Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black
“Don’t worry, I’ve done lots of research! I have watched all of the shows, and Wiki gave me the summoning spell,” Jeremy said with confidence, adding ironically, “What could possibly go wrong?” He had the little group convinced of his expertise, had excited within their active, youthful imaginations visions of mastering a childhood fright. They all smiled with anticipation, knowing emphatically that the experiences that they’d had vicariously from the silver screen and television shows would arm and protect them. Several of the group even read a book or two on the subject, and they all were gamers.
They carefully drew the circle of salt, ignited a bundle of sage using a pink bic lighter, and recreated the archaic symbols found from various sources. They together intoned the ancient words that they thought would provide for them protection. Bobbie could barely stifle a childish giggle, since he was nervous despite his proclaimed disbelief in “the project” as the group called it. Tom set up video cameras and recording devises throughout the room to capture every angle of the scene, since his emphasis was capturing for reality television an actual summoned spirit. Jenna had her lips pursed in a superior sort of way, since she considered herself a sensitive, more in tune with the spirit world than the average person, and the efforts of this group seemed laughable to her. Still she had nothing else to do this autumn evening, with her classwork all caught up and nowhere else to go, so here she was.
“The sacred space is prepared. Now we must decide who we will summon,” said Niles in a too-serious voice that made it hard for Chris and even harder for Bobbie not to devolve into giggles. There was a moment of silence while everyone took in the ambience of the moment.
The six of them thus set up what in their estimation was a really cool summoning chamber in the basement of their dorm house. The basement of Eastern College gave the right dungeon-like feel, the cobwebs and their spiders adding a touch of Halloween-like ambience. Candles added enough light by which to see, reflecting the awaiting symbols transcribed onto the cement floor. The sounds from the other dormitory residents, uninvolved students going about their evening unaware of the ritual being conducted below their feet, echoed like ghostly warnings throughout the space.
“Spirit of the college that haunts this dormitory,” began Chris, imitating the quavering “Poltergeist” movie medium as best she could, but she stopped when she saw the disapproval on the faces of the others. “Dude, we need to know the name, or we won’t have control over the creature,” said Jeremy, trying to sound reasonable. “I’m not a dude,” Chris grumbled under her breath, “not that you’d notice.”
Summoning War, page 2, written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black
Niles produced from his backpack a list of names that he’d downloaded from on-line esoteric sites. Everyone gathered around to share in the selection. “These are, like, demon names and stuff,” said Tom, disappointed. “I thought that we were going to try to talk to a ghost.” Jenna nodded her manga-styled head, sharing Tom’s disappointment. “Cool!” said Bobbie, wearing a brave mask to disguise his discomfort. He was not going to allow his fears of the occult to interfere with being included in this group, since they were the only ones who seemed to not mind him being around. Though, in truth, Bobbie would have been much more comfortable eating a bag of Cheetos while resuming a role-playing or live-action computer game than standing here in this dank reminder of a b horror movie set. “Let’s call Ares!” he said with bravado.
“Aries is an astrological symbol,” said Jenna, sounding superior. “It is not a demon.” “I’m Aries!” said Chris, adding, “and so is Jeremy!” She smiled shyly at him, hiding her embarrassed crush and flushed cheeks behind her mousy, shoulder-length brown hair. Jeremy pretended not to notice Chris’ attention or observation, focusing instead on the list of names, double spaced, printed on resume paper. Niles felt that the higher-quality paper lent an air of authenticity to the project.
Niles sighed, indulgently smiling at the ladies. He fidgeted with his glasses as he pointed out, with an almost British, subtly assumed accent, that Ares was the name of the Greek god of war, also called Mars by the Romans. Not to be outdone, Jeremy pointed out that many believed that the ancient personifications were actually demons who walked among the humans. “When you know their names, though, you can control them,” he said, sounding smug in his knowledge. He crossed his arms and leveled them all with a look over his own wire glass rim.
