“Many phenomena — wars, plagues, sudden audits — have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man, but whenever students of demonology get together the M25 London orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contenders for Exhibit A.

 

Where they go wrong, of course, is assuming the wretched road is evil simply because of the incredible carnage and frustration it engenders every day.

 

In fact very few people on the face of the planet knew that the very shape of the M25 forms the sigil odegra in the language of the Black Priesthood of Ancient Mu, and means: “Hail the Great Beast, Devourer of Worlds.” The thousands of motorists who daily fume their way around its serpentine lengths have the same effect as water on a prayer wheel, grinding out an endless fog of low-grade evil to pollute the metaphysical atmosphere for scores of miles around.”

--Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

 

  

The rain drizzled impotently upon the gathered crowds milling at the end of Ninth Street. Some impudently stuck their tongues at the falling drops, while others simply added a rain jacket on top of their layers. Resting Slut Face instinctively took his shirt off. After a last burst of effort, the clouds dolefully gathered themselves and packed off to bother another, more sensible group.

 

Tricraplete pulled One Night Only to the side. “You sure you want to do this?”

 

“Of course!” she exclaimed fervently. “The first hash of the year—a perfect time to utilize the energies of the world. All united in fresh hope, all with focus directed towards new resolutions… resolutions that will go unfulfilled, lending us power that we can turn to our own purpose. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?”

 

Tricraplete frowned, and unfolded the list of instructions he had received from the Modern Order of San Francisco Satanists, Inc.  “Risks include the following,” he read aloud. “Locusts, plague, flooding, earthquake, hipsters… I mean, I guess no one will notice,” he finished weakly. “But giving them a thousand dollars to design our trail?”

 

“Worth it. Once we set the pack off, their pounding feet will take them on a course that will gather the forces of Hades itself to our ends.” She grew quiet as Udder Moron walked by, sipping his beer. “And the keg? Blessed by the Lead Satanist Himself, the Reverend Willicuddy. Every sip gathers even more power.”

 

Tricraplete had been responsible for the keg blessing as well, and he swallowed as he remembered the journey into Mike’s Liquors. The Reverend was a living mass of beads and Satanic symbols powered by an overwhelming scent of patchouli, and he had clinked with every ponderous step he had taken. Tricraplete had to upend several cases of beer (and pay for them himself, thank you very much) in order to provide enough of the distraction for the Reverend to slink into the back room, and once they had emerged from the store he had had an unsettling need to wash his sticky hands. It was enough to put Tricraplete off his beer.

 

While he had been reminiscing, One Night Only had given chalk talk, instructing the hash to pay reverence and homage to the Russian churches that they would pass. Muff Daddy belched in agreement, taking the walker’s map and tucking it deep into his jacket pocket to join last week’s potato chips. Just Aaron adjusted his headphones for maximal sonic penetration. Then the pack took off, winding their way through the park towards their first check.

 

“Shit,” Tricraplete muttered, as they trailed behind the group to take in the disarray. “Where are they going?”

 

“Excuse me, sir.” A prim woman pulled her Chihuahua up to her chest. “What do you think you are doing? What is this powder on the ground? Are you trying to get my Fluffles ‘high’?”

 

“Fuck off, bitch,” said One Night Only pleasantly, and they moved on. “No problem,” she said to Tricraplete as she studied a map on her phone. “Look, they’ve made a perfect flourish on the sigil.”

 

“You GPS tagged them?”

 

“It was just a pinch on the bum. Dick Simmons even giggled when I did it.”

 

“Don’t you think you’re going too far?” he asked her, grabbing her by the shoulders. A block away, a slab of drywall narrowly missed Rocky Mountain Oyster.

 

One Night Only’s eyes glowed an eldritch blue, and she cursed the loss of her blood sacrifice. “Tread carefully, Tricraplete. My focus can change before the end of the night.” She pulled away from him, and they walked onwards in silence.

