And here is Part Three. As usual, links to the first two parts for those who may need them.
Five and Daemon
Cerise and the waitress were sitting in the booth. Everyone in the diner was watching them. Johnny sat down and set the scarf on the table. Fran looked dazed. Johnny slid his mug of coffee across to her. She just wrapped her hands around it, her knuckles white. Slowly, the other patrons went back to their breakfasts, and the kitchen went back to cooking. Fran looked across the table at Johnny.
“What was that?” She looked down at the scarf, now lying quietly in front of Johnny. He poked it with a finger.
“That was an imp,” he said. “Not dangerous, really. Just annoying. Like to cause mischief. Likely he was why you’ve been so clumsy.”
Fran rubbed at her temples. “A what?”
Johnny grinned at her confusion. “Yeah, I know. Sounds crazy. Imps are minor demons. This one was in your scarf there. Have you had it long?” Fran was staring at him, eyes wide. She turned to Cerise.
“He’s crazy, right?”
Cerise grinned. “Yep. Bat-shit crazy. But in this case, he’s also right.” Fran stared at her for a few seconds. She looked like she was about to get up and run. Johnny leaned forward.
“Look, I know it sounds insane. But demons are real, and this town seems to have some sort of infestation. And they’re all tied to objects. Cerise, here can see them. Sort of.”
“She doesn’t actually see the demon itself. She sees what we call daemonflash. It’s a sort of glow or spark that marks a demon’s presence. She’s sort of like a bloodhound, only for demons.”
Cerise gave a “Hmph!” Johnny grinned and shrugged. Fran looked from one to the other of them.
“I can’t say I don’t think you both are out of your minds, but I know that scarf acted like it was alive, and I’ve been doing stuff I never would have before.” She shook her head. “Demons. In Carroll Fork.”
“So, how long have you had this scarf?”
Fran looked at the scarf, still lying on the table between them. “I got it a couple days ago. At Miss Lucy’s. I liked the color.”
“And that’s when your troubles started, right?”
“Y’know, you’re right.” Fran wrinkled her forehead, thinking. ”That’s when I started dropping stuff, and messing orders up, and lots of little things like that.” Johnny nodded.
“As soon as you put it on, the imp started influencing you. Well, he’s gone now.”
“What about all the other stuff?” Cerise gazed around the diner as he stopped speaking. Johnny threw her a look.
“I suppose you think I should get rid of all of them, too?” Cerise just tipped her head at him and stared, eyebrows raised. Johnny sighed and stood up. “I was hoping to keep a low profile for a bit, you know.”
“When have you ever done that?”
Johnny glared at her, and turned to face the room. He rolled his shoulders a few times, and stretched his arms out, linking his fingers and cracking his knuckles. Dropping his arms to his sides, he shook them for a few seconds. By now, almost everyone in the diner was looking at him. Fran raised an eyebrow at Cerise, who tilted her head at Johnny.
“He’s always been kind of… theatrical.”
Johnny looked at her with a hissed “Ssh!” He pulled the yo-yo out of his pocket and began spinning it out in front of him and rolling it back into his hand as he walked down the aisle between the counter and window tables. At almost every table he passed, something started moaning or wailing. A teaspoon here, a salt shaker there. The hat on the seat next to the old man. The blue-haired woman’s necklace. The noise reached impossible decibels and all of the items were banging and clattering, twisting and writhing. Johnny stopped at the end of the counter. He spun slowly around in a circle, the yo-yo dropping and returning on its string all the while. He snapped the yo-yo into his palm with an audible slap. He raised his arms to shoulder height, and began to speak.
“Hear me, demons and spirits.” The wailing became louder. People were covering their ears. A few tried to get up and leave, but the air in the room became heavy and pushed them back, as if they were trying to move through a sea of molasses. Johnny spoke again, louder this time.
“Hear me, demons and spirits! I command you now, and compel you to obey.” His eyes, closed until now, snapped open.
“Begonia!” The yo-yo snapped straight out and back, hissing through the air and slapping back into Johnny’s hand with a pop. The wailing and moaning stopped. For a moment more, nothing happened. Slowly, wisps of smoke began to float upward from all of the possessed objects. They swirled together into a twisting tornado of gray. It hung at the ceiling for a second, then shot up through the ceiling tiles and was gone. Johnny took a deep breath, nodded once, and turned back to the table where Cerise and Fran sat. He dropped the yo-yo into the Rock-the-Baby trick as he walked. Fran turned to Cerise.
“Begonia? A yo-yo?”
Cerise shrugged. “He’s unconventional, but he gets results. You gotta admit that.” Johnny sat down, still rocking his baby. He grinned at Fran and Cerise.
“And now, I think it is time to pay this Miss Lucy a little visit.”
End Part Three
Go to Part Four
(Copyright 2015 M.A. Kropp)
Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.
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