(Just a bit of a laugh. Thanks to Dan Kendall and Grant Smith for casting their eyes over this. Once again all mistakes remain mine own.)
“He is a creature of the most awful occult nature. His mother was a near-feral witch of dreadful power. They say his fathers were one, a demon, the other a creature from far out in the ether.”
“An alien?” the Scientist questioned.
“Just so,” the Occultist nodded.
“Fantastical frippery,” the Clergyman muttered derisively. Though he had to mutter quite loudly to ensure his point was made, as the sound of howled obscenities and the violent battering of furniture off walls coming from the bedroom was extremely noisy.
“They say he moves sideways through time…” the Occultist said continuing with his description. At this the Scientist snorted in derision. “I have heard that his manservant is less a man and more something called a Shoggoth.”
“And I’ve heard that he lives in a windmill on Mars,” remarked the Scientist practically having to shout to be heard over the violent banging and screaming.
In the corner the boy’s mother sobbed, whilst her husband, the Home Secretary, tried to buoy her up with very British stiff-upper-lipisms.
“The very seat of the god of war himself, he is immortal!” the Occultist yelled, becoming quite carried away. “He is bred from the finest pedigree of dark power the world has ever seen. He may move between worlds and the manipulation of reality is but an afterthought to him. Gentlemen, we are all agreed are we not, that this is the worse case of possession that any of us have seen outside of the tropics?”
The others nodded their assent.
“Then I assure you our only hope is to call upon the fearful dark majesty of Mawson Triton!” the Occultist cried. Just then there was a thump as the bed touched down and the screamed description of unlikely sexual acts in the Etruscan language went quiet.
“Er… hello,” said a rather timid voice. The three men at the rustic wooden table looked up at the source of the voice, as did the Home Secretary and his wife. The figure that greeted them caused surprise, dismay, occult satisfaction and a further eruption of hysteria from the wife.
Mawson stood in the stone entrance of the townhouse kitchen. He wore an immaculate white silk suit, which he was very worried about given the propensity to projectile vomiting of many possessing spirits/creatures. Though the spirits appeared to consider this habit funny, Mawson had always considered it rather juvenile and probably the result of certain trends in the media. If only humans knew how bad horror stories make it for themselves.
He wore a matching Panama hat, a rather fetching cravat and a slightly sparkly shirt, which, despite its diamantine brilliance, managed to come across as quite tasteful.
His face was a strange mix of the bizarre and the sublime. It had a beautiful angelic cast to it, a porcelain quality like a living kabuki mask. Angular and almost, but not quite, too narrow, it had a saturnine quality. His mouth was a thin slash but avoided the cruelty that such thinness normally gives. Quite the opposite, there was something sensuous about his mouth. The almond shaped eyes, a gift presumably from his allegedly alien father, were quite, quite dark. The two small and tasteful horns protruding from his forehead spoke of his demonic heritage. There was an androgynous quality to him, which bordered on the hermaphroditic (were those small breasts?). This immediately gave the Clergyman an erection. Mawson leant awkwardly on his sword cane.
“Er, hello,” he repeated shyly. He looked around the kitchen of the Home Secretary’s townhouse. Mawson noticed that the Occultist, the Clergyman and the Scientist all had similar sword canes and groaned inwardly.
“Note,” said the Occultist in a tone that somehow managed to be smug, condescending and vaguely mysterious all at once, “that the demon goes quiet, aware that his true opponent -” here the Occultist paused as there was a clattering from the stone floor. Mawson had dropped his cane and was trying to kick it under the stove as subtly as possible. The Scientist, Clergyman and Occultist all stared at the strange creature before them. Mawson gave them a desperate smile. “- has entered the arena.”
Despite the bigging up that Mawson was receiving he was less than pleased to find himself in Edwardian London. Particularly with people as un-fabulous as these, I mean a Home Secretary of all people.
“D-d-demon you say?” Mawson asked, speaking with a perfect English public school accent. Mawson was thinking that this was beginning to sound both unpleasant and potentially dangerous.
