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OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for intermediate learners. The name of the story is Beelzebuddy, the Cleaning Demon. This is chapter one of two. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Clean1. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Clean1. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So today is another original story, a story that I wrote myself.
So a demon is a type of monster that is in all religions. Demons usually live underground, or in hell, and they like to make humans miserable. In some stories, people can summon demons, they can call the demons up from hell. Then the demons have to use their magic for the person who summoned them. In Christianity, Satan, or the Devil, is the king of the demons.
So, as you can tell from the title, this story has a demon in it. And I don’t know why, but I really love demons. Well, I love supernatural creatures and monsters in general!
But today’s demon is a very funny demon, he’s a comedic demon, which I think is my favourite type of demon. I either like my demons to be funny or really, really powerful and scary.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A trampoline is a thing that you put in your garden and jump on. Trampolines are made of a black material that pushes back, so when you jump on it, it throws you into the air. Jumping on a trampoline is a great form of exercise, and some people can even do tricks while they’re in the air. Trampolines are very popular with children, but you need lots of space in your garden for one.
When a plant is overgrown, it means that it has grown too much, and is taking up too much space. If you have a garden, it’s important to cut plants regularly, and to remove weeds, so that the garden does not get overgrown. Overgrown gardens can be a great place to hide, though.
A stray animal is an animal that has no home or owners. Usually, this is stray dogs and cats, who live in the street. Stray animals can be dangerous as they often carry diseases.
A witch is an evil woman, a very bad woman, who does magic. Witches go [cackle]. They have black cats as pets, they have big black hats and they fly on broomsticks. In Harry Potter, Hermione is a very successful witch. The musical Wicked, which is one of my favourite musicals, is about witches.
When you shrug, you raise your shoulders, and sometimes your hands, to show that you’re uncertain about something. If someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, you can lift your shoulders and shrug. It can be a bit rude or very informal, but it’s a very convenient way to answer.
When something is outside of your remit, it means that it is not within the list of tasks that you have to do, your remit. In a company, different departments will have different remits. For example, maybe you work in the graphics department, but someone asks you to prepare a buffet for an event. You can say, ‘That’s a bit outside of my remit!’
When you set something on fire, you put fire on it so that it starts burning. Sometimes, people set their house or business on fire so that they can get money from insurance, although this is illegal. If you set something on fire, it can be hard to put the fire out, to get rid of the fire.
When you have offered something to someone, but they refused, and you want to remind them later that they can still take your offer, you can say, ‘The offer still stands.’. For example, maybe you offered to help your friend prepare flowers for her wedding, but she refused, saying that she can do it fine on her own. However, weeks later she’s horribly stressed and the flowers aren’t ready. You can say, ‘The offer still stands,’ and if she’s smart, she’ll accept your offer this time.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support me on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to my new patron: Nina Wohllebe. Thank you so much, Nina. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Beelzebuddy, the Cleaning Demon Chapter 1
Once upon a time, there was a miserable woman called Rhiana who lived on the edge of town and never went outside. Why would she? She hated the outside world, with its noisy people and dirty streets, and she had everything she needed at home. She had her pet cat, Mitsy, who loved to throw things on the floor and break them, and when she needed food, she could just order it online.
True, her house was a disgusting place. It was full of broken decorations—thanks to Mitsy—piles of dirty clothes, dusty furniture and bowls of half-rotten food. But nobody but Rhiana and Mitsy ever saw the inside of it, so what did it matter?
Unfortunately, as much as Rhiana tried to hide from the outside world, she could not escape it entirely. The family next door had two young children, and every day they played in the garden. They jumped on the trampoline and screamed and shouted, and it made Rhiana want to pull her ears off. Sometimes she watched them from her own garden, hidden in the overgrown plants, but she never had the courage to tell them to be quiet.
Not only this, but when she did leave the house, she had to run like mad. On the other end of the street lived a stray dog, and he loved to chase Rhiana and try to eat her. She was so scared of it that she only went out once a month, to go to the doctor. It was hardly worth it, anyway, because the doctor always told her the same thing: she needed to start doing some exercise. She never listened to him.
The worst thing of all, though, was the letters she received every week. Every Friday morning, another yellow envelope came through her letter box, and every Friday afternoon, she threw it on the fire without reading it. She had hoped that the author of the letter might leave her alone, but this had not happened.
One Friday, Rhiana considered, just for a second, opening the letter. But then she growled with anger and tore it in two.
‘I’m sick of this life!’ she told Mitsy, who was washing herself. ‘I need a change.’
