Demon Rising

Terror is my world.

I have yet to accept it, to kill my yearning for a brighter future. I am uncertain I will ever destroy that desire.

Though I look the part of a demon, I do not intentionally reap and sow fear, hatred or chaos. To the contrary, I am rather...gentle.

Now, I imagine you must be puzzling over what I mean, wondering which piece fits to which. Sit, if you have the time, and I will tell you.

**Note: This is book one of four in the series and IS published and available for those who prefer physical format! Buy the full paperback here by copy/pasting: http://bit.ly/15bYDCy ! Or for the Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Rising-Gravity-ebook/dp/B00CPF0DEQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top ! Please enjoy, share it if you love it, and let me know whatcha think! ^.^ ~Karma @};-

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11. Chapter Three: Gathering Wisdom, pt. 1

                                           

 

 

Chapter Three:

Gathering Wisdom

 

 

Late in November, I developed an illness. Everyone assumed that it was a cold and that I would be well inside three days. I continued to sing at church to the best of my abilities, but my symptoms only escalated. Soon, it made me nauseous only waking up. I had a fever of 106 and my resting heart rate was 83 beats per minute, 26 beats faster than usual according to Paul and his later tests.

Everyone was concerned about me. People would come by with soups and stews and wishes for my well-being. Paul commanded that I take no visitors, in case my illness could be passed. Normally, I would eat enough to feed two grown men in a day. When it came about that I was barely finishing a bowl of watered-down stew in a day, then later regurgitating it, Paul requested to live with us temporarily to easier care for me.

Only he, Lisa, and Mother were permitted to enter my room. Paul worked to ensure that I would never be without a caretaker. He did a fine job as well, rarely leaving my room. When he did, it was for the most basic of reasons. He slept on a cot placed by my window, which had been covered by heavy drapes so the sun would not disturb my rest.

By the end of the first week of my illness, I had difficulty breathing properly and Paul was near insisting that I be taken to a city hospital. We waited three more days in the hopes I would get better, and for fear of what other people who did not know me would do to me.

Nine days after I fell ill, my breathing became easier. On the tenth day, I was able to eat in peace with minimal nausea. I asked for more than just the watery soups, but Paul refused to permit me anything more until he was sure I was fine. As a result, during the next two days of recovery I sat with constant pangs of hunger in my gut. It frightened me, too, when I began to see those caring for me with a different eye. As you would look at a chicken, perhaps, I was beginning to appraise Paul. I requested as many books as possible then, so that I could keep my focus elsewhere.

I was more than relieved on the thirteenth day, when Mother and Lisa came in with food for Paul and I. Then Katelyn was permitted to enter, bringing one of her get well baskets. I was forced to wait in bed a few more days to recover, but when Sunday came around I was out of my room and stretching my legs happily.

Then, my common mode of transportation was flight. Paul joked that I would freeze in the clouds so that I would not be bedridden from pebbles again.

It was one week from Christmas. Paul instructed me that I would be practicing carols this week, in front of the attendees. I discovered, however, that it was not only carols that I was performing it was a whole narration for the nativity scene! Ha! Imagine such a sight, a demon performing in a church and narrating the birth of Christ. The idea is still amusing.

Freshly recovered from illness, when I entered the church the people cheered and applauded. I blushed deeply and smiled sheepishly. Paul grinned and waved me up to the front, where the five other choir members were gathered. It was a small choir to be sure, but the voices were powerful like no others. Jasmine and Katelyn performed in the choir with me, as well as Lisa. The two others were men I was unfamiliar with but had helped on occasion.

Paul opened with a short sermon and then allowed us to begin with our practice. I stared at the paper in my hands uncertainly, looking at Paul pleadingly. He motioned me urgently to read, so I did. Those present fell victim to a ghostly silence, their eyes and mouths wide with wonder as I spoke. I had enthralled each one with my natural cadence, and later I was told that it sounded as though I had sang my words the entire time.

I loved that Christmas. The warmth and acceptance was joyous, overwhelming and beautiful. At the official performance, Paul asked me to kneel and close my eyes. I did so with a frown, and stood to find that he had affixed a halo to my horns using wire! Oh, everyone laughed, myself included. The spirit was light and lively, as it ought to have been every holiday where family, friends and strangers gathered ‘round as equals to spread the peaceful times. Well...

