Thursday, May 29, 2014

Take Four

Fikhos didn't react for a moment.  Finally he cocked an eyebrow at me and said, "Sir?"

"I need you to kill me," I repeated.

"Am I even able to?"

"I don't know," I replied, waving him toward me.  "Let's find out.  Stab me in the neck or something, come on."

"I don't have a weapon," he hesitated.

I immediately teleported to my armory and returned with the first thing I could find—a rusting, curving dagger.  I handed to him and ordered, "Do it."

He appeared to be far more nervous about this than I had anticipated.  "Are you…absolutely certain you want me to do this?" he asked.

"Yeah, come on, hurry up," I said.

"I don't understand how this will help."

"You don't have to. Just do what I'm telling you and kill me."

"Very well," he sighed, and I felt the flesh of my throat split open just beneath my Adam's apple.  My last thought as my consciousness faded out was that I should have thought to take my clothes off first because the bloodstains would never come out of this shirt.

I died yet again.

I suppose I could have avoided it, but this time, I actually meant to die—for a change.  I was hoping that, with no other recourse, Conrad would be able to supply me with some much needed intelligence during another short visit to the weird little hospital room in Heaven.

I awoke in that same room, again feeling famished and impotent and wonderfully human.  I waited for the red light bulb mounted over the door to flick on.  A moment later, my great grandfather entered for our third heavenly postmortem interaction.

"You should really get better at not dying," he murmured casually, preparing the injection without so much as a hello.

"No, I died on purpose this time," I assured him.  "I needed to talk to you."

His entire demeanor changed with frightening speed.  He gripped me tightly around the bicep and hissed through his teeth, "What is wrong with you?  Are you crazy?!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Last Resort

I returned to my office in dejection.  I was back to square one.  I had no more leads on the mysterious organization.  Sebrev didn't seem to know anything.  If Kivra did, she certainly wasn't going to share.  Azraal was somehow connected with them, but he was gone.  Niven was dead.  Tithenai was missing.  It might be possible to visit Korrihor in the Department of Reprocessing to see if he could dig up some more suspicious transactions or something, but that felt like such a longshot. 

Fikhos, dutifully, had returned to watch over Sylnie as she lay wounded on the floor.  "How's she doing?" I asked him.

"Better, actually," he said.  "The healing process is pretty slow, but I'm pretty sure that she'll be absolutely fine in time."

"Well, at least one thing went right," I said sourly.

"I take it the interrogation of Sebrev hasn't yielded anything useful?" he surmised.  He sounded strangely sincere and sympathetic.  I had to admit that I appreciated that at this particularly low moment of discouragement.

"Nothing," I said.  "I tried to see if Kivra knew anything, but she refuses to help.  I just feel like I'll never figure this out or stop what's coming.  All my sources for information are disappearing."

"Is there anyone you haven't tried?" he asked.

"Korrihor," I answered.  "But I'm not holding my breath on that one.  Unless…."  I trailed off.  A crazy idea had popped into my head and I was trying to figure out if it was the kind of crazy that might actually work or the kind of crazy that's just plain old stupid.

"Unless?" he prompted.

I let out a long breath.  "I need you to do me a really big favor, okay?"

"Of course, sir," he said.  "What do you need?"

"It's going to sound kind of insane," I warned him.

"Anything," he replied loyally, without hesitation.

"Fikhos…I need you to kill me."

Monday, May 26, 2014

Kivra's Cell

I couldn't help but gloat a little at seeing Kivra in such humble circumstances.  "Now Kivra," I pretended to chide her, "Is that any way to greet an old friend?"

"Cute," she said.  "Arrogance doesn't look good on you.  I liked you better as a scared little boy."

"Yeah, well, you would," I retorted.  "Scared little boys don't usually fight back against someone who's manipulating them."

"But they're so easy to manipulate," she replied almost wistfully.  "So to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?"  Clearly she was being sarcastic.

"I need some information about a few things," I said.

"And you just expect me to tell you everything you want to know?" she said flatly.  "You know, out of the goodness of my heart and a deeply emotional concern for your personal success?"

"No, I was expecting you to act out of self-preservation," I told her.  "I imprisoned you instead of killing you.  I didn't have to be that merciful and you know it."

"So you want me to tell you things, but if I don't you'll kill me?" she scoffed.  "So I don't tell you, then you kill me, and then we both lose.  It's an empty threat."

"I'd forgotten how much I hated dealing with you," I told her.

