I have no idea why this idea wouldn't leave me alone. Please let me know if you enjoyed it and if I should continue it.

Three days after her almost wedding Lydia Deetz found herself side tracked by something shiny and stooped to investigate. Imagine her surprise when she held in her hand the very ring that Betelgeuse had failed to slip onto her finger. It had been glimmering innocently in a crack near the hearth of the fireplace and of course she could not help but pluck it up to examine it more closely. On a whim she slipped it onto her right ring finger and immediately decided she was going to keep it.

She told herself it was a reminder of what she had experienced, and no matter how much her parents tried to ignore or play the incident down she would always have her memory. And now she would always have the ring.

If she was honest with herself she really could not put a single reason on why she kept the ring. Yes, it was a reminder of the incident, but she could not help but feel the thrill of excitement knowing that her parents would completely disapprove of her wearing of the jewelry. If she dug a little deeper, maybe she kept it because she felt just a little bit flattered that she had been proposed to, even if it had not been romantic, beautiful or remotely welcome.

Delia and her father did a good job of ignoring the sudden appearance of jewelry on Lydia's finger, and if Barbara and Adam noticed her little act of rebellion they kept it to themselves. It wasn't as if anyone could do anything about it anyway. Lydia found out why the ring had been attached to a severed finger when Betelgeuse had first fished it out of his pockets.

It would not come off.

The fact honestly hardly bothered the girl since she hadn't been planning on taking it off anyway. It was darkly tasteful with it's night-black stone (a stone she still could not identify) and silver band. It felt somehow right on her hand. If it also somehow became somewhat nostalgic as she grew up, well, all the better.


Music thrummed through the floor and the walls and reverberated through her chest as Lydia flopped back into the plush comforter of her bed, breathless with laughter. Rob Zombie's "Dragula" filled the room, and herself, with energy. She lived in Hartford Connecticut in a two-bedroom duplex and made a living doing what she loved. She could not be higher on life.

The music was suddenly cut off and she turned to face her friend, Prudence, only to wince at the exasperated look on her face.

"We don't need your neighbors complaining any more." The red-head huffed, "maybe you don't want to keep your place, but Bertha and I enjoy staying over."

"Call me Beth, Prude." The tall brunette cut in and the pair exchanged annoyed looks. The pair fought like cats and dogs ever since Bertha got a boyfriend, but the love was still there.

Lydia huffed a silent chuckle and rolled onto her other side to capture the black ball of fuzz that had been dozing on her pillow. The cat, Percy, was used to such behavior from his owner and settled into her lap with the kind of tolerant glare only felines could pull off. His mistress ran her fingers through his fur, undaunted.

"How's it going with the new boy-toy?" Lydia waggled her eyebrows at 'Beth', who blushed beet red. She was sure her recent name change had everything to do with Thomas, the young man Bertha had recently started seeing. She supposed Bertha just didn't roll off the tongue when one was in the throws of passion.

"We're going out again Friday." Bertha sighed as she held one of Lydia's pillows to her chest. "He's going to take me to the drive-in theater."

"Better get some new underwear for the occasion." Lydia teased and fought a smirk at the dark blush that spread down her friend's neck.

"Why bother? It'll be too dark for him to appreciate it." Prudence pitched in from where she lounged at the foot of the bed. "On that note, why bother wearing any at all?" The room erupted into giggles while pillows and popcorn flew through the air. Percy heaved a long-suffering sigh and jumped out of his owner's lap to pad silently into the bathroom where he would not be disturbed by their antics.

"It's been too long since we've been able to hang out." Bertha said as she lazed back in the bean-bag chair. "Ever since we graduated we've been seeing less and less of each other." It was an undeniable truth, unless the trio put time aside it was impossible to find a day all three of them had free. Prudence had gone on to NYU, but Lydia had been content to do a few rounds of community college while she worked on promoting her own photography business, much to her parents chagrin. Bertha stayed behind in Winter River to help her own family with their farm.

Lydia grunted an agreement as she slid down the side of her bed and dragged her comforter down to the floor with her she stifled a laugh as the action dislodged Prudence and she thumped beside her with an undignified squawk. "Speaking of hanging out, didn't you say you had a favor to ask, Beth?" Just because she agreed to use the new name did not mean she would pass up the opportunity to poke fun at her any chance she got.

