Episode 48: A Little Look-See | Scryer's Gulch
Sorry for the long break, there, kids. When you're as old as me, stuff breaks. I've been down for a while--hospital, rehab, it's boring, let's not talk about it--and haven't been able to send tapes down to the granddaughter like I used to. Or whatever you call 'em, em-pee-threes, I guess it's not tape these days, huh? I'm going to try telling this story myself for a while, the girl's in finals. Gonna go to law school, she says. Proud of that kid. Anyway, where was I?
Scryer's Gulch never quieted down much overnight, but it did enough so Mamzelle could stake out the Hopewell Hotel without drawing much attention that night, even though it was the first night of the full moon. Jed Bonham had a big mouth, and when he told her he was taking the schoolteacher out to the mines the next day, Mamzelle thought she'd have a little look-see; this Duniway woman bore watching if Mamzelle was going to kill her.
The woman's window opened. A slithery black shape snuck out and bounded over the rooftops: Misiriplinapos Son of Misorianatus, Duniway's pet demon in the shape of a cat. Some demon, she sniffed.
Oh, she believed Duniway had him under constraint, as he'd told her; he couldn't kill unless she let him. Mamzelle did not have such constraints. Jed had ordered her never to harm any Bonham, but he let her hunt and kill a human--preferably a greenhorn--every full moon. It soothed her savage breast, he thought--and it did. But at the same time it sharpened her teeth, claws and appetite for her eventual revenge on humanity in general and Jedediah Bonham in particular.
Misi, on the other hand, protected his mistress when here he'd been presented a perfect opportunity to win his freedom. All Mamzelle had to do was kill the Duniway woman this full moon when she had the chance. Then Misi would be free to kill Jed. Once the two demons were free, they could slaughter every soul in Scryer's Gulch, burn the town to the ground, gorge on hermetauxite and then fly off to freedom.
Misi said he had his reasons for keeping Duniway alive--"it's my own business, thank you, but mostly I want to kill her myself"--but Mamzelle knew the real one. He loved his mistress, like some lap dog. Cat. Whatever. She curled her lip. It wasn't uncommon for captive demons to love their owners in some way, but she'd never heard of one who wouldn't make a bid for its freedom like this. Once Duniway was dead, he'd thank her.
With Misi gone, Mamzelle would pay a visit on the so-called teacher--she didn't know what Duniway was, but what she wasn't, was a schoolmarm. If Mamzelle could get the drop on her it'd make killing her a lot easier. Actually, she was pretty sure she'd have to get the drop on the woman. At the least she needed Misi out of the way.
She slunk across the rooftops, changing her color as need be to keep herself camouflaged, till she reached Duniway's windows on the second floor of the Hopewell. The curtains were drawn. Better and better. Mamzelle drew her fist back to smash the window--
--and nearly broke her hand against a magical ward set so that she couldn't detect it. Hissing and nursing her hand, Mamzelle slunk back into shadow.
This woman was good. Really good, far better than expected. Not only that, but wards like that weren't natural. She had some kind of apparatus assisting her, and that kind of thing didn't come cheap. Mamzelle would have to take her in broad daylight. Jed hadn't said anything in his orders about her having to kill only at night. It was the only way to catch Duniway unawares; no one could reasonably expect a demon attack in the middle of the day, not even in Scryer's Gulch.
Besides, she wouldn't have to do it in the street. She'd do it out at the mines tomorrow. Misi wouldn't be near to help his mistress, either. Demons didn't go to the mines; the hermetauxite pulled so hard it hurt, and Misi was young and weak compared to Mamzelle. Hard enough to be in town with that urgent pull all around. But Jed had ordered Mamzelle not to feed from the ore, and once she was free her bloodlust would consume her. No amount of hermetauxite could turn her from her purpose. There was much to recommend the plan and nothing to say against it.
Which way had the cat gone? There, back toward the Palace--he must be looking for her. Mamzelle slipped along the rooftops, her coloration flickering with each change of backdrop, until she slipped into her own window. Misi sat nervously grooming his whiskers on the red velvet settee. "Well, well, mon chér, I did not expect to see you."
"Yeah, well, I was hoping to sneak in and back out before your boss came to see you. Wow!" Misi checked himself. "Well! If you look that good naked as a human, I can't wait to see what you look like as a demon!"
Mamzelle smiled, her teeth sharp. "Would you like to see me in my true form, then?"
"You bet, babe!"
"You know what we must do."
Misi's eyes went round, his whiskers drooped, but as he studied his paws, a decision seemed to come over him. "Yeah. Yeah! You're right. I can't stand it any more!" An incongruous grin broke out over the cat's face; he stretched, unsheathing his claws and digging them deep into the red velvet. "Tell me how we're gonna kill my master."
"I 'ave to know 'oo your master is first, petit chat." If Misi told her the truth--that Duniway was his master--then she knew she had him.
"Duniway," snarled Misi. "Annabelle Duniway. She's the bitch who caught me. Now how are we gonna kill her?"