The next spring, Katelyn invited me to a dance, requesting that I be her date. She gave me quite a start when she first proposed this, of course. I was comfortable now with performing before the church, but never came out in the day outside of Sundays.

It’s going to be starting late—at eight—so it’ll be dark already,” she tried to comfort me. “We could even make you up if that would make you feel better.”

I chuckled nervously, shaking my head. “No, no. My appearance is not my concern. I, ah, feel…out of place. Among others our age you see, I am awkward. I am unaware of how to act.”

Katelyn pursed her lips. “Oh, alright. I really would love it if you came, though.”

I sighed quietly in regret. By then, she was fourteen and developing quite gorgeously. I was finding my eyes straying to her softly curving hips or...Much more often than my polite tendencies could stand. I looked her over then, jaw dropping slightly in my amazement.

At that time I had identified what the strange new emotion was. It was not love. No, I knew love from a much younger age. It was passion, a physical passion. Any time I even thought of Katelyn by that point it flooded me. Oh, that passion still pains me any time it comes. It pained me then, because I never thought that such an emotion could be felt by anyone for me. Now, I despair that I have known such pleasures and cannot share them with anyone.

I wanted to cry from how I was torn. I caved to Katelyn’s whim in the end. She was thrilled, dancing about and chattering happily that she had a dress already, a flattering blue one with a flower print. While she was speaking of how wonderful she looked in it, I half wondered if she was taunting me intentionally. I yearned to see her in it. My passion felt as though it would leave my control if it got any stronger.

Mother was overjoyed that I was participating in social activities. She bustled about in the two weeks preceding the dance, rushing to get me an outfit. Ha, it was more than amusing to me. I even asked her why I could not just wear my pants, as I always did.

Because this is a very special event,” she told me with a motherly grin. “It deserves special measures.”

So, when I arrived at Katelyn's home to pick her up, I was blushing in my embarrassment. I wore a trim black jacket over a deep blue vest and starched white shirt, with black slacks. Much to my embarrassment, Mother also had me wear a black bow tie. My sharp appearance stunned Katelyn when I knocked on her door to meet her before the dance. She gaped at me, depthless eyes wide as she took in my odd clothes.

I thought you were just going to wear pants,” she admitted with an awkward shrug.

So did I. Mother thought otherwise,” I chuckled, looking to the floor bashfully. My eyes had strayed from her face to her gracefully curving self. The passion was a physical pain for me then.

The dress was a wonderful blue that accented her luscious skin perfectly. It also fit her curves and hung in such a way that it was teasing, floating about her legs but never quite folding over her body in any way that would satisfy. Everywhere, her skin was naturally smooth and hairless, making her nearly glow in the sun’s dying rays.

Do you like the dress?” she asked, making me look up. I watched her twirl and curtsey. I smiled, heart pounding in my chest so that I thought she must have been able to hear its spirited gallop.

I nodded nervously, barely reigning in my emotions. “Yes, you’re lovely. I mean—it’s lovely. On you.”

She smirked knowingly and nodded. “Thanks. It cost my last three months’ allowances.”

Katelyn, aren’t you going to the dance? It’s going to start without you if you’re not off soon.” Jeff came to the door, smiling at his daughter. When he saw me he blinked in surprise. “Wow, Cory, you look…sharp.”

Thank you,” I mumbled shyly. I felt strange dressed the way I was. It was too proper and fancy. I was much more comfortable in my battered cut-off jeans, stained with mud. They were easy and familiar.

Kate, did you need a ride or will Cory be able to fly you?” Jeff asked Katelyn. She turned to me questioningly.

I faltered, uncertain. I had never flown anyone with me before and was unsure of my own strength. Katelyn looked so fragile, too, that I was concerned the force of the wind alone would damage her.

I…have never tried,” I admitted, suddenly tempted by the idea of holding Katelyn in the clouds. I was grateful that no one recognized when I blushed.

Alright. Kate, I’ll drive you,” said Jeff, eyes knowing when he looked back at me. I nodded in agreement with his plan, thinking myself untrustworthy at that time.

