First Monday Free Fiction: Ritual Failure

Demon Summoning for Beginners by Cora BuhlertWelcome to the October 2021 edition of First Monday Free Fiction, which goes out on a Tuesday, because I was really busy yesterday and just forgot to post this.

To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on the first Monday of every month. At the end of the month, I’ll take the story down and post another.

October is the spooky month, so it’s the perfect time to post a spooky story. Of course, I’m still horror-impaired, though I’m getting better, so most of my attempts at writing horror either turn into “Let’s figure out what the ghost/werewolf/vampire/insert monster here wants” or they turn into humour pieces skewering horror tropes.

This month’s story, from the collection Demon Summoning for Beginners, falls into the latter category. And if you want to read all of my spooky stories to date, check out The Spooky Bundle, available exclusively at DriveThruFiction, where you can get all of my attempts at writing horror in one handy bundle at a reduced price.

So follow Lucas, as his attempt to summon a demon goes quite differently than expected.

Ritual Failure

Lucas took a deep breath. Everything was ready.

The altar had been prepared and the ritual circle had been drawn on the basement floor with chalk pilfered from the classroom. A gong had been set up. The candles and the incense — proper church incense and not those joss sticks from the Chinese import store — awaited. The correct page was bookmarked in the ancient grimoire he’d found in the local used book store. Lucas had put on a ceremonial robe that looked only a little bit like the bathrobe it was. The athame was ready — forged of virgin steel as required (though Lucas wasn’t sure if there even was non-virginal steel — after all, who had sex with daggers?). He’d even procured a sacrifice, a clucking chicken that had gifted him with a bonus egg it had laid that afternoon.

Lucas checked his wristwatch. The hour was here, determined by arcane calculations. In its cage, the chicken clucked and idly picked at some grains.

Time to get started. Time to summon a demon, a real bona-fide demon. A demon who would hopefully help Lucas win the heart and undying love of Bethany Morris, the prettiest girl in his class.

Lucas lit the candles and the incense and promptly inhaled a plume of smoke, which caused a violent coughing fit and drove tears into his eyes.

So Lucas had to step out of the circle again to get his inhaler, which he’d forgotten. Of course in theory, you weren’t supposed to leave the circle, once the ritual had started. But then, Lucas hadn’t gotten started yet, not really. All he’d done was light the incense and the candles. And besides, he was extra careful not to smudge the chalk lines that marked the circle.

Once he’d dealt with his inopportune coughing fit, Lucas picked up the grimoire and began to read, solemnly intoning the words. The summoning ritual was in Latin with a bit of Hebrew sprinkled in, as magical rituals tended to be.

Of course, Lucas spoke neither Latin nor Hebrew, so he had absolutely no idea just what he was intoning. He only hoped it wasn’t something terribly embarrassing.


This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in Demon Summoning for Beginners. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.


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