There’s a new demon in town… …and my boss, Azmos, isn’t happy about it. I guess he doesn’t like competition in the soul-binding business.
Meanwhile, my Chemistry teacher seems to be caught up in this magical mess, so I’m anxious to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Now that Az has promoted me from errand girl to demon’s apprentice I might actually be able to do something to help. Of course, my boyfriend Cam wants me to stay out of it, and for once Azmos actually agrees with him.
Sorry, but I can’t just sit around doing homework while a demon is leaving a trail of bodies all over town. Besides, I’ve got my own posse now. Okay, I’ve got an ice-cold death demon, a tortured psychic and a pink-haired demonologist to help me. Together we’ll figure it out, and I’ll prove I’m ready to be a full-fledged apprentice…or I’ll die trying.
Gabriel leads us several blocks and turns down an alley. He pauses at a grate and fishes in his pockets for something. He pulls out a pocket tool and extends it so it’s almost a foot long. It looks like a miniature, expandable crowbar. He hooks it into the grate and yanks it up out of the street.
“You have got to be kidding,” Cam says, staring down the square hole.
Seattle’s Underground is famous. After a fire in the late 1800s, the new city was built on top of the old, a story or two above where the old city sat. Many old buildings have basement floors for that reason. Some of the Underground is open for a historical tour. My eighth grade class went here on a field trip. But much of it is closed off to the public. I’m pretty sure if the wrong person saw us hovering over the open grate, we’d get into trouble, but I can’t deny that it’s thrilling to be able to ignore the rules.
Gabriel climbs down the ladder and I follow. Cam hesitates at the top, hand on the grate. “Should I close it?” he asks.
“Yes,” Gabriel calls, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world and not counterintuitive to shut yourself in the Underground.
Cam pulls the grate down over his head.
It takes me a few moments to get used to the low level of light filtering down from the street above through colored glass panels in sidewalks and more grates. Brick facades line the passageway. I stay close to Cam, more afraid of spiders than anything else. Gabriel leads us around a corner to an old metal-lined wooden door that looks like something from a medieval castle. An illuminated streetlight hangs next to it. Words etched into the stone above read ‘The Repository.’ He knocks.
“Come in,” someone calls.
Gabriel pushes the door open. It takes some effort because it’s so heavy. We step over the threshold and into what looks like a small library. Rows of bookshelves line the walls and fill the center, and continue back until they’re swallowed by the dark. A table sits at the front. Not a reception desk, just an ordinary table you’d find in any school library. Lanterns hang on the ceiling above it. A boy sits at the table. He’s probably around Gabriel’s age, nineteen or twenty. He has pink hair and more earrings than me (which is a feat – I have three in one ear, two in the other). He wears a fishnet shirt over a black tank top; I have the same outfit. A pink laptop that matches his hair sits in front of him and a stack of books sits off to the side, one of them open like he’s referring to it as he works.
The boy scowls. “You do know what ‘taking a break’ means, right?” he asks Gabriel, in a thick British accent.
“This is business, obviously,” Gabriel says, looking affronted. “Ex-boyfriend,” he mouths, as if that wasn’t painfully obvious from the awkwardness passing between them like invisible lasers.
“Meet Myron,” Gabriel says. “Myron is a demonologist.”
Tori Centanni is a nerd girl and a recovering goth. She likes dark, quirky stories with elements of humor. When not reading or writing, she can be found baking, watching too much television, and wrangling cats. She lives in Seattle, WA.
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