Few people actually know that a city has many gods. The bigger the city is, the more crowded it is with divinities. Major and minor gods, spirits, pixies, fairies, demons and their devoted acolytes dwell in the streets, unknown to most of the inhabitants.
Since she moved to this city, Elisabeth had discovered some of them, including the secretive god of commercial ads. If you worship him, he reveals hints hidden in ads. The all-powerful god of public transportation is a major god everyone knows they have to worship if they want to get anywhere. Then, there’s the fickle god of fast food, the dangerous fairies living in public parks, mercurial pixies inhabiting traffic lights…yes, it was a big and crowded city. The advantage, of course, of being aware of the whole divine crowd is the possibility to call for help in time of need.
Alone in the cold, dark and wet room they had put her into, Elisabeth was trying to focus, despite everything, and to think about something or someone that could help her escape. In her place, a soldier, cop or maybe some sort of criminal could come up with something since they would have been trained or otherwise familiar with these situations. But Elisabeth, as a hapless librarian, wasn’t at all used to getting kidnapped and interrogated, much less beaten, by men three times her size.
“Think about it. I’ll be back to ask you the same question,” the man had snarled.
Somewhere, water dripped from the roof to the floor, producing a clear tone. Sounds like a D, she thought.
Some people have impressive strength or lock-picking skills but Elisabeth had perfect pitch, which wasn’t much help in her current situation. After all, it was not a good time to ponder music. She had to make up some sort of answer for the man because he would eventually come back. Well, she was thinking about it, indeed. Thinking about how things turned out this way. It all began only…
2 weeks ago:
“What do you mean there’s someone in your apartment? Are you living with a guy or something?” her father gasped. “Who the hell is he? What does he do?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen… maybe it’s not even a person!”
“Well, come on, dear. How can you say there’s someone in your home if you haven’t even seen them? You live in a fifty square-meter flat,” said her mother, trying to sound reasonable. Then, with a glance at her father, she added, “You are worrying us!”
As he didn’t say anything, she went on. “Next time you come, stay a bit longer will you? You need to rest. You’re just exhausted, aren’t you?”
Elisabeth didn’t reply, since these came across as just platitudes, not real questions. Instead, she went on charging her car with the useless cooking supplies her mother had given her. Her father had lowered his voice but still she could hear him say, “If there’s some damn guy, I want to know about him!”
On her way back home, after finally getting her car going, she wondered why she had ever told them about it. Every time she talked with them about something that bothered her, she regretted it. It was sad how deeply convinced they were that she was out of her mind. They didn’t even make an effort to understand. But she wasn’t talking nonsense! She knew she wasn’t alone in her apartment. Since when, she couldn’t tell, but there was someone, or something living there with her. Something dark and stealthy… It hid in awful places and watched her constantly. It crept through the rooms at night, or when she wasn’t around.
On her way back to her apartment, she stumbled upon the landlord, who also lived in the same building. Since he owned pretty much all the apartments, he could take his pick. “Yes, I know exactly what you mean,” he said, before she could finish her sentence. “You’re not the first one in the building to complain about it.”
“Yeah, you know these damn creatures. Once they make a nest somewhere, they spread around like hell.”
“So what is it then?”
“Mice, of course” said the landlord, looking at her with his “what did you think?” look that Elisabeth just hated. “But don’t worry, young lady. I’m taking care of it. Next week people will come to perform a rodenticide… rodent… rotenticidization, yeah, well, they’ll exterminate all of them!”
Elisabeth sighed. She thanked him and wished him a good day. But she knew there wasn’t a single mouse in her house. It was something else.
And the minute she came home she saw it. It was there, on the couch: a large snake. Curled up in multiple circles, she couldn’t tell how long it was. It was dark brown with yellow zigzag shapes on its back. It had a small triangular head, very much like a viper. It was staring at her with its green eyes.
“You told on me to the landlord!” it said with a deep but unusually soft voice.
