Matthew spent the majority of his morning making progress on his sermon. Mrs. Braden spoke with him from time to time as she brought him tea and lunch, but he tried to keep things short, telling her he had just been hit with a sack of ideas he needed to write down.
He didn’t tell her he thought they may save the town – or at least his flock.
His work sucked him inn so much that when Mrs. Braden told him that someone came to see him, she had to speak twice. “Why, I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Father,” Mrs. Braden said. She paused thoughtfully before adding, “The Holy Spirit, I suppose.”
Matthew smiled at her and said, “That is probably true,” and believed his words.
The lady that came to see him was Mrs. Gleeson, a traditionally built woman with a large smile that Matthew liked seeing while he preached. But he saw no smile today. He kept his face solemn as he asked, “What can I do for you, Mrs. Gleeson?”
“Well, Father,” Mrs. Gleeson said, sighing. “It’s my son, Brady.”
Matthew’s body went tense, thinking perhaps another demon lurked about. He nodded, motioning for her to continue.
“There’s something off about him,” she said. “It’s grown worse for a while, but today I decided to take action.”
Matthew stared, waiting for the problem. He hoped it wasn’t lust. He certainly couldn’t talk to a teenaged boy about lust, especially not when his own lust came by every night to tease him.
“He’s just,” Mrs. Gleeson paused, searching for how to describe the issue. “He just sits there. Maybe he’ll watch TV or listen to the radio, but he just sits. I don’t mind a little recreation – it’s summer after all and he’s not complaining to me that he’s bored, at least – but this is something completely different. When I look into his eyes, it’s like he’s not even absorbing the sounds or sights around him.
“This morning I caught him just sitting in his room and staring at his wall. He hadn’t touched his breakfast even though I gave him the treat of eating in his room. So I thought maybe you, Father, would have some suggestion.”
“Is he normally a happy boy?” Matthew asked.
“Well, he is a teenager. He tends to be broody and frowning on the world even though he’s barely lived in it.”
Matthew’s brows knitted as he tried to pinpoint the sin. “What about his activity? Does he move around a lot or is he mainly sleeping?”
“Oh, he’s awake, Father. It’s rather startling seeing him sitting bolt upright and staring at the wall. And he’s eyes aren’t necessarily glazed, they’re just not… it’s as if he’s not considering what he’s seeing.”
“So he’s still thinking,” Matthew said.
“I assume so,” Mrs. Gleeson said. “I’ve always been told Brady’s a bright boy.”
“Does he go for walks?”
“No,” she replied. “He sits inside and watches television or listens to the radio, but he doesn’t act as if he’s enjoying it. He just sits all stiff. Now he’s staring at walls, I suppose.”
Mrs. Braden said, no longer bothering to hide that she was eavesdropping, “It’s almost as if he’s refusing to enjoy what God’s given him.”
Mrs. Gleeson snapped her fingers and pointed at Mrs. Braden. “It’s just that,” she agreed. “Why, just the other day I suggested he go for a walk outside, but he didn’t want to see outside, he said there was nothing outside that would make him happy, despite the fact that God’s giving him all these colours to look at.”
“At least he has the sound on the radio,” Mrs. Braden said. “There’s colour in music.”
“I suppose so,” Mrs. Gleeson replied. “And there’s colour in the wallpaper too.”
“Perhaps I should go speak to Brady alone, and you can enjoy a cup of tea with Mrs. Braden while I see what I can do. He may be more willing to open up if his mother’s ears aren’t around to hear him.”
“If you think that’s what’s best, Father, then I’ll sit right here with Mrs. Braden until you come back,” Mrs. Gleeson said, nodding determinedly.
Matthew softly smiled and replied, “And I will be back as soon as I can with news – good news, I hope.”
And with that, Matthew set off to walk to Mrs. Gleeson’s house. The walk seemed easier than the one from yesterday, and as he passed Mr. McCabe’s house, he saw Charlie bent over gardening. Matthew smiled, and when she spotted him, she waved. He returned it, thinking how they both must be making great progress without the sloth demons holding them down.
Matthew supposed he had been feeling rather helpless with his flock lately, and he did just want to sleep away his worries. But not anymore. He decided he knew how to solve everything now. Even if he couldn’t figure out Brady’s sin, he would likely be able to spot the demon and destroy it, leaving the boy safe and happy.
His brows furrowed. But what if another demon came to pick up Brady again?
He knocked on the door to the Gleeson household, and he heard a soft noise from inside, but he wasn’t sure if it was a welcoming noise or an unwelcoming one. He held his breath as he entered anyway, and he saw no one inside the main room.
“Hello?” Matthew asked, taking down the cross from the main hallway as he closed the door behind him. “Brady?”
He walked into the boy’s room, finding the blond sitting on his bed, fully clothed, and staring at the wall. Matthew opened his mouth to question the boy, but he saw a tall, thin demon standing in the corner. It looked like a shadow: dark, almost translucent, with elongated features. It could have been a part of the wall, maybe a shadow cast by a lamp.
But he saw small red eyes and bright white teeth gleaming at him. Matthew said, “I suppose I should be talking to you.”
