Written by Phillip A. Myers / Artwork by Lee Ann Barlow
The App of Solomon
“You hear about the server getting hacked again?”

“Yeah, boss is raising hell. Can’t access his accounts, his
reports, nothing.”

“How many times has it been this year now? Seventeen?”

“Almost twenty I think.”

“Shit. Last time this happened, all the hard drives on level
twelve got wiped. Tech support had to bring in new servers,
even reworked the entire building’s network.”

“And it’s still going on?”

“Yup. Virus just won’t die. It’s like a Goddamn demon.”

“Tell me about it. Hey, did you hear about Ray Rice…”

The elevator doors of the Wells Fargo Tower opened and
everyone exited the lift like a mob of ant drones. Tacey
Bridgton was the last to be freed from her cramped confines.

She paused to catch her breath as she straightened her light
auburn hair tied into pigtails. Once relaxed, she pushed her
cart into the office space delivering mail to her coworkers.

After one lady thanked her for a very important Amazon
package, Tacey stopped in front of a bulletin board, staring.
Several signs were posted for new staff meetings, charity
foundations asking for coworkers’ donations today, and ads
for a recently opened pho restaurant.

“Still no job openings, Tace,” she heard someone behind her.

A blonde woman stood there wearing a dark business suit and thin frames over her eyes, cherry lipstick in a half-
smile. Diane the section manager.

“Business has been getting pretty edgy lately, what with all these viruses coming in screwing with our files. We’re
even talking about cutting back on staff.”

Diane wrapped her arm around Tacey’s shoulder and continued, “Really, you should count yourself lucky you still
have a job after that cat incident the other day.

“But don’t you worry. As soon as a position opens up, I’ll be sure to give you my recommendation. Promise.”

As you said the last three times, you harlot.

Diane lifted her head, confused. “What was that?”

A coworker from a neighboring cubicle cursed, “Another Goddamn bluescreen!”

Diane groaned, “Again? Sorry, gotta go. Later Tace.”

As she walked away smiling, Tacey could still smell the copious amount of Nirvana White wafted from her musk.

Honestly, is there any position that human hasn’t been in?

Tacey lightly kicked the cart with her foot. She heard another person complaining about a disc error. With no one
looking, she reached into her bag on the cart to type a message into her smartphone.

CHILL DOWN FOR AWHILE. PEOPLE ARE BEGINNING TO SUSPECT.

~ * ~

Outside the building, Tacey sat on a bench eating her lunch, a turkey sandwich on wheat with baby spinach and
mustard. She ate it the only way she could, through a straw.

Tacey sighed from exhaustion. She checked her smartphone for activity.

“Enjoying your meal?”

Tacey lifted her head. A tall lanky man with red hair stood over her wearing shirt, tie and a goofy grin. In his hands
was a brown paper bag, the bottom smeared with grease.

“Mind if I join?” he asked. Tacey said nothing, just shook her head.

The man sat next to her and droned on, “Nice to get out once in a while away from the office folk. Never liked
working in tall buildings anyway.”

He opened the bag and pulled out a gyro loaded with lamb, lettuce, red peppers, chicken and white sauce. The
sauce dripped all over his hands, shirt and face, as he devoured it in less than two minutes.

“Goddamn, those Greeks sure know how to make a good meal,” said a greasy stained Jeff. As he licked his lips, he
continued, “I wish they’d add more spicy stuff to these. Prefer curry myself. Hey, have you ever tried Indian food
before? You know the red dot kind?”

Tacey did her best to ignore this racist remark, as she ate her mulched sandwich, downing it with bottled water.

“I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Jeff Costas. Pleasure meeting you.” He extended his greasy hand for
her to shake. “I was hired to work out all the kinks in your building mainframe. Nasty little virus in there, let me tell
you. Almost like it has a mind of its own.

“Kinda like a demon.”

Tacey almost choked. She started to get up and walk back to work, when he continued.

