Copyright © 2017 by Brian Bixby
It was November 1, a Wednesday. I was sitting at the dining room table, eating my breakfast, when my twin teenage daughters came down from their bedrooms. I took a look, and was shocked at what they were wearing. Call me a prude, but the bra-over-the-blouse and no-skirt look is not suitable for a school day. It really wasn’t their style, either, which made me wonder.
And then I noticed their eyes: black irises and bloodshot whites. Damn, last night was Halloween and they’d been demonically possessed. This sort of thing wouldn’t have happened if they still had a mother. But Thelma had committed suicide with a cheese grater when they were five. I blame myself, for the girls, not Thelma.
“Go right back upstairs and change your clothes,” I told them.
Lisa, always the more daring, waltzed over to me, stuck her tongue in my ear, and whispered, “What about if we just take our clothes off?”
I’d try to explain that incest is wrong, not to mention that I’m not interested, but the bus was coming soon. I gave her my sternest look. “I have a taser. I’m quite willing to use it.”
She laughed. “Kinky.”
Great, they had to be inhabited by demons who like pain. Ah, but I knew something that would strike fear into their vain little hearts. “I also have pepper spray, and it ruins your complexion.”
Maddie sighed. “C’mon, Lisa, Dad’s a wet blanket this morning.” And the two of them flounced back upstairs. When they came down, they were wearing school uniforms. A good idea, I thought, and then remembered their school didn’t have a uniform. That probably explained the fishnet stockings and the stiletto heels. But they barely had time to grab a protein shake and catch the bus, so I let them go.
I’m a work-at-home father, partly because I like the idea, partly because I think my daughters need a parental presence in the house. So I had just started work when I got a phone call. It was from the principal of the school which my daughters attended. He told me my daughters were demonically possessed. I asked if it was interfering with their classwork. He said not, so I told him that managing my daughters was his problem while they were at school, not mine, and hung up on him. Funny, I thought I heard a dog howl as I put the phone in its cradle.
The school bus keeps a very regular schedule, so I knew when the girls would be coming home. I’ve always found raising them to be difficult, but it’s become more so with every passing year. Trying to explain why they don’t need a pony at age eight is a lot easier than trying to explain why they don’t need a boyfriend at 12. At sixteen, they’re a handful. So I prepared for a major confrontation with them when they stepped in the door. Without a word, I directed them into my study. They went quietly. They knew I meant business.
They sat down facing me. I noticed their stockings were ripped. They were going to have to make up the cost of those fishnets out of their allowance, of that I was determined. And I suspected the lipstick they were wearing had been applied more than once. And was that perfume they were wearing? An accounting was due. I pointed at Lisa. “All right, tell me why the principal was calling me up.”
Lisa went all wide-eyed and innocent, difficult to do with her eyes still showing the marks of her demonic possession. “It wasn’t me, it was Maddie.”
This was a surprise. Quiet Maddie, who usually lets her sister take the lead? I turned and gave her my no-nonsense look.
Maddie wouldn’t look me in the eye. She’s shy. “Um, well, ah, it was in English lit. class. We were talking about Jane Eyre, and I convinced the teacher, Ms. Butterfield, that Jane had been demonically possessed from the start and had corrupted all the other characters. Ms. Butterfield was so upset, she climbed to the school roof and tried to commit suicide by jumping off. But it’s only three stories. They took her to the hospital. She’s not expected to walk again.”
“Remember to send her a ‘get well’ card, girls.” Manners are important.
Lisa jumped in. “Yeah, so we got sent off to the principal. He was ripping. He was so annoyed at you. I didn’t think it was right, so I changed him into a dog.” The two girls giggled.
I was willing to bet they changed him into one of the less attractive breeds, maybe made him a stupid golden retriever or humiliated him by shrinking him down to a Chihuahua. But I was not going to indulge their sense of humor. “You changed him back, I hope?”
They looked at each other and broke out laughing. Maddie said, “Ooops.”
“Change him back,” I sternly ordered. Lisa nodded, concentrated, and said, “Okay, it’s done.”
“Good, that’s an end to that.”
Lisa made a face. “Well, there could be a few cases of rabies . . .”
I waved that aside. “We’ll let the school nurse deal with those.”
“Ah, Dad, I don’t really think so.” Lisa knew she was skating on thin ice. One does not pile trouble upon trouble until they are unrecoverable. Not unless one wants to suffer consequences.
Maddie chimed in. “It’s my fault again. I changed all the school lunch food to crap. No one noticed at first. But they had 97 cases of food poisoning. You might have heard the ambulances around noontime. And Nurse Mueller was one of them.”
“Oh, so it wasn’t deliberate, the school nurse. That’s all right.” I heaved a sigh. Demonically possessed or not, I expect my daughters to show good judgment. And I doubted that she turned the food into literal excrement; probably just sped up the processes of decay. Maddie’s a delicate soul. “Anything else I should know?”
“They need a new girls’ gym teacher,” Lisa piped up. “Ms. Paretski’s always having us do gymnastics and yoga poses, so I, ah, encouraged her to show us her skill as a contortionist.”
“You know the scene in The Exorcist where Regan’s head turns all the way around on her neck? You can’t do that in real life.”
Oh, youthful curiosity, that was all it was. Though I wondered how long Maddie’s been thinking about trying that. I first had the girls watch that movie with me when they were six, and it was an annual thing until the VHS tape was eaten by the machine. Talk about demonic possession!
In her quiet voice, Maddie tossed in, “We danced naked in study hall and sacrificed a goat to Baphomet.”
Good clean fun, I hoped. “This wasn’t an orgy, I hope?”
Lisa pouted, “I wanted one, but she was so interested in seeing Mike Cohen slaughter the goat in kosher style.”
“And a little education wouldn’t hurt you, young lady?” I pointed out. And then I addressed Maddie. “You did point out to him that sacrificing the goat to Baphomet probably makes it non-kosher. Other gods and all, you know.”
“Dad,” she replied, “of course. He was going to eat some of the meat after we burned down a shed cooking it, but I stopped him.”
See? Maddie has a good heart.
Yet she looked annoyed as she pointed at her sister. “That one got out of control in biology class.”
And I can guess how. “Sex ed.? Orgy?”
Lisa looked uncomfortable. She knew she was on the hot seat. “But, Dad, we wore protection! And we didn’t have sex with —” Abruptly she broke off.
“With?” And when Lisa looked away and didn’t answer immediately, I raised my voice. “WITH?”
Maddie mumbled something. I told her to shut up, that this was between Lisa and me.
“That part is my fault,” Maddie barely got the words out.
I turned on her. “Well?”
“I invited two fallen archangels to join in. I had them look just like teenagers, Dad. No one knows.” Maddie looked me in the eye the whole time. She knew she shouldn’t have done this, but she was going to take responsibility. She’s always been the steady one of the two of them. And in making sure no one knew they were having sex with fallen archangels, she’d shown discretion.
But not good judgment. “Did you think about the risk of pregnancy, Madeleine?” I softly upbraided her. “You know what kind of children that sort of union creates? Were all the girls wearing protection?”
Maddie nodded, tears in her eyes. “I’ll take whatever punishment you impose.”
“Leave the girl,” I ordered.
“Yes, Father Satan,” she said, and the demon departed my daughter. I grabbed it by the neck and hurled it down into the fiery pits of Hell. And to Maddie, I said, “You’re not getting possessed again for at least a month after that stunt, young lady.”
Maddie broke down in tears. At a nod from me, Lisa took her away upstairs. My two daughters, Madeleine Smith and Elizabeth Bathory Smith. Good kids, really. And they stick together, even when one is demonically possessed and the other isn’t.