So I met this girl.

I was just out doing my thing, coasting the rift of the mortal realm on blackened wings of inky ethereal horror and seeking out a light snack of gut-wrenching fear, when suddenly what did I taste but the most palpably delicious terror coming from a small corner apartment downtown. It was carried on a piercing scream; and in I swooped, nibbling all the way, to see what could have inspired so tasty a sensation.

Peeping in from outside her window, I could see that she had an Helenic face, crowned with ethereal blonde hair, ocean-blue eyes piercing out from porcelain skin. And, did I mention, the most beautiful, adorable, high-pitched screech I'd ever heard. Her apartment door was open, so around I swooped, assuming a passably handsome human form, dark hair, blue eyes, average build (I'm always careful not to overdo the demonic good looks though like those Mephisto-wannabes always seem to). And in I dashed.

It was a mouse. Not one of those giant mice which drag women to the sewers to be impregnated by their king. A tiny mouse. Not a rat even, not an especially sizable critter for its species, even. A teeny. Tiny. Itty bitty. Mouse. But she was standing on her kitchen table, waving a broom and screaming for dear life, as this mouse cowered in a corner from which it could not seem to extricate itself, pipping out its own little fear morsel. "Miss," I interrupted, "let me help." I found a shoebox somewhere and went after the mouse with it, pulling the simple little legerdemain of projecting into its tiny mind a vision of a narrow tunnel through which it had to run to escape. Straight into the waiting grasp of the box. I plucked it up, holding the squirming rodent by the tail and turned to show it to the girl. "You see, it's just a harmless--"

But she simply wailed again, at a slightly lower register, and took a step backwards -- a step farther than the edge of the table. So over the side she tumbled.

----

So, yeah, there I sat in the lobby outside the emergency room. Hospitals are, naturally, full of fear. Fear of death. Fear of disease. Fear of suffering. But typically it makes up a very dense and heavy melange, not what I find most appetizing. Think overcooked vegetable stew. Yeah, like that. Still, I was surprisingly hungry, and I fed a bit of the hunger on it. Some of that might not agree with me later, but it's what was there. And after a wait which I found tolerable, though I imagine a mortal would find to be interminable, out she came, arm in a sling, bump on her head neatly bandaged. She came straight to me. "My hero," she smiled. "Thank you for saving me from that horrible thing."

"Just a mouse," I shrugged.

"Oh no," she insisted, eyes widening with dramatic seriousness "it was very scary."

"I know." I resisted the urge to lick my lips at the memory of how scary it was to the little lady. "Hey, I don't even know your name."

"Angela," her uninjured hand popped out in a very 'how-do-you-do' fashion.

I couldn't help but smile. "Of course it is. Angela." I accepted her hand. "And I'm Gaz-- er-- Gus."

----

Which is how, four days later, I found myself taking Angela to dinner and a movie.

Now let's get this straight. I'm a demon. Moreover, I am Galzeekebull, the fear-eating demon, a minor Pit-Lord, yes, but above the level of your rank and file demon. So as a general rule, I do not 'date.' And I especially don't 'date' mortal females. But, oh well, there I was anyhow.

And it ought to be no surprise that my idea of a fun 'night out' is a horror movie.

Note this well -- you will never sit in a crowded audience of such a film without at least three or four fear-eating demons peppered into it in human guise. If it's a really good one, expect a dozen. Naturally, usually we are able to see through one another's facades, but humans are (for the most part) deliciously oblivious. I have never been spotted out by a human at a horror movie; vanishingly few humans have that rare talent, to able to perceive the forms of the demons who walk amongst their fellow men. I've chatted with a few who have that knowledge, and it was no surprise to me that, being able to see real demons, they had no affinity for the comparatice sallowness of horror films.

For dinner we went to this charming little French place, a high end establishment in the toniest part of town, and halfway through dinner I came to my senses and literally slapped myself in the face. What in Hell was I doing? On a date, trading witty banter with a mortal? This wasn't like me -- so much so that I realized, I was somehow being manipulated.

"You're not human at all, are you?"

