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The Fire Baby by Michael Albani

(Featured in the August 2011 edition) DT082011  DTcover082011

THE FIRE BABY
Michael Albani

Birth

The forlorn mother put the twelfth candle in place. The basement was dark. The fetid smell of decomposing flesh hung heavy in the air. ―This has to work,‖ she whispered. ―This just has to work.‖
The mother‘s name was Bethany, and she was preparing to perform a ritual she discovered on a necromancy website. She followed the website‘s directions perfectly. Failure was not an option.
On her basement floor she drew a chalk circle inscribed with the image of a soaring raven. Along the circumference of this magick mandala she placed twelve candles. Eleven candles were white. The twelfth candle was red, made of wax crimsonly colored with her blood. Baby Bridget, her beloved daughter, rested in the circle‘s center. She was silent. She was lifeless.
Bethany was not usually the type to believe in magick. But this was her daughter. She had to try something. The website claimed the spell was genuine, translated from ancient hieroglyphs written by fallen angels. She was just desperate enough to believe that.
Bethany lit the candles one by one around the divination circle. The red candle was the last to be lit. She clasped her hands over it, closed her eyes, and spoke the website‘s incantation.
―Azrael, almighty Angel of Death,‖ she cried. ―Release this innocent child from your grasp. I give to you an offering of fire. Now rekindle the fire in this child‘s heart. Come, Azrael! Accept my tribute and let this child live again!‖
Bethany opened her eyes. The basement was silent. Nothing happened. She was ready to collapse in anguish, when suddenly she felt something. An eerie wind entered the sealed basement and began to blow the candles‘ flames toward Baby Bridget.
―This is it,‖ Bethany said tearfully. ―It‘s working!‖ The flames entered Baby Bridget‘s mouth, leaving the basement in total darkness. Baby Bridget opened her eyes and started to cry.
Bethany joyously arose and rushed to the circle‘s center to embrace her reanimated daughter. As she moved forward, though, she began to sweat. The basement grew hotter and hotter. Suddenly, Baby Bridget erupted into flames. She screamed and screamed and the flames grew higher and higher. Bethany stumbled backward and was caught in the blaze. The fire grew stronger with each of the baby‘s tortured wails.
The fire consumed the basement and eventually the whole house. It was only after everything was reduced to ash that the cries ceased and the fire died down. Bethany had hoped to bring her only daughter back to the world of the living, but she brought forth a demon instead.

Death

The aged priest put the twelfth bowl in place. The basement was bright, but shadows surrounded him like dark sentinels. The smell of smoldering flesh hung heavy in the air.
The priest‘s name was Father Robert, and he was preparing to exorcise a fire demon from the basement of the Morris family‘s five-year-old home. He was meticulous. Given what this demon was capable of, failure was not an option.
On the basement floor he drew a chalk circle inscribed with a dodecagram. Along the circumference of this purification circle he placed twelve bowls. Eleven bowls were white. The twelfth bowl was red.
He filled the bowls one by one with holy water from a silver decanter. The red bowl was the last to be filled. He clasped his hands over it, closed his eyes, and prayed.
As Father Robert recited his prayer, he began to sweat. The temperature in the basement began to drastically increase. Then, fire spewed forth from the center of the purification circle. The light and heat were tremendous, but Father Robert stayed strong and remained in place.
From within the incredible inferno the fire demon appeared. It looked like a skinless human infant, a pulsating mass of charred muscle and tissue. With its daemonic red eyes it scanned the basement. It stared down at the purification circle, then directly at Father Robert. ―Who are you and what do you think you‘re doing?‖ it asked in a shrill, otherworldly voice.
Father Robert was astonished by the creature‘s ability to speak, but he kept his composure and responded. ―My name is Father Robert. I am here to bring an end to the suffering you have caused and free the soul of the girl you devoured.‖
―Girl?‖ said the demon, feigning innocence. ―What girl?‖
―You know full well! The little Morris girl! The innocent child that lived in this house who you burned alive!‖
The fiery creature chortled. ―Oh, I remember now! But you can‘t blame me for what happened to her. She‘s the one who sought me out. After her family moved into this house, she heard me crying and came to ‗comfort‘ me. She threw me scraps of wood to eat and squirted lighter fluid on me to drink. She made my flames grow bigger and stronger.
―Do you know how much that hurt? Can you imagine how much pain she put me in? I roasted her body and ate her soul! She tasted just like my dear, sweet mother.‖
―Devilish creature,‖ Father Robert said calmly in reply, ―I can see you are in a great deal of pain. However, that gives you no right to make others suffer. I am a servant of God, so I will send you back to the fires from which you were spawned.‖
Father Robert continued reciting his prayer. At first, nothing happened. The demon chortled, mocking the holy man. Then, the holy water in the bowls rose into the air.
The holy water rushed into the demon‘s mouth. It gurgled. It gasped for air. Finally, its flames were extinguished and it crumbled into a pile of ash. The fire demon was destroyed. Father Robert hoped that this would mean the little Morris girl could rest in peace.
The

