At the Gates

The demon was laughing--a maddening, derisive laugh that seemed to shake the air itself, cause the sky to quake, and to make the very earth beneath them thunder and shake. A dark presence had descended upon the valley that early morning, one far more sinister than the demon overlords himself. No, Jerry knew, it went a lot deeper than met the eye. And now, he knew, the fate of the entire world and all its souls rested squarely upon his shoulders. He was the Chosen One, the Vatican had told him. And this Bishop Aringarosa and his albino monk Silas honestly believed that he, Jerry, alone, could stop this powerful manifestation of Satan’s power from conquering and ravaging the earth, turning it to a perpetual Hell on Earth.

“Surrender, Only.” The demon lord growled, a wolfish grin crossing his face. “You’re sadly mistaken to think you can defeat me.”

For the three Crusaders--Jerry, Silas and Aringarosa--it seemed the tables had been turned on them for the worst. Ahead of them loomed the demon Danzig, dark and seemingly invincible. Behind them, the dark lord’s army of zombies blocked their escape, a gruesome horde of the undead. The situation looked grim for the trio to say the least.

While Silas and Aringarosa huddled together, clutching their rosaries and praying, Jerry stood, staring the demon square in the eye. Mocking. Challenging.

“I will never surrender to you.”

“You‘re a fool,” sneered Danzig. The regal demon took a threatening step toward Jerry. “I don’t believe you understand quite what you’re getting yourself into.” Another step. Where the two clergymen behind him took a wary step backward, Jerry was unfazed. He held his ground.

“Your threats don’t frighten me, demon.”

“Must you make this exceedingly difficult?” If he was irritated, Danzig made no move to show it. All he offered was a sedate smile, almost as if out of sympathy. Pleasant, however, was something it was not. “You know, Jerry...” The demon moved toward Jerry, dangerously closing the space between them. Jerry didn’t move. “It really doesn’t have to be this way.” Another step closer. Closer. The demon was practically upon him, so close he could feel the heat that radiated from his considerable form, almost in an erotic way--no. Jerry shut his eyes, fought to bring his mind back. This was the demon trying to seduce him, and he knew it. He wasn’t going to let Danzig succeed. Not again. He could not fall prey to the creature’s lusty ploys. Not when the fate of the world--his world--depended on it.

“Whatever you’re thinking, forget it,” Jerry growled. “I won’t give in to you.”

“Now, Jerry,” purred Danzig, stepping from around Jerry to face him. The short distance between them, a few mere inches, was enough to unnerve Jerry to his core. “Don’t be so hasty. Surely you and I could come to some sort of accord…”

“Do not listen to him!” Abruptly, the tall albino monk spoke up, catching fairly much everyone off guard. “Jerry, you must not give in to him! You must not listen!” At this, the dark-haired demon turned and fired a glare at the monk, his eyes blazing.

“Silence,” he growled. He turned his piercing gaze back on Jerry. “You will assent to my demands, or the three of you will perish upon this hill. With the mere wave of a finger, I could destroy you, do you understand me?”

“Jerry, he is an agent of Satan, bred of evil and lies! You cannot believe a word he says, and you are the only one who can defeat him!”

“Shut up!” roared the demon. An unsettling silence descended over the valley, and the sky seemed to blacken. The bishop and the monk cringed closer together, the elder clergyman clinging quite shamelessly to the monk’s sturdy frame for either comfort or stability. More than likely, it was a bit of both. Danzig turned back to Jerry, a wicked smirk gracing his features. He leaned close; too close for comfort. “Now you listen to me, Jerry. You have two options here, and two options only. Either you give your soul over to me, I spare you and your two companions, and everything ends up rosy. Or, you could resist, and I could kill all three of you. The choice, really, is yours.”

“I see.” Jerry smiled sardonically. “And both of these options would end in you conquering Earth in the name of Satan.”

“A triviality,” smirked Danzig.

“I will not stand by and allow you to do this,” Jerry told the demon calmly. Danzig’s response was a cold, chilling laugh.

“And you and what army are going to stop me?” Jerry hesitated. The crucifix. The Pope himself had given it to him before embarking on his journey to seek out the demon Danzig. He had said that, when the time was right, God would send him the reinforcement he would need to defeat the demon lord and the Army of Lucifer. He assumed that now was this time.

“The army of God.” For a moment, Danzig faltered. He quickly masked his displeasure with a serene expression.

“Am I honestly to believe that you are this Chosen One the prophecies refer to? You’ve no proof whatsoever.”

“Then allow me to challenge you,” Jerry fired back. “My army against your army in this very valley. All I ask of you is three days’ time to prepare.”

“Try to flee, and I will find you.”

“Of course. I wouldn’t dream of it,” said Jerry, then added grimly. “Not when the entire fate of the world’s souls rests in my hands.”

“Fine,” Danzig said briskly. “I accept your challenge. Three days from now, my army against your army. At this very location.” Another wicked grin. “And if you lose, Jerry? Your soul belongs to me.” There was a blinding flash of light, and in a red puff of smoke, the demon was gone. Jerry shook his head, dazed. He turned to glance behind him, and the zombie horde was no longer impeding the valley. Silas and Aringarosa still stood a few yards away, still holding on to each other. Jerry sighed and turned, walking toward them.

“I hope to hell that what I just did was the right thing.”

“Of course,” Silas told Jerry as he consoled the shaken Aringarosa. “All you must do now is use the crucifix to call forth the powers of the Archangels and all the Heavenly messengers and defeat the demon Danzig.”

“Sounds like a cinch,” muttered Jerry sardonically. “Christ. Remind me again why I’m doing this?”

“To save the world, Chosen One.”

“Oh,” grumbled Jerry. “Right.”