I flew above the automobile impatiently. My passion was rampant within me, making me wish it were gone so that I could be a proper gentleman. As it was, when I landed and took Katelyn on my arm with a half bow, it was all I could do to keep my composure. I was tempted quite thoroughly to brush her with my tail and many other improper, rude things my vulgar mind could imagine. I was relieved when we were into the light and near people. It forced restraint upon me.

The dance was held at the church, just like every other town event. The children within were stunned when I entered. Some gaped, some glared. A robust, pale young man met us inside, a few steps from the door.

I think you don’t want to be here, Cory,” he sneered, motioning to the door pointedly. He was roughly a foot shorter than I was, making his threat strange when I was the one staring down at him.

No, I would very much enjoy being here, thank you,” I contradicted politely. I gave him a smile as well, in the hopes he would understand I had no desire to fight.

That was a lie, though. My heart was already pounding in excitement from Katelyn’s touch. At the mere thought that I would fight, my blood began to boil in my veins, a snarl building in my throat. A fight was a way to relieve the passion in me and give me time to recover from the monstrous flood of it in my system.

Three more built boys came to stand behind the first one, who then smirked. “You really don’t want us to embarrass you in front of your girl, do you?”

A growl broke from my control. It was deep and threatening, even to my ears, rolling into an angry snarl that made the boys jump and tremble. I felt no pity or guilt at that time for whatever distress I caused those boys. After a moment, all that they had said was realized by my distraught mind.

I composed myself, “I apologize. Strictly speaking, Katelyn is not ‘my girl’, nor is she anyone’s girl that I know of.”

The lead boy shook himself from his shock and chuckled menacingly, “Come on, let’s take this outside.”

I do not wish to fight!” I snapped back, eyes narrowing. I had never before been this aggressive towards anyone. It was liberating to stand up for myself, though it was likewise painful to feel violent while doing so.

Leave us alone, Richard,” said Katelyn quietly. I glanced down at her in surprise. There was rarely a time when she did not feel a need to make her thoughts known. To my shock, her eyes were downcast and shy. Her hand on my arm shook slightly.

The boy she called Richard ignored her. “Well, we’ll have to use some forceful persuasion, won’t we boys?”

Katelyn shrunk back as the boys stepped closer to me. She hid behind me, clearly defining for me what was wrong. My hands curled to fists as the fiercest, hottest anger flashed through me. Gently, I led Katelyn outside with me. The boys followed us and I guarded her while I guided her back inside.

Pardon me, Katelyn, I will not be long. Please socialize without me for the time,” I told her kindly with a smile. Tears were in her eyes and she looked behind me concernedly. “I will be fine, I promise you.”

Others came out to watch the supposed fight about to occur. Katelyn was pushed next to a rail while I went to meet Richard in the front grass. He was laughing to another one of the boys with him.

Don’t worry, guys, I’ve got this. A couple little rocks crippled him, remember? I’ll be doing more than that,” he chuckled, eyes glinting with malice.

Do you truly desire to brawl with me?” I inquired. I was furious, thinking that these fiends had acted in ways that frightened Katelyn. Flooded as I was already with physical needs, violence was conceivable to me then.

Yeah.” He eyed me as though I were something queerer than I was. “Right.”

He held his fists up, lurching forward to hit me. I stood frozen where I was when his fist connected with my middle with a hard thump. I stared down at him as he pulled back, wincing and shaking his hand in pain. Something powerfully invigorating to my self-worth occurred to me then, my need for violence abruptly ending with it. I was no demon, I was more than anger or other brutish behaviors. I was what I made myself to be.

Understand that I could harm you,” I told him quietly, so that no other ears would hear. I narrowed my eyes. “Also grasp that you did not injure me. I choose not to strike back. However, if you continue to frighten anyone I will act against you and your cohorts with more than a song in my heart.”

I stretched my wings luxuriously to intimidate him before striding proudly back to Katelyn, through the throng of chattering people. They gaped at me in amazement. Richard and his band of villains did not follow me as a cheer erupted from the teenagers about me.

Why are they celebrating?” I asked Katelyn, feeling awkward.

She grinned at me. “You stood up to Richard and his gang! Without getting beat up. It’s a first.”

