When Adrian Foster finds an antique book containing what appears to be spells covering all kinds of attractive eventualities. He also meets Steven Miles and the two are attracted to each other. Adrian tries out a spell which is granted, as does Steven. However Adrian decides to go even further and makes a pact with the Devil which, although his wishes are granted, the cost to himself is disastrous. Steven attempts to rescue him from Lucifer's clutches but Adrian rapidly goes downhill until he is a wreck of his former self. Can the two youths find a way out of the appalling situation which is killing the man Steven loves?
Part 1 The Book
It was all his great aunt Marion's fault...
If she hadn't had a birthday and Adrian hadn't felt pressured into buying her a present...
If she hadn't made pointed remarks about liking old books and how the backstreets of the town were full of second-hand bookshops which were an excellent source...
If her birthday hadn't fallen on the 25th of the month and his pay day wasn't until the 28th so that he was really short...
If he could just have ignored that birthday without incurring her displeasure which might have meant being left out of her will--and she was after all pushing eighty...
And all those 'ifs' meant that Adrian was wandering down the High Street when it was at its hottest and grubbiest, the air feeling close and sticky and the sky a heavy uniform grey. He had just finished his part-time shift in the local BurgerBar and had hoped that the air outside would be less clogged than the greasy atmosphere of his work place. The hot spell it seemed was about to break and not before time. Stagecoach buses and cars made pedestrians' lives hazardous while the vehicle exhausts pumped out choking pollution fumes to fill the air.
Sundry 'homeless' persons sat against the walls and spread their legs and feet out onto the pavements begging. Some had dogs and Adrian felt more sorry for them than he did for their human owners. Most of the dogs looked bored and would obviously have preferred to be running around a field chasing after rabbits than sitting looking forlorn in the High Street. He was pleased to see though that they looked well-fed--which was more than he could say for their owners.
Except one--who was young, dogless and quite attractive with curly dark hair and wide eyes which looked open and appealing. He was dressed in a pullover--must be hot, thought Adrian, and some tight jeans which, as the man--well he was scarcely older than a post adolescent boy really--sprawled his legs out onto the pavement, wrapped and emphasized the shape of his genitals in a very stimulating way--surely intentionally.
Adrian tried to catch his eye, but the young man seemed to be looking into the middle distance, his eyes glazed and unfocussed. Maybe he was on drugs, Adrian thought.
The Spa Town had once--perhaps some two hundred years earlier (Adrian was not all that good at history)--been the height of fashion when gentlemen in silk hose and ladies in crinolines came to take the waters at the Pump Room, but Time and the corrosive effects of sulphur dioxide had not dealt kindly with the elegant stonework which was now pitted and marked so that it looked as if it was being eaten away by a virulent disease. Nor had the economic recession helped for almost every other shop front was now boarded up, the graffiti and advertising posters making a patchwork of cluttered disorder.
But Aunt Marion had been right in one thing--there were second-hand bookshops in abundance especially in the little side streets which branched off the main thoroughfare every twenty yards or so. Adrian wondered how they could possibly make any sort of profit, there being so many of them and so few apparent customers. Some of them had tried to attract custom by putting a box of dog-eared paperbacks and old remaindered hardbacks in the front with a sign saying 'Only 50p each' but it was hardly an unrefusable inducement to buy.
Adrian, though, was out for a bargain so he stooped down and rummaged through the contents of one such box. Now would Aunt Marion appreciate a grubby, torn, 'bodice-bursting' Mills and Boon--he thought not. He might be a cheapskate, but he didn't want to appear to be one too obviously. Right at the bottom of the box he found a yellowed book which, at first sight, appeared as unsuitable as the first. Its print was crabbed and blurred, and the paper was thick, the sides of the pages seemed almost torn rather than cut to size, their edges rough and uneven. It had no front cover and Adrian was about to toss it back in disgust when his eye caught a date in Roman numerals at the bottom of the title page--MDCLXXV.
It took him a little while to work out but eventually he deciphered it as 1675. The title seemed to be in Latin 'Compendium Rerum Malorum' and the author was someone called Thomas Weir of Edinburgh. None of this meant very much to Adrian, a Compendium, he thought, meant a collection--but certainly the book looked old and, if he had worked out the date correctly, nearly four hundred years, could be quite valuable. It would make an ideal present for Aunt Marion who loved Antiques. He wondered if perhaps the book had got into the box by mistake and the bookseller would make a fuss about selling it to him for 50p, so he picked out three other books from the box and took them into the shop.
"Four from your bargain box," he called out cheerfully to the little man, crouched like a gnome behind the counter, and looking as dusty as most of the stock on his shelves. He waved them in front of the man's face and then plonked down two-pound coins on the surface.