“Well, I’m not convinced,” said the Scientist. “I suspect the child may just be mentally ill, brought on by years of inbreeding.” He then turned to the Home Secretary and his wife. “No offence.” This brought renewed wailing from the Home Secretary’s wife and blustered denials from the Home Secretary himself.
“Which would explain the ability to speak in languages dead now for aeons, and of course, the levitation,” the Occultist spat scornfully. Mawson gave this some thought. The Clergyman staring at his chest, however, was making him feel uncomfortable.
“You do have to be quite mad to levitate,” Mawson mused. Then he swung round to face the Clergyman. “What! What are you staring at?” The Clergyman, mortified, went an entertaining crimson colour and muttered something about spawn of Satan and unholy tempters into his beard.
“We need you to vanquish this creature,” the Occultist proclaimed, a little too seriously.
“Oh,” said Mawson, “Why?” Thinking this was more human-centrism.
“Because the thing has inhabited the child,” the Occultist said.
Mawson shrugged. “So?” he asked. He was bored now. He was also convinced that he was missing a good party in Berlin during the early 21st Century.
“This demon poses a threat to the Christian World as we know it,” the Clergyman began. Mawson was inspecting his nails. “We believe this to be no ordinary possession. The demon in question is a prince amongst his kind, poised to grow within the child and eventually bring chaos on the world. All the signs have been read, the portents seen…”
“The I’s dotted and the T’s crossed on the prophecies?” Mawson interrupted. He had a mind to wave his breasts at the Clergyman just to make the old git feel more uncomfortable.
“Well, quite,” the Clergyman said.
“Mawson, you were present during the Rangoon debacle?” the Occultist asked.
“Yes,” Mawson said, the memory of tentacles bringing a small smile to his face.
“And the Jurgen’s case in Barcelona, last year?”
“Well yes but I don’t see what that…”
“And the incident with the Cult of the Exploding Spleen in ’02?”
“I don’t think that’s happened to me yet. Is it going to be a nice incident?” Mawson asked, hoping against hope.
“Clearly this man, thing, circus freak whatever it is, is mad.” The Scientist said. “He should be studied, not taken seriously.”
“I agree with him,” Mawson said, clutching at straws and pointing at the Scientist. “Except for describing me as a thing, circus freak and saying I should be studied.”
“In what way do you agree with him, then?” the Clergyman asked, somewhat distractedly as he had gone back to staring at Mawson’s breasts.
“The part about me being mad. You should ignore me and let me go about my business.”
“Mawson,” said the Occultist in his most earnest voice, “we have to get that thing out of the child. Britain, the world, but mainly Britain, may be at stake. Could you just go and speak to it?”
Mawson shrugged, wondering why he allowed himself to get talked into these things. Of course largely he had little choice once the spells were done and he was summoned. This was due to his father’s heritage. He traced a number of sigils in the air with his fingers. Lines of red neon energy appeared momentarily to make mystic patterns in the air. It was a simple incantation to ward bodily fluids off his suit. The Occultist looked at him with undisguised envy at the display of power and the Clergyman even stopped looking at his breasts long enough to make the sign of the cross. His preparations complete, Mawson left the room.
* * *
Mawson walked into the servant’s room that had been utilised as a cell for the possessed lad. The Home Secretary’s wife had not wanted to risk the décor on the upper storeys. It stank.
“Ho, hum,” muttered Mawson. The room was filthy. Flies buzzed everywhere, vomit, shit, blood; a disproportionate amount of mucus (which begs the question: What would be a proportionate amount of mucus?) and piss seemed to cover every surface.
“Typical, typical,” said Mawson to himself. The child looked to have been about nine or ten before his features had taken on the scabrous, green and faintly feral cast of possession. The child was kneeling on the mattress. His eyes seemed to burn black.
“And what is this?” it hissed in a voice that shouldn’t come from a nine-year-old child.
“What’s what?” Mawson asked.
“Some frail demon kin come to see the real thing,” the demon said before trying to spray Mawson liberally with vomit. Fortunately the vomit stopped just short of his suit. William Friedkin has a lot to answer for, thought Mawson. Perhaps the demon will launch a tirade in a series of dead languages now.
