Clarity is one of those paradoxical phenomena. It seems to make sense to get a good look at something close up, but in truth it is time and distance that truly illuminate.
Her eyes were open for the first time in years. Samantha Scott crouched, balancing on one hand, squeezing the beach sand between her fingers with the other. A thousand micro points of pain began, with a network of assaults on individual nerves as miniscule specks of shell and stones dug into her skin, the sum no more than a tingling. The discomfort barely registered as another portion of her life slipped away. Behind her, a companion raged against their failures. How could she have been used for so long, she wondered?
She heard the roar of celebration in the distance, smelled the faint waft of distant fumes, but pushed it away. She had given too much already. This would be her own little dig at her mother’s greatest achievement.
It was already late afternoon; she felt the sun on her face, tasted the salt carried on the light breeze to the edge of her tongue. She imagined the sky sling, the culmination of a decade of international co-operation spearheaded by the brightest minds on the planet—noting the pull on the ocean as preparations were underway. Was there nothing humanity could not alter?
“Sammy, you should see this,” urged one of her companions.
“What?” The wind whipped her voice into strands.
“This sight is the only success you’ll have today if you don’t concentrate.”
Luke? Lance? Her mind was scrambled, as it always was when she drew blood. Lucas. The young man was the latest in a long line of sycophants—devil worshippers. He, and the three bootlickers cowering behind him, was a distraction. Her priorities had changed and with that came a black cloud of responsibilities. Her head swirled with confused energy, like lightning randomly erupting.
She opened her clenched palm, examining the laceration stretching from the base of her forefinger to the heel of her hand. Skin deep, the wound had stopped bleeding as soon as it started; grains of the coarse sand now stuck in what would become another scar on the latticework already there. She wiped the laceration on the faded grey of a once-black t-shirt bearing the word ‘Disturbed’, the sand spilling onto tight jeans of a similar hue.
She looked up at Lucas and the others, “It’s not why you came. This is why you're here. All of you.” Samantha pointed at the sand beneath. Waves lapped at the edge of a circle with symbols etched within. As the seawater spilled into the furrowed shoreline, the mark faded, taken back by the sand and ocean; here there would be no scar.
“Give her time, Lucas,” one of the three girls whispered, her voice shaking. She stared at him, then cowered, scuttling along the solitary beach on the island of Brusnik.
Samantha took everything in; the acrid taste of jet fuel caught in the back of her mouth, the Adriatic had been forever spoiled by the enormity of Hunter’s Ridge. The salt air scent forever gone.
A tiny black lizard scampered across the beach and then darted into a volcanic outcrop, one of many on Brusnik covered by the followers and sycophants of Lucas and his trio. Brainwashed believers in the Devil, or those along for the sheer rebellion against one of the world’s greatest and yet most secret organisations. Fifty metres across, the shoreline and the lapping blue sea became Samantha’s refuge amidst this gathering of the lost. But behind her, the strange technological behemoth, whose birth she had ushered in, dominated the skyline. The revolving spaceport and two miles of runway loomed. Twin vapour trails traced the heavens, a rocket at their head, bearing a satellite into space roared over the cheering masses.
My mother is likely there, celebrating, she thought. Both of them had been catapulted into the upper echelons of society and legend, but Samantha now wanted no part of it. This gathering would drive her nuts.
All her life, Samantha Scott had been dragged from place to place, country-to-country, in her mother’s wake; Eva Scott worked for Anges de la Résurrection des Chevaliers—ARC. Twenty years ago, she had stopped the demons. Because of that, the world saw her mother as a saviour, so of course there was no time for a young daughter. Besides, Samantha was not like her older sister Nina, who dutifully followed in their mother’s footsteps. Nonetheless, Samantha had not been completely neglected; she was well educated, had acquired skills . . . still, she rebelled.
“Unique parentage,” her mother explained, refusing to offer additional details. She and Nina had unusual skill sets. Nina, for instance, could communicate with no more than a look, and Samantha suspected that she could also pull thoughts from anyone in her vicinity. It was the only thing she envied about her sister. Samantha’s particular talent differed, although it too centered on communication—she could, in fact, summon the Devil. Who wouldn’t want that, she mused?
“Do you want to try again?” Lucas urged. Leather-clad, in a long black trench coat, Lucas Rossi’s long, greasy hair hung loose about his face, the waft of a seldom-washed body threatened to overpower her more than the menace in his voice.
It was in Geneva at the age of fourteen that Samantha first discovered her skill, the ability to call forth an image of a demon. The book she had used, a gift from her sister Nina, was full of arcane instruction. Fascinating. The first time she carved the symbols into the ground and cut her hand, spilling her own blood into the pattern, filled her with such immense euphoria she almost fainted. Power pulsed through her. Discovery. Her very own secret. Before long she rebelled; descending into the lowest common denominator, she styled herself as a priestess, gathering a flock of wannabe worshippers—little more than goths with attitude. It was two years ago, as she turned twenty that Lucas attached himself to her. The three girls: Tamsyn, Donna and Tracey, were his latest trio, his coven. The rest of the crowd contained those wishing or even plotting to take his place. They followed him aimlessly, living from moment-to-moment, devoid of any self-esteem or personal goals.
Lucas stayed, mostly because he had access to Samantha’s unlimited funds, to which he regularly helped himself. He and his pathetic coven contented themselves in ritual sex, drugs and booze. Now all waited, excited, expectant.