Unfortunately, said friend did not rise to the bait, and instead the brunette became withdrawn as she cast a hesitant glance at Prudence, the jovial mood of the room dissipated instantly as Bertha rubbed her arm. Lydia sat up straighter and fiddled with her ring as the atmosphere suddenly turned tense.

"Remember when I was asking about Ouiji boards?" Bertha ventured in a subdued voice. Of course Lydia remembered, she remembered telling her not to, under any circumstances, touch the damn things. Still, she held her tongue and nodded for her friend to continue.

"My aunt Melanie tried to use one to contact my cousin Luke. The one that died a year ago." Bertha interrupted herself when she saw that Lydia was already about to protest. "I know it was stupid but she was desperate, and I know you don't like people knowing that you can see ghosts, and I swear you won't even have to see my family, they won't know it's you, its just, I don't know if It is Luke or not but whatever came through is getting aggressive. It's slamming doors and breaking things and last weekend it tried to strangle auntie."

Strained silence stretched between the three friends as the other two tried to wade through the word vomit that had erupted from the tall brunette.

"And you want me to...what? Talk to the spirit?" Lydia had helped smooth over relations between haunting ghosts and their living roommates twice before, not including her own parents and the Maitlands, but neither experience had entailed aggressive entities like Bertha was describing. She was unsure what talking with them would accomplish, if anything at all.

"They don't know what else to do...they tried a self-proclaimed psychic and a Native American Shaman and both took their money but couldn't get rid of the-uh-presence." Bertha trained her pleading eyes on Lydia, "They even tried smudging the house with sage on their own but it only made things worse. Maybe if they could find out what the spirit wanted they could send it back through the board or something?"

Lydia bit her lip and continued to twist her ring as she avoided Bertha's puppy-dog eyes. She had a feeling that whatever was going on with 'aunt Melanie' was way out of her depth, but at the same time she hated to leave the family high and dry without even trying to help. Prudence crossed her arms under her breasts as she glanced between her two friends uncomfortably.

"Okay. It can't hurt to just check it out, right?" Lydia assented at last as she raised her eyes to meet Bertha's gaze. "You'll be there, too, right?" The brunette nodded as a grin broke across her face and Lydia's dark eyes sought Prudence who hesitated before shaking her head in the negative.

"Sorry. I'm just-I'm not comfortable with these sort of things." Prudence's eyes were locked on her feet. The red-head had been less open to the occult in any way shape or form since she had started at NYU.

"Hey, no prob." Lydia offered a bright smile, "Beth and I got this covered."

Bertha called Lydia later that night to inform her that her aunt was more than eager to have her 'commune' with the spirit, especially after she found out that there would be no charge for the service. Melanie agreed to leave the house empty that very Saturday so that she and Bertha may commence with the 'cleansing.'

"You did tell them this wasn't a sure thing?" Lydia said dubiously as she pulled her sleek black '91 Toyota Celica up to the curb in front of the two-story house. The neighborhood seemed like a peaceful upper-middle class suburbia, and with the sun shining and the birds chirping innocently it was hard to believe anything nefarious could be occurring within the domicile.

"Uh...I've got faith in you?" Bertha grinned at the half-exasperated half-amused look her friend shot her. Bertha's keys jingled as they approached the front of the house and Lyda clenched her fists and took a bold step forward as the door creaked open. She wasn't afraid of ghosts.

She hesitated a few steps in as her stomach plummeted to her feet and every hair on her body stood on end.

Heaviness pervaded the air. The thickness weighed heavily against both body and mind. It permeated the dimly lit room to make the atmosphere just that much darker. Lydia felt as if she was trying to breathe gelatin while she adjusted to the pressure the entity was exerting. So intense was the miasma of negativity that she was forced to grab onto the back of the sofa as a wave of vertigo rushed through her. Whatever dwelt within the house was powerful, and decidedly unfriendly.

Lydia gulped and wondered, not for the first time, if maybe she had bitten of a little more than she could chew by volunteering for this.

Then she remembered what Bertha had told her about her aunt's experiences, and how the spirit had escalated to attacking the woman. Lydia tried to hold onto the sympathy that the thought inspired and use it to bolster her courage, she tried to pep-talk herself with defiant thoughts of having nothing to fear from ghosts.

