John sat down at the table, he only had a few minutes in which to rest. He had been preparing all week and now most of it was done. His stomach grumbled lightly, John stood and went to the fridge, there he grabbed out a sandwich that Melissa had made for him the day before. Most of the food was quick and easy, no reheating required, not that John minded eating things cold, he was well used to it before Melissa came along and he knew he would have no problem getting used to it again. He shook his head slightly, he needed to stop thinking like that. Melissa wasn’t going to go anywhere, not after she’d stuck with him this long and she knew most, if not all of his family secrets. She had a little difficulty in accepting them all, but she managed. With the sandwich eaten, he filled a glass with water and sipped it slowly. Once that was gone he placed the glass into the sink and went back to work. Time was pushing on and he didn’t want to have to rush the last few things. He checked the time and felt himself a little, he had plenty of time left to get things ready. Thankfully Melissa had agreed to go elsewhere for the night. She had insisted on staying last year, John didn’t think he could deal with that kind of stress again, not until she was better equipped and more knowledgeable on just about everything. Melissa had managed very well, but they agreed that it would be better if she gave this year a miss. John thought that by next year, the year after at the latest, she would be a pro. She was soaking up all the information quickly, startlingly so as John wasn’t the best teacher.
John finished lining the window, then he moved through the room checking all the doors and windows, making sure he had gotten them all. Basics first. They were simple but they worked, if the stronger ones failed at any point these could mean the difference between life and death. He moved through the rooms double checking that everything was done, then he began to move onto the larger protections. They would take a few hours, but the more there were the better.
John didn’t know why the demons hated his family so much, no one really did. All anyone knew is that about two hundred years back one of his grandfathers went out and didn’t return until the next morning. He refused to talk about where he was, and he spent the next year finding out how to protect himself and his family. Every year after that, on the night his grandfather disappeared, the demons would attack the homes of his descendants. Melissa would be safe until they were married. It had been a few years since anyone had been killed, but that just seemed to make the attacks more intense. Many of his relatives never married or had children so as not to curse them. A few had attempted to seek out the demons, to talk to them, bargain with them or try to kill them but none had returned. John didn’t want to try and talk to it, he just wanted to live for another year. He had read all about demons, he and his cousins researching, trying to learn as much as they could, the lesson that John took from his studying was that it was pointless to try. Demons were tricky creatures, they could twist and warp things so easily and so quickly, before you could even begin realise just how much worse you’ve made things. Sometimes the changes were instantaneous, other times it could take years before you realise just how badly you’d screwed yourself. John didn’t want to go down that path. The other two, Jessica and Tommy, they had tried. Jessica was living as a slave, she couldn’t see or speak to him. She had struck a bargain with another demon for protection, in Johns opinion the deal she had made was much, much worse than what he went through. Tommy had tried something similar, getting a bigger demon to kill the one that hates their family. That particular demon hadn’t been in the mood for bargaining. After extracting a promise that it wouldn’t harm him, Tommy released the demon. He died a week later in a car crash. John didn’t know exactly how the demon did it, but John knew it was the blame and technically, the demon didn’t kill him. The car crash did.
John preferred one night of misery a year. It was predictable and strangely comforting in its own way. John knew that this night would be the longest and the worst, no matter what else came his way through out the rest of the year. He also knew that he could take steps to lessen the impact, make it safer for himself and others. It helped him feel closer to his parents, who were long gone, as each ritual was something that they had taught him how to do and even though some of the rituals had changed and become more personal, the basics would always be there underneath it all.
The windows started rattling slightly in their frames, John took a deep breath, it was going to start soon. The sun was setting and the light was fading. There were candles about the house, ready to be lit if he needed it. The power to the house was turned off, a precaution everyone in his family still took on nights like these. He closed his eyes and calmed himself, waiting for the moment. Then it happened, the air changed, something shifted in the world. It was sunset. Outside the winds started to howl carrying with it the screams of the dead and dying. Something slammed against the window, followed by a loud crack. John released the breath he was holding slowly, then he started to get to work. He glanced at the window, a spider web of cracks filled it, he squinted slightly and the cracks started shifting, an illusion as he had suspected. It would be a long night, but he was up to the task.