In retrospect, it sounds like a dumb joke. Two vampires and a gorgon walk up to a house... maybe I'm just sleep deprived still.
We had finally gotten to the center of the spell. I was almost surprised at how normal the house looked (well, except for the obvious magic aura). Two stories, white paint, a lawn; that night something so normal looked strange.
When we got there a question I should have thought of sooner popped into my head. "Wait, what are we going to do about the invitation?"
Mrs. Reiser put her hand to her chin. "I... forgot about that. I didn't think it would be inside someone's house."
I looked around. Sanguis was gone. Then I looked up at the house. He was already on the roof, and gestured for me to join him. What was he thinking? I groaned and looked for a way to get up there. There was a tree growing close to the house at the back. I ran toward it, but found myself diving behind a bush before I registered voices coming through the closest window. That's when I realized why Sanguis was up there; enhanced senses meant that we could do some recon without even entering the house.
"This wasn't what I agreed to," said one of the voices. It was oddly familiar, but I couldn't quite place it.
"I don't see what you mean. I fulfilled the terms of our contract to the letter. Just as with our previous contracts." I froze. That was definitely Mr. Daemon's voice. I guess I should have been surprised, but he creeped me out enough that I had assumed he was up to something or other. Hm, but if that was Mr. Daemon, who was he talking to?
"The letter, yes, but I didn't want you to turn half the city into monsters! I only asked you for some easy fights so that everyone in the city will love me!" Ferris Eaton. Of course. Still not surprised somehow.
"Well, these new monsters will be easy pickings. Most of them have no idea what they are. And once you stop them, you will again be hailed as the hero who keeps the city from chaos."
I could feel my fangs starting to tickle my tongue, but restrained myself. Instead, I slowly crept to the window to peek in. Ferris was glaring at Mr. Daemon, hands clenched. Mr. Daemon had the smile he usually reserved for giving people failing grades, except creepier. In the background I saw an intricate circular pattern on the floor. I ducked back down. That must have been the magic circle.
I slowly started heading back to Mrs. Reiser, but kept listening. Mr. Daemon replied slowly. "If you want you may destroy the circle and render your part of the bargain null. But I will expect payment either way. And need I remind you of the penalties for doing so?"
As creepy as it sounds, I could hear Ferris' heart beat faster. When he didn't say anything, I heard Mr. Daemon reply, "Then stay here and make sure the circle is safe. You will reap your benefits in the morning."
I didn't hear anything else before I got back to Mrs. Reiser, but it was enough. She greeted me with hands on her hips. "I didn't realize vampires were compelled to run off without warning."
"Hey, he did it first," I said, motioning to Sanguis. This time he had popped up behind Mrs. Reiser, and it was really hard not to laugh. She jumped and started moving her knife before backing up.
"Besides," I continued, "I saw where the magic circle is."
They both looked at me. "It's in the room next to that window on the side. There are two people there guarding it. I think the caster must have been the older one, Mr. Daemon."
Sanguis hissed. "You know that demon?"
I blinked. "Um... he's my biology teacher. Wait, he's an actual demon? That sounds bad."
Mrs. Reiser switched out knives. "You could say that."
Sanguis moved to grab her arm, but Mrs. Reiser jerked away. He instead held out his open hands and said, "I can't let you face a demon by yourself."
Mrs. Reiser was surprisingly adept at glaring through her mask. "I can handle myself. And since neither of you can get inside without being invited, I'm going to have to."
"That might not be true," I interrupted. They both looked at me again. "The other person goes to my school. And I don't really look like a vampire yet. Maybe I can get him to invite us in."
The kept staring, and Sanguis frowned. I shrugged. "Well even if it doesn't work it'll distract them, right?"
Finally they nodded. Mrs. Reiser went to wait by the window, and Sanguis disappeared. I assumed he was close to the door, but I couldn't tell where he was hiding. I took a deep breath, marched up the sidewalk, and rang the doorbell.
I could hear hushed tones, but knew I shouldn't. So I waited a few seconds, then rang the doorbell again. I kept ringing the doorbell incessantly until I heard steps coming to the front door. I backed up as Ferris opened it.
"What?" he snapped. Then he must have realized it was a fairly normal looking teenage girl. "Excuse me. But what are you doing here in the middle of the night?"
"Oh, you're Ferris! I didn't realize you lived here. Oh, I'm so sorry I bothered you but... but..." I choked back disgust, but made it seem like I was about to cry. I could see his face soften. "But everything is crazy out here and your house looks like it might be safe! Can I please come in?"
Ferris scuffed his foot against the ground. "I don't know, I don't think we've even met..."
I looked down. "I mean... we haven't. I'm just a freshman. And you're so cool and popular and I guess you wouldn't even notice someone like me so I hate to bother you but my friends and I have been going around for hours trying to find somewhere to hide and I'm so sorry but if we could just stay until morning..." I trailed off, just about ready to gag. That should have stroked his ego at least.
"Friends? What friends? I don't see anyone with you."
