About The Demons of the Square Mile:
The real story behind Brexit.
Occult Private Investigator, Nora Simeon, and her uncannily handsome partner Eyre - an elemental given human form - follow a trail of magic, murder, and conspiracy from the luxurious apartment towers of Manhattan's upper east side to the ancient depths of London's Inner Temple. Along the way they encounter powerful sorcerers, magisterial barristers, evil templars, and, of course, more demons gone rogue.
With their newly acquired ward, Martha - a rat-demon - in tow, they uncover a secret so profound it could both undermine the world's financial system and topple the British government.
Paperback: 114 pages
“We have your minion,” said an inhuman voice. A demon’s for sure, unless it had been synthesized. It sounded like shards of broken glass jangling in a paper bag, but I could understand it. What I couldn’t understand was how anyone could kidnap Eyre without getting their asses handed to them. Gun or no gun.
“Who are you?”
More broken glass sounds, but no words. After a few seconds I realized it was laughter. At last the voice answered. “We would be foolish to divulge our true name. Call us Émigré.”
“What do you want?”
“We have a job for you.”
I felt a flash of red rage. My little pet fire elemental, Spark, flared up in sympathy from its urn on the windowsill, and I thought I might just burst into flame myself.
“You stupid infernal-plane motherfucker! I charge a hundred an hour. All you had to do was clear a check and I’d work for you. But now–”
“Now we have leverage, yes?”
“Let me speak to him.”
Brief silence, and then Eyre came on the line. His voice was weak. I wanted to reach through the phone and tear broken-glass-voice to pieces with my hands.
“Hey, Nora,” he said. “I’m really sorry about this. They got hold of my sigil somehow. They know what I am.”
“Eyre,” I said, “listen to me. I’m coming for you. Don’t fight them yourself.” I was thinking, Not till I get there.
“No fear of that,” he said. “It’s – you’ll have to see. They say they’ll let me go if you work for them. But I don’t think–”
Eyre’s voice cut off and broken-glass-voice resumed.
“Nora Simeon is known to us as a hunter of demons. She was contracted to hunt the demon Barbatos. She fulfilled her contract and killed the mighty demon Azriel.”
Actually, it was Eyre who had the final word against Azriel, but there was a lesson there I wanted this demon to learn.
“I’m a PI. An investigator. Barbatos was just a missing person job. But listen carefully. Azriel would have been in no danger from me, except she attacked Eyre. My partner, Eyre. I’ve got nothing against demons these days. Not unless they kidnap my friends. Do you understand me, Émigré?”
A pause. “Yes.”
I knew even as I was saying it how stupid it was. But I couldn’t help myself. I was too damn angry.
“If anything happens to Eyre, I will destroy you, too. Count on it. But if you release him right now, I might just let you live.”
A longer pause. The phone was slick and uncomfortable in my hand. Then: “Very well.”
“Come to us. We will release your minion into your care. We – do not wish to be destroyed. We are used to negotiations in our world and – and we realize that we now exist in your own. We wish you to do a job for us. We will pay. We did not believe you would listen to us if we solicited your services without leverage.”
“Okay. Where are you?”
“We are located at...” Another pause, and I heard indistinct jangling noises away from the phone. “Yes. 87th Street and York Avenue. The red building. Apartment 18E.”
Demons on the upper east side. Why not?
“All right,” I said. “I’ll be there shortly.”
Yet more silence, like it was thinking about saying something else. Then: “Goodbye.”
I smelled something burning, turned my head to see a thin swirl of black smoke rising from around Spark’s pot. The tiny elemental had gotten so hot from my emotions during the call it had scorched the paint right off the windowsill. Fortunately it was a metal sill and frame, with nothing inflammable nearby. Spark had been growing stronger lately, more in the last few months than it had during the previous ten years since I’d summoned and bound it as my first and only successful feat of sorcery. I shook some powdered incense into the elemental’s urn as a treat, and like a dragonfly made of flame, it flew up and spiraled around my body, leaving only a faint sensation of warmth behind. Spark had already forgotten my rage of a moment before. Any other time I would have stopped to play with it, but not today.
I returned to Eyre’s desk and retrieved his pistol, a massive old Colt M1911, made sure it was loaded and safe, and dropped it into a tote bag along with his phone. My own compact Ruger went into its tailored holster. Maybe Émigré was telling the truth about letting Eyre go, but if it wasn’t, I’d have something to say.
Laurence Raphael Brothers is a writer and a technologist. He has published over 25 short stories in such magazines as Nature, the New Haven Review, PodCastle, and Galaxy's Edge. His WWI-era historical fantasy novel Twilight Patrol was just released by Alban Lake. For more of his stories, visit https://laurencebrothers.com/bibliography, or follow him on twitter: @lbrothers.