“Anastacia Bridgton. Age twenty-three. Born in Liverpool. Moved to the States when you were seventeen.
Graduated from University of Baltimore with a Bachelors’ in Computer Science, currently preparing for your
Masters.’ Been working as a mailroom clerk for almost a year now.”

Tacey stood in place, unable to move. Sweat dripped down her brow.

Jeff said, “Strange. First sign of computer trouble in this building started only a week after you arrived. Funny how
nobody noticed.”

Suddenly Jeff was standing in front of her, a menacing smile on his face.

“You’re a Technomancer, aren’t you?”

Tacey bolted.

Before she got ten steps, someone seized her arm and locked it behind her back.

“Don’t move honey,” a woman whispered into her ear. An African American, she wore jeans and a leather jacket,
her black hair tied back into a bun.

“Excellent work, Monique,” Jeff said circling around the girls.

“It’s Monica,” Monique replied.

“Whatever. Open her mouth wide.”

“You open it. I’m still eating lunch.” Tacey heard the woman behind her chewing a McDonalds' cheeseburger with
her free hand.

With a smiled sigh, Jeff relented and opened Tacey’s lips open with both hands. He peered inside and said, “No
tongue. I thought not.”

A gray tabby cat jumped out of Tacey’s bag, landed and scratched at Jeff’s face. It then lunged for Monica, tearing
at her leather coat before the woman swatted it aside.

The feral cat, or as Tacey had named it, Gretchen hissed:

You will not touch her, mortals!

“And now a talking cat,” Jeff said, wincing from the claw marks. “Definitely a demon.”

Monica cursed. “This was my favorite jacket.”

Any further altercations and you’ll find yourself needing stitches elsewhere.

“I’ll break your Goddamn—”

Jeff held Monica back. “Easy. We’re not looking for a fight. We’re both Technomancers after all.

“Let’s start over. I’m Jeff, and this is my partner slash medium, Monique.”

“Monica.”

“I like Monique better. Anyway we’re both Demonologists; we commune with demons almost the same as you. We
heard about this virus in your building and decided to investigate, thought it would lead to something.

“And we found you.”

Jeff pulled out the smartphone he snatched from Tacey earlier and pulled up the main menu. Tacey wondered
exactly when he stole it from her.

“‘Solomon’s Key.’ Interesting. You actually developed an app for communing with demons? I never thought that
possible. So is that demon inside your doing?”

Our business is of no concern to you, human, the cat Gretchen hissed. It be wise for you to back down.

“It be now? And what if we refuse? You’ll ‘get our tongues?’”

As Jeff chuckled, Tacey and Monica groaned in unison rolling their eyes back.

Gretchen narrowed her own eyes, their yellow pupils twirled into bright orange.
Perhaps you care to witness the full
power of a True Daemon, you worthless whelp.

“Oooh, I’m so scared,” said Jeff. His gaze shifted to Tacey.

Tacey’s body shuddered. His eyes felt like they were penetrating her own. She didn’t like this much attention. She
wished she could just go back to work. Away from all this.

Jeff sighed and said, “Nevermind. Here.” He tossed the smartphone back to Tacey, her hands fumbled as she
caught it in midair.

“What are you doing?” Monica asked.

“She doesn’t know anything.”

“You can’t be sure of that! What if—”

“Trust me,” Jeff cut her off. “This girl doesn’t have it in her. IT, on the other hand, I’m not so sure…”

Jeff stepped forward and bowed his head, directing his attention toward Gretchen. “Don’t let me catch you doing
anything funny kitty, or I’m liable to let the dogs out.”

More groans.

Gretchen clicked her tongue.
Carry on, human.

Jeff turned back toward the office building, Monica following beside. He stopped before the doors and tilted his head
back.

“By the way, there’s been a string of murders downtown. Bodies showed signs of ritual stabbings, then dumped
along alleyways. We traced the source to this location. If you’re not a part of all this, stay low.”

And with that Tacey was alone again. Aside from Gretchen of course, who was busy licking her arms.

