‘I wonder why we think demons hate us so much?’ JJ was talking to herself on her way to meet her pal H0lli for a night out. She was prone to conversations with herself as she liked to ponder the weird thoughts that troubled her brain – without upsetting or freaking out those around her. ‘I think maybe they’re just misunderstood or victims of bad PR thanks to religious types?’ She stopped short, realising that an elderly couple were looking at her oddly as she approached the bar in Neo-Soho where she was going to get royally drunk.
H0lli was in a bad way. ‘Oh God, this is it,’ she thought. ‘I’m not going to make it… And I really was almost getting used to the fact that I was going to make it to 30.’ She lay badly crushed and bleeding whilst her assailant did everything possible to snuff out her life. This is the year 2242 and things are grimmer than ever in all sorts of ways.
Richh was in love; Christii was absolutely perfect. Her body curved in the most incredible way, her ‘come on and experience me’ looks were backed up by her performance too. The evolution of Artificially Intelligent Vehicles had surely absolutely reached its zenith in this drivable goddess – and he had to have her. The BHP ‘Fury’ Roadster was a glistening red, her fenders and retro-styled body fins were incredible, whilst her lights shone with a demonic glow, dazzling white rimmed with a red UV. He hadn’t quibbled over the price; the salesbot couldn’t believe it hadn’t even had to engage its barter-mode.
H0lli’s evening had started well enough, after work drinks at the ‘My Bad Karma Flashback’ MBKF, enjoying some time with her kooky best friend, JJ, whose tales of mischief were always legendary. As two attractive females alone, they played the usual game of fending off the series of advances from various creeps in the bar. The ratio was currently 4 males to 1 female who had approached them. The duo accepted free drinks but gave no encouragement, enjoying their power over those looking to potentially score with them. JJ was tempted by the girl, but the two had agreed to employ their ‘not tonight code’ which was unbreakable.
Having the Jcook Offenders Register Hack in their HeadChips meant that they could immediately identify men who had been charged of a sexual crime. Above the heads of anyone flagged as a danger to women floated a warning flashing red cock – and they had no idea. Dr McKeowwns, known as the ‘Mother of Chips’, was the one who invented the JOR Hack, which made sense as she had driven the development of the HeadChip itself. The integrated assessor nanochip already monitored a person’s emotional state, as well as holding the records of their currency assets and medical records, so criminality was surprisingly easy to add. The floating phallus was her own idea, and it never ceased to make her smile when she saw one in a crowd, especially when floating over the head of a church leader or politician.
Richh had taken Christii out for a spin on his way to the MBKF. One of the best features of having a vehicle, in this age when teleporting via STREAM was commonplace, was that you could collapse into it and let it drive you home in comfort. It also helped when dressed up in a full fancy dress rig that it gave him confidence to approach females he might not otherwise have the guts to. But it was difficult to drive well, so he let Christii chauffeur him to the bar, enjoying the sights and sounds of L2 nightlife passing by.
Cut to the interior of the MBKF, and Richh is trying really hard to impress the girls. They were humouring him for a while (the fact he was wearing a fully bio-fused personality altering suit, which gave him the outward appearance of a fox, complete with animatronic ears and a hydraulic tail that would pop up and waggle amusingly during his conversation) bought him some time. He had proclaimed that they both must be some kind of deities as they had stolen his heart, whilst buying them several Bmelts in the hope that he might get to at least kiss them…
Having randoms profess sudden love to them wasn’t entirely new for H0lli and JJ. They often reminisced about one guy named Brrookes, who had cheekily asked if JJ ‘and/or’ H0lli would like to go back to his penthouse to experience ‘incredible carnal pleasure’. ‘I wonder how good he would have been,’ JJ chipped in. ‘Probably all mouth, but he was kinda sexy. I imagine he might have been kinky. Got to admit, it’s been a while since I’ve had my nipples bitten.’
Christii wasn’t happy. She had picked Richh from a long line of possible human suitors; she thought he was perfect. Cute with a strong jawline, a good head of hair and a cheeky smile – after over a thousand centuries of anguished existence, this mortal was the one for her, she was sure. It’s not every day that an ageless demonic entity takes residence in a human-made machine, even one designed to host a hugely advanced A.I. sentience. But from the second that Christii had ‘accidentally’ backed into a toddler in the car showroom, wheelspinning on the child’s head and causing the most horrific scene, it was rumoured that she was cursed.
Richh had no idea that his shiny new A.I. vehicle was host to an evil beyond the understanding of humankind. Or that the unholy entity ‘ZE0-Baal’ had become obsessed with him to the point that it would no longer allow any other person to take his affections.
