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A New Adventure
A new adventure. That was where this was headed. Right into the heart of it. I didn’t mind. In fact, I preferred it. Who wanted to be stuck at home all weekend glued to the computer and eating everything unhealthy in the house. Not me. So when the signs started coming, quite obviously I might add, I ran toward them while everyone else ran away.
“You’re different.” She said with some surprise.
“No duh.” I replied sarcastically.
This seemed to annoy her. Which I also preferred. Annoyed antagonists were always my favourite. More things happened that way.
“Look, just go-”
We both jumped away from it, the showering rocks and dirt and the huge crater suddenly in the ground. The antagonist let out a stream of foul words and got to her feet, pulled a gun from her waistband and started firing it into the trees around us. At what, I had no idea. I didn’t think she even knew where she was aiming. I walked back to the hole and peered into it happily. It was a good five feet deep, and three feet wide. I couldn’t see anything that might have caused it.
“Fun.” I drew out the word.
“Run!” The woman shouted at me.
I turned toward her, a smile on my face.
“What’s firing at us?” I asked her.
She made an exasperated noise and fired another round into the trees.
“Forget it.” She muttered and grabbed my wrist as she ran past.
A school. That’s what we were behind and now currently running past. A great place to start this. Lot’s of chatter, rumors and amid those rumors was a string of truth that I could find. The woman threw me into the backseat of a car and jumped behind the wheel. In a second we were careening down the street, whatever had been firing at us far behind.
“Well then. I’ve gotten into a car with the antagonist.” I chuckled.
“Anta-” The woman shot me a look. “I’ll have you know I’m the good guy.”
“Really?” I asked, my voice strained with disappointment. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” She snapped.
I slumped back in my seat. We turned a corner and I slid over to the other side of the car. It was time to put the seatbelt on.
“So who, what or when is the antagonist?”
“When?” The woman asked.
“I’ve had some strange experiences.” I shrugged. “Answer?”
“It is a demon.”
“What kind?” I asked.
The woman laughed. “I tell you that the thing that just blew a hole right next to where we were standing was a demon and you say ‘what kind’?”
“Yes. We just did that. So, answer?”
She laughed quietly to herself like she thought she was going insane.
“Uwi.” I breathed, turning to look out the back window. That explained a lot. “That makes this a lot less fun.”
“Fun?” The woman shrieked. “When was this fun?”
“When wasn’t it?” I countered.
“Mary is going to love you.” The woman muttered.
“Mary? Who’s that, then?”
“Boss?” I cried. Oh. Well, duh. “No, you don’t understand. I have to go now. No meeting bosses, no explaining things, just leaving. Okay?”
She deigned not to talk for the rest of the drive.
This was just great. On second thoughts that wasn’t sarcastic. It really was. This was going to be exciting. Meeting Mary. I got chills just thinking about it. She’d probably be human, unfortunately, and most likely very unhappy to see me. I could deal with that. Most people were unhappy to see me. Take this woman for example. She hadn’t given a hint of a smile since she’d seen me. Oh well. This is what I get for being like me. Chasing after adventures, constantly putting myself in danger. Some would argue it wasn’t the smartest choice or the sanest but it was fun and that was all that mattered. Fun.
We pulled up in front of a house. It looked like any other house. Small garden of multicoloured flowers out the front, one story and a stone pathway leading up to the door.
“What’s your name?” I asked the woman as we walked up it.
She refused to answer. Instead she knocked on the door and we waited. It was opened a few seconds later by a tall blonde teenager with an annoyed expression. She seemed a little younger than my seventeen.
“Who’s she?” The teenager asked rudely of the woman, jerking her head toward me.
“Trouble.” The woman muttered.
The girl shrugged and walked away, leaving the door open.
“Mum!” She called as she walked down the hallway. “Lara is here!”
“Lara.” I tested the name then grinned. “I like it. LLLlaaaaraaaa. Laaarrrrra. Lara Lara La-”
“Stop it!” Snapped Lara.
