Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #982312
Chris Toth finds a demon in Hungary.
| FEATURED in the DRAMA NL dated: 25 JAN 2012|
It was overcast when the half-full plane landed in Budapest. The clouds were dark gray and hinted of rain over Central Europe. As Chris Toth looked out the window, he was immediately struck by the somber dreariness which seemed to loom over the Hungarian capital.
What a change from Paris! He had flown from New York City to Paris, changing planes in the French capital to a smaller one, which would take him to his final destination, here in the Hungarian plains. He arrived in Paris at 7:30 a.m. The sky was bright, the air was clean, and the airport was neat. He had a cup of fresh coffee in the terminal before getting on the sooty covered Hungarian jet. A slight chill descended over him, as he walked into the 737 and he felt as if he wouldn’t see bright sunlight again.
The somber plane taxied to the gate and Chris was surprised to discover the terminal only had two gates. One was in use and the other was under construction. Airport workers, dressed in dull colors, quickly ran out onto the tarmac with old-fashioned elevated stairs to unload the passengers. Chris tried to hide his surprise as he descended the stairs, surrounded by a complacent crowd who acted as if descending the stairs were normal in air travel.
Chris looked around, eager to survey his temporary home. The air hinted at a growing autumn chill and it didn’t smell as crisp and clean as the French atmosphere he’d sampled during his layover. Glancing around, he felt as if he’d traveled back into time, to a place that didn’t have a lot of amenities, where the people were quiet, the mood was nocturnal, and where superstitions could easily come to life.
It was September 1991, and only recently the Iron Curtain had been lifted over Central Europe. Chris had grown up in the affluent Westchester County, a suburb of New York City. He had lived a privileged life going to the best schools and receiving an Ivy League education. He had a master’s in engineering and worked for a well-known transportation company. He excelled in building bridges and roads.
Recently, the Hungarian government had contacted his world-renowned firm. The Hungarian Department of Transportation and Infrastructure was desperate to modernize and Chris eagerly volunteered his talent. He would be in Budapest a month, working with the Hungarian government to develop a plan to help them improve their highways and roads.
His shock did not go away as he walked into the shadowy terminal. It was run down and understaffed. All the walls were painted in a dark, charcoal gray color. Then he realized the crowd around him was dressed in dusky brown, gray, and black trench coats. Why was everything and everyone so dreary?
It took about twenty minutes to pass through customs. All his paperwork was in order and he was easily accepted into the odd, unfamiliar country.
Realizing he was incredibly thirsty and physically hot, he stopped at a wooden, makeshift service cart and bought a bottle of water.
Chris had volunteered for this assignment. While a wealthy family had raised him, they were childless and had adopted him. His parents were generous and loving, but didn’t speak much about the circumstances of his adoption. All he knew from them was that he was born in Hungary. Growing up, he did his best to learn everything he could about the country of his birth. He was fascinated with all things Hungarian so there was no way he could pass up this opportunity of a lifetime. Still, he was stunned to discover how eerie the country appeared even after a year the borders were opened to the West.
He lazily sipped his water as he strolled into the main passenger terminal, looking for a liaison promised to help him get situated in his new country. While he’d studied about Hungary, he was not familiar with the language.
Chris was of average height for a man, just less than six feet. He had thick, course, brown hair, contrasted by light brown eyes. So light, they appeared to glow when direct sunlight filtered into them. Women often told him that his eyes were so unusual they were his sexiest feature.
He was slender with a runner’s body, and despite the fact he was slim, he was strong. His muscles were very sinewy and firm.
His eyes darted between the crowds and he spied an attractive woman holding up a card with his name. He chuckled to himself, realizing the surprises weren’t going to stop. He didn’t expect the government to send him a woman to be his liaison, and she was a very pretty one at that.
Before approaching her, he studied the exotic looking woman, drinking in her features like savoring a fine wine. She was tall and statuesque and he guessed her height to be around five-eight. Her long, thick, sandy brown hair fell in waves down past her shoulders. She had curves in all the right places. She wore a simple, yet professional blazer and skirt combo with an off-white shirt.
