Author’s note: This is part of the Diana’s Life Tips series, which are all stand-alone stories with relevant information.
Relevant information: Diana accidentally summoned Daemon, a Christian demon, after following Cerberus into a janitor's closet. Diana stumbled upon a plan to invade the human realm from the demon realm which could have terrible consequences for humans and lead to Daemon being drafted. They want to stop it and believe it’s Satan’s ex-wife’s plan.
I guess you could say, they’ve fallen into a rut.
Every day consists of the same things: burned breakfast, crummy pop quizzes, and a failed attempt to stop Satan’s ex-wife from invading the human realm.
Last, last Tuesday: Diana got holy water from a local priest. Daemon burned himself.
Last Thursday: Diana purchased a haunted mirror from ebay rumored to be able to trap souls in it. Daemon trapped Diana in it.
The day before yesterday: Diana hired an exorcist to “cleanse the school”. Ended up almost killing Daemon.
Today: Diana sits on the first step of the stairwell of Saint Richards High School, covered in ice cream made from Gywenover, a holy, blessed cow from Wisconsin. Daemon tried to resist licking off the little sugary blobs on her shoulders. He failed and burned his tongue.
Gradually, Diana’s eyes closed and she rubbed her temples. Every day felt like the last. How long had they been trying to do this for? A month? Two months? Twenty-seven days? She just didn’t know anymore. God, what even was today?
“Every day is just the same,” Diana mumbled under her breath. “I’m sick of this rut.”
After calming the fire on his unholy tongue, Daemon sized up the damage of the new hole and realized it would make a great home for a nifty tongue ring. “Hey Diana, do you think rubies or emeralds are more my color for a tongue ring?”
Diana glared at him. “The human world is on the brink of being invaded and all you’re thinking of is a tongue ring?!”
He patted her back, nearly knocking her off the step. “Cheer up, Diana. Everything will work out.”
She leapt up. “Everything will only ‘work out’ because I’ve been working my ass off and blowing through my allowance trying to find a solution while you’ve been slacking off having fun. I get holy water, you get thirsty and drink it, almost dying in the process.”
“Almost,” Daemon emphasized.
“I get a mirror to trap her in, you decide to trap me in it.”
“It was funny at the time.”
“I get holy ice cream to trick her into eating it and dying, but you… you.” Diana pieced it together. “Every time something goes wrong it’s because you, you—” she shoved her index finger in Daemon’s face, “—do something stupid. Every. Single. Time.”
“So, I like to have fun, sue me.”
“I would if you weren’t an interdimensional being that has no requirement to obey the American court system.”
“Most Americans don’t see any requirement for themselves to obey it either.”
“Just… you…” Diana held her clenched hands like they had an invisible neck they were wrapped around. Possibly, she was imagining it was Daemon’s neck. “You know what? I can’t do this today. Not with you.”
As she stormed off, Daemon grabbed her elbow, “Diana, wait—”
“Just leave me alone, Daemon!” She screamed.
Reluctantly, he let go. And Diana was gone.
About two hours later, Daemon found Diana scrunched into a tight ball with her knees to her chest underneath a maple tree. “What do you want?” She asked.
“I found something I think can help us,” Daemon said.
Instantly, Diana perked up and took the book in Daemon’s hands. “Is it an ancient book with ancient secrets on how to defeat ancient demons?” She read the cover. “Karen’s Kooky Recipes for Love?”
“It’s an advice book for couples in love having relationship issues. You know, because we’re having relationship issues.”
“... I don’t even know how to process what you just said. We’re not even a couple in love.”
“Well, I think our relationship is lovely. That counts.”
With a defeated sigh, Diana said, “Fine. What does it say?”
“‘When you and your lover are in a rut, the best thing to do is to shake things up with a romantic surprise. Try surprising your lover with a picnic on the beach, star gazing in your backyard, or a romantic walk in the park.’” Daemon snapped the book shut. “The Fido’s Get Figgy and Get Jiggy with It Dog Park is only two blocks from here. That should make for a great, cheap, makeshift date.”
“Daemon, our bigger problem is your slacking, not the rut.”
He grabbed her hand and pulled her up. “That’s nothing a little walk can’t solve.”
“Just what do you think a walk is?”
The park Daemon was talking about was a local dog park, where they walked around close to the line of trees surrounding it, barely getting a glimpse of the shade in the hot, humid Florida air. There was only one other group in the park: a woman, her dog, and someone who appeared to be lecturing her. Her mother perhaps?
