Friday, January 26, 2018

Petit Démon ★ A Thierry Adler Short Story






The clock's ticking echoed against the walls.
The couple sat across from me, tense.
Quiet.
The infant in the next room was silent. Toys were strewn about the living room; some of them speckled with blood. I looked down at my cup of tea on their coffee table, along with their own cups.
The mother, (Mrs. Masters) her makeup was perfect, her clothes, impeccable.
Not a wrinkle could be seen on her.
The father, wore a light blue sweater, peppered with tiny red stains. His face held the deepest kind of resolve, the kind that forces a man to do the thing he thinks is right, versus the thing he wants to do. A dangerous expression to sport, if you ask me.


“When did all of this start?” I asked, pulling out my notebook and clicking out the tip of my pen. “On the phone you said this was just beginning.” I looked at them both and raised my eyebrows.
The father tried to speak, but had to clear his throat first, and once he did, he said: “Three days.”
He said the words so low, I barely heard him.
“Mr. Adler,” the woman squeezed her husband’s knee for reassurance. “Can you fix our son? Can you make him normal?”
“Normal, is an illusion.” I told her, deadpanning. “I can find out why he’s feeding off of you. Why your son is craving blood. Have either one of you had any sexual relations with a vampire in the last three days?”
They both balked, then stuttered.
“No………..Of course not…………………………...V-vampire?”
“…..Jesus…………………...What kind of question is that?”
I put my hand up to silence the wild eyes and offended words.
“A virus exists, not the one that actually turns you into a vampire, but one that makes humans crave blood. I need to rule out that little Edward has been exposed to it via either one of you.”
“He hasn’t.” Said the mother too quickly.
“Surely not.” The father added.
“Mr. Masters, it could have been passed to you as easily as drinking from the same glass as a vampire. Maybe at a bar? Maybe someone had a sip of your cocktail while you weren’t looking.”
Knowing a seer was definitely working in my favor today. I’d had my good friend Io look into the ether regarding my new clients. She’d seen Mr. Masters at a bar, drinking.
Io was left with the impression that was something Mr. Masters did a lot.
Doubt spread across Mrs. Master’s face.
Her husband felt the weight of her doubt, then tried to backpedal, shaking his head.
“I do go to the bar on Fridays after work. I’ve never left a drink unattended. I’m not a careless man, Mr. Adler.”
I looked around the room. “No, strange things can happen to anybody.”
He sighed heavily and threw his head in his hands.
“How could he have gotten anything from me? I don’t crave blood. My wife doesn’t crave blood. Tell me how any of this is possible.”
“Mrs. Masters—”
“Linda.” She corrected me.
“Linda, have you been feeling strange lately? Anything out of the ordinary?”
“No. Only a little lightheaded when it comes time to feed the baby.” She shook her head, then dabbed a tear out of the corner of her eye without bothering her makeup.
“The reason I ask is because sometimes the virus is dormant, only affecting certain people.” I said, folding my notebook back up.
“Are you going to look at our son now?”
I nodded. “Yes, I just have one more question: how did you discover your son needed blood in the first place?”
Linda blushed and folded her arms over her chest. “He bit me.” She answered.
I cringed, waved my hand at them again. “Say no more. You have my deepest condolences.”
Linda stood up, needing to change the subject. She smoothed her already perfect shirt and motioned towards the baby’s room.
“Edward is right in here.”
Linda led the way to her son’s room.
Adam Masters, the not-so-proud father followed behind me.
“Just don’t touch him.” Adam warned me as I passed through the doorway.
The child’s room looked like any other. Blue wallpaper peppered with airplanes, trains, horses and cars. Any little boy would love it.
He stood in his crib, hands calmly on the sides of it.
Edward looked at his mother, his eyes followed her smartly across the room. She kept a healthy distance from the crib.
The whites of his eyes had red dots in them; a telltale sign of something vampiric. Vampires were known for their blood red eyes, especially if they hadn’t fed recently.
“Teeth?” I asked.
“What?” Linda squirmed.
“The kid. Does he have teeth yet?”
She shook her head ‘no’.
“How about when he bit you? Did he have some then?”
She nodded yes.
“Okay.” I turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” I bumped chests with Mr. Masters who was still right behind me. I was several inches taller than he was, and when I looked down at him, he hesitated.
“I’m going to visit a man who might have the magic to fix your son.”
“Fix him? So something is wrong.”
I frowned. “Of course something is wrong. Babies don't drink blood.”
I moved around Adam and out into the hallway. He followed me into the living room, his wife behind him.
“So you’ll be back?”
“Yes. In a couple of hours.” I grabbed my coat and shrugged it on.
Adam’s face fell in relief. “Thank you. God bless you.”
“Don’t thank me yet.” I said. “And don’t mention ‘gods’ around me.” I winced. “Makes me nervous.”
The comment confused him, but then again, he’d never met a god before.
9 times out of 10 they were huge assholes.
A vampiric baby.
This was going to be a case to remember...





