Friday, January 13, 2023

How To Succeed with Monsters

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

inhale ~ shorter days ~ habits ~ warmth

It was submitted by:



I took a sharp inhale when the creature first walked into my office. I had a long reputation for taking on unconventional clients in my therapy practice, but I'd had no idea that seeing a man who insisted he was a vampire and could only be seen at night or well late early evening on shorter days--who did drink blood and have some pretty fucking weird teeth if Im being honest--would one day lead to me sitting in the same room with a demon.

He'd made the appointment under Adramelech but I didn't think anything of it because the kids I saw who picked their own names really knew how to pick some edgy ones. There was literally no end to the dark entity names, the anime names, the villain and bad guy names... I know, I know. Who cares if it isn't hurting anyone, right? Only sometimes I think the picked name does end up hurting some folks who really lean in hard to the idea of themselves that they or someone who should have treated them better drilled into their heads. So that's what I was expecting--a dark dressing, misguided but lovely despite it, and just in need of a little help sort of edgelord who spends too much time online.

"Something wrong, doc?" he grumbled. And yes, he. I always ask pronouns on intake forms.

"Well, no. Let's say I wasn't quite prepared."


"Well, you're mostly a mule of some sort, and I usually see humans."

"Not what I heard, doc. You come highly recommended in all the demon circles. The undead ones too. The trolls as well actually. Dwarves. A couple gods from what I heard not that we run in the same social networks. Not elves though but if ever there was one who could admit they needed help with something then they'd probably come here too."

My mouth must have hit the floor if I'm being honest. I mean I knew that's what they said they were but I just assumed... Well, you know. What would anyone think?

"You mean you didn't know?"

I recovered quite well. In my head I screamed OF COURSE I DIDNT FUCKING KNOW ARE YOU GOING TO TELL ME SANTA CLAUS IS ALSO REAL AND WHY DO YOU HAVE FEATHERS, but out loud what actually came out was, "why don't we move on to talking about you and what brings you in today since we're on a sort of tight schedule here? I have written down here that you want to work on some 'bad' habits? Is that right? Could you expand on that?"

"Sure, doc, but if you have questions at the end about all the, you know weirdos you see you can ask free of charge." He laughed heartily for a moment and my skin felt like it might crawl off my body, but it was also jolly somehow. I could feel myself at ease, smiling with him. What is my life?

He got serious after a moment and started picking at his tail feathers. "Yes, I think I need to work on my anger issues a little bit and the sorts of things I get up to when I'm angry, for starters, but there's more we can get into. I think that's my top priority for now though, doc, and I know you helped Beelz stop wasting his time sending flies after people who tried to invoke him and focus on his day to day schedules and appointments as Lieutenant so I was hoping we could do some of that for me."

"I did?!?" Wait. "What I mean is I can't discuss another client's case with you, but we can absolutely tackle some of your bad habits. Absolutely. That's something I see a lot in my practice for sure."

He chuckled but I kept a stone cold face because I am a professional, so he moved on like I hadn't just revealed yet again that I had no idea I'd ever seen another not human but had apparently seen them fucking all just about. "Well, doc, here's one of the biggest ones that I really need to tackle. So you know, not by choice but because it is written, I am in charge of Satan's wardrobe."

"Satan's wardrobe?"

"Well yes. He's got a mansion full of clothes. He has shit he's never even worn but would never give to say someone like me who," he looked down, "doesn't own many nice outfits."

He was naked and I don't even know how pants would work on this guy but maybe it was the principle involved. "So what I'm hearing is your employer takes his wealth for granted and doesn't even offer to help anyone out when he can clearly afford to?"

"Yes, doc, that's part of it. Those are the perfect words for it. But there's also, well, he's Satan and he's all knowing and all powerful or whatever and an absolute asshole. I mean just because you're Satan doesn't mean you have to be a dick to everyone who works for you, right?"

"I'm assuming being a dick to employees isnt written in the same way as your job as head.of wardrobe, right?"

"Right, doc. I respect the word of course and he's contractually obligated to be a dick to, you know, humans. Sorry. But not us. He doesn't even allow us cake on our birthdays. And he yells. And sometimes gives us an ass on top of our heads. Or some hellfire clothes when we complain about his lack of warmth. He once gave some minor demon a cat head instead of his regular head and anytime he tried to talk it came out as a soft kitten mew and that guy will never be ok again, doc."

"So an extremely toxic workplace and I'm assuming there's no HR department."

"Well the H in HR stands for human, doc, so good guess. And nothing like the demon lord equivalent. We just... Well we all sort of have bad habits to let off steam. And it's making things worse. One of us is going to get caught and then everyone gets caught and then we'll all have kitten heads."

"Ok since you're here let's start with your own bad habits and go from there."

"Right. Ok. Well, I steal clothes. He'll never miss them. He doesn't even know what he has! I sort of explained it away like office workers taking home notepads and stuff but it's kind of gotten out of hand. And I can't even wear them without taking them in to be altered and then someone will definitely see I've taken Satan's clothes. I'm not exactly known for blood red velvet smoking jackets. He really spent too much time with Hugh Hefner."

"And you've...kept them? Like the evidence is in your, uh, home?"

"I have an apartment in the big house because even if it's 4 a.m. and he has a booty call, I have to be there to pick out his clothes. And yes. Just sitting there in my bedroom where he can see them anytime."