"Can you see anyone?" Bertha hovered in the open doorway, her voice a soft murmur as if she, too, could sense something foreboding in the house and dared not disturb it. Lydia shook her head and her friend continued, "I mean...someone is here, right?"

Lydia didn't trust herself to speak. She pursed her lips and took a reluctant step forward. The energy in the house was like nothing she had ever felt before, and she wasn't sure how she felt about that fact. Bertha, emboldened by Lydia's advance, hesitant as it was, followed suit until they stood abreast in the middle of the living room. The only light was the dim sunlight streaming through sheer curtains.

"Auntie was telling me that he's started talking to her. Luke, I mean. She swears it's his voice, and sounds like he's right there in her ear." Bertha's oral flatulence was a chronic condition, only made worse by her nervousness. "She says she can hear him crying and begging for help."

Lydia listened to her friend ramble with half an ear only for the pair to jump at a sudden sound from directly above them. Something heavy had scraped across the floor on the second story. They exchanged a look as the weighty silence once again reigned.

The ebony haired young woman closed her eyes to steel herself once again. She did not make it a habit to contact strange spirits, and she'd only interacted with the handful she had in the past to help them exist peacefully with the living and avoid exorcism. Only one ghost from her past rivaled the danger rolling through this one's aura, and she had escaped the situation unscathed, if almost married.

She was more experienced now. She could sense a particular spirit and feel out the dead's general mood through the energy they put out, indeed even as an inexperienced youth she had been able to differentiate between Betelgeuse's aura and the Maitlands, identifying him as the "snake" during their first official encounter.

This energy, the malicious heaviness that wound it's way through the entire house, was and was not like Betelgeuse's aura. It was similar in that it felt feral, wild, dangerous, but it was lacking something distinct. She wanted to say that it did not feel human. It was not as intense as the poltergeist's power had been, but it was more angry and felt just as unstable.

Her fingers trailed the railing as she stepped up the stairs with leaden feet and a dancing stomach. The hallway was darker than the living room had been, and much, much colder. She could only just make out three pale outlines of doors. The one at the end of the hall unlatched and creaked open an inch, almost as if daring her to continue.

She had only took a single step when a low growl rumbled from the darkness beyond the door. The sound was distinctly animalistic and shot chills down her spine. Bertha was a few steps behind her now, still following diligently despite her shaking. The brunette made no move at the sound, only watched her black-haired friend for signs of danger, and Lydia concluded that she had not heard the warning.

Lydia wanted to turn back. She wanted to get the hell out of this damn house, but she hadn't let Betelgeuse intimidate her when she was twelve and she'd be damned if she would let whatever this was get to her.

"Stay here." Lydia's voice was a cracked whisper as she left her friend at the top of the stairs and forced herself forward. Her heart quickened in her breast as she reached for the ajar portal and paused for a breath before rapping her knuckles timidly on the door frame.

"Hello?" She called gently. "My name is Lydia, I'm here to help." She kept her voice as mellow and friendly as she could. She had found that the polite approach usually yielded the best results. "I'm going to come in, I just want to talk." She took a fortifying breath through the thick miasma that seemed to spill out of the door, though the air was still heavy the entity seemed no more displeased than it had upon her initial entering of the house.

She received no response as she took a slow step into the pitch-black room.

Her heart was a steady beat in her throat and her mouth was bone-dry as she felt blindly along the wall for a light switch. She did not spare a thought as to why there was no sunlight trickling through covered windows, her only focus was how very, very cold the room was.

She could feel the entity move closer to her and she swallowed thickly as she tried to reassure herself that it was probably just curious. Lydia closed her eyes as the specter's fetid breath puffed over her skin and jostled her hair. It filled her nose with the smell of three day old roadkill fermented in the summer sun.

You faced the leading bio-excorsist and came out unscathed, you got this. The mantra sounded hollow to her but she kept it repeating in her head to steady her racing pulse.

"I'm going to turn on the light." She announced, proud that her voice did not quaver. She flicked the switch and felt her blood run cold as a scream lodged in her too-dry throat and came out a strangled sort of gasp.

