By: Katie H.

Warning: Contains graphic descriptions of fear

“Behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”

-Mitch Albom


Mary had always thought that her mother had been a little ill in the head. You would think so too, if you were born into a house full of nonsense. Charms, spirit repellants, Chinese dream catchers, Indian cat-eye stones, talismans and a rabbit’s foot hanging from every crook in the house. Things went as far as carving ancient scripts in the wood of the doorway. Wolfsbane and marigold surrounded the perimeter of the small house and gleaming silver lined every window and replaced every doorknob.

“Oh, she’s just superstitious,” they would say. “Your mother’s just taking extra precautions.” They’d just laugh it off, continue their conversation. And that was okay, Mary thought, for they had always been told bedtime stories as children, starting with ‘once upon a time’ and ending with a ‘happily ever after.’ They got to wake up in the morning and go to school like any other kids and make friends like any other kid, they got to go to the park like any other kid and got to play outside like any other kid.

But not Mary. 

Mary was told the worst of the stories. Her mother told her stories of the undead, ones of lost souls settling in bodies not their own, stories of shadows that lurk in the darkness taking forms of those around her. Parents usually told blissful, peaceful stories in light voices, sing-song voices to their children that put their minds at ease and lulled them to sleep at night.                                         

 But not Mary’s.

When she spoke of the horrors and demons of this world, it wasn’t like the make-believe stories told over the campfire, always ending in a laugh or two, Mary’s mother spoke with such intensity you would almost believe it was true. There was no chuckle or even a sigh when she left her daughter’s room at night, getting ready for her own slumber.

Mary did not have friends. How could she? How could she have friends when she lived what seemed like a thousand miles from any sort of civilization and isolated from the rest of the world by her mother.

She didn’t go to school, of course. Homeschooled from the day she turned four. Sure, she could read, write and do math like any other person. And she had a few extra mandatory subjects like Latin, ancient Greek, “tonic”-making, “witchcrafts” and “ancient spells.”

By the age of five Mary knew every plant, every spell, and how to make and obtain every charm in the books. She knew to use anise and black pepper to cure a fever. She knew that tying a knife with a honeysuckle and putting it under the bed would cut the pain of childbirth. She knew almost everything by the end of the year, learning something new each day and taking a test at the end of each month. You could ask her about anything, anything at all and she could answer it in a heartbeat. Her mother made sure of that.

This wasn’t the only thing her mother did that seemed out of the ordinary. Mary would often catch her mother staring at what seemed to be nothing at all. Murmuring in a mixture of languages. Languages Mary knew all too well. 

A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future.

-Croft M. Pentz

 “Mary,” her mother started, one cold winter night. “Are you sure you can see them? The spirits and the ghosts and the shadows…are you absolutely positive you can see them as clear as I can?”

Mary lied. “Of course, I can, Mother. I can see them as well as you, how else would I know what you’re talking about when you refer to a certain apparition or spirit?”

Her mother stared at her for a few moments and sighed with a soft smile. “That’s good…I was beginning to worry that you might be blind to them, but I guess I was wrong. I would’ve set out one of the lesser demons on you, to activate a temptaint, but I see there’s no need for that.”

Mary was not sure why she felt the need to lie exactly. Maybe she thought that if she told her mother what she wanted to hear; it would all be over.

Long story short- the lie didn't work. If anything, it just made her mother more set on teaching her daughter to become just like her.

Because at the ripe age of nine she had “repelled” her first “minor spirit”.


[She could remember hearing her mother’s fervent calling as she made haste to the living room. ‘Is there something wrong? Did something happen?’ she thought to herself as she tripped and scrambled over a fallen dream catcher.

“Mother! Is there something…” She trailed off as she saw the position her mother was in.

“Mary, there you are!” she said, while trying and failing to hold five candles in one hand and spilling salt and dried sage all over the hard floor with the other. “Mary, look over there! Do you see it? It’s your very first apparition!”

. . .

