DATE NIGHT WITH GOROTH

It was a Saturday when a portal to Hell opened on my kitchen table. You would think that it’d be a Monday, or perhaps Friday the thirteenth. Nope. Saturday. It was Saturday morning, I was eating breakfast, and already my weekend was ruined.

Cackling laughter erupted from the flaming hole in my table, then stopped abruptly as the demon’s head popped out. I set my phone, and my glass of iced orange juice, down on the table before scooting back. The demon looked at me with its four glowing eyes, arching one blackened eyebrow at me.

“Is this a joke?” it said.

I shook my head, hardly able to speak. There was a demon on my kitchen table. And he was four inches tall.

The demon looked down. A ring of water surrounded it, the condensation from my glass of juice. He pushed against the invisible walls that surrounded him, then snarled, showcasing dirty fangs.

“Damnation,” he said. “Not again.”

I swallowed, then spoke, “Uh, how are… what did I do?”

“You summoned me, dingus.” The demon crossed his four arms in front of him, and sparks flew where rough red skin met. “I should be the one asking questions. What do you desire?”

I thought back, still dazed. What had I done to summon this little guy? He was in a circle, so I suppose the condensation of my cup ended up opening the portal. Serves me right for not using a coaster. But wait, I’d made many a circle out of condensation. How did this one activate a portal into Hell?

The demon looked down at my phone. “I suppose there are instructions to summon me on the internet now?”

“Actually, I was just on Reddit.” I snatched my phone before he could see it.

“Patrick Rossul,” the demon said. It knew my name. “Age twenty-five, born on the third of November. Decent but boring job, stable income. On-and-off-again girlfriend, not too shabby given your current lifestyle. You aren’t the usual type to summon a demon. What, did you get bored with all this?”

“I didn’t… No. It was an accident.”

The demon glowered at me, then sat down. “As I thought,” he said. “Damn me again, this is why the rules need to be changed.”

Sullen as he was, the demon wasn’t really making any headway with me. That is, I didn’t know what to do with him. “So what happens now?” I asked.

“Depends,” he said. “If this water dries up, I’ll be freed to wreak havoc in the world until a priest catches me. That would be cool, but painful in the end. Not that I’m unused to pain.” The demon rolled its neck. “You could ask me to do something for you, command me, but I doubt you know how.”

“Any way to dismiss you back to hell?” I asked.

“As if I’d tell you that.” The demon pointed at me. “Like it or not, you’re stuck with me, bucko. Get used to it.”

I sighed and slumped back in my chair. “Come on,” I said. “I have a date tonight. How did I even summon you anyway?”

“Well, you have a circle,” the demon said. “And you said my name thrice. That is what summons me.”

I blinked. “I don’t even know your name.”

“It’s Goroth.”

“I never said that.”

The demon threw his hands up in the air. “You clearly did, buttwipe! Goroth, Goroth, Goroth, you said. I heard you!”

Realization dawned on me. “No, I… I was looking at Reddit, and… I have a lisp.” Lisp sounded like lithp when I said it. So gross would sound like Goroth. “Don’t my intentions matter?”

“Apparently not.” Goroth poked at the edge of the circle with one clawed toe. I looked carefully at the water, then ran to grab a crayon. There were some leftover ones in my craft room, from a poster I’d been making for my nephew. Some school thing. I ran back and drew a quick circle.

“That’s an oval,” Goroth said. I nodded and drew it again, tracing around the outline of the circle of water. The demon watched closely, then nodded.

“You’re being pretty helpful,” I said.

“Being bound in a circle extends my stay,” he replied, laying back on the table. He seemed almost comfortable. “And you don’t know how to command me, so I’ve got a free reprieve. It’s like a vacation.”

“Entirely located on my tabletop,” I said.

Goroth shrugged. “Could be worse. I can see the TV from here, if you want to watch something.”

“Uh uh,” I said, shaking my head. “We’ve got to do something now.”

“Do we?”

“My date,” I said, “Is dinner. Here. At my place. I’m fixing dinner for Hannah.”

“Nice girl. Rather boring name,” he said. “I could make a good topic of conversation.”