 

Meanwhile, the pack ran through the Outer Richmond, over rain-slicked sidewalks in search of the elusive trail. Each missed mark, each difficult check drew them further and further into One Night Only’s clever web. Slowly, the group began to sense the effects of the powers that they were gathering. Closet Twitcher trembled as he felt the warm breath of hounds at his heels, a reminder of indiscretions past. Weiner I Am lifted his arms as a glow graced his cranium from above, an orange vest floating downwards from the heavens onto his shoulders.

 

“On on!” shouted Roman Showers, the Spirit moving within her. “Oh, that feels nice,” she smiled. Primal Vagina eyed her, and took off in the other direction.

 

Bum Sucking Electric Fag stumbled out of a dark alleyway. “Did someone call?” he croaked out as Jizzard darted by. Watching the stream of flashlights approach, an old feeling resounded in his bones. “Not like I have anyone better to do,” he muttered as he joined them.

 

It was not long after that they had found the beer, with Hand Pump carefully wiping the tapped keg off. Cool liquid graced their throats and wetted their appetites. Weiner I Am frantically began to Instagram the orange food, jeans mysteriously tightening further around his thighs. He squinted, and put on his non-prescription glasses. Public Enema No.2 pulled Stinky Floss along with an equal fervor, scouting the crowd for Hepatitis Seeing Eye Dog. Having learned that HepC/D was an expert at scouting out narcotics, Public Enema knew the time was ripe to blackmail the hapless canine, who had taken some unfortunate photos last year with an underage pussy.  However, Stinky Floss had found herself unpleasantly wet, and she pulled Public Enema in his pimp coat relentlessly towards the bar.

 

“I have a confession,” Masterbaster pulled Cockagami to the side. “I was in Tahoe, and I could have stayed. Uncle Bad Touch offered me beer. And titties. And his own bed.  But I came… back!” Allahu Aqbark yelped in agreement.

 

“It happens to the best of us,” Cockagami soothed him. “For your penance, just kneel down—“

 

“Hey, isn’t it time for circle?” Saigon Sally interrupted, a growing crowd standing behind them.

 

“Fine, fine. At this time!” called Cockagami.

 

“Faster, funnier!” yelled Brown Eye For The Gay Guy.

 

“Faster, funnier, sexier,” said Do Her Well. “Pick two.”

 

“Faster, funnier,” yelled Fucker.

 

“Sorry, we’re all out,” said Cockagami. “But we do have some wonderful parting gifts for the crowd,” he added, enticing Weiner I Am, Hot Dick, and Gobblle My Ass from the group. As they mudwrestled for the skimpy bits of lycra, Do Her Well pulled the hares from the sidelines. Lightning pulsed through the sky.

 

“Attention, hashers,” One Night Only’s reedy voice sounded over their heads. “Your support is needed in the next election. One Night Only for Mayor!” Wind swirled between her legs, lifting One Night Only’s coat.  “The forces of darkness compel you!”

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, but where’s the On After?” yelled Cuming Mutha.

 

“Translater!” demanded Bloqueen.

 

“What did he say?” asked Buck Fucka.

 

“On after!” explained Wrinklepecker. Some of the crowd had already drifted away. The rest milled around impatiently.

 

“That way!” called Tricraplete, relieved to get the group out of there.  One Night Only turned to him, face full of rage.  “You had your chance,” he told her staunchly. “Now go to the bar and play nice. You owe it to them after all you’ve put them through tonight.” She sighed, feeling the thrill of power run through her veins, then slumped her shoulders as she let it go.

 

As One Night Only learned that night, the hash cannot be compelled by forces as trivial as the fires of Hell. However, those alighting from Civic Center BART that evening might have noticed a slight flicker in the lights of City Hall. And if one had been standing in the dark offices of the Board of Elections, one might have heard a pause and hum as the computer systems rebooted. And the next morning, if one had heard the cursing of the IT Department, one might have wondered if any of the records of the department, such as the ranking of the applicants for an internship position, had been affected. And if that a new hire for the Board of Elections happened to be a tad more disorganized than most, and also had a propensity for talking nonstop about his acoustic band, One Night Only… well, perhaps the outcome of the next mayoral election is in more doubt than one would think.