This one is a lot darker than my usual stuff. You have been warned.
Cameron and Teri pelted up the steps of the church. “It’s not locked!” Cameron gasped. They rushed inside and slammed the door.
“Wait, Cam!” Teri panted. “Where’s Steve?”
“He was right behind us — oh God.” Cameron opened the door a crack and peered outside. Nothing. He stuck his head out, looked around. “Steve! In here!”
Teri pulled the door open wider, looked out. “Steve! Steve?”
A figure stepped into the floodlights in front of the church.
It wasn’t Steve.
Steve had invited him to the seance, but Cameron had only gone because Teri was going. Cam guessed every school had its own Meredith, a girl who took the occult a little too seriously. As for Steve, his grandfather had died and left Steve’s dad and uncle the lake house. The old man didn’t trust banks, and Steve just wanted to know where he’d hidden his cash so Dad and Uncle Phil wouldn’t tear the place apart hunting for treasure. To Steve, the lake house was the treasure. He had plans for the summer.
Cam remembered standing around the pentacle, his left hand in Meredith’s right, his right in Teri’s left. A mist seemed to form in the middle, taking shape… then Something Else clawed its way through, pushing the spirit aside to face Meredith. Cam barely had time to jerk free before it fell upon her, and they fled in unreasoning panic…
They hadn’t got a good look at the thing at Meredith’s, but it was too ugly to take in anyway — looking at it left only impressions of claws, teeth, glowing red eyes. Cam wished he could forget Meredith’s muffled scream as it engulfed her head in its mouth —
“Come out of there and face me!” Its voice was bones snapping and claws ripping up concrete. “You cannot defeat me otherwise!”
Cam and Teri looked at each other, both horrified at the prospect.
“Come out, boy! Or would you rather this woman-child hear how you pleasure yourself as you dream of lying with her in carnal embrace—”
Cam slammed the door shut, thankful the lights were out so Teri couldn’t see him blushing.
“It’s a demon! It lies!” Cam took a deep breath, felt for the deadbolt, and latched it. “Maybe we’ll be safe here. It wants us to come out, so maybe it can’t come in. We can go home once it’s daylight.”
“Daylight? I thought that was vampires.” Teri sounded doubtful.
“It’s our best—”
“Fools!” The demon sounded like it was just outside. “You played with fire, now you shall burn!” A moment later, the door shuddered to a blow from the other side.
Teri shrieked. “It’s trying to — what do —”
Cam fumbled in the dark and found a light switch. A fluorescent fixture in the hung ceiling above them lit up the foyer where they stood. Again the demon struck the door; the wood began to crack.
“I hope this place has a back door.” Cam seized Teri’s hand and pulled her into the sanctuary. She pulled loose but stayed with him, letting him lead her to a side door. They slipped into a hallway, as they heard the front door tear off its hinges. Down to the left, they saw a dim EXIT sign.
“Where do we go now?” Teri whimpered.
“Maybe Steve got away,” he said, as they hustled to the exit. “Maybe he went a different way and left us. If we split up, it can’t catch us both, right?”
“Maybe. But then what?”
“You go find another church. This one at least slowed the demon down some. I’ll try to get back to Meredith’s. Maybe there’s something I can find to get rid of it there.”
I hope so.”
“Yeah.” Cam reached for her. “Teri… if we both make it — will you go out with me?”
Teri sighed and pulled her hand away. “Maybe. Let’s both get away first, okay?”
“Sure.” Cam tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice. “Go!” He shoved the door open; they burst into the dark.
Cam ran across the parking lot and into a greenspace. He stumbled into a stream, but followed it, hoping the water would carry his scent away. He heard a scream, cut short, and thought about what might have been. “But probably not,” he grumbled, hating Teri for a few seconds. “Never was good enough for you, was I?”
At a culvert, he clambered out of the stream and back onto the street, shoes squishing on the pavement. At the first corner, he stopped to check the street signs to see where he was —
It stepped into the streetlight at the opposite corner. As Cam saw it, it gave him a hideous grin, showing more teeth than a mouth had any right to hold. The teeth were bloody.
Cam turned and ran, harder than he ever had, hoping to reach the temporary sanctuary of the church. But it was less than a block before a clawed hand gripped his shoulder, talons sinking into his chest and bringing him up short. He was too winded to scream, despite the pain, then the other hand wrapped around his throat before he had a chance to catch his breath. It lifted him and turned him to face it. Its hot breath smelled of rotten meat and sulfur, making him gag.
“Fool,” it said. “The only power I had is what you gave me.”