This story was first published in Antipodean SF, January 2020.
By S.A. McKenzie
Lilith was arranging sandwich ingredients on the counter when the Devil appeared in the kitchen. The resulting cloud of smoke set the smoke alarm screeching. The Devil gave it a red-eyed glare and it promptly stopped. He loomed over Lilith, his horns brushing against the copper shaded pendant lights.
“Tremble before me, mortal. You dared to summon me—” he boomed.
“I didn’t summon you,” Lilith said, unimpressed. She went back to carefully sawing a slice off the rustic loaf on the bread board.
Lucifer blinked at her, his goat-like ears twitching. She didn’t think he was used to being interrupted.
“Just how old are you?” he said, at a more normal volume.
“Nine. And a half,” Lilith said. She went on slicing bread.
The Father of Lies looked around the kitchen, then snapped his fingers. A piece of paper appeared in his hand. He thrust it in front of Lilith.
“Did you, or did you not, write this document?”
Lilith glanced at it. “That’s a letter to Santa.”
Baphomet studied the note. “It says, ‘Dear Satan’— look, right here at the top.”
Lilith put down the bread knife and glared at him.
“I’m dyslexic,” she said. “I can’t help it!” She went back to sawing the increasingly irregularly shaped slice of bread off the loaf.
“I was writing it for my little brother, and then he threw it in the fire. He’s got this weird idea that since Santa comes down the chimney, that’s how you send him letters.”
“That is also one of the ways people summon me. They write one of my thousand names on paper and burn it with the appropriate herbs.”
“We didn’t burn any herbs,” Lilith said. She took the piece of paper from Moloch’s hand and held it up to the light.
“Oh, I see. I used some of Mummy’s home-made paper. Sometimes she puts leaves and flower petals in it.”
She put the paper down and began to butter one of the slices of bread.
“And just where is Mummy?” Satan said, looking around the kitchen.
“She’s in her studio, painting. And is not to be disturbed under any circumstances. Unless there’s loads and loads of blood,” Lilith said. She began slicing a cucumber.
“Well, since I’m here anyway, even if the summoning is accidental, what do you want?” Shaitan said.
“What do you mean?” Lilith said, wrinkling her nose at him in a manner that even Old Nick had to admit was adorable.
“Say for example, I could get rid of this pesky little brother of yours.”
“He’s only five. Mummy says he’ll probably stop being annoying when he hits his thirties.” She cut some slices of Gouda and nibbled on a bit thoughtfully.
“You know, Mummy also says—” she squinted, trying to remember. “That the Devil is an invention of the patriarchy intended to control women’s sexuality.”
“You’re very precocious, aren’t you?”
She grinned at him. “That’s not the word the other kids at school use.”
“Would you like their lives to end in fiery torment?”
“What about your teachers?”
“Maybe there’s something you really hate. I could obliterate it for you.”
Lilith added ham, and some of her mother’s home-made chutney to the sandwich, while she thought about that.
“I hate going to the dentist,” she said finally.
“Your dentist will burn in the flames of Hell, then!”
She sniffed. “What if I get cavities?” She shook her head, pigtails swinging. “No.”
“How about a pony? Little girls love ponies,” the Prince of Darkness wheedled.
“Do you have any unicorns?”
“Unicorns aren’t real.”
“How about a three headed dog?”
“I do have one of those, but he wouldn’t fit in your house.”
Belial wilted, defeated. “There must be something you want!”
“Here,” Lilith said, sliding a plate over to him. “Have a sandwich. It always makes me feel better.”
He peered at the bread with great suspicion, and prodded it with one clawed finger. Lilith shrugged, and began eating her own sandwich.
Hesitantly, the Beast from the Abyss picked up the sandwich in his enormous hands and bit into it. A strange expression crossed his face.
“It doesn’t taste like brimstone at all.” He managed to cram half the sandwich in his mouth in one go.
“Mmph ish sho goot!” he said, rolling glowing eyes.
“Don’t forget to chew,” Lilith said. She was eating her own sandwich in a more mannerly fashion. They both ate in silence for a while, apart from occasional small ecstatic noises from the Devil.
After finishing her meal, Lilith put her plate in the sink and began to put the sandwich ingredients away. The Angel of the Bottomless Pit watched her wistfully, a smear of chutney unnoticed on his chin.
“Well,” she said finally, brushing a crumb off her cardigan. “I have a ballet lesson at four. Julia’s mum is picking me up.”
Abaddon rose silently from the stool he’d been perching on.
“I suppose—” Lilith said, then stopped. She looked at her feet. “Maybe you could come by sometime, if you feel like a sandwich? If you’re not too busy.”
“And try to tempt you onto the path of evil?” Satan said hopefully.
She grinned up at him, a dimple in each rosy cheek.
“If you like. But next time—”.
“Please wear some pants.”
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© Copyright S.A. McKenzie 2020