“What?” Mary was confused. Why was this her apparition? Was something happening? Is she somehow getting her own apparition? But that couldn’t be, Mother had always told her that apparitions and spirits couldn’t be owned, that they had their own free will, so how is it that now she’s saying it’s her own apparition? Did she forget what she told her? It wouldn’t be impossible considering she made up the whole “apparition” thing to begin with. And why is she so excited about it? She shouldn’t have yelled at her for something as simple as this, considering she didn’t even have enough of a mind to tell her what it was or what she was talking about or much less tell her why she was in that foolish position. And if there was an apparition right there why wouldn’t she tell her which one it was? She would need at least somewhat of an answer if she was going to have to describe it to her Mother.

“What do you mean ‘What?’ You’re going to be repelling your first minor spirit! You should be excited, dear, this is a one in a lifetime event!” Mary’s mother said while trying to push the box of dried herbs closer. “Here, it’s just as we practiced, I’ve already got it trapped in the salt now all you have to do is-”

“I know what to do, Mother,” Mary interrupted. And she did. Based on the few things placed out in front of her she had a pretty good guess as to what her mother was referring to. A small, green, demon-like spirit about the size of a small dog, known for simple misdeeds like banging on the walls, tripping up the occasional fellow, knocking over vases and such, often referred to as a “Leprechaun” by everyday townsfolk. It was also the least harmful apparition on the entire planet. Why would her mother wait all this time, teach her all these lessons, just to have her face… this? She begrudgingly went to the drawer and got out a matchbox, taking a few candles from her mother’s hands and placing the sage in a metal pot. She then lit the match and set the sage aflame, lighting the candles in the small fire. “There, it’s done, are you happy now? Can I go back to my room?”

Her mother looked at her with that look in her eyes. That look she gave her when she got full marks on a quiz, or identified the right spirit, or when she could read a whole book by herself.

 It was the look of pride.] 


Years past and the days went by slow. When she was 10 her mother stopped letting her come to the market, stating quote on quote that “The demons and lost souls preyed on young girls like her with no mind of their own.” With no phone, TV, newspapers, electronics – she had no way of telling the time of the year, stuck to re-using her old calendar from over five years ago.

Mary felt like she was suffocating, drowning in her own home. She’s tried to escape, many, many times before, but to no avail. Her mother always knew. She always knew. And she always dragged her right back. 


Cherish those you have in your life because you never know when they won’t be there anymore.

-Sharafat Yousuf

Year 1957

She was seventeen when her mother got sick. “An unidentified, foreign disease” is how the doctor described it. Weeks past and she’d gotten no better. Days turned into nights and nights turned into weeks and weeks into months and months turned into a full-blown year and her mother… her mother just got worse and worse. But through all that, as weak as she may be, she still managed to tell her daughter a ‘story’ every single night.

“Mary,” she started, sitting down on Mary’s bed. “Do you remember that story I told you? I-it was quite a while ago since I last told you so you might not remember it much but…” There was a brief pause. “The one of… The one of the…mishap…of 1929.”

Of course, Mary remembered it. It was the only “Supernatural” thing her mother didn’t dare speak about. Of course she’s spoken of the so called ‘May Deviech’ (supposedly a story of a shadow woman that terrorized people in their sleep), and things like the “Calamity of 1612” (A ‘Sorcerer’ who was thought to be too full of himself and took it out on his city). Her mother had always said that she told those stories so they could prove as a warning to Mary. That there were “demons” out in the world that were thirsty for a soul like hers. That’s what her mother had been saying all her life. And Mary didn’t believe any of it. What she did believe, was that all of it was nonsense. She believed that her mother was wrong. There were no ghosts, demons, lost souls, nothing her mother said was true. It was all make-believe. Because if they were real, why had Mary never seen them?

“I remember it well, Mother.”


“Do you remember why I told you that story?”

“Of course, Mother. Because you didn’t want me to make the same mistakes you did.”

Another lapse of silence. “Right, Mother?”

“Y-Yes…I did a terrible, terrible thing. A thing that cannot be undone. I was a fool, Mary. And I do not want you to follow in my footsteps.” She took Mary’s hand in hers. “That moment I summoned him that moment that I summoned the demon Azawrath I- “

“It was a demon named Azawrath?”

Her mother was left shell-shocked, her mouth left wide open as she tried to find a response. ‘She obviously hadn’t been expecting that’ thought Mary.

“D-Do not speak his name so nonchalantly, Mary!”