"So not great. Your anxiety is just sitting there and looking in the face every night. Anything else?"

"Well. Well ok I make his underwear extra itchy. I once put a sort of spell, I guess, on a particular jacket he's fond of wearing to hookups that would give him erection problems. Let's see. I did once make it so he thought he was wearing one of his favorite leather ensembles but it was actually a pink bunny outfit. The list goes on and on, doc. It's petty shit, and I get that. I really do. It would you put this? Yes. It doesn't change the material circumstances that are causing me turmoil and anxiety, but I get so angry with him. And I just need a little way to give him back at least some of what he gives to all of us. Only it's not just me. There are dozens of us taking our shots in little ways, you know?"

I laughed. I laughed hard. I mean I was crying. Snorting. Snotty. But i got a good look at the range sort of boiling underneath this guy uh pers... creature? Entity? Being? This dark lord? Whatever. I'll have to figure it out. Anyway, I noticed he thought I was laughing at him quite possibly the way his boss might and I got hold of myself really quickly. "You put an asshole who fancies himself a Hugh Hefner type in a pink bunny costume and make his balls itchy?"

We both laughed then. A good laugh. A joined laugh. And we kept laughing well past losing our breath. And when we both came up for air, he looked more at peace than when he walked in, less frazzled, more in control... And that's the story about how I figured out I was the go-to therapist for demons. And the undead. Trolls. Dwarves. Quite a few gods actually, a few orcs, and even once a goblin. Never did see an elf but given all I know now I guess that's to be expected. I even have my own special business card.

"Not human? Not a problem. Specializing in all your otherworldly needs. Set up an appointment via scrying mirror today! We can do mirror calls or appointments in office at your convenience including nighttime appointments for vampires. Satan proofed rooms are available!"

Adramelech and I worked through some of his problems but honestly who could blame him for the things he was doing? We figured out some healthier ways to channel the anger though and I helped him figure out a better way to handle Satan. He organized a demon lord's union and now there's no cat faces or ass heads or any of that allowed. By written word. And he gets his own clothes! When he finally left therapy, we both cried and he gave me a painting of Satan in a bunny costume that will hang in my office til the day I die.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado


The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
On the Border https://dlt-

Friday, January 6, 2023


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 3 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Your “Secret Subject” is:

Tell us about a number that has special meaning for you.

It was submitted by:


I don't think I have any particular sort of answer for this. I cherish my kid's birthday for example but the numbers themselves aren't important and I'm not really superstitious or believe in things like this so enjoy some fiction instead! But I will say today would have been my dad's birthday.

Selma had found a note stuffed into her locker at work that had her name at the top. And the number 76. "76. It will change everything." That's it. That was the whole of it.

She didn't recognize the handwriting. It wasn't one of her friends playing a joke mostly because she didn't have friends. And no one at work had the energy for some kind of long con prank like this. They were all tired from mandatory double shifts at the mental hospital where she cleaned rooms and gave out medicine and changed diapers or whatever else was needed that day. No one got out of double shifts not lately anyway. None of them had time to be friends or mean girl each other with pranks. So she'd forgotten about it.

And then while doomscrolling on TikTok she saw a contest for a new laptop which she sorely needed if she was ever going to go back to school. It was pick a number style. So she chose "76" on a whim...and won. Her first time winning anything in her entire life, and it had actually been sent to her too! No scams. Not this time at least.

Then she found a bundle of money in the grocery store parking lot. No one was parked near her, so she counted it. $76 exactly...which also ended up being her total in the store when she wasn't even sure when she pulled into her spot how she was going to afford food and rent. The double shifts were barely helping since the rent increase. And inflation. And having to take her car Fred to the vet to have a tooth removed.

She started seeing 76 everywhere she looked. It was written in graffiti. She'd seen a patient scrawling it into his journal. She saw it on street signs and a mile marker she passed on the way to work, and on the bus route that took her downtown when she didn't want to have to fight for parking. The hostess at her favorite taco spot had a pin that had 76 on it. Selma asked and the girl had only shrugged and smiled like Selma should know already.

It wasn't even happening naturally anymore. Selma started seeking it out. She'd turn to page 76 of a book on her shelf and look for meaning in the words. She played lotto games and online giveaways using the number and variations of it to guide her responses. She would take 76 steps to determine where she would sit in the movie theater or where to stop to eat in the food court at the mall or even, once, at a party she was invited to by an old friend to determine who to strike up a conversation with next which was really fucking hard to do in a small apartment and everyone treated her like she was crazy.

But she wasn't? Was she?

Ever since she got the letter 76 was everywhere and she thought her luck was changing. So what if she got a parking ticket for 76 dollars or woke up in her apartment to find 76 post it notes with 76 written on them that she knew she hadn't written. So what if she saw flies in the shape of 76 crawling on her car the other night.

Everything else was good. Good-ish anyway.

It didn't matter that she couldn't actually find the letter anymore did it? The number was still everywhere. She was winning. She won that laptop!

Did it really change her stroke of good luck if the woman in the apartment 3 floors abover hers had been stabbed by her ex 76 times or that 76 people died in that blizzard?

Did it really matter if she could see 76 everywhere and could hear people whispering it? Wasn't that fate's way of giving her a sign she was on the right track?

The answer to everything she had ever needed to ask was 76. She could see it all now so clearly. 76. 76. 76. It was everything everywhere all at once.


She could hear them.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado


The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver