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Interview with a Demon: Part 5

I’m happy to announce that I did not freeze to death, no thanks to the situation in which I found myself in the last instalment of my interview with the Guardian. The truth is, as this strange interview unfolded, as I spent more time with the Guardian, I can’t tell you that I felt safer with him. I’m not even sure I could tell you that I knew him better or that I understood him better. But between him, Susan Innes, and the rest of the gang, by the time I was shivering in the Guardian’s prison, I realised I was most definitely a captive audience.

 

If you’ve missed any of the interview so far, please follow the links below this instalment. 

 

Interview with a Demon Part 5: The Confusing Semantics of Humanity

 

“Susan, I am sorry,” the Guardian said.

“I don’t care that you’re sorry. Annie’s story is not yours to tell,” she replied, and then she yelled into the frigid air, “Goddamn it, Talia, I said pull K D out.”

By the time it became clear Talia had no intention of obliging, I was pretty sure I was developing frostbite.

“Susan, you must stop this.” In spite of the raging wind, I could hear the Guardian as though he spoke right into my head. “Clearly the succubus is not listening, and our little scribe should not suffer for your anger. I won’t proceed if it upsets you so, only consider what you’re doing.”

Those were the last words I heard before I woke up in the big bed with a jerk, and the bones in my neck popped as though I had been falling. Talia was sitting next to me with her hand on my shoulder. In spite of the blizzard I’d just come out of, I was drenched in sweat and desperately thirsty.

Susan was pacing at the side of the bed like a caged lion and the air around her crackled with the same electricity I’d been feeling when I was pulled from the dream. Before I could reorient myself, she turned on Talia, yanking her off the bed with a hand fisted in the collar of her shirt. “I told you to pull her out!”

I had never feared Susan Innes until now. Though I knew well what she had become, she had never exuded that same threat factor I felt around Alonso Darlington. But in that instant, I was fully aware Darlington had most definitely not cornered the market on being terrifying. Heart racing, I shoved myself up and crab walked to the other side of the mattress, all but falling out on the floor before I caught hold of the bedpost. That I suddenly found myself fearing for the safety of a succubus said something about just how scary an angry Scribe turned vampire, turned prison for a demon could be. Susan paid no attention to me, as her other hand settled around the woman’s throat. “If you can’t keep her safe, what good are you?”

Talia went deadly still. If anything her calm was as frightening as Susan’s rage. “Take your hands of me, girl, or shall I show you why I could hold a demon in thrall while you were whimpering and dying in Alonso’s arms?

And then I did fall off the bed. I’m not proud of it. I would have run and not stopped until I was back at JFK and safely on the next plane home. But my legs wouldn’t stop shaking enough to support me.

The two jumped apart, and the tension was suddenly broken. Susan, once more herself, came to my aid, but the last thing I wanted was her help, and I found my legs worked just fine when properly motivated. The look on her face, as I shrugged away from her touch was wounded and pained, and I didn’t much care at the moment. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. Then she spoke to Talia with a voice still laced in the ice of the blizzard she’d caused. “What the hell took you so long to pull her out?”

“I didn’t pull her out,” the Succubus said. “I wouldn’t have pulled her out. Not just because you had a tantrum. “Your prisoner cast her out. Seems he was a lot more concerned for her than he was for your wounded pride. Though really, Susan, I never figured you for a coward.”

“I don’t give a damn what you figured me for, Talia, and what’s between me and the Guardian is none of your business.”

To this, Talia only laughed. “None of my business, is it? You brought this whole shit show to my door, to my home, and Alonso’s — you and Michael and good old Magda fucking Gardener. You made it my business, all of our business.” She sat back in the chair and folded her arms across her chest. “I didn’t volunteer for transportation duty,” she said nodding to me. “You dragged me back in, lest we forget. I don’t like your damn demon and he sure as hell doesn’t like me. Still you asked me to get KD to him for the interview. That, I did.” She stood and slipped into her shoes next to the bed. “Now, I’m out of here. If the demon’s your prisoner, then he’s your prisoner, but if he’s something else, then maybe you’d both better agree on what that is before you drag other people into your mess. You’re the one who promised him his voice for this interview. Maybe you should have made it clear to him that what you really want is for him to parrot your voice.”

Suddenly the bedroom door burst open and Michael blew in, nearly shoving Talia off her feet. With his focus so clearly on Susan, it was as though he hadn’t even noticed the succubus. He filled the room with his presence in the way only an angel could. His blond hair was wind blown, and crisp clean mountain air was the wild scent he exuded in spite of the carbon and heat smell of the city. He wore faded jeans and a plain black tee shirt along with an old pair of Conversehigh tops. He completely ignored the rest of us and went straight to Susan, scooping her into his arms. “He said you needed me. I came as soon as I could.”

“The demon?” Talia asked. “The demon sent for you?”

