Beautiful Demons – Lisa Barry

For Lizard. One of my most wondrous and most favoritous people in the whole world. Xo

I had two HUGE Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs when I was in my twenties…

At least that’s what people wanted to see. I let them. It would have been difficult to explain that they were actually demons. Huge, beautiful and cuddly but still demons. I had captured them when I was just a novice. I had only recently discovered that I could see things beyond the norm. We were at the mall when I mentioned it to my best friend Matt. He laughed at me before nudging an elbow into my ribs and asking me to check out the blond at ten o’clock. Like I cared about a dumb girl when I could see the most amazing creatures. It didn’t take me long to figure out that some of them were actually living undercover in our world and weren’t doing any harm. That made me pleased as pie. But some of them. Well, some of them weren’t very nice. I’d been lucky so far not to see anything really horrible–and truthfully, I was pretty scared about that day when it finally came. And I was certain it would. But for now, the mall was a good place to find the ugly idiots who were pranksters and thieves.

You may wonder why I would look for trouble. Initially I hadn’t. I had discovered the most wonderful thing. They had no idea I could see them. The best part? When I touched them, something about me was pain. I was terrified the first time I laid a hand on one.

I watched him walk out of the electronics store with a brand new pair of $200 headphones, and I was not cool with that. I had to work in my mom’s book store for two weeks to make enough to get those. There was no way I was gonna let that orange bumpy faced freak get them for nothing. I walked right up to that guy and put a hand on his shoulder.

He screamed bloody murder and fell to the ground, the headphones skidding across the floor and landing at the entrance of the store. I moved my hand away as though he shocked me, which he hadn’t. He stopped keening but stayed on the ground shaking with the aftermath.

“I’m so sorry,” I said to him. He growled at me, which was weird seeing as how he looked like a goldfish out of water rather than anything like a dog. He slowly got up and backed away. I just watched. It was too weird for me honestly. He finally turned and ran. When I looked back at the store, a shop clerk was holding the headphones and looking around in bewilderment. I almost snickered but decided to keep a low profile.

A week later, after having avoiding all weird looking creatures, I casually poked one as I walked passed. He was leaning down to look at a newspaper in a stand. No one seemed to be watching so I reached over and just poked the middle of his back. He cried out and crashed to his knees. I kept walking like I didn’t see him. That’s what everyone else did. The creatures could be creating dust storms and hollering all sorts of hocus pocus and the humans just cruised on by like nothing was happening.

I had asked my mom if she ever saw weird stuff around. She laughed and said I should hang out near the soup kitchens. I was pretty sure she misunderstood the question. My dad had split a long time ago so I guess whatever my odd talent was, it was his fault.

I had been seeing the weird creatures around for two months when I saw my demons. They were in cages at the pet store. At first I had noticed how sad they were and it pulled at my heart strings. But then I noticed that other people could see them too. A little girl saw them and pulled away in fear. I was so happy I almost ran up to her, joyous that I had found another like me. But then her mom smiled and waved at the demon.

“He’s a big doggie, isn’t he?” she asked her daughter. The girl nodded with big eyes and stuck a thumb in her mouth. They moved on to look at the hamsters.

I went to one of the cages and sat in front of it. It was the first time I had the opportunity to do so without humans thinking I was a nut bag.

“How did you end up in here?” I wondered aloud.

“You don’t mess with the boss’s car and get away with it,” he answered. I sucked in a breath and skittered away. We stared at each other for a while. The demon in the next cage must have had his interest perked as he moved as close as he could while still in his cage. I wasn’t sure how I felt about them but they were so big and the cages really didn’t fit; I felt a little sorry for them.

“What did you do?” I asked scooting a little closer. It had occurred to me that if they hadn’t escaped yet, they weren’t going to do it with me sitting here. The one in the other cage laughed but there wasn’t any happy glow in his black eyes.

“We thought it would be funny to cover it wax.”

My face pinched involuntarily. “Even I know better than that. What kind of car did he have?”

The two looked at each other. The other one gave a small nod.

“Ferrari.”

My face screwed up even more. “Geez, that was stupid.”

“Thanks,” he whined. “As you can see we’re waiting patiently to be adopted so if you could get lost that would be great.”

“You mean like, get a new home? Like you were fired from…uh, wherever?”

They just stared at me.

“How in the world can people see you?” I asked.

“We look like dogs to them,” the one in front of me said.

“Really big dogs,” the other said.

“How long have you been here?” I asked.

The one in front of me blew a long snort from his nose ending with a low whine. “Too long,” he said.

“Years,” said the other.

“How is that possible? I thought the store would get rid of you before then.”

“Magic and torturous boss,” was all the beast said. I stood and left them then, headed straight to a clerk.

“How much for both of them?” I asked. The skinny teenager gawked at me, pushed his glasses up his nose and blinked. I waved a hand in front of his face. Yeah, I knew I looked good. I used to be really into worrying about it, making sure I was top notch at all times. But after my sight arrived, that’s what I called it, I didn’t care so much anymore. My music, my friend Matt, and figuring out this other world, that’s all I was really into. I only went to school to finish up my last year and be free. I hadn’t figured out how I could make money with the sight yet, but I sure wanted to.

“What…t…t?” he stuttered at me glancing at the cages I pointed to, “Th…th..there’s nothing there.”

I was looking right at the demons. I am pretty sure one of them rolled its eyes. I walked back.

“How come the customers can see you but the shop guy can’t?” I asked.

“If anyone tries to adopt us, we go invisible,” the whiner said.

“That’s a cheap trick,” I said mimicking something my mom said here and there.

“You’re telling us?” said the one on the right, who seemed to be the smarter and less complaining of the two.

“Well, I’m going to get you out of there and in exchange, you’re going to help me learn about your world.”

“He would kill us!” Whiner demon shrieked.

“No he won’t,” Smart one said, “he doesn’t care one way or other.”

“Yes, he does!”

The smart one looked funny to me as he sat, his head lolling to the side, brows raised. I chuckled.

“I’ll be right back,” I said.

I wandered through the store and found the things I needed. When I went through the line, the nerdy guy from before ran up my purchase. Poor guy couldn’t say a single word without messing it up. I flashed him a brilliant smile as I took my change and my bag. I didn’t wait to see his reaction. I left the store for a moment so I could unpack my stuff and get it ready.

I went to the cages.

“I will free you and take care of you. You will help me learn and protect me. Do we have a deal?” I said. They looked at each other for a long moment. One of the first things I would ask is if they could do that ESP thing.

They turned to me at the same time and nodded. I glanced around. A couple were oohing and aahhing over a cat, one perky girl clerk was helping an older gentleman with different types of dog toys, and the nerdy guy was ringing up cans upon cans of cat food for a lady who trailed three kids under 5. I turned back to the demons. I opened the Smart one’s cage and slipped a collar around his head before fastening a leash to it.

“Your name shall be Rebel,” I said as I led him out. I quickly did the same with the other.

“Your name shall be Yell,” I told him and led him out as well. He chuffed at me. I didn’t know if that meant he liked the name or not but I thought it was funny so he gets what I like.

I walked out of that store with my two huge “Rhodesian Ridgebacks” and never looked back.

 

That was over ten years ago. Since then I graduated with honors, met my boyfriend (who happens to be part dragon – oh yeah he is so hot) and started a very successful creature removal business. (Turns out that even if people can’t see them, they sure can have problems with them.)

My demons? After Matt, who still doesn’t believe, they’ve turned out to be a woman’s best friends.

 

 

 

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