The creature's empty sockets were only a few inches from her face as they stared out from the skull of a sharp-toothed canine. Two obsidian ram-like horns curved at either side of it's head and it's body was black and leathery with periodic tufts of course ebony fur and prickly quills on it's shoulders. Two nearly skeletal wings-tattered to all hell- erupted from a lumpy and equally emaciated body. It hunched low to stare directly into her eyes, its legs bending like that of an upright dog, and it's feet also distinctly canine. It had three clawed toes and three fingered talons that flexed hungrily where they hung between it's feet. A long leathery tail slithered lazily on the floor behind it.

The only sound in the room was it's too-loud rattling breath.

Lydia blinked as she took the thing in, unsure whether she was amazed at the impossible creature or terrified. Between it's legs and slightly in front of it was a superimposed image of a little brown-haired boy, an image that gave off no energy of it's own. Luke had never come through the ouijia board. This creature had been summoned from whatever blackness lay beyond the thing had been impersonating Luke, and had been using his voice and likeness to torment Bertha's aunt. It seemed to know that the illusion had failed and allowed the image of the rosy-cheeked boy to fade as it's face came impossibly closer, and Lydia's lungs failed her.

"What is it?" Bertha's worried voice sounded far away. "What do you see?"

The young woman's trembling hand lifted almost of it's own accord as she struggled with herself. This thing was dangerous, but it had a terrible beauty about it and she could not help but feel drawn-pulled towards it. Her fingers were nearly touching the coyote-like skull when sanity returned to her and she snatched her hand away and threw herself back against the wall with a solid thump.

"Not a little boy." Lydia's voice was barely a whisper as she belatedly answered her friend's question there was no way anyone else could hear her. The bone around the creature's razor sharp teeth shifted impossibly into a sneer as it reached out with one of its horrible-magnificent-terrifying talons.

Whatever had held her spellbound broke suddenly as adrenaline shot through her and she was flying out of the room and slamming the door behind her hard enough to knock the pictures off the walls. She grabbed Bertha roughly by the wrist as she ran past and stumbled hastily down the stairs. She did not stop even when she was safe in her car and halfway down the block, the tires of her Celica screeching around the turns as Bertha struggled with her seat belt.

She didn't know what the fuck that thing was, but she knew she did not want to see it again. Ever.

"So...it's not Luke?" Bertha ventured as Lydia's car squealed around yet another corner.

"Not even close."

Bertha was unable to pull an explanation out of Lydia no matter how hard she pressed for one. No matter what angle she tried her childhood friend remained infuriatingly silent. Strangely the activity in her aunt's house had suddenly stopped after their visit, though she could not see why. Her friend had hardly spoken at all, and not in any conversational way. They had barely been there thirty minutes.

Eventually Bertha stopped asking about it. The subject seemed to upset Lydia, and if she was honest with herself she did not really want to know what had been haunting her aunt's house, because she knew if it could scare Lydia it must be a whole new dimension of horrible.

The incident, as most horrifying things usually did, started out small. Things that honestly didn't even register after sharing her childhood home with two resident ghosts. A door would creak while she was working on a clients portfolio, or small objects would disappear and turn up in unexpected places. As the weeks went by, though, she could feel the energy begin to manifest, weak, but undoubtedly the same oppressive presence that had chased her from Melanie's.

One of it's favorite past times seemed to be startling her awake in the middle of the night by slamming her bedroom door hard enough to rattle the entire house. After a full week of this she resigned herself to only getting four hours of rest a night and compensating with lots and lots of eye makeup on days she had appointments.

Percy had stopped eating as soon as the activity had begun. He would hiss at shadows in the corners of a room and often struck out at Lydia when she tried to soothe him. The cat was loosing a dangerous amount of weight and so, though it broke her heart, she called Bertha to see if she had space for him on her family's farm.

Bertha told her about the abrupt cessation to the activity after their visit, and Lydia could only assume that the creature had somehow managed to latch onto her and was now slowly gaining strength in it's new environment. She did not divulge why her aunt was now unmolested to her friend.

Lydia did her best to ignore any occurrences. If she paid it's antics attention it seemed to encourage it's behavior, and when it managed to startle her it's energy hummed with pleasure. Her only saving grace was the fact that it seemed to be too weak from it's transfer to manifest physically.