I ducked out of the semi-busy Atlanta side street where I parked and let myself into Io’s shop. The bell dinged on my way in. I was accosted by the eyes of several curious customers. They were all probably wondering who’d let in the cold winter air.
I waved at Io, who was in the middle of putting a book back on the shelf. Her bright red hair trailed down her back and she worked to push the tome into place while on her tip toes.
“Sup, Thierry?”
“Not much. Wondering if you could put me in communicado with a certain shit head Magician.”
“Oh, looking for Matt? I haven’t seen or heard from him in a while.”
I sighed. “It’s kind of important.”
She gave the book one last shove and looked at me triumphantly.
I’d known better than to try and help her re-shelve the book when I came in. Io was short and small, and touchy about her height.
“What’s going on?”
“The Masters.”
“Oh. So I guess it was something supernatural after all huh?” She cringed.
“Yeah. Their kid has a real hankering for blood. I thought Matt might actually…” I waved my hand around because I didn’t want to admit Matt might know something I didn’t.
I hated the thought that Matt might know something I didn’t.
We’d worked together once before, and that ended horribly.
Now that I was back— in the right universe and goddess free, I didn’t relish the thought of seeing him again. But I also wanted to help Edward and his family.
The kid still had a chance to be normal, which is more than I can say for most people I know these days, (including myself).
Hell, who am I kidding?
Especially myself.
“You thought that Matt might be able to save the kid?” Io smiled. A million freckles danced across her face. “Just admit it. You value his magical opinion and knowledge. It’s okay to ask for help, Thierry. But in this case, asking won’t get you far, because I don’t know where he is.”
I cursed under my breath.
“Alright then.” I turned to leave, when Io’s voice caught me.
“That’s it? You're gone?”
“Know anyone else who could help me? Hunters? Anybody who knows about vamps and their weirdo diseases.”
“I can help you.”
I was a little surprised at her offer. Wasn’t entirely sure I was willing to drag her around with me.
Not after almost losing her along with Tess.
“You?”
“Yeah. What’s wrong with me? I work in a bookshop; most of these books I’ve read.”
“This could get messy. The parents are… strange, tense. Things could get weird fast.”
She frowned. “That’s everyday, with you.”
“That isn’t the point.” I said, trying not to be offensive. The truth was, I felt close to her and I didn’t want anything to happen to my friend.
“What’s the problem? I mean, it seems simple enough. Cure the baby.”
“It’s never simple.” I told her with a frown.
She zoomed out from behind the counter and towards a shelf full of books on bloodsuckers. She picked one from a stack and handed it to me. “This should get you started.”
I sighed, testing its weight in my hand.
“Thanks. I just hope I don’t run out of time.”
“You think it’s a carrier disease?”
I nodded. “It started three days ago. That’s what the mother said. For some reason, I just don’t trust these people.”
“Why?”
“Dunno, I just don’t.”
“You think they had something to do with their son and his… affliction?”
I shrugged. “Maybe. I mean, they both seem weird. On edge, but that’s to be expected when your toddler starts craving human blood.” I said the last two words quietly compared to the rest.
An older woman with a handful of Witchy supplies skirted around me and dumped most of them onto the counter, ready to check out.
Io smiled at her, but I stared at the woman for a beat.
“What’re you looking at, kid?”
Kid?
I stood a good foot and a half taller than the small frizzy haired woman in front of me. Grayish strands of kinky wildness framed her face. She had dark skin and a scar over her left eyebrow.
Her hand shot out in my direction when I didn’t answer.
“Names’ Mona.”
I shook her hand.
“Thierry.”
“A friend of Io’s is a friend of mine.” She righted a bauble that had tipped over on its side and set it farther back on Io’s glass countertop. Io began ringing up the lady’s selections.
She considered me for a few seconds, then spoke again.
“I’ve seen it before.”
“Seen what?”
“A baby that drinks blood.” She blew a strand of hair out of her face with her breath. “There’s only one thing you can do for that.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
“Kill it.”
My eyes widened. I didn’t speak. If I said what I thought, it may have seemed disrespectful.
“I know you don’t want that. Her either.” She pointed towards Io. “But it must be done. When the virus…” she waved her hand about, writing a sigil in the air for protection, (she was obviously a Witch, and an old school one at that). “Gets into something that young, it takes root. Becomes something more than a virus and something nastier than a vampire. A feral little thing. Nothing left to do but kill it. There’s no saving it.”
Io had the most horrified look on her face. A mix of embarrassment at her own customer, and sheer terror that Mona might be right.
“How do you know all this?” I asked.
“Been on God’s good Earth for 72 years now, I think I should know what I’ve seen.”
Io bagged Mona’s things, grabbed up the cash the elderly woman had chucked onto the counter and cashed her out.
Mona looked incredibly spry to be 72. In fact, she didn’t look much older than the mid fifties range.
She reached for her purchases, which were now in three neat bags. I beat her to the punch.
“Can I help you to your car?”
She nodded, led the way. I followed Mona and shrugged at Io on the way out.
Mona walked slow, and was parked nearly a block over, so it gave us time to talk.
“You see, what’s about to happen is an epidemic.”
“Oh?”