“But why not? You just said its name loud and clear so why can’t I?”

“Mary, please let’s not have this discussion right here…”

“What do you mean? Didn’t you come here to talk about Azawrath?”

“Mary, stop with the name! And you know I didn’t mean-”

“No, I don’t, Mother. Please explain it to me.”

“I am trying Mary just hush so I can go into further detail! You need to know these kinds of things before you can go out into the real world! Especially what I’m telling you right now!

And at that moment Mary had an idea.

“Does that mean I can summon it like any other demon?”

“MARY! STOP!” Mary flinched. Her mother never shouted like that. She was just asking a question, was that so bad? Her mother had been teaching her how to summon demons since she was eight (Harmless ones of course), but what her mother didn’t know was that she read books on the “dangerous” demons too. She didn’t actually believe in them of course. She was just curious. But right now, knowing that she had the advantage over her mother, made some sort of adrenaline course through her veins. 

“I just wanted to know how to summon it. You know, so I can know how not to do it.”

  That was probably the wrong move. 

Because right then, her mother stood up from her seat on the bed and stormed out of the room, slamming the door with such ferocity that Mary swore she saw one of the hinges fall to the floor. She sat there in silence. What was she doing? What was the point in provoking her? It was obvious she didn’t care about the demon, or demons in general, so what was the point in pressing her mother about it? 

She had no idea. She didn’t get to think about it for long though. Because her mother stopped telling those stories two weeks later.


As Mary sat in the empty home that once belonged to her mother, she wondered what she was going to do next. She had already taken down each and every one of her mothers’ “charms” that hung around the small house. In a quick fit of rage, she had ripped up the Wolfsbane and Marigold planted outside.

She knew now,  that she was an adult. “People eighteen and older can do whatever they want in life as long as they put their mind to it,” which is how the police officer had explained it. “The best thing you can do now is get a job or maybe even apply for a college. I’m sorry to say this but you aren’t sheltered by your Mom anymore, so you’re on your own in this world.”

And that’s exactly what Mary did. She eventually got a job, though it was hard work with no experience and no high school diploma, and she decided to go back to school. Real school. She actually made friends, got to hang out with people her age and she got to do whatever she wanted. She didn’t have her mother to hold her back. She could do anything if she put her mind to it. Of course, there were some instances when people would look at her funny, when they learned she didn’t know how to work any sort of technology or she couldn’t do something as simple as starting a microwave, but that wasn’t her fault. Her mother was the one who hid this beautiful, real world from her. And Mary hated her for that. 

What was the point in hiding her from monsters that didn’t even exist? Her mother took away 18-years of her life, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t try.

She went to parties, went on vacations, did everything a normal teenager would do. The only setback being that- she wasn’t. Mary had to learn to pay taxes, drive a car, pay bills, work a real job, she had to work day and night just to be able to live. And she was fine with that. It was a little hard at first but once she got the hang of it she got to experience the world the way it was, and she had no doubts. She still had weekends off, so she didn’t really have to work 24-7, but she still spent every second of her spare time making up for the years she missed.

Which is exactly why she was huddled up in her small two-story home along with three other friends from college, drinking coffee, while watching old reruns of game shows and corny sitcoms.


“Cheryl, pass me my hot chocolate?”

“Of course,” she said, passing over the warm mug swirling with mini marshmallows.

Their sleepovers always went like this. Curling up under Mary’s many blankets, telling the occasional ghost stories (In favor of Mary of course).

They’d laugh it off when someone jumped or was spooked during the stories – nothing like Mary’s mother when she repeated the same stories to her.

One night, it wasn’t long after the game show ended, and Mary, too tired to watch another one, settled on telling more ghost stories.

“Mary,” Pamela started, “You said your mother was of the superstitious sorts, yes? Believing in witches and ghosts and stuff. Do you have any ‘old spells’ she’d tell you, besides the ghost stories and fairytales?”

Mary put her finger on her chin and hummed in response, pondering for a second. “Yes, there was this one she taught me, supposedly about summoning this overpowered demon,” she said with a slight grin on her face. She never minded telling her mother’s tales of the undead or ‘warnings’ of the unknown. ‘She always took them so seriously,’ she thought. They were perfect for ghost stories and whatnot, so why not use them that way. ‘Turn something ominous and scary into something that would make for a good laugh and a carefree atmosphere.’

