From Hell with Love
A Demon Trappers® Short Story
The fiend came to a halt on one of the wide grass strips between the runways, its smirk even wider. The same taunting laughter came Riley’s way now.
As she and her apprentices lined up against the threat, her mind whirled with questions. Who had the kind of power to cloak those Threes and help a Four enthrall all those people? An ArchFiend? Maybe, but even that was a stretch. Fallen angel? That was a possibility.
“What is a Four’s best weapon?” Riley called out.
“Getting inside people’s minds and making them do whatever it wants,” Jaye replied automatically. It was one of the first things a trapper learned when they began hunting the things.
“Why bring us out here?”
There was a momentary pause as Kurt made the connection. He stared up as a jet passed by in the distance, in a holding pattern. “Ah, man, no way could it do that.”
“If it had enough power behind it, it could,” Riley said. Nothing would stop it from latching onto the mind of a pilot and flying that plane anywhere it wanted. Into the ground, into a city full of buildings.
And if one of those passengers was Beck . . .
“We take it down—now,” she said, moving a few steps forward. “I want it out of action.”
Neither of them had a chance to respond as the ground beneath them began to move.
Geo-Fiend. That was what this was all about.
“Jaye, send out the warning: Five at airport,” Riley ordered, trying to keep her voice calm.
The apprentice fumbled with her phone, her hands shaking, but still managed to type the text to all the other trappers in the city. It would only serve as a notice because none of them would get here in time.
As they watched in grim silence, a direct route between Hell and Atlanta formed between the two runways. The massive hole appeared in seconds, the grass and soil turning nearly molten, boiling away. Brimstone and smoke furled upward as a brutish figure slowly rose from within the cloud. When it finally reached its peak, this fiend stood nearly nine feet, one of the most lethal demons Hell could field.
The Geo-Fiend’s skin was solid ebony, glistening in the sunlight, with a wide muscled chest to support its equally massive head. Twin horns thrust outward from the sides of that skull, like a bull. As with all the most dangerous Hellspawn, its eyes seared into you, bright orbs of crimson fire.
The hours Riley had spent training her apprentices made their actions rote. Kurt already had a grounding sphere and a shield sphere in hand. After Jaye finished the warning text, she retrieved her own spheres. You didn’t trap a Five. You banished it right back to its master before it tore them—and the airport—to pieces.
The Four had stopped laughing now, knowing where it stood in the demonic pecking order. Still, it gave only a half-hearted bow to the newcomer as if it had no worries about this behemoth. It should have been quaking in fear. A lower-level demon would only do that if its demi-lord was significantly more powerful than this monster. That was a very short list.
“Vermin,” the Five said—but to Riley’s surprise, it wasn’t speaking to them.
The smaller demon made a rude gesture toward the Geo-Fiend, causing Riley’s jaw to drop at the insolence.
“What’s going on here?” Jaye whispered.
“Not sure. This isn’t normal behavior for these things.”
With a roar, the Five expressed its displeasure at being dissed by scooping up the smaller demon in its claws and cramming the screaming fiend directly into its mouth. A few crunches later, the noise stopped.
“And . . . there goes our trapping fee,” Kurt said, shaking his head, eyes wide.
The Geo-Fiend turned its attention back to them now. “Blackthorne’s daughter!” it bellowed, making her ears ache.
“Go home, demon,” she said. “You’re not welcome here.”
“Surrender your soul to me and you will live,” it said. “If not, you will die like your weakling of a father, crying and begging for mercy.”
The mention of her dad always hurt, but then, that was the point. Paul Blackthorne had died while fighting a different Geo-Fiend, when a small piece of flying debris sliced into his heart. If things had played out differently, Beck would have died that night as well.
For those reasons alone, Riley hated Fives. She felt her magic stir and made no effort to hold it down.
“Let’s get it done, demon. The sooner you’re back in Hell kissing the Prince’s—”
The fiend’s roar shook the ground around them as its eyes blazed molten in anger. As the Five rose higher above the pit, pulling energy from Hell itself, it extended a clawed hand. From those fingers came the stirrings of a windstorm, one of the demon’s best weapons. A fierce blast of wind struck Riley and the others head-on, tumbling them across the open ground like autumn leaves. Debris flew around them now, hitting their exposed flesh, biting and tearing.