Michael only nodded as Susan all but collapsed against his chest. Whatever he whispered into her ear as he smoothed her hair and stroked her back, was too quiet for the rest of us to hear. But the shudder that ran up her spine and the sob that followed was impossible to miss. For a long moment, they stood freeze framed against the backdrop of the open door, clinging to each other desperately, Michael speaking softly in her ear.

At last she pulled away, took a deep breath, then turned to face us, still clinging tightly to Michael’s hand. “Don’t go, Talia. I’m sorry, but I need you to send her back in if you would please. And if you would, K D.”

The succubus studied her silently for a minute, then looked up at Michael, who gave her a reassuring nod, to which she only shrugged and turned back to me. “Shall we,” she said with the twitch of a dry smile, as she nodded to the bed. After two very large glasses of water, I settled beneath the duvet once more, and within minutes, I was again in the Guardian’s fell-side prison staring at his back, while he stood on the edge of the cliff looking down into the beck. It was still high summer, not a snowflake remained, and the owl still trilled somewhere nearby.

I was too disoriented and exasperated by this point to be cautious. “What just happened?” I blurted out.

For a moment he didn’t answer, and then he sighed. “I reminded Susan that what I did to Annie was not her fault.” Once again the wingback chair appeared and I all but fell into it, as he began to pace back and forth along the cliff top. “You see she blames herself. That is the real root of the problem — not that I was about to tell you my version of the events that unfolded at Chapel House, but that she believes those events could only occur because she released me from my prison.”

“Well?” I could certainly understand why she thought that.

All at once I felt the giddy sensation of falling, and then of soaring above the beck in an embrace that was most definitely not human. Then a cool wind swept over me and the Guardian’s presence surrounded me as though he were guiding me down onto the warm grass, as though he mantled me with the body I knew he didn’t have. And then he was moving inside of me. I don’t mean sex. I mean something deeper, as though it were no longer Susan’s heart he existed beneath, but it was my own. In the odd mix of terror and arousal, of losing myself in something I was sure I could never come back from, I was more than a little bit shocked to discover that arousal was winning the battle. Then just as quickly as he had approached me, he backed off, and I was once again seated and watching as he settled into the chair next to me.

He waited for a moment, waited until I could gather enough presence of mind to focus on his words and not what I had just experienced. Then he said quietly, “you see, she believes that she had a choice in the matter.”

“Jesus.” I chafed at the goose bumps on my arms and shifted in my chair trying not to think of how willing I would have been to let him do to me whatever he wanted. If he had forced the issue, I wondered if I would have made any attempt at all to call out to Talia for help.

“You would not have,” he answered my question for me, and I felt his reply like a punch in the gut.

“Please don’t do that again.” My words came out breathless and shaky with way less authority than I would have liked. “Don’t read my thoughts.” There were too many suppositions and fantasies I myself had had about him for me to want him wandering around inside my grey matter.

“Oh I didn’t have to read your thoughts, K D. I read only your body. And your face. I would never betray Susan’s trust by going where I’m not welcome.” Then his voice softened like velvet brushing against my ear. “But I would have been welcome, wouldn’t I?” He didn’t give me long to squirm with the truth of the matter we both knew only too well, but continued — this time at a more polite distance. “You see how the semantics of humanity confuse me at times.” He raised a hand as though he could wipe away that disturbing thought. “My point is, that while Susan’s first visit to my crypt prison was a complete coincidence, once I realized who she was, what she was, she had no more choice in the matter of giving up Annie to me, than if it had been her fondest wish to do so. In fact by the time she left my crypt, she was completely convinced that to free me was the deepest desire of her heart. And of this fact, K D, she was not even aware. You see, I gave her no choice. And I daresay you would view my actions somewhat more sympathetically had it been you Magda Gardener had held imprisoned in stone for so very, very long.”

 

 

Interview with a Demon – the interview so far:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

 

 

 

Interview with a Demon Part 4

Interviewing a demon turned out not to be a straight forward thing. Absolutely nothing went according to planned, and too late, I realised walking away from it afterward, even with a vampire and a succubus protecting me, wasn’t a given. You see, the truth is, there was just way too much baggage for all parties for the interview to go by the book. I don’t know why I ever thought otherwise. Anyway, enough of my moaning. I’ve done my best to report the details honestly and without bias, but the truth is, after my experiences with Magda Gardener and her Consortium, I have more than a little baggage of my own.

 

Interview with a Demon – the interview so far:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Interview with a Demon Part 4: A Tale Interrupted

 

While the Guardian admired the moonless sky, much as I’m sure Reese and Alonso did when they were in the garden he modeled his prison after, there was no doubt his focus was still entirely on me. But then what physical illusion there was of him was just that, an illusion. To be under his subtle scrutiny made me all the more uncomfortable in a giddy sort of way, and yet it didn’t seem to distract him in the least from the task at hand.

