Five and Daemon
“Can I help y’all?” He had an exaggerated Southern accent that was probably designed to sound comforting. “Oh, well, hello, there, Fran. Bring some new friends to the flock?” Fran stepped forward.
“RevRob, these folks just got into town, and, well, some really odd things are happening, and they just need to…” She faltered, turning to look at Johnny. He stepped forward and held out a hand.
“Morning, Reverend,” Johnny said, as they shook hands. “We just wanted to talk to you. Well, to your sweater, actually.” RevRob stopped in mid-handshake. He looked at Johnny, his brow furrowing deeply.
“My sweater? Boy, you been standin’ out in the hot sun too long?” Fran’s eyes grew wide and she pointed to the Reverend’s arm.
“RevRob, you’re on fire!” There were tendrils of smoke rising from the arm of the sweater.
“What?” RevRob tore the sweater off and tossed it on the ground, where it began to inch its way across the floor. Johnny stepped down on it firmly, trapping it under his boot. He bent down and picked it up, wrapping his arms tightly about it as the fabric began to twist and writhe.
“Oh, no, you don’t. Reverend, is there somewhere we can do this with a little privacy?” RevRob, his mouth hanging open, nodded and led them to the side of the altar and through a door. At the end of the inner hallway, he opened the door to his small office. There was a desk and office chair with two upholstered chairs in front of it, a bookcase, and a kneeler with a Bible open on the top rail. Johnny set the sweater on the desk, holding one arm to keep it there.
“Really wish I had my yo-yo,” Johnny muttered. The arm of the sweater twisted and pulled in his grip. “Guess we’ll have to do this the hard way.” He picked up a letter opener from the desk. “Cerise?”
She climbed up on one of the chairs, and stared at the sweater.
“Can you hold it still? I’m having a hard time focusing.”
Johnny grimaced and grabbed the other arm of the sweater, pulling it taut across the surface of the desk. It squirmed and wiggled, but couldn’t free itself.
“Better?” Johnny asked. Cerise nodded. She stared at the sweater for a few seconds.
“There. Third button from the top.”
Johnny nodded and grabbed the front of the sweater, bunching the fabric so the button Cerise indicated poked out of his closed fist. Using the letter opener, he began to saw at the threads holding the button in place. As he began to cut through, a thread of daemonflash became visible to everyone in the room. RevRob had picked up his Bible and was holding it in front of himself like a shield. With a last pull on the opener, the button popped off. It bounced from the desk to the floor, spinning on the bare wood like a top. The thread of daemonflash spun between it and the front of the sweater. As the button slowly spun to a stop, the flash faded. Standing where the button had been was a small creature. About ten inches tall, it had a thin, hunched body with long arms and bent legs. The head was too large for its body, and long, pointed ears sprung from its bare scalp. Beady black eyes regarded Johnny. A grin split its beak-like mouth. In one quick movement, it hopped from the floor to the desk where it sat on the edge. Johnny leaned back, half-sitting on the desk edge next to it.
“So,” Johnny said, looking down at it. “A sprite. Figures. Messenger boys.” The sprite hissed.
“Couriers,” it replied. It’s voice was squeaky and rough, like rusty gate hinges. “Assistants. And not boys. Well, not all of us.” Johnny half-smiled.
“Yeah, sure. And you’re just making sure the message gets out, right?” The sprite dipped its large head in agreement.
“It’s the job I was given. A sprite always does his job.” It looked up at Johnny. “You here to clean up?” Johnny tipped his head, not agreeing or disagreeing. “Gonna be tough. Big boss running this show.”
“I know. I’ve already talked to him. He’s not all that eager to leave, is he?” The sprite just grinned.
“So, tell me,” Johnny continued. “What’s his plan? Why is he here?” The sprite folded its long arms across its body.
“What did he tell you?”
“Said he was bored, and was just having some fun.” The sprite laughed. It sounded like gears grinding.
“Well, what do you know? For once, he tells the truth. He must like you.”
“The truth? He’s gonna go home and find it frozen over,” Cerise said. She was sitting cross-legged on the chair. Johnny snorted a laugh.
“Probably. But we still have to figure out how to send him there.” He stood up and faced the sprite. “You’re going to have to leave, you know.” The little creature stood on the desk. He raised his head to look at Johnny.
“I know,” it said, with a shrug. “Don’t want any problems. I’ll just go back to the office. Plenty of work for us, you know. I’ll have another job soon. Good luck tossing him out of here. You’re gonna need it.” The last words echoed from a puff of gray smoke that swirled on the desktop. When it cleared, the sprite was gone.
“What in Sam hill is goin’ on here?” RevRob was backed up against the bookcase, still holding his Bible in front of his chest. He had a wild look in his eyes. Fran walked over to him.
“Near as I can tell from what I’ve seen today,” she said. “Lucifer is in town, and he’s brought a whole pack of demons with him. He’s been disguised as Miss Lucy, and has been sellin’ those horrors packed with the stuff from the shop. These folks are here to put a stop to it.” RevRob pulled his eyes from her face to look at Johnny.
“And one of them was in your sweater. It was the sprite who got you to talk up the shop on your show, sending more people to buy more tainted objects.”
RevRob stared at the sweater like it was going to bite him.
“It’s okay now. It’s just a sweater again,” Johnny said.
“I think I’m going to burn it, anyway,” RevRob muttered as Johnny, Cerise, and Fran walked out of the office.
“What now?” Fran asked, as they were climbing back into the car.
“Now,” Johnny said, slipping the blue-lensed sunglasses on. “I need to go to that toy store.”
(Copyright 2015 M.A. Kropp)
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