I was hoping he wouldn't notice so Sanguis would get invited without too much effort, but I figured that might happen. "We split up to try to cover more ground. But now I'm by myself and I'm worried about them, and... and..." I sniffled. That was about as close to crying as I could manage. Not sure why everyone is convinced girls can just cry on command whenever they want something. But it was enough.
"Hey, hey, hey, it's OK. Come in, and your friends can come in when they get here. There's a spare bedroom upstairs you can stay in until morning, all right?" He put his arm around my shoulder and ushered me across the threshold.
I had hoped Sanguis would have enough sense to wait until we were upstairs to make a move, but nooo. The second he got that invitation he barged in and tried to jump Ferris. He must have been surprised when Ferris landed a hit no problem.
Luckily Ferris didn't make the connection between the two events. "Go, run! I'll hold him off!" I nodded and ran straight to the room I saw the circle in. "Wait, not that way, that's --" Ferris got cut off by Sanguis' counterattack. Those two should keep each other busy, at least.
When I got there Mr. Daemon was still camped right over the circle. I guess him running out to see what the commotion was would have been too easy. He looked at me and smiled. "Why, Sophia! Fancy seeing you here. Why are you out so late at night?"
Wait, if he's a demon, can he tell if I'm lying? I was careful about my words, but took on a decidedly hysterical tone. "People are turning into monsters and everything is getting torn apart and FERRIS IS FIGHTING A VAMPIRE! SHOULDN'T YOU HELP HIM?"
Mr. Daemon put his finger on my lips. "Now, now, that's an impressive act, but I saw you lurking outside the window earlier. Besides, I can tell that you've been... affected."
Crap. I got ready to run, but he didn't seem like he was going to attack. Maybe if I ran he would still follow though? I definitely needed to keep him talking; I could see Mrs. Reiser quietly working on the window.
I sucked in my breath. "I... I... I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't lie, my dear, I can tell." Mr. Daemon's smile got wider. "But don't worry, I don't mean you any harm. In fact, I have a proposition for you."
"No," I blurted out. How stupid did he think I was?
My bluntness prompted laughter. "A no before you've even heard the terms? Ah, Sophia, you should really listen to your teacher. Really, it will only be to your benefit."
I kept staring at Mr. Daemon but saw Mrs. Reiser easing open the window. Keep him talking. "What kind of proposition?"
He paced forward slightly. "You're here because you've changed. Indirectly my doing, I'm afraid. I suppose that monster in the other room told you the only way to get your life back is to destroy that circle? Well that's not true."
Mrs. Reiser started squeezing through the window even as Mr. Daemon came closer. I paced backward, one hand feeling behind me.
Mr. Daemon continued. "I control the spell. If you want, I can lift your curse and you can be on your way. Just don't tell anyone what happened and you'll have a normal life. Or," and his eyes glowed faintly, "I can grant you power. Far more power than what you feel right now. All you would have to do is lend my your aid when I called."
By now I was backed against the wall and Mr. Daemon was uncomfortably close to my face. Mrs. Reiser dropped to the floor. The noise caught his attention, and he started turning.
"No," I repeated, and punched him in the face. Then I ducked and rolled toward the door. He lunged at me, but then Mrs. Reiser tackled him.
The two of them struggled, and I headed toward the circle. I scuffed my foot against it; chalk. I pulled out my water bottle and dumped the contents across the circle. The symbols blurred into random streaks. Suddenly everything seemed a lot darker, but I could also feel my heart beating.
Mr. Daemon loomed behind me. "I expected more from such a good student." He knocked me to the floor. Then Sanguis was in front of me while Mrs. Reiser lunged at Mr. Daemon from behind.
Mr. Daemon's eyes glowed red and hot, almost like fire, as he dodged out of the way. He snarled, then dove around the corner. I looked out just in time to see him disappearing with the unconscious Ferris. "I am still owed my price," echoed his voice in the empty hallway.
Mrs. Reiser took off her mask and tied back her hair. She took my arm firmly and started walking out the door with me. I was too tired to argue or care. I figured I would let her explain the outing to my parents.
"A word," interjected Sanguis. Mrs. Reiser stopped, but kept her knife out.
"I apologize for my rash assumptions," said Sanguis. "I should not have been so ready to attack when you instead needed my help." He handed me a piece of paper. I looked at it and saw a phone number of all things. "Should that demon attempt to harm you for your role in this night, contact me and I will come to your aid." Then he vanished.
I programmed the number into my cell phone, ignoring Mrs. Reiser's look of shock. If there was even the slightest chance of retaliation, having a vampire's phone number was a good thing. Unless it happens during the day, in which case I'm screwed.
Anyway, Mrs. Reiser and I made our way back. We saw a lot of people wandering around, and the news the next day said something about a fire from a gas leak. I didn't hear that until later because I slept for about ten hours, grabbed something to eat, then slept until the next morning. My parents didn't bug me at all, so apparently they bought whatever Mrs. Reiser told them. That or they didn't want to talk about what happened. Given the oddly large feathers I found later it might have been the latter.
Oh, and there was an email that we're getting a new biology teacher. I hear he's old and makes atrocious puns. Haven't heard anything about Ferris, so we'll see.