"Oh, that's offensive," she replied, not missing a beat.  "How will my little heart withstand your insensitive verbal barbs?"  She feigned supreme sadness.  "I may actually perish of heartbreak."

"Fine," I snapped.  "So, just so we're clear, you're not going to tell me anything about some creepy secret organization of demons who dress in masks and dark cloaks and seem to like fucking up my shit?"

She laughed.  "Sounds like you're in way over your head, boy!"

In a flash, I teleported over her, forcing my arm to occupy the space halfway up her left thigh.  Her severed leg fell dully to the floor.  "Start talking," I growled at her.

Struggling against the chains at her wrists, she managed to heave her firm body against me and send me staggering back.  "You listen to me, you pompous little pus pocket," she growled, bristling with venomous indignation.  "I'm not giving you anything, whether I have something to give or not.  You've lied and cheated and manipulated me just as much as I've toyed with you but you call yourself the victim.  You shitcanned me, sapped me of my power and imprisoned me here and you call it benevolence.  Nothing that I want is worth giving you anything that you want.  You'll get fucking nothing from me except a promise that I will get out of here and I will fucking annihilate you."

As I stared at her, utterly nonplussed, the door to the cell creaked open.  A wrinkly pit guard entered, carrying a bucket and spear and whistling softly to himself.  He stopped whistling abruptly when he noticed me.

"I'm…sorry," he croaked, his eyes falling warily upon Kivra's detached leg.  "I just need to administer her limiting cocktail.  Am I…uh…interrupting something?"

"Apparently not," I said.  I gave Kivra a final glare.  "Good luck with the leg," I quipped before disappearing.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Gavsot seemed to struggle with an adequate response to my assessment of the situation.  Finally, he agreed, “This is…regrettable.”

“Nobody else got busted out of your department while I was gone, did they?” I asked him suddenly.

“Absolutely not,” the General replied quickly.  For good measure, he added, “No.”

“Are you sure?  You didn’t know Azraal was gone until you checked.”

He regarded me with a surprising level of acidity in his gaze.  “What are you implying?”

Caught off guard by his stiff response, I said, “Nothing.  I just want to make sure nobody else who hates my guts is off conspiring with the other people who hate my guts.”

“Azraal’s situation was unique,” Gavsot assured me stonily.  “He was held in secret.  Had any of my other prisoners escaped, I’d have been notified immediately by the crew guarding him.”

“But what if the crew guarding him was killed, just like the guards in front of Azraal’s closet?”

“There are failsafes in place,” he snapped.  “I know how to run my department.”

“Okay, okay,” I said.  “Geez, man, cool it.  I’m just making sure.”

He nodded, but he didn’t look as though he’d forgiven me.  “Will there be anything else, sir?”

“Yeah.  I’d like to talk to Kivra.  Is she still in the same cell?”

“She has been moved.”

“Okay, can you take me there?”

“If you wish.”

I rolled my eyes.  He was probably hundreds of years old, but he was being stubborn and childlike because I’d offended him.  “I wish,” I said flatly.  He clamped a hand on my shoulder, teleported me to Kivra’s cell, and disappeared without another word.

Kivra was chained against the wall with her wrists bound together above her head.  She’d have looked sexy had she not appeared utterly defeated and wholly depressed.  “Hello,” I said.

“What do you want?” she snarled hoarsely.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Security Office

“You kept his body?” I asked.  I hadn’t considered the current location of Azraal’s body.  I hadn’t given his body a second thought since I left it headless in the Department of Enforcement.

“I thought Azraal was serving you some purpose in captivity,” Gavsot explained.  “I kept his body in the event that you would require him to be reunited with it or so that you could kill him yourself, should you desire it.”

That was actually kind of thoughtful of him, in a demonic sort of way.  “So where did it go?” I asked. 

He pointed to a small camera mounted on the wall nearby.  “We shall see,” he said, extending his arm again.  
He teleported us to a sweaty little security room filled with television screens.  A diminutive beige-colored demon sat disinterestedly in front of the monitors.

“Lokir,” General Gavsot barked.  The demon jerked violently out of his bored reverie, got to his feet and gave a snappy salute. 

“I guess not many things wake a guy up faster than a surprise inspection,” I murmured.

“Show me camera D39,” the General ordered.

“Right, yeah,” Lokir said, his fingers moving clumsily over the controls in front of him.  “Yeah, um…you said, E39?”

“Delta three niner,” Gavsot corrected impatiently. 

“Right, right,” Lokir agreed abashedly.  He cleared his throat.  “Um, just…hang on, give me a minute here….”  A series of incorrect camera shots flashed across the main screen in rapid succession. “No…wait…sorry, that wasn’t it….”

