Prompt: You had always heard the phrase, “Beat the Devil out of it” but never thought too much about it. One day you’re beating a rug out, and the Devil actually comes out of it.
He— it— something with horns and a tail toppled out from the rug my mother had given me when I moved out. The thing hit the concrete walkway, rolled, then petered out in the grass.
What the hell is that?
I didn’t know what to do or say. I let the rug fall to the ground, and slowly walked over to the dark red thing.
“What the hell was that for?” it moaned in English.
It rolled over onto what I believed to be its stomach, then pushed itself up with two tiny arms into a sitting position. Its thin, snake-like tail coiled around its waist as it twisted, cracking its back.
It looked up at me with deep, dark amber eyes. “Why the hell did you that? That really hurt.”
“I, uh… was, uh…” I walked backwards to the walkway.
“I, uh— was, uh,” it said, mockingly, “just spit it out already!”
I pointed to the rug. “I was cleaning and…”
“Weren’t you told that devils live inside those things?”
My jaw hung open as I nodded.
“I guess you never listened to your creators, huh?”
I didn’t reply, but it continued on.
“Humans, Jesus…” it removed a case from somewhere behind its body, flipped it open, took a black strip of something from it, then placed it into its mouth. It flicked its claws, then the end of the black strip was alight. It took a drag. “Never listen, do they? Don’t care about what or who lives in what, only that their things are tidy and clean.”
“Are you saying,” I said, “you lived in there?”
“Of course I did! Didn’t you see me come tumbling out like some idiot? Or are you one of those blind ones?”
I shook my head. “I’m not blind.”
“It was rhetorical,” it said flatly. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter, really it doesn’t. Just put me back and we’ll call it a day. No harm, no foul.”
“Put… you… back?”
He exhaled sickly green smoke into the air. “Yes, put me back. Didn’t your creators explain this to you?”
I shook my head again.
It slapped its face, shaking its head. “Jesus,” it muttered, “this species…” It sighed. “Okay, all you have to do is lay it out flat, then place me into its center. I’ll do the rest.”
“Okay.” I dumbly nodded.
I took the rug, rolled it out on the walkway, then went over to it. I gently scooped it up.
“Watch where you’re putting your hands!”
It was warm, like carrying a ball of laundry fresh out of the dryer. I placed it onto the center of the rug.
“Good job, good job. Surprised you could manage to do that.” It rolled its eyes. “Well, nice talking to you. Next time, ask before cleaning another’s possessions.”
It snapped its claws, then it was gone, leaving behind a puff of reddish orange smoke. I watched it drift away with the breeze, then gently, cautiously, rolled the rug up and brought it inside. I put it in the hallway closet beyond my winter clothes, and never touched it since.
When my mother came over the next day, asking where her was, I told her, “The devil took it.”
Read my previous prompt, “Reading From Below.”
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