Christina Rosso

f i c t i o n

The Place Where You Let The Devil In

 

The devil is a dog scratching at your door in the middle of the night. At two, three, four am. That’s when he’s his strongest and you weakest. He sits tall, hoping for a treat. Or a bone. He licks his jowls; he likes the jerking feeling of bones cracking in his mouth. He extends his uneven claws and scrapes them against the door like nails on a chalkboard, itching, gnawing at the splinters of the wood. When at first you don’t respond, as many do not, fearful of what goes bump in the night, of what breathes and brews evil plans in the shadowy cloak of darkness, the devil begins to whimper. A low, shrill cry that cracks even the thinnest, coldest hearts. It’s the reason humans go to a baby when it cries. It is built into our DNA, this vulnerability for helpless sounding creatures.

 

I assure you the devil is anything but.

 

If his puppy tears don’t get you, he’ll begin to scratch at the door once again, this time along with the high-pitched cries. The piercing whimper and the occasional whiny howl, a new layer of manipulation, will drive a stake through the chambers of your heart. Which is precisely what the devilish dog desires. He craves your meaty organs, your soft pink flesh, your never been broken bones, your unblemished soul.

 

If his tricks lure you to the bedroom door, convince you to turn the metal lock with a click, and peel open the creaking door, he’ll grin, hungry and eager for a taste of you. Are you salty or sweet? Tangy or tender? His green forked tongue flicks from his mouth as he imagines his first bite.

 

You don’t see this of course. Instead of a slimy green tongue split in two at the end, you see a long, cotton candy pink tongue dripping slobber. A face with large golden brown eyes, black folded velveteen ears, and a black twitching pebbled nose gazes up at you, sweetly and expectant. Waiting for your cue. You are the beast’s master, after all. Aren’t you?

 

If you would only lean closer,  prick your ears up a little more, becoming aware of the noise between the beats of silence and panting, you would hear the faint white noise spewing hyena laughter, predicting sinister things to come. You are so screwed, and you’d know it if you paid a little more attention.

 

It is when you reach out your hand and rest it on the black dog’s soft head and begin to pat it, stroking its fur, that it begins to bare its teeth. You don’t notice though. Instead, you say, “It’s okay, boy,” and continue petting the devil. You don’t even look to see it’s male, but you’re tired and the dog being a boy makes sense to you. You yawn, your jaw cranking open, exposing fillings like freckles along the bottom of your teeth. You turn and walk back towards your bed. The dog waits where you left him in the bedroom doorway. Like vampires and other creatures of the night, the devil cannot cross the threshold until you invite him to. You turn to face the dog and then pat the bed twice. “Come here, boy,” you say.

 

The dog reveals all his teeth now, dark yellow with rot, gleaming with saliva and anticipation. His mouth drops open and he lets out a howl. The kind that makes your clavicle and rib cage jump. You press your left hand to your chest, over your heart, instinctively.

 

If only your instincts had been sharper sooner.

 

The dog bounds towards you before you can blink, all muscle and adrenalin and hunger. Its tongue hangs from its mouth, jumping up and down as though it’s in a bouncy house. You see a bright flash of green before you feel the teeth dive into the flesh of your side. Then you feel the claws slice into your hip and shoulder. You are done for. Helpless. There’s no saving you now.

 

You wave goodbye to your soul, seeing the devil suck it out of your butchered raw pink belly with its forked tongue as though it's blowing up the world’s largest balloon for a party. You’re right about one thing. Your meat and bones are the perfect appetizers for the devil’s soul-sucking party. He doesn’t thank you though, the rodent. Just feeds on you, taking what he wants like so many others have, and leaving you drained, exposed, a mess on your own bed.

He is gone without a sound. You look down at your body, scrambled. There is nothing to be done but wait for death to come. You lie back and stare ahead at the empty darkness where the doorway is. It’s open and mocking you. Reminding you that this is the place where you let the devil in.

Christina Rosso is a red-headed siren living in South Philadelphia with her bearded husband and two rescue pups. Her work has been featured in Twisted Sister Lit Mag, MookyChick, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, and more. For more information, please visit https://christinarosso.wordpress.com/ or find her on Twitter @Rosso_Christina.

© 2018 by Azia Archer

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