The demon snapped its long, sinewy fingers and at once they were transported. They found themself in a circle, drawn with orange chalk. Lazy, they thought. They must have used one of those big chunky chalk pieces meant for children. How utterly disrespectful.
The demon stared at the people before them. Someone gasped. The demon frowned and crossed their arms. “You rang?” They said with a voice that was a blend of a thousand voices. The people before them were trembling, but an older, plain looking woman stepped forward, lips quivering as she spoke.
“Please help us. Our daughter is dying.” The demon looked down. A baby lay in a carrier, swaddled in a flowery blanket, sound asleep. The demon met the woman’s eyes.
“You want me to save this child?” The demon sniffed. “This child is perfectly healthy.”
“Not her,” the woman said, her lips were steady now. “Our daughter Lily is three years old, dying from a rare form of cancer.” Tears fell from the plain woman’s eyes.
The demon glanced at the baby at their feet once more. “You mean to trade one child’s life for another?”
“Yes,” the woman said. “Lily has suffered too long. Please, please heal her.” The demon hated it when they begged.
“It is done,” the demon said with the wave of a hand.
“What?” The woman asked in disbelief, “just like that?”
“Just like that,” the demon said, feeling the tension in the room dissipate. The people around the circle, their faces melting together before the ancient creature, seemed to relax.
“Would you grant me one more favor?” the woman asked. The demon rolled their eyes.
“Speak. I don’t have all day.”
“Take our memories away. I don’t want to remember this. I don’t want to remember giving up my baby,” the tears fell freely from her eyes, and she wiped them away with the back of her sleeve.
“No,” the demon said. “I have cured your child and owe you nothing more. To forget this would not be a proper punishment for giving one life for another- Actually,” the demon contemplated for a moment, “Ah yes, that’s perfect,” they said to no one. “You will be the only one whose memories remain. Everyone around you will forget, but you alone will have to live with the knowledge that you traded one child away to save the other. And your precious Lily will grow up feeling resentment toward you. She will never know why, but it will be ever present. And you will never be able to tell her the truth.”
“No!” the woman shouted, “Please!”
The demon smiled, “Goodbye now,” they said as they snapped their sinewy fingers once more and disappeared, baby in tow.
The demon stood before a pale blue door. The child sacrificed in the summoning would not grow up, at least, not with those people who would so easily give their life away. Beyond the door was an orphanage. Not ideal, but a step up from being sacrificed to a demon. The demon stared down at the baby who was now stirring in their arms. The demon couldn’t help but smile as the baby woke and stared up at them. The child did not cry. Instead, she reached up with a chubby little hand as if to touch the demon’s cheek.
“Don’t do that,” said the demon, “You’ll only make this harder for me.” The child giggled. The demon placed the baby back in her carrier in front of the door to the orphanage, and the child began to cry. Her arms reached for the demon, but they shook their head. “I’m sorry,” the demon whispered. The baby cried and cried as the demon turned away.
The child continued wailing, and the demon continued striding away. The demon shook their head once more. You fucking idiot, they thought as they snapped their fingers and disappeared. The carrier before the door had disappeared too.