“Lokir,” Gavsot grated, “Are you under the influence of a mind-altering chemical while at your post?”

Wide-eyed, Lokir shook his head.  “No, sir, I swear, I didn’t…I mean, I’m not…no…what I mean is—”

“You are dismissed!” Gavsot thundered.  “You are quickly running out of possible demotions.  Report to Colonel Messler immediately.”  Lokir hurried out of the room, looking grateful that he hadn’t been physically assaulted.  Gavsot sat down in front of the monitors.

“A demon junkie?” I asked incredulously.  “What kind of drug was he on?”

“I have no idea,” the General replied dispassionately.  “Nor do I care.  Lokir used to command one of my elite squadrons.  Now I cannot even trust him as a simple courier.  He allowed his addiction to destroy him and he does not deserve my pity.”

“Wow, that’s…harsh,” I commented. 

Ignoring my judgment, Gavsot pointed at the main screen.  “Here it is.”

I looked up and watched him rewind the image of the two dead pit guards in front of the closet.  Sure enough, not long before he and I had arrived there, four demons in masks and black hoods had killed the guards and removed Azraal’s body.

I exchanged a somber glance with the General.  “This is really bad, isn’t it?” 

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Rest of Him

It took me a few minutes to track down General Gavsot, but I was finally directed by his staff to a specific cell in which he was dutifully interrogating Sebrev.  Hanging from the ceiling by his wrists, the prisoner was covered in so much blood that his jet-black skin only showed through in scattered patches.  His head hung limply against his chest. 

“General,” I said.

Gavsot turned away from his captive to give me a gruff gesture of greeting.  “How did it go in the Living Realm?” he asked.

“There were a few demons attacking a small town.  We put a stop to it.”  I nodded toward Sebrev.  “Is he dead?”

Gavsot shook his head.  “Unconscious.”

“Has he said anything?”

“Nothing useful,” he replied.  “I am beginning to believe that he truly does not know anything more than he has already told us.”

“Great,” I said.  “I should have brought one of the demons I bumped into in Lyonsville back here for questioning.”

“That would have proven wise,” Gavsot agreed.  He wasn’t judging my error.  He was simply acknowledging the accuracy of my hindsight.

“This group attacked while I was gone,” I said.  “They took Gus and Azraal’s head. Nearly killed Sylnie.”

“They took Azraal’s head?” Gavsot asked urgently.

“Yeah.  Why?”

“They will probably be after his body as well,” he said grimly.  He extended an arm.  “Come with me."  

I gripped him by the wrist and he transported us to another location in his department. It was a door marked 
Storage that had two eviscerated pit guard corpses crumpled in front of it.  Gavsot stepped past his slain subordinates and tore open the door.  Inside was an assortment of spears, buckets, manacles and chains.  And nothing else.

The General looked back at me grimly.  “This is where I stored Azraal’s body.”

Friday, May 16, 2014

Concerning the Wounded

“So what do you want to do, sir?” Fikhos asked me.

I decided to focus on my immediate goals since I had no clue what to do about the larger problems.  “Is there some kind of infirmary or something that I can get Sylnie and Jorge to?” I asked.  “I need them both back to their old selves.”

“There's a network of medical stations in the Department of Torture,” Fikhos suggested.  “They’re designed to repair human bodies for successive rounds of torment, so you could send Jorge there.”

“That sounds good.  What about Sylnie?”

Fikhos shrugged.  “She should come around sooner or later.  After the way you patched her up, she’s started healing again.”

I glanced over at Sylnie’s prostrate form and saw a jagged gash in her shoulder slowly closing itself up.  That was encouraging.

“Good,” I said.  “Fikhos, I need you to take Jorge back to his Department.  His own aides will get him to a medical station in Torture.  Then I need you to come back here and make sure Sylnie wakes up.”

“Begging your pardon, sir,” he reminded me, “but I do have my own Department to run.  I just need a few minutes to check in with my staff and make sure everything is running smoothly in my absence.”

“That’s fine,” I said.  “Drop off Jorge, swing by your place to make sure everything is copacetic, and then come straight back here.  Give me a call when she wakes up.”

“As you wish,” he agreed graciously.

I turned to Jorge.  “You gonna be okay?”

“Once I get this hole in my head fixed I’ll bounce back,” he told me.  “And if there’s anything I can do to help you destroy these bastards, don’t hesitate to involve me.  Revenge is therapeutic.”