Her chest tightened, her heart pumped uneasily. Tacey leaned against the bench as the beating steadied out. She
checked her smartphone to see if it was damaged and noticed lunch had ended five minutes ago.

Grabbing her bag, she knelt and waited for Gretchen to hop back in. Instead, the cat sat there and stared at her
human.

Pay no attention to that braggart. He’s all talk and no play. I suggest you keep your distance from him.
Remember, Anastacia: you belong to me
.

~ * ~

The afternoon had been utter hell for Tacey.

Her boss gave her another earful for returning late. Several packages needed resorting after being delivered to the
wrong address. Someone upstairs mixed a FedEx shipment with UPS postage. Fifteen boxes had to be
reassembled after just being broken down. And all the scotch tape disappeared.

One package arrived late so she needed to return to Diane’s section to deliver it.

As Tacey headed back, she overheard Diane talking with someone.

“This was supposed to be sent out three days ago, Reese. What have you been doing all this time?”

“Sorry, Chief. My computer keeps getting on the fritz-”

“On the fritz? Seriously, who talks that way anymore? Nevermind. Stay overnight and finish it, then send it out
tomorrow morning. Early, got it?”

“Yes ma’am. And the Director?”

“I’ll call him later, blame it all on shipping. Maybe the Mute.”

The Mute.

Tacey darted for the bathroom, knocking into two coworkers on her way. Inside, she locked the door, slammed her
bag down on the table and ran the faucet high enough so nobody could hear her sobbing.

Do not blame yourself, my pet.

Tacey lifted her head and saw Gretchen crawling out from her bag, staring at her with thoughtful eyes.

When you fell down that well, your collar bone shattered. You would have died had you never freed me from my
eternal prison that day. Had your cat survived the fall with you, I would not have needed your tongue to forge this
contract
.

You are only here now because of me.

Tacey nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes. She did owe everything to Gretchen.

Her parents couldn’t understand, so they sent her to America. Her schoolmates couldn’t understand, so they
teased her relentlessly. Her teachers couldn’t understand, so they ignored her when she needed help.

The only one who understood was Gretchen.

Her smartphone chimed with a ‘Riri riri.’

What does that foolish Lesser want now?

Tacey opened her App Solomon’s Key using several predefined keystrokes. Light streamed from the device and a
tiny creature in the shape of a wooden imp emerged. Tumu, it called itself.

Hlo! Tumu said in a high-pitched voice.

Tacey sighed as she typed, I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO LAY LOW.

I’m hngry! Gimme data. Yum yum yum yum yum!

I’LL FEED YOU SOME LOOSE FILES LATER IF YOU PROMISE TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE.

Hngry now! Feed me! Feed me! Feed me! Tumu made a comical tantrum by running around the room in circles.

CAN’T RISK IT. THINGS ARE TIGHT RIGHT NOW. LEARN TO DEAL.

Gretchen added,
Be grateful my servant is even helping you at all, Lesser! If it were me, I’d have you banished
back into the Thought Ambit with all the other unworthy Daemons
.

Tumu stopped and pouted.
Fi9. I’ll go troll maintenance, ROFL.

TRY NOT TO BUG THEM TOO MUCH. Tacey swiped off the monitor to close it out.

B4N! Tumu waved back with a tiny arm as it disapparated.

Gretchen mused,
Why must you help out these Lessers? They are mere stray feelings, nothing more. Leave them
be to their fade.

Tacey shrugged. It was just her nature, she guessed. When she started working there, the poor thing was just a
piece of lost code bound to an unconnected Linux. She promised to help the little imp get back on its metaphorical
feet, at least until it was strong enough to find its own way.

It certainly looked fit enough to me. Didn’t it promise to flee this place last month? Why is it still here?

Before she could think of an answer, the door pounded. Someone demanded to be let in. Tacey washed her face
and put Gretchen back in her bag as she made for the exit.

One more week, she decided to give Tumu.

~ * ~

Shit.

If she could speak, that’s what Tacey would say in this situation.

