"The Succubus" By Joseph Owens
The demon watches from atop a towering minaret, one in a vast sea of glass and steel monuments spreading out into the gloom high above the city. She’s a huntress searching for prey. Leathery wings cover her gleaming naked body, her round breasts shine in the moonlight. She clutches to her hold with clawed hands and feet, her serpentine tail wrapped tight around the narrow pinnacle. The wail of sirens and the hum of engines rise from the concrete canyon below.
She is hungry, and tonight she wants to feast.
The succubus leaps from her perch, like an arrow shot through the bruised clouds. From the streets below she would look like a giant bat or carrion bird flitting high above the buildings. No one sees her. But as her shadow passes over a junkie, he feels a painful itch in his arm, hurrying to his next fix as he stumbles through the garbage strewn, oil-slicked streets. An emaciated hooker clings to the shadows of a streetlamp, thinks about her hungry baby crying in a dirty tenement apartment, and worries about the results of an HIV test that she’ll get tomorrow.
Approaching her from a few blocks away is a nervous middle-aged banker, whose wife thinks he’s working late. Yet as he passes the girl at a street lamp, his small pig eyes dart furtively along the narrow alleys. He’s looking for a boy, the younger the better. A cold chill of guilt races down his spine as he thinks of his own son at home in the suburbs.
She is known as Nixis in her infernal abode, but mortals have called her by many names over the centuries.
As she nears her destination, she circles a particular block, then glides down behind a row of buildings. The sidewalk in front is crowded with people milling about in a long line beneath the sickly-sweet glow of neon lights. She feels the pulsating beat of music from within the building and lights down in an alley, little more than a gutter, beside a place the humans call a nightclub. It was an appropriate name for her game and she liked the sensual energy and violence in its atmosphere. Fresh souls filled with nightmares and longings, all the dark dreams and temptations that permeated the city make their way to places such as this.
She crouches in a shadow-drenched corner, near a dumpster where a wino lays in a puddle of his own filth. He lifts his head, sees her silhouette as she folds her wings. His heart beats its last as she walks past him, changing her form into something a little more acceptable to mortal sight. She strides out of the alley, a fallen angel sheathed in black leather and silver studs. Every eye in the crowd turns to her as she passes.
Her hair, silky and dark as a raven’s wings, streams down her back and she seems to glide across the concrete. She goes to the front of the line next to a muscular young man that reeks of cologne and desperation. She smiles coyly, taking his arm, and says, “I’m with him.” The stupefied man merely nods and the doorman waves them in.
She lets go of the man’s arm as they cross over the dark threshold and moves quickly into the pulsing throng of people on the dance floor. This one is much too young and tender; his soul would provide only a light snack. But she turns and blows a kiss that leaves him frozen and awestruck. Two weeks later he’ll be diagnosed with throat cancer and he’ll die before he sees thirty.
She weaves her way through the sweaty crowd. A delectable array of nightmares and temptations spread out like a banquet before her.
She breathes deep, inhaling the scent of sin in her nostrils. Her quarry was close, she could feel that. Oh how she wished she could just lay waste to the whole lot of them! It would be a glorious slaughter and she would bathe in their blood as she gorged on their souls! She shakes away her own temptations and sniffs out the prey whose scent she has been trailing.
It’s a dark-haired man, sitting at the glowing bar, watching an olive swirl around in his martini glass. He’s bored, uninterested in the carnal delights swirling around him. He’s seen enough of such things, seasoned as he is, and he has a lot on his mind. He will do nicely for tonight’s feast, she decides.
As she approaches, her hair changes to scarlet. Blood-red ringlets fall around her corseted bosom as she leans in and asks the man if the seat next to him is taken. He smells of death—not his own, though that was certainly imminent. Death covers this man like his dark suit. Death is his profession, the labor of his hands. She smells the oil and cordite of the gun concealed in a holster strapped to his shoulder. It has been used recently, within a few hours. A contract that added a few more zeros to a foreign bank account.
That didn’t make this man happy. He is good at his job, but it is no longer challenging. His conscience has been seared with a million sins and very little matters to him anymore. He hardly bothers looking up as she sits down next to him, but he notices the change in temperature. Beads of sweat dot his brow as he gulps his martini. He exhales after drinking, he turns to her. His cheeks are flushed and without a word or a touch, the poison of her aura takes effect.
He makes what mortals call small talk. Subtle compliments carefully pointed entendres, like sabers. He’s used to this game and he’s good. She eyes her prey, batting his sensibilities like a cat with a mouse between her paws.
“Can we go back to your place?” she purrs seductively, and he replies by smiling and flicking a few bills on to the bar to pay for the drinks. Males are particularly foolish and easily enticed, making her job all the easier compared to the other tempters.
They leave the club and drive the deserted streets to his apartment, a high rise in an affluent neighborhood. She smells his pulsing blood and nervousness and wonders if her hunger will overpower her before they arrive. But she is patient.
The mortal’s apartment is sparse but elegantly furnished. The man takes a few steps inside and already starts taking off his clothes. Good, he isn’t wasting any time, and neither will she. Naked to his waist, he flexes and preens and looks at her as if to say, “Do you like what you see?” Indeed, she does, like a slab of beef hanging from a meat hook. They embrace and when their lips meet, and she begins draining his essence the stain of his sins darken the room. Blinded by lust, it takes a few seconds for him to realize something is wrong and by then it is too late. The paralyzing poison has taken effect and her forked tongue plunges deep into his throat. His eyes go wide with fear; the same fear mirrored in the eyes of his many victims. She grips his shoulders in her talons and begins shredding his flesh as she shreds his soul. She makes her feast.
Satiated, the succubus goes out to the balcony and flies off into the night to find new prey.