She nodded. “The baby has changed, it’s going to bite its mother again, this time with a mutated version of the virus in its system. Something about being so young makes the virus act strange.” She held up her finger and enunciated her next words. “When the child bites, it will pass it on to its mother. She’ll pass it on to her husband. God forbid she has a lover, or it may get out of control. Hopefully, you’ll only have to take out the immediate family to be done with it.”
“What happens if I don’t?”
“Don’t, can’t, won’t? It’ll all end the same way. It’ll pass from person to person, and sooner or later you’ll have a bunch of intelligent, day-walking hungries who all crave blood. They’ll all be stronger than oxes and meaner than snakes.”
“And you've seen this before?”
“In ‘62. The town I lived in was overrun. Protectors were even called. They decimated the entire county. Barely contained it. Your generation worries about zombies, but where do you think that idea comes from?”
“I didn’t think from the vampire virus. I’ve seen rotters before.”
“Huh.” She pointed to her car. An Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was blue and in pristine condition. She walked up to it and opened the trunk with her key.
I set the bags inside and shut it.
“Well, thank you for the heads up.” I said, not really knowing how to thank someone who suggested I murder a small child.
“You won’t decide to do it until it’s too late.”
Then again, honesty is the best policy…
“I probably won’t do it at all. I’ve done a lot of bad things, but I’m not quite ready to add infanticide to that list yet.”
She raised her eyebrows then deadpanned.
“Suit yourself.”
She thanked me for helping her to her car and drove off. I watched her turn the corner and out of sight when my cellphone range.
I answered it quickly.
It was Mr. Masters.
“Mr. Adler, please come quick… Something has happened.”
And with that, I got the first horrifying clue that Mona had been right.



