A Night Out

            Carole only had to watch the crowd as they rushed to gather around the levitating girl five tables down and notice her husband frantically patting at his pockets to know what was coming next, so she rolled her eyes.  “Oh no!  You are not doing this on our one and only date night!”

            Steve shrugged apologetically, keeping his eyes a quarter on his wife but leaving his attention mostly on what was occurring further down the restaurant.  “Carole, come on.  Be reasonable.”

            “No, Steve, you be reasonable.  You promised me one night out a week where you wouldn’t run off.  This is our one night.  You are not running down there.”

            Even though his fork was beginning to levitate, Steve managed to bring about 85% of his attention to bear on his wife.  “Carole, you know I love you.  But I can’t control when people need my help.  You know that.  And that’s a little girl and her family.  They’re probably scared out of their minds.”

            Carole set her mouth in a hard line.  “I am not pleased.”

            Suddenly a loud booming voice echoed throughout the restaurant, rolling monotone and speaking in a language that Steve recognized as ancient Sumerian.  Clouds rolled up, dimming the available light as the tables near the levitating girl began to shake. 

            “You know,” said Steve, “this isn’t just going to go away.  And there’s no way we can finish our meal in peace now that this is happening.”

            Carole’s lips pressed firmly together.

            “And it shouldn’t take too long,” Steve continued.  “I recognize that voice.  It’s one of the ancient Sumerian demons.  They put on a big show but run instantly.”

            “I get that, Steve,” Carole looked frantically at the appetizer, “but it’s just so frustrating.  I mean, can’t we even have a day off.  Why can’t God just take care of this one Himself…or get someone else to do it for once?  It’s always you, twenty-four seven.”

            A glass crashed inches from Steve’s head.  “No rest for the wicked, so no rest for the rest of us.”

            Carole sighed.  “Oh, go on.  You know it’s what you want to do.”

            Steve pulled his backpack close.  “It’ll just take 30 minutes.  Shouldn’t be any longer.”

            “And why did you bring your tools anyway,” Carole asked?  “You’re just looking for trouble.”

            “Always good to be prepared.”  Steve bent down to kiss his wife’s forehead.  “I’ll be back in a minute, sweetheart.  Just work on the appetizer and I’ll be back before the main course.”

            “Just hurry.”

            Steve nodded, although he knew she wouldn’t be looking at him.  Carole hated this part.  And he supposed she had every good reason to worry about his health.  There was the demon, Azrael, last month in the car park.  That one almost smashed him to death with a Volvo.  Egyptian demons were the worst.  They thought they had something to prove.

            Steve reached a point about twenty feet from the levitating child and could go no further.  The crowd was pressing in too tightly.  It always happened.  Tell a human not to grab a hot pan or they’ll get burned and what’s the first thing they do?  Oh well, he’d just wait a minute. It wouldn’t be long.

            And in typical demon theatrics, there was a loud shout followed by a wave of the foulest smelling odor any of the patrons had probably ever smelled.  Immediately, the crowd loosened and effectively ran for cover, leaving Steve face to face with the grimacing countenance of what used to be a five year old girl with her blonde hair in piggy tails and her once silk red dress now covered in what was probably vomit.  Good.  It recognized him. 

            Steve raised his hand toward the thing and proclaimed in his most authoritative voice, “In the name of Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, I command you to depart!”

            The demon stopped grinning and twisted its head like a dog.  “What do you take me for, boy?  I know of the Son of God but I do not know you.”

            It’s mouth split open and a dark blackish fog began to pour out, slowly engulfing the room.

            “I have seen the wonders of the world and the things best left unseen.”  The demon intoned.  “I know what you fear in the dark.  I know the limits of your knowledge and the vastness of your fears.  How dare you approach me.  I will take your pitiful life and leave you nothing but the ash that formed you.  Bow and worship me, as is fitting for your lowly kind, mortal!”

            A smile stole across Steve’s face, but he said nothing.  Instead, he lowered his eyes and began to pray silently.       

“So,” said the demon, “afraid to look power in its face?  Afraid of my knowledge, my strength, my unfathomable wonder?  For over five thousand years my kind has been enslaved in this sewage dump of a planet, forced to suck the life from you scraps of refuge.  But no longer.  We will take what we want and we will take our rightful place, first as lords of this planet and finally as rulers over eternity itself.  You think you know God but we are destined to become gods.”

            Steve’s eyes slowly opened to note the possessed child looking at him like a cat waiting for the mouse to make its next move.  But Steve did nothing.  Seconds passed and still nothing.

            The demon began to laugh.  “And is that the extent of your power, oh mortal?  Once you Christians were worthy of a fight, but now you are reduced to this.  A cry in the dark?  A plea before a vanquished God?  You had His power once but you have squandered it for the treasures that we offered through the world.  You traded immortality for pebbles of refuse and now you stand useless before me.  So, pray mortal.  Pray for mercy but receive my full wrath.”

            Steve smiled.  “I prayed, but I don’t think you fully understand.  You see, Jesus told us once that there were some demons that we’d have power over, some we could cast immediately, like paper through fire, fire through wind.  But there were others that would require just a little more, because they were older, stronger.”

            “Oh, and I am strong, mortal,” said the demon.  “Are you just beginning to sense the reality of my strength?”

            Steve continued. “In the end, it doesn’t matter the strength of the demon, because God will be victorious regardless.  Do you know why?  Because God created humans, this earth and even the angel that you once were.  And what God can create, He can un-create.  What God can allow into existence, He can just as easily dissolve into oblivion.  So, you can be as powerful as the length and width of this world, but it won’t be strong enough.  Because I serve Someone infinitely stronger.  And that Someone is faithful to answer the prayers of His people.  And right now one of His people has just prayed about you.  So, if you’d like to not be thrown into the Abyss early, I suggest you let that little girl go and run, hide.  Because if you don’t, I can’t be responsible for what’s about to happen to you.”

            The demon pondered this for a moment as the restaurant grew eerily quiet.  “And what if I call your bluff, mortal?”

            As Steve smiled a second time, the clouds parted to allow a single, yet brilliant beam of light to shine directly through the front window of the restaurant to stab at the tile in front of the levitating little girl.       

            Slowly the girl descended.  “Um, I was just kidding.  I didn’t mean any of it.  Please.  It wasn’t me.  It was Satan.  He made me do it.”  Once her feet hit the floor, she continued to descend to her knees.  “No, I beg you.  Don’t send me to the abyss.  Please.  Hey, how about you send me into that herd of waiters?” 

            The demon child pointed over to a group of waiters who huddled together, shivering and shaking their heads.  

            “No, I think you’re right,” said Steve.  “You’re a bit too powerful.  I think a hundred years of walking through dry and arid places without any home ought to set you straight.”

            “No.”

            “Yes.  Now leave before something else happens to you.”

            The little girl’s head raised a little at a thought.  “You win.  But your time will come.  Send me away now, but you’ll see me soon.  You’ll see all of us much sooner than you think.”

            “More threats?  Just go.”

            The demon’s laugh hung in the air as it exited the girl and the restaurant.  Gently, the girl sunk to the floor as her parents rushed forward to catch her.  Steve circled and turned back to his table, which was currently on fire. 

            As his footsteps approached, Carole popped her head out form under the table and smiled.  “So, all done?”

            Steve nodded and offered her his arm.  “Well, looks like this dinner’s a bust.  Want to see a movie or take a walk instead?”            

Carole nodded as she took his arm and they left the restaurant, amid fires, moans and the approaching sound of sirens. 

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