When I was eight, my sister went to meet the devil, and she never returned.
She was a fourteen-year-old tomboy, full of spunk and quick to put the hurt on the local boys. I was less inclined to adventure, but she always seemed to be trying to prove her courage whereas I spent my days in the basement which Dad had retrofitted into my own personal ballet studio.
I was content with the southern tradition of recitals back in those days, the love of dance passed down from my mother and grandmother. Danielle was less content with the pace of Banner Creek and was always desperate to break the monotony of rural living. I last saw my sister when she disappeared into the woods, sneaking out on a quest to the Devil’s Door. This was a hole in the ground and although it didn’t sound like much, it was the epicenter of much local lore. According to the townies it was a ventilation shaft leading directly into the devil’s throne room and if one were to listen, they could hear the torturous screams of the damned. Arriving at midnight was guaranteed to summon the demon lord, or so Harriet explained. Why people believed that girl is beyond me, but I’m sure it had something to do with her daddy, Reverent Roscoe Filmore, running the local tabernacle.
When Danielle didn’t come back most people assumed that she had grown tired of living in a small mountain town and hitched a ride out west, but I was never satisfied with this explanation. She was anxious here for sure, but she loved her family. She would never have left me in the dust for all those years, never once attempting to reach out.
I took her disappearance hard. Once crafted to be an authentic southern bell I found myself lost in a world of abusive men and drugs. After high school I spiraled out of control and found myself turning into just another crack addicted prostitute and I lived for one thing, that short lived high. I’m twenty-seven years old and estranged from my parents and yet I still find myself lost in my mind wondering what happened to Danielle the night she sought out the devil.
I can’t explain it but there I was one night, trampling through the woods while sucking on that glass pipe. My memory up to that moment had been lost in a haze but at last I found myself at the spot, the Devil’s Door.
̈ ̈Face me Satan, you cocksucker. I want to hear it from your liar’s mouth. What did you do with Danielle? ¨
In the distance I heard a faint song, a three-piece set with drums, bass and fiddle. The sound was deep southern country, that mountain music, but where had it come from? The nearest house was miles away and more alarming was that it was getting closer, heading toward me.
̈ ̈Show yourselves! Enough of this blasted trickery, unclean demon. Prove that you have the balls and show yourselves! ¨
There was a rustling in the bush and immediately I dropped to my knees, afraid. What madness had I just mistakenly conjured? I always knew that the devil got Danielle, but in my need for answers had I called upon the unholy, and furthermore would they be angry with my demands? What exactly was it that I was hoping to accomplish, way out here in the sticks? Then from the woods came the musicians.
They had been well dressed in uniforms common for a high school marching band, carrying their instruments, the drummer strapped to a three-piece set. This would have been strange regardless, but what really propelled this into the realm of the weird was that they were not even human. Standing upright, no taller than three feet, were three green skinned frogs.
The music stopped and the fiddle player broke ranks, taking a step toward me. The frog cleared his throat and spoke in a strong, masculine voice.
̈ ̈Laura Chambers, we have been called here, requested by our master because you seek answers regarding your sister. Am I correct? ¨
¨You knew Danielle? ¨
̈Indeed, I did, a beautiful child she was. But you got to understand that nothing will bring her back. What’s done is done and it cannot be undone. With that said, do you wish to continue? ¨
̈Yes, please, I must know. ¨
̈ ̈So be it. We shall perform a song which will call upon our master, the one you call the devil, and he will counsel you. Understand that not even he, in all his magnificent power, is capable of changing fate. We must even abide by the laws set. Your future is unclear, but regardless you are obligated to accept whatever fate is cast upon you. Do you accept? ¨
¨I accept. ¨
The trio returned to their instruments and played a chilling tune, a dark piece saturated with negative emotion. The sounds caused an atmosphere of unease and anxiety, and I closed my eyes and felt the music carry my body.
I waltzed across the grass, feeling a warmth rising through my body, coming from within. In my mind I was home, I was a child in my ballet slippers gliding across the floor. Dad would accompany me back then, and together we crossed back and forth. I could feel my father’s arms wrapped around me.
̈ ̈Laura, I have been told that you have a question for me. ¨ The voice was oily, sleazy, and although beautiful he wasn’t to be trusted. Upon opening my eyes, I found myself locked into the arms of the devil as we continued our dance.
He was red skinned with black nails and hooves. Large black horns poked through his parted blond hair which hung strategically disheveled, partially concealing his handsome features. Oddly enough, I wasn’t scared of him, and he proved to be an amazing dancer, and so we continued to dance beneath the full moon.
̈ ̈What did you do to my sister? ¨ He spun me around, sending me across the opening only to be caught in his arms when he appeared on the other side.
¨I assure you that I brought her no harm. I offered her a glimpse into her future, and what she did was of her own will. She took her life.¨.
¨You tricked her, you showed her a lie. ¨
̈ ̈That’s what the church says about me? I haven’t ever told a single lie. ¨ The music began to speed up and so did we. Graciously we moved, twisting in all directions like professionals performing before a wealthy, enthusiastic audience. ¨Would you like to glimpse your own future? ¨
We stopped. With his forefinger he poked me on the forehead and suddenly my future played out like a movie. Eventually I’d catch Hepatitis C and soon after I ́d give birth to a trick baby. She was born healthy, but my addiction would drive a wedge between us, causing her to abuse pain medication when she got older. Eventually I ́d die, and she would find herself all alone, eventually meeting her own end at the back of a restaurant one night. After a long night at work, she would finally find a moment to herself, stepping outside to take a much needed smoke break only to be attacked by three devils. These bests would viciously rape her before ending her life in an empty parking lot. Her daughter would die all alone, victim of a gruesome murder. Was this really my future or just a trick?
I found myself alone in the grass and all was silent except for the buzzing of insects and frogs, softly croaking in the distance. The devil and his band were nowhere to be found. I heard a faint whisper, ¨You cannot beat fate. ¨
Five years had gone by since that day and I laughed about what had happened, that is until this morning. After receiving some bloodwork, I found out that I had contracted hepatitis C but that wasn’t all, I was pregnant.
I know what the devil wants, for me to join Danielle so he can claim my soul too. This prophecy was nothing more than a parlor trick, it had to be, and there was no way I was giving in. There was no fate, I pave my own path and I will prove the devil wrong. I will do whatever I can to protect my daughter, Rachel.
̈Fate can ́t always be right. ¨
Or so I thought…