Daemon relaxed his hands behind his neck, strolling at a casual pace and letting the grass tickle his ankles. The humidity didn’t bother him. Meanwhile, Diana cussed out her fuzzy hair as it exponentially expanded. “Isn’t this relaxing?” Daemon said. “Just letting the stress wash over you and leave?”
“Yeah, so relaxing,” Diana gruntled, manhandling her locks. “At least nothing else can go wrong,” she said, five seconds before something else went wrong.
A tennis back whacked her in the head and second before the thrower called, “Heads” from the other side of the park. The woman called out, “Sorry,” as her dog came bounding up.
Diana massaged her head as she bent over to pick up the slobbery ball. “I’m gonna chuck this in a swamp…” She muttered before seeing the woman’s dog come up to her. He jumped at her feet. He was a big Doberman, kind of glitchy looking… almost like he had three heads...
Diana dropped the ball.
The Doberman gladly picked it up and raced back over to his owner while the lecturer nagged the young woman. “Daemon, that dog was Cerberus… which means that woman is Satan’s ex-wife. Do you see what a golden opportunity this is? We’ve never been able to locate her alone like this before. Coming to the park was a great idea. Oh, Daemon, I could kiss you!”
He held out his hand to create a barrier. “Don’t you dare lay one on these virgin lips, you heathen.”
“Okay, we’re having a conversation later about you calling your lips virgin. It’s weird.”
“Good idea. According to ‘Chapter Five: Get to Talkin’ or Get to Walkin’’ of Karen’s Kooky Recipes for Love: communication is key.”
While Diana tried to think of a plan, the stickiness of her shirt irritated her skin and distracted her. “That’s it,” Diana grumbled. Slowly, she peeled the ice cream covered shirt off her torso.
Daemon held hand over his eyes—with cracks in between. “Temptress!”
“You wish. I just can’t stand the feeling of the stupid sticky holy ice cream on my sk…” She smiled, eyeing up her shirt. “I have an idea.”
“Another scheme? I thought you were sick of it?”
“I’m only sick of losing,” she replied, ripping the seam of the shirt. “So this time, I’ll win. What else does your book say about couples and fights?”
“This is all your fault!” Diana cried with fake tears in her eyes as she pointed at Daemon. “I got hit in the head because you insisted that walking in a dog park would be ‘fun’,” she used air quotes around ‘fun’. “You’re the worst boyfriend ever!”
“At least I’m trying to save our relationship. You won’t even get Dr. Jully a chance,” Daemon yelled. After eyeing Satan’s ex-wife, he raised his volume to make sure their fight caught her attention. “You never want to do anything anymore. This is all your fault.”
Extra crocodile tears poured from Diana’s eyes. “Lies. More of your lies. This is your fault.”
“No, this is your fault.”
The woman, her mother, and the dog all started to walk away, shielding their eyes from what looked like an intense, lovers’ quarrel. “We’re losing them,” Diana whispered.
“I know one way we can settle this,” Daemon exclaimed. “You, Miss,” he pointed at Satan’s ex-wife who stopped like a deer caught in the headlights. Quickly, the duo crossed the field. “My girlfriend and I seem to have reached a ‘disagreement’. We were hoping you could weigh in on the matter.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea…” Satan’s ex-wife began. “My mother and I…”
She turned to find her mother had already left to escape the awkward situation. “Mother,” she grumbled.
Diana took a step towards her, hoping to speed things up before she could recognize either of them from school. “My soon-to-be-ex boyfriend here…”
Daemon gasped dramatically.
“Thought it would be a good idea to come to the dog park as a date. He’s a real cheapskate. We don’t even have a dog,” Diana said.
“Uh-huh,” Satan’s ex-wife said, looking for an out. Any BS advice to get them to leave would do. “Well, that doesn’t sound like such a big deal. You two look young. Money’s tight when you’re young and in school. What really matters is the time you spend together. Besides, when you’re teenagers, the relationship is like 95% lust and horniness. Just kiss or bang it out. You’d be surprised how many relationship problems are just pent up…” She cleared her throat. “... ‘urges’.”
With wide eyes, Diana gawked at her. She blinked a couple of times while Daemon opened Karen’s Kooky Recipes for Love and said, “Actually, ‘Chapter Seven: How to Get Your Hunk of Hunk of Burning Love On’ does say something similar.”