He was surprised to see such brightness in the middle of her otherwise drab attire. For a second it made him think of The Lord of the Rings and how the author purposely used light and darkness to contrast good and evil. This woman was filled with goodness and a touch of darkness. His thoughts escaped him as he noticed the bright shirt. It covered her voluptuous tits which were begging to be exposed.
He continued to study her. She wore a woman’s raincoat, unbuttoned, that reminded him of the threatening storm clouds on the horizon. He detected the scent in the air had also changed upon his arrival. It had gotten – dirtier.
Aside from the fact he found the strange woman gorgeous, what really struck him was the fact they shared the same unusual brown eyes. He realized he wanted to get her into bed, yet something seemed sinful and dirty about the thought. After all, it was too much of coincidence for them to have the same eyes.
He drew in a breath for courage and approached the hauntingly attractive woman.
“Hi,” he said confidently, “I’m Chris Toth.”
She quietly smiled and put down the sign. “I am Lilike Békés, but everyone calls me Lilly. I will be your government liaison,” she pleasantly said, as her eyes danced over his features, drinking him in. If she noticed his unusual eyes, she didn’t immediately say anything.
Chris followed, drawn to her by some unexplainable pull, wondering if she found him attractive as well.
“You speak English well,” he remarked, breaking the eerie quiet between them.
She laughed. “The government gave me a grant to go to England to learn the language. When the borders opened, they figured English would be the new international language to learn.”
“They were right,” he simply replied, noting her demeanor, pleasant yet distant. Trust was not easily given.
They entered the baggage area to collect his luggage and Lilly finally studied her new man. She did find him good-looking, but she wasn’t interested in any type of off the job relationship. Her personal life was all ready filled with strife. It was best to keep things professional with him, she thought. Anxious to get her confusing thoughts out of her head, she struck up the conversation again.
“Hungary knows it is behind the modernized West. We are looking forward to improving our small country. A lot of my friends are learning English to help out,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to assisting in any way I can,” he crisply added, as his eyes darted over the bags of luggage coming in.
She flashed him a warm smile. He appeared eager to start his task. That’s what they needed here, a sense of eagerness and even pride. But why was he so excited to be here? Curiosity was eating at her now.
“Toth is a Hungarian name,” she pointed out.
“I grew up in America, but I’m Hungarian,” he easily replied, cutting himself off as he saw his bags. He collected them and they proceeded to her car. She followed after him as they walked outside. A slight smile crossed her face. No wonder why he came. He’s Hungarian. He made more sense to her now.
Again, Chris was taken aback as they approached her car. It was a dark, drab green color with two doors and it was very non-descript. There was barely room for them in the front seat. His heavy luggage filled up the back seat area.
“Are all the cars so small?” asked Chris, as Lilly pulled out of the parking lot.
“Well, the Germans are building an Opel dealership in Budapest,” she said proudly.
Chris shrugged his shoulders. He had heard of Mercedes and BMW but not Opel.
“Okay, what’s next?” he asked.
“I am taking you to meet the Minster of Transportation. His name is Lazlo Andras. He speaks only Hungarian so I will translate. In fact, we’ll be working a lot together,” she explained, as she drove toward downtown.
Chris politely nodded his head as he glanced out of the dirty car window, hoping to spy a meaningful glance of the Hungarian capital. Budapest was exotic, filled with odd-shaped buildings and almost Gothic designs, all covered in a not so attractive layer of soot. The air was dirty and damp. The sky seemed unreasonably close, as if one could physically reach out and touch it.
He quickly turned back to look at her. “Good. Especially since I don’t speak Hungarian.”
“It is a hard language to learn, but I’ll teach you some simple stuff,” she replied, glancing at him as she pulled into the cobblestone parking lot. “You’re staring at me.”
“I’m sorry. I guess I am. It’s just that your eyes…”
“Are similar to yours? I wouldn’t make anything out of it,” she said, nonchalantly. She never paid attention to anyone’s eyes. She had discovered early in life that most eyes revealed a dark, scary window into one’s soul and she had no desire to go into those haunting places that spooked her.
Before Chris could reply, the formable government building was upon them. He followed her inside, his curiosity about her growing by the minute.
He slyly looked at his watch as he followed after Lilly and discovered it was late in the afternoon. Lilly stopped to talk to a neat, well dressed man in the hallway. He handed her a note and she visibly sighed as she appeared to read it. The small man said something in a sad tone of voice and walked away. Before Chris could ask her about the memo, she quickly led him into a nearby office and he abruptly found himself face to face with his Hungarian boss.