Great,” said Bobbie in a high-pitched, too bright voice, his chubby face made rounder by his over-bright smile, adding, “let’s call him then!” “Call the god of war?” asked Jenna, condescendingly, “and what? Ask him for tea?” Bobbie was cowed, by Jeremy and Niles rallied to his defense. “No, we could ask him to do anything we wanted. He could end the conflict in the Middle East,” said Jeremy, Niles adding, “Reclaim the holy land.” The two smiled tightly, united in their resolve. “Imagine the knowledge that he could share with us!” gloried Tom, shifting his personal emphasis in the project. Jenna, observing the lust for power in the boys’ eyes, felt a resonance, and she also imagined what she would do if she were in charge of this summoned energy. She and Bobbie both knew that if they were given charge over such a powerful being, they themselves would become powerful, and then everyone would be forced to not only acknowledge, but also to kneel before them. No more ignoring or bullying for powerfully backed people. Chris went along with the rest, unconvinced.
All but Tom took places along the outside edge of the elaborate circle at the points of the detailed pentagram. After first activating the other recording devices, Tom manned his favorite video camera in a corner furthest from the door. The group intoned the ritual words earnestly, passionately, each attempting to outdo the other with zealousness. They spoke as they imagined they should, with sincerity and intent, their words becoming a kind of bularias with the smoke of the candles and the sage smudge bowls twirling, blended.
Summoning War, page 3, written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer Black
The air became possessed of a desperate cold which sent the electronics into a frenzy. Tom rushed to repair and was startled to find that all of the equipment was failing. He froze, wondering if this could really be a supernatural occurrence. He scrambled to make even one of the dozen or so recording devises cooperate as the rest of the group swayed and intoned, no longer aware of Tom or their surroundings, caught in a frenzy that was escalating to an ecstasy.
A stink of sulfur, a fog that could be from the hazy eyes, smoke, and bright flashes of light overwhelmed the room, and then there stood before the circle of would be demonologists, a middle-aged man. He was not tall, but stocky, broad of shoulders, thick of legs. His wide, short-fingered hands bore several rings and held a red wooden walking stick. He took in his surroundings, his eyes dark with glints of gold, like those of a big cat. Broad of face, with a classic Greek profile, strong chin, tight brown curls cut short against his head, he stood nonchalantly.
Tom gasped, forgetting for the moment his equipment. The others shook to clear their heads and looked around. “Holy shit!” yelped Jeremy, the first to recognize that a stranger stood in their presence, scrambling back. His mind reasoned that this was no supernatural threat but wondered how a professor had entered the room without them realizing it. His fear of expulsion from his academic pursuits became overwhelming. He ran from the room to disavow any knowledge of the night’s activities. Thereafter, his intellect was addled, and he became crazed with regret for not standing to master the situation as was his self-prescribed destiny. Although through his charisma he was able to garner attention as a metaphysical “master,” most who met him thought Jeremy mad. Thus he could never recreate a summoning project.
Bobbie raced behind him, his mind filled with visions of raining fire and holy retribution. He would not associate with the others again, but instead transfer to another, better school, despite his substandard grades, where his wealthy family would secure for him a degree and a plush position at his Uncle James’ arms company. Bobbie, in his later years would watch the news and shake his head at the senseless destruction caused by the machines produced by his Uncle’s company and wonder how such violence could be perpetrated in the present, civilized age, insulated from his culpability by a brilliant ignorance.
Jenna’s hunger for power was not a deep conviction. In truth, she alternated between humanitarian thoughts, mused about her own worth as a world leader, but in truth simply wanted to be acknowledge and appreciated. So much of her life, she felt invisible, so she sometimes turned to the outrageous to gain recognition. Her hair, makeup, clothing, and stances were all designed to leave a memorable impression. However, when faced with the opportunity to assert her influence over this denizen of some other world, she fled.
Chris had no real reason to lend her voice to their chants, other than a desire to be close to Jeremy. She had a desperate crush on this unworthy man, did not realize her own value. When she witnessed the others flee the room, she was confused. She did not have an imagination that would allow her to glean the indications of the man’s presence in the center of the room, nor was she curious enough to stay to learn the implications of their actions. She shrugged and walked up the stairs to follow the others.
