Dawn Harshaw / Zombies VS Vampires VS Demons / Risk Vampiric Exorcism Or Die (short story)

Risk Vampiric Exorcism Or Die


Demonic religions make it easier to control the possessed on a mass scale. Such exertion, in turn, gives rise to more religions hoping to counterbalance the foul influence. Unfortunately, both distract the possessed from finding and building strength within.

When encountering a religion or a similar construct, ask yourself: what is its purpose?

- Dreamer's Handbook



"Who's next? Come in, don't be afraid," Merryn said.

A young woman peeked through the half-open door.

Merryn put on his least threatening smile, hiding his sharp canines. "Please, come. Close the door and have a seat." Establishing trust is always critical at this juncture.

The young woman looked around the bare room, and took a seat at the table across from Merryn. She was wearing only a simple hospital gown.

He spent a few moments sizing her up. No visible sickness, demonical malformation, or disturbance of mental and motorical functions. Fearful, but that's understandable. Under different circumstances, he would have found her attractive.

The girl endured the ordeal silently and with her eyes cast down.

Merryn reached for a pen, tapped it a few times against the table, and shuffled through the stack of files in front of him only to select a single one. When he felt he had her attention, he looked into her eyes and flashed the best heartfelt smile he could muster.

Trapped, the girl couldn't break away from Merryn's gaze.

"What is your name?" He already knew the answer, but it was a simple way to start a dialogue.

"Devon Lints, sir." She finally looked away.


"...of Shkazzrt, sir." A wave of anguish and pain washed over her as she articulated the guttural name.

Being called a mere 'sir' was a minor insult to Merryn's ego. "The proper address is 'advisor' or 'Lord Vaugr' - but please, call me Merryn. Given the difficult and intimate journey we're about to undertake together, I think a degree of familiarity is in order."

"Yes, Merryn," Devon said without emotion. "Thank you."

"Well then, let me be straight with you: although I'm the best at what I do, exorcism is an inherently risky thing. Are you sure you want to go through with it?"

She nodded. "Yes."

"You're ready to cease being Devon of Shkazzrt and start being Devon of Oakheart?" Merryn's pronunciation of the demon's name was more nuanced.

She smiled faintly and sighed. "Yes, of course."

He was interested in her manner of answering, and not so much in the answers themselves. Getting her to keep saying 'yes' had a two-fold purpose: it strengthened her resolve - crucial to the process - and at the same time, subconsciously accustomed her to receptiveness towards Merryn's suggestions.

Merryn laughed, a bit more forcefully than he should have, but the laugh did make Devon relax a little.

"Well, the good news is I see no obstacles standing in the way of the exorcism. You're a bright young woman with a future ahead of you, and Shkazzrt's claws didn't seem to have sunk deep. Shkazzrt is what we call a 'young' demon; he doesn't leave many hooks or traps in the mind. We'll build up your mental resilience and his influence will vanish." Merryn raised a hand to his heart, "I swear on my blood."

He repeated the demon's name intentionally, to see if his patient's mind focused more on the anguish of the past or the promise of a better future. Although she winced slightly at each mention - she doesn't know she's doing it - Devon's eyes regained a bit of a glow. That's a good sign.

"Thank you, thank you so much!"

Merryn briefly mirrored the smile before his expression turned serious. "Don't thank me yet. You do realize there are strings attached?"

She nodded.

"The fine people here at the Oakheart facility value performance above all else. If you do your tasks well, you'll be assigned greater responsibilities - they come with perks and access to more resources. Even though I'm an outsider, we have a mutually beneficial arrangement, and I trust they take care of their own even better." I single-handedly opened up a new pool of potential employees for them! Damn sure it's lucrative.

"Is it true they're all zombies? They didn't look like zombies to me."

Curiosity? Good. She's starting to open up.

Merryn nodded. "Most of them, yes. They keep it in check with proper Serum dosage. You'd do well to avoid the term 'zombie', though, it's a kind of a taboo here. Unless you're referring to the mindless horde guarding the outer perimeter of the facility, the preferred term is 'afflicted' - but it's best not to bring it up at all unless you have to."

The girl was processing the information in silence.

"Don't worry, you'll fit in. Before we proceed, let me tell you what will happen during the procedure." He paused to make sure he had her attention. "First, the techs will pump you full of drugs. This will happen in several stages."

The hopeful glint in her eye vanished, but she remained alert.

He dismissed her concern with a wave of hand. "The drugs are not overly dangerous as long as you keep your body free of them afterwards. My job comes next: with brainwashing techniques I'll wipe the demonic influence in your subconscious away, and with a process similar to assisted hypnosis I'll strengthen your ego to resist further incursion. Do you understand? I'll help mold your mind to resist the influence."

Her nod was very curt.

"There will be no surgically invasive procedures; nothing so barbaric. I'm telling you all this because your conscious mind and I have to be on the same side. You have to trust me." He reached out to clutch her hand over the table. "You know we vampires are ego-maniacs, right?"

She smirked.

"Well, our strong egos make us naturally resistant to demonic possession. The demons might seduce or corrupt us, but they can't easily possess us. I will help your ego become strong as ours are - area by area and layer by layer. I'm really good at what I do."

She was looking at Merryn with wide eyes, and he gently squeezed her hand before letting it go. "Tell me about your symptoms. What does Shkazzrt's grip on your mind feel like?"

She gulped. "There... there's always a throbbing pain in my head, like thorns stuck in a wound. Strange, but I don't feel it that much now."

"The lab is shielded from know irritants and reactants." He encouraged her to continue.

"...And sometimes I feel it looking at me, and I see horrible images - I try to look away but can't, not from all of it, and I'm scared... Sometimes I get angry for no reason, and do things I don't even remember. I just want it to stop!.. so I never have to feel this way again."

"Believe it or not, this is good news. The process will be straightforward, since your mind knows what belongs there and what doesn't. There's just one more very important decision you have to make..."

Merryn paused, and he had Devon's full attention.

"I expect the exorcism to be successful, however, there's always a chance of relapse. We haven't quite pinpointed what causes it, but it seems like a nasty variant of the Stockholm syndrome: a subconscious need develops which invites the same or another demon back in, bypassing the defenses."

"How much of a chance?"

"About thirty percent, give or take, depending if you count the milder cases."

Merryn continued before the look of terror and hopelessness could solidify on Devon's face. "However, there's a drug we could use called 'Serum'; you might remember me mentioning it before. Are you familiar with it?"

"I've heard of it. Expensive."

"The Serum causes a temporary increase in intelligence, and even hyper-intelligence in large enough doses. During the procedure you would be given such a large dose, effectively immunizing you against any kind of possession."

Devon bit her lip. "...But?"

"But, you would have to remain in the employ of the Oakheart Institute until your debt is paid off - we're talking years, at least. Also, you will remain addicted to Serum or its unrefined counterpart, leaving you... well... permanently 'afflicted'. A small, daily dose will keep you functional and mostly symptomless. It's a tough decision, I know. Would you like some time to think about it? Of course, you don't have to go through with the exorcism at all, but those touched by Shkazzrt don't have a long life expectancy."

Devon remained silent for several minutes, and Merryn waited patiently.

Finally, she looked up. "No, I don't need time," she said with resolve. "Let's do it, give me the Serum! I want this fucker forever out of my mind."

Merryn smiled contently and nodded. He extended his hand as he stood up, "Please, follow me this way."

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Dawn Harshaw / Zombies VS Vampires VS Demons / Risk Vampiric Exorcism Or Die (short story)