Reacting like most people would, Elisabeth took a step back and shouted “What the – – -?”
“I know you did,” said the snake, unshaken. “I heard you.”
“Well, I felt your presence somehow. It made me uneasy,” she explained. Then she added, “And exactly how am I talking to you?”
“That is for you to figure out,” said the snake. “You know that snakes don’t talk, don’t you?”
That’s how Elisabeth knew that the creature curled up on her couch wasn’t a snake.
“What are you then?” she asked.
“I am Simbi Anpaka, the god of sorcerers. A month ago, I was stolen from my homeland, Africa, and brought here. Then, I escaped and hid myself right here.”
Elisabeth had hard time believing this. An African god in her apartment?
“Why my apartment?”
“It feels good in here. I like it.” The snake added, “I like the music you play, too.”
“How can anyone steal a god? Don’t you have any loyal folks to protect you? Sorcerers, as you say?”
“People don’t believe in sorcery anymore. And sorcerers have long forgotten me. Now, I am no better than a talking snake.”
Elisabeth was not sure whether the snake should stay or not. But his last words sounded so forlorn that she felt sorry for him.
That’s how the two started living together. But they had to set some ground rules: crawling inside the cupboards was absolutely forbidden, as was using bleach for cleaning. Smoking was OK since the smell remained up near the ceiling. Elisabeth regretted not saying anything about sleeping on the bed, however. As all reptiles do, the snake liked body heat, but after two nights she got used to it.
And, on the third night, she had a visit from her great grandmother. It was a nightmare about some bridge under the rain, and a policeman who woke her up. She heard a familiar voice coming from the living room:
“Oh my, oh my… What a mess,” the voice murmured. “This girl will never learn. Two ashtrays on the table, both filled to the brim. I’m sure if there was a third one it would be full as well!”
Elisabeth got up carefully so as not to wake the snake and went into the living room. Then she saw the old woman.
“Grand grand, is that you?”
The old woman put the ashtrays back on the table and smiled. “Yes, my little girl, long time no see, eh? You haven’t learned yet how to be tidy but I see you still put a small cup of milk outside the window for the pixies, just like I told you. At least I was able to teach you some of the important things.”
Elisabeth glanced quickly at the bed through the open bedroom door. The snake was still sleeping so she turned back to her great grandmother. The old woman hadn’t changed one bit since the last time she saw her, which was normal, since she was long dead. She wore the same clothes, those that she was buried in, Elisabeth supposed, and her long white hair was tied up in a bun. The old woman sat down on the couch and kept silent for awhile; her face had a bitter expression. Then, she started talking.
“I came here to warn you, my darling. You will soon be in a lot of trouble.”
Elisabeth had already anticipated that, thinking that if the snake had escaped from someone, they would definitely be looking for him. So, soon there would be people, probably dangerous ones, searching for the snake. Godnappers, at the very least. “So, what do you recommend?” she asked.
“Don’t give them the snake!”
“Of course I won’t! I hadn’t even considered that!”
“Good, that’s my girl. The snake should be returned to his homeland and there’s someone I know who can get it done. I will contact him and we’ll come up with a plan. Then, I’ll tell you what to do.”
“So, till then, what should I do?”
“You wait, my darling, and you be careful,” said her great grandmother. After these words, she got up and smiled. “Good night, my child. Sleep well.” Then she left as silently as she had come.
Elisabeth had just put her head back on her pillow when she was roused by the question, “Who was that ghost?”
“Were you awake the whole time?” she asked, sitting bolt upright.
“Yes, I was. So, who is she, one of your ancestors?”
“She’s my great grandmother. I never saw her alive; she was dead before I was born. I only saw photos of her. Her name was also Elisabeth and they named me after her, though I always called her grand grand. I was told we had the same hands. I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m not sure if it is true. They also said that she was crazy and, when I’m not around, I’m pretty sure they say the same thing about me.”
