"Ew! That was gross!" The particular way her face scrunched up portrayed Emily's disgust. "Have a little respect. She's dead!"

"I was there. I know. Hey!" An accidental elbow landed to Arlo's kidneys. "Watch it, buddy!" Although he couldn't tell who the perpetrator was.

"Anyway," his sister steered the conversation back on track. "I meant about the book. She said, the answer was in the book."

"I don't think the demon wants her Heavy Broth Chicken Soup or Haluski and Kielbasa."

"Will you just see?"

"Fine!" Her brother wriggled sideways, taking refuge behind a dumpster. Filled with debris from a nearby renovation, it provided shelter from the shoving they both endured.

Cracking open the book, Arlo perused its contents. Chicken Schnitzel. Bread Dumplings. Cream Cheese Kolacky.

Emily stared. "Well?"

"Nothing!" He whipped the collection of ingredient lists at the wall. It fell to the pavement, pages fluttering. "Just old world recipes."

"No! Look!" His sister wagged her finger at the book, laying with what should have been the top towards them.

He squinted. The open page contained something that definitely wasn't Cabbage Borscht. In a fancy script was the title Blood Blocking. A list of ingredients followed including pure water, mugwort, and nettle. Retrieving the book, Arlo turned it right side up. The words changed to detail the preparation of Nana's Sugar Cookies.

"What the?" He twisted it upside down again and the alternate instructions returned.

"So cool!" Emily peeked over his shoulder. "Magic?"

"Something..." Arlo flipped through the book, noting differences as the orientation changed.

The hidden texts resembled spells, complete with detailed instructions on how to perform each. There were incantations for removing bad luck, healing sickness, and even what appeared to be a love potion.

Arlo was intent on the book, trying to make sense of everything when Emily cried out. "That one!" As several pages riffled past, she instructed, "Go back."

He did, landing on a page labeled Greater Banishing with the subheading of Return a Major Demon to Hell. He'd missed it, but Emily had been on the ball.

"That's it!" Clapping her hands, Emily bounced. "That's the one! There're instructions!"

"They're in... I don't know."

Emily pointed to the bottom of the page. "Nana translated them!"

She was right. After a note stating from Swedish were the phrases, 'Demon from dark. Demon in light. To dark return.'

"This is crazy." Arlo huffed under his breath.

"We've got to try!"

Or he could let the demon have the book. It seemed like that's all it craved. But if the beast wanted it, Arlo surmised such would be an ill-advised course of action.

An otherworldly bay, combined with the crowd beating a hasty retreat in the direction they had been trying to go, informed Arlo their nemesis was now on this street. "Ok. Fine. But I'm only agreeing because running is no longer an option. Eventually we'd get exhausted and the demon would catch us. So I figure I'll either die now or in twenty minutes when my legs give out."

He stepped out into the thinning crowd, staring down the intimidating monstrosity. Saliva spewed across buildings, the street, and policemen doing little damage with their standard issue pistols.

No one seemed to care he was trying to put an end to this disaster as everyone shoved past.

Along with the spell, there was a symbol that looked like a fancy and backward three. And a note to trace it in the air during the incantation. Ground rumbled, but Arlo wanted to make sure he got it right.

"Arlo!" Emily's call brought him out of the book and face to face with something that should have sent him running as fast and as far from here as he could.

Hand raised, her brother started the symbol and the words. "Demon from dark." The pattern half complete, the monster closed the distance. "Demon in light." Finishing the design, Arlo worried if there was enough time to conclude the spell. "To dark return!"

As the final syllable of the last word passed his lips, an explosion ripped from where the phantom symbol had been drawn. Blown back, the ground opened under the demon's feet in a swirl of sparks. It fell into the void, along with several parked cars and unlucky civilians. A guttural wail was the surest sign of its displeasure.

"You did it!" Emily celebrated with an excited series of hand claps.

Allowing himself a moment of satisfaction at his accomplishment, Arlo turned toward her beaming smile. Then something pulled him down. He dropped the book as the end of an infernal tentacle wrapped around his leg and dragged him towards the pit. The sheer weight of the plummeting demon yanked him across the pavement, his fingers clawing for anything to latch on to.

Emily rushed to seize his hand. But he didn't reach back. If he could take hold of her, she'd just get pulled along with him.

The sensation of solid ground no longer beneath him, Arlo careened over the edge. Falling into the abyss, the blue above the city skyline slowly diminished as his distance from it grew. His sister stared down, absolute horror plastered on her face as he descended into darkness and the portal started to close.

Nana's Pet Demon | An Urban Fantasy Short Story (1,486 Words)Where stories live. Discover now