Pandora thinks knives are hot, all covered in blood like that. After the summoning she gathers them up, holds them close to her chest. If she could draw, that’s what she’d draw – red droplets into an open mouth. Fangs. The baring of a neck, a sleeve slipped off a shoulder. A knife on the ground and a hand around a throat.
Her ex-boyfriend had claimed to be a vampire, and that was about thirty percent believable. He bit a lot, but he also loved the beach, and what kind of vampire likes the fucking beach? Plus, he got really sweaty in his sleep, and she was pretty sure vampires didn’t have sweat glands.
Demons, though. Demons run hot like fire, like Hell was trying to come up through their mouths and consume the planet, one girlfriend at a time. Pandora likes waking up next to them in the winter, because it saves her money on her heating bill. So she always starts the summonings around Halloween, when the wind cuts cold at night and the leaves turn.
Her friends kept recommending apps to her: Hinge, Tinder, Feeld, Raya, Seeking, Match. She’d tried them, but it wasn’t the same. For one, the summoning ensures you’ll get someone who’s just your type. No squinting at group photos, no overused pickup lines, no fucking fish.
With summoning, too, there was devotion. She’d pull someone up to the surface and immediately they’d fall at her feet, begging for her to keep them. Pandora would, for a time, until she got bored and itchy and had to try again. Then she’d let them fade, unloved and unwanted back into the earth.
Pandora’s friends are all talking about cuffing season this year; three years out of school and suddenly all anyone cares about is settling down. So she packs up her little box on October 13th, earlier than usual, and heads to a good crossroads. The knife stings as she draws her own blood and her Latin’s a little rusty, but that’s okay. The first one of the season never goes smoothly.
Her summoning circle glows purple, the ground shakes, and then there’s a woman kneeling before her. She looks up at Pandora and it’s like looking in a mirror, Pandora’s exact features on this demon’s face.
“Oh, fuck,” the demon curses. She runs a hand through greasy hair, blood and dirt covering her face. “Fuck, I definitely screwed that up.”
Not the usual prostrating. Pandora steps closer, curious, still bleeding from her arm. The demon bleeds from her arm, too. Pandora stares into the demon’s eyes, hypnotized.
Pain shoots through her chest, and she looks down to see a knife in her heart. Ouch. She falls to the ground, blood spilling as the demon yanks the knife out.
She steps over Pandora’s body. “Seriously, Hinge would have been a lot easier,” the demon says, leaning over to go through Pandora’s pockets. Digging out Pandora’s keys and cell phone, she heads off into the night.
Rachel M. Beavers is a Los Angeles-based writer and insomniac. Her previous work can be found in HAD and The Daily Drunk. Find her on twitter whenever there’s an earthquake @leaveitobeavers or bluesky @rachelmbeavers.bsky.social