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| Something You’re Not Using
By Antoinette McCormick
This was not supposed to happen.
Lucy Gimble stared slack-jawed at the man inside the circle.
Her ritual circle.
The one that had taken her nearly two hours to cast on her bedroom floor.
The man – although man-shaped thing, she decided, was probably more
appropriate – sitting cross-legged in the center of her carefully crafted circle,
wore khaki cargo shorts, flip-flops, and an orange Hawaiian print shirt that
barely contained his protruding paunch. His thin, white goatee, which he was
now trying to smooth into a point with his stubby fingers, matched the shock of
hair on his head in both color and scarcity. His face, while ruddy-cheeked and
full-lipped, had no discernible neck, only fleshy cowls between the spot where
his chin should have been and his shoulders.
Lucy glanced at her computer. The instructions from Wicca Wonderfall’s free
spell section were still on its screen and there was nothing in them about the
sudden appearance of man-shaped things.
Or about them smelling like rotten eggs, for that matter.
Stuff like this only happened in horror movies. Bad ones.
Lucy flopped on her bed and groaned.
“Hey, could you turn on a light?” The man-thing squinted at her over the ring
of candles. “I like to see who’s summoning me.”
Lucy reached for the lamp on her nightstand. “I didn’t summon you.”
“I’m afraid you did, kiddo,” the man-thing said huskily. Blinking, he looked
about the room. “Purple, eh? Odd choice for a bedroom… Hello, little lady,”
he said, as his gaze fell upon a drawing tacked to the bedroom door. He
looked over his shoulder at her. “Hey, did you do that?”
“That, and those behind you.” As he spun around on his bottom to look, Lucy
said, “They’re part of my ‘Lost Soul’ series.”
“Nice graveyards – very misty – and I do love redheads.” Pivoting back, he
winked at her. “You’ve got some real talent there, kiddo.”
“Not enough to get a scholarship. They said my work was ‘autobiographical
and derivative’ – I guess because of this.” She pulled back the hood of her
thin, black top, and a tangle of long, auburn curls fell past her shoulders.
“Bastards. I’d want revenge, too.” The candles quavered as the man-thing
heaved himself to his feet. “Good thing you summoned me.”
Lucy threw her hands in the air. “For the last time, I didn’t summon you.”
He scratched his head. “You cast a spell to produce a demon, Red.”
“No,” Lucy said. “I cast a spell to produce eudaimonia.”
Lucy crossed her arms. “You-day-ee-moan-ee-ah,” she said sulkily. “It’s
supposed to produce perfect happiness, health, and prosperity, not—” She
waved in his direction. “No offense. It’s… I think you’re sitting on it.”
“None taken,” he said, pulling a scrap of lavender paper out from beneath his
buttock. He glanced at it. “There’s your first mistake. It’s pronounced ‘you-day-
moan-ee-ah.’ You stuck an extra something you didn’t need in there.”
“Okay, so my Latin’s lousy.”
“Oh, man! My buddies are gonna love this!” His belly shook as he laughed.
“Figures.” Turning away, Lucy buried her face in her hands.
“Aw, c’mon, I didn’t mean it.” He started to reach across the circle for her, but
the air around it shimmered and slightly buckled beneath his touch. Goggle-
eyed, he dropped the paper and gawped at the crying girl. Finally, he said,
“Please don’t, I hate it when you humans leak.”
Lucy’s sniffle ended in a snort. “Leak?” Wiping her eyes, she turned back to
“That’s better.” He beamed at her. “You know, I don’t understand why a
pretty, little thing like you’s messing with this cockamamie spell crap at all.”
When she opened her mouth to protest, he raised his hand. “Because it is
crap. Health, wealth, happiness – you don’t need a frigging spell for that.
What’s your name, kid?”
“Lucy.” She wiped her nose on her shirtsleeve. “Lucy Gimble.”
“Lucy. That’s a lovely name, my favorite name, in fact.” The demon’s black
eyes glinted. “Mine’s Josh.”
“Josh?” Now it was Lucy’s turn to laugh.
“That’s the closest thing to it in English.” He shrugged. “It doesn’t translate
well, and even if it did, pronunciation isn’t exactly your strong suit. Where’d
you get the spell, Lucy?”
“Here.” She reached for the laptop on her desk. “It was free. Now I know
why.” As she angled it so he could see, the feathery script on its screen
flickered. “Sorry my connection’s so lousy,” she said.
“No problem. Not much of a prep list,” he said, scanning the instructions. Then
his face clouded. “This says to cast one ring of fire. Why’d you make three,
“Well, since eudaimonia’s really three things, I thought…” She reached for a
green, googly-eyed, plush object that looked like a large pillow with tentacles
at the foot of her bed and pulled it on her lap. “A spell’s just like a recipe—”
“No. It’s not.” He shook his head.
“Damn.” She hugged her toy.
“Well, look on the bright side, Lucy.” He straightened. “As ritual circles go,
this one’s a Cadillac – a – a Lexus! You added salt for
containment…protection.” He nodded at the mounded clumps in the innermost
arc. “You didn’t skimp on it, either. Then you have…” He cocked his head at
her. “Is that glitter?”
“Not glitter.” Lucy giggled. “Magick Dust. It’s there.” She indicated an
advertisement in a sidebar on the computer screen.
“Hunh.” Josh pulled at his goatee. “I didn’t know magic ended in k.”
“They sell it for…” Her face fell.
“Luck.” She groaned.
“Well, you are lucky, Lucy,” Josh said. “Lucky I was standing by Hell’s spell-
tracker when you cast yours into the wind; lucky it was me who answered your
call and not one of my buddies. Like him.” He pointed at Lucy’s toy. “No one
can pronounce his name and it really pisses him off.”
