Caspian rolls his eyes. “What are you going to do – novelty me to death?”
The demon controlling Lilitu’s body glares, pulls back and hisses, “Don’t even think about resisting me.”
“I’m not thinking about it – I’m doing it. Try to be a little more observant.”
“Sorry and all that. The list of things that utterly terrify me is already full. I can put you on a waiting list or you can hope for a cancellation.”
Bernice is trying to paralyse the demons. The air fills with swirling smoke glowing and whipping her hair. Celia is trying to bind Lilitu with a magical golden thread.
Caspian is very much alone with the demon of possession and seriously relieved when Lilitu collapses in a faint. He says, “Ha! That’s you sorted.”
Celia gasps. “She was always very hard. I’ll take her away.” She heads for the door and drags Lilitu after her, golden threads tight round Lilitu’s neck.
Caspian turns in triumph to Bernice. “Cool, huh? I beat a demon. I’m amazing.”
“A moron! Why didn’t you let it take you over? That would have been so much easier. You just declared all-out war.”
“I didn’t – honest.”
“That demon of possession just failed. Unbound it must return to Hell where it will be tortured and humiliated. Guess what will happen after that?” She lowers her wand, shakes her hair straight and slumps on a sofa. “Oh, and guess who it will happen to…”
Robin’s head emerges from behind the sofa. “Is it all over? What happened anyway? What was all the shouting about?”
Caspian sits beside Bernice. “If you’d been watching instead of hiding you might have…”
“I wasn’t hiding – just getting changed. Can someone get me a taxi?” Caspian passes his phone to Robin and asks Bernice, “How long does it take to torture a demon?”
“Hell has no time, only eternity. For all I know it’s back already. When it gets you there’ll be blood everywhere, entrails splattered across walls, exploding eyeballs and the stench of incinerated flesh … could you go outside?”
“Good idea! I’ll go and see Andy. A demon is hardly going to take on a cacodemon. Er … or is it?”
Bernice taps her lips with the wand. “You’ll be fine. I’ll stay here. This is where it last saw you and probably the first place it will start searching.”
“You’ll be OK?”
She closes here eyes. “You ask such stupid questions. Do you have a book full of them or do you really make them up on the spot?”
“Mostly the last. I’ve been practising.” He walks to the door. “Bye, Robin. Get out while you can.”
Jogging alone the corridor her enters his room, stops dead in his tracks and wishes he had his phone. Racing back to the office, he throws the doors open. “I think it’s in my room. I saw something move…”
Bernice rises, takes a blister pack from the table and recharges her wand with a fresh battery. A zigzag line of light crackles across the room. “What did you see?”
“Dunno, just something out of the corner of my eye.”
“Right, let’s go and zap it horribly.” She whips out her phone. “Celia dear. Can you come to Caspian’s room?” She listens. “No, not a threesome; a demon.” She takes Caspian’s elbow. “Stay close.”
“I think I probably will.”
They march along the corridor and stop in the centre of the bedroom. Bernice looks round. “Nothing that I can detect. Did you really see something or were you just panicking?”
“Most of those. Take your pick.”
He stares at his reflection in the mirror. The reflection’s eyes widen and it says, “Boo!”
“Bernice, it’s my reflection… Bernice … where are you?”
He whirls round a stares at a portrait on the wall. Something is odd about it. A nanosecond later Caspian realises it’s reversed. He turns and slaps the mirror. “Bernice, watch out: that’s the demon! I’m trapped in the mirror.” Helpless, he watches her searching the room, doppelgänger in tow. They’re talking but Caspian can’t hear anything. Celia comes through the bedroom doors.
With a twitch of her wand Bernice paralyses the demon. It stares in horror as Celia sends a golden thread round its neck.
Bernice walks to the mirror; she’s almost crying with laughter. She stops, clutches her stomach and taps the glass. “Get out of there, moron. You fell for a child’s trick.”
“How did you know it wasn’t me?” Caspian steps back into the room.
“Because it wasn’t acting like an idiot or a wimp.” She stands on tiptoe and kisses the tip of his nose. “But it was the intelligent conversation that convinced me.”
©Gary Bonn 2015
Bernice and Caspian first meet as mutually contemptuous enemies in The Cross-dresser’s Habit. A wild ride through the paranormal.