The Return of the 33rd Parallel

I promised myself that I would never do anything like this again, but there I was, standing in front of a ladder to a dark attic with my friend, Talon, who just so happened to be yet another occultist in my life. This was his place. I really have to stop hanging out with these assholes.

“Are you sure there’s a demon up there?” I said. Talon, creaked a little grin out of the corner of his mouth. It was the grin of alleged hidden knowledge.

“Yes,” Talon said. “All you have to do is go up there and make a deal with it.”

I looked at Talon as if he had just started speaking fluent Sumerian.

“Why would I do something stupid like that?” I said.

Talon, just smiled. “We didn’t get all dressed up for nothing. You call a demon. You make a deal with it. That’s the rule of this house.”

“First of all. I don’t believe in demons. That’s just some shit magicians say to impress other people. I’m tired of the occult, and I’m tired of occultist. Come on dude! I just wanted to drink tonight!” I said.

Talon’s grin morphed into a full blown smile. “You fucking asshole,” he said with visible disgust. “You don’t come to my house, make me put on my good robes, draw a circle complete with sigils with a triangle in front of it, take all the precautions, recite ancient incantations, and trap some demons inside said triangle and then tell me you’re not doing anything. What the hell am I supposed to do with those demons upstairs?”

“Did you miss the part where I said I didn’t ask you to do any of that?” I said. “And demons? As in plural? How the fuck did we go from one to many?”

“The lord works in mysterious ways,” Talon said. “And so do I. Now get up there before I kick your ass.”

“You first,” I said.

He led me up a ladder into the attic. It was dark except for the candles set in the four corners of the room. I saw the circle, complete with sigils, and the triangle. It felt creepy as fuck.

“Where are the demons?” I said.

“Oh, they’re here,” Talon said as he walked to the middle of the circle. “Stand over here next to me.”

I walked over to him. We were both standing in the middle of the circle.

“Have fun newbie,” Talon said. I felt a gush of wind on my face as he did a cartwheel past me, unleashed a backflip into the air, then cannonballed down the attic entrance, giving me the finger as he disappeared into the light below. The attic ladder slid back up and the door to the attic slammed shut. I heard a click-clack as the attic lock latched into place.

”Oh come on!” I said as I ran toward the attic door. I started pounding on it. ”Open the door man!”

“No,” Talon said. “Confront your demons pussy. I’m going down to my room to pray. You interrupt me and I’ll kick your ass.”

Now there I was in the middle of the circle, the only light sources coming from the candles in the four corners of the room. I felt a jolt up my spine. A small blue flame appeared inside the triangle.

“Oh no!” I said.

“Oh yes!” I heard a voice say behind me. I turned around but there was nothing there.

“Over here” the voice said. “in the triangle.”

“Why did I hear you behind me?” I said.

“I threw my voice. Not bad, eh?” It said. I recognized the voice but didn’t want to say its name.

“You could say my name.” It said. Since it was a figment of my imagination, it could read my mind.

“If I say it, will you go away?” I said.

“Bargaining with a demon?” It said. “Should you be doing that?”

“You’re not a demon.” I said. “You’re an idiot.”

“My young acolyte, you have much to learn!” The blue flame exploded into a smothering dark cloud that quickly dissipated into the air to reveal the one and only, Poke Runyon, in all his fatness.

Look, it's Col. Sanders! I'm sorry that's Poke Runyon!

“You shouldn’t say fat my young disciple, “ Poke said. “Young people these days don’t appreciate those types of labels.”

“Lick my balls, Runyon. And stop reading my mind!”

“Yes. Much better. Blue humor is still an appreciated communicative technique.”

“Can we get this over with, please?” I said. “Are you the ‘demon’ I’m supposed to be talking to?”

“Demons, there you go with the labels again. I know nothing of said demons, and find such talk an impediment to progressing your initiation into the ancient practice of Magick.” Poke said.

“Excuse me?” I said. “You just literally referred to yourself as a demon 5 seconds ago. And initiation into what exactly?”

“Your road into being a true initiate.” Poke said. He smiled. His bloated alcoholic cheeks had a red glow that reminded you of your drunk uncle on the holidays, gasping for air as he fought someone to get his car keys so he could drive home.

“Ok. I see where this is going,” I said. “Poke, I appreciate an unwanted mentor as much

As the next guy, but I politely decline your offer.”

“Then it’s settled!” He said. “Your training begins immediately. The first stage is you must answer for your past transgressions. This can take years, luckily we can begin with your recent ones! Be strong my padawon. Your trial will be difficult, but the journey shall teach you much about yourself.”

“Do all magicians talk like you?” I said. “Or just the fake ones? Talk to me like a real person and stop referring to me as your student, padawon, acolyte, god dammit!”

“Ha ha,” Poke said with bellowing jubilee. “You done did it now, bitch! Happy trails!”

Poke disappeared in a puff of green bile and smoke, leaving me once again in the dim, sputtering lights of the four candles.

There I was, standing in complete darkness for what seemed like forever. I was also confused that Poke told me as little as he did. Here he was with the opportunity to explain something, an endeavour he lives for, and he shut up way earlier than he usually did. Was he really in on the plan,? Or was there something even scarier than him up ahead? He seemed to insinuate as much.

Then it happened. The room began to shake. A cloud of smoke built up around me and started to swirl like a whirlwind, spinning and spinning until it became a small tornado that burst into a flaming figure that extinguished with a loud firecracker pop into a man in a suit. This man was tall, fitting well into his clothes, his hair looked wild, but that was deliberate as it was styled to seem that way. That wild look in his eye was natural though, and the gleaming smile that appeared from behind his manicured moustache formed into an expanding black hole as he looked up toward the ceiling and screamed at the top of his lungs.

“Io motherfucking Pan!”

It was none other than the one and only Anti-Christ himself.

“Nice to meet you,” He said. “My name is Jack. Jack Parsons.” Jack dusted some blast residue from his suit. Small puffs of smoke formed where he swiped. “We’ve got some things to talk about.”

Next: A conversation with the one and only, John Marvel Whiteside “Jack” Parsons.

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