Telegraph, near 33rd st.

–in Oakland

Bus Stop Banshee

My heart is pounding, a chill crawls up my spine too slowly, and it’s getting to be unbearable now. Take some deep breaths. That’s it. I thought I was going to lose my lunch in the middle of the sidewalk. I’m sure worse things have happened to it.

The wave passes. They’re getting worse. I need to find him, now. Of course, I wouldn’t even have been out here if it wasn’t for me. Did I really need milk? Cookies are fine on their own. I know they hate being dry, but I can’t please everyone. Was it really worth getting stuck in a demon’s web for milk?

When I put it that way, yes. I just want to find this demon, untangle myself, and get home. Is that too much to ask?

No answer.

Finally, I see her. Icy blue mist swirls around her, almost as if it was fighting the wind. The wind is losing. She seems to be kinda zoned out, so let’s take stock.

Yeah, it’s the middle of the day, across the street from that cathedral, few cars every dozen seconds or so, and half a dozen other pedestrians. I hope she stays calm.

Or he, I see as I get closer. He’s slumped on a bench, in the shade of a tree growing from its designated hole, struggling to make its leaves green. I can feel the grip of his emotions slithering away. His hair has gone white and floats thickly, like it’s floating in mud. His mouth is hanging open, mostly because of the large, wide teeth; white dinner spoons. Pretty far gone. I was going to run into him sooner or later.

I stretch a little as the last of the tangles unwrap themselves around me. Before I even have a change to run, he’s alert. He climbs up on the bench and crouches, staring at me with eye sockets like a primeval cavern, and a strange deathly light shining from deep, deep inside.

Dammit, one of these days I’ll be fast enough. He’s screaming. At first it’s incoherent syllables. They slowly coalesce into, “Die! Die liar, die! Go kill yourself!” which he shouts over and over, louder and louder, spittle flying, ears ringing, right at me.

“Sorry, pal,” I say, trying not to back away too much. I can’t have him switching targets to someone he can hurt. “Sometimes I wish I could.”

He throws his body at me, but I expected something like that, though I wasn’t expecting such speed. He nearly gets a hold of my jacket tail, but I shrug him off, and he lands with a roll, landing up against the wall of some abandoned business where sad purple flowers are watching us.

He is taking his time getting up, so I put the bus bench between us, debating whether it’s worth the fight or just run. Neither option is good with an unpredictable demon. Too much attention. But at least I can feel that I’m free of his web so I can think about running.

As if on cue, a woman walks up confused and angry; slowly trading in confusion for anger at me. She helps the banshee up. He starts wailing on me again, but she holds him back physically effortlessly. He’s cursing my heritage, using poor grammar in a few dozen languages. She doesn’t seem to notice. Must be out of the human range of hearing.

I’m kinda at a loss under the assault, so she breaks the silence sternly, “What did you do to him?”

My jaw drops. “I… He… He jumped me! And started screaming at me,” I say, watching his long, flat tongue drip with mucus. It’s all over her sleeve. Is she that oblivious?! I look around for validation, but the few people staring are staring at me like I’m the monster. It’s not just her. Typical. They’re just trying to relax, instead of survive.

She brushes his thick hair out of his eyes, which are looking right at me, glinting, like golden Christmas ornaments, beautifully filled with malevolent victory as chains snake out of her back and snap tight on his upper arms. She’s a warlock. Effing hell.

The Warlock takes a break from cooing at Mr. Demon, before telling me like I should know better, “He can’t control himself,” she says. I barely catch it because I’m trying to think of better nicknames.

Alright. Alright. “Alright,” I say. I pause and take my time, looking her over for any herd markings. I can’t tell if she knows what she’s doing, or came to this by accident. Humans are like children, they get into everything. “I get it. He looked like he needed help. I’m glad he has it,” I half-lie. The upside is that this one is bound.

I walk away, knowing full well that there is at least two demons in this city. I knew this one was different as soon as I got caught in the web. Maybe it’s just Coincidence. I try to remember the last time I saw her, but I can’t. Didn’t she retire or something?

Whatever. I know it’s not my fault. It feels better when I’m getting away with something.

But that won’t stop someone from blaming me.

Time to disappear before she finds me. I pull my hat down even lower over my eyes as I start walking back to my hideout. I make good time.

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