Summoning War, page 4, written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black
Niles, shocked by their success, was startled, yet secretly pleased by the hurried defection of over half of the group. Fewer people to vie for supremacy, he reasoned, and wondered how to rid himself of the remaining man. He cleared his throat to create the most dramatic effect, wishing to set the ground rules, saying, “Ares, we summoned you and command you to do our bidding.”
Ares turned a steely gaze on Niles, raising his left eyebrow ironically. His face slowly broke into a broad, almost child-like smile that revealed protruding canines. “You? Command me?” He inquired, his voice a deep baritone like Japanese drums summoning troops to battle. He chuckled, a throaty rumble.
Niles gathered his wits and continued, sounding reasonable, “yes, as my captive, you will act according to my will.” He nodded to reassure himself of this indisputable fact. A captured demon always had to fulfill the wishes of its master, the person who knew its name. Meanwhile, Tom inwardly cursed his equipment’s brutal betrayal. He continued to quietly tinker with electronics, hoping for operation.
“Your captive, little man?” Ares tilted his head like a wolf contemplating its prey.
Niles adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses, becoming accustomed to this verbal chess match. “Clearly, I know your name. I have summoned you. You are held within this enchanted circle.” He was feeling pleased with his logic.
Ares reared back his head and released a thunderous laugh, mirthless, self-aggrandized. “You believe that I am your captive?” He laughed again. Niles reasoned, “Yes, I know that you are,” pouring all of his conviction into his words. “You can not leave the circle.”
“This circle?” Ares wondered, indicating the carefully yet inexpertly transcribed arcane symbols painted on the cement dormitory basement floor. “Yes, sucker. That circle, and now you are going to do what I tell you,” bullied Niles, emboldened in his imagined upper hand in the situation. Ares returned his gaze to Niles, lifted his leg, and stepped out of the circle with ease.
Niles turned pale, adjusted his glasses, and stepped back from the approaching Ares, gulping back an increasing panic. “Um, Ares, sir, no hard feelings, really. I just wanted to meet you, and honestly, it is such an honor,” Niles simpered sycophantically, all boldness deflated. Ares continued his approach, unimpeded by any of the magical protections put in place by the college students. “You do not know my true name, mortal, but you will,” Ares said as he reached out his left hand, holding his walking stick with his right, and grabbed Niles’ neck. Niles’ eyes bulged as in seconds, his larynx was crushed, his still staring body carelessly discarded into a huddle in a dank basement corner, upsetting one of Tom’s camcorders.
Tom remained frozen in another shadowy corner, seemingly unnoticed by the incarnation of the god of war. He watched as Ares ascended the basement stairs. Taking one of his hand-held devises, Tom followed at a careful distance, skirting around Niles’ still form, and witnessed Ares drop his walking stick, which transformed into a red Harley Davidson motorcycle. Ares then mounted, started the engine with a rumbling, leonine roar, and drove from the campus without a backward glance.
Summoning War, page 5, written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer Black
The campus ruled Niles’ death a terrible accident, caused by a night of intoxication and a fall down the dangerous dormitory staircase. The dorm was better secured, with the basement access being locked. Rumors of occult symbols etched into the floor, of Niles being some sort of sacrifice, circulated and added to the character of the old campus.
Tom sold what he could salvage of the evening’s footage to the New Science Channel. He was paid $12,000 for what would become a show hailed by conspiracy theorists and discounted by the majority of American society. As he watched the changes in his already unstable world, he assumed the responsibility for his involvement, and hung himself in his dorm closet, the check from the New Science Channel uncashed and folded within his jeans’ pocket.
There would not be a single night of sleep not plagued by dreams of destruction for any of the surviving group after this night. Their destinies altered, their souls in dispute. They, as unwitting pawns, helped to break a seal, release a plague, bring about the end of days. Upon their consciences rested the buried knowledge that their actions began another great war, the last and worst. The gears of the war machine were of course already grinding, but without a focus. They provided the leader who would guide the hawkish military leaders, filled their minds with battle lust and destruction. It was a war slow to consume, but ravenous, destroying entire populations, laying waste their contributions, starting with the least civilized and progressing to the societal giants.