I turned my attention to the small kitchen we were in. An island bench with a pot of congealing mac ‘n’ cheese on it, some cupboards, a sink, and the complete lack of the smell of fresh cookies. I’d only ever been in one kitchen that had smelled like those fairy tale books with the nice mother who bakes and sends her kids off to play with a steaming cookie. It had shortly been destroyed by a vat of stinking yellow acid. Courtesy of some branch of the government that was now disbanded. Courtesy of me.
“Right then.” I smiled at Lara. “Cya around. Or not. Hopefully not.”
I turned but she caught my arm.
“Ah, I’m leaving.” I pointed out.
“Who are you?” Someone asked behind me.
I turned to see a woman in her fifties with dark blonde hair, a sourly lined mouth and long fingers that hooked together in front of her. Even in what I presumed was her own home she’d dressed with enough clean cut business style as to shame the best lawyer in the world.
“Leaving,” I said again. I didn’t think she appreciated the little joke.
I tugged my arm out of Lara’s grasp and headed for the door again.
“Catch her!” The sour woman cried as a man walked through.
He immediately grasped my forearms, turned me around and handed the left half of me over to Lara. He was younger and, I admit, a little handsome, but standing between the two with this woman who looked more and more like she was sucking on a lemon staring at me, I began to feel very unhappy.
“My name is Mary.” She began. “Now what is your name?”
“That is not your main concern right now.” I pointed out.
“Very well.” She replied, playing along. “Then why did you bring her here, Lara?”
“She’s…” Lara groped for words strong enough to throw off Mary’s unhappy glare.
“Different.” I finished.
I rolled my eyes. “I was with her when the Uwi demon attacked and I didn’t want to leave so I got dragged over here. Lara’s concerned that I’m not freaking out enough. I assure you that I have seen a psych. I had this friend once who-”
“And why aren’t you ‘freaking out’ about demons?”
I sighed deeply. “Does it really matter? I haven’t hurt anyone so can I please go? You’re little organization is very interesting and all but I really should get going.”
“Not until I’m done with you.”
“Look.” I straightened my back, raised my chin and tried to look all ‘high and mighty’. “Under clause three of section seven you can not keep me here.”
“That’s the right of all demons to request a fair trial for transit home.”
“Is it?” I asked, surprised. “Wow. At least you guys have some sort of code thing. Most people don’t but sometimes I luck out and even hit the right one.”
Mary gave me a very unimpressed look.
After that I was locked in the basement because I had performed the near impossible task of remaining silent. Go figure they had a trap door under a rug with narrow, rickety stairs that they threw me down, shutting the door above me. It had taken me ages to find a light switch and even now the bare bulb was too dim to light more than the space around it. So I sat on the stairs.
“Bored.” I sang to myself. “Soooo bored. So very very bored. So incredibly, amazingly-ah!” I jumped as the door above opened and actual light shone down on me. “You suck!” I called up.
“You can come up now.”
“I don’t know why I had to go down in the first place.” I muttered as I stomped up the stairs. “If you guys would just let me go I’m sure we’d all be very happy.”
It was that man who’d caught me as I’d tried to leave but a curious red head was standing behind him. She was about my age with large, blue eyes.
“She’s gotten dirt in her hair because of you.” She poked the man.
“No.” I objected. “I just haven’t washed it for a few weeks.” I touched my short hair with a frown. “I’m not even this brown. Seriously. If I had a shower you wouldn’t recognize me. It’s a-”
The red head shot out a finger and pressed it to my lips.
“Shhh.” She commanded and walked off.
“Okay.” I mouthed.
The man shrugged and followed her.
Mary looked like she needed coffee. Or at least more sleep. She was looking very stressed out as she sat forward in her chair, fingers rubbing her temples.
“She talks too much.” The red head announced as she sat beside Mary, folding her legs beneath her.
“So you’ve noticed.” Lara said drily.
“I’ve decided I blame you.” I told her officially and turned away. “What do you want to know? Also, if I answer almost all your questions, can I leave?”
