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“A Writer’s Demon”

Mark Anthony Brennan

The blank white screen stared back at him.

"Hmm, let's see. 'The polar bear wandered in the snow storm searching for a tissue.' Ha ha, very funny."

Mark sighed and rubbed his face. What was he doing? How could he write a Halloween story? Horror just wasn't his thing.

The night outside was howling. Rain was lashing against the window of his basement study. It was brutal out there - a good night to be inside writing. If only he could write.

Mark liked to write in the dark. Aside from the computer screen the only thing visible in the room was his face bathed in the bluish glow of the monitor. He liked to write with the temperature down too. He had the heat vents in the room closed so it was almost cold enough to shiver. Mark figured it kept him on edge.

But it wasn't working tonight. He desperately wanted to get a story in for the Halloween contest. Unfortunately, the only thing coming to him was that old demon known as writer's block.

A sudden stomping noise made him jerk his head upwards. It was someone running around upstairs. Fuck! What were they doing, having a parade? How was a guy supposed to work?

Mark typed in the title "A Halloween Tale". After a second or two he backspaced and erased it all. Shit! This really wasn't working.

What was that crap that Jack had e-mailed him yesterday? That guy was a flake. He was always sending over voodoo, superstitious bullshit.

Mark shuffled through the pile of papers on his desk. Oh, there it was. He'd printed out Jack's message.

"Hey, dude," read the message. "Having trouble with the Halloween story contest? Check this out. I found it at the Satanic Cultist website. It's a pagan incantation from pre-Roman Britain. Maybe you can use it in your story. Supposedly the Britons used it to raise evil spirits…." Then there followed several sentences in Latin.

"Hmm, sounds more like a mythical folk tale," muttered Mark. "Besides, that won't work, Jack, you dumb shit. The ancient Britons wouldn't have spoken Latin. This is just a later translation."

Mark stared again at the screen and sighed. Oh, what the hell, he could afford to sacrifice a few minutes. He wasn't getting any writing done anyway.

He pushed back on his steno chair and wheeled backwards into the room. With a bump he came to a stop by the large bookcase that took up most of one wall. His collection of books was his most prized possession.

"OK, where is it?" Mark ran his fingers along some large textbooks on the bottom shelf. "Aha, there you are."

He pulled out an old volume with a faded purple cover and wheeled himself back to the computer. He slammed the book down on the desk. Its cover read: "Languages of Ancient Britain".

Having studied languages in college, doing translations was one of Mark's passions. After several minutes of leafing back and forth, jotting down words, scribbling them out and jotting them down again, he finally held up the sheet of paper in triumph.

"Nantu ferata indogfa," he read aloud. "Bathshu id raccalgi innush. Laotun omma jo. Ind acatu gan."

In the gloom behind Mark's chair the darkness began to swirl and then it took shape. It was a large hulking shape that almost reached the ceiling. Then slowly, slowly the shadow in the dark began to move forward.

But Mark did not notice. He was too engrossed in the paper in his hand.

Hmm, weirder than shit. Those thirteen words sounded pretty cool actually. Maybe he could use it.

As the shape in the gloom edged closer to the light of the computer screen more of its outline could be discerned. It was a shaggy outline formed around a massive bulk. Now the head could be seen - a grotesque thing with large nostrils and a jumble of fangs. Glowing like hot embers, small beady eyes were buried in the upper part of the head.

Mark continued to look over his translation with pride. "Jack, you're one strange fuck, but you just might have given me what I needed. A tootsie pop for you, guy."

He picked up Jack's message again. After the Latin passage it read: "At the website it says that the Britons used the ritual to raise demons to fight their enemies. However, these spirits were hostile to Christians who later tried to use it in medireview prayers. That is, unless the spirit is raised on the eve of All Saints Day. Then the spirit must do the bidding of anyone who raises it."

Mark glanced over at the bottom right-hand corner of his computer screen: "October 31, 2001"

"Oh, really?" Mark laughed derisively. "Bite me."

Behind him the fangs parted. The maw was huge - capable of swallowing up a small human child whole. As the thing in the half-light moved forward its heavy paw landed on a loose floorboard.

Creak.

Mark's nostrils flared in anger. How dare someone enter the room while he was working?

"God damn you to hell," he yelled and then spun around in his chair.

There was nothing but the darkness.

Huh?

Mark strode over and turned on the light. The room was indeed empty. He thought he could see a haze in the air, but it was probably just his eyes getting accustomed to the light. He caught a whiff of something putrid. Maybe a mouse died down here.

He shook his head. How could he be so silly? Of course no one would come in while he was working. They all knew that anyone disturbing him while he was trying to write would get their head bitten off.