“Oh really, and what was this so-called demon’s name, hm?” Judy snickered. “Let me guess, was it something like… Bobby George?”

Sounds of quiet laughter filled the room.

“No, she wouldn’t believe in something with a name as silly as that. Its name was…” She paused for dramatic effect. "…Azawrath…”

Now it was the sound of dead silence that took over the joyful atmosphere.

And in one, two moments, everyone but Mary burst out into a cackling fit of laughter.

“Okay, okay, and how do you suppose we summon this Azwroth?Judy asked dramatically, adding a touch of jazz hands.

“It’s Azawrath,” Mary chuckled. “And follow me, I have a lot of old junk and stuff that we can scavenge up in the basement.”



“When you said you had supplies, I didn’t expect for there to be…this...”

Mary looked around the basement. Rows and rows of different concoctions sat on the many different shelves, ancient books from Latin to Greek laid on the floor in one big heap. Ok maybe it was a little bit cluttered with all the bottles, herbs, spices, and religious charms, but it didn’t look like that to her. She had grown up with her house being a thousand times more cluttered than her basement would ever be, so if anything, it looked sort of clean. “You can look around if you want, while I look for this stuff, just try not to touch anything because some of it might be a little-” Crash! “…dangerous.” Mary looked back at Pamela, although not hurt, looked as if she’d seen a ghost.

“I-I swear I just saw a rat…” she said with a slight tremble in her voice, startling the others into frantically looking around for the rodent. Mary rolled her eyes as she grabbed an empty container and filled it up with various items.

Judy frowned as she saw the last item that was thrown in the box. “Are you sure you should be using those? They look kind of… ancient.”

“You mean these?” Mary said, holding up a bag of dried and crushed lionstail. “How can you even tell what it is?”

“Because it says it on the front,” she replied. Mary turned it around to find huge words scribbled down in fat Sharpie. ‘LIONSTAIL’. Huh.

“Well what do you mean it looks ancient, it looks fine to me.”

“The ones I have back at my home look a little more… alive than that. That bunch just looks like it’ll crumble up into dust as soon as you take it out the bag!”

She snorted at that. “Obviously we’re not going to eat it. Or put it anywhere near any of your food. Like I said earlier all of this stuff is for-” Bang!

Mary and Judy whipped around to find Pamela and Cheryl tripping over boxes and knocking things off the shelves in a haste to get to the entrance. “RATS! There are RATS in your basement Mary!” 

“And I saw a DEAD cockroach underneath one of the boxes!”

Mary laughed. “First of all, there’s only one rat and his name is Charles-”

“You gave it a name?”   

“Yes, and second of all what were you doing under my boxes?”

Cheryl sputtered, “W-we were looking for the rat-”


Everyone looked to where Judy was pointing, their faces frozen in a sort of comical horror. There was, indeed, a rat scurrying across the stone floor. Mary sighed, “Ok guys it’s fine I’ll take care of-” But Mary never got to finish her sentence, because right then she saw a pink house shoe soar across the room, only a couple inches away from her face.

Catch it!”

“Hurry, throw your shoe at it or something!”

“I just did!”

Mary pinched the bridge of her nose as she shook her head in disappointment. It was just a rat. She dealt with those all the time when she was little, trapping them in small cups and picking them up by their tails to drop them just outside the front door. Or she gave them to her mother for one of her little “crafts”. Whichever came first. And the dead cockroaches? They were just bugs. Dead ones, nonetheless. What were they so afraid of? “All of you, out before you actually manage to break something.”

“But Mary you should really do something about your rat problem.”

“And your bug problem!” Pamela added helpfully



They were up in her room once more, now with three empty buckets once filled with salt sitting off to the side, two bags of rabbit’s foot, and three cups of dried and crushed marigold with a small bit of the Lionstail off to the side. The whole thing was set out into a large circle, decorated with various lines and shapes in a neat and organized manner, representing several ancient Greek symbols. Candles lit up each corner of the circle, making the salt glow an eerie orange.

“Okay, what do we do now? Just wait for the smoke alarm to go off?” Judy asked, obviously losing interest.

