Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Demon in the Bottle"

This poem came out of the October 2, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from aldersprig.  It belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis, which you can explore further on the Serial Poetry page.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50/line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses.
So far sponsors include: rix_scaedu, general fund

98 lines, Buy It Now = $49
Amount donated = $20
Verses posted = 7 of 18

Amount remaining to fund fully = $29
Amount needed to fund next verse = $1
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $3

The Demon in the Bottle

Entertaining turned out to be a fine job,
Shaeth discovered.  He and Trobby
had fun animating empty glass bottles
as skeletal soldiers to fight war games.
The tip jar filled briskly, which enabled them
to buy food and a room, with a little left over.

Things took a sharp turn for the worse
when Trobby snuck off with the leftover coins
and bought himself an entire bottle of rum.
By the time Shaeth found him,
most of the rum was inside of Trobby
and he was passed out cold
on the cobblestones of a particularly dank alley.

Shaeth nudged him forlornly with one foot
and wondered what to do with his drunken priest.
A bubbling laugh drew him away from Trobby.
"Who's there?" Shaeth snapped.
"If you've done something to my priest, I'll --"

"He's not yours,"  the voice giggled.  "He's mine.
Always has been, always will be.
I never give up the souls of those I've possessed."

Shaeth recognized that sound, all right.
"Show yourself, demon!" he commanded.
A pair of red eyes winked to life
through the smoky glass of the round rum bottle.
"Here I am, O God of Evil," the demon gurgled
from the dregs of the liquor.  "I can see why
you like him so much.  He is delicious."

"I am no longer the God of Evil," Shaeth said.
"I am the God of Drunks, and Trobby belongs to me."
"Yet he left you to come back to me," the demon said,
dancing inside the bottle that sat near Trobby's hand.
"That says something about his allegiance, mmm?"

Shaeth cast a hard curse at the bottle,
shattering it into tiny fragments.
The demon snickered as the rum sank into the dirt.
"See you around sometime," it hissed, fading away.

Shaeth was left in a filthy alley with broken glass
and an unconscious priest who,
now that he looked closely,
had an alarming grey tinge to his skin
and was not breathing all that well.

What did a former God of Evil
know about taking care of people?
Really not very much, Shaeth realized;
he didn't even know where to start.
Grumbling, he slung Trobby over his shoulder
and headed for a nearby temple.

The priests refused to let him in
or even to take Trobby alone,
despite the sign on the front of the temple
claiming that Abredin the Herb Goddess
would help anyone in need of healing.

Shaeth was just winding up
to curse a nice big hole in the wall
when Abredin showed up
and shooed her agitated priests away.
"You're making enough noise to raise the dead,"
she scolded everyone.

"If Trobby is dead because of this delay,"
Shaeth said, "I will make more than noise."
"Give him here," Abredin said.
Shaeth was surprised to discover
that he didn't really want to let go of Trobby,
but he handed his priest to Abredin anyhow.

It took an hour of spells and potions
to restore Trobby's bedraggled health.
He lay dozing on a padded bench
while Shaeth and Abredin discussed matters,
with Abredin's priests fussing in the background.

"Shaeth, herbalism and healing magic are complex,
and there is a limit to what they can do," Abredin said.
"I can teach you a hangover cure. I cannot
simply wave away demonic possession and addiction."
"Then what am I supposed to do for Trobby?" Shaeth said.
"Demons are your territory, not mine," Abredin said.

So Shaeth had to content himself with the fact
that Trobby was out of immediate  danger.
Shaeth and Abredin dickered over
the exchange of favors, which left Shaeth
animating empty potion bottles to dance
for the amusement of Abredin's other patients.
It was altogether less entertaining
than fighting beer bottles in a bar.

Finally Shaeth carried Trobby home
and put him to bed properly.
Then he sat down to meditate
on everything he knew about
possession and exorcism.

All demons could be controlled;
the trick was figuring out how,
because the details tended to be
finicky and esoteric things.
Shaeth recalled the sly, liquid laugh
and shuddered.

Becoming the God of Drunks
was proving to be a great deal more complicated
than he had anticipated.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, writing
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