Riley quickly spat out a spell, creating a one-way bubble of protection around her and her trappers. Even as the debris ceased striking them, a grounding sphere arced over her head, straight toward the demon. It shattered before it grew close to the fiend. Another sphere flew by, and this one came much closer to the demon’s feet, but still not near enough for the magic to pull the creature back into the pit.
The earth continued to rock as deep fissures opened in the ground around them, spewing dirt, grass, and asphalt high into the air. The nauseating stench of brimstone increased, making their eyes burn and tears run down their cheeks.
Another sphere, better aimed, came within spitting distance of the monster, only to be destroyed when it was flattened by a chunk of metal torn from one of the jet bridges. Around them, the storm grew, swirling in a circular motion like the center of a tornado. If the demon released that storm, it would slice right through the heart of the airport, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands.
“Enough!” Riley cried.
She pulled a grounding sphere from inside her pack, infused it with her own magic, and raised it. Instead of tossing the sphere at the demon’s feet, she aimed for its chest. As it flew through the air, the spell around it kept it from being shattered or blown off course. Belatedly, the Hellspawn realized the missile was incoming and grabbed it.
“A child’s toy,” it said as it began crushing it in its massive fist.
“Perfect for you, then,” she said.
Another of Riley’s spheres zoomed toward the Five’s feet, rolling across the ground like a bowling ball. Even before the fiend realized what had happened, the sphere fell into the pit beneath it.
“Get down!” she yelled, reinforcing the protection spell around them.
As intended, the sphere in the pit detonated, spewing magic up as far as the demon’s knees. The one in its hand enveloped the top of the fiend, then connected with the rising magic. The two spells intertwined, lassoing the Five and dragging it bellowing and howling into the pit. Around them, hunks of tarmac rained from the sky and the screech of anguished metal assaulted their ears.
With a final, tremendous roar, the demon plummeted into the pit and the hole sealed over. Dust and smoke swirled for a few seconds longer, then slowly settled toward the earth. The distinct patter of debris continued for some moments longer, then ended.
“Trappers score!” Kurt crowed, leaping to his feet. Jaye rose a bit slower but didn’t appear injured.
The pride Riley felt for these two was almost more than she could handle.
“Good job, guys. You kicked serious butt.”
She remained on the ground, trying to let the remaining magic flow away from her fingertips. Finally, the glow from her fingers ended, and she cautiously rose on shaky legs. In the distance, billowing dust coursed across the runway.
Then she felt his presence.
“Heads up, you two. We’re not done yet.”
The figure that walked out of the dust was clad all in black. Curiously, none of the debris stuck to his clothes, which was the first hint there was something odd about the newcomer.
The Prince of Hell’s hair was as inky black as it had always been, though it now had more strands of gray at his temples. Riley knew she’d been the cause of a few of those and that pleased her immensely. The Fallen’s eyes were still as brilliantly blue and cunning as ever. He stopped about ten feet from them, then glanced at where the hole had once been.
“Riley . . .” Kurt began.
“This one’s mine,” she said, her eyes never leaving the angel.
“Riley Anora Blackthorne,” the Prince of Hell began. “Or is it Beck now?”
Always pushing. It was his way of getting you to say or do something you’d regret down the line.
Riley ignored the bait. “Some reason you’re here?”
“I was heartbroken that I wasn’t invited to your wedding,” Lucifer said. “Especially after playing matchmaker. Or so I’ve been told.”
“Riiight. Why the airport, after all this time?”
The Prince sobered. “Because you mortals must realize there is no place safe from my servants.”
“Well, you’ve made your point. You were demi-lord to the Four, right?” A nod came her way. “What will happen to the Geo-Fiend?”
“It will be punished for failing in its task, and for killing my personal servant. I’ll ensure that it takes a very long time to die.”
Riley barely suppressed the shudder, because she knew he meant it. “You came here because of Beck, didn’t you?” A satisfied nod. “Well, your little drama didn’t work. As usual.”
“Maybe it worked better than you know.”
More head games. It was time to end this.
“Let me help you out, because you seem confused.” She angled a thumb over her shoulder toward the city. “This is our home. Great people, good food, crappy traffic, but you can’t have everything.”
Then she pointed at where the pit had been. “That’s your home. It has no good people, totally rotten food, and far too many treacherous Hellspawn. You know, the ones who’d love nothing more than to stab you in the back.”
Lucifer’s eyes narrowed. “You’re getting to your point soon, I hope.”
