The following was written as a response to a writing prompt: “An out-of-touch demon raises the dead to take over Earth. He doesn’t realise that most corpses are 6ft underground, in concrete crypts or were burnt to dust.”
The four children sit cross-legged on the dusty attic floor, their faces illuminated only by the light from several recently-lit candles.
“So this…” the oldest girl begins, carefully studying a page in her hand, “is how they do it in the movie.”
“And where did you get these instructions?” a young boy inquires.
“The Internet, duh!”
There’s a silence as she draws a chalk anagram on the floor, regularly pausing to consult her downloaded diagram.
“Apparently it’s possible to summon demons and ghosts this way.”
“Ooh, spooky!” one of boys says mockingly, with a matching faux-fear hand gesture. They giggle.
“$10 says it doesn’t work at all.”
“It’s from a movie, of course it’s not going to work.”
“There…” the older girl says as she connects the final chalk segment, “it’s done.”
“Well… now we wait, I guess.”
The four of them sit in silence, with only the light from the candles dancing across their faces as they exchange glances, seemingly daring one another to be the first to speak. Finally, one of the younger boys speaks up again.
“See? I told you it wouldn’t — ”
A blinding flash of white light suddenly emanates from the center of the anagram and a strong gust of wind knocks the children onto their backs in all directions, snuffing out the candles.
There’s a commotion of mumbled moaning and confusion as one of the candles is hastily relit. Its soft light falls across the floor, and a hushed, stunned silence upon the children. A writhing figure lay in the middle of the room. Its body, a grotesque amalgamation of every imaginable horror, convulses erratically. Crimson, glistening skin reflects the little light present. It rises slowly to its feet with a guttural howl, its humanoid figure now becoming apparent. It turns on its heels, revealing two horn-like protrusions, but the only evidence of there once being other occupants in the room is a single candle that now lay flickering in the disturbed dust.
“Finally…” it murmurs in a growl two octaves lower than should be audible to the human ear. It strides toward the open door, crushing the candle under its foot as it goes, shrouding the room in darkness once more.
A few blocks away, a teenage couple are becoming physically acquainted on a park bench when they are interrupted by the sound of heavy footsteps approaching from behind. They turn around.
“Hey man, do you mi — ”
The young man’s words catch in his throat as a massive, taloned hand clutches him, enclosing his entire neck effortlessly. His feet rise slowly off the floor. Pitch black eyes look past him, scanning the park. They take in the motionless trees, the glowing street lamps and the cascading fountain as the boy struggles fruitlessly.
“Yes… this will do nicely…”
The young man’s neck snaps and his body crumples upon the grass. The girl, previously frozen in fear, lets out a blood-curdling scream and clumsily flees, ignored. The heavy footsteps continue across the bricked courtyard, each thud reverberating up the nearby street lamps and metal climbing structures. The demon comes to a stop, and the bricks groan under its large cloven hooves. It raises its head to the cloudless sky.
Behind him, the corpse of the young man begins to softly stir.
An elderly undertaker hobbles slowly through a silent, misty graveyard. His lantern swings precariously from side to side as he moves. He carries it for effect, despite the practicality of modern flashlights. Suddenly a sound stops him in his tracks. He turns to listen. It comes again. A dull, faint scratching sound, barely audible, even to a younger pair of ears.
After a few minutes of stumbling between the tombstones, stopping periodically to listen for the sound, he traces the source to a large crypt that (except for monthly weeding) has remained untouched for the better part of a century. He presses his ear to the stone slab that seals the entrance. Something, presumably long dead, moves on the other side.
“Sed hendrerit arcu et tellus suscipit auctor. Praesent vel congue sem. Vivamus in eros dapibus.”
The hellspawn rises to his feet on the last word, having completed the summoning ritual, and looks around expectantly. Only the animated cadaver of the recently deceased young man stands nearby, moaning and swaying gently.
“I… uh… was expecting more.”
After a few minutes of confused silence, he kneels again, grumbling to himself.
“Must have done it wrong.”
The undertaker hobbles as fast as his limp allows. He rests on a headstone, panting heavily, requiring a moment to catch his breath. Around him, scratching and pounding rings out from all directions, rising to a deafening roar. Coffins and crypts everywhere are alive with activity.
The demon sits crossed-legged on a park bench, rapping his fingers impatiently. He shifts uncomfortably, and the wood groans under his immense weight. Eventually, there arrives a shuffling sound behind him.
He turns around to find a single elderly man in a dark suit, lumbering and lurching forward. He moans faintly as he moves, his eyes glazed over. Somewhere a traumatized funeral director is questioning everything he knows.
“What? This is it?! Where are all the dead? I was supposed to raise an army.”
The old man stumbles and falls onto his face. He struggles in the dirt, his moaning muffled.
Then, with a heavy, resigned sigh, “What in Lucifer’s name am I supposed to do in this dimension now?”
A car pulls up and the electric window rolls down with a hum. A speaker box crackles to life and deep, distorted voice rings out.
“Hello and welcome to Burger King. May I take your order?”
“Hey man, I think this thing is broken.”