Just outside her apartment, she realized her keys were missing. She searched all through her bag including the
hidden compartments and found nothing. She retraced her steps and realized where to look.

Tacey made it back to the Wells Fargo Tower. She checked her smartphone, fifteen minutes after six. Most
everyone was well gone for the day, with a few exceptions. Perfect.

As she waited for the elevator, she looked around the lobby. Tacey hadn’t seen the two Demonologists again since
lunch. She wondered if they still followed her. A jolt coursed through her body.

The elevator arrived and she got on. As it rose, she took heavy breaths. She counted the floors in her head. Five,
six, seven…

Something’s wrong, Gretchen spoke from Tacey’s bag. I sense a Daemon’s presence. It’s not the Lesser. It’s
something…fouler. Deeper. Sinister. Be careful, Anastacia
.

The doors slid open and Tacey stepped off, her face damp with sweat. She moved quietly through the hall,
searching for the area where she knocked into those coworkers earlier. She thought perhaps she dropped her keys
there in the rush.

Finding the spot empty, Tacey shook her head in frustration as she wondered where they could be. Then she heard
the scream.

It came from Diane’s office.

With a lump in her throat, Tacey crept toward the office door and peered inside. Within the room there were four
people dressed in heavy white robes, surrounding an empty desk save a laptop and a shirtless man. Tacey
recognized the man: Reese.

“I said I was sorry! I’ll finish the Goddamn report as soon as possible, I swear!”

One of the robed figures pulled back her cloak. It was Diane. Her lips arched into an ominous sneer, as she spoke
into Reese’s ear, “You think I care anything for those useless reports? All that matters are what Master desires.”

As Diane unsheathed a curved knife from within her robes, Tacey pulled her head back in fright. Her heart pounded
so hard she could feel her chest constrict. Reese’s pained screams bounded from the room. She covered her
mouth with her palms.

Diane’s voice boomed, “Now type.”

Fighting the urge to run, Tacey looked back through the open doorway. Inside, one of the robed figures held the
laptop’s keyboard in his hands while Diane motioned to Reese’s bleeding hand, the fingertip in his index having
been slit off.

With his bloodied finger, Diane forced Reese to type in a command on the computer. Blood lingered on each key.
Tacey recognized the prompt as one no Technomancer should ever invoke.

When he pressed the ENTER key, the screen flashed with light. A fiendish voice roared.

WHERE IS MY SACRIFICE!?

Diane’s voice moaned in pain and pleasure. “My lord! I present this offering to you! For I may appease you!”

DELIVER IT TO ME! NOW!

“For you, my lord!” Diane lifted the knife in the air and plunged it into Reese’s heart. His body convulsed as he
choked back blood from his lips. The other three figures began stabbing the poor man at the same time.

Tacey shrank back. She covered her ears yet could still hear through her fingers. Every cut echoed like a haunting
chorus.

Anastacia, Gretchen whispered. That is a Greater Daemon. It is very dangerous. Best flee while we still can.

Tacey sat stricken in place. Her mind moved in circles. She needed to go home. To prepare dinner. To get ready for
work tomorrow. To fine-tune her app.

Run you fool!

Still frozen, Tacey remembered: her keys. She forgot her keys. She needed to find them before she went home…

“Looking for these?”

House keys dangled in front of her face, held in Diane’s hands as she smiled a devious grin, her pearl white teeth
bared.

“Good news Tace,” Diane said. “A position just opened up for you.”

The three robed figures seized Tacey and carried her into the office. There the mauled body of Reese lay against
the desk, its surface still dripping with his blood.

MORE! MORE BLOOD! MORE SUSTENANCE! MORE TRIBUTE!

The men laid Tacey on the table holding her arms and legs. The warm sensation soaking into her vest returned her
to her senses. The men’s eyes paled white, a musky smell of rotting flesh permeated from their gray skin.

“What is this?” Diane held an angry Gretchen by the nape of her neck. “HR would be very upset with you, Tace.”