“We’ll see.” Mary said and dropped her hands onto the table. “What’s your name?”
“Marie Antoinette.” I announced grandly and, with a flourish of my hand, bowed.
The man snickered and I grinned before righting myself.
Mary seemed unimpressed by my being the Queen of France. I sighed.
“But you may call me Lara.”
“That’s my name!” Lara objected.
“So?” I asked rudely. “I don’t see a patent.”
“Next question!” Mary yelled.
“When was I born? Who I am I working for? Take me to your leader?”
“How do you know about demons?”
“How do you?” I shot back. “How does anyone? By encountering them, of course. Honestly. You people think you’re the only ones with an open mind? Demons may wander around and humans barely glance at them, think them stray dogs out of the corner of their eye sometimes, but the moment you get someone like me who thinks ‘hey, wait a second. What if-”
“Okay. We get the point!” Lara snapped. “You have an open mind.”
“Exactly!” I cried happily. “Now we’re getting somewhere!”
Mary’s fingers returned to massaging her temples.
“Look. Why were you around with the Uwi demon?” The man asked.
“What’s your name?” I asked back, giving him a suspicious eye.
“Mark.” He muttered.
“Mark.” I repeated. “Maaaaark. Mar-”
“Stop it!” Lara yelled. “This is insane! Impossible! We’re going to get nothing out of her.”
“Untrue.” I objected.
“So give us something! Anything!”
I exhaled loudly then announced, “There. That breath just came from me. Now may I go?”
“Yes!” Lara cried at the same time Mary and Mark shouted, “No.”
I looked at the red head.
“Deciding vote.” I warned her.
“Oh come on,” I said quietly, excitement pouring over in my voice. “What’ll it be? To keep me imprisoned or not to keep me imprisoned.”
“Tea,” She decided.
“Tea,” I grinned. “Wonderful. Where’s the pot?”
Mark put a hand on my shoulder as I started toward the cupboards.
“Fine,” I muttered. It wasn’t as much fun anymore. “My name is Diana Crowe. I’m just some strange girl with a broken self-preserve notion and knowledge of demons. Now can I leave and if not, may I have some tea?”
Nobody spoke. They seemed to be running through the French throne, then the British throne, then all the others to see if there was anyone called ‘Diana Crowe’. I didn’t think so. So far as I knew I was the only Diana Crowe.
“What are you looking for?” Mary asked.
“Excuse me?” I demanded.
“You must be looking for something if you’re chasing demons.”
“Fun.” I shrugged. “An abnormal, completely amazing, wonderful, super splendiferous—ooo, try spell that one-ravingly insane life.” I finished with a satisfied smile. Yep. That was what I was looking for.
“Give her the guest room.” Mary decided, standing. “And a shower.”
“Not that I don’t love the opportunity for lodging but I really should be going.”
Mark turned me toward the hallway and nudged me forward. Right then. I was sleeping here then. In a bed. After a shower. It did sound rather nice and I might even be able to sneak out the window in the early morning but I’d really rather leave now.
Mark stopped me in front of the bathroom, took a towel from the hall cupboard, and shoved me inside with a promise that he’d get Clara, presumably the rude teenager that had answered the door, to leave some clothes outside.
So I ended up having a shower, turning my dark brown hair light brown, my brown skin white and my muscles loose. Afterward I dressed in the sweats and old t-shirt that had been left for me and padded out into the hallway, my own clothes tucked under my arm and the towel over my shoulder. The red head showed up with a grin.
“You’re right. I hardly recognize you.”
I grinned and she tugged me into the guest room.
“It has no windows.” I pointed out.
“She shook her head. It’s so people like you can’t escape.”
“You’ve met a lot of people like me then?”
She shook her head. “Nope. Just you.”
“Then why do you have a room like this?”
“It’s for the less harmful demons that are getting a ride home.”
“Ahh.” I looked around. “Under clause three section seven.”