“Does she visit you often?”
“Not as often as I would like. But every time she does, she tells me something of great importance; she often teaches me about the city’s gods and other magical creatures. Anyway, I don’t know how she comes to visit me or how she knows about such things.”
“It is because she was a sorceress when she was alive,” the snake said calmly.
Elisabeth wanted to ask “How do you know?” but then she remembered to whom she was speaking.
“That should explain why people thought she was crazy,” continued the snake. “Anyhow, I do very much appreciate her help. I hope we will hear from her soon.”
Elisabeth hoped so, too, and also that she wouldn’t be babysitting a snake god for too much longer. She longed for her life to return to normal.
The next day started out as a tough one for Elisabeth. Early in the morning, she realized that her great grandmother had confiscated her cigarettes before she left. So, she had to make a detour before work to buy more. Because she was late getting to the library, she had to make up the lost time by taking a shorter lunch break. That meant less time for lunch and, above all, less time for music.
In every city, there is a demon of secrets. His major occupation is to stalk every soul that is hiding something and make them forget some important details so that their secret gets revealed. His most loyal acolyte, Andy, was sent to search the young librarian’s apartment for her secret. Before going upstairs, he took a slip of paper from his pocket and double checked the address his master had given him. Yes, this was the place. As he approached Elisabeth’s door, he could hear music coming from inside the house.
Elisabeth was trying to ignore the snake, who had crawled on top of her piano, hanging his head down towards one of the keys. It was impossible.
“Would you mind? I can’t hit the key if your head is on it!”
“I like this one,” he said, still gazing at the key.
“You mean the song?”
“No, this key… I like how it vibrates. What is it called?” As he asked, he started crawling onto the key. Since Elisabeth’s foot was still on the sustain pedal, it produced a constant tone.
“Well, it’s a D. And please don’t crawl on my piano!”
That’s when Andy rang the doorbell. Elisabeth got up and waited for the snake to slither off and hide somewhere.
When she opened the door, she saw a very tall man dressed in a dark grey uniform with a company name embroidered on the side of his large chest. The same name also appeared on the cap that he wore.
There were several minutes of uncomfortable silence. Andy didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t expecting this. The woman in front of him was a slender creature with dark hair and blue eyes. She was uncommonly beautiful, the kind of woman that unnerved most men. Except for what was on TV or the big screen, Andy had never seen anyone like her. He wanted to touch her and maybe hurt her, or prevent someone from hurting her… and then hurt her.
“How can I help you?” Elisabeth asked.
That’s when Andy remembered his purpose. “It’s for the rodents,” he said, showing her his toolkit that was supposed to contain poison for the mice the landlord was sure had infested the building. (Except, of course, the apartment actually didn’t have any mice, since the snake gobbled up every single one that showed up.)
Elisabeth remembered what the landlord had said and let Andy in. She went back to playing the piano, peacefully, now that the snake wasn’t around.
After searching through every detail and forgotten hint and collecting sufficient proof of the snake’s presence in the apartment, Andy gathered up his tools and started staring at the woman as she played her piano. He observed the way her hands moved over the keys and wondered how it would feel to be touched by them. He stared at her neck, wanting to grab it with both hands.
That’s when Elisabeth looked behind her to see if the rat killer guy had finished his work. She couldn’t help but be rattled when she noticed that he was standing right next to her, staring at her like a psychopath. She quickly stood up.
“You don’t have any mice in the house, M’am,” said Andy in a calm voice. He loved the fearful look in her blue eyes but had to control himself; those were his orders. He walked towards the door saying, “The whole building is being treated so you shouldn’t worry. You won’t have mice in the future, either.” Just before he left he looked back at her and added, “See you soon,” with an amused voice and a scary smile.
As the door closed, the snake emerged from his hiding place. “That guy was weird,” he said.
“He was totally weird! He scared me!” Elisabeth added, “Do you think he’s a psycho killer or something?”
