Earth?  While running there is vociferous crashing
beside me as the castle’s tower crumbles.  A frightened lady rushes out of the
castle near me.

‘Run,’ she insists, ‘the demon Amaymon has set war against Satan.’

I run and do not look back.  I hear the crumble of the castle, the crashing and
the screams of thousands of men and women.

I am saved.  I run for hours, until I reach the greenest grass and peace.  

Years later I sit near my brother’s grave, placing a pretty bunch of white
orchids on it.  I say the Lord’s Prayer.  As I sit thinking of William, I dab at my
moist eyes.  A large shadow is cast over me and my heart races with dread.  I
turn to see it is the Church’s pastor.

‘Good Morning Madam,’ he says, ‘I did not mean to frighten you.  As long as
you wear that necklace around your neck, no one may harm you.’  

At that moment I realise why the devil could not take my soul.  It was the little
necklace my mother had given me as a child, a crucifix that always hangs
around my neck.  My mother has been my saviour all along.  Even after
death, her protection is strong.  The man with the silver hair never returned.

For brother Bill and Mother.
About Helen Mihajlovic

Helen Mihajlovic is a
published author in
books and online
magazines. Her short
story ‘A Dark Love story’
is published in the book
titled ‘100 Doors to
Madness’, available on
amazon.com. The story
was also published in
Horror Novel Review’s
online magazine. Her
latest work of Flash
fiction ‘A Sinister
Nature’ is published in
Darker times UK. She is
very grateful to have a
very good editor Tanya
Dewhurst. Additionally
Helen makes short films.
Her last film Vampire
Sadine can be viewed
on youtube. She has
been working on
another short film titled
‘Dominica- A tale of
Horror’.