“Malrespektigi sin! Mi aspiri devii cia dentaro inter en striita oficefalo!” The possessed child cried.
“Yes dead languages, very good, not at all clichéd.” Then Mawson thought about what the demon had said. “Hold on a second, was that Esperanto?” Mawson asked suspiciously. The possessed child looked somewhat sheepish. “It is, isn’t it? It’s Esperanto and not even very good Esperanto,” Mawson cried accusingly.
“Well it’s a dead language isn’t it?” the possessed child answered somewhat defensively.
“Not yet it isn’t,” Mawson said. “Now come on, you’ve had your fun, out of the body.”
“What? That’s it? That’s pathetic. Where’s the ritual? Where’s the high drama and excitement?”
“If you can’t be bothered to learn Sumerian I am not drawing a bloody pentagram in this muck. Go on, piss off back to wherever you came from.”
“Shan’t! Can’t make me.” The possessed child crossed his arms in a sulky manner. This, Mawson thought, is the problem with demons, they can be very petty and they’re real sticklers for rules.
“Oh come on!” Mawson cried, “look you’ve done the levitation, you’ve made fluids come out of the possessed that he couldn’t possibly have contained himself, you’ve done all the shouting in Esperanto, bad, nonsensical, Esperanto… er, not that I can speak Esperanto of course. You’ve upset the family and had them call in experts, who’ve got to pace about being self-important, looking up stuff in books, which are largely all bollocks. You’ve got me out of bed and forced me to deal with this unpleasantness and made me realise how passé sword canes are. You’ve lived the cliché, now please, for god’s sake, just piss off and let me get back to enjoying myself.”
Mawson was practically begging, but he saw from the petulant set of the child’s possessed features that it had been to no avail.
“You know perfectly well how to get demons out of the possessed,” the demon said.
“Yes, there’s a number of ways; a rather strenuous exorcism ritual – not going to happen, I despise breaking into sweat – and a series of methods involving the demon’s real name. I could also summon your angelic opposite in heaven; something I’ve always thought complicates matters. Instead of having one jobs-worth, petty bureaucratic, spiritual, force you end up with two.”
“Very good, but other than that you can’t get me out without killing the child,” the demon said smugly. Mawson wasn’t listening, he was thinking back to something the demon had said earlier.
“You said that I knew how to get rid of possessing demons. How’d you know that?” Mawson asked.
“W-w-well, it’s obvious isn’t it? If you didn’t why would you be here?”
“True, but that doesn’t explain the familiarity does it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Do I know you?” Mawson asked suspiciously.
“I think I’d remember meeting someone as weird looking as you,” the demon stammered, but it was obvious he was lying.
“Dad?” Mawson asked.
“What are you talking about you… you… loony,” the demon said.
“It’s you isn’t it?” Mawson started pacing, a particularly squelchy undertaking in this room. “I don’t believe this.”
“Hello son.” the demon said.
“This is so embarrassing,” Mawson muttered, feeling exactly like a teenager who’s gone to a party only to find his dad there.
“I wasn’t too pleased to see you walk through the door myself but at least I was making a go of it.”
“Oh yes, very impressive. Not even slightly clichéd, for God’ sake dad.”
“Don’t say that word?”
“What word? God?”
“Oh for Christ’s sake…”
“I’m just trying to keep up standards.”
“What in? Because it’s certainly not innovation.”
“Oh you are so clever aren’t you, there’s a reason why it’s a classic you know.”
“Not until 1973!”
“All the more reason it’ll be surprising to these Edwardian twats.” The demon said. Then the pair of them lapsed into the sort of uncomfortable silence that only strained familial bonds can manage.
“So how have you been?” the demon asked, a conciliatory tone in his voice. There was an unpleasant squishing noise as he shifted to make himself more comfortable.
“Not too bad,” Mawson huffed.
“What have you been up to?”
“You know. Stuff,” Mawson answered awkwardly.
“How’s your mum?”
“You know, still the almighty power of feminine darkness.”
“Ah yes,” the demon smiled wistfully.
“Now come on, get out of the body, I’ve got a party to go to.” Mawson said impatiently.