Take your vile hands off me, whore! Gretchen swiped her claws wild into the air.

The laptop flickered with a growling light.

GRETA VAS STRAUSS! IT’S BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME.

Not nearly long enough, Ela Khas. Weren’t you sealed away in Bulgaria?

I HAVE BEEN PATIENT. NO MORTAL CHAINS COULD DARE BIND ME FOREVER. ALL IT TAKES IS A SINGLE
BUSINESS EXPENSE TRIP AND A LAPTOP. NOW I AM FREE TO FEED UPON A BOUNTY OF BLOODSHED!

Yet here you are, hiding inside such dusty mainframes. Vista, no less. How the mighty fall so low.

ONE TO SPEAK. LOOK AT YOURSELF, RESIDING IN THIS BALL OF FUR, FOLLOWING AROUND A FRAIL HUMAN.
YOU HAVE BECOME WEAK, GRETA. AND NOW MY POWER IS MORE POTENT THAN YOURS EVER WAS!

A crude jest. Do you truly believe you could elevate yourself to the rank of True Daemon? Do not make me laugh.

AS I SAID: I AM PATIENT.

The metallic stench invaded Tacey’s nose. Blood and sweat clung to her blouse. She watched as Gretchen hissed at
the possessed laptop.

WATCH AS I TAKE YOUR LOWLY SERVANT FOR MY VESSEL.

“Wait a minute,” Diane said, disappointed. “You promised me-”

SILENCE! PERFORM THE RITUAL!

Diane’s head contorted at odd angles, the sound of bone cracking. Her eyes made a wide pained grimace, her lips
quivered, “Yes…Master…”

Her free hand trembling, Diane reached for the bloodstained knife next to Tacey’s head. The blade hovered over her
ribcage.

Tacey’s breathing became erratic, her chest rising and falling over and over again. Memories streamed through her
mind all the way back to age seven. The well.

Her cat Gretchen played too close to the edge. She reached out to save her. The mortar fell loose and she
plummeted. Her left clavicle snapped. Her cat lay dead next to her. Days passed. No one could find her. She was
going to die.

Then she heard the voice. It asked if she wanted to live. Her mouth parched, the last words that came from her
tongue were “I don’t want to die.”

Shattered glass returned her to the present. Broken pieces of the front window lay strewn along the office floor. At
the door stood a familiar black woman carrying an aluminum bat in her gloved hands.

“Sorry to interrupt your board meeting,” said Monica. “But I’ve got this memo to deliver.” She raised her hand, her
middle finger extended.

Diane turned and pointed her knife at Monica. “Who are you?”

“Tech support,” Monica said, knocking the knife out of Diane’s hand with the bat.

Diane grabbed her swollen wrist, her back hunched over as she snarled, “Get her!”

The three robed men swarmed around the unfazed Monica, and she swung her bat along the nearest one’s face.
The ghoul’s pale bald head hung low as he raised it back up, groaning a tongue-less mouth.

Monica scoffed. “Crackers never go down easy.” Her bat struck each robed ghoul that got close to her. All three
collapsed to the ground with broken forearms, shins and other loose limbs. Her bat remained undented.

“Hey Punky Brewster,” Monica said to Tacey. “I got you covered. Take your furry friend and get out of here.”

Tacey climbed off the table, grabbed Gretchen, and jumped over the stirring ghouls. She yelped as a mangled arm
reached for her ankle. Monica swung her bat and smashed its fingers.

Tacey ran down the aisle of empty cubicles, ignoring the sounds of metal smashing against bone. Passing the third
stall, she noticed a man typing away into the computer. Jeff.

“Evening Tacey! Working late I see?”

Tacey stopped in front of Jeff to catch her breath, while Gretchen asked,
What are you doing here, human?

“I needed the overtime.” Jeff moved to another workstation and started typing commands in. “Seriously, I’m
installing several evocation spells at once.