I nodded, noticing Ethan run out to meet Richard and begin conversing. My temper was calmed, leaving a somewhat hollow ache in its place. “I believe they will leave all of you be for a time.”

Little had I known just how disturbed the children Ethan associated with were. A few days after the dance, he returned home late from school. His face was bruised and bloody, clothes torn and bloodstained as well. He never told Mother or Father who did it, but I knew and he gave me a pleading look. Against my better nature, I honored his wishes.

The dance, though. Oh, it was joyful. Frequently, the player would be reset by children who had brought with them their own records for amusement. There was dancing—fast and slow—to far too many genres, some of which never should have come into existence.

I do believe there was a span of thirty seconds when I had enough space and curiosity to dance. Katelyn cringed away from me and shook her head disapprovingly. What were her words?

Ah, yes.

Ooh, that's painful.”

The twist?” I asked with a grin.

Was not meant to include wings or tails.”

I laughed at that, thrilled by how I was enjoying myself with these strangers. Better yet, how these strangers seemed to not mind me. I was ignored or treated as everyone else.

Mm, longingly I recall the one dance I shared with Katelyn. It was slow and soothing, with her resting tenderly against me. She barely was able to reach my shoulders with her stretching hands. I was content to have my arms around her and even the passion subsided, calmed by her touch. We were all living happily.

Then, as she yawned sometime around 9:40, I smiled and suggested we return home. We walked back, and I did tread carefully upon the rocks. Once we were out of sight of the church, Katelyn took my hand to hold the entire walk home.

I estimated that it was 10:30 or so when we arrived at her home. It was picturesque suddenly, my walking her home from a wonderful evening out. I felt almost human. Normal and human. Not fully mind you, because I was still incredibly socially awkward, but it was enough to make me smile broadly.

Walking her to the door, I was reluctant to leave or say good night. I wanted to sit on the porch swing with her all night long, to drag on the glorious hours until we could stand not one more second. Time is fast, though, and it raced by while I stared at her wonderful face.

She asked me to bend down, smiling as she did so. I bent and offered her my ear as I assumed she meant to share a secret. Her next movement was one so beautiful it would be impossible for me to forget my glee in that moment.

She turned her face just right, guiding mine with a hand that materialized from nowhere.

Katelyn pressed her lips to mine gently and it was all I could do to keep myself under control. I can still vividly recall the taste of her, how warm she was. The sensation was sweet, tingling. My chest constricted as my passion doubled, filling me abruptly. Tears sprung to my eyes as the seconds stretched on, capturing me in her.

To be honest, for a brief moment a part of me wondered if life could be a fairytale. Part of me wished that the evil witch's spell had been broken, that I was free of my face. In some ways, I believe I was. Thankfully, I was never disappointed by the strange workings of life.

When the kiss ended, I came back to myself to see Jeff raising one brow at me in disapproval. I bowed my head in apology, feeling ashamed that I had so rudely taken advantage of Katelyn.

Come on in, Kate. Cory, can I talk to you?” asked Jeff, Katelyn entering their home and shutting the door behind her.

I nodded. “Yes, sir. I apologize for kissing your daughter.”

Yeah, that's not it,” he sighed heavily, shaking his head. “You’ve had your eye on her for a long time.”

I kept my eyes down as I wiped away my tears. “Sir?”

I’m not going to worry that you kissed her. It was coming, I knew it.” He waved that thought away, frowning as something else concerned him. “You stand up for Kate a lot, I know. I should be thrilled. I don’t think she could end up with a better man. But…”

I looked up in shock. “A man…?”

Well, you’re not able to do much that anyone else can. I’m not sure how good that would be for Kate, you know,” he explained. I nodded in understanding. I had long since accepted my life on the farm. “I don’t know, guess I can’t stop her if she’s determined to be with you. Just take care of her, alright, Cory?”

I nodded, a sense of honor settling around me. Jeff trusted me, not a year after meeting me. “Yes, sir. Thank you.”

Jeff nodded, eyes still thoughtful. “Hm. Thanks for taking her out tonight. Well, good night, Cory. Have a safe trip home.”

Good night, sir.”

I flew home from there and when I arrived I was surprised to see my parents still awake, waiting for me. They were both smiling proudly. Mother greeted me with a hug, Father with a pat on my shoulder.