The man grunted and seemed to want to look at the titles, but Adrian swiftly turned and made for the door and the man picked up the coins and examined them closely as if he thought they might be counterfeit.
Outside it had started raining. Large drops the size of ten-penny pieces splashed onto the dusty pavement. The grey sky looked as if it was going to burst. Shit! He and the books were going to get wet and he hadn't got anywhere to put them. He needed some shelter. The Public Library, though, was just round the corner and Adrian broke into a run to make the steps leading up to the pseudo-Gothic front just before the heavens opened and the rain came down in earnest. Adrian wondered whether the attractive young man he had seen earlier had got some shelter.
Adrian stood in the covered entrance hall and stared out at the sleeting rain. What to do now? Glancing at his watch he found he still had half an hour before his lunch break was up. He looked at the books in his hand, three thrillers which might be worth reading and the old volume while looked even more tattered and miserable on closer inspection. Could he give this to his aunt? He turned over the first page and tried to make out the writing. If it was all in Latin, then there did not seem much hope but to his surprise it was apparently written in English--or at least a sort of English. 'A fpell for gaining the heart's defire'. What on earth did that mean?
Suddenly he realized that he was probably in the right place to ask questions and he took the book into the Reference Library where, behind a wooden counter, a bespectacled woman was doing something academic with a large book. Her grey hair was scraped back from her face into a bun at the back. She looked up as Adrian approached and smiled, immediately looking less severe and much more approachable.
"Excuse me," said Adrian politely, "I've just bought this book and I wondered if you could tell me something about it."
The woman took the book and looked at it. "Interesting," she said. 'Compendium Rerum Malorum'--Collection of Evil Things." She turned over the pages. "It appears to be an anthology of spells." She turned back to the Title Page. "1657. Thomas Weir. I don't know the name. Let's see what the internet has to say about him," she said to herself and turned aside to a computer on a side table. She tapped a few keys and eventually found an entry. "Here we are." She read out aloud, "Weir, Thomas: Born in 1600. After having led an apparently normal life as a religious man, he confessed in 1670 to sorcery and horrible debauchery. He was burned at the stake near Edinburgh in April 1670 along with his sister, Jane, who was accused of incest with him. 'The Bow', the family home of the Weirs, became a house haunted with phantoms until its destruction about 1830."
"Is the book valuable?" asked Adrian, holding his breath.
"Well," said the woman, "I'm no expert and the book's obviously not in particularly good condition--but an enthusiast of demonology might pay a couple of hundred pounds for it."
Adrian breathed again. Fifty pence, two hundred pounds wasn't a bad profit. "Is it written in English?" he asked. "Some words seem very odd." He pointed to the entry he had read on the first page. "Fpell--defires?"
"Oh, that's just the long 's'. Printers in those days used a long form for the letter 's' if it was anywhere but at the end of a word, and that looks like a modern 'f.' Yes, it's in English. Look that reads 'A spell for gaining your heart's desires'. Pretty marvelous that would be--as long as it worked."
Adrian agreed, thanked her, and went back out to the entrance hall. He sat down on one of the benches that ran round the inside. The rain seemed to be easing. Soon he would be able to go out again. While he waited, he opened the book and read the first spell. It was difficult to make out and he found that the easiest way was to mouth the words just under his breath.
"I conjure you," he read, "Prince Lucifer, dark Angel of Light, to procure for me what my Heart most defires--no, desires, in the name of your lieutenants Mammon, Asmodeus, Satan, Beelzebub, Leviathan and Belphegor."
He got to the end, the strange sounding names causing him the most difficulty and suddenly had the feeling that he was being watched. He looked up and saw the young man he had noticed earlier in the High Street. He was standing just inside the doorway and staring at Adrian but had obviously not been as lucky as Adrian in escaping the rain for his hair was plastered to his scalp while his jeans and pullover looked soaked.
Adrian gave him a sympathetic smile and, as if this encouraged him, the young man approached. "Pissing awful weather," he said.
"Got caught in the rain, did you?" said Adrian, though the answer was obvious. "Haven't you got anywhere to go?" As he said it, Adrian realized that the question could be seriously misconstrued, sounding like an invitation.
The young man gave Adrian a shrewd look, seemed to make a decision and said, "Yeah I got a place. Just couldn't get back there in time. Want to see it?"
Adrian realized that if he went with the guy, he would be late back for work, but he nodded anyway, and the young man turned and led the way briskly through the now gradually decreasing raindrops across the road and down a side lane, much like the ones Adrian himself had explored in his search for the bookshops earlier.
They did not say much, the young man limiting his remarks to a brief introduction, "Steven Fox" and Adrian responding with his own name. Half way down the street Steven stopped and turned left to where a flight of stone steps led down to a basement. At the bottom there was a scuffed painted door which had once been blue and was now almost grey with dirt, and a window which had bars on it.