“You guys are the ones who wanted to do this. I’m not backing down after I just poured two gallons of salt all over my blanket,” Mary retorted. “Besides, not much left to do anyways. Now we just have to chant out its name.”

And they did. They all got in a circle around the spilled salt and whispered his name, (Not at all in sync, but it would do). They got louder and louder as they became more sure of themselves, and it went on like that for two whole minutes before a sudden cold draft of air startled them out of it. A familiar whirring sound could be heard from the next room across, and Mary realized it was just the air conditioning.

“Ok so…Did it work?” Pamela asked with hesitance in her usually light tone. They all looked around, not really sure what they were looking for exactly, but still searching for something that seemed out of the ordinary.

“Aw, I don’t see anything!” Cheryl whined.

Mary giggled at this. “Well what did you expect?”

It’s not like anything would happen. It was fake after all.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

      Later that night, after her friends had painstakingly cleaned up every grain of salt and spice out of her blanket, they had curled up under one of her (other) blankets. Mary eventually decided to replay the same channel they watched earlier that day. She didn’t even notice that despite the chill of the room, she felt warmer than usual, hot even. Maybe she was coming down with a cold.

It was far past Midnight when she woke up once more, with sweat dripping down her face. The lights were off, so she couldn’t see the clock. She got up slow and steady, and walked across the room with one hand on the wall so she could find the light switch. It wasn’t long before she did, and soon as she flicked it on, she screamed at the top of her lungs.

  Standing right in front of her was a beast so hideous she thought she might have been having a nightmare. Standing at least eight feet tall was a monster made of a shadowy mist, red gleaming irises squinting down at her small form as it widened its mouth into a wild Cheshire grin, stretching across the expanse of its face, showing off hundreds of rows of wicked teeth. 

And it screamed.

  It screamed so loud Mary thought she heard glass break, pounding against her ear drums as she stood there in momentary shock. She snapped out of it and ran back into the living room where the rest of her friends were sleeping. She looked frantically for them, throwing blankets and spilling mugs of hot chocolate, but they were nowhere to be found. “Wh-wha…”

Right there, in place of her friends were three mounds of a black sickly goop, boiling over and melting into the blankets, sizzling as it bled into the carpet. She didn’t have time to process anything, for right when she turned around, she was met with the monster she’d seen only a few seconds before. Now she saw the same goop was leaking out of the crooks of its teeth and dissipating into its ghastly body, and she could feel its breath against her soft pale skin, the feeling of a cold yet blazing acid burning through her flesh right down to her bone. She shivered immensely and let out a small distressed whimper as she felt her heart beating right out of her chest. She didn’t register it coming closer, its mouth opening even wider, splitting its face in half. 

All she could think was Azawrath.

She didn’t know how she knew. Maybe it was the fact that it was the only word in her head, repeating louder and faster as the demon drew nearer, printed in black bold letters. 

‘Azawrath.  Azawrath.  AZAWRATH.’

She scrambled to her feet as fast as she could, tripping over herself multiple times, and holding back a sob as her foot got tangled on the edge of the blanket. She ran as fast as her legs would take her, narrowly missing the demon as its fangs closed around air. She hastily made her way to the stairs, no matter how dark it was, she still knew the layout of her own home. Mary stumbled down the stairwell, ignoring the feeling of cold hands clasping around her ankles, and the burning feeling of those red gleaming eyes watching her with every step she took.

There. Right there was the door that led outside. She could run and get help. Everything would be fine.

She slammed open the door and rushed out without looking back. And she ran, she tried to ignore the blood-curdling screams of the monster behind her. She only slowed when she felt the feeling of gut-wrenching despair and fear slowly dissipating, and her heartbeat didn’t make her feel like her chest was going to explode.

‘Help. I need to find help,’ she thought. There was a quick second of utter hopelessness when she realized no one would believe her if she tried to explain what she’d just witnessed to the police. 

She quickly regained her posture and tried to find a reasonable explanation for all of this.

 A dream. This is all some silly dream. Yes, that was plausible. Mary had always had vivid dreams ever since her mother passed away. She never knew what they meant or why she had them, but when she explained the matter to her doctor, he passed it off as the occasional lucid dream. A common occurrence in the lives of everyday citizens. That must be the case here. Yes, she was dreaming. That explains what’s happening. Why her friends weren’t there. Why there’s suddenly a big shadow monster chasing after her. It was all a dream. A dream. It wasn’t real. It’s not real. It can’t be real.