She considered her options. She could start doing exercise like the doctor said, but she’d look so awful doing it. She couldn’t just pick up a new hobby. Any new toys she bought would get lost in the mess of her house instantly. And she really, really couldn’t go out and make friends with people, either, because the townspeople were all afraid of her. Oh yes, they hid it well, but she knew what they really thought.
No, she needed help to sort her life out, and she knew just where to get it. She ran upstairs into the attic, where her grandmother kept her old books.
‘It should be around here somewhere… Aha!’
She pulled out an old, thick book. Even though it had been sitting in the attic for decades, the pages were clean and strong.
It was a book of magic. Her grandmother had been a witch, not that Rhiana had ever cared much about it. She wasn’t talented, and she’d only ever needed magic that one time.
No, she wouldn’t think about that now.
‘If I can’t get rid of those horrible people myself,’ she said, trying to distract herself, ‘perhaps someone else can.’
She opened it to a page that said SUMMONING DEMONS. She looked through the pictures of various monsters on the page.
‘That one’s too strong. I don’t need that much power. That one has a funny-looking head. No, I need something that’s easy for beginners to summon, but can still kill a few people… Ah, this one looks perfect! Beelzebuddy: a beginner-friendly demon who’ll easily clean up your problems. That’s just what I need.’
So she searched through the attic and found some old candles, set up the summoning circle and got work. Rather annoyingly, Mitsy kept trying to knock the candles over, so she had to put her outside and lock the door. Then she cut herself and poured her blood into the circle, said some funny-sounding words, and waited.
A minute later, a short, fat little demon appeared before her.
‘Why, hello there! I’m Beelzebuddy, or “Buddy” for short! And I am very short… At your service. No spill, no stain, no mess is too much for me to clean! Just give me a cloth and a bucket and I’ll get right to work!’
‘What are you talking about?’ said Rhiana. ‘I don’t need you to clean. I need you to get rid of some nasty people—and a dog—from my life.’
The demon looked confused, then he looked down and saw the magic book.
‘Oh God, you’re using that one. The description in it is quite inaccurate. Someone needs to teach those witches some marketing skills.’
‘Whatever,’ said Rhiana, waving a hand. ‘Can you get rid of people or not?’
‘You mean kill them? What, do I look like a murderer? No way. I’m just a cleaning demon. And if the rest of your house is anything like this room, I think you need my help.’
‘I like my house dirty, thank you very much! If you can’t help me, then leave.’
She waved her hand, but the demon just stood there awkwardly.
‘Well, you see, now that you’ve summoned me, I can’t leave until I complete your task.’
Rhiana felt a headache coming on. She never used to get these, back when she was with Evelyn. Everything had been easier then—no, she had to stop thinking of her! If her thoughts stayed with Evelyn, then she’d be a mess all day.
‘Is something wrong?’ said the demon.
‘No!’ she barked. ‘If you can’t kill those people, can you at least get them to… leave my life? You don’t have to kill them with your own hands or anything.’
The demon shrugged. ‘It’s a bit outside of my remit, but I suppose I can try? But cleaning is really what I’m good at. Look, I’ll just use some magic, it’ll only take—’
‘No!’ cried Rhiana. ‘I’m serious. It’s a decorating choice. I love the dust and dirt.’
To prove her point, she ran her finger through some dust on the floorboard.
‘See? Lovely.’ She coughed and got up. ‘Now, follow me.’
Rhiana walked him to the overgrown garden, which took a while because Beelzebuddy was the size of a small child and walked as slowly as one. As they hid in the overgrown plants, Rhiana pointed out the children, who were playing on the trampoline.
‘See those two nasty little kids? They make such a noise every day, jumping up and down on that trampoline. Oh, it gives me such a headache, and then I go to lie down and I can’t sleep! Get rid of them.’
Beelzebuddy hesitated, and then said, ‘Your wish is my command.’
He clicked his fingers and disappeared. A moment later, the children screamed, and Rhiana guessed they had seen him. Smiling to herself, she went inside to feed Mitsy.
An hour later, there was a knock at the front door. Rhiana ran over, expecting to find Beelzebuddy waiting to tell her that the family was moving out and never coming back.
Instead, she found the two children, a boy and a girl, staring up at her.
‘What is this?!’ she hissed.
‘Miss Rhiana,’ said the girl, ‘we’re so sorry for making all our noise with our games. It’s just that, we didn’t know that anyone lived here. We thought this house was empty. Buddy talked to us, and we decided that we could play at times when you’re not sleeping. Or maybe you could join us for our games?’
‘Me, join your games? What a ridiculous idea! Get out of my sight, and if I hear you playing again, I’ll send my demon to chop off your head!’