The meeting was quick, but Chris was impressed with the affable, quick-witted man. Lazlo was eager to learn and start, encouraging Chris to get a good night’s sleep before starting his demanding work tomorrow. Chris promised him he would, and his part of the meeting was over.
Lilly continued to converse in Hungarian with Lazlo before leaving. Chris studied the conversation and realized that Lazlo was expressing sympathy to her.
As they left, she moved briskly and with purpose to the car.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“My father is drunk again. I’m sorry; I have to stop by his house first to check on him. He’s old and not well,” she explained.
“I’m sorry,” he said, happy to oblige her. He could only imagine her hardship.
“Your mother can’t help?” he asked, as they got in the car, Chris probing her for information.
“My mother passed away when I was born. My father raised me. He’s always had a tendency to drink, but lately he’s gotten a lot worse. This past month, all he’s done is drink himself into a stupor every day. And…” she hesitated.
Lilly seemed to drive with a bit more urgency. He noticed she was going away from the downtown area, up toward the hills.
“And muttering about some curse that has to be fulfilled by the harvest moon,” she replied, as if she doubted what she was saying.
“It’s crazy,” she replied, stopping at a red light at the bottom of a steep incline. Chris noted the hills sneakily crept up on them just like everything else seemed to creep up on him.
“What’s so crazy about this curse?” he inquired.
The light turned green and Chris felt the small, weighed down car slowly struggle to make it’s way up the elevation.
“My father claims in order to save me, as I was being born, he sacrificed the soul of his first born child to a devil named Mephistopheles. Supposedly, in the thirtieth year of this curse, Mephistopheles is coming to collect what he’s owned. My father claims this devil want his payment by the harvest moon, which is in a couple of nights,” confided Lilly. “Thank God the people at work think it’s the ravings of a drunk.”
Chris tried not to laugh. Then he tried not to feel pity for her. How sad - a smart, attractive woman had to deal with the ugliness of her embarrassing father.
There were no such things as devils and curses.
“I thought you would laugh at such foolishness,” she said, intently studying her companion, unsure of what to make of his nonchalant reaction.
“I didn’t want to be rude.”
“So…do you believe in curses and devils?” she asked, as her car came to the top of the hill. She pulled into a dirty, unkempt driveway. Chris felt his stomach wrench at the foul odor coming from the dark, foreboding house. He made a face and then noticed Lilly did not. She must be use to the pungent stink emitting from the fragile looking door.
“Ah, no, I don’t believe in curses, but I do think there’s a supernatural element in our lives,” he swallowed, as he made a face, unable to hide his physical disgust, “Does your father live here?”
“Yes. I don’t. I have an apartment downtown, so I’m closer to work. It wasn’t like this until recently. The cleaning crews I’ve hired won’t even come out here anymore. I don’t blame them.”
Chris pursed his lips together. The building looked and smelled like Hell!
She parked the car and bravely got out, heading toward the door. Reluctantly, Chris followed.
“Why do you believe in the supernatural?” She asked, curious as to his reply. She had been very interested about him since the moment they’d met. She desired to learn what made this unusual Hungarian, raised American, tick.
“I’ve always had these freaky dreams since I was a kid. A woman dressed in a simple, brown dress comes to me. She doesn’t tell me, but I know she’s my mother. She died giving birth to me. She’s trying to watch over me and protect me. She tells me things that will happen and then strangely, what she says comes true, but I don’t realize it until the moment the event happens. She told me not to come to Hungary,” he added, in a rush of air from his lungs. “But I blew her off this time. I wanted to see the country of my birth.”
Lilly froze in her tracks on the disgusting, trash-littered porch.
“This woman – does she have thick, wavy hair, and a birthmark on her wrist?” She asked rather excitedly.
“Yeah! Yeah! You’ve seen her?” he cried. This was too much of a coincidence!
Lilly held out her arm and pulled back the sleeves of her coat, revealing her wrist and it’s familiar birthmark.
“Yes,” she replied, turning her head up to face him, drinking every contour, every facet of his face. Her eyes grew narrow. It was impossible!