So she put up with being late to meetings with clients because of her missing car keys, and she tolerated her lighter and her incense somehow ending up on top of her wardrobe, never mind that she was much too short to put them up there herself. Lydia refused to even move the items from where they balanced precariously over the edge. She brushed off lights flickering and doors slamming and threw herself into her work as her peaceful little duplex was slowly transformed into hell on earth. It would get bored and leave if it didn't get what it wanted, right?

One month after the start of the occurrences, it spoke.

She sat upon her bed organizing a portfolio of wedding photos for a client when the air took on a decided chill and the familiar fetid breath wheezed across her ear and right side of her face.

"Lyyyyydiiiiiiaaaaaaa." The voice was simultaneously bone-startlingly deep and barely a whispered hiss. Her body seemed to freeze as every hair stood at attention. With a force of will she did not know she possessed Lydia calmly packed her client's portfolio and headed out for an impromptu night on the town.

Her home had been torn apart when she returned the next morning, but she cleaned it up without a word. She would not acknowledge it. She wouldn't.

Lydia relaxed into the scalding hot water cascading around her body with a soft sigh. The house had been quiet the last week, almost suspiciously so, and she was determined to enjoy the peace while it lasted. Maybe the creature was finally getting bored and would move on to it's next victim.

She did not let herself feel guilty for that thought.

The steaming water suddenly went frigid and she shut the tap off with a strangled yelp and shivered as the air became thick in her lungs. She closed her eyes and told herself that she would stay strong, she would not react.

A sound like nails on a chalkboard pervaded the air and Lydia reluctantly opened her eyes. The creature was there on the other side of the sliding glass door. It was drawing it's talons languidly along the glass, the rest of it's body lost to obscurity beyond the fog.

It spoke a strange dialect, it's whisper-deep voice vibrating through her core as she turned her attention away and attempted to keep her eyes on the porcelain at her feet and ignore the thing. When the door to the shower began to slide open, she felt herself snap.

"No." She snarled lowly as she slammed the door closed. "You're not welcome here! Leave!"

The only sound after her outburst was her own nervous panting, and after a moment she realized that the creature really had gone. It's absence did little to comfort her, and so with her hair still sopping wet she threw on the first clothes she touched, packed herself an overnight bag, and left her duplex. She did not stop driving until she was safe in Winter River two hours later.

Of course all four of the residents were too ecstatic to complain of the lack of notice she had given them for her impromptu weekend visit, though decidedly less so when she explained what, exactly, had driven her there. The Maitlands were of course willing to help, but at a loss as to how. The Handbook only covered ground rules and exorcisms for human entities, which Lydia ensured them this was most definitely not.

Adam and Barbara offered to ask Juno, but Lydia declined. They only had two help vouchers left for their remaining 114 years of haunting, and she somehow doubted the caseworker would assist when the Maitlands were not directly involved anyhow.

During the weekend discussions Adam let slip that Betelgeuse had boasted of having 'demons running all through him.'

The statement gave Lydia pause, but there was no sure way to tell if he had been speaking truthfully. The poltergeist had been desperate for someone to let him out and would have said just about anything to get the Maitlands to unleash him. On the other hand, if he had been telling the truth the statement suggested that the poltergeist could somehow absorb and harness demonic energy as his own. She did not see how that was possible, but Betelgeuse had seemed able to do any number of impossible things in the short time she had known him, so she could not write the possibility off.

Truly she was tempted. Every time she thought about it, it seemed more and more likely that he would know something of demons. Would know how to get rid of the demon.

The only thing holding her back from summoning him was the nagging doubt in the back of her mind. Would he help her or haunt her? Though she hadn't been the direct cause of his downfall she had refused to marry him and broken their agreement.

Lydia decided to try the Winter River library while she was in town to dig up some answers, unreliable as they may be, to her predicament. She had searched for hours and turned up only one thin book, more of a story than actual fact, that had any reference to ghosts or demons.

Now, Lydia Deetz had nothing against organized religion, though she did not follow any herself, normally she saw no harm in it. As it was, when an entire library had been stripped of anything occult related because of the strong church presence, she found herself cursing said church and it's overzealous followers.