Turned out she was an angel. I should have known -- they always go by 'Angela' or 'Angelina' or 'Angie' (or in more recent times, 'Lina' has been popular) Now this may blow your mind, but demons and angels, well, they're essentially the same thing. And to be even more mind-blowing and precise: most angels you've ever heard of (or possibly even seen) are some kind of demon. Now you may have heard tales telling that angels are whomped up by a higher power, and demons are angels who became corrupted. The truth is almost the opposite. We mostly all come up from the same damned pit. What you know of as angels are simply demons who have come to cultivate their power by acting all nicey-nicey, by appearing beautiful and terrible, instead of simply terrible.

I'm a shapeshifter, I know how these things work.

I could with a bit of effort appear before you as a wafting, ethereal being of the purest and sweetest light and awesome beauty, radiating an irresistibly compelling aura of goodness and peace, shitting rainbows and winged unicorns. And, in this guise, I might quite solemnly inform you I was an emissary, sent by whichever one you claimed as your deity!! And, trust me, you'd believe every damned word of it, and whatever story I then spun to amuse myself at your credulity. I've seen some of the more violence-happy demons fool humans of the most solemn faith, and get them off and running to kill 'heretic' friends and neighbors. I mean, come on, there's Goltha--.... shit!! almost pronounced his name!! Never a good idea. But where was I? Oh yes, angelic demonry.

Now, some humans when crouched before a deitic 'messenger' exude a particularly subtle flavor of fear, for the experience drums up their own memories of every thing they've ever done which they ought to be punished for, and then every horrible way in which such punishment might be carried out. It's remarkable how much humans are able to frighten themselves with such things. But then, there are as many, more even, who only imagine others being punished, and experience delight rather than fear, so it's hardly a consistent result to go to all the bother with.

You're probably wondering at this point if there are any real higher power (or higher-power-made) angels. I've heard of them. Never met one, but there are rumors.... But then again, where I come from, there's a whole department dedicated to nothing more than the creation of rumors. And by 'department' I mean a small city. And by 'small' I mean a city of thirteen million demons, shades, drahks, meggidoes, and every other kind of spirit being. All bustling with a fervor to create and hone and focus-group and disseminate every kind of rumor you can imagine -- mostly because the folks up top like to keep things unbalanced, and like to have the upper hand of knowing (for the most part) which of the big rumors are false.

Crap. I lost track. Oh yeah. Dinner....

So there I was sitting across from an angel, sputtering, "but I'm a demon, how could I not have known?"

Now I could see that her eyes glowed as if backlit -- nobody else in the restaurant could see this. She fished a necklace-borne pendant from under her shirt. So, a talisman, but it looked like a mortal artifact, so how... oh.

"You're a half-demon." Half demon, half human. A rarity for many reasons, but, obviously, it happens from time to time. Able to take advantage of certain charms which would elude the power of a full-blooded demon; to make only her human aspects visible to demonkind. "So the fear I felt coming from your apartment...."

She smiled slyly and whispered, "I was faking it. I'm very good." I couldn't help but nod in agreement. And, naturally, that's why I'd still been hungry at the hospital. The fear I'd filled up on earlier had tasted good going down, but there was no substance to it.

"So why the charade?"

She leaned forward, and the glow behind her eyes greened. "I want your seed."

"My.... seed? But wha-- that is, how-- uh.... why me?"

She glanced down, stirred her drink with an innocent finger. "I want a baby," she pouted, "and Daddy told me you're the best at what you do." Her eyes shot to mine. The pout disappeared. "The best at sensing fear. Tracking it, dissecting it, using it. My bastard child's going to be a second generation three-quarters demon, I wish him to have that advantage."

Clearly word of my more recent exploits had not reached her; I chose to bite my tongue, and with absolutely no irony intended, I asked the question obviously lingering in the air. "So, who's your daddy?"

The room grew a shade colder. It was in that moment that I realized that I recognized the shape of her eyes. Her father's eyes. The eyes of the Demon Lord of Discord. The eyes of Golthallennium the Great. And I just knew that of all the planes of existence, where else would he be at that moment but standing right behind me. The humans in the room saw a small and unassuming man standing there, a balding fellow in a black dinner jacket. I saw the shadows of his wings spread across the ceiling, obliterating the light of the room. I turned slowly, reflecting on the fact that Golth would've snagged me and dragged me back to the pit already if that was his intention.

