Five and Daemon
They slammed through the door, Johnny in the lead. Leaping down the steps, they ran to the car and jerked open the doors. Cerise almost pushed Fran face first into the back so she could jump into the front seat. Johnny had his keys out and was shoving them into the ignition before he was completely in the car. He turned the key. The car sputtered to life and Johnny slammed it into reverse, the tires spinning and throwing a cloud of dust and gravel across the parking lot.
Fran scrambled upright on the back seat as the car roared down the dirt road. She squinted through the dust cloud the car churned up.
“I don’t think they are following us,” she said, turning around. Cerise nodded.
“Probably not,” she answered. “The demons are too tied to their vessels by now. They can’t get too far away or they’ll lose their connection to this world.” She turned back to the front and glanced at Johnny. He was gripping the steering wheel so hard, his knuckles were white. His face was pinched in a scowl.
“What’s up with you?” Cerise asked. “We got away with our skins, didn’t we?” Johnny was silent for a long moment.
“He fried my yo-yo,” he said. Cerise rolled her big green eyes. “What? You know I depend on that thing. It helps me concentrate.” Cerise held out a hand.
“I know, but it’s not like that was the only yo-yo in the entire world. We can get you another one.” Johnny shook his head.
“Yeah, but it’s got to be the right one, and then it will have to be empowered. Plus, this is a big assignment, and I’m not sure a new talisman is going to be up to the work.” Fran leaned over the seat back.
“Are you saying you aren’t going to be able to get rid of her- uh, him- them?” the waitress asked. Johnny shook his head.
“I’ll get rid of them, don’t worry. It’s just going to be a bit more complicated, that’s all.” They drove in silence for a while, headed back to the center of Carroll Fork.
“Can’t just be any old yo-yo,” Johnny muttered, breaking the silence. “That one was the only one like it in that store.” He sighed loudly and stared out at the road ahead.
“You know,” Fran said from the back. “Earline Johnson- she was in the diner this morning. The older woman with the colorful necklace that you- well, whatever you did to whatever was in it.”
“You mean that atrocious piece of junk she had around her neck?” Cerise shuddered.
“Yes, well, Earline has a toy store in town,” Fran continued. “Lots of specialty stuff you don’t find in the discount stores. And a lot of classic toys, too. I bet she’d have a yo-yo for you.” Johnny glanced at her in the rearview mirror.
“Now that is a good idea,” he said. “I’ll have to check that store out.”
“Johnny? Can I ask you something?” Johnny glanced in the rearview mirror again. Fran was sitting forward on the rear seat, and her hands gripped the front seat backs. Johnny nodded.
“What is Satan doing in Carroll Fork?” Johnny half-smiled.
“First, that is Lucifer, not Satan,” he said. “They are two different, well, entities, I guess you’d have to call them. Lucifer was the Morning Star, one of the brightest of the high orders. He also led the rebellion that became what you know as the battle between good and evil. He lost…”
“And was cast out of Heaven and banished to Hell. Yes, I know that. I went to Sunday school, you know.” Johnny snorted.
“Yeah, sort of. Anyway, Satan is more like the personification of all the bad things in the world. Luc is just- I don’t know. Can’t really call him evil, because he’s not. He’s more misguided and thinks his way is right.”
“And bored right now, apparently.” Cerise cut in.
“Yeah, and that is never a good thing.” Johnny could see Fran frowning in the back seat.
“You sound like you are defending him. RevRob would be appalled, and say you have become a tool of the devil, you know.” Johnny laughed.
“Oh, he’s way out of line here. I know that. And I intend to stop him. Defending him? Not in cases like this. Interfering for amusement is just not allowed. But, in general, he’s not a bad guy. Snappy dresser, knows a thing or two about good food and wine.”
“Don’t forget his devilish good looks,” Cerise said. Johnny barked a laugh.
“If I did, he’d be sure to remind me.” He furrowed his brow, staring ahead again. “Speaking of your RevRob, I think I may want to talk to him, too.” Fran shrugged.
“Sure. He’ll be at the church or his house,” she answered. “We can go there when we get back to town, if you want.” Johnny nodded and nudged the accelerator. The car shook and rattled, and shot forward on the road back to Carroll Fork.
They drove along Main Street, passing Essie’s, a bank, a pet salon, hairdresser, two barber shops complete with red and white striped poles, and a laundromat.
“Small town America,” Johnny remarked as they drove.
“Hick town America, you mean,” Cerise grumbled. She was looking out the window, frowning at the quiet street.
“Hey!” Fran said, slapping the back of Cerise’s seat. “You’re talking about my home, you know. Carroll Fork may not be big, or busy, but it’s a nice town. Well, it was until it got possessed or whatever happened when Miss Lucy came here. And why here. of all places? We’re not famous or anything. I bet most folks in the state don’t even know where we are.” Johnny shrugged.
“Hard to tell. Maybe we can get some answers from your reverend. Or his sweater, at least.”
“There!” Fran pointed to a small, white building up ahead. “That’s the church.” Johnny pulled up to the curb and parked. They climbed out and walked up the path to the church. It was small and square, with stained glass windows along the sides. Two more flanked the front door. A bell tower rose above the roof of the church, its peaked roof topped with a large cross. Neatly trimmed shrubs were planted across the front of the building and the lawn was green and closely mowed. A sign stood to one side of the small porch. It’s three lines read “Carroll Fork
Interdenominational, Church Reverend Rob Patterson, Pastor All Welcome Always.” A sidebar listed the time for both Sunday school and services. They walked up the four steps to the door and Fran pulled it open. They stepped into the vestibule. It was quiet and cool, with light wood walls and floor. A long runner rug ran from the door into the church proper. They walked through the arched doorway and down the aisle between the pews. The altar at the front was a simple raised table, covered with a short white cloth. A wooden stand to one side held a closed bible. To the left of the altar was a plain wooden podium with a microphone curving up from its surface. Beyond the lectern were benches and kneelers for the choir, as well as a small organ and piano. As they walked forward, a slight man with gray hair turned from the candle stand on the far side of the altar. Cerise looked up at Johnny as they both recognized the blue-gray sweater he was wearing.
(Copyright 2015 M.A. Kropp)
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