“Oh I see and this party’s more important than spending quality time with your father is it?” the demon demanded.
“Here we go,” Mawson said, his eyes rolling. “Is that what this is all about?” Mawson demanded. “This is why you’ve possessed this child and terrorised these people? So we can spend ‘quality time’? Because I’m sorry to disappoint you dad, my idea of quality time is not to spend it knee deep in puke. Have you ever considered picking up the phone and perhaps suggesting we go for a cocktail? Or does everything have to be excrement and screamed obscenities in Esperanto for Christ’s sake!”
Mawson was almost surprised to find he was shouting.
“Aaa! Oh yes, this is typical you isn’t it?” Mawson’s demon father scolded. “It’s always about you isn’t it? Well no, Mr. Self-Obsessed, this possession is not about you. It’s about the death of faith of a Clergyman, the corruption of an Occultist, making a rational man insane, as well as piling on grief to the Home Secretary and his wife. On top of that we have a chance, a real chance here, that if the possession takes, I could end up in a perfect position to cause global nuclear Armageddon. So no, it’s not about you. Do you have any idea how hard I have to work? Do you appreciate it?”
“Okay fine, whatever. I’m sorry about all your grand plans but you’re going to have to come out of that body.”
“Shan’t.” The demon crossed his arms with an air of finality. “If you want me out, you’re going to have to do it the hard way. Do a bit of work for once in your feckless life.”
“Oh this is stupid,” Mawson said, but then an idea came to him. “Mum told me your true name. Now if you don’t get out of that child I’ll write it on the wall of every fluffy neo pagan pub in the country.” Mawson was convinced he had his father now.
“I gave your mum a false name. I only showed up to the summoning because she was a babe,” the demon answered, with the smugness of someone getting the better of the younger generation.
“You lied to Mum!” Despite himself Mawson was shocked.
A look of irritation came over the possessed child’s face.
“Excuse me! Demon, Prince of Lies and all that,” Mawson’s father said, in as patronising a tone as he could manage.
“Fine,” said Mawson, and stalked out of the room.
* * *
Mawson stomped petulantly into the kitchen. Five faces looked up at him.
“You want this demon gone?” they all nodded. “I can do it but I may need to take extreme steps.”
“Do what you have to,” the Occultist said in a tone that he was sure sounded grimly resolute. Mawson turned to the Home Secretary and his wife. The pair of them looked worried sick, but both finally acceded with a nod. Mawson turned round and headed back into the servant’s room.
Through the open doorway the Occultist, the Clergyman, the Scientist, the Home Secretary and his wife all heard the demon say: –
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” with as much paternal authority as it could manage. A single gunshot echoed through the kitchen and there was the sound of a small body hitting the ground. Mawson emerged from the bedroom holstering his still smoking Webley revolver in the small of his back. He looked up to find the Occultist, the Clergyman, the Scientist, the Home Secretary and his wife looking at him in total horror.
“Oh no,” said Mawson, shaking his finger at them. “I said extreme methods and you agreed.”
The Home Secretary’s wife rushed past him into the filthy room. When she saw what Mawson had done she began to wail.
“Obviously we didn’t mean kill the child!” the Occultist cried, somewhat panicky and worried that he would be considered to have some complicity in this debacle.
“You didn’t say that!”
“I thought it would be implicit!” the Occultist screamed, his face turning crimson.
“Foul demon, man tit thing!” the Clergyman screamed. Both the Occultist and Mawson spared him a confused look.
“What are we to do?” the Occultist wailed.
“Have him arrested,” the Scientist said.
“Me?” Mawson was genuinely incredulous at this. “You lot said I could.”
“I never did,” the Scientist objected before turning to the Occultist. “If you recall I don’t believe in this mumbo jumbo anyway. This thing-” he said, gesturing vaguely at Mawson, “-is obviously some kind of deranged circus freak, we should call a constable.”
“Oh shut up you fundamental atheist moron,” the Occultist snapped. “Can’t you see this will implicate us all? Think of the scandal!? Why, I could be thrown out of the Hamilton Club! No, we need to cover this up.”