She nodded. “I’m Jeanie, by the way.”
“Wonderful.” I said absentmindedly. “And when do you think—watch out, a Vrenig demon!”
Petite Jeanie swirled and whipped out a leg and the appropriate height to catch a Vrenig demon in the heads. Unfortunately where I had been looking there was no Vrenig demon. Just air.
“Wow, they trained you well.” I decided. “Good night.” I shut the door between us, noticing the complete absence of a lock and lied down on the bed. Sleep. I’d deal with this all tomorrow. Preferably after I’d eaten half the things in their kitchen. I was starving.
It was seven in the morning when Mark, groggy and bumping into almost everything he tried to pass, clattered into the kitchen. I was sitting on the counter eating out of a box of cheerios. I had, some minutes ago, decided I hated cheerios. There was nothing cheery about them. Little circles of cardboard-tasting whole grain that made me want to pour honey into my mouth. I’d used up all the honey, unfortunately, and hadn’t bothered in finding something else to eat yet. Mark took the box out of my hands as he passed and ended up pouring the cereal and milk onto a plate. He shrugged when he realized what he’d done and expertly tipped the contents into a bowl like he’d done it every morning of his life.
“I didn’t leave.” I pointed out.
“Didn’t even try, I’d guess.” He sighed warily, sitting at the table.
“You’re going to get a shock if you try to leave without punching in the code. Literally. I had a burn for weeks when I forgot.”
“Fun fun fun. “ I muttered but that was one of the times I was being sarcastic and didn’t actually think it was fun.
Lara came in looking a lot more awake than Mark. She’d actually changed out of her pajamas though I doubted her pajamas would consist of cameo sweatpants and a singlet.
“I know where the Uwi demon is.” I announced.
She stopped dead.
“What would be the fun in telling you?” I sighed. “I once lead a Knark demon all across London before I showed him where the demon was that had eaten his cat. Terrible sense of direction, Knark demons. It turned out to be his old girlfriend in the end.”
“You help Knark demons?” Lara asked incredulously.
I considered. “Sure, you could say that I help a lot of demons.”
“I knew I didn’t like you.” The rude teenager that had answered the door, Clara, said as she came in.
“Wonderful.” I said. “We’ve come to an understanding. I don’t like you and you don’t like me. Anything else we need to get off our chests? How about Parcheesi? I’ve never known how to play that game. Not even sure what it is. Board game, card game, dice game, word game, drawing game-”
“Shut up!” Clara yelled.
“All right, all right. The point is, if there ever was a point, that I can lead you to the Uwi demon.”
“After you’ve lead us across all of London.” Mark added.
“Exactly!” I cried ecstatically, nearly falling off the counter with a wild gesture. “Now you’re getting it!”
Clara left muttering things and looking up at the sky like God would come and help her. I doubted it. He hadn’t helped anyone else that had taken a disliking to me.
“Maybe I should hang around non-antagonists more often.” I considered, then shrugged. “What’s the deal here, anyway? Mary took you all in and trained you to fight for the cause?”
Lara and Mark looked at each other then said together, “Ya, pretty much.”
I sighed. “Typical. Anyway, let’s get dressed and go.”
“Hold on!” Lara cried. “We have to tell Mary, plan strategies.”
“Uwi demons aren’t that hard to kill. Besides, you’re taking all the fun out of it.” I declared.
“Were you there yesterday? That thing nearly blew us to smithereens!”
Ten minutes later Lara, Mark and Jeanie were all dressed and ready to go. Guns in their waistbands, knives at their ankles, and determination on their faces. After brief thoughts on whether determination was heavy, we left the house.
For nearly forty minutes we drove through the streets of London until Mark told me to hurry up or he’d push me out of the car. So I directed Lara out of the city into a quiet town. A park full of trees and walking paths was right smack dab in the middle of it and in the middle of that, I knew, was a Uwi demon.
“How did you actually find it?” Mark asked.
“The Uwi demon.”