She was dreaming.

But then why was her heart still racing? Still pounding like it was trying to leap right out her ribcage? And the suffocating feeling dancing right on the back of her throat winding its way up to the back of her tongue and pounding against her clenched teeth.

She stopped running and faced the direction she came. ‘This is just a dream,’ she thought to herself. ‘It can’t hurt me. I’m invincible here.’ She could feel its presence getting closer, the cold suffocating feeling of pure and absolute terror slowly began to creep back into her chest again making it harder to breathe. She repeated it like a mantra, ‘It can’t hurt me it can’t hurt me it can’t hurt me.’ She felt as though she were gasping for breath as she felt the air compressing around her and squeezing her entire body- her knees weakening as she felt it getting harder to stand. The buildings and street lights seemed to be getting closer, towering over her until she was just an ant underneath someone’s shoe. Every instinct in her body was telling her to run as fast as she could away from the drowning presence but yet, she couldn’t move. Her feet were rooted to the ground. 

She felt as if she were sinking into the street, the cold, rough feeling of asphalt spreading around bare feet, the small rocks and gravel digging into her skin and igniting small sparks of pain.

It’s not real it’s not real it’s not real it’s not real this isn’t real none of this is real

She closed her eyes and took deep breaths, only for her eyes to fly back open when she felt the prickly feeling of being watched. She whipped her head around in fear, frantically looking for the demon.


Too fast too fast this is all happening too fast.’ 

She didn’t have time to think. She didn’t have time to collect her thoughts. One minute she’s fast asleep with her friends and in the next she’s outside being chased down by a fictional shadow demon. She didn’t understand. Her other dreams weren’t like this. This felt like real fear. Not the kind of fear she felt in her other dreams. This wasn’t mock fear or mild fear or mild anxiety or mild paranoia. 

This was real. This was the kind of fear when she first found out her mother was sick. When she found her mother curled up on the hardwood floor spitting blood and gasping for breath. When her mother went limp in her arms and her eyes rolled to the back of her head, unconscious. When she had no idea what to do or how to get help and when she made the decision to leave her mother to find a doctor or someone who’d know what to do. She felt real fear when no one would help, when the people walked past completely ignoring her hysterical cries, avoiding her instead of just listening to what she was saying.

This was real fear.

She was breathing harder now. Hyperventilating even. Because this. Was. Real. There was no denying it now. Even as she felt the cold feeling of its red eyes prickling on her the back of her neck, something that shouldn’t even exist, something that shouldn’t be able to exist. 

She felt it again.

And she turned around.

And there it was. In all its glory. Only a few hundred-feet away. Its shadowy mist rising off of its tall figure like steam, rows of huge knife-sized teeth shaped into a giant face-splitting grin, the blackish ooze spilling through every crevice and dripping onto the sidewalk, burning holes right through the thick layers of cement. 

And then it ran. Before Mary knew it, it was right upon her, unhinging its jaw to let out a terrifying scream. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t run. Her legs wouldn’t move.

The last thing she thought of was her mother. ‘Maybe she hadn’t been crazy after all,’ she wondered. ‘Was everything she talked about real? Why couldn’t I see it?’ But then she thought back to that time, almost 10-years ago now, when her mother had asked if she could see them. If she believed in them. 

‘Maybe if I had said no…’

The monster was staring at her now, its face only a couple inches away from hers. She stared back. She could feel its cold breath on her forehead, ruffling her hair in the slightest.

“Wh-what!? A-aren’t you going to f-finish me off?!” She didn’t realize she was crying now, fat tears rolling down her cheeks and dripping down her chin. Everything, everything she has done has all led up to this very moment. She sobbed. Every choice, every doubt, it all led up to this moment. She could have spent more time with her mother. She knew her mother was sick, and she still treated her like the ant under her shoe. ‘I’m a horrible person,’ Mary thought as the monster opened its jaws wide, preparing to bite down.

She deserved this. 

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”

-Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Mother’s Daughter, a story about believing.

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