Adam Masters was pacing back and forth on his front porch when I pulled up. I got out of my black Ford Escape, adjusted the collar on my leather jacket and shut the door.
“Mr. Masters?” I quickly climbed the steps to stand in front of him.
His eyes met mine and they were nervous and unsure. They flitted from side to side repeatedly. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that man had been doing drugs.
“Inside. I’ll show you.”
He turned and the led me into the house. Everything looked exactly the same as it had a few hours ago when I’d been here last.
“What’s the problem?”
The front door closed behind me and when I turned to see who had closed it, (because Mr. Masters stood in the living room, and I stood between him and the front door), something slammed into the back of my head and I blacked out.
The last thing I remember thinking was; “Fuck. It’s gonna be one of those days, innit?”


I awoke in a chair. My arms and legs were strapped to the metal armrests, bound by thick leather. I struggled, but couldn’t break the ties.
It was dark in whatever room I was in.
It felt cold and a little damp. I guessed I was in the Master’s basement.
“The fuck is this?” I growled into the darkness. I could sense I wasn’t alone, but I still couldn’t see who was in the room with me.
Mr. Masters stepped out of the shadows.
“This is you, helping us. In the only way you can.”
“What are you talking about. I was helping you, until your wife hit me over the head and you tied me up to this fucking chair.”
“Calm down, Mr. Adler. All we need is a little of your blood.”
“No!” I yelled. “You cannot feed that kid my blood. I’m a Warlock.”
Mr. Masters stepped towards me and I saw the syringe in his hand. I struggled to free myself, but it was no use.
“A Warlock? Then maybe your blood will heal little Eddie.”
“If you feed that kid my blood, I don’t know what will happen. Most probably, you’ll make him worse.”
“You’d say anything to get out of that chair.”
I felt the needle pierce my skin. I wiggled, but it didn’t deter Mr. Masters in the least.
“You are a complete idiot.” I told him, in the nastiest voice I could conjure.
“If you were really a Warlock, then I think you’d at least be able to free yourself. Don’t you?”
I scoffed.
“I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to that. I’d hoped you’d just untie me.”
“Not going to happen.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. The edges of my vision became blue.
He saw my eyes change color and slammed his fist into the side of my head. I realized Pulsing wasn’t going to work. If my pain levels were too high, Pulsing became an impossibility.
I groaned.
He popped me again for good measure.
I could feel my nose start to bleed.
“Quit hitting me, you fuck.” I screamed.
“Quit trying to get away.”
I spit at him, but missed. He wrinkled his nose as he looked at my spittle on his basement floor. I guess the third punch was a charm, because it knocked me out.
Again.
This shit was really getting old.




I don’t know how long I was out for, but I woke up to the sound of a huge crash going on upstairs. I tried to Pulse again, but I was still in too much pain. I’ve Pulsed with a cracked rib or two before, but taking so many blows to the head may have left me with a concussion. If I couldn’t concentrate, then I couldn’t Pulse.
Simple as that.
The basement door at the top of the stairs, swung open and I heard skittering. I tried furiously to wiggle loose from the chair. No luck.
I looked around wildly, trying to see what the hell had come through that door. At first, all I saw was darkness, then, I saw little Eddie.
He crawled sideways on the wall, sniffing the air. He was covered in blood, and didn’t look human anymore.
His mouth was too large and misshapen.
I wanted to scream, but, if I was about to die, I didn’t want to go out like a pussy.
I wiggled against the straps. Still in too much pain to Pulse out of the chair.
Little Eddie headed towards me, licking his lips.
I tried flailing myself to and fro, hoping to move the chair back and away from the baby as he got closer. He jumped town from the wall and tottered towards me. Tiny bloody hands reaching for my knees.
What does one do in a situation like this?
The kid was basically feral. The few red specks in his irises had turned into large blotches of bright red blood and now they threatened to cover the whites of his eyes completely.
I showed my teeth and growled at the little demon. Looked him straight in the eyes.
He stopped.
Taken back by my willingness to challenge him.
In his very short moment of hesitation, I heard boots thudding down the basement stairs towards Eddie and I. I heard glass shatter against the concrete floor of that basement, and Eddie grabbed his tiny little throat and gagged violently.
I looked up to see Matt Celsius clod hopping down the rest of the stairs, a smug grin on his face, and a dog carrier in one hand. Io trailed behind him.
“Oh my God! Thierry, I thought for sure we’d be too late to help.” She squealed.
“Ya’ll were just in time.” I cleared my throat. “Where are the parents?”
“Dead.” Matt told me.
“Shit.”
“Yea.” He added. “If you’d called me in the first place, then you might have been able to save the kid.”
“Nobody can get in touch with you. How’d you even know I was here.”
“Mona.”
“Mona? You know Mona?”