“Oh!” I shrugged. “We had dinner once. Have to say, not too sorry about him having to leave. I didn’t really like his cooking, a bit too raw for my taste.”
The three just gaped at me. I got out of the car.
It took nearly ten minutes to lead them deep enough into the park before leaving the trail and heading into the woods. The trees grew thicker and thicker, the sunlight thinner until it seemed sunset had come early. Not far now. An echoing roar trembled the earth. Or the Uwi demon could actually see us. Uwi demons were about the size of a large bear, black with green cords fused with its body and encircling parts of it. The cords were hard enough to deflect almost anything and were thick around its left thigh, where its heart rested.
Jeanie, Lara and Mark scattered immediately but I stayed where I was. Unarmed except for a pocket knife and clean for the first time in weeks, not that that mattered right now, I peered through the dense trees.
“Uwi!” I called and another roar rumbled through the forest. “Where are you!” Despite their great size Uwi demons are abnormally apt at hiding. I must have mistaken parts of him for bases of trees and bushes because when he started sidling toward me half the landscape seemed to change. Then the strike. Mark jumped from a tree while Jeanie came from his right and Lara from his left. This time the roar was not just a warning but a battle cry. The sound of it made my blood run cold and my adrenaline burst into hyperdrive and I loved the feeling. This was it. This was the sound of danger, of freedom, of excitement.
I dived forward to join the battle and was immediately knocked to the side with one great paw. I didn’t think the Uwi demon was too happy with me. Lara was yelling something as she dodged and spurted forward to try and land a wound before retreating again. It sounded like she was trying to get him to surrender to a fair trial for a ride home. Of course, the ‘fair’ trial would probably consist of the lot of them debating how heinous his ‘crimes’ had been before condemning him to death. Oh well. I dashed forward, leapt onto his back and clung on for dear life. Forget bull riders. This was it. I was nearly thrown off a bajillion times in the first two seconds. In the third I was. I flew through the air and I remember thinking, ‘Oops, that was it. I can feel it coming. Death.’ I hit the tree trunk hard and everything went out immediately.
“I don’t understand.” Jeanie said quietly.
I simply shrugged.
“I saw you.” She said for the millionth time and Mark nodded for the millionth time.
I hadn’t expected to end up back here again. Oh well.
“You were dead!” Lara cried at last.
“She’s a demon.” Mary said flatly and I nodded.
“Yes.” I agreed. “I am a demon.”
Wow, that put them on edge. I could see them going for the knives at their legs. Clara was fingering the rack of kitchen knives on the other side of the island. I hadn’t been alive when they’d taken down the Uwi demon but he’d evidentially decided to do without the trial and ended up dissipating into the wind.
“Under section seven, clause three-” Mary began.
“I knew that was going to be important.” I muttered.
“You have the right to a fair trial to determine weather you qualify for safe passage home.”
“That sounded official.” I commented. “But I’d really rather skip your little debate and escape with my life.”
“It’s not ours to decide.” Mary said sourly.
“Oh?” I asked, my interest momentarily captured.
“There are so many of us.” She whispered. “All across the world. Fighting for our race against things like you.”
“Don’t worry.” I assured her. “I’m sure one day someone will figure out how to kill a demon like me.”
“Like you?” Clara snickered. “There are no demons like you. You are the only one.”
I nodded. “That’s right. And this is my home, I was born here and I live here. Your trial would be useless anyway. Now goodbye.”
“Stop her!” Mary called.
“What are you going to do!” I yelled. “Shoot me? I’ll just pop right back up again in another few hours. Do yourselves a favour and let me go.”
For a few moment I looked into each of their faces.
“Maybe I’ll see you later.” I debated as I reached the door. “Or not. Hopefully not. I don’t like staying on one thing too long.”
They let me go. Maybe it was because they knew their laws were useless against me or because I was confusing to them, I had that effect on people, or just because. But I got out and now it was time to start a new adventure. To not do this all over again. Maybe I’d find a Ragnivk demon. I had heard they make one hell of a cookie.