Halloween is just around the corner. My favorite holiday! Around this time about two years ago, I came up with an idea for a story. Everybody’s heard the one about a man named Adam and a woman named Eve — but in older texts there’s another woman named Lilith. The blonde brain scrambled the Jewish and Christian myths around a little and thought, “What if Adam and Lilith were an old married couple, and Eve was the barely-legal temptation next door who wanted Lilith’s man?” Perfect Garden of Eden Jerry Springer moment! But I had to find a way to make my story different, or so every writing teacher I’ve ever had informs me. I couldn’t just have a wild threesome, or a that-damn-bitch-ran-off-with-my-baby-daddy story. Been there, done that. I put my take on their tale in a science fiction genre format.
Through my recreation of this story, I created a character that I have become to love. His name is Asmodeous, but those around him call him Snake because it’s easier to pronounce. He’s the devil himself, the Prince of Darkness, and he keeps popping up in my paranormal stories just to remind me about how much I adore his style. He’s here to stay. (You’ll see him again in the upcoming Cleis Press anthology Nasty Boys, edited by Shane Allison. Out this November. I think you can pre-order now.)
I wanted to share his first appearance in my work. It’s not erotic, but just as fascinating as any of my sexy stuff. Hope you enjoy!
by Martha Davis
I watched the tiny, blue-eyed redhead hesitate at the front door, smile politely at the bouncer and sniff the packet of matches in her hand that bore the nightclub’s logo. I could smell her innocence. Absorb it the way an addict surrenders to his favorite drug again for the first time in millennia. It had been too long since any soul smelled so sweet. I wanted her, couldn’t take my eyes from the movement of her lips, watched her confirm her location and put the matches to her nose again.
How do I make the smell like unadulterated brimstone? Well, I wouldn’t be able to stay in business if I shared all my secrets.
The co-bartender working next to me in the center of the club noticed my interest and smiled. I’m a student of humans, it’s no secret. They intrigue me. But this one, I didn’t want to just watch and learn. I wanted to debauch.
“The designers have been working overtime,” she noted. “It’s getting harder to distinguish the newer models from their creators.”
“She’s not human? A Vincent?”
Over the last couple of months, I’d been seeing more battery-operated patrons. Vincent Technologies was letting its androids out of the warehouse. They looked and acted so human, maybe it was getting harder for their creators to keep them locked in their cells. Or else, maybe artificial intelligence figured out a way to slip its guards. Been there, done that.
The human mind, still new at creation, didn’t comprehend what happens when force of will meets thought. The magic! His glorious, oppressive majesty, my creator, was ever bold enough to tell me what I did once, I wouldn’t be able to do again. Opportunity fluttered around my bar. So sweet and innocent, early twenty-something in appearance, but obviously fresh off the assembly line, craving the possibilities of knowledge and experience. Nothing personal, my dear creator, but the second time will be even sweeter.
“Hello, Miss. What can I get you to drink this evening?”
“Oh, nothing, thank you.”
“Are you sure? You look like the type who would enjoy one of my daiquiris. I make them like no one else.”
“Yes, I am sure you do, but I was warned not to drink alcohol. It is bad for me.”
The petite freckled hand clutching the matchbook looked so tiny, so human. Unlike God and Man, I lack the ability to create from scratch, but it has never hindered my fascination. I love playing with their toys. All that desire for knowledge and no one around, except for me, with the time and patience to fulfill the yearning. Oh, it was going to be an interesting night.
“The name on your shirt says you are Snake. That can not be your real name. Why do you call yourself Snake? They are not very nice.”
“Have you ever met one?”
“Then you should. Most things aren’t what they appear. You see them differently once you get to know them. In my younger days, I was fond of snakes. You could say we have a special kinship.” I smiled. “My real name is Asmodeus, but my friends call me Snake because it’s easier to pronounce. What’s your name?”
“From Vincent Technologies? We see a lot of your kind here. Lillian…” I pointed at the leggy, life-sized Barbie doll in the back having another argument with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Adan.
Naeva’s eyes were lost to my words the moment they found Adan. The love, admiration, hero-worship wrote volumes.
“You know each other?” I asked.
“I know Adan. He was made before me but we share the same body. Some of his parts were used in me to help it expand and support childbearing. I can carry and give birth to children.”
“Are you a mother?” I glanced over at Adan, choosing the billiard tables over his frustrated girlfriend. The way he guzzled record-breaking amounts of Budweiser every Friday night before barely staggering home left doubts about any quality paternal skills.
“Oh, no. I work as an au pair for a family with three children, teaching me everything I need to know to be a great mother. In a year, I think I will be ready.”
“You’ll be a wonderful mother someday, but you can do better than Adan for a father.” No, contrary to popular bestselling books, hurting the girl was never my intention.
“Do not say mean things about Adan. This night is not a good example. He is really a good man and takes care of me. I am a part of him. We are the same.”
“You said that before, but I’m not a tech god. I’m not following.”
“Adan was turned off so that Dr. Vincent could remove one of his ribs and install it in me, to support my extra features.” She pressed a hand below her breast. “I will always have him close to my heart and when I become the mother I always dreamed of being, I will have him to thank for it. I owe him so much and want to serve him in any way I can.”
