To celebrate Halloween, Book View Cafe has become Demon View Cafe for a day. We’ve invited two demons – Archie, a sex demon slash bartender from Chicago, and Brian, a Vigilante Demon from London – to answer questions from readers.
When did you first realize you were a demon? And what kind of demon are you?
Brian:It was the horns – a bit of a giveaway. No, seriously, I’ve always known I was a demon. I was born in Hell – in one the upper circles with a good view over the Lake of Perpetual Misery. I went to Beelzebub Junior School. I studied Vengeance at Asteroth University. After that I worked as an apprentice Vigilante Demon for seven years, doing the small level stuff – visitations of boils, designer hemorrhoids, embarrassing tattoos – little things like that. It’s much more fun than traditional punishment – loads of scope for the creative mind – and it works. Why stick people in a prison cell or cut off their heads when you can show them the error of their ways … and have fun doing so. It’s Pavlovian conditioning for miscreants – you break the law, you break out. And I don’t mean from jail.
Archie: That structured stuff doesn’t work for me. I’m too much of a slacker.
Brian: It’s my Luciferan work ethic.
Archie: We have a word for you out here in the field. It’s called “Regular Army Clown.”
Brian: That’s three words. Clown, I like. And it’s always good to be regular.
Archie: Archie here. How I became a sex demon: about twenty-two hundred years ago I was avoiding working for my father’s shipping company by dragging out my education a few extra years. My tutor was a real go-getter. He convinced my father I was a genius. Every time I came up with some little do-hickey, my tutor would send copies of the drawings all over the world. Eventually he was selling them. And finally he was making so much money selling my ideas, he offered to buy my name outright. He’d give me a salary, I’d drink, meet girls and sleep ‘til two, and every now and then I’d roll over in bed and send him a drawing he could sell as the work of that genius “Archimedes.” Worked for both of us.
Then one day he sent me an RFP for a temple for the goddess Aphrodite, to be built in Syracuse.
Brian: What’s an RFP? Nothing rectal I hope?
Archie: Request for Proposal, you anally-arrested limey. Anyway, there was this wine festival in Cyprus, and, well, I blew it off. I guess he came up with something. Whatever. Aphrodite was pissed. She turned up in Cyprus — that’s her home town, you realize — lots of poor choices on my part — and she had the last word. Talk about creative justice or punishment or whatever. She wrote the book.
Brian: I’ve read it. That’s the one printed on vellum made from the skin of remaindered publishers, isn’t it?
Archie: I only wish. I’ve been in the sex demon business ever since. It doesn’t matter to me who I work for. If you have an ascetic religion that frowns on nooky, you gotta have sex demons.
Do you have demon superiors, punch a demon clock, or meet demon quotas? If not, what drives you to do your job?
Brian: I love my work. I’m freelance now so I have no master or quota. I usually work with a human medium – they find the spirits of murder victims and, together, we seek out the murderer and … have fun with them. I like to make the punishment fit the crime, and I love to take the murderer way outside their comfort zone.
Humor is my specialty. I don’t know about you but I find serial killers and gangsters lack a sense of humor. So I mess with their minds, do a little shapeshifting, conjure a little magic, and show them that ridicule is way mightier than the sword.
I’m the third arm of the Justice system – Law, Order and Vengeance with style.
Archie: At least you’ve gone freelance. Be your own boss!
My roommates and I have it worked out. Three of us have regular accounts with the Regional Office. The other two — well, one is actually in Voodoo, so he doesn’t even report to the same corporation.
Brian:I shared a room with one of the Voodoo crowd at a convention once. Terrible roommate – playing drums all night, sacrificing chambermaids. How do you put up with it?
Archie:You ignoramus, Voodoo isn’t even adjacent to the Judeo-Christian pyramid. Older by far. They don’t sacrifice chambermaids, just chickens. You must have hooked up with a suburban Satanist. They’re always making shit up.
Anyway we pool our data every month for one guy, scissors-paper-rock, and that guy gets to log all our scores on his report. He looks like a rock star, gets lots of bonus money—way more than the three of us would score if we filed normally. And if we don’t remember the girl’s name or what we did in the sack? We fake it! Those rocket scientists in the Regional Office don’t know or care.
