Updated: Sep 1
A young woman is given an antique box in the hopes that it will grant her what she desires. To get what she wants, the young woman must follow the instructions on what to do when you encounter a demon.
A young, dark blond woman with a backpack checked the list of stores in her hand. Of the seven names, she crossed out four. She checked her phone for directions to the antique store Gifts of Old. She put her phone away and read the back of the paper, a set of instructions she should follow if she ever encountered a demon or spirit. Never tell them your name. Always say goodbye. Keep your words short and to the point, or they’ll manipulate what you say. Do not accept any offers.
The young woman pulled a picture of her and another blond woman out of her bag. She pressed it to her heart, then tucked it away. A bell rang as she pushed the antique store’s door open. A woman at the counter shifted her gaze from the objects before her to the new customer.
The store owner stood up straighter as the woman approached. “Good morning.” The store clerk spoke with a thick Russian accent. The young woman paused, piecing together her words.
“Good morning. I’m looking for a rare artifact. Oh, what was I supposed to say?” She looked at the list, turning it over to read another set of instructions. “The red chest holds secrets I’m willing to pay for.”
The store owner perked up. She gazed around the store, nodding once. The Russian woman stepped around the counter and walked toward the back of the store. “This way,” she waved at the young girl. She followed behind as they moved past marvelous antique furniture, jars, and tools and stepped through a locked door.
“We don’t get many who want to see the chest. Do you know your wish?”
“Can you afford it?”
“Good.” The store owner stopped at a door with a one-way window and a set of tags written in Russian. She unlocked it, then ushered the young woman inside. The storeroom held several random antiques, including an unassuming red chest small enough to fit in someone’s hand. The stone-crafted object had one lock and two small copper handles. It looked old and worn, despite its otherwise pristine condition.
“You can keep this for 24 hours. I am not responsible for what happens after that. Have you ever done anything like this before?”
The young woman shook her head, eyeing the box.
The store owner smirked. “Okay, I will write down your instructions. What is your name.”
“Erika Luoma,” she paused after saying her last name.
“Don’t worry. You haven’t opened the chest yet. He can’t hear you.”
Erika took a long breath, pulling her backpack off her shoulder. “You want 400,000 rubles, yes?”
The Russian woman turned and grabbed a clipboard from the wall. “Yes. I’ll write down the instructions for you. Follow them.”
Erika nodded as she reached into her bag and pulled out a coffer. She turned the key, and the lid popped open. “Here.”
“Excellent, here,” The Russian woman handed her a sheet of paper.
“Okay,” the young woman stuffed the note in her pocket. She thanked the Russian and left the store, returning to her hotel room. Setting the red chest on the bed, Erika opened the note and read the instructions. She wrote down the ingredients for the summoning and left to gather them.
Once Erika returned, she brushed to paint animal blood in a triangle with a cross under it. She then wrote the being’s name, Sulam Siv, in the triangle. Erika drew a circle with a line through it using salt, crossing over the plus sign. She set amethysts at five points, put on her protective black tourmaline and selenite necklaces, lit three candles and placed them in the room around her.
Erika picked up the picture of her and another blond woman. She stared at it, a smile forming. With a deep breath, she put it away and reviewed the instructions:
Caged within this red chest lies a human-turned-lesser demon. His power comes from the fear and terror he envokes by those who dare speak with him. He once had a human name but has since refuted it and become Sulam Siv. Do not try to learn his true name. Many have tried, but all have failed.
Do not tell him your name. Names are power; knowing yours will allow him a window into your mind. He will create your worst fears and feed on them till you’ve gone mad. Speak in short commands. Be firm and direct. Demons cannot lie, but they will bend the truth.
Do not answer his questions or trust anything he says or does. Make sure he is always within sight. He can manipulate the outside world, but it’s only a distraction, never to harm. End the ritual if you ever lose sight of him. Do not keep the chest. He is already in your head, and your nightmares will not end until I reseal it.
Turn off and unplug all electronics. He will use them for energy. The more power he has, the harder he will push. Use candles for light. Never let it get dark. If he blows out a candle, light it without looking away.
Erika reread her instructions two more times. Her hand shaking, she placed the key in the lock, turned it, and stood back. Nothing appeared.
“Another one? She’s been busy.” A male voice spoke in her head. She resisted the urge to look for it.
“Erika.” A woman’s voice spoke. Erika felt her face go cold.
“You’re not real,” She mumbled.
“Oh, but I am,” A male voice spoke in her head again. She blinked, and a pale, black-haired man floated above the box. Erika felt her heart sink. Tightening her jaw, she held back a scream at the sight of her father.
“You will grant me a wish.”
“Is that any way to speak to your father?”
Erika opened her mouth, then closed it, taking a breath. She toyed with the thought of yelling at the thing resembling her father. “You will grant me my wish,” Erika repeated, keeping the picture of a happy reunion with her mom at the forefront of her thoughts.