“Well, all the best,” said Mawson, straightening the brim of his hat and heading for the door.
“Not so fast,” the Occultist said, and Mawson found two and a half feet of quite sharp metal between him and the door.
“Too bloody right,” said the Home Secretary, slowly recovering the ability to talk. “You’re not going anywhere Sonny Jim. I’m going to have your guts for garters.”
“Oh my god. You actually talk like that as well,” said Mawson, but the Home Secretary was busy pulling down a blunderbuss from over the kitchen fireplace. Mawson turned quickly to the Occultist. “Look, I’m really sorry I shot the boy. I only did it because I thought it was what everyone wanted! As one practitioner of the arcane to another, why don’t you just get out of my way before things get worse? You know, demons’ blood, powerful magics, all that.”
The Occultist, who was genuinely awed by Mawson’s reputation, looked between Mawson and the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary was muttering things to himself as wild-eyed he poured gunpowder into the blunderbuss. The Home Secretary looked up and jabbed a thumb at himself.
“I’m the Damned Home Secretary by the way,” he shouted at the Occultist. The Occultist gave this statement some consideration.
“Sorry old chap, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to side with temporal power here,” the Occultist said, sounding genuinely apologetic.
“You people never really quite believe do you?” Mawson asked, and then he panicked. Whilst it was true that Mawson was carrying, not one, but two revolvers and it was also true that he had shot someone earlier on, Mawson did not dare draw his revolvers in case the Occultist was quicker with the sword cane. Or to put it another way, he was one serious fright away from pissing himself. The guns were mainly carried for reasons of style anyway.
Mawson’s panic began to manifest itself. It began with paddle and roll, a pretty much standard four-measure move. It was close work so there was little movement across the kitchen floor. Just the rhythmic sound of Mawson’s tap shoes hitting the stone. The heel of Mawson’s free foot hit the floor next to his support foot. A brush back and a ball-heel followed.
Then with a flourish he was off across the kitchen floor, much to everyone’s surprise. Scuff, shuffle, spank, a four-count time-step combination with a drop and then a jump onto the kitchen table for a shim sham shimmy.
“My God,” said the Home Secretary in a kind of rapt disgust. “He dances like a damned sambo!” Although he had finished reloading his blunderbuss he was so intent on watching Mawson’s tap skills that he forgot to shoot. Slowly, however, what the Home Secretary had actually said slipped through Mawson’s concentration. Mawson’s dancing faltered and then stopped.
“You, sir, are… are…an arse!” Mawson spat, as anger finally got the better of cowardice and, it would appear, vocabulary. The Home Secretary’s face was a crimson study in fury as he raised the Blunderbuss.
“Shit!” Mawson dived for the narrow kitchen window, somehow managing to crash through it and roll forward, as there was a deafening explosion from behind. Mawson was peripherally aware of a bright, rolling muzzle flash, as everything in front of the blunderbuss became kindling. Much of it being spat out of the kitchen window that Mawson had just dived through. Mawson rolled to his feet, imagining the last few moments as having been in slow motion in the internal movie of his life. He heard footsteps sprinting out of the kitchen after him.
* * *
Mawson found himself sprinting down Knightsbridge. Behind him ran the kitchen knife-wielding Home Secretary in a fit of high apoplexy, the Scientist, the Clergyman who was still screaming something to Mawson about him being the man tit thing, and the Occultist, all of them waving their sword-canes. Mawson’s tap shoes clattered off the cobbles as he ran. To his left there was the scream of tires as a Packard Limousine skidded onto Knightsbridge and came alongside Mawson. In the open topped driving compartment an oily, amorphous, mass of pseudopodia with a chauffeur’s cap on top, in as much as it could be said to have a top, expertly drove the car with its viscous tendrils. One tentacle reached back and opened the rear compartment. Mawson dived in, to howls of rage from behind him.
“Thank you Frances, now get me back home!” Mawson cried, and an oily black tendril exerted pressure on the car’s accelerator as the Packard sped off, causing swirls in the suitably atmospheric fog that had rolled in for the occasion.