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.”