“No, but I suspect that he might be a demon acolyte.”
Elisabeth couldn’t help but shout, “A what?”
“At least that’s what I felt. I’m afraid they are looking for me. And my best guess is that they figured out I was here. We should do something. We should seek help.”
“Grand grand said we should wait. I am sure she’s doing her best”
“The dead are powerful, but not omnipotent,” said the snake. His voice sounded somehow sad. He didn’t like to say things like that about the ghost of a late sorceress.
“So, what do you suggest?”
The snake didn’t really know what to suggest. For the first time since he was brought to this city, he felt deeply homesick.
“There are some charms known to keep demons away,” he said at last, “I can teach you how to prepare them. Find something to write with and I’ll give you a list of the ingredients.”
“OK, but then I’ll have to leave for work since my lunch break is nearly over. I’ll stop by the store and get what we need on my way back home tonight.”
Elisabeth left the house later then she should have. She got onto her car and headed for the library, not noticing the strange woman in the parking lot watching her from her motorbike.
This woman was none other than Lilith. Her long white hair and ice blue eyes betrayed her inhuman nature. She would stand out in any crowd and would be noticed anywhere she went. But Elisabeth was in a hurry as she rushed to her car, so coincidentally, she hadn’t noticed Lilith. Actually, this was quite logical given that Lilith was a spirit working for the god of coincidences; the odds were always on her side.
On her way to the library, benevolent pixies helped Elisabeth by turning the traffic lights green so she was not late for work after all. She even had time for a cup of coffee and a cigarette. While smoking, she noticed that the ad at the bus stop in front of the library had changed. Before, it was an ad for perfume featuring a famous actress. Now, it was a Guinness ad and they had strangely chosen “Don’t trust the white” as a new slogan. The beer was black so it made sense but Elisabeth didn’t like either Guinness or the new slogan. She liked the actress better.
Lilith, on the other hand, got to the library much later. As she went in, the few patrons turned to look at her. Young people these days, some of them thought. They’ll do anything to look different. Others wondered if she was an albino or something, you know, like the lab rats.
“How may I help you?” Elisabeth dutifully asked.
“Hello, I’m Lilith,” said the spirit, with a huge smile. “What’s your name?”
Elisabeth didn’t expect that question since the library patrons weren’t usually in the habit of wondering about such things. “I’m Elisabeth,” she said after a short moment of hesitation.
“Well, they shorten that also to Lilith sometimes, don’t they?”
Not since maybe the 17th century, Elisabeth thought. “Actually, I don’t like to shorten my name much but they do call me Lily sometimes.”
“That’s pretty close. So tell me, Elisabeth, do you guys have any books on African mythology?”
Elisabeth checked on the computer and took Lilith to a series of shelves, where they found two African mythology books as well as many other books of African tales. Lilith grabbed one of the two mythology books and quickly scanned the index. “Oh, they don’t mention Simbi Anpaka here,” she said. She looked straight in Elisabeth’s eyes and added, “Do you know where can I find that one?”
Sensing that something was terribly wrong, Elisabeth took a step back. In order to gain some time, she asked, “What do you want?” even though Lilith had just made it perfectly clear. That section of the library was strangely empty of visitors. Seemingly, nobody wanted to read a book about African stuff at that precise moment. What were the odds?
“Don’t try to play smart, Lily. It’s just a matter of time before the demons get to him,” Lilith said, with her smile unchanged. “The thing is, the way he hides in your house, it’s very hard for us to grab him. But you, on the other hand, can easily bring him to us. We want to protect him, I promise.”
Elisabeth tried to find something to say. In a few minutes her colleagues would notice her absence and would start harassing her about not wasting time.
“How do I know you’re not one of them? A demon acolyte or something?” she managed to sputter out.