She slammed the door and turned around to see Beelzebuddy waiting behind her.
‘What do you call that?’ she said.
‘I did what you asked for, didn’t I? I got rid of the problem. It’s not my fault you didn’t like the solution.’
‘You’re a demon. Shouldn’t you have set the house on fire or something?’
‘That’s not what I do,’ he said. ‘Cleaning, yes. And the offer still stands, by the way.’
‘No!’ cried Rhiana. ‘Next, I need you to get rid of the stray dog at the end of the road. And when I say “get rid of”, I mean it.’
Beelzebuddy shrugged. ‘Alright then.’
And he clicked his fingers and disappeared.
Rhiana went and slept for a bit—the headache had arrived now. When she woke up, she smelt something coming from downstairs. After years of living in such a messy house, her nose had gotten quite good at recognising smells, and what she smelt downstairs was a dog.
And not just any dog.
‘What is the meaning of this?!’ Rhiana screamed, running into the garden.
There, Beelzebuddy was riding the stray dog around, as the two children watched and laughed. When the dog saw Rhiana, she froze, expecting it to attack her, but the demon stroked it and said, ‘Easy, doggie,’ and the dog stayed calm.
‘Don’t worry, it won’t be for long,’ he explained. ‘He’s such a good doggie. I had a little chat with him, and he agreed to come back with me to the demon world.’
‘Buddy can talk to dogs!’ cried the boy.
Rhiana ignored him. ‘I don’t care what you agreed with the dog, I don’t want it in my garden!’
‘Well then,’ said Beelzebuddy, getting off the dog, ‘you should give me my last task, so I can complete it and leave you alone.’
Rhiana pushed her teeth together so hard it sounded like they might break.
‘Fine then, but this time, I don’t want any of your tricks. You need to actually do what I say, understand?’
‘Yes, o powerful master. Your wish is my command, and so on.’
Although Buddy had seemed friendly and fun-loving before, it was clear that he was losing his patience. Rhiana, for some reason, felt hurt by this. But this was why she didn’t let people into her life.
‘Go to 3 Yellow Brick Lane and talk to the person who lives there. If they’re not on holiday, that is. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait around until they get back.’
‘And what horrible crime have they committed against you?’
‘They’ve been sending me letters for years, and I want them to stop.’
‘That’s it?’ said the demon, surprised. ‘Couldn’t you just go and tell them yourself?’
‘Absolutely not!’ cried Rhiana. ‘What do you think I summoned a demon for? Now go!’
Beelzebuddy shrugged and clicked his fingers. The boy and girl gasped when he disappeared. They started shrugging and clicking their fingers, trying to make themselves disappear, but the girl shrugged so hard she fell over. Rhiana growled and went back inside.
Meanwhile, Beelzebuddy made his way to 3 Yellow Brick Lane. He expected to find the house of a very annoying salesman, since this person had been sending Rhiana letters every week.
So when the door opened to reveal a beautiful middle-aged woman with lemon-coloured hair, the demon was quite surprised.
‘Er, can I help you?’ she said, looking down at him.
‘Ah, well, it’s a bit awkward, you see. I’m a demon, and my master’s told me you keep sending her letters, and she’d quite like you to leave her alone. So, uh, could you stop doing that?’
The woman bit her lip and sniffed. Tears started to form in her eyes.
‘Oh God, I didn’t mean to make you cry!’ said Buddy. ‘She just gets too much post, you see, and—’
‘It’s Rhiana, isn’t it?’
The demon gulped. ‘Yeah. Old friend?’
The woman shook her head. ‘More than that. But yes, I can stop sending her letters.’ Her voice broke for a moment. ‘Thank you for letting me know.’
She went to close the door, but Beelzebuddy stuck his foot in it.
‘Now, now. I can’t leave someone alone and crying, can I? Let me come in for a chat. Don’t worry, I don’t know any bad magic. Just cleaning. Although your house looks quite clean already.’
The woman smiled like the sun. ‘Yes, yes OK. Come in and I’ll give you a cup of tea. Although as a demon, you’d probably prefer whisky, wouldn’t you?’
‘Tea will do me fine!’ said Buddy, following her inside.
‘I’m Evelyn,’ said the woman as they sat down at the kitchen table.
‘Beelzebuddy. Pleasure to meet you. Now, tell me all about the history between you and Rhiana.’
‘It’s a long story. Are you sure?’
‘Absolutely. What are demons for?’
So Beelzebuddy took his cup of tea—along with a handful of biscuits—and listened to her story.
END OF CHAPTER 1
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