Chapter 6 from the Ama audiobook
Emily sat at the table, watching her mother who stood at the worktop by the window, slicing mushrooms on a small marble chopping board. The sound of a classical piano came from a small portable radio on the windowsill—a melancholy melody that pulled on Jason’s already breaking heart. He sat on the floor, in the corner of the room by the door leading to the hallway.
He didn’t remember sitting down. In fact, he couldn’t even recall coming into the room. He tried to move, to stand, but his legs and arms refused to cooperate. His body felt numb. He watched as Emily swung her legs back and forth under the table. He called to her.
“She can’t hear you, Jason,” Lilith informed him. “I’m sure I’ve already told you that.”
He called to her again, pleading for her to hear him.
“Can I cut the mushrooms, Mum?”
“No, baby, the knife’s too sharp. You can help me make eclairs later though. You can do the chocolate bit.”
“Thought you might like that.”
Lilith stood on the other side of the room from Jason. She swayed with the slow rhythm of the music, her dress splaying with the motion of her hips.
“Haven’t you got better things to do?” Jason asked. “Other people you can go torment?”
“Yes, plenty, but I enjoy all who come my way.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Oh, the pathetic one-off killers, like you; serial psychos, obsessed with their kill tallies; power-crazed dictators who orchestrate the slaughter of millions. The list is endless because the thirst your kind has for death is never quenched. I have an appetite for you all, and my plate is always brimming. I don’t like to miss a morsel because sometimes the scraps are as tasty as the main course.”
“You’re putting me on a list with serial killers and the likes of Hitler?”
“Death is death; kill one or kill a million, numbers mean little in the infinite. You may come to understand. Then again, you may not. It doesn’t matter to me whether you do or don’t, but I do like to watch the confusion. To enjoy the moments, the little things. It’s intriguing how you all stumble from one moment to the next, such fragile creatures, and never knowing when your time is at an end. Take this moment, for instance. Look. Emily is so happy, spending time with her mother and waiting for her father to return home with a sugary bounty. She doesn’t know what her mother is about to do to her. In fact, her mother doesn’t even know what’s about to happen, either. It’s exciting.”
“My daughter’s death is not exciting, you evil bitch, it’s a tragedy. And you’re making her go through it again. If I get the chance, if I can find a way, I will kill you.”
Lilith smiled. “I call legions of demons to heel, Jason. What do you believe you can do? You wouldn’t be the first to threaten me with your wrath. I like the Roman emperors most of all; they have strong wills and offer the most amusing threats.” She laughed. “Latin obscenities still coming from the mind of one as I pulled the last bone from his gelatinous body. You can’t imagine how funny his thoughts sounded. Lying on the floor of his palace like a bag of vomit, unable to talk and still believing his wishes held sway. Some people just can’t grasp how powerless they are. I like the spirited ones. Most of the time you hateful creatures throw yourselves into submission—weak-minded and feeble. Breaking the broken is no fun at all. Now,” she put a finger to her lips, “hush.”
“One more utterance from your lips, you puerile speck, and I’ll make this worse for you.”
“How can this get any worse? I didn’t see this happen back then; I don’t need to see it now.”
“No, you don’t need to see it, but it pleases me when you suffer. But if you’re going to fuss, I shall rip the head from your neck and place your skull on the table next to Emily, where you can witness forthcoming events ringside.”
Jason lowered his gaze to the floor. How do I stop this? he thought with a growing sense of desperation. A real demon bitch from hell. This can’t be real.
Jason raised his head. Emily now stood mere feet in front of him, looking at his dumbstruck face. Lilith and Zoe had vanished. He was alone with his daughter.
“Daddy.” She stepped closer to him.
“Yes, Angel?” he replied with a smile. This isn’t happening after all, it’s just a dream. Thank Christ, it’s just—
Emily slapped her father, hard, across his face. “Shut up, she wants to watch me die.”
In the blink of an eye, Emily appeared back at the table, swinging her feet as if nothing had happened. Both Lilith and Zoe had also reappeared in the room. The demoness glared back at Jason while waving a finger from side to side.
His body came back to life. He felt pins and needles on an epic scale, but control of his body was coming back to him. A plan skimmed across his thoughts: throw yourself hard and fast at Zoe. Lilith will try to stop you, but once in motion you’ll fly. It might be enough to knock Zoe against the counter and, with any luck, out cold to the floor. Do it now, before Lilith reads your mind and reacts. Get your ass up and do it. Now!
He shot a glance at Lilith. Her eyes were on Emily, so he jumped to his feet, staggered, and then launched himself at Zoe. With his first step he made it as far as the table, but then the momentum stopped as a searing fire flashed through his veins. His vision blurred and then faded to black. Every nerve in his body was shocked into life with cascading intensity. Muscles contracted, followed by the excruciating pain of tendons being ripped from their skeletal connections. His heart pumped with a tremendous rhythm, each rapid beat thumping against the inside of his chest. Jason could feel his ribs cracking with every beat.
“No, not again,” he screamed, as his mind tried in vain to push back against the escalating pain. “Please, I regret killing her… I take it back… P-l-e-a-s-e… No.” His jaw snapped shut with teeth-shattering force. A bubbling sensation ran over the entire surface of his body as his skin pulled tight and blisters formed in an effervescing frenzy. Thoughts became listless and dissolved into the pain.