“I’ll let you know,” I told him.  I gave Fikhos a nod and the two of them disappeared.  Then I teleported into the Department of Enforcement.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Facts of the Crime

Visibly shaken and afflicted with wounds that would have been mortal had he still been alive, Jorge was slow to answer Fikhos’s question. 

“Jorge,” I urged.  “You have to tell us what happened.”

“The demons in cloaks and masks,” Jorge said heavily.  “They attacked us.  Sylnie…you should have seen her, sir.  She was outnumbered four to one and outclassed by each of them, but she put up a fight they weren’t expecting.  She was spectacular.” 

I felt a little pride learning of Sylnie’s bravery.  She had really meant business when she said she wanted to be more involved.  But she was still unconscious.  I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get the chance to congratulate her for her heroism—or take her up on her standing invitation for intimacy, for that matter. 

“What did they want?  Did they take anything?” I asked.

With sad eyes, Jorge gestured toward the bottom drawer of my desk.  In a panic, I wrenched it open.  Jorge had as much as told me that it would be empty, but actually seeing it that way made my stomach drop.  Azraal’s head was gone. 

“So this was a rescue mission,” Fikhos summarized gravely.

“Apparently,” I agreed.  “So Azraal is working with this creepy little cult, I take it.  Wait.  Jorge.  Where’s Gus?”

The Director of Transportation shook his head.  “I don’t know,” he said.  “I’m sorry, sir.  It was hectic.  I didn’t see what happened to him.”  I was beginning to think that Jorge wasn’t just shaken.  He had been legitimately traumatized.

I gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder.  “Hey, it’s not your fault, man.  You were nailed to a table.  There probably wasn’t much that you could see.”

“So Gus has been taken?” Fikhos theorized.  “Was this a rescue mission, an abduction, or both?”

I pulled out my Hell Phone.  “I’ll find him,” I said, dialing my sidekick’s number. 

It didn’t even ring once.  A recording immediately said, “You have reached the voicemail box of…” before Gus’s jovial voice came on to say, “Gus Pitts, the most gutless Gus in the infernal Pit.”  The recording came back to deliver instructions for leaving a message.

“Dammit, Gus, pick up the phone,” I grumbled, hanging up and preparing to dial again.

“Don’t bother,” Fikhos said somberly, pointing to a trampled pile of electronic innards that used to be a cell phone.  “Even if he had that on him, he wouldn’t be able to check his voicemail.”

“Why did I think it was a good idea to leave Hell?” I whined.  “Something bad always happens while I’m gone.”

Monday, May 12, 2014


I arrived back in the cozy maroon-brown office, a place that I was starting to consider my home.  But even before Fikhos appeared at my side, I could tell that I’d been the victim of a serious place-that-I-was-starting-to-consider-my-home invasion.

Sylnie’s body was strewn across the floor, her sexy maid outfit soaked with dark blood.  One of her legs was severed just below the knee and her skull was actually split open from the top like she’d gotten an axe to the cranium.  And those were just the most noticeable wounds.  Overall, she looked like she’d gotten jammed in a dull wood chipper.

“Sylnie!” I gasped, rushing to her side.  She was still breathing, at least, but she was nonresponsive.  She’d healed after Niven ambushed us in this office, but that had been—comparatively—a mere scratch.  I’d seen many demons recover from serious injuries, but she was of a lower order.  Was extreme healing an inborn ability among all demonkind, or could she die because of her weaker pedigree?

“What happened here?” Fikhos said in awe.  I hadn’t bothered to take in much of my surroundings once I’d seen Sylnie’s condition, but now that he mentioned it, the room looked like it had been the setting for an intense little battle.  Walls were dented, furniture was overturned, books had been knocked from their shelves, and there was a lot of blood in places where it hadn’t been when I left. 

Also, Jorge was seated in my usual spot, slouched forward, with his head literally nailed to my desk.

“Holy shit,” I whispered in horror, hurrying over to him. 

“Shir!” Jorge said, his muffled voice registering relief.  “Ish dat oo?”

I gripped the head of the nail (which was probably closer to a railroad spike than a nail, anyway) and prepared to remove it from the interim Devil’s skull.  “Hang in there, Jorge,” I warned him.  “This is probably gonna hurt like a motherfucker.”  I yanked it as hard as I could, but he remained pinned. 

“Urr wight,” he whimpered.  “Dat weally oort.”

I tried pulling on it a few more times to no avail before I considered using my telekinesis.  With an unforgettably repulsive crunching and squelching sound, I managed to psychically pop the spike out of his head and free him from his forced makeout session with my desktop.