Without any research material there was no way for her to weigh Betelgeuse's power against that of the demon. Common sense dictated that anything demonic would automatically trump any human entity, and strong as the poltergeist had been it was undeniable that at one point he had in fact been human. She remained torn on the subject, but she did finally decide to bring Bertha into the fold and enlist her help.

She told Bertha it was because the library near her house was so big there was no way she could do all the research on her own. Really it was because she couldn't stand to be alone with that thing. She hoped having company would dissuade the creature and allow her to get some real rest.

Unfortunately both of her objectives failed spectacularly.

She had been sound asleep when pressure engulfed her neck and cut off her airway. She gasped and her eyes shot open to stare into the sockets of the nameless demon that had taken residence in her home. She struck out with her fists and jerked free of it's grasp only for white-hot agony to sear her shoulders as the beast's talons raked across her flesh. Her wrists were seized in a bruising grip and pinned above her head and a heavy weight settled along her body. The creature's coyote skull was grinning down at her as it ground her into the mattress with its body. It easily held her wrists with one large talon.

Her heart danced a staccato against her ribs. She would face ten Betelgeuses if it meant not having to deal with this thing.

"Lyyyyyyydiiiiaaaaaa." It purred gleefully as it raked its free limb down the side of her body, not quiet breaking skin with it's sharp touch. Between it's rotten breath and suffocating weight she could hardly draw any air into her lungs as she bucked and struggled beneath it. It growled, pleased with her terror and struggle, and the deep sound vibrated through her and the bed as it settled itself between her thighs. Her breath choked out of her when she felt a cold, slimy appendage pulsing against her bare leg. The entity's energy thrummed with greedy anticipation as it's grin widened into a leer and it's jaws opened to dribble reeking saliva on her face. A segmented serpentine tongue traced a frozen path from her hairline to her collarbone before it began to lap at the blood pooling at her throat from it's earlier attack.

It's free talon moved to forcefully spread her thighs and cleave a trail of blood in it's wake. The action sparked a surge of adrenaline as she realized exactly what this creature was about to do to her.

With a herculean effort she wrenched her entire body and imbalanced the creature just enough to free her leg and bring her knee up and into hard contact with the apex of it's legs and what she assumed had been it's slimy cock. A sound half-screech and half-yelp echoed through the room as the entity exploded into dark wisps of smoke and slowly dissipated.

Lydia lay panting and bleeding in her torn and sweat-soaked sheets. Her hair was plastered to her face and neck and though the room felt much lighter, and the malevolent energy seemed to have disappeared, she knew she had only won a battle. One of many to come.

It was time to call in a professional.

Lydia stared intently at her reflection and the shadows dancing along her face from the candle-light. She tried again to convince herself that this was the right path, and that it would work. She had sent Bertha (who had slept through the entire incident) home the day prior. She absolutely did not want anyone around if things turned sour. As the thought crossed her mind she substituted the alternative, her current reality. She recalled the helplessness of laying under the large creature as it's fetid breath panted into her lungs. Whatever hell Betelgeuse might plan for her could not be worse than her reality.

She opened her eyes and her gaze zeroed in on the onyx ring glinting eagerly in the shifting light. Her family thought that he was gone for good, but Lydia knew better.

If he had truly been gone the ring would not be stuck fast on her finger, it wouldn't be pulsing with anticipation as if it could read her intent, and it definitely wouldn't be exuding his feral energy as she bolstered her courage.

Her stomach tied itself in knots as she tried to breath through her nerves. She wasn't summoning him right away, he wouldn't be able to hurt her. It would be just like a phone call. It had worked with Barbara and Adam, it had to work with him too.

She closed her eyes and exhaled a nervous hiss. It was two nights after her altercation with the demon in her bed and the malevolent force had yet to return, but she knew it would not stay away for long. If she was going to do this it had to be now so the creature wouldn't learn his name. It could speak, therefore it could send him back.

Lydia concentrated harder than she had ever done with Barbara and Adam. She drew up every grimy detail from the mold across his face and on his scalp to the dank and musty smell that clung to his clothes and even the ebb and flow of his energy humming against her skin like a hive of bees. The ring on her finger pulsed with a life of it's own as her mental picture become clearer.

She hoped that by focusing every iota of her energy on these details she would somehow be able to bridge the distance between the living world and the afterlife. She inhaled one more quivering breath. Now or never.