“At the time my home, as it always had been, since before I had need to remember, was a deconsecrated chapel near the city that is now Manchester in the North of England, but you already know this. Of course it was not the chapel to which I was bound. The place itself had been considered sacred ground as long as humans walked the earth, although I don’t know why. The mortal sense of what is sacred and what is profane has always puzzled me. You see, my task was to guard holy ground. I don’t know how that became my charge, or when, only that it always had been, even after the chapel was deconsecrated and put on the market to be sold as a home or a boutique or even a pub. The latter two were not at all to my liking. While I would have enjoyed the orgy of sensation and experience such places might offer me, it would have been only a temporary glutting of my capacity for pleasure and would have most certainly drawn enough attention as to make it difficult for me to choose as best suits me. In fact it might have drawn to me those whose attention I would prefer not to have. Of course, you understand, I mean my jailor, who for the most part ignored me, seeing me as little threat at the time.” He offered a satisfied chuckle. “You see, even our incomparable Magda Gardener makes mistakes. So, after a tiresome parade of estate agents, none of whom held my attention for long, none of whom had what I needed if I were to resume making the kinds of choices I delighted in, one of them at long last succeeded in bringing to me exactly what I had been waiting for. And then the daft woman tried to discourage her from me.

“‘The place has set empty for a very long time, so it will be costly to renovate.’ Those were her words when she saw her perspective buyer’s delight.”

It was very disconcerting for me to hear the voice of a woman with a northern accent coming from the Guardian. With difficulty, I kept my eyes averted and reminded myself that even his voice, whatever voice he chose to use, was just an illusion. He continued. “Then the devious agent added, ‘of course any … human remains have long since been removed from the crypt … as far as we can tell anyway.’ Oh how I longed to throttle her then and there, but of course I could do nothing.” He laughed softly, and I swear I felt the warmth of his breath against my ear. “As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about where her dear client was concerned.

“But Annie, for that was the client’s name, as you may have already suspected, would not be put off. I will never forget her words.” I was even more disturbed to hear him speak in the voice of Annie Rivers. “‘Can you imagine?’ she said, ‘I’ll be the only one of my friends who had a genuine crypt for a wine cellar. Too bad there’s not at least one stone sarcophagus left, you know, as a conversation piece.’

“The agent was horrified and, as for me, well I was instantly enchanted. My dear Annie had laughed with delight when the agent showed her the bathroom with the large tub. ‘Oh I’m really going to enjoy this. It’s big enough for company,’ she said. Oh how that thought intrigued me. You see, an evangelical group had installed the great tub. They were the last to rent the building before it was deserted and sold for the final time. They believed in some strange ritual of baptism that demanded immersion for which it was an essential tool. They didn’t interest me much other than as a dalliance now and then brought on by boredom. In truth, there was little more I could manage, since at the time, I was imprisoned with very limited access to the pastor’s flock. But my efforts did result in several attempts at exorcism. However, when the ‘spawn of Satan’ they feared did not vacate the premises after their hocus pocus, they gave up and left claiming something evil lurked within. Once again, I waited.

“I was not happy with the way the agent rushed Annie through the nave and the sacristy, nor with how she dwelt on the overgrown mess of the back garden and how many bodies had been buried there before the deconsecration. I punished her for that later. As for my dear Annie, I gave her just enough of a sense of well-being, of euphoria that, by the time she left, I was certain she felt right at home and that there was nothing the agent could do that would keep my beautiful Annie from me.”

Without warning the hair on the backs of my arms stood at full attention, as though a bolt of electricity had passed through me, and the ground tilted sharply beneath my chair. Before I could do more than yelp and stumble to my feet, Susan appeared, looking far more wraith-like than the Guardian, and almost as terrifying wearing her rage like a heavy cloak.

“This interview is over.” Her voice made my jaws ache until my head felt like it would explode. But it wasn’t me she was speaking too, and frankly, I was glad. Suddenly the temperature in the garden plummeted and snow began to swirl on a growing fell wind. In spite of the howl of what was quickly becoming a blizzard, Susan’s voice cut through it as though it were deadly silent. “How dare you? How fucking dare you? I trusted you. I gave you your voice, I even let her come to you.” She nodded her head in my direction. “And this is how you repay me, by flaunting the sordid horrors you visited on my best friend?”

“Susan, I don’t understand.” The Guardian spoke with little emotion that I could sense, but then I was busy trying to keep from freezing to death. By this time the wind was howling and snow was falling heavily in what had, only moments ago, been the garden in high summer.

“How the fuck can you not understand? She’s not your Annie. She was never your Annie. You’re here because of what you did to her, because of what you tried to do to all of us. And don’t give me that bullshit about things being different with your kind. I don’t care if it’s different. You know exactly how it is withmy kind.” She rubbed a tight fist against her chest as though she were in pain.

“Susan, you are a vampire,” he responded as calmly as if he were telling her that her shoelace was untied. “And you are unique even among vampires. You are the only one of your kind.”

“And I wouldn’t be a vampire if you hadn’t … if it hadn’t been … How could you not know that …” Her voice drifted off and then she shouted, “Talia, pull her out.”

But Talia didn’t pull me out, instead, I stood with my teeth chattering chafing my arms watching an altercation between a demon and a vampire and wondering if I’d be collateral damage.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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