Say Your Prayers - Crystal Ash


Comfort Food


Sex could be a comfort. It could also be a weapon.

When you’ve been feeding for as long as I have, it becomes easy to identify all the flavors that color the taste of sexual energy. I’ve tasted love, joy, and despair. Bitterness, anger, and longing.

Ever since Hell rose up from the bowels to become Earth’s overbearing next door neighbor, I’ve tasted the entire spectrum of human emotions in just a few short years. By far, the dominant flavor has been fear, with hearty undertones of loss, grief, and heartbreak.

Virgins were especially volatile, depending on the reasons why they hadn’t spent their sexual energy with another person before the apocalypse. The one underneath me now, with his soft blond hair and pillowy lips, had the bite of shame in his taste. That pretty brow furrowed, digging deep lines into his forehead, as deep as his fingers pressed into my hips as he bucked into me. I dragged my blunt nails down his chest, over his nipples and watched the lines vanish with his surprise as his lips parted on a gasp and a whimper.

Pretty Zachariah, always shocked by what he was capable of, what he craved, a little self-disgust lacing the satisfaction I gave him.

I was perched on a ledge, overlooking the pits of agonized damned souls in the melee of pain below. Zachariah was there, superimposed over the violence, his own face twisted, but only with pleasure. I closed my eyes and Hell’s landscape fell away, leaving me in the quiet of the young man’s dream, our bodies colliding gently, reverently. He caught his breath, a puzzled smile on his full lips, and then rolled us in the white sheets of the dream, pinning me down with his hips rocking into me. In spite of his desperation, his endless craving for more, he still tasted mainly of confusion and discomfort.

He was delicious regardless, and not just in the energetic sense. His mouth was made for kissing, mismatched eyes curious and watching as I devoured him. He had a strong body, robust and young—early twenties by my estimate. And such sensitive skin, warm and responsive to my indulgent licks of his untouched flesh.

The first time I’d claimed his dream, I tasted his embarrassment when he came quickly, then the shame and disgust that flooded him right afterward. That confused me at first, until I tasted the sweet brightness of devotion, of complete trust and faith. Not in any single person such as a partner, but something much bigger.

Just my luck that my sweet virgin meal was also a priest.


I grimaced and left the dream, turning to face the interruption. A pain hellion, creeping closer, trying to smudge away the tenderness I’d just been enjoying.

“What do you want?” I snapped.

“New arrivalssss. At the gate.”

My jaw gritted, hands digging into the sharp stone of the ledge. This was my work. My duty to Hell. To welcome the damned souls that now flooded the bowels, to suck them dry and leave them compliant. And every last one of them was like drinking acid, leaving me weak and queasy, full of human pain.

“Fine,” I said. When the pain hellion hovered, its belly fat with all the good eating our realm gave it lately, I sat up straighter and glared, my eyes going yellow with warning. “Fuck off before I make you an appetizer.”

It skittered away, melting down a dark cavern. I let out a long, weary sigh and returned to Zach, finishing him roughly. I covered his mouth with mine, swallowing the silent cries of his release, and taking the sips of energy and pleasure that I’d been using all these weeks to sustain myself. I released him with a grazing kiss to his cheek.

He would wake, full of sweet relief. To him, it was only a dream. To me, it was the last thread of my sanity. Once, before Hell’s Rising to Earth, sex had only been satisfying a craving. A late-night raiding of the fridge while everyone else was asleep. Now, these moments were the scraps I was holding myself together with. Sex was not my weapon against him. At least, I didn’t intend to use it in such a way when I found him. I thought he would be one sweet, selfish moment.

But I went back to him for seconds.

And then, thirds.

And then I found two more delicious priests—without the capriciousness of virgin energy, but full-bodied and complex all the same. These men weren’t merely junk food either. I found their flavors