Title: High Summons
Author: Eli Celata
Hosted by: Ultimate Fantasy Book Tours
Jon Blythe is sick of waiting for his Yoda. After years of hiding his magic, he’s ready to retire from his mortal life, drop out of college, and jump into the world of demon hunters. He just didn’t really expect a bleach blond bookstore clerk with light up toys for weapons. Unfortunately, Jordan is Jon’s only hope. When rogue magic users come to Rochester with a malicious plan, the odd couple strikes out to save the day. Jordan might not be what Jon expected, but between demons and Econ homework, the demons win every time. Wild nights drag Jon further from normal into the world where his father vanished. Maybe he’s becoming an addict. Maybe magic just comes with a price. Either way, he’s hooked.
Eli Celata was born in Rochester and is currently attending Binghamton University as a doctoral student.
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We walked almost three blocks before stopping on a more artistic side of town.
Random indie stores lined the side of the street we were on, and outside a coffee shop, a homeless man in ragged clothing sat with a drunken smile upon his lips.
His eyes, a light gray, were clouded by exhaustion or drugs or who knows what. His lips were chapped and seemed white due to the skin peeling off of them. His hair was a soft red and in general disarray casting odd shadows across his upturned face. He had antique spectacles resting on the tip of his nose. They were wire frames and the glass was shaped into thin rectangles. A flush covered his already sunburned skin, and a small coffee can, the old tin kind, sat at his side. Scrawled in black sharpie were the words,
“Poetry for Your Soul.”
He seemed completely normal, and if I had any money, I might have given him some if it weren’t for the whole soul-wanting business. When we reached him, a group of young women in their teens were gathered around him. They were giggling as girls were ought to do, and they glanced between each other conspiratorially.
Jordan’s pace slowed from a brisk walk to a leisurely pace, though any
onlooker wouldn’t have been able to see the difference in the way he walked.
He always looked like he was gliding across the world, or maybe just standing still as it flew by him.
“Fair ladies.” The man’s smile was open, and it made me smile even from a bit off. “You asked for a poem and yet gave me some change instead of your soul. Whatever am I to do with this?”
He held up a handful of nickels, dimes, and pennies with a few quarters before letting it fall between his fingers and back into the can. “I suppose it is for the best; I should not hunt in the Devil’s territory.”
“Where’s our poem?” One of them sneered while the others laughed behind false coy hands.
“Infantile child, challenging years with disdain and contempt / Fearless in a mind lying within the hands of a merciless god / Thinking kindly of yourself, but you are nothing more / than a doll talking without speaking /
hears, without listening. Infantile child, / little girl who claims her place upon the world / without knowing what lies within it, / can you not see you are nothing / more than a blink of my eyes. / I sleep longer than you have been alive. / I have taken higher breathes than all of yours added upon each other.” He lifted his head as he spoke, and when he was finished, he let out a breath slowly as if to emphasize his point as his face upturned again.
The one girl turned and stormed into the coffee shop, swearing beneath
her breath. Jordan and I stopped and hung back as the rest of the girls looked at the man and chanted, almost as one, “What about me? Make a poem for me!”
The hand resting on the can after letting the coins drop pointed at one of the remaining three girls. “Here is the day which casts no shadows. / Stand forth and let your words become / the stars you gaze upon at night. / There is someone listening / to each as if it was a universe within its own. / Reach out to the hand holding yours / when darkness cast no light upon your lips.”
His finger stretched and pointed at another while the one turned and texted someone on her phone. “Sinister, the eyes which see. / Cold, those who are blind. / What lamb falls to the slaughter? / What love have you left behind? /
Where is your taunting smile now, / oh forgotten mistress all to waste? /
Could you taunt the stars for shining / because they leave your eyes
disgraced?” The woman who he had been pointing to looked resigned at his words as if she refused to argue what she knew to be true of her character.
“And me?” a soft voice came from the sad eyes of the third.
The man’s brows knotted, and his lips turned downwards in empathy.
“Standings, arms spread /a sacrifice for you, / calling the names /of the demons / who haunted your day. / Swearing life, / swearing blood for you. /
Giving everything away, / just so you might survive. /Wings like an angel’s, /
but blackened with soot. / Lightning makes the sky dance. / The earth trembles in fear /as the flames rise. / He died for you. / Fell into the darkness for you. / Gave his life / for you. / He died, / he lived, /all for you / until the end. /And even then, / it was all for you.”
The girl’s hands trembled and came before her lips which quaked as if to allow sobs to pass. Tears rolled down her pallid cheeks, and she shook her head as if it would rid her of the emotion. The man simply looked on with a light envy in his otherwise flat features. He seemed distant while appearing intrigued at the same time.
Finally, the last one’s hands dropped enough her lips were visible as
she whispered, “Thank you,” and fled with her friends following close after her, leaving the man alone.
He stared down at his hands and said to no one, “Again, I have spoken of you with praise. This time, have I earned forgiveness for a deed for which I will never apologize?” He then bowed his head and waited. “Your voice echoes in the Absence. / It spills over the world and gives life. / Life was never known till you whispered. / Love was never known till you sang. / Your voice echoes in the highest mountains and lowest seas. / Your voice echoes in the Absence.”
