Devils by Erik Henry Vick is described by the author as a collection of devilish short fiction. True, it is a collection of five stories. They are followed by four chapters of Errant Gods, a preview of a longer novel (730 pages) by Vick.
The Devil ***** There is a nice description of the Devil here. Not everyone knew the Devil was a beautiful woman named Lily. She always appeared to him when he was on dope or about to start the journey. Mostly she only appeared and ignored him although she always made sure he had seen her. This last time, she had made him an offer. Work with her, stay off the dope for thirty days, and she would give Bobby delights beyond which he could only dream of. The game began, much to the misery of armored truck drivers and any institution from which money could be taken. A larger plan was in play. Lily wanted revenge on a man who had cheated the Devil. The revenge was to play out over a period of many years. Bobby was to be Lily’s tool. Bobby had no problem with violence; he was an Iraqi war veteran and had done his share of violence. Bobby would follow her orders completely. There was only one thing he could not do to the Devil and that was to betray her/him/it. Betrayal had consequences and there was no escape.
Vengeance ***** In the previous story, the devil appeared in the shape of a being. In this story evil, or the devil appears in a dispersed state distributed over a variety of competing families each of which has several individual entities with assigned duties. There is a Petwo family and a Ghede family. They don’t interfere with each other for no reason but when one family or individual crosses a line and tries to expand power, a conflict arises where actions and revenge take place. The two families appear in the human world as they take control of humans while carrying out duties. Rick Bergen wanted to take revenge of Jason Katz because Jason had broken into his parents’ home and assaulted and killed them during an attempted burglary while looking for money to buy drugs. Jason had gotten away with the crime because of bad police procedures. Jason wanted to track down and kill Jason but could not do that while Jason’s body was being used by one of the Petwo clan, Carrefour. Rick learned of this from a clan Ghede member, Baron Kriminel who was occupying the body of a homeless person for purpose of being seen by and communicating with Rick. Baron promised to help Rick get revenge, but it had to be done the Baron’s way. Baron would first battle Carrefour forcing the spirit to leave Jason’s body. Rick would then be free to exact revenge. But there was a cost Rick would have to pay for revenge. Would he accept it? Read this well-crafted story to find out.
Sister Wives ***** Rena was the latest to join the family of wives that belonged to Brother Abraham. Like all the other women, she had been kidnapped off a city street and probably drugged; she could not remember. She woke up handcuffed to a chair and was immediately introduced to the rules of the clan. A Bowie knife to her throat, used to administer shallow cuts, helped her remember basic rules. Later punches and knees to the face accompanied her introduction to new rules. A graveyard ceremony where she was introduced to Brother Abraham’s long-dead first wife completed her first day. Where is the Devil in all this? It couldn’t be Brother Abraham. He was there to instruct them all in the ways for eventual reunion with God after their service to Brother Abraham on earth. Brother Abraham was the latest reincarnation of The Lion of the Lord. An earlier one was Joseph Smith. Will Rena survive this by escaping from captivity? Or will she become a convert and accept her role as one in the family of wives? This is an interesting story of the devil appearing in the guise of religion.
Wendigo ***** The Wendigo is a creature that lives to eat. It eats everything to include humans. The only way to stop its activities is to deprive it of food until it becomes weak enough to be lured into an area which can be sealed, such as a cave. A Wendigo cannot be killed. In this story, non-believers in the form of the US Army and the white traders that accompany them don’t believe in this mythical creature. They believe that recent deaths were caused by rogue Indians. Indians, who believe in a Wendigo, want to capture and seal it in a cave. John Black, a white man who lives with Indians and believes the Indian version of the Wendigo, occasionally tries to negotiate between white non-believers and the Indians. A big problem is that the Wendigo has “noticed” John; one who has been noticed usually suffers a grisly death. There is a twist midway through the story when we learn there is more than one Wendigo. The story picks up the pace and becomes very interesting after this turn. How can humankind survive? There is a surprising answer.
Drifting ***** Walter had appointments to keep. His Nana had drilled into him the importance of keeping appointments. Now a snowstorm threatened to delay him from being on time for his next one. It was lucky for him a lady in a van offered him a ride. Lucky for him, not so lucky for the lady. She hadn’t even been on his list of appointments. In this short story, we learn the importance of punctuality.
This last story brings us to the 80% point of the novel. What follows are introductory chapters for Errant Gods. I make it a practice to not read introductory chapters. I was quite surprised at the high-quality writing of the above five stories. All stories deal with a world that is not real, but I was drawn into accepting a new reality, at least until the story ended. This collection is a five-star Amazon read in the horror genre. It is available as a free read through Kindle Unlimited. I will probably read Errant Gods as well, but I did not want to spoil that read by reading sample chapters included in this work.