“You okay?” I asked.

Blood was still pouring from his punctured forehead and his broken nose, but he gave me a weak nod.  I turned my attention back to Sylnie and used my abilities to reattach her leg, crudely close the gash in her head, and seal a few of her other wounds.  I hoped that if I jump-started her healing process maybe she’d be able to survive her injuries, low order or not.

As I concentrated on restoring her body to its original and much more attractive arrangement, Fikhos addressed his fellow director.  “Mr. Campos, who did this?”

Friday, May 9, 2014

Eggs and Angels

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I said.  “Why would Heaven want me dead?  Aren’t they the good guys?”

“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” Talamur’s head reasoned.

“But what kind of omelet were they making?” Fikhos mused.

I rolled my eyes.  “Probably a Denver omelet,” I snapped.  “He was being figurative, dumbass.”

“So was I, sir,” Fikhos returned thinly.  “I was asking what objective Heaven was fulfilling by having you killed.”

“I can’t speak to that,” Talamur said.  “I didn’t ask a lot of detailed questions, I just did the job they wanted me to do.”

“Why would Heaven hire a demon?” Jaelin asked.  “How did they pay you and why couldn’t they do it themselves?”

“Angels try to avoid doing the actual egg-breaking themselves,” Talamur explained.  “They don’t like to get their hands dirty.”

I’d noticed that he had avoided the question of how he’d been compensated for his services, but apparently no one else had.  I didn’t feel it was important to bring up now, considering there were more pressing concerns.  “All right, well, we need to get back to Hell,” I announced.  “Our run-in with these demons has pretty much confirmed what Sebrev told us, so we need to find whoever’s doing this and put it to a stop.”

“That’s an excellent idea, sir,” Fikhos enthused.  Apparently he’d forgiven me for calling him a dumbass.

“But you’ll need someone to stay in the Realm of the Living to keep an eye on things, right?” Jaelin suggested hopefully.

I sighed.  “Yeah, sure, catch up with your old boyfriend for a while.  But the minute you catch wind of more demon invasions, you teleport right back to Hell and let me know.”

She nodded smartly.  “Will do.”  She plucked Talamur’s head from the ground and gently placed it against his neck so that he could begin healing.

Talamur spoke from the grass.  “What about the purple demon whose ass I was kicking when you lot showed up?”

I glanced over to where the demon lay unconscious, teleported over to him, and returned as soon as I’d reduced him to chunks.  “Anything else?” I asked.

Fikhos and Jaelin exchanged a quick glance before shaking their heads in unison.

“Great,” I said.  “Fikhos, let’s go back to my office.”

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Some 'Splaining To Do

I had to give Talamur some credit for remaining calm even after I literally ripped his head off.  Azraal hadn't been nearly so collected under the same circumstances.  As I held Talamur's face between my palms with my rage palpably pulsating around us, he regarded me with an air of disappointment rather than fear.

"It's us demons who are supposed to be so capricious and violent all the time, not you emotionally saturated humans," he said.  "Do you have any actual interest in an explanation or are you planning on just ripping other body parts of mine off of me?"

I considered that for a moment.  “Why not both?”

“Of course,” he muttered, rolling his eyes.

“That doesn’t sound like an explanation,” I warned.

Jaelin appeared nearby with Fikhos in tow.  “What the hell are you doing?” she shrieked.

I was about to tell her in no uncertain terms to leave me alone, but Talamur answered more quickly.  “Relax, honey,” he told her.  “Jason and I are just having a little bit of a misunderstanding.  This will all get sorted out in a minute.”  Jaelin fell silent but she didn’t truly relax.  Not that I could blame her, considering I was holding her lover’s severed head.

“So here’s the deal,” Talamur told me.  “I was hired to kill you, so I possessed three of your friends and used them to beat the shit out of you.”

“They’re not my friends,” I grumbled. 

Maybe a little more to the point, Fikhos said reverently, “You possessed…three people at the same time?  I wasn’t even sure it was possible to possess one.”

“Like I said before,” Talamur said with false modesty, “I’ve picked up some tricks most demons don’t know about in my centuries of boredom up here.”

“Wow,” Fikhos said.  I almost thought he was about to ask for Talamur’s autograph.

“So Quinn, Mike and Jessie aren’t actually murderers?” I clarified.  “They were just your little marionettes.  Patsies.”

“That is pretty much what they were, yes.”

