This story is by G.T. Clarke and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The demon Pazuzu (Statuette, Assyrian, Bronze, 1000BC) skipped lightly down the hallway humming to himself. The child would be here somewhere, he knew it. He had spent much of his remaining power to draw it here this night. The hour was fast approaching when that power would be returned a hundredfold and he would live again. Trapped for so long in the tiny statuette it would be a welcome change. Pazuzu himself had created this vessel form and imbued a substantial portion of his essence as a contingency. He did not know what had happened to his previous incarnation. Did it matter? He would visit his revenge on all once he succeeded.
Pazuzu had delayed his triumph tonight so he could stop to laugh at his wife Lamashtu (Plaque, Mesopotamia, Bronze, 1000BC), trapped as she was, she could not move. She screamed at him nightly, not much change from when she lived then. He had laughed even harder tonight as he skipped away from her in a rare good mood. Humbaba (Plaque, Iran, Terracotta, 1500BC), his brother, was not so lucky either, having only a head, there was little power in him. Taunting him provided only a modicum of entertainment, he did not respond.
The other denizens of the structure he largely ignored, some were bigger, more powerful, others ignorant or trapped by the vagaries of their creation. Pazuzu considered all to be lesser beings, only infused with the essence of the talent of their creators. There were few others within these walls that moved as freely as he. This vessel form was a rarity, an intelligent self-created reliquary of his own true essence. He knew of no others. The statues that could move, gathered around sources of power, such as the Smiling Lady (Mona Lisa, oil on poplar, circa 1500AD), ignorant of why they were drawn there. They bumped and jostled against the barrier until the approaching dawn sent them back to their places like automata. Others, such as the Winged Lady (Winged Victory, Samothrace, Marble, 190BC), stalked the halls with ghostly appendages, seeking whatever righteous cause they had been created to commemorate. Pazuzu avoided this one with care. The power emanating from her was colossal and continually enhanced by the worship she saw every day from the chattel who came to stare in awe. He should have been the object of their worship.
Other powerful objects existed throughout the structure though Pazuzu had not bothered trying to extract their essence to feed his own. Extraction took a certain amount of power, power he could not spare. It had taken him time to absorb enough power to move about. He had awoken only recently and discovered the source of his newfound life, limited as it was.
The chattel had actually built a monument of power, albeit they had done so accidentally. A pyramid now stood over the entryway of the structure, gaining power during the day and slowly releasing it at night. The fools had not directed the power to any purpose. Daily they passed to and fro beneath it, unaware of the potential so close at hand. The unfocused energy dissipated throughout the structure, mingling with the objects, empowering them with a life commensurate with the innate power of their creation. Pazuzu considered this as he tripped along, having put his plan into action as soon as he realised the source of power available to him.
Then he heard the mewling of the child he had summoned. Expending the power to influence the parents to return here and leave unaware of their child’s absence had been costly but necessary. It was only the child’s innocence and unstructured mind that would allow him to ensnare it for his own.
The child wandered aimlessly, sniffling in its fear. How degrading he thought, it did not deserve the life it had been awarded. He would be a far better master of the child’s body, a vessel he needed in order to be free again. As the child came around the corner he dropped to the floor squeaking “Pazuzu, Pazuzu” as he fell. The child was at first wary but then, growing curious, advanced on this new toy. It picked up Pazuzu’s form and clutched it close, a safety blanket for its fear. Muffled against the child’s clothing Pazuzu smiled and sighed “Pazuzu” as he leaned the child towards the power source and its fate. Its body pulsed with the power of its innocence, something that would fade in a few years, right now it was ripe for his purpose.
As they approached the area below the pyramid, he could feel the power being drawn down to the ground and focused through the stone Obelisk (Manishtusu Obelisk, Akkadia, Diorite, 2200BC). Earlier he had moved it to the exact position required to receive the power of the pyramid. To his eyes it glowed with power, to any mortal it would just be a dark stone standing idly beneath the Greater Pyramid above. The power was then focused along a line towards the other folly of the builders, an inverted pyramid with a small stone pyramidion beneath it. The inverted pyramid drew no power, the fools had placed it upside down in some childish imitation of the Greater Pyramid. With the Obelisk in place, it had taken little effort to imbue the pyramidion with some of his essence and draw the power of the pyramid along the line between the two, harnessing the collected power within the pyramidion.
Pazuzu was a genius compared to these mortals. They had devices that harnessed the power of lightning though it ran weakly through their creations. It was nothing compared to the essence of creation imbued within this vessel form. They appeared to have lost that knowledge in the time he slept, however long that had been.
The child tottered past the Obelisk and along the line of power towards the pyramidion. It would not be long now Pazuzu thought as he exulted in his imminent resurrection. For a moment the only sound was the padding of the child’s feet as it sauntered under his direction.
Suddenly, he could hear the greater thread of feet behind him, stone on stone was unmistakable. Something large was coming. Pazuzu enlarged himself in the child’s arms, it barely noticed, it was so completely under his control. Behind he could see the monstrous Winged Lady vault over the mortal barrier and move down towards the Obelisk. It held a sword (Le Joyeuse, France, Steel, 1200AD) in its ethereal hand that shone brightly with power. He urged the child onwards, to little effect. The monster caught up with them just as he reached the pyramidion. Pazuzu slipped from the child’s grasp, growing in size as he fell. As he touched the floor, he pushed the child behind him and raised a shield of essence. The monsters sword bounced off his shield and rebounded, draining much of his shields power. He tapped into the stream of power emanating from the Obelisk and reinforced himself.
“What are you doing monster? This is none of your concern!”
The winged monstrosity looked as though it was shouting something but its head was an ethereal construction and voiced no sound. Its sword came down again on his shield, shattering it in a coruscation of released essence. Pazuzu drew yet more power to recreate his shield. He had always had a strong defence against other essence driven vessels though this was an utter waste. The Winged Lady stood and pointed at him down the length of the sword. No, not at him, behind him!
He glanced back only to see the moonlight reflected off the stone blade (Dagger from Gebel el-Arak, Egypt, Flint, 3000BC) in the child’s hand. Already it was arcing towards his back, an unnatural grinning rictus on the child’s face. There was no time to create a new shield. The dagger plunged into him, driven into the bronze of his vessel form with the aid of the line of power he himself had created. The child twisted the blade and his vessel form broke in two, the pieces falling to the floor. As Pazuzu screamed his last, the child laughed.
“Pazuzu you fool, your hubris has undone you. I Belphegor will live again and this world will tremble!”
As Pazuzu lay there, his essence draining away, he watched Belphegor absorb the last of the stored power of the pyramid to shield himself. Pushing the Winged Lady back along the line of power, he strode, childlike, after it. The Lady finally turned and retreated to its sanctuary within the walls of the building. With one last glance back at Pazuzu, Belphegor grinned and cried out “Mama!”