Although Samantha had fallen, she had not slipped into the slime of wanton sex, money and meaningless rituals. None of it held any interest for her. As life went on, she became more and more disassociated from the world into which she was born.
“If I must,” she muttered. The apathy was for his benefit. She wanted this. It was the only way she felt anything. Kneeling, she carefully redrew the summoning glyphs in the sand, hoping the water would remain calm now that the satellite was in orbit—her mother’s crowning glory.
Strawberry-blond curls draped over her shoulder, obscuring her view; she took a moment to tie her hair back. She drew the familiar work from rote, the intricate markings magically rising out of the sand.
Lucas leaned in, fanatically checking her design. He leaned over her shoulder and Samantha tried not to recoil. He seldom brushed his teeth, leaving his breath putrid. She was his prize, and it pissed off her mother.
“Give me the knife,” she instructed, raising her hand aloft.
He pressed the hilt into her palm with a flourish, playing to his crowd. Wooden, bound with string, it housed a blade of black conchoidal obsidian tinged with red. Razor sharp, never losing its edge, the blade could have been used to perform surgery. Rotating her hand Samantha used the point of the blade to score her scarred palm, bringing blood to flow across her hand and drip as she squeezed her fingers into the cut. She felt nothing.
Lucas began to chant an ancient language as her blood spilled into the complicated sand carving. She had long given up the rite of summoning, content to allow Lucas to impress his women. The three girls, made brave by the confident chant, crept closer, the crowd edging in behind. Samantha ignored them, watching for signs that the spell was a success.
The sand swirled—satisfaction —it had worked. She tightened her lips, bored with any sign. The downside was that her mother would know where she was—under her nose, spiting her with this act of insurrection.
A body that prevented a demon incursion two decades ago produced one capable of returning demonkind to earth. Samantha studied all the reports. Access to the full ARC database had given her information the average man would pale to consider. There she discovered the darkest secret—her father was a demon.
Now it was her secret; her companions could never know. The truth was that Samantha’s father was the demon.
Samantha discovered his earthly name, as well—Madden Scott. He had taken the mantle as the protector of the nether realms. Through his own choice he had risen, or fallen, to become Satan.
Samantha wondered, Was he a hero, or the ultimate villain?
In the shadow of Hunters Ridge the sigil she formed in the sand turned from yellow to darker brown, and then to sullen red. The circle pulsed with her heartbeat, the base of her skull throbbed—she had succeeded. She knew she was close to drawing the likeness of the most-unholy himself.
Samantha glanced at Lucas, seeing the lust in his eyes for both the rite and the women around him. But she could feel his desire was mostly for her.
She knew she was sacrosanct, beyond his reach while she was in control. The other girls were his only outlet and he flaunted his dominance over them as if to impress Samantha with what she was missing.
What they both knew was that he could never conduct this rite. It was not in his blood.
With the glow, many of the crowd began to edge away, furtive glances seeking the easiest route back to the flotilla of speedboats anchored to the far side of the island. They came for the thrill, but now it had become a reality.
Lucas rose from a mutter to a shout as his chant reached its climax. “He comes,” roared Lucas as he spread his arms wide.
Samantha ignored his theatrics, concentrating on the glowing circle of sand. Waves hissed into steam where they touched the edge of the circle, seaweed catching fire and leaving a fishy stench in the air. A steady red light glowed in the shade of the late afternoon, the vapour whirled, caught in the spell. The background roar of celebration, like a call from Hades, heightened the drama and in that moment, a form materialised into being.
To Samantha, it was nothing new. Since learning her power, she had seen the image of her father many times. She understood others saw what he wanted them to see, and on this evening, Samantha watched in silence as the body coalesced into a form not quite human.
Glowing yellow eyes and curled black horns of polished onyx sat atop a body with combat boots, black trousers and a well-muscled torso. For a moment this was it. No change. Behind her, Lucas and the trio were on their knees, foreheads pressed to the ground. Glowing yellow eyes and curled black horns of polished onyx sat atop a body with combat boots, black trousers and a well-muscled torso. For a moment this was it. No change. People were rooted still. Some gasping, others screaming. Behind her, Lucas and the trio were on their knees, foreheads pressed to the ground.
“Command us, Lucifer, mightiest of Hell’s army,” Lucas announced in grand tones.
“Idiot,” Samantha muttered, shaking her curls loose in disgust. “Lucifer is quite someone else.”
Turning back to the form held by her blood, she shrugged. “They never learn.”
The horns shimmered, the eyes darkened. Time seemed to slow about her, as had always happened with the spell. Lucas’ voice lowered, his movements sluggish. In place of the evil perceived by others, a man’s face looked back at her from the sullen ruby glow, A long dark ponytail hung behind. The pain returned, crushing her. Every time their eyes met she wished for death, to be by his side. Her father, in a place she couldn’t reach him. Stubble framed a look of concern, or maybe exasperation. It seemed to say, And yet, you bring them to me, time after time.
“What can I do?” Samantha asked. “It’s the only way I get to see you. Mom never arranged proper visitation rights. Seeing you impresses his flock, keeps him off my back.”
What would you have me do?
“Take me with you, Dad. There’s nothing for me here. I miss you.”
That’s not an option. However, it’s about time you walked away from them, daughter.
A smile crept round the edges of her mouth. “Do you have something in mind?”