Little Eddie seized and cried on the ground beside me as Io rushed to untie me. Matt set the carrier down next to the kid and ungracefully popped Eddie inside it, then locked it.
Matt scoffed and picked up the carrier as I stood up, finally free of the chair. I grabbed my head and winced.
“I know everybody. Mona said a friend of Io’s was too sentimental to do what needed to be done.” He answered. I rolled my eyes.
“Still cocky as fuck, I see.”
“Yup.”
Io put her hand on my shoulder, then pulled me into a hug. I hugged her back, all while giving Matt (the untrustworthy Magician) the stink eye. Magicians drive me nuts, so I won’t go into a rant, but I’ll just say that Matt and I have a history.
It’s not pretty.
“Please get along, you two. Can’t we all just be happy everyone lived?” Io asked us both in her usual gentle tone.
I pulled away from Io.
“Everyone didn’t live.” I reminded her.
“Which is why we need to leave.” Matt said, carrying the choking baby locked in the animal crate back up the stairs.
I followed him.
“Hey, you can’t take Eddie.”
He past the threshold past the stairs and walked into the living room on the first floor. Mr. Masters was in pieces in the corner.
Blood was everywhere.
I cringed.
Matt turned towards me. The carrier jostled in his arms as the baby monster fought to get out. Whatever Matt had hit Eddie with was wearing off.
“Why can’t I? I caught him. And he’s not human anymore.”
Io hid behind me as Matt’s voice took on a menacing tone.
“Because, he needs help.”
“He’s beyond help, Thierry.” Matt snapped. “Now, he’s mine.”
I lunged for the carrier. Matt yanked it out of my reach.
“Don’t make me hurt you, Warlock.”
I sighed.
“I can’t let you take him.” I stood my ground. I was growing angrier by the second.
“Just let him have it, Thierry. He can’t be fixed.” Io whispered behind me.
I looked back at her. “You too?”
She nodded.
I pointed a finger at Matt in a warning.
“If I find out you've used that kid’s blood in a spell, or to make something nasty, I’m gonna come after you.”
“Oh please, I think we both know there’s nothing you can do about it, especially since I have this too.” He held up the syringe full of my blood.
Fuck.
“Give it back, Matt.”
He smiled.
My eyes widened as he stuck himself with the needle and plunged my blood into his thigh. My head pounded as my heart rate increased, dizziness threatened to overtake me.
Matt’s smile grew wider as his eyes lit up. Bright blue.
I lunged for him, but he Pulsed before I could catch him.
“Damnit!” I yelled. Io gasped behind me. Papers blew around the living room, caught up in a ghost wind of dry heat from Matt’s exit.
I could hear sirens coming in the distance. The neighbors probably called the cops due to all of the racket going on inside this house.
I tried to Pulse after him, but my head was still too foggy.
I set my jaw. Angry that Matt had outsmarted me, yet again.
“Let’s go, Io.”
I headed for the door.
“How did he do that?” she mumbled behind me, completely bewildered.
“It’s Matt, he finds a way around everything.”
“I didn’t know that was possible.”
“Me neither.”
We headed to my Escape and got in. I burned rubber to get out of the driveway before the cops arrived.
“What does this mean?” she asked, it was obvious that she was freaking out; and to be honest, I was too. “What’s he gonna do with that kid?”
I sighed. Took a left and headed back to Io’s bookstore/ magic shop.
“I don’t know.” I said as I grabbed the steering wheel so hard my knuckles turned white. “But I intend to find out.”



AK








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