The Familiar

The Familiar - student project

The morning light streamed through the curtains as I startled awake from my drunken slumber. What time is it? I guessed that it was late morning and luckily for me it was Sunday so I wasn’t late for work. I didn’t feel like looking for my phone to confirm the time though. Actually it would be a miracle if I got out of bed at all today. But it wouldn’t be because I was hung over. I couldn’t be that lucky. Instead it was because when I drink, I wake up the next day with what I like to call an “emotional hangover”. Honestly, it’s just a nice way of saying that I’m depressed. It’s why I hate drinking. Why did I overindulge again? 

Flashes of memory danced through the waves of melancholy. I remembered going out with my work friends to a party. I remembered getting a text from John saying we needed to break it off. I remembered feeling heartbroken and the girls rallying around me to help me feel better. After that I didn’t remember. 

I took a look around my small bedroom.  I had covered the white walls with different types of artwork that spoke to me. Granted it ranged from pretty floral paintings to foggy landscapes, but a girl needs variety.  The only furniture, other than the bed and nightstand, was a dresser and a shelf both made in dark wood.  The shelf was overflowing with the books and knick knacks I collected over the years.  The dresser had a mirror on top that always seemed to want to tip into the wall no matter how many times I tightened the screws that held the mirror to its posts.  I could smell bacon cooking, but thought the smell must’ve come from next door.  My neighbors were always cooking.  

I turned to my small nightstand to look for my phone.  I wanted to scroll through my social media feeds before I attempted to get out of bed. Instead, I paused.  Next to my charging phone was a scroll.  An honest to goodness scroll that looked to be made from parchment.  This had to be a prank from the girls. Right?  Granted none of them were the dramatic, fantasy loving type (that was my role in the friend group), but maybe my best friend Rae decided to try her hand at it.  

I carefully reached out to grab the scroll.  As I unrolled it, I realized that I was not ready to see the words SOUL CONTRACT across the top of the page.  My eyes darted to the bottom where I saw my shaky illegible signature carved into the paper.  I fought the urge to groan, crumble up the parchment, and cry.  What the hell did I do?  So I read. There was a whole lot of legal looking mumbo jumbo that I had no idea how to interpret in my current mind state.  But I did pick out the words, magic powers, familiar, and long life.  That had to be a good sign… Right? 

Suddenly, there was a knock on my bedroom door.  “Mistress” an unfamiliar male voice called “I have breakfast for you. May I come in?” 

I jumped out of bed, adrenaline overriding the effects of alcohol, and I quickly searched my room for a weapon.  Unfortunately the closest thing I had was a heavy glass paperweight.  I hoped it would be enough as I stood by my door and said “Who's there?”

“It’s me. Milo. We met last night?” I felt my face scrunch as I tried to remember.  I was fully clothed so I doubted I brought back a rebound.  Apparently the silence had gone on for too long because Milo asked “You don’t remember do you?”

“Nope” I said while popping the ‘p’.  

I heard a muffled curse and then a sigh.  “It seems there’s an explanation in order.  May I come in?”  Letting a stranger into my room did not seem like a smart idea but he quickly spoke again.  “No harm will come to you. You need not fear me.” 

So I opened the door just a crack to see my house guest.  Milo was rather attractive.  His hair was reddish brown and he had those swoopy bangs, you know the ones that make you want to run your fingers through them. His eyes looked to be black, but I was pretty sure they were just a really dark brown. I considered him to be rather attractive with his high cheekbones and strong jaw. He was a little bit taller than me, maybe around 5’ 6”, but he was pleasantly muscular.  He wore a simple black t-shirt with jeans. Plus he was holding a tray that had a breakfast sandwich, some orange juice, and an apple on it.  

He smiled when he saw me and my heart gave a little flutter.  I had no clue what was going on with me, but I needed it to stop.  Immediately.  “Ummm.  Could we maybe do this out in the kitchen, when I’m not in my pjs?” I asked. 

“Of course,” he said with a wide smile. “I’ll keep your sandwich warm.  Bacon, sausage, and cheese, right?”

I gaped at him.  I did not know how he knew my favorite breakfast sandwich but I couldn’t help but be grateful for it.  “Yeah. That will be fine. I’ll be out in a few minutes.” I closed the door and hurried to get ready.  I needed answers pronto.  

As soon as I dressed and took care of hygiene issues, I went out into my little kitchen.  Milo was sitting at the counter that I used as a table.  As soon as he saw me, he got up and turned to the oven, where he pulled out the sandwich and sat it at my place.  As much as I appreciated this kindness from a stranger, I was still quite paranoid that he somehow drugged the food.  Before I could comment though, Milo addressed my thoughts. “I would never poison your food but I can cut myself a piece of the sandwich if you want me to eat it first. 

“Ok how do you know what I’m thinking about? This is really starting to freak me out.”

“I apologize. I had hoped that you would remember at least a little bit of what happened last night.  Normally, a soul contract is a very memorable experience for people but I’m guessing the alcohol you consumed last night must have affected your memory.” 

I slowly approached the counter and sat down. “Please, can you tell me what happened? All I remember is getting a break up text from my boyfriend… well ex-boyfriend now I guess and then my friends tried to help me to feel better.”

“To explain this to you…” He looked up at the ceiling and then at me “It isn’t going to be easy.  This will undoubtedly force you to question how you see the world.  What I’m going to do is tell you what happened, and then you can ask questions.  Sound fair?” I nodded and Milo took a deep breath before launching into his story.

“So last night my keeper and I were at the bar when your wild friend group came bursting in.  You guys brought so much energy to the place and everyone started really having a good time.  Except for you that is.  You sat down at the bar next to my keeper, ordered your drink and started telling us about your problems.  To keep it simple so you can ask questions, my keeper made you a deal to sell your soul for magical powers and a familiar, which is me.  You accepted but asked to have the ability to live your life fully and to not die prematurely.  My keeper agreed to those terms and voila.  Here we are.”

Before I could stop myself I asked, “What the heck is a keeper?” 

“A keeper is a demon who is assigned to familiars and helps to spread us out into the world.  Once we are attached to a human, we will never leave and will only die with our master.”

I tapped my fingers on the counter.  “What about these magical powers?”

“We can discuss those later.  Instead, I think for now it would be a good idea for you to eat and then we can just relax for a little while until you feel a little better.”

“How did you…”

He sighed.  “I can feel your emotions and thoughts through our bond.”  I looked at him alarmingly and he chuckled.  “Don’t worry, I can teach you how to put up barriers in your mind so you don’t broadcast everything.” He pushed the sandwich closer to me.  “Now, please eat.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“It is the job of the familiar to serve our master in whatever way we can.  That includes taking care of them in whatever way they require.” I blushed because my mind went straight to the gutter.  He chuckled at me. “Yes some do take their familiars as lovers, but it is not something to be done lightly.  Once you give into that, there is no going back.” I wanted to ask more but he held up his hand. “That is a conversation for an entirely different day, and we have plenty of time.  Time for you to eat.”