“Well, because I’m telling you that I’m not! I am a spirit, working for a major god in this city. They call me the white spirit. Look, how long do you think you can keep this up, anyway? Things will get more and more complicated for you. I understand that you want to protect the snake or, I don’t know, maybe you even like him. That’s exactly why you should hand this business over to people who are much better qualified to handle it.”
Elisabeth looked around her, considering her options. That’s when she remembered the Guinness ad; “Don’t trust the white.” What if this was the god of commercial ads warning her? She hoped her great grandmother wouldn’t take long to contact her. Things were getting really creepy. She needed to buy some time.
“Can you give me some time to think about it?”
“Unfortunately, I can’t. The demons won’t simply ask like I do, you know.”
“I’ll decide fast then,” she said, and in a very decisive movement she headed back to her desk. Lilith wasn’t expecting this, so she didn’t have time to react.
When Elisabeth passed by, one of her colleagues asked where in the heck she had been. They had just found a major bug in the computer system and they all had to work together to figure out how to fix it. Yes, it happened at exactly the same time that she was stuck back there with the white spirit. What a coincidence! Elisabeth helped her colleagues fix the so-called problem for awhile and then noticed, with great relief, that the spirit was gone.
“She must be persuaded that you will eventually make up your mind and hand me over to them,” the snake explained. “Now, you put in the rosemary, but don’t forget to mix the whole thing first. Yes, that’s it! You’re a natural born charm cooker.”
“Nobody ever told me that before,” she snarked.
“Now, we should wait for it to cool down slowly so that it can become potent and then we’ll cover the walls with it.”
“No way! It will stink up the whole house! I’ll never be able to get rid of the stench!”
“But, demons or their acolytes won’t be able to come in.”
Elisabeth knew that she had to do it, but she liked to complain anyway. “Do you even know what they want from you? Not only demons, but some gods are after you, too.”
“I have an idea,” said the snake. “Every so often, a new demon needs to be created and there’s a ritual that is used. It involves the sacrifice of a god. Since there is a truce between demons and gods in this city, demons cannot kill gods, nor can gods slaughter demons. That’s why they prefer to bring in minor or nearly forgotten foreign gods, so that they cannot fight back.”
“What about the gods then?”
“Well, it’s a simple matter of competition. Some of them don’t like new folks coming in so they just want to get rid of me and some of them just don’t care. As if I could find a place in a modern city.”
As he finished his sentence, Elisabeth thought the snake might cry. Then she remembered that snakes don’t do that and she was a bit relieved. She came closer to him and caressed his head as if he was a cat or a dog.
“I would worship you if I were a sorceress in the city you come from, you know. I’m sure my grand grandmother also would.”
The snake didn’t say anything. He left the kitchen and crawled to the living room and climbed up onto the piano. Well that’s a good idea, Elisabeth thought.
It was while she was playing and the snake was listening (or rather waiting for the D key to be hit), that the acolytes climbed into the house through an open window. When they hit her on the head, Elisabeth felt a brief but intense pain and immediately fell unconscious.
She woke up with a terrible headache, in a place that looked very much like a warehouse. The windows were close to the very high ceiling and moonlight was pouring inside, giving just enough light to create the shadows of her two captors. She became aware that she was tied up, sitting on a metal chair, maybe one of the most uncomfortable on earth.
“Does your head hurt?” asked one of the men. She recognized his voice as the rat killer guy. As he brought his face near hers, a little too close, she knew that it actually was him.
“I know that your head hurts ‘cause you frown and make your eyes smaller like this,” he imitated. Then he turned to the other man. “They say people with blue eyes are prone to migraines, since they’re more sensitive to light.”
“I didn’t notice that her eyes were blue,” the other one said.
Andy laughed and switched on the light bulb hanging down just above the chair. It shone a ray of naked white light around the warehouse and made Elisabeth realize just how much her head actually hurt. The light also allowed her to look at the other man’s face, an action which she deeply regretted. He was an acolyte of the demon of city fires and, like all its acolytes, his face was covered with terrible burn scars. She shivered at the thought of it.