“What do I get in return?” The man’s voice deepened.
“I offer fifteen minutes of fear. Maximum of thirty seconds per day. You will have one year to complete this agreement, or the aforementioned time is forfeit.”
The man looked to the ceiling, nodding as he looked around. The bed creaked as if someone jumped on it. Erika didn’t move, nor did she speak. A candle blew out. She ignored it.
“I can’t wait to see you again. Erika,” The same woman whispered into her ear. Erika recognized the voice, pausing to regain control of her emotions.
“Do you accept my offer?”
Another candle flickered out, leaving Erika in partial darkness. The black-haired man’s left eye glowed red. Silence fell in the room as she stood and stepped to the candle closest to her without ever breaking her gaze. The demon’s gaze never faltered. The floor creaked, and something appeared in her peripheral.
“You let me die. Now you won’t even look at me?” Erika heard the familiar voice whisper. She could feel a cold, putrid breath on her neck. Erika bit her tongue. Holding her breath, she struck the match and lit the first candle without looking away from Sulam.
“I am your mother. LOOK AT ME!” The woman shouted in Erika’s ear. She felt her eyes grow warm as tears welled. She struck the match and lit the second candle.
Salum clicked his tongue like a disappointed parent. “So cruel to ignore her. After she came all this way to speak with you.”
“I know she’s dead,” Erika snapped. The demon smiled as Erika placed her hands over her mouth.
“Dead, you say? What a wonderful idea.” He stepped down from the box, walking to the circle’s edge. “I will grant you your one wish, but…” Salum lifted a finger, pausing once more.
“He needs more,” Erika’s mother whispered in her daughter’s ear. She could see the bloody blond hair in her peripheral. “Don’t you want to undo what you did?”
“You will accept my terms, or we have no deal,” Erika ordered.
“Then your mother will stay in the ground,” Sulam smirked, folding himself into a sitting position while floating in the air. “I could offer your father too. You remember him, don’t you? Two wishes for double the time? Deal?”
Erika struggled to breathe, closing her shaky hands into a fist. “I am demanding one wish in return for my previous offer.”
Erika’s mother reappeared in her daughter’s peripheral, splintered bones jutting beneath her broken face. Silence fell in the room once more. He will.”
Her mom paused at the last word. Erika held still, focusing on the demon in front of her. An ear-piercing screech almost broke her concentration as Erika jumped, closing one eye and putting a hand over her ear but never turning away from the man or the chest.
“Accept.” Sulam rose back to full height, still floating in the air. “How disappointing to be your father. Forgotten for a woman like her. He nodded his head. Erika never broke eye contact.
“You will revive my mother to full and proper health. When this wish is fulfilled, she will be in her home suffering from no long-term health defects.”
“You will have her back. In exchange, once a day, you will endure the greatest nightmares without protest for thirty seconds. I have fifteen minutes in total and one year to complete this agreement.”
Erika sighed, a wave of relief washing over her, “agreed.”
“You traitorous wretch!” a voice screamed behind her. “I’ll never see my husband again because of you,” her mother cried as she crashed through the window.
Erika jumped and turned. She looked back at the box. The demon was missing. “Oh no,” she sprinted to the chest. “Your services are complete. Please do not follow or contact me without my consent. Goodbye.” She clicked the box shut, tossed it in her bag, and ran out of her room.
Moving as fast as her legs would carry, Erika returned to the antique store, tossing her backpack on the counter. The desk owner stared as the young woman ran in. “Please!” Erika shouted, “I looked away. What do I do?”
The store clerk reached over and grabbed the box, smirking. “Come with me,” she gestured, stepping around the counter. Erika followed her. The Russian woman returned the box to the back room, placing it on the shelf. She lay her hand on the chest, then pulled it away. Whisps of red and blue energy drifted from the lid to her palm. Her body size increased as visible signs of aging disappeared. Erika stared, mouth agape.
“Thank you for looking away. You’ve made Sulam so much stronger than he would have been with only your name.” The Russian’s smile widened, her pointed teeth now visible.
“But I never told him my name,” Erika mumbled, staring at the Russian woman, realizing her mistake when she saw a red glint in the store owner’s eyes. “No.”
“Yes. I struck my own deal with him long ago. The desperate are far too easy.”
“I don’t understand. Why did you help me?”
“He needs time to read your mind. Once he knows your greatest fear, he grants you your wish with a little twist.”
“Erika,” a voice whispered in the air.
“Sounds like mommy is here. Better run.”
“I will find you, Erika!” her mother’s shrill voice reverberated in the empty streets. Erika ran out the door. Once on the dark nighttime streets, she saw her. A tall blond woman, her face fractured and bloody, her left arm twisted and broken. Erika felt her breath go cold as her mother approached. Every instinct screamed to run, and she obeyed. Step after step, Erika ran in terror.