A Hope in HellbyIroniclaconic©
Tasha's day went from bad to worse when she opened the apartment door and saw a demon fucking John on the sofa.
She had spent the last two hours staring into the wintry abyss of the Chicago River — seeking resolution but discovering nothing but the well-recognized features of her own cowardice — and now she returned to find this — a voluptuous, naked she-demon pistoning vertically on John's cock, apparently having the time of its unnatural life.
It was as if the universe saw that Tasha was clinging desperately to the remaining shreds of her sanity, and decided to whack her fingers with a rock.
Before she could suppress it, a mad giggle escaped her mouth, but the demon didn't react, continuing to work itself into a sexual frenzy at the expense of her friend.
Tasha slumped against the wall to prevent herself from collapsing, trying to wrap her mind around the impossibility that confronted her eyes.
She had to admit it seemed a pleasant enough demon. If her scant months with the Wiccans hadn't trained her to recognize the crimson halo of the demon's aura, she would have believed John had somehow scored an exceptionally curvy and libidinous Vogue model. The demon was a classic beauty — one with a face rapt with lust and sheened with sweat. Tasha envied the size and firm sway of its breasts as they moved in time with hips that flared and curved with sinuous perfection. Those hips were now straddling the closest thing to a friend she had left in the world, writhing and undulating as they prepared to consume John's life to a bossa nova beat.
The demon signaled no awareness of Tasha's presence, yet it must have heard her enter the apartment, and could not have missed her mad giggle. Tasha was convinced it knew she was there, biding its time.
Which was evidently now.
"Would you care to join us?" Its voice had the low sultry husk Tasha had only heard in golden age Hollywood movies, spoken by actresses who smoked two packs a day. It was a voice that Tasha wished she possessed herself.
The demon turned its head, and Tasha glimpsed full red lips marred only by the hint of a sneer — when she was hit by the sensual hurricane of the demon's gaze.
Green-eyed flames filled her vision. Tasha's breath seized in her throat as a wave of sexual heat rushed through her body. Her knees buckled in response as a rapturous tremor emanated from behind her navel, and pleasure reverberated through her waist and loins. She felt her body respond to another woman in a way she had never experienced.
The demon was not an "it" pretending to be female, but a definite "she". Tasha knew that now. She imagined sensations of fantasies she had never known she had — the sight of her arms pinned over her head as a feminine mouth tasted every inch of her body — the texture of the demon's nipples as they hardened between her lips and teeth — the feel of the demon's face clenched tight between her thighs as a hot tongue and expert fingers probed her nether orifices — each touch becoming a cascade of climaxes that wracked her body. Her hands were tearing at her own blouse as she was impelled forward to experience the demon's touch firsthand.
Then it vanished. As abruptly as they had arrived, the sensations were gone, replaced by a mundane sexual warmth — paling so much in comparison to what she had just experienced, that Tasha whimpered with loss.
The demon shrieked a cry of frustration.
Tasha flinched, certain she had done something wrong, but not understanding what it could have been.
The demon was inhaling deep breaths in a way it — no, she — had not needed from her sexual calisthenics, and her eyes showed a weary exhaustion as they assessed Tasha — a predator sensing a rival of unknown power. The demon pumped her hips once more on John's cock, and shuddered as the weariness faded from her face, replaced by a deepening frown. An intense darkness now marred her previously sensual visage. The demon's body and face may have looked as if they belonged to a woman of twenty, but Tasha could tell those eyes were old enough to have seethed with the same frustrated anger when Sodom and Gomorrah fell.
Tasha instinctively retreated, until the painted surface of the apartment wall left her feet pawing uselessly against the floor.
"Did you work magick, child? Against me?" With the calm fatality of a jungle cat, the demon extracted John from herself, stood, and moved toward Tasha, her face a promise of retribution.
The hate in her eyes abruptly dimmed, leaving only wariness. "No, I see it now," the demon said. "A ward — cast on you — not a magick against me — years old, and inexpertly constructed. I could find a way around it given time, but for now, it serves. I would drain myself dry if I foolishly persisted in a frontal attack." The demon's eyes roamed around Tasha's body with a critical assessment that Tasha recognized as a woman sizing up a competitor.
Tasha felt it was safer to say nothing.