“She’s Catholic,” I said.

Goroth gave me a dour look. “Devoted?”

“Oh, you would not believe.”

“Change your plans,” he said. “Go with her to Mass or something.”

I stared at him. “A demon is telling me to go to Church.”

“I don’t give a hoot what you do.”

I ran a hand over my face. “It’s always something. Always. I’m going to get broken up with again if I cancel yet another date. Last time it was a freakin’ bear getting stuck in my backyard. Before that it was a robber holding us hostage at the bank.”

“Have you ever considered,” Goroth said, “That you are a very lucky person?”

“How so?”

“You have the most boring, standard life ever, but it sounds like you have plenty of exciting stories to tell.”

I mulled over that, then looked at the clock. I needed to head to the store soon. The dinner I was preparing for tonight, slow-cooked pork brisket, was… well, slow to cook. I needed to get the work started by noon.

“Isn’t there any way to get you off the table?” I asked.

“Aside from releasing me?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

I frowned. “Why are you so tiny anyway? Did I just get lucky?”

Goroth scowled. “I had to fit in your circle, didn’t I? Smallest I’ve ever been. This always happens with the accidents. Always with the losers who can’t talk right.”

“Hey!”

“I’m always so humiliated by this garbage. ‘It wath an acthident!’ they say. Of course it was, because you can’t even speak English!”

I reached out and tried to flick at the tiny demon with my finger, but the circle slowed me to a stop. Goroth stood and stretched.

“Just as well,” he said. “We’re protected from each other. If you were in this circle, I’d probably try to possess you.”

I shivered. That was a nasty thought.

Goroth yawned. “Go on to the store like you planned. We’ll figure out something. Leave the TV on.”

###

When I returned, Goroth was halfway through It’s a Wonderful Life, and he was not happy about it.

“Really?” he asked. “I mean, really? No cartoons or gunfights or anything like that. You put on this sappy angel crap?”

“I’m not feeling too charitable,” I said, setting some bags on the floor. I methodically began placing the food in the fridge, cupboard, wherever else things needed to go.

“Mmph. Just turn it off then,” Goroth said. I did so, then returned to unpacking the ingredients for a pie I’d been planning to make.

“I don’t suppose you’ve figured anything out?” I asked. “You being so experienced with this type of accident.”

“I intend to milk this for all its worth,” he said. “I’ll come up with ideas when I’ve chosen the best ones.”

I narrowed my eyes. “I could turn that movie back on. Or invite a priest over.”

“And ruin your reputation with Hannah?”

I paused, and Goroth smirked at me.

“Priests are not the most discreet. They love to brag about their exorcisms.”

“Uh huh.” I kneeled down and placed some bread into a rotating cabinet, then twirled it around absent-mindedly. “The movie is still an option.”

“Gee, watch a movie or go back to hell.” Goroth chuckled. “Yeah, I think I can make the choice there.”

“What do you even want?” I asked.

“An extended stay, and a good time,” Goroth said. “Break the circle. Or leave me here. Entertain me. Appease me, and maybe I’ll let you know how to use me. Or dismiss me.”

“Goroth, you’re dismissed,” I said.

He grinned at me.

“In the name of God even. Go away.”

“If it were that easy, everyone would be an exorcist.”

I stopped what I was doing and returned to my seat, with Goroth right in front of me. I invoked the name of Jesus, Allah, Bhudda, and Dave Grohl. I even tried Beelzebub and Satan, but Goroth seemed more amused than anything.

“What’s the magic word?” he jeered.

“Please go away,” I said. Goroth just cackled at me. I was about out of options, growing more agitated by the minute. I stopped for a moment to clear my head, and put the meat on for the date. Just in time. I had five hours left to figure something out.

“This is plenty entertaining,” Goroth said. “Keep this up and I might be inclined to help you out.”

I went through all the demonic fiction I could think of, and carefully reminded myself of anything Goroth had said. Hints he might have dropped. Anything at all.

“A deal,” I finally said out loud. “I want to make a deal with you. Don’t devils do deals?”