Do you play well with other demons?
Brian:I play with everyone. Play is so much more fun than work.
Archie: Well, my four roommates and I get along. I fight with Veek a lot — he’s a son of Baron Samedi and he has fists like hammers, damn that guy can box — but it’s largely friendly. Baz is a supercilious fuck but I’ve known him almost a century. He was a Mesopotamian war god and a terrific cook. Occasionally Lido tries to poach on my women, which is to laugh—him I can punch. And Kama’s just like living with a puppy, he’s the most well-adjusted of the five of us, but he started life as a sex god.
Brian:Must have been hard for him.
Archie:It’s always hard for that bonemeister.
As for other demons, I never set eyes on my supervisor, thank hell. I think I went to a cocktail party at the big Y2K celebration between the Regional and Home Offices. Went home with the bartender.
What do you look like?
Brian: I’m a shapeshifter so I can look like anything I want – within reason. It’s difficult for me to squash myself into too small a shape or expand into anything much larger than a human male. I impersonated a teddy bear once when I was staking out a kid’s bedroom. My ‘resting’ shape in the human world is that of Brian Murphy, an instantly forgettable middle-aged Brit – ideal for blending into the background, as no one gives him a second look.
Archie: Shapeshifting! That must be awesome.
Brian: It is, but you’ve got to be careful as it takes a lot of magical energy. And you never know when you’re going to need as much energy as you can muster.
Archie: I can cast a glamour to make myself look different for a little while, but if the woman knows to look for the glamour, I’m screwed. My roomie Lido, who apparently studied Jewish magic in the 1700s, taught me a simple hypnotism thing I use when I’m in bed with someone.
Brian: Don’t they notice the large swinging pendulum?
Archie: That’s a new word for it. I thought I’d heard them all.
So now, any woman I sleep with, when she comes out of it, she thinks she just had sex with a svelte, blond bartender named Ben, not a scruffy, pug-ugly bartender named Archie. She’ll look right at me and ask when Ben is coming in to work.
How technological are you?
Archie: I like gadgets. Made a bundle on them when my tutor was ghost-pimping my drawings. I view technology as a means to an end, however. He was just a geek.
Brian:I have my iProd – it can play music and prod someone with 20,000 volts at the same time. Never leave home without it.
What do you think of mortal sex?
Brian:Is that like mortal kombat with larger paddles?
Archie: About the same as immortal sex, except when you go to bed with goddesses, you wake up a tree or a shark or some shit like that. I stick to the mortal kind, and I get as much as I possibly can.
What do you have to do to “pass” in the mortal world?
Archie: The big thing is, don’t sleep with any woman more than once. Twice, tops. But I keep it to once, because two things happen: one, I start to rub off on her, which is only natural. After all, applied magic is the shaping and direction of sexual energy, which everybody has, and sex with a sex demon—even a normal woman is gonna develop her powers pretty fast. Two, if I get attached to someone, Aphrodite may come after her. That woman’s cranky. Do you know she made a woman have sex with bears? And another one with her own father?
Brian: Sex with bears? I’ll have to remember that one. Being a shapeshifter I have no problem passing in the mortal world. And at Halloween and SF conventions, I don’t even have to shapeshift.
Picture the end of the world. Got that? Now, tell us what you are doing right now.
Archie: Duh, I’m in bed. Impending doom makes women insanely horny.
Brian: And I’m apologizing – I thought it was the other button I wasn’t supposed to press…
Will there ever be an “end of the world”? and why or why not?
Archie: I can’t speak for other administrations, but if it happens, mine will definitely not be the cause. I met an Accadian goddess who claimed that something is killing the big pyramidal hierarchies, sort of like what’s making bee colonies go away.
Brian: You have mites?
Archie: Terminal depression, is my guess. Ours is a double-pyramid—everything in the Regional Office is a mirror image of a layer in the Home Office, so the mess is duplicated. Do you know it used to take a purchase requisition with ten different-colored carbon copies to get a body mended at the Regional Office? And a purchase order with matching copies? All countersigned by demons who hate each other, so they delay approval as long as possible.
Then we went paperless in the eighties.
The Home Office went paperless in the nineties. ‘Nuf said.