"Golth." I nodded curtly, trying to exude confidence.

"Gaz," he replied, which for some reason made me feel both powerless and disrespected. "Do this favour for me-- for my daughter. And that.... unpleasantness in our past will be left there."

I looked back across the table. This really ought to be an easy decision, no sweat off my back. Provide some needed demon seed and be on my way. Somehow, I knew there was a catch. "What's the catch?"

Golth shook his head, "no catch." Ugh. The catch when there's 'no catch' is always the worst kind. Still, I knew what fate awaited me if I refused, so I figured, what the Hell, play it by ear.

"Sure," I grinned and extended my hand. "So do I call you 'Dad' now."

He scowled. "It's not going to be like that. No 'holy union.' Kid's going to be a bastard, a veeeery important bastard. And you...." now he smiled, "You get my girl with child, and that's the last you ever need to worry about me or her."

----

Back at her apartment, I confess I felt completely awkward and unprepared. "So, how do we do this?"

"We wait. Until midnight."

I was about to ask why, but then it hit me like a brick. The whole timing of it. My last holiday adventure aside, I generally don't pay much mind to mortal observances (except, naturally, All Fool's Day and All Hallow's Eve, but those were of significance to demonkind long before mortal man took them up). But this one, oh yes, Saint Valentine's Day. I nodded in understanding. "A corruption of a holy day, for extra kick. Okay, so midnight comes around, and then....?"

She looked at me, into me, quite angelically, almost sadly. And then it surely struck her that I'd never engaged in an act of 'mating.' Hey, I can appreciate beauty -- especially the beauty in things men call horrid -- from an aesthetic standpoint; but I'm not exactly, um, equipped for sexual arousal. Not a necessary trait for a race spawned from pits of ethereal crackling darkness.

She tilted her head, quite self-assuredly, and took a step towards me. I felt a sort of tugging I'd never before experienced. She leaned up to whisper in my ear. "Don't worry. You'll just put on the most horrible form in your arsenal.... and I'll show you everything."

----

After the sun came up, I dabbed a bit of healing ointment on the scratch marks on my back, and left; she'd gotten what she'd needed from me. And from her, well I'd gotten something I never knew I'd always wanted. I was starving, and it was daytime, so the hoogedyboogedy stuff was less likely to fill my belly. I shapeshifted into a backup form I'd cultivated for just such a situation -- 'Stan Feldman of the Internal Revenue Service' -- and headed over to the nearest office park to sniff out a dirty CEO to terrify for breakfast.

Weeks passed. Bled into months pretty quickly. That happens when you're immortal.

----

I was back in the area. After a satisfying meal of the horror of a group of first-time deep-woods campers -- fear is always most pungent when aroused in unfamiliar territory -- I found myself having some time to kill. And for some reason, I was drawn back downtown, by curiosity as much as anything else. I drifted to a window outside her apartment, peeking in. She was home, holding the baby. I hesitated for a few minutes -- probably better if I just left. I turned to fly away. And there she was standing in front of me. Neat demon trick, that.

The baby -- our baby -- was nestled in her arms. "Do you want to hold him?"

I did.

He was a fine looking boy -- to look at you'd guess six or eight months, not the actual two since his birth. Blonde hair like his mother. Green eyes like his grandfather. Something about his nose reminded me of-- of me, I think, even though I'd long since forgotten my natural form.

"What's his name?"

"His human name is James." She glanced towards her front door. Neighbors would surely be none the wiser -- indeed, they'd never imagine what had come from this sweet and cheerful girl, always willing to nurture and help someone in need. "His demon name is Golth." Naturally, for her father, the child's grandfather. Then she smiled, sweetly, serenely. "Goltheekebull."

I was unable to suppress a grin.

Later, when I got back to the ol' lair, I poked my eye into the shoebox which sat on the long shelf made of the ribs of various beasts (and people) next to my resting place. The mouse looked up expectantly as I dropped in a wedge of cheese and half a slice of bread.

"Well, Fred," I manifested an eyebrow to raise, "Somewhere out there.... I've got a son."

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