“Do you see the same woman in your dreams?” pushed Chris, spying the telltale birthmark! The birthmark Lilly shared with her mother! He grabbed her wrist and pulled the visibly shaken woman into his chest.
“She’s my mother!” hissed Lilly.
Chris pushed her away and stepped back, shaken by this development.
“That’s impossible!” he said, barely above a whisper.
“Oh, I agree,” she replied, but her eyes blazed with confusion. What dreams she had, never lied, and her father’s eerie behavior only seemed to confirm their spooky discovery.
Both their heads turned at the deep, male voice which had summed her.
“Lilly! Go away!”
Lilly took a deep breath for courage and marched inside. Chris bravely followed her, horrified by the things he had in common with the attractive Hungarian woman.
The house seemed more like a dungeon, designed to keep its miserable prisoner inside. For Lilly, its transformation had been quick, over a matter of days. Her father sat in a dilapidated chair in front of a TV. The volume was low and it seemed to drown on.
Her father was tall and slender. He looked very gaunt, hollow, as if he hadn’t eaten anything of substance in a couple of days. He wore a long sleeved shirt and blue jeans. It was obvious he hadn’t changed in days. He continued to sit in his chair, as he slowly turned his head toward his daughter and Chris. His eyes were barely alive.
“Go away,” he said firmly, to her.
Lilly just sighed.
Chris turned away from the disgusting man and studied the dimly lit room. The shades were drawn, the rug was dirty, and a bookcase next to the TV seemed to reflect hues of red, orange, and yellow from the hallway.
“Father! You look terrible! You need to take a bath!” Lilly said in Hungarian. Her voice was a mix of disgust and sadness. She approached him and took his hands in hers. “I’ll help you,” she added.
Her father’s stare rested on Chris and Chris felt repulsed. He brought up his wrist to his mouth and wiped his mouth as if trying to take the foul taste out of it.
Lilly froze and glanced at her father, to Chris, back to her father.
“What?” whispered Chris, as a sudden chill passed over him. Then a sudden sensation of heat and flames seemed to touch his skin.
“Didn’t you hear that? He spoke in English! He doesn’t know English!” cried Lilly. She jerked her hand away, afraid.
“I taught him.”
An eerie, haunting male voice purred as a shadowy figure stepped into the room from the red tainted hallway. He was tall, muscular, his hair was jet black, down to his shoulders and his eyes were also black. He wore an old-fashioned suit and the unusual man reminded Chris of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula.
“Who are you?” she whispered.
“Your father didn’t tell you? I’m the devil,” he chuckled, “A devil here to collect his due. I assure you, I’ll leave with someone’s unwilling soul tonight.” His voice was smooth, yet firm.
Lilly backed away from her half-cognizant father and found Chris’s arms. Naturally, he wrapped them around her, wanting to protect the beautiful woman.
The unnatural demon seemed to float into the room.
“You’re confused, naturally. Oh, I assure you, I’m the devil, Mephistopheles, returned to take what’s mine.”
He hovered over Luka Békés and placed his hands on the shoulders of the half-aware man.
“You can’t be real! That’s only a Hungarian folk tale!” muttered Lilly, as she clung to Chris.
The devil deviously smiled. “An old one, yes. So old, the only ones who remembered it were the ancient books drawn up by your ancestors. Your father searched high and low for such a book until he found one. You see, his wife was having twins and it was a difficult time for her. She was due and the babies were breach. Sadly, your country didn’t benefit from the same medical advances as the West. The doctors weren’t as skilled and your father didn’t trust Soviet science to save his family. He turned to me. He found the right herbs, incense, made sure the night’s conditions were right, and spoke the incantation which would bring me into this world and to him.” Mephistopheles words purred with cocky resolve.
Chris swallowed, daring to speak his dangerous, disturbing thoughts that had only recently come to haunt him. “It can’t be true! Lilly and I can’t be twins! We’ve only just met!”
Mephistopheles’s deep laugh penetrated the foul smelling room.
“Shut up!” cried Lilly, disturbed by the revelation as well.
“Oh, Mr. Toth, you’re a smart one, aren’t you? I couldn’t care less how you’ve figured it out, but yes, you are twins – born safely due to my interference.”
