FIRE AND BRIMSTONE • by Heather Kuehl

Daniel notices me long before I notice him; he lusts after me. Wants me. I follow him, my hunger rising. I used to enjoy feeding off the desires of men, but now I do it to survive.

I can feel eyes on me. Looking over my shoulder as I walk, I see a woman watching me. Could it be that she knows that I am a succubus? I doubt it.

I pretend I don’t see her and follow my prey into his favorite bar, The Alley.

I sit at the bar, Daniel buys me a drink, and we talk. He tells me about his nagging wife and the two kids that he regrets having. I smile and nod. I’ve heard it before. His story is no different. I run my fingers through his blonde hair, asking him if he wants to go somewhere more private. I finish my drink and leave before he can respond. He’ll follow. They always do.

“Wait!” he calls after me, tripping over his barstool as he tries to catch up. “I don’t even know your name.”

“Veronica,” I purr.

Daniel repeats the name, getting a feel for it on his tongue. He wants to make sure that he calls me by the right name. I lead him outside and down the narrow alley beside the bar. Sunlight streams down, and I can’t help but think that no amount of golden light will ever make this alley look beautiful. The stench of the alley doesn’t hide the flowery scent of the woman’s perfume as she follows behind us. Normally I would  leave if I sensed someone following me, but I haven’t fed for days. I will have to be quick with Daniel and deal with the woman when I finish with him. I will make her regret following me. That is the good thing about being alive for so long. I know every torture trick in the book.

I wrap my arms around Daniel, pressing my lips to his. He goes limp in my arms as I feed off of him. I drink in his lust like it is the finest wine. I drain him dry of his desires and pull away, my lipstick staining his lips. I let him fall into a heap on the ground and turn, my jacket fluttering against his unconscious form.

The woman is there, just like I knew she would be. Where I  am dark, she  is light. Where I have black hair and deep amber eyes, she has blonde and blue. While I am wearing a crimson scoop-neck sweater with black slacks and a black leather duster, she is wearing a simple white tank-top and pale jeans. She must be cold, but it doesn’t show. She smiles, and it is then that I know her.

“Gabriel? Is that you?”

“Yes, Lilith, it is.” She looks down at Daniel. “Did you have to kill him?”

“He’ll live.” I sigh. “And my name is Veronica now. I haven’t been Lilith for a very long time. What do you want?”

“I was sent. Your existence has gone on too long.”

I raise an eyebrow. “How so?”

“Succubi were never part of His plan. You are a stain on this pristine world.”

“He created me, as He did you,” I quickly say. “I did what I needed to in order to survive. Gabe, am I not worth saving?”

“You’re a demon, Lil.” Gabriel pauses. “You’re a demon, Veronica. Demons cannot be saved.”

“I wasn’t always,” I say with a sigh.

“You’re right. You were supposed to be the wife of Adam, to tend the garden for Him, but for whatever reason you left.”

“I never said I was perfect, Gabe.”

“And here you are, tainted with demon blood and feeding off the desires of mortals to live.”

“There must be others like me.”

“Are there?” she asks with a smile. “I have searched the Earth, but I haven’t seen nor heard of any others. If there were, I wouldn’t be here. But since there aren’t…”

“He sent you to kill me,” I finish. “How long have you been looking for me?”

“Since you left. I tried to coax you back by creating the storm that decimated Egypt. I now wish I had never done it.”

I remember that storm. I thought I was going to die. Then the demon Kizmetta came to me. He shared his blood, making me the half-breed I am now. He never told me that I would have to feed off the lusts of men to survive. Had I known, I would never have chosen this path.

I feel a weight being lifted off my soul. For the first time in my long life, I want to die. “Gabriel, make it swift.”

She laughs, the sound of silver bells at Christmas time. “I am merciful, Veronica. I wouldn’t be an angel if I wasn’t.”

Balling her hand up into a fist, Gabriel holds it out in front of her. In a swirl of starlight and clouds, a broadsword appears in her hand. It looks as though the blade had been carved out of diamonds, its hilt taken from frozen nighttime waters. The blade shimmers in the sunlight, and I have to avert my eyes from the brightness. Her tiny hand grips the sword’s hilt until her knuckles turn white. I look to her other hand, where I expect the shield to appear, but it remains dormant. Gabriel knows I won’t fight back.

I close my eyes, waiting for it all to end. Will I go up to heaven and be with Him again? Or will I be banished to hell? Does the human idea of purgatory exist? And if so, is that where I will go until either side decides that they want me?

I start to pray to Him, and I don’t realize that Gabriel has joined my prayer until her blade comes down.

Heather Kuehl is a writer of fantasy, horror, and the occasional science fiction. She is in cahoots with a library gnome and has to lock up her husband on the night of the full moon. More about her writing can be found at

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