You've probably heard about devil's chairs, right? Some places, they call 'em haunted chairs. Or maybe they don't have names where you came from; they're just those marble or concrete benches set out for mourners in cemeteries. Only people hardly ever sit in 'em because they feel too damn cold, or they're cracked and look like they might collapse, or they're covered in bird poop or something else you don't want to get on your pants.
Yeah. "Creepy" is the operative word here. If you go into a cemetery after dark with your friends, it's gonna be Dare Time sooner or later, and if you come across one of those chilly old benches, someone's gonna dare you to sit on it right at midnight. And you'll think about it. It's gotta be better than taking a dip in the snake-infested cemetery pond or breaking into the mausoleum, right?
And I'm here to tell you that if you pick the wrong bench, you'll wish you'd gone for a swim with the water moccasins instead.
I didn't believe the legends myself until the night my sweetie Cooper and I went prowling around Greenlawn Cemetery looking for spell ingredients. We'd scored a luminous bracket fungus and the desiccated corpse of an albino bat, and Cooper was busy sorting through the debris on the floor of a 150-year-old crypt when I realized I had a rock in my sneaker. I sat down on the old stone bench outside the crypt with the intent of taking off my Chuck Taylors and shaking them out.
The moment my butt touched moonlit marble, I felt a paralyzing chill for a heartbeat, and then came a suffocating vertigo as I fell backward into blackness.
I had a brief surge of panic, of course, but I knew what had happened: a devil had enchanted the bench, turning it into a portal to its hell domain. It wouldn't catch too many humans, but it was a low-maintenance trap and the kinds of devils that haunt cemeteries can go a long, long time between meals.
I couldn't see a damn thing in there through my flesh eye, but my enchanted stone eye showed a hell full of twisted channels and passages, a world as complex as any spider's web. And something large and misshapen with too many spindly arms and legs was heaving itself toward me down one of the passageways.
"Let me out of here, please," I told it ever-so-politely as I got a good grip on the cuff at my left elbow.
The thing paused, apparently surprised that I wasn't weeping in terror in the crushing darkness. Then it began to laugh, a sound like rusty metal clattering across hard ice.
"Why would I do that, tasty meat?" it slurred through a mouth distorted by too many sharp teeth.
I stripped the gauntlet off my flame hand. My fire rose high, crackling purple and red, and the devil recoiled from the light, the pupils of its five jackal eyes contracting to needle points.
"Because I'll rip your heart out if you don't," I replied, still sounding cheerful and polite as a Girl Scout selling Thin Mints.
It didn't need any more convincing. The thing shuddered, and I shot upward back through the portal, landing on my back in the middle of the dirt road beside the crypt. Cooper helped me dust off, and then we took the time to destroy the bench and seal off the portal to the devil's lair.
But that devil might have enchanted more benches we didn't know about, and there are plenty more devils just like it in other graveyards. So if you go into the cemetery after sundown, be careful where you sit.
And don't eat the luminous fungus, either. But that's a whole 'nother story....