Chris made a face. This devil was crazy!
Luka Békés turned to his children, his eyes still alive and he tried to gain his wits. “Mephistopheles, you took my wife…!”
Like a pouty boy who had seemingly explained himself a hundred times, he put his hands on his hips, “I did no such thing! The doctors took your wife! Incompetents! They would have killed your twins if not for me! Trust me, your wife’s soul doesn’t belong to me!”
Lilly had enough. This was absurd! She was a rational woman with a rational mind and a worldly experience due to her time in England. Superstitions like this simply did not exist!
“You aren’t taking anything from this house. You’re just a gifted magician trying to extort money from a man who has none!” She cried.
“I am owed the soul of Luka’s first born, foolish woman and I will take what is mine! I don’t get souls like this every day now,” he arrogantly purred, as he walked up to Lilly and put his hot fingertips on her cheeks. She flinched, repulsed by his touch. Chris gagged at the scent of sulfur in the air.
“The question is…who is the first born? You? Or…your brother?” Mephistopheles deliciously laughed.
Chris drew in a deep breath for courage, as he turned Lilly toward him. “I am the first born! Why else would I be hidden from you – unknown to you all these years? It’s my soul that devil wants!”
He barely had time to comprehend his life’s events. Everything he’d ever known was a lie – he wasn’t supposed to live like that – in luxury, spoiled by money – only he was, to keep Mephistopheles from discovering him. He realized his mother’s soul didn’t belong to the demanding devil after all. If it had, he would have never seen her in his brilliant white dreams.
“No!” Lilly retorted, disgusted at the thought, repulsed by the lies her father told her about their family.
“Yes, Christopher, it’s your soul that’s owed to me,” the devil smoothly confirmed. “Now move, Lilly so I may take what’s mine.”
Luka stood up, more alert, as if whatever drug had been administrated to him had worn off and stumbled toward the spooky devil. “You lied! You took my wife from me! You promised to save her!”
Mephistopheles quickly turned around, his back to Lilly and Chris. “I promised to try! Your wife’s soul was not mine to take, so I didn’t!”
His voice bellowed throughout the house and it caused the books on the shelf to rattle.
“You’ll take no more from me, Devil!” muttered Luka, struggling to stand, the chair holding him up.
“Watch me!” pronounced Mephistopheles.. It was obvious he had tired of Luka’s ramblings.
Mephistopheles turned around and abruptly shoved Lilly out of his way, lunging for Chris. Chris stumbled backwards, trying to get away from the disgusting devil and backed into the wall. There was nowhere to go. Defiantly, Chris looked into the devil’s eyes, determined to fight him for his life.
Mephistopheles grabbed Chris, putting a hand on his face, covering it in its entirety. Chris tried to push him away but he felt weak, as if his strength was flowing out of him like a leaky sieve.
“No!” cried Lilly, trying to pull the devil off of her newly discovered brother. Mephistopheles swatted her away like a flea.
Chris felt a violent shove and he slumped to the floor, confused. He tried to look up, but everything was in hues of red. His vision was screwed up because of what Mephistopheles had done.
“Daddy, no!” cried Lilly.
Luka Békés had shoved Chris to the floor and had taken his place. The diabolitical demon had taken his soul! Luka did it so he would be reunited with his wife. They would be damned together now, in the flames of Gehenna.
Mephistopheles was barely aware of the switch, but it was too late for him to do anything about it. He received into him Luka’s soul and once inside his netherworld, fully under his domination, Mephistopheles shimmered away from this Earthly dimension.
Lilly collapsed next to Chris, caressing his face, lightly brushing her lips over his face, intimately touching him, forgetting for a moment the fact they were twins. “He’s gone! You’re all right!”
Chris grabbed her hands and pushed her back, finding her eyes, discovering her loving gestures confused the hell out of him.
“I’m fine, Lilly, but I’m afraid Luka gave his soul for mine.”
They glanced over. The middle-aged body of Luka Békés was empty. He laid on the floor, crumpled, his eyes betraying a dull, drug induced look of fear.
Lilly got up and cried over her father’s body, vowing to put an end to Mephistopheles horrors. Chris kneeled behind her, rubbing her back, hoping to comfort the distraught woman, realizing there was no way to bring their father back.