“Tell us. How did you get the snake? How could you keep him in your house?” asked the man with the scars. As soon as he finished his question, Andy hit her hard on the left side of her face, so she couldn’t answer. She could only scream in pain.
“Why the hell did you hit her? You should hit her only if she doesn’t answer. She didn’t even have time to say a word!”
“Well, now she knows she really should answer, right?” Andy retorted. The truth was, from the time he had first seen her, he had wanted to do that, to hit her. He was so excited that he could barely control himself. He once again brought his face near hers, this time his lips were actually touching her ear. Elisabeth felt a wave of hatred wash over her.
“Did that hurt?” he whispered.
His blow had opened the side of Elisabeth’s lower lip and the blood flowed slowly down her chin, onto her neck. Andy couldn’t take his eyes off that sight. “I liked the way you screamed. I liked it very much,” he sighed. “I’d love to know how high your voice can go.”
Elisabeth had a mezzo-soprano voice and, thanks to its uncommonly beautiful coloratura, she could extend it up to five octaves. She could, if she warmed up correctly, go up to E – very impressive since the highest note a soprano could hit was G. But she didn’t answer Andy’s latest question. She was being interrogated for the first time in her life, and at that, by two demon acolytes, one of which was the good acolyte and the other the bad acolyte. No wonder this strategy worked with cops. That’s why she replied to the first question instead.
“I don’t know. he came on his own. He said he liked my house.”
“Normal people can’t just take gods into their houses, you know? Even a nearly forgotten one… So who are you? Who do you work for?”
“Oh, I had no idea,” she said, with a hint of irony. “I’m nobody special, I work as a librarian.”
At that, Andy hit her again, this time in her stomach. That hurt much more but she preferred to take it there, since she was deathly afraid he would hit her ears.
“I’ll give you time to think about it. As you know, if you work for a god or something we cannot kill you because of the truce. That’s why it’s in your best interest to tell us the truth. Who are you and who do you work for?”
Andy untied her and dragged her into another room inside the warehouse, even more rank and uncomfortable than the first. As he was locking the door, the man with the scars said, “Think about it. I’ll be back to ask you the same question.”
So there she was… thinking about it.
“You look terrible, darling!”
Elisabeth tried to get up but her stomach hurt, “Grand grand? It’s about freaking time!”
“Sorry about that but it wasn’t easy. There’s a plane leaving tonight that will take the snake back to his homeland. One of my contacts will drive the snake to the airport and then to wherever he came from. The driver’s waiting for you outside, across the street.”
“One of your contacts? But… you’re dead!”
“Thanks for reminding me, darling.”
“Well, whatever! How am I supposed to get out of here? How will I get the snake back? They’ll kill me!”
The great grandmother stroked her little child’s hair. “Don’t worry about that, my child. I will help you.” then she left the room. In a little while, Elisabeth heard distant screams. She recognized the tortured voices of the two acolytes, then the sound of a key turning in the lock. The door opened and her great grandmother was there again.
“Did you kill them?” Elisabeth asked as her jaw dropped. She was shocked out of her wits.
“Well, they hurt my little child, didn’t they? Now, you stand up. We need to get out of here and find the snake. They’re keeping him inside a warehouse next door.”
Elisabeth did as she was told: she stood up and went outside. It was deserted. It must have been only the two acolytes guarding her. What she didn’t know was that demons had given strict orders to keep her alive and not kill her. But they also wanted the feeling of high security. As an odd coincidence though, the acolytes had failed to receive that last part of the orders.
In the glass cage they had put him in, Simbi Anpaka waited. One thing a nearly forgotten god should absolutely do, in order to keep his sanity was to put his ego to aside. Back in the day, Simbi Anpaka was worshiped, feared, and people prayed to him. Because he was the god of sorcerers and venomous snakes, people used to beg for his blessing. But now he was trapped, stolen from his homeland, suffering the indignity of being put into a cage… he had every reason to be angry since all this was an outrageous blasphemy. Instead, he was just downhearted and nostalgic about the old days; he wasn’t even sure he wanted to go on living. He wondered if he could sleep in spite of everything. Then, he heard a familiar voice: “Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of there. Grand grand took care of them!”