"Dallied with witches, have you, child? No self-respecting witch of power would neglect her wards, so this was not your spell. You do not know the craft yourself, and are no danger to me." The demon was now dismissive as she turned back toward John. "Well, never mind. You are more than welcome to watch as I take your friend. I have a voyeur fetish." She threw a seductive smile over her shoulder. "Then again, I have every fetish." Now that the demon was convinced Tasha posed no threat, she had the temerity to flirt with her.
The demon's talk of a ward had initially confused Tasha, but then she remembered. She had briefly joined a Wiccan group her freshman year in college. Like Kabbalah, Buddhism, Scientology, and her nude protests with PETA, it was yet another futile effort to discover a way to quash her Black Moods. The Wiccans had been nicer than most, if equally useless.
For all their protestations of feminism, the Wiccans had shown the deference most women show to a beauty in their midst. They had welcomed her, impressed with her aptitude, but Tasha was by nature a learner, not a practitioner. She had satisfied her curiosity with the Wiccans, but the demon was right that she had no magick herself. The informal leader of the coven (an earnest but clever muncher of granola and rugs named Claire) had even invited Tasha into her bed — an offer Tasha had accepted only once, spending most of the time wishing Claire had a cock. Tasha sometimes enjoyed the tender sensuality of lesbian erotica, using it in foreplay with her male lovers, but her experimentation with Claire convinced her that the the softness of a woman's curves just couldn't compete with the firm, protective strength of a man — that is, until the demon had looked at her a few moments ago.
Tasha's body still had a pleasant ache from the memory.
The Wiccans had tried a few summonings of earth spirits, and been successful (Tasha remembered a green glow with the scent of moss and eucalyptus while pan pipes echoed on the spring breeze), but before the summonings, Claire had been insistent on casting a ward against demonic possession, a caution against the wrong spirit responding to the Wiccan's call. Tasha had been dubious at the time, as the spell involved Claire rubbing a salve into every inch of Tasha's body, but evidently the ward worked, and had just saved her from this...
(Tasha recalled what she had studied of the infernal beastiary)
Fuck. The Lilim weren't the Ladies Auxiliary. Tasha had abandoned the Wiccans long ago, but she still read the occasional pagan blogs, and knew the Lilim were the prime suspects in that "Manhattan Massacre" a few years ago, where a couple dozen Wall Streeters had disappeared — presumed dead or hiding in the Caymans, depending who you believed. With firsthand evidence that succubi were real, Tasha was now certain the missing Masters of the Universe weren't hiding in the Caymans.
Tasha spoke her first words to the demon. "You are one of the four Lilim. Which one?"
The succubus rose to her full height — a head taller than Tasha — then placed her hands on her waist, displaying both a sway to her hips and a flare for the dramatic. "You are in the presence of the Keeper of the Infernal Harem — First Concubine of Hell itself. I am Adam's first wife, before he decided to screw his own rib and name it Eve. I am the Queen-Sister of the Lilim. You may address me as... Lilith."
Despair welled in the pit of Tasha's stomach, and she felt her Black Mood looming in the recesses of her mind. She remembered her studies of the Kabbalah — another failed refuge. Lilith had been one of the few figures who crossed over between the Talmud and the Wiccan myths. She was one of Hell's inner circle.
"You know of me." Lilith watched the dismay play out on Tasha's face.
Tasha could only nod mutely. The sheer peril and promise of her situation overwhelmed her her, and she hyperventilated as panic raced along her skin and hope welled in her heart. She had almost died.
The ward had saved her.
The demon would have ended Tasha's pain by killing her along with John.
Tasha was ambivalent at the prospect of her own death, but John was another matter entirely. Her eyes jumped to where he sat on the couch, raptly staring at Lilith with vacant eyes. John had declined Tasha's own advances, so she had never seen him naked before. Her eyes involuntarily drifted to the impressive, glistening erection extending from his crotch, which Tasha knew would lead him to his death inside the demon's cunt. As soon as he climaxed, Lilith's magic would kill him, sucking out his life.
He was a good man facing a bad death. There was nothing Tasha could do.
Of course, that wasn't unusual, she thought. There was never anything she could do. She failed at everything, including her own attempts to end her own miserable existence. Lilith would kill John, and maybe find a way to kill Tasha if she felt like taking the time to work around the ward.