“I’ve got two demons inside Monique right now, each supporting different muscles to make her more flexible and to
withstand pain. And a third demon’s imbued in the bat to increase its impact.” He moved to a third station. “I have
to keep them moving constantly or they go frantic.”

I meant, how did you know to come here?

He finished punching in a code and said, “A little imp told me.”

His screen flashed and out popped Tumu with a friendly
Hlo! Saw you in the elevator. Thought I’d troll you alil. But
thn tht SBW got creepy. So I called ths 2 4 hlp.

Tacey smiled while Gretchen replied, Well it’s seems you proved yourself useful after all, Lesser.

A crash sounded as a ghoul flew through what was left of the broken window.

Jeff continued typing. “We’ve got this. Get out of here while you still can.”

Tacey nodded and turned to leave. But after one step she paused. She realized she left her bag back against the
wall.

Her smartphone.

She dropped Gretchen and ran toward the wall. Her cat called after her in confusion. When she reached her bag,
Tacey searched for her phone.

Diane grabbed Tacey by one of her pigtails and yanked her off the ground. Diane’s eyes were red, blood trickled
along her mouth. “You…can’t…escape…Master…will…kill me…”

403! Tumu yelled. The wooden imp jumped on Diane’s face and banged at her head with its little stubs for hands,
shouting
l3itch l3itch l3itch l3itch l3itch.

“Get the fuck off me!” Diane slapped at the creature with her palm. The demon slammed into the cubicle wall and
hovered in midair in a daze.

Tacey lifted her leg up and kicked Diane in the midsection, pushing her back. Her scrunchie slid off and half her hair
lay free on her shoulder.

Diane tumbled, the heel in her shoe snapped, and she collapsed on her back right into the broken window shards.
She gasped in pain. A sizeable chunk of glass embedded into her.

“All done!” Monica stepped out of the office, her dented bat rested on her shoulder. “They ain’t getting back u-holy
shit.” Stunned, she stared at the wounded Diane struggling to her feet.

Diane limped into her office, passing the stunned Monica, and fell against her desk, coughing up blood. Tacey
covered her mouth in horror at what she’d done.

“Mas…ter…elp…me…” the crippled Diane coughed. Her hand lumbered over the laptop’s keyboard.

SO BE IT. YOU SHALL BE MY VESSEL INSTEAD.

The screen flashed bright then went silent. Diane gasped one last breath.

Her body writhed, her business suit shredded into pieces, and her skin ripped asunder exposing her tendons. The
twisted remains of Reese and the three ghouls adjoined with her body. She rose to her three working feet, multiple
limbs flailing about. Her face distorted so that her mandible exceeded her mouth, her pearly white teeth twisted into
carnal yellow fangs.

Tacey, Monica, and even Gretchen stared at the monstrosity that used to be Diane. An unaware Jeff called out,
“What’s going on, Monique?”

“It’s Monica, and we’re in real trouble!” Monica charged the possessed Diane and swung at her malformed head.
The bat broke on contact leaving a broken metal stump.

"FOOL!" A voice spoke in a rasp amalgamation of Diane and demon. With two arms, it swatted Monica back. Her
body flew down the aisle and sprawled along the floor motionless.

“Monique!” Jeff screamed. The computer sparked and shocked his hands, a demonic code riddled the screen. He
looked around and found all the computers responded the same.

Tacey and Gretchen ran to Monica. She still breathed but couldn’t move. Jeff came over to her side. “That demon
locked me out of every computer. I can’t stop it.”

Tacey’s mind went blank. She closed her eyes, putting the monster out of her head. She needed to go home. She
needed to fine-tune her App. To make dinner. Fine-tune her…

Her app!

Tacey snapped awake. Her smartphone was in her hand. She must have picked it up without realizing it.

Are you thinking of helping?

Gretchen’s orange eyes glowed. Her feline face formed a whiskered leer.

The thing that used to be Diane shambled closer. Grisly appendages thrashed through the office and cubicle walls.