“Wait, then who hired you?” I asked.  “I was just a kid.  Who wanted me dead?”

“Heaven,” Talamur replied.  “Well, strictly speaking, I met with an angel, Salabas, who spoke on Heaven’s behalf, but it was definitely Heaven that put out the hit, if you will.”

Monday, May 5, 2014


I stared at him.  “You…what?”

“I killed you,” Talamur repeated.  “I completely understand if you now are harboring some kind of animosity toward me, but I think it’s important for you to know that—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I spluttered.  “I was killed by a bunch of guys from school.”  My mind was reeling.  Tithenai had said something once about how Quinn Madsen—one of my murderers—was innocent.  How did that impossible revelation relate to this new information?  I was struggling to put it together and figure it out.  Maybe I was in some kind of shock.

“You need to deal with these demons,” Talamur reminded me.  “I can see them healing already.”

“No!” I shouted.  “No!  We’re going to deal with this first!  How the fuck can you say you killed me?  I’ve never seen you until just a minute ago.”

“I possessed your friends,” he said.  “Now can we get on with this?  If you don’t kill these demons now, they’ll just be able to bring more demons up here to create more destruction.”

I knew he was right, but I was far too angry to admit it.  “Those three assholes beat me to death,” I said much more loudly than was necessary.  “I’m pretty sure they weren’t my friends.”

“Maybe not,” he agreed.  “But they never would have murdered you had I not possessed them.”  He motioned toward our defeated foes again.  “If I try that teleportation trick you did on the first one, it’s likely to backfire on me and I’m not going to take that risk.  You’re the Devil.  You’re stronger.  You need to kill them.”

“Excuse me for not taking advice on making life-and-death decisions from the guy who just admitted to murdering me!” I thundered.

He forced a sharp sigh through his nostrils.  “I can explain all of that later, if you like, but right now there are bigger problems!  Jason, take care of this!”

I felt the anger in my head growing so uncontrollably that I thought it would physically erupt from my skull.  Grunting with frustration, I executed four quick bursts of power, exploding the two demons at my feet before teleporting across the street to destroy the two that were fighting with Jaelin and Fikhos.  As they were showered with bloody fragments of their opponents, I made one last jump.

I arrived behind Talamur, aiming carefully so that my extended arm materialized through his neck.  I withdrew it as violently as possible.  His body collapsed but I caught his disconnected head as it fell. 

“Start talking,” I ordered.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Moving Target

Talamur rushed forward with Olympian speed to tackle the other demon, but she managed to dodge aside at the last second.  After seeing what I’d done to her comrade, she made the wise choice to keep moving.  She wasn’t in one place long enough for me to telefrag her. 

Talamur kept a watchful eye on her as she danced around him, ducking nimbly as she shot the occasional burst of fire at him.  I focused my energies on any nearby objects, bringing bits of debris from the antique shop careening toward her.  She teleported out of the way each time and reappeared a few feet away.  I tried tearing up the ground beneath her feet, pelting her with small rocks and clumps of grassy mud, but she simply moved away again. 

“You’re getting nowhere with all of that shit,” Talamur called out.  “Try something else!”

“I don’t see you helping!” I shot back.

“I’m studying,” he explained.  He was still watching the demon’s movements, poised like a boxer who didn’t seem anxious to actually throw any punches.

I flexed my telekinetic muscles and sent larger and larger objects toward our foe.  I uprooted a mailbox and propelled it toward her head.  I followed that up with the simultaneous assault of a manhole cover, a stop sign and a chunk of pavement.  She avoided all of these with the usual technique, throwing a few more fireballs our way as she did so.

“Oh, come on!” I whined.  In frustration, I reached out to levitate an Escalade parked half a block away and send it hurtling in her direction.  She saw it coming, took a moment to register shock, and then teleported again.

Talamur moved to his right as she disappeared and managed to situate himself directly behind her as she rematerialized.  He swiftly placed his hands on the sides of her head and twisted roughly.  Her neck was broken before the SUV came crashing to the ground.  He let her body drop to his feet.

“How did you know she was going to be there?” I asked him.

“Her movements were not really so random as she would have liked them to appear to be,” Talamur replied. 

I nodded, impressed.  “Okay then.”

“You need to do something about these demons before they heal, Jason,” he said.

“Yeah, about that,” I said suspiciously.  “Nobody calls me Jason.  How do you know my name?”

“Well,” he said, “We’ve met before, kind of.”

“What does that mean?”

 He sighed heavily.  “I suppose that you could say, strictly speaking, that I killed you.”