Elisabeth didn’t want to waste time opening the cage properly. The cage had a plastic opening to filter the air inside it, so she simply broke it apart and the snake was able to crawl out to freedom.
She and the snake, which immediately wrapped himself around her chest and her wrist, as if in a hug, and ran outside. As grand grand had told her, there was a car waiting across the street. The guy who was supposed to be the driver was leaning against the car door, smoking. When he saw her coming he threw down his cigarette and jumped into the car, ready to start the engine.
Elisabeth was just five steps from the car when she heard someone shout, “Not so fast, love!” She immediately recognized the voice of the white haired bitch.
For Lilith, the time for negotiations was over. Her orders were simple and direct: “Kill the woman and the god.” She pointed her gun at Elisabeth and pulled the trigger. Her aim had always been exceptional.
From that distance the bullet must have taken only milliseconds to hit her chest, but Elisabeth felt everything as if it was in slow motion. The panicked driver opening the car door, the snake moving higher up onto her chest…
Simbi Anpaka had done it on purpose. Not only as a god but also as a viper, he had finely tuned reflexes. He moved towards the exact spot where the bullet would hit Elisabeth so it hit him instead.
A god sacrificing itself was never before seen. But Simbi Anpaka preferred saving the person who had helped him so much to dying alone and forgotten. However, what he didn’t know was that bullets, unlike the arrows of his time, were much more penetrating. The bullet from Lilith’s gun passed through his snake body and pierced Elisabeth’s heart just as originally intended.
As if someone had pushed her with all their might, Elisabeth fell on her back, her hand on the wound that she shared with the snake. She thought it would hurt, but it didn’t. The ground was probably cold, but it didn’t feel like it. It is often mentioned that before someone dies, they see their lives passing in front of their eyes like a movie but Elisabeth didn’t see anything but the night sky. Instead, she heard music. She listened to it as before her eyes the figures faded into colors, and colors faded into ghosts of themselves. It was an arpeggio, probably in D minor, she thought.
When Lilith realized she had bagged two birds with one bullet she felt as happy as she was surprised. This was more luck than coincidence, she thought. She could forgive the driver, for he hadn’t done anything wrong, except that he had failed to accomplish his mission. Satisfied with the outcome, she hopped on her motorbike and left, ignoring (or forgetting) that after this, the wrath of a revengeful, dead sorceress would be upon her.
A couple of hours later, Elisabeth woke up where she had fallen. Her wound was gone, so was the snake, the car and the white-haired bitch. She stood up and felt unusually strong. She headed towards home, which she had a hard time finding since she basically had a nonexistent sense of direction, and on the way, she thought about what possibly could have happened. The spirit called Lilith had shot her along with the snake, who had unfortunately gotten in the way, the driver must have escaped, and then what? What in the heck was she doing still standing and walking around without any visible wounds?
As she approached her building, the only idea left in her mind was to clean her house from top to bottom. She’d start by getting rid of the useless and stinky charm she had cooked for the snake. As she came through the door, she felt extremely uncomfortable. The discomfort increased as she walked into the kitchen and she realized she was unable to take hold of the casserole she had used to cook the charm.
How come? she thought. I was the one who cooked it! Had someone broken into the house and changed the charm’s composition in order to keep humans away? Then, terrorized, she remembered what the snake had said:
“Every so often, a new demon needs to be created and there’s a ritual that is used. It involves the sacrifice of a god.”
The same music she heard when she thought she had died started to play again. This time she knew it wasn’t only in her head but was also in the heads of all her future acolytes – the acolytes devoted to the city’s new demon, the demon of music…