Brian: The Seventh Circle went paperless after the first fire. Bubbling pools of lava and paper don’t mix well. And don’t talk to me about etching documents on human skin – one mole in the wrong place and everyone’s at war.
I don’t think it’s possible to have an “end of the world” – someone would take out an injunction to stop it and the Higher Dimensional courts are notoriously slow.
Have you ever met Lucifer?
Brian: I interned for him back in the Middle Ages when he was running Black Death Inc. Hell was expanding in the 1380s and he was opening a ninth circle – Traitor’s Basement – and needed more souls. So he opened an HMO in Venice and London – Pustules R Us – to treat the sick, and ran the incredibly successful ‘Beat the Plague, Buy A Lucky Black Rat’ ad campaign. It was so successful it won an award. As did the Black Death – Best Plague, Best Adaptation of a Plague, Best Director of a Plague. We harvested several million souls from Europe in 1349 alone.
Archie: Are you still bucking for promotion? Dude, he’s forgotten you exist.
Brian: I still get a card at Candlemass. Last year he sent me the Nativity one – the one at the stable with the baby antichrist slaughtering the three wise shepherds.
But that’s Lucifer for you – brilliant businessman, innovative, cruel, and generous too – if you want to sell your soul, no one offers better rates than Lucifer.
Archie: Big whiner. Ever since the sex goddesses began their big resurgence with the silent films, he’s been blogging and kvetching about women’s lib and chest-beating and “in the field.” Everything except running the store. I see his phosphors all over the news. He rocks an Armani suit.
What’s Hell like?
Brian: Hot. And getting hotter. When I was at Aleister Crowley College in Oxford, I did a thesis on Temperature Change in the Nine Circles and found there’d been a marked increase in temperature over the last hundred years. It’s all your fault of course – you humans – you increase your population willy-nilly with no thought about where all the souls are going to go.
Heaven’s having terrible trouble. The price of clouds has gone through the roof. According to Peter, he’s having to house souls twenty to a cloud now, and don’t even ask for a harp.
But, as usual, Hell has it worse. Inundated with souls we are – all of them wailing – and you wouldn’t believe how much CO² a soul can pump out when it’s wailing in everlasting torment. I suggested we reduce this by cutting down on the tormenting – have Tuesdays off – but have you ever tried to negotiate with the Guild of Soul Forkers?
The word compromise does not exist the Guild’s articles. We fork souls. It’s our right. Poke, poke, poke, poke, twist and cackle. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. If we don’t fork souls on a Tuesday, what would we do all day? Our life would have no forking meaning!
Archie: And have you seen their Work Safety handbook? Three feet thick.
Last time I was there the computers were the exact same ones we had in the eighties. Big beehive monitors, slowest CPUs ever, no upgrades, no support, and if you want steaming cat’s pee you have to bring it from home in a thermos. Every since the Regional CEO read the One Minute Manager, he spends more time maximizing the organization than he does building the customer base. Quality circles. Motivational exercises. Forking “team building.”
Can anyone become a demon or do you have to be born one?
Brian: They let anyone become a demon these days. We don’t like to talk about it, but demons have a very low birthrate. Maybe it’s evolution evening things out for the ultra long lifespans and immortality. Maybe it’s the fact that a lot of us are covered in green slime and warts. Whatever, the result is a very low birthrate. And if there’s a war – like the infamous War of the Pin where a tribe of demons tried to find out just how many angels you could really stick on the head of a pin – demon numbers can drop dramatically.
Which is why we have to turn so many humans. It’s either that or IVF.
Archie: All the sex demons I know are leftover gods. Wait, I lie. My roomie Lido ran away from a shtetl and got signed by an infernal Madam. And we picked up one war demon who contracted as a weedy pre-teen back in the Crusades. He fell out of a helicopter and we retrained him. Me, I practice birth control. I don’t get paid extra to knock ‘em up.
Thank you, Archie and Brian, have an evil day.
Archie is a Virgo, likes to monkey with machinery, and steer clear of vengeful goddesses. Read more about Archie in It’s Raining Men, the first of three paranormal romantic comedies in Jennifer Stevenson’s Slacker Demons series, due for release just after Christmas 2011.