Saturday, August 20, 2022

SHOWCASE • “Maggie’s Confessional” • by Branden Linley

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It’s been, hell, probably a couple years since I last confessed.”

“Language, Maggie.”

“Sorry, Father.”

“What brings you here today?”

“I’m not exactly sure what sin I committed, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of them big ones.”

“Tell me what happened, and we’ll sort through it.”

“Sure thing. So, you remember the guy who summoned the demon that possessed Alex? Devo Dickwad or whatever his name was?”

“Yes, I remember. He’s still in prison, right? And how is your brother?”

“Yup, still in the big house. And Alex, well, he’s talking a bit now. Just a few words, but at least they make sense some of the time. And there’s less screaming. Still takes his meals through a straw, though.”

“Any progress is good news. I’m sure the Lord is watching over him and will bring him back to us in time.”

“Thanks to you. Take a little credit at least. Exorcism ain’t exactly small potatoes.”

“Just serving the Lord. Now, what was it about Devo you wanted to talk about?”

“I went to see him at the prison.”

“You… what? Whatever for?”

“See, that’s where I think my sin begins. I wanted revenge. Seeing that rat bastard in jail wasn’t enough.”



“But why go there? You couldn’t do anything to him in prison.”

“Oh, I wasn’t going there to punish him further. Not that he doesn’t need it. No, I went there to ask him how to summon the demon.”

“Come again?”

“I wanted to know how to summon it. Now, the way I see it, the demon got off pretty much scot-free. You sent it back to Hell and that was it.”

“And banishment to Hell isn’t enough?”

“Hell no.”


“But you just said hell. What gives?”

“I didn’t use it as a curse.”

“Sure, whatever. Anyway. Demon in… Hell…”

“That’s fine.”

“Right. I mean, that’s where it’s from. That’s its nature. Punishment should be something worse than your day in day out.”

“I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that summoning a demon is, well, pretty bad in the eyes of God.”

“Don’t sweat it, Father, I didn’t summon it.”

“Okay. Good, I guess. What did you do, then?”

“Well, Devo Dickwad—”


“Really? Fine, Devo Dumbass must have thought it pretty amusing that I wanted to know how he’d summoned the demon, like I’d been corrupted by my brother’s experience and fallen to the dark side or something. So he told me where he’d stashed his books, walked me through the basics, even gave me the exact name of the demon, which turned out to be really important.”

“But you said you didn’t summon it.”

“Not exactly, no.”


“The books he gave me, well, they’re pretty messed up. Go figure. But they told me what I needed. With a bit of ‘deductive reasoning’ and the ‘application’ of some clever ‘geometry’—reminds me, I still have to go thank Mr. B and Ms. Anderson for not letting me sleep through their classes last year—I was able to reverse the ritual Devo and his buds used.”

“Reverse to do what?”

“To send me to Hell. Don’t tell me, that’s somewhere on the sin list as well, right?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s up there on things not to do. But, why? How? Did you even try it?”

“Why? I already told you—to get revenge on that demon. And, heck yeah, I tried it. Worked like a freaking charm, too.”

“Wait. Maggie, are you telling me you actually went to Hell? And returned? Forgive my incredulity.”

“That’s cool, Father. I’m not sure anyone’s ever done it before. And to think my dad said I’d never amount to anything. Trans-dimensional pioneer, baby!”

“Back up a bit. Explain just what you did.”

“Oh, right. So, no, I didn’t exactly go to Hell. I mean, I did, sorta, but not my body. Just my mind. Maybe my soul, too? I’m not sure about that one. You’re the expert there.”

“No clue.”

“Anyway, because Devo gave me its name, I was able to basically possess the same demon who’d possessed my brother. I sorta summoned myself into it. Him. I guess it was a him, given the size of his—”

“Yeah, I get the picture.”

“You wouldn’t believe how many demons have over-sized… members. I think it’s like boys and their pickup trucks. Compensating, if you get my meaning.”

“Focus, Maggie.”

“Right. So, I was a little surprised when it worked, but I’d already planned out vaguely what to do. Everything was weird, and I had no idea where I was going. Very strange place. Hot, cold, fire, ice, dark, dank… Oh, and don’t get me started on the smells or the screams and moans. If anything, the Bible undersells it. Trust me, send a kid to Hell for a minute and it’ll work like a million times better than those candy-ass ‘scared straight’ programs they feed us at school. Worked for me, I’ll tell ya. Legit scared straight here on out for me.”

“I’m happy to hear that. But then what?”

“Oh, I just started doing good deeds. I mean, what’s the worst thing that can happen to a demon? I figured it would be having all his buddy demons thinking he’d gone soft. And he was pretty high in the pecking order, I think, since there were lots of little demons cowering all around him, taking my orders.”

“Good deeds. Interesting approach, I’ll grant you.”

“I’d hoped to release a bunch of trapped souls, thinking maybe they could escape to Heaven, but I couldn’t figure out how. I settled on doing what I could to ease their suffering.”

“Such as?”

“Giving them cool water to drink, back-rubs, turning down the flames, singing some Taylor Swift—not sure that helped with some of them—cancelling torture sessions. That sort of thing. Did that for quite a few hours I think—time is kinda weird there—and even made all his underlings help. Then his boss demon showed up. Big honkin’ dude with these horns and a sausage like the Weinermobile. One look into his eyes and it seemed like a good time to end my mission. I just slipped out of his brain and, bam, back home.”


“Like I said, I’m pretty sure there’s a sin or three in there. So here I am. What’s my punishment?”

“Penance? I’m not sure I shouldn’t petition for your sainthood.”

“Oh, I ain’t no saint. Just trying to get back at a demon by shedding a little light in that dark hole.”

“That you did. How about one Hail Mary and we forget this ever happened?”

“For real? Less than I got for lifting M&M’s? You’re getting soft, Father.”


“Language, Father!”


Not quite equal parts husband, father, engineer, artist, and musician, Branden Linley has been writing fiction since he could string together a sentence. Originally from Wisconsin, he now lives in Austin, TX, with his wife and son. His fiction has appeared in Fictionvale Episode 1, Alternate Hilarities: Hysterical Realms, and in other dark corners of the web such as his cheerfully neglected blog


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Mark Keigley said...

Fun little read. Thanks!

Pete Wood said...

That was great.
Maggie must be Dresden's niece.