Tasha collapsed onto the floor, drawing her knees up to her chest and holding them tight. She stared at Lilith with hollow eyes. John was going to die. Her protector would die. Tasha would either die herself or be blamed for what would look like a disappearance.
She should run. John was a private person — none of his neighbors knew anything about Tasha. If she fled, anonymity might save her.
Of course, Tasha had nowhere to go — that was how she had ended up with John in the first place. Her best outcome if she survived the night was that she would shortly be out on the street again.
Silently, Tasha cursed the demon for taking John from her. She cursed John for not being strong enough to resist, and for ensuring that Tasha would be witness to his death. She cursed her parents, and all of her former lovers who had failed her. She cursed God, Mother Earth, Odin, and every other supposedly divine being who had ignored her pleas. Mostly, she cursed herself, her uselessness, and her own cowardice.
She had no right to live.
The demon had her arms on John's shoulders, preparing to resume her coital execution, but now she paused, and looked back at Tasha. "I can read desires, little one," the demon said.
Little one. Tasha had always been sensitive about how small she was, counting on the extra body from her conditioner to bring her over the five foot mark. She knew her oriental features, contrasted with her Pathan mother's jarringly blue eyes, caused most men to consider her an exotic beauty — but she was small and weak, exposing a vulnerability which fed the Black Moods which stalked her. It was one reason why she needed a protector, and why she had clung so desperately to John, despite being hurt by his rejections.
"I know desire, and you desire death, little one." The demon was smiling again, exposing canine teeth that looked almost as if they had been filed to points — other than her impossible physical perfection, her teeth were the only material sign of her true nature.
Do I desire death? Tasha asked herself. She looked the demon in the eye with a mix of hope and resignation, and nodded once.
When Tasha had first hit the water, it felt like shards of glass had impaled her skin, but now a creeping wet chill was numbing her flesh, and the lack of feeling scared her more. The surge of adrenaline awoke her survival instinct, and she called for help while pawing with frozen hands at the broken ice that floated around her.
It was hopeless. She had chosen to wear layers of clothes, knowing they would drag her down. They had served their purpose, but now she didn't want to die this way. She screamed again — her quiet desperation was forgotten — but her cries were swallowed by the cold, vile ink of the Chicago River.
She searched for help on the bridge above, but the Michigan Avenue streetlights were alone on the bridge, and they watched her drown with callous disregard.
Tasha kicked at the water with legs that were wet sandbags. She wasn't strong, and the creeping cold was draining away what little power she had. Even her thoughts felt deadened — synapses firing through icy slush. She was receiving a gift she no longer wanted, at least not this way — she was dying.
Her face broke the water to take a meager bite of air and allow one last quiet plea for help, before she sank for the final time.
A shadow moved above her and the clank of wood on metal reverberated through the water to her submerged ears. A choking at her throat told her someone had grabbed the collar of her jacket, and was hoisting her out of the water.
Tasha had learned to read at age four. She had a attained a perfect score on the SAT, spoke four languages, and could have been a Jeopardy champion had it occurred to her to try, but at the moment her higher-level thinking was shut down, and the only thoughts in her mind were related to panic, the instinct to survive, and the dim knowledge that safety hovered above her. Her hands reached toward her savior, nails scratching for purchase. Don't let me die like this!
"You look like you weigh ninety pounds soaking weight, but 'soaking wet' is heavier than I thought. Did you make those clothes out of sponges?" It was a man's voice, straining with effort as he lifted her out of the water. She felt the chill of evaporation and saw a metal wall with the words "Alumacraft" on them, and her precious breath was forced out of her lungs as she was laid across the gunwale, watching slush drip onto the floor of the boat.
A hand seized the seat of her pants, and she felt herself heaved and dropped onto the metal floor.
The man kept talking. "Saw you jump. Figured you would change your mind when you hit the ice."
"Help," was all she could whisper. Hypothermia was narrowing her vision to a tunnel, but she saw a lean masculine face nodding at her. Her rescuer had kind eyes, lined with sadness.
"I'll help you," he said, with a certainty that she found calming.
As Tasha closed her eyes and felt unconsciousness tugging at her, she heard him calling 9-1-1.
"You desire the man I was pleasuring when you interrupted us. You desire death. I can give you both." Lilith was close to her now, moving closer.