“Oh.” Lucy threw the toy in her laundry hamper.
“These are nice.” He pointed to the outermost circle of nine candles of varying
shapes, sizes, and colors. “Virgin, yes?”
“What?” Lucy’s cheeks flushed. “Well, technically…” One hand began
worrying a leather cord around her neck. She pulled something out of her
“Not you, the candles,” said Josh. His chuckle became a cough when he saw
the silver talisman on the cord.
“Crap.” Bedsprings squeaked as she rose. “I couldn’t even get that right.”
Floorboards creaked as she shuffled to the edge of the candlelit ring. The
largest, a stout, white pillar with three wicks, was within kicking distance. Lucy
flexed her bare foot, but then decided against adding a second-degree burn
and a possible house fire to her ‘Stupid Things I Did Today’ list. Instead, she
clasped the pendant between her hands and looked up at Josh. “What should
He scratched his head. “Well, call me an old softie, but as long as I’m stuck
here, I might’s well help you out, ‘do you a solid,’ as you kids say. So, what’ll it
She shrugged and began rubbing one point of her pendant along her lower lip.
Josh winced as it flashed in the firelight. “Everyone wants something, Lucy. I
can give you anything you want and without all this hocus-pocus, stick-a-wish-
in-a-ring-of-light-so-mot-it-be hoop-dee-doo. If you want revenge on those
jerks at school, I can bury ‘em in an avalanche; if it’s boyfriend trouble, I can
turn your ‘defriend’ button on Facebook into a weapon.” Leaning in, he
whispered, “A lethal weapon, if you get my drift. He’ll never know what hit him.”
“Kind of extreme, don’t you think?” She let the pendant fall between her
breasts. “Besides, I don’t have a…” She looked away.
“Well, how about money? Prosperity was on your eudaimonia list.”
Lucy paced between her bed and the door. “You say it’s a favor now, Josh,
but later, you’ll want my first-born or my soul or something.”
“I have no use for babies – or souls.” Josh’s flip-flops slip-slapped against the
floorboards as he followed her from inside the circle. “A soul used to be worth
something, but these days, people will leap from temptation to damnation
faster than you can say ‘Jersey Shore.’ He waved at the computer screen.
“Sure, it’s fun to watch, but…” He shrugged. “Of course, if a trade would
make you feel better…”
She nodded. “The only thing I really want right now is to forget this ever
“Gotcha.” He winked. “Okay, now all you have to do is give me something…”
He turned to the drawing on Lucy’s bedroom door. “Something…” Still
turning, now with his back to her, he regarded the sketches on the far wall.
“Something…” he said, stretching each syllable into singsong infinity until his
revolution brought them face to face again. His bead-black eyes flicked to the
burgeoning shadows on the computer screen for just a fraction of a second
before he finally said, “Something you’re not using.”
“Does this count? I definitely won’t be using it anymore.” She removed the
necklace and dangled it between them.
“A triquetra?” Bug-eyed, he backed away, waving his hands. “Not really a fan
“His?” She scowled. “It came with my Magick Dust.”
“Did it? Well, either way, demon, remember?”
“Right.” She tossed it on the bed. “Sorry.”
Beside her, sheet lightning flared on the computer screen.
“Don’t worry, it’ll come to you. Something…” The corners of his mouth curved
up, revealing two rows of small, square teeth.
“I don’t know, Josh.” Lucy turned to the window. Outlined in wavering
candlelight, the ghost of her reflection peered back at her through night’s
mirror. Josh’s crescent grin hovered just above her shoulder like a Cheshire
cat moon. She shuddered. “Couldn’t you just… leave?”
“You brought me—”
“By accident!” She stamped her foot. Behind her, something rattled on the
“—so only you can—”
“I’m sorry, okay?” She stared at the window. Was it just her imagination, or
was that feral grin of his getting bigger?
Her reflection disappeared. Hands, hot and heavy, squeezed her shoulders.
“Now, about that thing you’re not using,” his voice purred in her ear, but his
leathery fingers, as they traced the line of her face to her jaw, left judders of
cold fear in their wake.
She turned. “H-h-how did you—”
Callused palms, as they cupped her face, forced her to gaze into the obsidian
wells of his eyes.
“It’s such a little thing.”
Her tongue felt like a stone in the dry well of her mouth. She could barely say
her next word, “What?”
“This.” Strong hands wrenched Lucy’s head to one side, snapping her neck in
a single, sickening crack. Then, with a series of violent jerks and twists, tore it
from her shoulders with a meaty ‘pop.’ Blood arced like a fountain from the
gaping wound. Spewing gobbets of flesh and bone, what was left of Lucy’s
body fell to the floor.
Fisting her hair, Josh lifted Lucy’s head to eye level. “I told you it’d come to
you.” He sneered.
On the computer screen, two horned, yellow-eyed, bat-winged creatures
clapped and cheered.
“Cut! That’s a wrap, Josh,” said one, whose scales had an iridescent shimmer.
“You were brilliant.”
“Well, your idea of using the Wicca site as a lure was pure genius, brother,”
said Josh. “I can’t wait for this episode to hit YouTube.”
“Best reality show on Earth,” said the smaller and more reptilian of the two in a
reedy voice, “For a moment, I thought she had you with that amulet.”
“Yeah,” Josh said wryly, “about that, Pops…”
“I thought slipping a little something into her shipment of Magick Dust might
give her a little edge. The look on your face was priceless.” He cackled.
Josh snorted. “I should’ve known.”
“Oh, don’t be such a sorehead.” He waggled a warning talon. “It wasn’t much
of a challenge this time, but as you so aptly said earlier, it sure’s fun to watch!”