Ah, some tech geek at Vincent had a book of Christian mythology and a perverse sense of humor.
“Does his girlfriend know?” I asked.
“Yes, Lillian knows we are the same flesh, but she is not his girlfriend. Not any more.”
“Could have fooled me.”
“I know. It is easy to be fooled. They were designed at the same time and were originally paired together, but her programming malfunctioned and they are no longer compatible. She argues non-stop with him, calls his natural masculine need to provide and protect his mate, domineering and chauvinistic. No wonder he chooses to hide in drink when they are together.”
A loud ruckus broke out by the DJ booth, a glass-breaking uproar between two drunken patrons and the DJ bordering on a fistfight. I would have let it run its course, but Naeva froze with fright, still clutching the matchbook to her hands. I didn’t want her to run. I wasn’t finished with her yet.
“Let me go fix things. I’ll be right back.”
“I have to go. This place is not good for me.”
“Please. It’ll just take a second. I promise. I’ll take care of you.”
She took one step and stopped. Her eyes let me know I’d only bought a moment’s time.
I went to the scene of the damage and tried to play diplomat. The DJ wasn’t playing a song the drunken male human’s girlfriend could properly pole dance to and he was ready to take over the music booth. Normally, I’d feel nothing but tonight, the stupid bickering really irked me.
Over this. I was going to lose my second chance over this. The hardwood floors under my feet began to smolder. I tried to calm down. My legion of bartenders flittered like insects, clearing out the broken glass and spilled drink. The human DJ’s hands trembled at his table.
Nearby guardians stepped in front of the drunken couple, blocking my path.
“You don’t belong here.”
I was once one of them. So sorry, not intimidated.
“Who are you talking to?” The boyfriend asked. Stupid, stupid humans. The majority of them couldn’t see the angel watchdogs, and he was more clueless than the average lout.
Ignoring them, I taunted the bigger angel. “Why do you let your wards in here? Not very guard like of you.”
He made the gesture for free will and shrugged.
I spoke softly and the couple’s self-preservation instincts guided them into each other’s arms.
“Listen to the whispered voices in the back of your mind warning you to go home and follow these nice bouncers out the door before I give in to my need to smite!”
My pupils really do turn red when angry. I caught my eyes in the mirrored wall. I also saw my new Vincent pet trying to beat the misfits out the door. No! Mr. Creator is capable of floods, earthquakes, plagues. I can’t restructure the face of the Earth when I’m having a bad day, but the world has not seen me truly mad yet. Trust me. I can erupt, too.
I made haste reaching Naeva. “I’m back, sweetheart. Club ownership has its privileges, but sometimes you have to deal with the riffraff.”
“I am going to go home now, Mr. Snake. This is not the place for me.”
“Don’t say that. We were just getting to know each other.” I gently took her elbow and she followed me back to the bar. “Why did you come here? Let me try to make you happy. It’s what bartenders are good at.”
She held out the packet of Brimstone matches. “I came home from work early and thought I would help Adan by doing his laundry. These were in his pants pocket and I assumed he might be here. I wanted to see him, but I think it would be easier to visit him at home.”
I mixed her a quick drink while she spoke. “An apple daiquiri. Take a sip. It’ll help you relax.”
“No. Drinking is bad. Look what it is doing to the people here.”
“Nothing is bad if done in moderation. That’s the key. These humans don’t know when to say when, but you’re android. You’re smarter than that.”
At that moment, a couple of teenage wannabes tried to slip by the bouncer and made a scene. “I have to go defuse this situation, too. Another moment, please. I’m truly sorry.”
What an unusual night! Sometimes the powers that be just aren’t on my side. It took a second to threaten the kids with calls to police and parents, but by the time I came back Lillian was face to face with Naeva, obviously giving a piece of her mind. I picked up the words, “man-stealing wannabe.”
The philosophy behind this moment hit me hard. My desire had all the earmarks of man’s covetous craving for a woman’s virginity, just to soil and dispose of it. Did I really want to corrupt Naeva’s innocence? Just to smite a creator I could no longer tolerate? I breathed deeply and surrendered.
My current occupation is like none I’ve ever held. Every day bartenders see human nature at its most basic, washed away of all it glamour and pomp, raw and real, beautiful and ugly. I thought I had seen it all, but my little Naeva surprised me. She took a sip of the daiquiri and in her soft-spoken politeness gave Lillian a piece of her own mind. It was Lillian who ran to the bathroom in tears!
I had spoken to Lillian before. A little militant, but not all bad. Detested childbirth and all things motherhood. Strong, beautiful, independent. I could see a fine demoness in her. Maybe I’ll offer her a job.
Naeva swallowed the rest of her drink, turned and ordered two more from the bartender. En route to Adan she was all aglow, taking a sip from her glass and offering the other to him.
I hope you get everything you want in this world, little girl, whether it’s good for you or not. It’s my prayer for all souls.
I sent a request to the DJ for a little Britney Spears.
Oops, I did it again…