Tasha glanced over at John, whose empty gaze and priapic member were both fixated on the demon. John had refused Tasha, yet he had seemed euphoric between the thighs of this creature. Tasha knew it was just Lilith's power that drove John, but her mind was adept at taking any doubt, flaw, or feeling of inadequacy, and magnifying it until she could think of nothing else. She could not help but compare her own body to that of the succubus, and find herself wanting. Tasha had a natural beauty's contempt for those who attained it through augmentation, and if she had seen those tits on anyone human she would have insisted they were fake — no skin could be so flawless and no flesh could hold that shape and buoyancy without thwarting Newton's Laws. Tasha herself possessed only the small breasts and slim hips she had inherited from her Vietnamese grandmother. She lacked the demon's muscle tone, and Tasha's own tawny skin was flecked with a few moles and scars — the wear and tear of everyday life. The demon, however, enviably displayed the supple, pampered flesh of a pleasure slave from the Arabian Nights — flesh that was now so close to her she could smell sweat and sex.
Was that why John had been fucking the demon but had rejected Tasha herself? Men often called her beautiful despite the flaws so obvious to her, but men lied, particularly if they thought the lies might spread a woman's legs. Sometimes she had believed the lies anyway, preferring them to loneliness. This had happened far more often the last few months. Desperation was her aphrodisiac, sending her toward whichever man seemed most likely to act as an anchor in her life — toward whoever could help hold the Black at bay.
It used to be easier. Lance had stayed with her for years, yielding his own aspirations in the futile war for her happiness, until he had finally surrendered the fight. Max had only lasted a tenth as long before he recognized her as the lost cause she was. Now she was almost thirty, and the men were either wiser or more resistant to her charms. They seemed to sense the defects and darkness within, and would either reject her outright, or spurn her only after they had spent a night in her bed.
Not John, though. She sometimes hated him for pulling her out of the river, but she recognized the fundamental decency of his treatment of her.
Lilith's impeccably manicured hand reached out and stroked Tasha's cheek as the demon searched the eyes of her prospective prey. "What is it, little one, that makes you hunger for both sex and death?"
"I'm sick," Tasha confessed.
Lilith's fingers were now toying with Tasha's mouth, tracing each inflection of each curve with such tenderness that Tasha opened her lips in welcome. "I can sense illness," the demon said. "You lack its taint."
Tasha knew the demon only asked in order to use this against her, but her loneliness spoke for her. "Not that kind of sick. The doctors used to say I was bipolar, but I haven't been manic for years." Proof that monopoles exist in nature, Lance had said once, making some sort of physics joke.
The demon nodded sympathetically as she played with the buttons on Tasha's shirt. Her nails slid into the folds of the fabric to graze the soft skin beneath. "Do you want me to grant your wish? You need only accept and your ward will fall of your own volition. You will die experiencing the pleasure that engulfed you just minutes ago. I promise no other end will be so pleasant."
Wasn't that what prevented her from ending her own life? Fear of pain? Fear of a failure that left her alive but mentally or physically maimed? The demon's mouth and hands offered her the certainty of a death that would culminate not in agony, but ecstasy. The sadness and failures would all end. The Black Moods would end.
Lilith's hands slipped between Tasha's thighs. Tasha arched her pelvis forward and opened her mouth to voice her acceptance, knowing no one would miss her.
Except John. John would miss her. She looked over the demon's nude shoulder to say good bye to him, and her acceptance caught in her throat.
"Who can I call to come get you?" Her rescuer had waited for her at the hospital. Tasha had tried to leave early to minimize the bill, but the nurse told her that the bill had been taken care of by her "guardian angel". The nurse had used the term with a look of disapproval, implying Tasha didn't deserve such a person. Tasha couldn't disagree — her guilt and resentment over the unwanted obligation overwhelmed any gratitude.
"I have no one," she said. The closest thing she had to friends were her two ex-boyfriends. Lance had shown he didn't care what happened to her, and had already fucked off to New York. Max had dumped her when he found out she had stopped taking her Prozac. Her parents had shown her their level of compassion when she had called begging for help a year ago. They had insisted she had the ability to help herself — expressing concerns of enablement. Tasha had sworn she would never speak to them again, and she wouldn't break that oath now. She had very little left in the world except her pride, and she wouldn't discard it.