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SUMMARY: Giles and Ethan, the electric Kool-Aid funky Satan groove year, in the early seventies. Rated M. Spoilers to Band Candy. Acknowledgements and disclaimers.

Part 5:
Way Back



86.

The demon had made it as far as the chemist's, a few streets from the park. It didn't match anything he could precisely remember from the bestiaries and almanacs of the Watcher's Council. It was clearly superhuman in strength, and possibly in speed, although it had yet to demonstrate that clearly. No sign as yet of other magical abilities, but so far, it hadn't needed them.

It had burst through the locked gate of the park, rather than say, leaping over the fence. It had paced down the street, pausing here and there to take in deep breaths and to stare at itself in windows. Possibly it wasn't innately humanoid, or its shape depended strongly on the seized host. Was that something they could use against it? Would it be clumsy in its new body? Did it have any senses that it was unused to and that they could trick?

There was some kind of vibration, some kind of hum in the air, that followed the demon around.

At least it was late, with few civilians wandering the streets. The demon had spent a couple of hours inside the park before realising it was walled in.

Philip was across the street, also watching the demon. He'd turned out to be quite fleet of foot. Diedre had had to stop half an hour ago, her feet bleeding from from unsuitable shoes; she and Tom had gone back to the house to fetch her walking boots, but hadn't yet caught up. Rupert didn't know where Ethan was.

He needed a weapon but there was nothing obvious that he could see. It was a shopping street at night, with everything locked up or put away. Somehow he didn't think that throwing empty milk bottles at it would suffice. Perhaps he could break into one of the shops? But to steal what? And what if the demon heard the breaking glass and came after him?

A car turned down the street, swerved around the demon, and drove on. Its horn tooted belatedly, as if in disbelief.

87.

Ethan grabbed a bag and shoved in a handful of books. The Stegun and Abramowitz, the Ogata and the Badescu. Fistfuls of candles and matches and chalk followed. A bag of sand. Herbs. Then he broke into Rupert's room and added what he could find there. The bag weighed a ton.

Diedre was downstairs, tying the last of her laces. "We'll take my bicycle," she said. "It'll be faster."

Outside, Ethan put the bag of magical gear in the front basket, which visibly bent. "We can't both ride on this," he said. "You get the magic books to Rupert. I'll follow as fast as I can."

He looked around but Stan's car was gone, and he didn't have the keys for Rupert's. He'd just have to run.

He noticed, as he ran to the main street, that Tom hadn't followed them out of the house.

He lost sight of Diedre near the laundrette. Where would Randall be headed? How much control did Eyghon have? Could he access Randall's thoughts? Would he know that the others would try to quell him using magic? He tried to work out what Eyghon might want -- a bit of a stroll after a thousand years of incorporeality? Would he try to keep Randall permanently possessed, or could they trade Randall for another body? Could they buy it off -- with money, with magic, with blood, with anything else Ethan might possibly possess or be able to acquire?

He paused at the crossroads near the supermarket. There was no sign of Diedre or of anyone else at all. He paused to listen and closed his eyes. He could hear distant traffic and voices coming from the south, then a faint sound that might have been a car horn from the north-east. He ran towards it.

88.

The demon had started to break things. It began with a motorbike that it picked up and dropped, listening to the sound with a cocked ear. It punched through the door of a barbershop, then examined its hand. It pushed over a streetlamp.

That woke the neighbourhood up. A man in the flat above the barber's opened the window and shouted down. "What the hell are you doing, mate?" Other people opened their windows too.

Eyghon looked up at the man.

"We have to draw it away from here," Rupert told Philip. "We need to get it away from people."

Before he could make a suggestion as to how, Philip darted forward. "Hey," Philip shouted. "Come and get me!"

The demon had already started to climb towards its heckler, but it paused now to look at Philip.

Rupert's heart sank. Philip was going to die.

"Hey!" shouted Philip again, running along the street, not at the demon, but certainly not away from it. "Hey!"

The demon climbed back down. With a puzzled look, it walked towards Philip.

Philip ran ahead, paused briefly, then ran ahead. Again, the demon followed.

Rupert then heard a squeaking behind him. He turned and found himself almost crashed into by Diedre on her bike. "I've got the magic books!" she said. "Ethan's coming." She gestured towards a large bag that threatened to topple the bike. "There must be a spell we can use in there." Then she said, "What's Philip doing?"

89.

Ethan caught up with Diedre and Rupert a couple of streets away from the towpath. As he stood to catch his breath, he saw the possessed Randall chasing Philip.

"Dock leaves," Ethan said. "I've just remembered a spell that might work. We need the dock leaves in the bag. He gestured towards Diedre. "Can you fetch them?"

"The Canterbury exorcism spell?" Rupert asked. "You need a human fingernail for that."

Ethan had already pulled out his knife. He placed the tip under the nail of his left pinkie and gave it a sharp twist.

The pain was indescribable. When he was able to see again, Philip and Randall and Rupert were a block further along. Diedre was standing next to him, with her hand on his shoulder.

"Come on," she said, softly.

They ran to catch up with Rupert.

Then, just before they reached the canal, a car turned the corner, very fast. Diedre grabbed Ethan by the shoulder and pushed him out of the way. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Rupert leap backwards too. But Randall-Eyghon just stood there, looking at the car without comprehension.

The car hit Randall and he fell. The car reversed, turned and retreated.

"Randall!" Diedre shouted and raced towards him. Her bike fell over.

They gathered around. The demon's head was at an odd angle, but it was still breathing.

"He'll regenerate, won't he?" Ethan said. Diedre was weeping. "He should be able to do that in demon form." He hoped it was true.

"Pick it up," said Rupert. "We should get it off the road. There's an empty yard over there."

Ethan grabbed Randall's feet while Rupert took the head and shoulders. Diedre opened the gate. They carried Randall into the yard, a concrete slab stained with engine oil and smelling strongly of petrol. Philip went to fetch Deirdre's bike.

"Now for the spell," said Ethan.

"Not yet," said Diedre. "Not until his neck's healed."

She sat next to Randall. Ethan sat next to her and took her hand. They looked at Randall, at his elongated features and mottled skin. They watched his chest rise and fall and the small movement of his lips.

Rupert didn't join them. Instead, he paced and paced until it started to drive Ethan to distraction. So Ethan grabbed the bag of books and went through them with Diedre. They found three exorcism spells, but the Canterbury one was definitely the most powerful. They rehearsed it, sotto voce.

"If we wait until its neck has healed, it will awaken and destroy us," Rupert said.

"Then have a Plan B ready," Ethan said.

90.

Randall was dead. Randall had been dead for hours, but none of the others wanted to know that. Rupert wasn't sure why he was playing along. He was going to let them cast their spell and then they were going to have to kill Eyghon anyway.

He searched the yard and the abandoned garage behind it, but couldn't find much that he could turn into a weapon, part from a small and rusty screwdriver. He went back outside and spotted the bicycle. He took it out of the others' line of sight and used the screwdriver to remove the handlebar. It was an old bike and heavily built. The handlebar felt like a proper weapon in his hands.

He heard Ethan and Diedre starting their chant.

When the spell failed, he came around the corner with the handlebar.

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