Steven unlocked the door and the two young men went in. Inside lit by the subdued light from the window was a single room which contained a bed, a small table and two chairs and in the corner a gas ring and sink. In the furthest corner a plastic curtain hid probably what was a shower. Someone had tried to brighten the walls with an amateurish painting of a country scene showing a cottage set in a wood with hills in the background, but the proportions and perspectives were all wrong and Adrian himself, if the room had been his, would have painted it over with a coat of white emulsion. A greasy-looking rug--once red--covered the centre of the floor.
"Gotta get out of these clothes," said Steven, pulling the jumper over his head. His body, Adrian noticed, was still adolescent and hairless, the stomach flat. He kicked off his trainers, unzipped and pulled off his jeans without the least trace of embarrassment--perhaps he had done it too often. He was wearing a pair of dark blue jockey underpants. He took a towel from beside the sink and rubbed his hair until it was dry and tousled. Then he wiped his body and legs.
Adrian watched expecting him to put some clothes back on but instead he leaned back, half lying on the bed, his hips thrust forward. The vigorous toweling had disturbed his briefs, pushing the leg open so that Adrian could see his balls and the root of his cock. Steven looked across the room at him, his expression telling nothing. Eventually he said, "Come on! You know you want to!"
Adrian took a step forward, then another. He was standing over Steven, his hand only inches away from the other's groin, the young man looking up at him, his eyes wide open. Then the Steven's hand was on his thigh and moving upwards over the material of his trousers. Adrian could feel his penis hardening even before the young man's hand reached his balls. He put his own hand over Steven's cock and could feel it growing through the blue underwear.
The young man's eyes flickered. He whispered, "A tenner."
Adrian froze. "You want money?" he asked, snatching his hand away.
Steven let his eyes fall. He said. "I've got no job. What sort of life do you think I can have on Social Security? I have to make it any way I can. I'm sorry."
Adrian said, "I haven't got any money either. I only have a part time job on minimum wage and probably don't get much more than you."
There was a pause, and Adrian was about to turn and leave when Steven suddenly smiled. It made his face look beautiful. "What the hell," he said. "I make a rotten hustler anyway." He grabbed at Adrian and pulled him down on top of him, their groins pressed together. The naked flesh was under his hands, soft and silky, though the underlying muscle was hard.
"Let me take my clothes off," Adrian said and Steven let him go, pulling off his own underpants and socks.
Swiftly Adrian stripped off his shoes and socks, jacket, trousers, and underpants until he stood, in just his shirt having trouble with the buttons. They both shivered with the damp chill of the basement room and the excitement. Steven couldn't wait for Adrian to get his shirt off. He grabbed him again and pulled him down, holding each other, their tongues and hands exploring each other's bodies.
Adrian, on top, slowly inched down Steven's body, kissing and licking. He paused and sucked at the nipples, then went down and put his tongue in Steven's navel, smelling his scent, a mixture of soap and sweat. Steven giggled and wriggled so Adrian went even lower so that he could reach the fuzz of pubic hair around that sprouting cock.
"Turn round," said Steven's voice, high with arousal, "so I can do the same to you." Adrian needed no second urging and soon both boys' faces were buried in each other's groins. Adrian ran his tongue up and down the erect shaft facing him and then licked the firm young balls, taking each one into his mouth and gently mouthing them one at a time. Then he moved back and enclosed Steven's prick as far as he could into his mouth. He could feel his own erection being taken into Steven's warm mouth and knew ecstasy.
He put one arm over Steven's legs and gently explored his arse. He found the puckered hole and inserted his finger. He heard Steven gasp and then felt him doing the same. He pushed harder, at the same time sucking and wanking with his free hand.
Steven gasped, "I'm coming," and then clamped his mouth down again.
There was a warm, salty spurt filling Adrian's mouth and spilling down his chin but all he felt was his whole being centred in his own groin as a source of pleasure, exploding and pulsing again and again.
Afterwards, they lay together stickily, and Adrian told him about the book of spells and how, just before Steven had turned up, Adrian had said the spell for granting his heart's desire.
Steven laughed. "And am I your heart's desire?" he asked.
"Well I was thinking of you at the time. I did rather fancy you," he admitted. "I'm not sure I believe that it really happened because of the spell though."
"Can I have a go?" asked Steven. "If I ask for something and get it, that'll prove it."
"Okay," said Adrian, "but you've got to say what you want first."
"That's easy," said Steven. "I need money more than anything."
"Go on then," said Adrian and watched while Steven plowed through the spell. For a moment they waited and then, when nothing happened, Steven sighed.
"Well," said Adrian defensively, "it doesn't say it'll happen immediately."
He got up and dressed while Steven lay in bed suddenly depressed.
As he was leaving. Adrian said, "Will I see you again?"
Steven didn't answer.