“Yes, I am. Our home isn’t yours. You’re not welcome here, and neither are your offspring.”
“As if you can stop me.”
“I can’t stop you, but I can stop them. And I will. And when I am no longer able to do that, other trappers will continue that job until the end of time.”
“Which may be much sooner than you expect.”
More bait to ignore.
“What of your grand master? What is his job?” Lucifer taunted.
“Keeping you off guard and preserving the balance between good and evil. I’d say it’s working if you’re here bugging us.”
A frown returned, telling her she was closer to the truth than he wanted to acknowledge. “You think your magic will save you? You have no idea what I could do to—”
He half turned, that frown deepening as if something else had caught his attention.
“Problems?” she asked, barely keeping the grin to herself.
He gave her a glare—which told her she was right—then abruptly faded from sight. The fury radiating off him told her someone, mortal or Hellspawn, was going to pay dearly for interrupting his gloating session.
Fortunately, that someone wasn’t her.
Riley let loose a long sigh of relief. When she turned to her two companions, they wore identical shocked expressions.
“That was . . .?” Kurt began.
“Yes, that was.” Riley dug in her memory. “The first time I met His Infernalness was last year in Oakland Cemetery. He introduced himself as—” she made sure she got the phrase correct “—‘the Light Bearer, the Prince of Hell, the Chief among the Fallen, and the Adversary.’ He suggested I should ‘accept no substitutes.’”
The two trappers continued to gape.
“Common reaction,” she replied. She looked back toward the terminal, which had sustained some damage but not as much as she’d feared. The rest of the airport was in one piece.
You take your blessings where you can find them.
“I'll cancel the Five alert," Jaye said, tapping on her phone.
"Good. Let's tell the airport people that their maintenance problem is solved, at least for today.” A glance toward the piles of debris strewn across the runway made her wince—once again, Hell had made an unholy mess.
They’d nearly reached the stairs to the slightly worse-for-wear jet bridge when Riley’s phone rang.
“You three okay?” Master Harper’s gruff voice demanded.
“We’re golden. Demons are history, and I even got to chat with Hell’s CEO.”
“Huh. Business as usual for you, then. Don’t forget the paperwork.” Then he hung up. While Harper was heavy on trapping expertise, he was very light on manners.
Riley decided to pull rank as a master trapper. “You two go on to your concert. I’ll deal with the Powers That Be and collect my guy.” Provided Beck’s plane was cleared to land tonight. “We’ll do the reports in the morning.”
“You’re awesome! Thanks!” Jaye said, and after Kurt gave her a salute, the pair trotted up the stairs and out of sight into the terminal.
Riley took her time up the stairs and then along the jet bridge. To her surprise, there was no airport official waiting for her as she made her way to the closest chair. She slumped into it, beyond weary.
The flickering of various video screens announced that Hell was no longer in charge, as each showed the proper flight number, followed by a “Delayed” message. When those planes would arrive or depart was anyone’s guess.
She would’ve loved to know what it was that had caught Lucifer’s attention. Or maybe she wouldn’t, at least not today. It was then that Riley finally noticed her new jeans—now stained and spotted—and her lovely blue shirt with a streak of blood across one sleeve. Every time she moved her head, little bits of debris dropped into her lap.
“Why do I bother?” she muttered.
Knowing Beck had probably had a bird’s-eye view of the battle, Riley sent him a message. Maybe hearing from her would keep his worrying to a minimum, if that was even possible.
FOUR DEMONS DOWN, NO INJURIES. THE INFERNAL PEST SENDS HIS REGARDS.
She paused a moment to consider what else to say.
BBQ FOR SUPPER. YOU'RE BUYING.
There was no immediate reply, but she hadn’t expected one. Easing the cramp in her side, Riley closed her eyes to rest. As she did, she sent her mind back to their wedding day, her safe place when life grew too scary.
A smile crossed her face now, as she was immersed in memories of love, happy tears, and the joy of marrying the man who owned her heart.
Six weeks and counting.
Maybe Lucifer had done them a favor after all.
(c) 2019 Jana Oliver
Demon Trappers® is a registered trademark of Jana G. Oliver
All Rights Reserved
Originally published in
You Want Stories?
2019 JordanCon Charity Anthology
is an international & multi award-winning author in various genres including young adult, urban fantasy and paranormal romance.