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Oz: The Great and Powerful!

ImageVenturing back to an old story that has earned its place among the classics requires careful consideration of the attributes that facilitated its praise. This not only includes the strengths and weaknesses of the previous work, but the environment, narration, and character development. Honestly comparing Disney’s envisioned prequel to the Wizard of Oz is difficult due to the trends in movie production, but to state that Oz, unlike the Wizard of Oz, felt more like a Michael Bay eye-candy fest than anything else (substitute explosions for flowers and other vivid and beautiful effects).

 If I were to summarize my complaint of the film, it would be that it traded story, character development and substance for very vivid and sometimes cartoonish special effects. The colors were so brilliant that most of the scenes felt liked a Windows desktop image, and though the film intends to create a sense of fantasy, the green screening effects instantly killed any sense of disbelief I had. The classic didn’t suffer from that problem as the backgrounds were actual sets, and thus actually looked more believable. And even thought the classic didn’t have the greatest and most in-depth story, it at least didn’t stuff 30 minutes of visual effects into the movie at different intervals just for the sake of attempting to show how fantastical Oz is.

Another complaint is that the Film suffered from lopsided acting. James Franco delivered, bring life into a womanizing carnival magician. Whereas, Mila Kunis’ performance was spotty at best. While she may look attractive, her voice is perhaps too well associated with her Family Guy persona (Meg), and for some that could cause an issue of immersion. In addition, the crying scene, in fact any scene where she attempted to show emotional scorning seemed very weak. The cry scene was one of most awkward cry scenes I’ve seen in a while.

Perhaps her acting would’ve been better if only the characters were given time to develop and thus become relatable to the audience. First five minutes of Mila Kunis’s appearance she goes from timid to overly attached girlfriend to only become heartbroken moments later. Literally, Oz lays down some heavy flirting, which she laps up like sweet milk from a saucer. Her sisters does a little magic trick to convince her that Oz is a player and that puts her into revenge mode? What the hell is that? How do you transition from “OMG! We just met and I’m like totally in love with you” to “I’m gonna rip your heart out and shit in the cavity”? You do it with rushed writing. Rushed writing that condenses a character arch into a two scene progression because other scenes are reserved for special effect fluff.

 

I’m sorry. I might come off as cynical, but this is only a tolerable movie. It most certainly doesn’t even come close to paling thing original. It doesn’t even deserve to be described as overshadowed, as it is an example of revisiting a classic with good intentions, but with poor writing and a drastic lack of substance.

Let me know what you think.

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Deadman’s Tome Podcast Ep. 4

Deadman’s Tome Podcast four is now available, and Mr. Deadman talks about everything from the new writing contest to the Evil Dead remake. Also, because of the erotic theme of the previous issue, please enjoy the provocative images.