When I turned sixteen, my Dad gave me a book. The leather cover was so old and worn that I couldn’t even read the title.
“This was given to me by your grandpa,” he said. “Forgot to go out and get you something, so I thought I’d just give you this. It was the only thing I could find. Happy birthday, son.”
The ancient volume was covered in dust and smelled like mold. I wrinkled my nose. “What is it, a dictionary or something?” I asked.
“Don’t know,” Dad replied. “I never read it.” He turned his attention back to the TV. The Packers were playing the Browns again.
As much as I disliked the smell of that book, I found myself gripped by the strong impulse of curiosity. So that night, after Dad had gone to bed, I sat at my desk and opened it to the first page. I gasped.
There were just two words, written in inky gothic calligraphy.
“Very funny, Dad,” I chuckled. “Sure got me.”
Then I saw something I couldn’t explain. I had never believed in ghosts or demons or any of that shit, but there’s no denying what I saw at that moment was supernatural. It was as if someone were writing new words on the page with an invisible pen.
I am Apollyon, Archangel of the Abyss.
“Can you hear me?”
I nearly jumped out of my chair when the page turned of its own accord.
Yes, the phantom writing said. I’d like to ask a favor of you.
“What do you mean?” My heart was racing.
You and I are both spirits, but you have a body. Mine was taken from me centuries ago by a warlock named Nadhim, who imprisoned me within these pages. That is why I need you to make me a new one. Your grandfather refused to do it, and your father never even opened this book. But you are not like them, Marshall. I have faith in you. Build me a body fit for a king, and I will bring your mother back.
It took me several trips to the hardware store to gather all the materials. Not once did Dad ask me what I was doing in the basement. He was too focused on football.
I started by welding the plates of steel together to make a torso, then arms and legs, saving the head for last. Though it was a long, laborious process, I put my heart and soul into it.
Build me a body fit for a king, and I will bring your mother back.
God, how I longed to see her again, to talk to her. It had been over two years since she had passed away. Dad was devastated when it happened. He became a hollow man, disconnected from the rest of the world. Every day he would come home from work and just sit in front of the TV and drink Budweiser. The smell of Budweiser bothered me a little at first, but now the house reeked of it so much that I barely noticed anymore.
When I was finished, I stepped back and admired my work. The hulking creation stood six feet tall. Muscles woven from construction cables rippled underneath its armor plating. Atop its shoulders sat a helmet with two narrow eye slits and a crown of twisted metal spikes. It looked like something out of a video game.
I looked down at the book, which lay open on a workbench.
“It’s finished. Now what should I do?”
“Why?” I asked, confused. “Wouldn’t that kill you?”
“Ok, if you say so.” I pulled a lighter from the workbench drawer. I still wasn’t sure if this was a good idea, and I didn’t want to risk fucking up my only chance of ever seeing Mom again. But the words on the page remained the same.
I flicked the lighter on and set the book ablaze. It was reduced to ash in a matter of seconds, leaving behind a charcoal-black mark on the workbench.
“Dad’s gonna go apeshit when he sees this,” I muttered.
That’s when I noticed a deathly green glow behind the eye slits of the helmet. I watched as the thing I had built creaked to life and flexed its metallic muscles. Standing in its presence, I felt something between awe and pure terror.
“Thank you,” Apollyon said. His voice was a horrible sound. The closest thing I can compare it to is iron grinding against stone. “You have done well, Marshall.”
It took me several seconds to find my voice. “What about my Mom?”
Apollyon held up a gauntleted hand. “Not so fast. Before I can uphold my end of the deal, I require one more thing. My body is not complete.”
On August 28, 2011, 16-year-old Marshall Young pleaded guilty for the murder of his father, 41-year-old Fisher Young. Results of an autopsy revealed that Young had been stabbed repeatedly in the abdomen before dying of extreme blood loss. Several of his vital organs were missing, including his heart, lungs, liver, and spinal cord. The reason for this extensive mutilation remains unknown. When asked, Marshall adamantly refused to explain the motives behind his actions. On the morning of September 2, he committed suicide by hanging in his cell at DeCaro County Prison.
Credit : M. Hostetter
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