It was a simple enough offer. We would usher in a new world, a paradise. The rest of the world would burn, though. Just we and our children would move into the new paradise. It wasn’t much to lose. We would see the end of the evils of this world and would be ushered into the new, more perfect world. Of course, it turned out to be far more work than we would have expected. It took us thirty years. Penny and Bob created the machine. Nancy and Greg created the vessel we would travel in. Kathy and Ron did the complex mathematics that would be needed. Julie and I prepared the magicks.
It was a mixture of magick and science that would all come together. Every year, we gathered to discuss our progress. The children were brought along but were not in the meeting. They ran around the house playing and getting to know each other. It became a family reunion for the families that would populate paradise.
When the night finally came, the children were brought into the laboratory where we had all brought our pieces together. Kathy and Ron entered the algorithms into the machine. Julie and I drew the pentagram on the floor. Nancy and Greg carried the vessel and put it in the middle of the pentagram. Penny and Bob started up the machine. We gathered the children and put them in the vessel. Everyone but Julie and I got into the vessel as well.
Julie and I spoke the words that summoned the heavenly creature with whom we had made the deal. As we hopped into the vessel and prepared to leave this earthly hell, everything changed. The creature turned from the angelic being we had made a deal with into what could best be described as a beast - red skin, cloven feet, bat’s wings, and yellow, sharp teeth. Its laugh echoed through the lab and sounded more a roar than a true laugh.
“Puny humans,” it said. “You have freed me from my prison and I will in turn free my brethren. This earth shall again be ours. No angels or gods will save humanity.”
Our eldest, Karina, jumped out of the vessel while all the rest of us froze. She stared down the demon and shouted out magic words that lived only in our spell books. We had kept those books hidden from her, or so we thought. The demon shrunk back for a moment. Then a whoosh of warm air hit her and the vessel behind her.
“You have some power,” the demon said. “but you cannot stop us. The only thing that will end this is the sacrifice of those who began this. You would not sacrifice your own parents.”
“Are you so sure of that?” she asked. She looked back at us with contempt in her eyes. “Mom, dad, we figured out what you were up to last year. We’ve been preparing to stop you.”
The other children distanced themselves from their parents. The youngest, only nine years old, was crying while she did it. She looked at her parents. “How could you? How could you be villains?” All of the children stepped out of the vessel and gathered behind our daughter, Karina.
When their pleas to their children failed, the other parents in the vessel began to shout and blame us. “Be quiet, you morons,” I shouted. “Your children are as much in on this as our daughter is. Notice that not one of them is in here with us anymore. Get out of the damned vessel now!”
We tried but the doors were sealed tight. “Carl took care of that,” said Karina. Penny and Bob’s son shook a piece of electronics at us – a remote device, most likely.
Karina looked at all of the other children and said, “Now.”
The machine began to make grinding and clanking sounds. The vessel shook. Karina walked around our pentagram, speaking magick words and throwing salt along the outline of it. The demon shouted “No!” but it was no use. Our little girl had become as great a magician as we were.
The demon disappeared from view and the ground under the vessel opened up and swallowed us up. It was a simple enough offer. We should have known it was too simple. We were betrayed twice – once by the angel and once by our children. We would burn in hell for that one simple offer.