How was the dance?” asked Mother. Her eyes were moist though she was smiling with joy.

Wonderful,” I replied, and found myself with tears of happiness also. Life was turning around at last.

Mother led me to the couch in the living room, sitting beside me while Father took a chair. “Why don't you tell us about it?”

So I did. Everything they wanted to know, I told them. Frequently, it was even things they wanted to hear that I was able to say without lying. “Nobody stared”, “I was not attacked”, and “I was not screamed at” were the truths that they were most gleeful over. I never mentioned the fight. Finally, I told them about Kate.

Oh, I'm happy for you, Cory!” exclaimed Mother, sure to wake the entire house with her laughter. She hugged me again.

I saw Ethan at the doorway, half in shadow. “He's not as good as you think.”

What?” demanded Father, frowning. He waved to Ethan. “Come in here, Ethan, so we can see you when you're talking.”

He did, face hard with some bitter emotion. I imagined it was jealousy, with how often he would watch Kate when she visited. “He got into a fight with some of the football team and won. Cory's as bad as he looks.”

I stared at Ethan in shock. “I never hit that boy. You saw. Everyone saw that he was unharmed!”

Father glanced between us. “Alright, both of you, tell your sides. And they'd better be believable,” he added with a hard look at Ethan.

I gave my side, even explaining what I had told the boy who had challenged me. “But I never hurt him. I walked away after that.”

Father nodded. “Okay. Ethan?”

Richard asked Kate for a dance, but Cory got mad. They went outside so that they wouldn't cause a fuss in the building, and then he hit Richard. I saw him do it. Everyone else that saw was just too scared to stand up to him or tell anybody,” finished Ethan solemnly.

Father looked back at me. “Would you let Richard dance with Kate, even though she kissed you tonight?”

Ethan's eyes went as wide as saucers. “She what?!”

Yes, if she wanted to and he would not hurt her,” I answered truthfully. A small part of me felt a twinge of selfishness and jealousy, but it was easy enough to deny.

Your room, Ethan, now,” said Mother sternly, eyes narrowed. Her expression was one of disappointment. Ethan stood quietly, glaring at me spitefully before exiting.

Father and I sat in silence for a few minutes awkwardly.

So...your first fight, huh?” he asked to break the silence.

I nodded, abruptly ashamed of myself. “Yes.”

You only got hit the once...” He paused, frowning deeply. “And you didn't hit him?”

No,” I replied quietly. My eyes dropped to the floor. I looked back up when he started laughing.

I'm proud of you, son,” he said, beaming at me. I smiled tentatively. “You talked your way out rather than, well...” He motioned to me as though it must have been obvious, then continued to explain, “You could knock anyone flat, easy as ever. But you didn't. I'm proud.”

Sometime shortly after that, I began to muse over how my parents—human parents—could ever have been proud of me, no matter what I did. Likewise, I wondered why they had taken me into their home instead of butchering me as a harmless, demonic babe. Both were likely inconsequential now, but still I was intrigued by the answers.

I asked at some point I know, though I cannot recall the circumstances. Mother replied that I was her child so she would always be proud, and that from the moment she first saw me she had known that I was hers. Father...He answered me with his own questions.

Why wouldn't I want you as a son? For that matter, why wouldn't I be proud to say you're my son?”

For the first time, I felt directly appreciated and wanted. I had always known that my parents cared for me on some level. Whether it be out of pity or their own goodness had never been made clear until then. They were proud to call me theirs.

 

~~ * ~ * ~ * ~~

 

Cory halted suddenly, tears in his eyes and on his face. Robert watched silently, the longing and desperation in Cory's eyes making his heart heavy. He thought again on what Beth had said about their tests of humanity, finding himself like a statue as he witnessed the man sitting before him.

He cleared his throat to keep his composure, and Cory looked up curiously. Robert smiled and asked gently, “Can you continue?”

He watched Cory pause to think a moment before nodding, still apparently distracted. “Yes, yes, I can.”

Will you?” he asked, still gentle.

Cory nodded again, seeming to collect himself for what Robert could only imagine as torturous recollections of long lost wonders. “Yes, I will. The next two years passed wonderfully...”


 

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