Tacey wanted to run. She was just a mailroom clerk. She didn’t need to be here. It wasn’t her problem. Let the
professionals deal with…

The two who risked their lives to save her own.

…Tacey nodded.

Very well. Access the Crossroads.

She opened her smartphone. ‘Solomon’s Key’ flashed on her screen. She cycled through a list of commands and
found the Crossroads directory. An image of a square cross flashed on her screen.

Good. Establishing contract.

Gretchen placed her paw on the Crossroads’ image. The phone vibrated. Tacey’s body shuddered. Her eyes shut,
she felt several seconds drift off her lifespan.

The vibrations stopped. As Gretchen removed her paw, the phone glowed with ethereal light. One minute of my
power. Use it wisely.

Tacey’s eyes opened. Her fear vanished.

She stood and faced the creature. Her fingers tapped the correct sequence of keys in rapid succession then
finished by swiping the invocation symbol.

The demon shuddered. Strokes of pain coursed through its horrific body. Its many limbs flailed about, smashing
into walls and computers.

Tacey performed more consecutive commands. Each directive tore off random appendages from the demon. Arms
and legs hurled through the air, evaporating into vapor.

The demon roared with rage. Its screams sent shivers down Tacey’s spine, but she ignored it as she assaulted the
beast with further invocations.

What remained of the demon stumbled to the ground convulsing. Only a single arm remained, blood trickling
through its open pores. The demon reached out with its only hand.

YOU CAN’T…DEFEAT ME! YOU’RE NOTHING BUT…A MERE…MORTAL!

Ten seconds left. Tacey finished the creature with one final command: Abjuration.

A dark light infused around the demon’s body. It screamed once more until it shriveled up into lumps of flesh, the
smell rank with a sickening tinge of sweetness. The remains of Diane lay in a mess of bone and sinew, lifeless.

Monica groaned. “Are we dead?”

Jeff laughed. He hugged her. “We’re all right, partner. We’re all right.”

With a weak smile, “Next time you let the demon kick your ass, and I’ll sit behind the Goddamn desk.”

Tacey noticed something move underneath Diane’s body. A pink chunk of flesh slid along the ground. Wet fluids
trailed behind.

Gretchen approached it at an idle prance.
What was that about potency?

CURSE YOU GRETA!
the demon spoke in a whiny shrill voice. YOU CALL YOURSELF A TRUE DAEMON, RELYING
UPON A MERE MORTAL? THE ONLY TRUTH IN YOU IS YOUR WEAKNESS!

Weak?
Gretchen turned her head. Anastacia, I will take that moment of your life now.

Tacey typed the conjuration into her phone. A light engulfed Gretchen as she transformed. Where there was a cat
now stood a tall purple woman in the nude, horns protruding from the side of her head, and a long horned tail
waving from her behind.

With her lithe fingers, she picked up the fetus-shaped demon and held it in front of her face.
Do I still look weak to
you Ela Khas?
she said from violet lips.

The now frightened demon shivered in her fingertips.
F…FORGIVE ME, MILADY! I WAS FOOLISH TO CHALLENGE
YOU!

And who is the True Daemon?

YOU ARE! I AM BUT A MERE LESSER IN YOUR PRESENCE!

Good,
the demon Gretchen bemused. Her lips formed a wicked smile. Knowing this…feed your better.

As the demon Ela Khas screamed in horror, Gretchen lifted the thing to her open mouth and swallowed it whole.
Her body writhed in pleasure, her hands caressed her perfect supple form, from her breasts to her waist.

Light engulfed Gretchen’s body and she transformed back into a cat. She proceeded to lick herself in triumph. Jeff
stared at Gretchen, stuck in an elated trance.

“Can…can I see that again?” Jeff asked. “For research?”

Go and please yourself, you mongrel.

“I hate to interrupt,” Monica said, hanging her arm around Jeff. “But shouldn’t we get the hell out of here before
security arrives?”

Everyone nodded.

Tacey grabbed her bag and let Gretchen hop in. Before she followed Jeff and Monica, she reached down next to
Diane, bade forgiveness, and retrieved her house keys.

