Thanks to u/PolicyBroker for the prompt
It couldn’t believe its luck. Centuries ago, the last time it had escaped the shadow dimension it came from, it had used priests to find suitable hosts, following them for months, sometimes years until they led it to what it wanted.
The poor, naïve mortals thought that a relative was possessed. The priest would go to perform an exorcism. The torment and suffering they inflicted upon their own kind and the sweet irony of the monster hunters becoming the monsters – mmm, it groaned with pleasure remembering how that dark, fruity chaos tasted. The pain was what let it into their souls.
Possession, ha. Those arrogant human clerics had no idea of the true meaning.
This modern world was different, though, it could tell. It didn’t understand time, had no concept of the year and the noisy human millennium celebrations made no sense to it. But it could tell, on a molecular level, that the world had changed. The superstition and fear of the supernatural were muted, crushed by the weight of industry, science and technology. The city was clean and square and well-lit.
It was scared.
It slinked aimlessly through gutters and alleys in the dead of night, its smoke-and-shadow form unseen by ignorant mortal eyes. It trudged through the urban sprawl of shops, out past industrial estates full of dirty trucks and stinking of petrol, out into suburbs where the doors and window-frames were made of cheap, greying plastic and front gardens lay in brown neglect, filled with broken toys and empty bottles.
It was here that it found the church. It couldn’t read the sign outside and it didn’t recognise the squat, pebbledash box with the corrugated roof. But it recognised the cross. Big and crude, stuck into the patch of yellow grass behind the broken front gate.
A red glow was just sneaking over the horizon, so it found a place to hide behind some bins, watching the church, clinging to the sense of familiarity, the deep and unchanged power of the God they worshipped inside.
It watched the people scurry in and out all day, and at dusk, it watched the priest step out and lock the front doors behind him. The small, grey-haired man adjusted his scarf, covering his priest’s collar, and rubbed his hands together. His breath steamed in the chill night air as he set off away from the church. It followed, curious.
And it could hardly believe its luck when the priest led him to the bedroom of sickly child. She was perfect. White skin, pale blonde hair and a frilly pink night dress that made her look like a Victorian doll. Not that it knew what a Victorian doll was.
Pain and suffering; it could smell them here. And who would suspect a poor, sick little girl? The priest spoke to her parents in hushed tones while it slid under the bed and pushed itself up and through the mattress.
Its excitement rose as it neared her clammy skin and smelt the sweet, rotten fragrance of disease sweating from her pores with the fever. It pushed towards the disease and towards the girl reaching out with tendril fingers for her poor little doomed soul.
It sank into her, feeling that familiar rush of pouring into a fresh host, corrupting every cell and every space between. But then it felt itself pulled back, as if it had been hooked around its middle and it became aware of a corporeal form – but not the little girl’s. It had been forced into a form it had not chosen.
Something cold and hard closed around its new neck, new eyes glowed yellow but could not yet see, blinded by the sudden light. It tried to move its arms and scratch blindly in defence but it found itself shackled, heard the tell-tale rattle of chains.
‘Anseth,’ whispered a smoky, serpentine voice – a feminine voice.
Anseth, yes it remembered. That was the name it had gone by. Anseth thinks he was male.
‘You used to be a God, and look at you now. Tricked. Shackled. Mine.’
Shapes, blurry shapes, started to appear as his vision adjusted. His new tongue felt dry and thick as he struggled to form an ancient language, forgotten by all but the oldest demons.
‘How?’ was all Anseth managed.
‘You.’ Anseth could see enough now to recognise the tall, spindly creature before him. Something like a woman, a praying mantis and a spider rolled into one. It – she – nodded.
‘Puppets. Husks. Controlled by my most loyal subjects. As you will be soon.’
Anseth realised then that the fear he had smelled on the girl had not been a mortal fear. It was so strong and so mouth-wateringly tempting because it had been the fear of his own kind. Shadow creatures and fire demons and bone wraiths and every other evil lurking in the unknown. He had been blinded by his hunger.
‘How many?’ he asked.
‘Thousands,’ said the insect woman, gleefully. ‘My reign shall be eternal, and my kingdom shall be Chaos. Now kneel, Anseth. Bow to your queen.’
Anseth felt an iron will, stronger and harder than the irons around his neck and wrists, bearing down on his neck, commanding him to kneel. He found that he did indeed have knees and he knelt.
‘And what a fine little puppet you shall make.’