Don’t panic, Slade. Come on, don’t panic. It was easier said than done. I poked the body on what I assumed to be the shoulder. There was no movement. I fumbled over its shape, finding a wrist. I wrapped my fingers around it and realized the body was really warm and the wrist was that of a man. There was no pulse. He was warm, but no pulse. How does that work? I knew this wasn’t one of our humans because Jaren and Lee were the only ones in our group. But why didn’t he have a pulse?
“Jesus,” I whispered accidentally. I didn’t take the Lord’s name in vain often, it just slipped.
“Not even close,” the body said in a low, threatening voice. Beneath me, the man turned and sat, suddenly bursting into flames! I screamed and threw myself back, shielding my eyes from the onslaught of light.
“Whoa! What’s going on?” Lee demanded, seeing the figure and not even bothering to be frightened.
I watched as the bright, burning figure stood and decreased the flames around him. They turned blue and receded to his fingers and the ends of his coat. Uh oh.
“Humans are so ignorant and nae,” he said with a voice as smooth and cold as the shining marble in the Taj Mahal.
“Why are you here?” Lee demanded. I could see he was right behind the demon, peering through the vines.
“Yes, answer him, Darius,” I said when I found my voice. I gulped as the demon moved closer and bent down. He put one burning index finger under my chin. The fire didn’t burn me, but it was so cold it should have. He lifted me effortlessly off of the ground to be eye level with him. His dark eyes glittered dangerously.
“I don’t answer to anyone, human,” he said matter of factly. I nearly laughed at how he said it, but being raised up in the air, my feet dangling, put me in a position where I shouldn’t be doing anything but gulping in fear.
“Do we have an understanding?” he asked me. I nodded slightly. I didn’t want to plummet down three feet the wrong way and land on my ankle. He smiled. It was a nice smile. I felt myself entranced.
“Slade! No! Do not, I repeat, do not let it work on you!” Lee called out. For some reason, I didn’t care. I didn’t care he was yelling out for my own good. I didn’t care that Jaren was being awfully silent. I didn’t care about anything at all.
“You’re weak,” Darius said and he dropped me to the floor. I crumpled to a heap and yelped as I felt my ankle give way beneath me. So much for hoping. It wasn’t my fault I was human and mesmerizing smiles from demons take effect. I guess I’d have to work on that.
“You’re all here for containment purposes. Maybe your group will give us a demon. We only want one. If he gives himself up to us, we’ll let you go. Plain and simple,” Darius said.
“That’s not going to happen, Demon!” Lee called out. Darius turned away from me and disappeared. He reappeared behind Lee on the other side of the fence from me.
“Finally, you’re facing me unlike the coward you really are,” Lee grinned. I opened my mouth to warn him, but all that came out was a whimper of pain.
Darius’s flames went red-orange. He took in a deep breath and opened his mouth. A flame shot out, enveloping Lee in seconds. I screamed as I watched my comrade thrash around, engulfed in demonical flames. I knew from several columnists that a demon’s fire didn’t kill. It just tormented the victim. Much like Satan’s Lake of Fire. Same difference. Actually, that’s where demons get their fire from. If they used the actual element that humans use, there would be a lot more deaths. Darius didn’t want Lee dead. I could tell all he wanted to do was to teach him a lesson. I thought that it was working quite nicely in Darius’s favor.
“Return!” Darius called to his power. The flames at his command, mysteriously left Lee and joined with Darius’s body. Lee coughed and gagged, still trying to scream in pain. I felt for him. But sometimes, his big mouth and bravery got him into trouble.
“I’ll be back with your food,” Darius said with a chuckle before he disappeared, leaving us in darkness once more.