The demon’s smile grew wider, the teeth seemingly splitting its face in half.
Matthew frowned and felt fear sitting in his ankles. Something told him to run, but he clenched his fist around the cross and held strong. “Do you even speak?”
Its hand reached out towards him, his long fingers peeling off the wall and arching in Matthew’s direction. Matthew stepped back, feeling a tight fear clench his spine, sending shockwaves of it through his body. He felt his hand shaking as the fingers drew closer to him – but the demon itself didn’t seem to move.
His heart pounded in his ears as the fingers touched the white of his clerical collar. “W-what are you?” Matthew asked.
He heard a soft whisper of a voice echo inside of his head: “Acedia…”
The demon’s smile did not change, its grin did not separate to speak. Matthew’s mouth went dry as his heart pressed against his chest. He saw his blue eyes reflected in the demon’s gleaming teeth, and he could see his wide-eyed fear through them.
The fingers tightened around Matthew’s collar.
Matthew’s eyes caught Brady blink. Matthew opened his mouth to speak, but he found a sudden weight press through his mouth and down his throat. His hands unclenched, dropping the cross as he grasped at his throat. For a moment he couldn’t breathe, and then the weight became a warmth spreading through him. He felt his body relax, his hands dropping to his sides.
Brady said, “Father Matthew?”
“Yes,” Matthew replied.
Brady gave Matthew an inquisitive glance. Matthew felt whispers rippling inside of him. His face stayed stony as he realized he absorbed Brady’s demon. Brady said, “Have you come to see me, Father?”
“Enjoy God’s gifts, my son,” Matthew said through clenched teeth. He felt his teeth ache as the words passed through them.
Brady nodded, his eyes still wide. “I will.”
As Matthew and the boy exchanged stares, Matthew wondered if the boy saw what happened. Matthew heard the youth heard and saw things that the elders didn’t, but perhaps the boy was already too old, or perhaps he simply never could.
“I will go fetch your mother,” Matthew said.
He fled from the house, clutching his stomach as the warmth shifted inside of him. Colour began vanishing from his sight – the grass turning from the rich green to an ashy grey in front of his eyes. He trudged forward, frowning. He asked himself what was happening to him.
“You understand what?” Matthew asked aloud, startling some birds from the tree beside him into the air.
“I understand,” the voice said again, “that you have been receiving joy from a gift that is not from your master.”
“I do not want it,” Matthew replied, feeling his head pound and his face burn. “And I am still enjoying the joys of God. I have not refused Him.”
“But you would,” the voice purred, “you would for your ungodly joy.”
“I have not,” Matthew said, walking again towards his home, “and I will not. I have given my life for Him.”
“You have given your day,” the voice said, “but who owns your nights?”
Matthew did not respond aloud, deciding he did not want anyone to see him muttering to himself. He took long determined steps, and he did not notice Charlie as he walked past her again. Matthew decided his Lord owned his nights. He couldn’t let Asmadai own his nights, he needed to keep his faith.
But for some reason his thoughts whirled to Asmadai. Asmadai’s form wasn’t consistent enough to recall specific physical traits aside from its bright yellow eyes, but he remembered its heat, and the feeling of its tail squirming inside of him.
He tried to suppress the images as he stepped into his house. “Your son should be fine, Mrs. Gleeson,” Matthew said.
Both women stood up, and Mrs. Braden said, “Are you quite all right, Father?”
“I just need a moment,” Matthew said. “Mrs. Gleeson, your son should be responding now. I think it was just a teenager phase to refuse the joys of God.”
Mrs. Gleeson smiled and said, “Thank you, Father, but are you sure you’re feeling well?”
“It’s the heat, I think,” Matthew replied. “Watch yourself when you’re out there. Mrs. Braden, perhaps you should give her a glass of water for her walk. I should feel better if I nap.”
Both women looked sceptical, their brows were raised as they exchanged glances, but Mrs. Gleeson thanked Matthew again and left with a glass of water, the ice tinkling as she walked down the path. Matthew turned to Mrs. Braden and said, “Forgive me, but I really must nap. I may talk a bit to myself, it’s just the heat.”
Mrs. Braden folded Matthew’s hands over a glass of water. She smiled as she replied, “Then I won’t check on you unless you specifically say my name.”
“You may want to listen to the radio,” Matthew sighed. The condensation from the glass crawled across his fingertips, and he felt disgust ripple through him.
Mrs. Braden frowned, but said, “All right. I’m sure I can find something on. You’ll shout loudly if you want me then?”
“I will,” Matthew replied.
“Then have your nap,” Mrs. Braden said, shooing him to his room. “Hopefully you’ll feel better when you awake.”
“I’m certain I will,” Matthew said. “Especially with you here.”
Matthew would have noticed a darkness cross her face, but the whispering warmth already turned him towards his room.
He entered and closed the door behind him. He saw Asmadai sprawled out on his bed, its spade tail swaying back and forth like a metronome. The heat surged through Matthew, it came so fast and strong he almost felt Asmadai’s tail inside of him. His pants began to tent, and he felt no shame nor surprise. “Now this is a demon I can work with,” Asmadai replied. “Come to me.”