“Ooh, nice alliteration,” Goroth said, eyes glittering. “And yes, we do deals. What did you have in mind?”

“Temporary possession.” Goroth’s eyes widened, but he said nothing. I continued, “With some additional rules and stipulations. Are you following me?”

“I haven’t said no yet,” he said.

“Rule number one: Assuming the deal goes through, You will possess me for only three hours. From one o’ clock to four. I still need time to finish my cooking, after all.”

Goroth nodded.

“Two: You will not harm my body, nor will you do anything that leaves permanent repercussions on my life. I do not permit you to undress me for any such purpose, nor do I permit access to my social media accounts.”

“Aww,” Goroth stuck out his lower lip, which caused his bottom incisors to pop out. I ignored him.

“And lastly, you are not to mess up tonight’s date. No messing with the food I have cooking right now.”

Silence fell. I ran the list through my mind, trying to think of other ways Goroth could mess with me. I was restricting him pretty harshly, though I wasn’t being a lawyer about it. Oh, there it was.

“You are not permitted to leave this house either.”

“Oh, come on!” Goroth said.

“Nope. I’m not allowing that. It opens up too many possibilities. You have the option of living as a human for a few hours. Enjoying the simple pleasures, eating some snacks, watching TV, surfing the web, that kind of stuff.”

“Agh, what do you take me for, a bachelor? A couch potato? That’s not anything!”

“It’s my body, Goroth. Deal with it.”

Goroth paced back and forth within the circle of crayon. He was chewing on his lip, enough to draw blood. Finally, he nodded.

“Alright. If you formally offer that deal, I will accept.”

“I offer what I have already stipulated, if you will be gone once the period ends,” I said, before I could convince myself not to.

Goroth’s eyes glittered. “I accept.”

###

For the most part, it was an uneventful few hours of possession. I was a passenger in my own head, as the demon drove my body around. We ate most of the snacks I had about, including my frozen chocolate stash, read a few online stories, browsed the ‘net, watched TV. It… honestly wasn’t that different than the afternoon I’d have had anyway. Well, Goroth had different taste, looked at some things on my phone that I wouldn’t have accessed, and wasn’t as clean as I was in daily habits, but I could clean everything up later. No big loss.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it was strange that a demon would be happy to live my lifestyle. The final hour came, and Goroth did not seem to be seeking loopholes or abusing the possession.

That is, until three-thirty. With half an hour of possession left, Goroth went upstairs and logged onto my PC. Apparently, my knowledge was his, as the lock screen was no barrier to him. He chuckled as he pulled up a web browser, then went about creating an email address.

What was he doing?

I watched intently as he set up an email, then a Reddit account. One of his own. I’d forbidden him to access my accounts, but not to access his own. There was the loophole. I watched helplessly as he spent ten minutes writing, then copying and pasting instructions on how to summon the demon Goroth on every accepting corner of the internet. Entire forums full of gullible redditors, tweeters, surfers, whatever they should be called, would respond to his rules. They would set it up. They would summon him. And if even one succeeded in summoning him, it was another outlet for him to spread the word.

I regained control at four PM, with no further sign of the demon’s presence. I tried to get in and delete the information that Goroth had put on the web, but he’d logged out. I didn’t have the muscle memory to input his password. The information was out there, and I couldn’t take it back. If I reported it, people would think me mad.

What could I do?

Nothing.

And so I did nothing.

Hannah came over for the date that night. The food was delicious, but I didn’t eat much. I wasn’t very hungry. We had a good time, enjoyed a candle-lit dinner, and watched some TV afterwards. A simple Saturday evening date. I don’t think she noticed, but I was still distracted.

Goroth was somewhere out there, taking advantage of the loophole I’d created. And there wasn’t much way to stop him.

If you’re reading this, do not create a circle. Do not say ‘Goroth’ three times. Or ‘gross’ with a lisp. It could be that the demon is busy, already summoned by someone else. It could be that you don’t have the right intonation.

But there’s always the chance that you could complete the ritual and summon Goroth. If you do, then that’s on you. I warned you.

Good luck. Don’t do what I did.

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