Diana made a mental note to take that book and burn it later.
“See,” Satan’s ex-wife said. “Just try kissing it out.” She waved her hands at them.
“Like now? Like now now?” Diana said, unprepared. “Like right in this moment now?”
When Satan’s ex-wife nodded, Daemon snapped the book closed. “Not these virgin lips, you heathen. Diana, now!”
Daemon dove for Satan’s ex-wife’s ankles, holding them together while Diana unwrapped her sticky shirt and stuck it on Satan’s ex-wife’s body, tying it around the torso. “What do you think you’re doing???” Satan’s ex-wife demanded.
Struggling to hold her still, Diana waited.
She waited for the burning. For the exorcism. For the fire. For whatever happened to Daemon when he tried to eat this stuff earlier.
But… nothing happened.
Beyond being annoyed, Satan’s ex-wife ripped through her shirt prison. The grass at their feet grew into vines that yanked Daemon off and Diana away. “What is wrong with you two… Wait… I know you… from Saints Richards High School. You’re the student who saw Cerberus. And you’re a demon from Christian Hell.”
“Daemon,” Diana whimpered. Her hands shook as she tried to undo the vines, realizing she just annoyed the hell out of powerful Satan’s ex-wife. “Why didn’t the holy ice cream work? It burned you. She’s a demon, isn’t she?”
Satan’s ex-wife raked back her gorgeous dark tree bark brown hair with one hand, revealing furious eyes as green as the grass of the most beautiful spring. Her skin was the color of an earthy dirt that shimmered in the sun. “No, I’m not.”
Cerberus growled at her feet, ready to maul the two of them.
“You’re…” Diana began.
“Persephone,” Daemon finished.
Persephone snapped her fingers and Cerberus sat. “Correct. Now answer my original question—” The grass vines tightened around their waists and squeezed the air from their diaphragm. “—What. Do. You. Think. You’re. Doing?”
This really wasn’t the time, but Diana couldn’t help but notice how pretty Persephone was when she’s angry. Almost made her forget she’s a goddess that might kill her. Almost.
“You… you were going to… going invade… going to invade the human rea-realm,” Diana stuttered.
“I don’t want to get drafted,” Daemon said.
“We found your plan in the school’s main office, there’s no use denying it.” God, where was all this courage coming from? Seriously, God? Diana couldn’t kill a cockroach last month, but now she’s mouthing off against a goddess. Where are your priorities?
“I don’t want to get drafted,” Daemon repeated.
“If you invade the human realm, everything will get thrown out of whack. They’ll be another Great Demon War.”
“I don’t want to get drafted.”
“So, we’re here to stop you.”
“I don’t want to get drafted.”
Persephone’s face didn’t so much as twitch when she said, “I am well aware of the effects of a demon invasion into the human realm.”
Diana gulped. “Then.. why…”
Persephone snapped her fingers and the grass retreated. “Which is why I’m here to stop my ex-husband from invading it.”
“Satan’s here?” Diana gasped.
“I don’t want to get drafted,” Daemon said.
Persephone shook her head. “My other ex-husband: Hades.”
Two divorces? No wonder her love advice is terrible.
Invisible math symbols appeared around Diana’s head as she tried to piece this together.
“I can see you’re confused, so I’ll explain—but first I should apologize,” Persephone said.
“For what?” Diana asked.
“I’m the one who set up the magic circle so you would accidentally summon Daemon.”
“Well, he’s incompetent so he would be a good distraction to keep you out of my way.”
“That would never work—” Daemon began.
“Brilliant work,” Diana said.
Daemon gawked at her, offended. Diana smiled at his offendedness. Maybe today was a good day after all.
“Now, for the explanation,” Persephone said.
The tree branches near them lowered, covering the trio in a cage of leaves. As Diana became visually panicked, Persephone said, “Do not worry, child. This will only take a minute.”
The ground underneath their feet tumbled and rolled like it was the parachute is those parachute games played in elementary school. Daemon fell to his knees while Diana got seasick. Just when she was about to blow, it stopped. The tree branches lifted and the bright sun shined down at them. Daemon stood and surveyed his surroundings
They were at the foot of a half-crumbled temple with large stone columns going up twenty meters. Diana held her hand to her forehead to block out the sun. “Where are we?”
“Greece,” Persephone said. “I figured the best way to explain would be to add a visual component. It all started here, at this temple, centuries ago…”