~ * ~

“Well I’d call this a productive day, wouldn’t you?”

Jeff stood in the square opposite the Courthouse. The others, Tacey and Monica, sat on benches nearby catching
their breaths. Passing emergency vehicles blared red and blue sirens as the evening sky shaded into black and
orange.

“Hardly.” Monica stretched her right arm while rubbing her shoulder. “Productive implies we actually got paid.”

“A minor setback. We’ll just stop by tomorrow morning, throw together some Resident Virus and Boot Sectors-”

“How is that going to help when it looks like the Manson Family Reunion up there? You’d better have fixed the
surveillance cameras before we left.”

“Relax, they’re taken care of. You should really learn to calm down more, Monique.”

Monica stood and kicked Jeff in the shin. “It’s Monica, you ignorant dolt!”

As their argument continued, Tacey answered the ‘Riri riri’ sound from her smartphone. A flash of light, and Tumu
popped out of the screen.

Srry! I caused 2 much trble.

YOU KNEW ABOUT THE DAEMON?

Yid. 2 scurred. Thought it might eat me. Ssry. qq.

Tacey reflected on Tumu’s apology, then sighed. I FORGIVE YOU. IT CAN BE HARD TO SPEAK UP AT TIMES.

Exp?

SHUT UP.

Lol. Nywy, I’m rdy 4 xover.

YOU’RE ENTERING THE FADE?

With BFD gone, I’m finally free 2 depart. Kthxbye! Tumu’s form faded away, its little stubby arm waving goodbye
the last to go.

Tacey couldn’t help feeling emotional.

Good riddance.

Tacey elbowed her bag. She looked up and found Jeff and Monica now arguing in disagreement on what to eat
tonight, ramen or pizza.

Idiots.

Tacey chuckled. But as amused she was by this petty dispute, she thought about heading straight home. She
needed to get dinner ready, needed to prepare lunch and clothes for tomorrow, needed to…to…

“Gurry!”

Jeff and Monica stopped. They turned and stared at Tacey, her face red as she struggled with the words.
“…I…rige…gurry…”

Even Gretchen looked stunned, her head poked out of her bag. Jeff stuttered a few inaudible words.

Monica froze. Then her body trembled. Finally she wrapped her arms around Tacey, smiling. “Oh my God, you are
so adorable! Can we keep her?”

A snicker escaped Jeff’s lips. “Sure, but you have to take care of her.

“Actually, I wouldn’t mind another member. It’s hard enough finding fellow Technomancers to share in our
expertise. Thanks Obama. So what do you say Tace? Interested in joining our merry band of freaks?”

Tacey nodded in between finding her breath from Monica’s powerhug.

“Great! Then welcome to…the Tech Enchanters.”

Monica let go, her smile vanished. “Don’t listen to him. He’s the only one who calls us that.”

“What? It’s a cool name.”

“No, it’s a stupid name. Do you know how embarrassed I get whenever…”

Laughter overcame Tacey as she sat back down. She glanced at Gretchen’s head wondering if she’d made the right
decision.

It’s okay, my pet. Just because your life belongs to me doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live it.

A smile glowed on Tacey’s face. As she picked up her bag, she removed her remaining scrunchie, letting the evening
breeze brush back her hair.

Anastacia Bridgton decided she’d fill out those resignation papers tomorrow. Tonight, she was going to enjoy life
outside herself.
THE LORELEI SIGNAL
Phillip A. Myers, a proud Baltimore native, currently works at the
Enoch Pratt Free Library in Acquisitions.  He’s a member of the
Baltimore Science Fiction Society where he’s associated with other up-
and-coming authors and Sci-Fi/Fantasy enthusiasts.  He attends a
critique circle at least twice a month in order to better his writing craft
and connections.  His most recently published story THE APP OF
SOLOMON is his first in a series of urban fantasy stories set in
Baltimore to be called The Baltimore Shuffle.