Matthew stepped forward and began to mechanically unbuckle his belt. He stepped out of his trousers as he walked, and he felt Asmadai’s claws tear at either side of his undergarments to rip them off. The Demon’s thick, warm lips kissed the head of Matthew’s erection, and he took a handful of its thick, curly hair into his grip.
He bucked into the Demon’s mouth as it began to suck, its hot piercing crawling along the underside of his erection. He started a rhythm into Asmadai’s mouth, closing his eyes to relish in the sensation. He felt Asmadai’s hands loosely grip his thighs as its tongue continued to tease him, and it pushed its slick tail into his ass.
Clenching his teeth, Matthew suppressed the noises he wanted to make. Tightening his grip on Asmadai’s hair, he grabbed its horn with the other hand and started to increase his rhythm into Asmadai’s mouth, feeling it slide in and out of Asmadai’s throat. He felt the tail slide deeper into him before sliding almost out again. He felt his legs tense as Asmadai’s purple tongue lapped at what he started to spill.
He pulled out of Asmadai’s mouth, determined not to end things too early. He grabbed onto Asmadai to try to flip it over. It complied quickly, slowing down its tail’s rhythm into his ass. Matthew kneeled on the bed behind it, staring intently at the wall. Gritting his teeth, he grabbed onto Asmadai’s hips and pressed into the tight, slick opening between Asmadai’s legs.
Matthew began thrusting quickly into Asmadai, feeling Asmadai’s tail reach deeper inside of him every time he pressed deeper. He felt himself tense against the wide tail and he felt Asmadai’s opening tighten pleasingly around him. As he sloppily thrust into Asmadai, he let his hands crawl against it, pleased to find breasts for him to grope. He closed his eyes again, he felt the full breasts in his hands and the nipples between his fingers as he fucked Asmadai hard and fast. He heard himself panting, the tail sliding deep into him, the length of it teasing him. He could hear their skin rubbing against each other alongside his heavy breaths.
He grinded up against Asmadai’s ass as he realized he would go no deeper. He pulled back and tried slamming into it again, feeling the Demon’s tail do the same to him. He felt his legs weaken, but he tried again, tightening his grip on Asmadai’s breasts. A groan slipped between his clenched teeth, and when he slammed into Asmadai again, the force of Asmadai’s tail inside of him forced him to come with a moan.
Matthew pulled away from Asmadai, stretching out on his bed. Asmadai slid its finger between Matthew’s mouth and said, “Done so soon?”
Matthew sucked the finger for a moment, rubbing his thighs. Joy washed over him, and shame stayed away. Pulling the finger out, he said, “I can’t again so soon. Maybe later?” He kissed Asmadai’s finger.
Asmadai frowned. “Suck me off.”
Asmadai turned sideways to reveal an erection that Matthew knew wasn’t there before. He raised his eyes to look at the breasts and then back down to the Demon’s generous erection. “All right,” Matthew said.
Matthew licked the underside of Asmadai’s shaft, but Asmadai pulled at Matthew’s short hair, causing him to wince. Asmadai scowled at him. “Fight me,” he said.
“Why?” Matthew asked. “I want you here with me.”
Matthew tried to suck the erection again, but he found Asmadai pulled his head away by his hair. The pain caused his eyes to squeeze shut. Asmadai said into Matthew’s ear, “You fucking ruined my toy.”
A low whisper came from Matthew’s mouth: “Didn’t you like being fucked for once?”
“I want him to fuck me like he wants to.”
Matthew tried to speak, but the voice overtook him, “This is how he wants to, when all the shame and guilt that comes from his master’s ‘love’ is gone.”
“No,” Asmadai replied. “You don’t understand. He comes with the guilt and the shame. That’s who he is. Without that he’s an empty shell.”
Matthew found his cheeks burn at Asmadai’s words. He wasn’t sure it was intended as a compliment, but he took it as one. He felt flattered. But his mouth said, “Then you will have to find someone else too full of their master’s love to appreciate you. I like it here.”
A burning smell penetrated Matthew’s nostrils, and he felt fear shoot through him as he saw the cross in Asmadai’s hands. Something inside him tried to force him to squirm away, but Asmadai dug its nails into his shoulder to keep him steady. It pressed the cross onto his chest, and Matthew felt a yowl erupt from his mouth.
He felt as if something ripped at its insides while it was torn out of him. He felt pain and fear and loathing. He felt the warmth fade from his body as a heavy weight replaced it. He squeezed his eyes shut as the pain rippled through his body.
And then he only felt guilt and shame. Asmadai dropped the cross against his chest. Matthew felt his hoarse voice rub against his sore throat as he said, “Are you all right?”
“Fine,” Asmadai replied, frowning. “I’ll be back tomorrow, but don’t be stupid and let any pathetic demons possess you in the meantime. I already said I wanted you for myself.”
Matthew just nodded. Asmadai left, and he heard the sounds from the radio waft into the room. Thinking of Asmadai’s words made him smile. No one had ever said they wanted him like that before, with all the guilt and shame and God’s love that he came with.
He stood up and straightened himself out in the mirror, redressing himself.
Then he went out to have tea with Mrs. Braden.