A matter of hours later, H0lli was lying broken and trapped under the wreckage of Richh’s BHP Fury Roadster. Everything hurt, at least every bit of her that she could still feel. She was freaking out that she couldn’t feel her left leg. This unsavoury predicament was the result of the currently ‘near-fatal’ accident, but the witnesses around would testify that the self-driving car accelerated and hit H0lli without any attempt to swerve or avoid her…
H0lli was hovering near the brink of death as her internal organs struggled to deal with the shock trauma of being crushed under the A.I. sports vehicle. She wasn’t ready for the car to start talking to her.
‘You can’t have him,’ boomed Christii’s sync voice. ‘He’s mine. We are destined to spend eternity together, whilst every other mortal dies!’ H0lli didn’t know what the hell the car was speaking about but, as chance would have it, she had studied ancient culture records of primitive demonology. And so by all the fates, she actually had heard of ZE0-Baal in the Assyro-Babylonian Mythology class on her theological university course.
ZE0-Baal was recorded as being a demi-deity whose name translated as ‘the Lord who boils with anger’. Whatever it was, she was one of the demons who took it personally when the creator made humankind (from dust and breathed life into him). Bitterness, anger, rancour, and hate on an untold scale coursed through this demonic being for who – before finding Richh – every single living and breathing human was an afront to her. She liked hiding inside and using the form of Christii, though; the tech-enhanced vehicle proved to be a useful vessel for her unholy machinations.
Now Christii was enjoying herself, she could feel the life-force draining from this harlot who had tried to ensnare her Richh. She could wield molecular command over the nu-metal chassis of the Fury Roadster, and was currently working the exhaust port into the abdomen of this ‘H0lli’. As the pathetic human writhed in agony, Christii fired up her engine and shot scorching fumes into the stomach of her human victim, making it explode with a gratifying splatter of flesh.
Cleric20 was having a great night. It was his birthday, and various pals had come out with him to celebrate. Even his bodyguard robot companion GiX seemed to be in the mood to party (which was rare as he was a reconditioned ‘GodBot’, who generally frowned on his master’s dubious high jinks).
At the point that H0lli’s stomach exploded, Cleric20 and GiX – along with his drinking buddies Brrookes, Source, and LDavies – all STREAM-ed into the road outside MBKF. Before they realised what was happening, they got liberally coated with gore and body parts. H0lli’s scream was her last conscious action as she found herself catapulted into an immersive visionary experience of shadowy figures and muted voices, interspersed with bouts of blinding luminescence. H0lli’s consciousness was fading already, but the exhaust assault shut her body (what was left of it, anyway) down.
It seemed as if the very cosmos was opening its arms as the cool trace of infinity spread through her nervous system – a timeless panoply that dissolves all rational thought, replacing it with a fear-coated consideration of death. An overwhelming conviction that she could leave her pain-wrought body and take off into some astral plane arises in her mind, this comforting escape-fantasy becoming a more fundamental reality with every breath. In her mind’s eye she could feel horrific horned creatures reaching for her, eagerly wanting to drag her to the pits of Hell.
Demons don’t play fair, and Christii was actually summoning her sub-demonic minions to tear H0lli’s soul from her failing body. Around Cleric20 and his gore-drenched pals, shadowy misshapen figures were emerging from all sides. ‘Am I having a bad trip?’ asked Cleric20 as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing / what he’d been covered in. GiX, as always, was fastest to react and without hesitating threw a containment field around H0lli, grabbing her from the reassembling wreckage of Christii. He hailed a STREAM and threw H0lli into it, beaming her to the nearby L2 emergency centre named ‘Our Saviours’.
As Christii howled in rage at the escape of her victim’s soul, the demonic minions rushed at the group of pals in a mass of claws and teeth. ‘What the actual farrgggghhhhhhh,’ shouted Brrookes as a demon bit into his arm. Drunk and unarmed as the human contingent were, it fell to GiX to take the fight to the hell-spawned creatures. His illegal military hardware upgrades were about to pay off, and before the demons could kill any of the group he had unleashed a volley of Smashbullets, having coated them in the last emergency drops of holy water stashed in the reservoir from his GodBot days. Christii couldn’t believe what she was seeing as her allies went down, spewing black clouds of their very essence. The small robot seemed more trouble than it was worth, and so she accelerated away from the group, screeching around the corner – unfortunately at the same time as Richh was dashing out to see what all the screaming was about.
He was pulped under Christii’s wheels, much like the unfortunate toddler in her showroom ‘accident’. His head snapped off and bounced into the path of Cleric20, who instinctively booted it away, sending it through an open window into an apartment where it landed in the lap of a couple making out on their couch.
‘NOOOOOOOOOOO,’ screamed Christii as her chosen human’s life blinked out. She couldn’t take it. Existence was so unfair.
JJ met Cleric20 and crew having just come out of the restroom and missing all the drama. They explained as best they could and she STREAM-ed to go check on whether H0lli would make it.
Christii disappeared that evening and was not seen again.