“Oh, Belial.” Jordan shook his head as if commiserating with the man—
demon, he had to be a demon. “The last one was honestly one of the worst poems you have spouted out to date. You’re getting sloppy.”
To be honest, I liked it, but I wasn’t bringing it up then. As we
already discussed, literature critique wasn’t my strong suit, and
complimenting demons wasn’t on my to-do list. He looked especially human.
There weren’t any extra limbs or creepy teeth. Compared to every demon I’d ever seen, he was perfectly human, if a bit drugged out. Plus, the level of
communication put him in a category undoubtedly out of my league.
“I know. I know…oh how I comprehend. But there is little I can do,” Belial replied softly. “This is the twelfth time you have passed…will you leave in the same manner or do you challenge?”
Looking at me over his shoulder, Jordan smiled. “Eashians won’t attack
at random like other demons. However, their idea of random and ours is a bit different.” I couldn’t help but tense. “It will only tempt when challenged to tempt and will only harm when challenged to harm.”
“I get he’s a demon, but he seems awfully—calm…” It wasn’t the right
word. I didn’t have the right word to explain he seemed too human.
“If all demons are the remnants of fallen angels, than
Eashians are the ones who shattered the least while still shattering at least a minute amount. Eashians have names,” Jordan explained gesturing at Belial.
“Like the Devil.”
“What?” I stepped back. “I don’t think I’m up for anything so powerful.”
“He’s not too powerful,” Jordan informed me though Belial’s eyebrows
knotted, and he looked up at Jordan with an accusing stare. “Those who didn’t shatter—the three born, Lilith, and the Devil—have the capacity to recognize names, both their own and others. Eashians don’t acknowledge the other. Often they’ll call you by their name,” Jordan explained as he looked back at Belial.
“They are also more likely to respond to a single particular emotional output than any other.”
“I respond well to lust.” Belial smiled, and his eyes sparkled from
beneath his spectacles. “But most won’t be as forthright as I am about it. I suspect it is why Belial hasn’t blasted me to oblivion yet.”
At first, I thought he was joking when he said Belial instead of Jordan, but the expression on his face was absolutely serious. Quickly jotting down what I had been told, I realized the sun had been up for a good long while, yet Belial was still outside.
“Why isn’t Belial dead? Did he just show up?”
“No, he’s been here all day.” Jordan’s eyes narrowed. “Possibly longer
considering the amount of coins.”
“The sun’s setting in an hour or two—like seriously, going on four
o’clock,” I said glancing between Belial and Jordan. I was totally the kid who got all disappointed when facts learned in one class were disproved in the next year.
Belial sighed and looked down at his wristwatch, which was a tacky piece of plastic in the shape of Big Ben. “It isn’t terribly late…”
“Eashians also have a penchant for killing themselves. Due to their emotional disconnection, they can’t always feel their voids and often stay on Earth too long,” Jordan told me, and I focused my eyes to see the dark nothing of Belial’s void. It was about the size of a motorcycle. I had to admit I was impressed. “Belial’s one of the more peaceful ones. After him, Abigor is probably the least threatening.”
“I know that one!” Belial exclaimed. “He likes to sing a lot. He’s the
Belial pinned to revelry. All braids and no brains that one.”
The street suddenly seemed to empty in a most certainly unnatural way.
It was then I noticed we were not where I thought we had been. Instead of on a street corner, we were in an alley, and Belial was standing. He stretched and smiled gently at Jordan. Jordan pulled a can of hair spray out of a pocket somewhere in his jacket and his lighter out of his back pocket. Belial frowned.
“You didn’t think I’d just let you win, did you?” Jordan jested with a
smile, and it was the weirdest thing. The smile was more genuine than any other smile Jordan had given. He looked like he was exactly where he wanted to be, which I suppose he was.
Belial shook his head. “God has forgotten me.”
Jordan didn’t say a thing. He just flicked one and pushed down the other.
A flame threw itself toward Belial, completely engulfing him. I was certain Belial’s void would be completely gone by the time the first few minutes passed, but Jordan held tightly to both even as a light pink stained the thumb of his lighter hand. When the flame finally stopped, Jordan tossed the empty can aside. Belial was unharmed and swaying a bit on his feet as though he were drunk more than anything else. I held back a curse of bemusement and squinted to see if his void was whole. During the time I was searching for it, Jordan pulled out a bottle of lighter fluid and squirted some at Belial. I followed the line of liquid and saw the void; it was no bigger than a basketball.
“I’m insulted—I think,” Belial muttered as he stared down at the line of fluid. He picked up his void and looked at it as if it had done something to him.
Jordan lit a match and tossed it. I was sure it would have hit the void, but Belial blew it out midair. “Seriously, you’re going to be like this about it?” Jordan asked, and Belial glowered.
“You’re trying to completely destroy me and you ask if I’m going to be
like this? You are a shower, Belial!” The demon roared, and Jordan burst out laughing. Belial frowned knowing he had messed up somewhere along the line.
“You mean ‘douche,’” Jordan corrected and lit another match.
This time he lit two wooden things, three-inch cubes I believe, and
threw one after another. Belial jumped around dodging the blows until he took a bit of a wrong turn and stood only a foot away from Jordon. His void was
still in his arms. It was dark and swirling in its emptiness. “Crap,” was the last word he said as Jordan flicked the match.
The world around us exploded.