I stand at the window of the rundown, deserted building, gazing out into the darkness at the dimly lit street. An occasional metal beast goes by, or a late passing human. I never breathed this type of air in my entire existence.

There are no sulfurous fumes here, no comforting flames lighting the darkness from burning brimstone. And I am so homesick I can barely stand it.

And I hate this form I am forced to wear. I miss my horns and my long slender tail and sharply pointed ears.

And the color of this form! It doesn’t even have scales! Why would the Master have put me in such a pale, scaleless form? Have I displeased Him? Am I being punished for wanting more than what I was created for?

But I must obey the Master’s command…find and slay the magician that has been destroying my kind for the past ten of man’s years, and bring their soul back to the Master’s domain.

I could not have fit in this world undetected in my natural form, so the Master placed me in this one, which had been slain in some form of man’s violence. My kind could not inhabit the bodies of any who had even a trace of goodness in them.

There was little fear of that with this form, for it had belonged to a witch whose soul had been more corrupt than any I had seen in many centuries.

Ironically she had been slain by the very one that I am now hunting.

The magician had been slaying any that they could find that possessed strong traits of evil, causing my Master to have to continue finding new bodies for the demons that had inhabited the bodies of those the magician slew.

My kind usually inhabited the body of a mortal the moment it was conceived, but on rare occasions the Master would place one of us in an adult form for specific purposes. That is how what men call “zombie’s” came into being.

And sometimes the mortal’s themselves wind up as hosts when they fail to take the proper precautions during the spells they use to summon us.

We did not even know if the magician was a male or female, only that they bore a scar on their face, an inverted pentagram with a Christian cross at its center, rather than my Master’s symbol, just below the right eye…

That is until tonight…when I had had an upfront and personal confrontation with him…even if it was just a mental image he sent to taunt me with the fact that he not only knew what I was, but that he was enjoying the little game of chase he was playing with me. As for me, I was growing weary of it, I wanted to go home.

But before I continue, let me introduce myself, I am Y’keenth, and, as you may have begun to suspect or guess from what I have thus far said, I am a demon. I have been as I am now for my entire existence, for demons are formed literally from the Master’s will.

I am also a soul collector.

My duty is to transport the souls of the wicked to my Master’s domain, but I have never actually been to the world of men…until now.

I have always stood at the gateway to my Master’s domain and “the other place”, whose name we are forbidden to mention, much less think, for my entire existence. It is what I was created for.

But of late I had begun to want more. I used to have dreams…and yes, demons DO dream, though by the standards of men, our dreams would be called nightmares…of being able, just once, to see that world of men. I wanted what I imagined the thrill would be of hunting and capturing a soul fresh.

I should have remembered a saying that men had…be careful what you wish for, you may get it.

I had heard much of this world from the souls that I transported, and they always seem so reluctant to leave it. It seems that the more evil and corrupt they are, the more reluctant they are to release their mental hold on the life they had here, especially the ones who possessed the wealth they had gained at the expense of their fellow men.

I really should have known to monitor my thoughts more closely, for the Master sees and knows all that occurs in His domain…and that includes our thoughts, should He so deign to know them.

My bad luck that for some reason He chose to be “listening in” when I was standing at the gateway, totally bored, dreaming of capturing a soul myself, not merely collecting them at the gateway and transporting them to His domain.

He called me to Him mere moments after that thought was made, told me that since I seemed to have such a fascination with the world of men, that He would grant my desire, for he had a special task for me.

Moments later I found myself in this despicable form, which is where I have been stuck for the past three years as I have tried to capture and destroy the one who was destroying us…the magician.

I heave a heavy sigh, then start choking on the stink of least from my perspective, despite the seemingly perpetual smog that envelops this city…air, yet once again longing for the familiar air of home.

Turning from the window, I stand gazing at all that is left of the nine who had sought to destroy me, scattered all over the empty warehouse in which I had made my lair.

They had been so pitifully easy to kill once I had taken on my true form, for they had had little defense against my teeth and talons, nor the poisoned barb at the end of my tail. And their bullets had simply bounced off of my scales.

The souls of these had not been the ones my Master was seeking above all, even though there had been evil in every one of them, but they had been disposable men, not the one I was seeking.

Once again I sigh and then choke. As I begin to walk towards the door to the abandoned warehouse, headed out to hunt once more, I wonder if there are any of my kind here who know how to make a mask similar to the ones the mortal firefighters use, but with a tank of sulfurous air so that I can at least have a tiny touch of home during my time in this miserable place.




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