One of my husband’s New Year’s resolutions was to write a short story a month. He’s not a romance novel writer, but he did write the story taking place in the same world as all my novels do, so I had to share it.
Of Rats and Crystals (Part 1)
“The thing about demons that feed on fear is they need their victims to be afraid,” said the rat. “If they went ahead and killed you, you wouldn’t be afraid of them anymore, see? That’s no good for them.”
“I see. And why are you telling me this?” Veronika pursed her lips as she paced the floor of the spiked iron cage, suspended by a web of chains, over a pit of sulfuric acid. The rat was unaware that Veronika was a vampire.
“Don’t you see?” The rat seemed quite concerned. “By not taking them seriously enough to fear them, they’ve got no reason to keep you alive!”
Veronika gave an exasperated sigh. “Oh no,” she said as sarcastically as she could, hoping the rat would pick up on it. “That means they’ll kill me. Eek. Whatever shall I do? Oh, wait. Now that I’m afraid, they’ll spare me. Whew. That’s a relief. Oh no. Now I’ve gone and realized I don’t need to be afraid. I’m doomed. And so on, and so on, ad nauseam. Maybe what they really feed on is the frustration of circular decision loops, and that’s why they claim to feed on fear.”
The rat blinked at her. “Sorry. You’ve lost me.”
Veronika sighed. You could enchant a rat to imbue it with the power of speech, she reflected, but that didn’t mean it was smart.
Veronika had read a number of things about demons and was jaded enough to figure that most of it was disinformation written and published by demons themselves. The same way she sometimes ran across vampire-hunters who tried to use garlic against her. That one never got old.
Of course, there were many different kinds of demons just like there were many different kinds of fish. One could say “fish are poisonous”. Was that True? Or False? Neither. It was too general. “Demons feed on fear” was a statement in the same category, Veronika figured. For all she knew a demon was lurking somewhere siphoning her fear into its gullet right now. Maybe that’s why she didn’t feel terrified ot being kept in a cage over a pit of acid.
Well, if that were true, it sure made it easier to keep calm while trying to think of a solution.
“Look, Mr. Talking Rat. What did you say your name was?”
The rat reared up on his hind legs. His face took on the most serious expression that was possible for a rat-face to have.
“I am Plague-Emperor Skitterclaw, God-King of all rats and faithful servant to the Goddess of Pestilence.”
Oh no, thought Veronika, not another one.