This is a short story that was published in Specul8 Issue 4, in July 2017.
“This ain’t no fairytale, I’m telling you that right now. This is the honest to God truth, may he strike me down if I’m saying a word of a lie. I was in me front garden, watering the roses me late wife Annabelle, bless her soul, planted before the Good Lord took her to his side.
Old Clyde from next door was sitting on his front porch and he called out, saying that it looked like a storm was brewing. Clyde, he couldn’t read the weather if’n God wrote it in the sky with lightning bolts, so I didn’t pay him no mind. The silly old bugger.
Say, I’m getting kind of thirsty young fella, why don’t you fetch me that bottle of whisky from the shelf behind you there and a glass, one for you too if you’ve a mind to it. But you gotta be drinking it straight in this house, no polluting the drop with none of that soft drink or ice. Straight down, that’s how a man takes his whisky.
Thanks, son, my hands are none too steady these days. I’d probably have spilt half on the table and wouldn’t that be a waste of fine whisky. Now don’t you be thinking that I’m some old drunk, making up stories from the bottom of the bottle. I’m a God fearing man, but I don’t think he’d begrudge me a drink now and then. I save it for occasions when my nerves need settling and telling this story is got them all afire.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, Clyde was saying there was a storm coming, this at a time when the sky was a clear blue, so I just ignored him. Then I saw a car pull up across the road and that was a surprise. No one had been near that house on account of that crazy Evan’s woman. She sure was a piece of work, getting around with her hair all tangled, telling anyone who would listen, and us that wouldn’t, that Satan’s Minions were walking amongst us, getting ready for the Apocalypse.
She said we was all gonna end up in Hell. Well, I guess she’s got a good front row seat if it turns out she was right. What’s that, son? You want to know what happened to her. She done went and hung herself from the stairwell, choked the life out of herself so for sure she’s in Hell now. Taking your own life is a sin against God.
Anyways, back to that car. It was a black Ford sedan, not that shiny black, this was a dirty dull black and I got the shivers just looking at it. The door opened and a woman stepped out. I guessed she was around thirty or so and if you didn’t know better you’d swear she was an angel come to Earth. Her hair was so shiny and gold it hurt my eyes to look at it. As for her face, pure sweetness, that’s what she looked like. But things ain’t always what they seem and neither are people.
I knew that this here girl was too good to be true and so did old Clyde. I heard him cry out and he said exactly what I was thinking, ‘Lord, have mercy on our souls.’
Now this girl was across the street and I don’t know how, but she heard him. Her head spun around and she fixed her blue eyes on Clyde. I swear, that storm he’d been talking about, it was there in her eyes and when she smiled at Clyde she let it out.
The sky went black and a wind whipped up from nowhere as she turned away and walked up to the front door of Margaret Evan’s old house. Lightning and thunder filled the sky as she slipped inside and closed the door behind her.
That’s when I heard this horrible sound, kind of like a gurgle with a scream all tangled up in it and I looked over at Clyde. He was still staring at the door, one hand stretched out, the other clutching his chest and the expression on his face was one of pure agony. This guy was in some kind of pain and I knew there and then that she was the cause of it.
I watched in a daze as Clyde fell to the ground, dead as one of them kangaroos you see squashed on the side of the road. There was nothing I could do for him so I dropped the hose, raced inside the house and locked the doors. My heart was pounding so loud I could hardly hear the storm outside as I peered through the front window, looking to see if she was going to come after me, begging the Good Lord to save me from her evil smile.
It seemed Margaret Evans hadn’t been so crazy after all. This woman was one of Satan’s Minions, no doubt about it, living in the very house of the person who’d tried to warn us all. Maybe that hanging hadn’t been suicide after all was what I was starting to think as I waited for the minion to leave.
I’ll admit, I had more than one drop of whisky that day and for every day that woman inhabited the house across the street. I stayed inside, watching as she brought more of her type. Coming and going all hours they were, dressed in their funny black outfits with some wicked animal, I think it was a red dragon, painted on the back of them.
When they were in the house, awful noises came from it as they did whatever unspeakably evil things Satan’s Minions do. There was shouting, loud banging and the sounds of people being hit. Sometimes there would be chanting and the hair on the back of my neck wasn’t just standing up, it was curling into knots so filled with evil were the strange words they spoke.
Son, don’t be stupid now. I didn’t need to understand what they were saying to know it was evil. You could tell just by listenin’ that it was no good.
Well, like I said, I’m a God fearing man and I knew that something had to be done. If Satan’s Minions were living here in this small town, then the Apocalypse was definitely coming and it was my duty to stop it.
So I prayed for guidance and God told me what I had to do. Now, son, of course he didn’t speak in actual words for me to hear. That’s not the way God works. I’m not one of those crackpots who claim that God’s voice came out of the toaster oven. I felt in my heart what it was he wanted me to do. And so I did it.
That night, after Satan’s Minions were caught up in their chanting, I snuck over the road and poured petrol all around the house. Then, with God’s blessing, I sent them all back to Hell. And that’s the honest to God truth.”
“Mr Markwell, thank you for your time and for your delightful story. Listening to you tell me what you’ve done has been the most fun I’ve had since your precious God banished my kind. You see, it wasn’t God’s work you were doing. It was mine.
The so called Satan’s Minions you burned to death, they were nothing more than a karate club. The chanting was simply counting in Japanese. No, she didn’t kill old Clyde. He had a heart attack at the sight of her because she’s the exact image of his daughter who went missing forty-three years ago. The shock was too much for him, but he could have been saved if you’d called for an ambulance.
But no, you hid inside your house and allowed him to die. Then you accomplished something I’ve been trying to do for years. You see, that girl was protected by God from all my Minions because she was destined to bear a special child. Not the rebirth of Christ, the little weasel, but the child who would grow up to discover the cure for the Aids virus. Now, that wasn’t something I was too keen on, but none of my people could get near her to finish her off.
But you, all puffed up thinking you were doing God’s work, you could do what I could not. And you know what, that now makes you one of Satan’s Minions.”