Exercise the Demons Part 2

Kelly didn’t have horns the next day, so thank Christ for that small favor at least. She chuckled at herself for thinking thank Christ, because she strongly suspected he had very little to do with that. The skin on her feet was starting to turn dark grey, however. When she pressed it, it felt firmer than before, almost like scar tissue. It was…concerning, but at least could be hidden by shoes. Her breath didn’t seem to smoke either unless she forcefully exhaled, and her eyes…her eyes required a quick stop to a costume store to pick up a pair of colored contacts.

Thankfully, they had some in blue that was close to her natural color. When she put them on, the faint red light beneath them made her look closer to purple, but still within the range of “normal eyes.”

You should probably just cancel on this date, she thought, but it had been ages since she’d had a date. She’d met him online, but this guy seemed nice, and had made her laugh, and was good looking, and above all else was normal.

Kelly had a feeling her days of normal were numbered.

“We still on for fondue at 6?” she texted, adding a smiley face behind the question.

“Absolutely. Want to meet there or should I pick you up?” He followed his question with a winky face, a ‘if you see my meaning’ winky face, a ‘maybe guarantee myself a chance to come in’ winky face.

“Meet there!” She followed it up with her own winky face. A ‘don’t get too excited’ winky face, a ‘but don’t get too disappointed either’ winky face.

It was a nice place, nicer than anywhere she’d been since Hart and Wolfe Inc. had gone belly up, and she was glad Sean had already insisted on paying or she’d be starting to get nervous. The demon money was good so far, but she didn’t know if she’d get to renew at the end of two weeks, and depending on how these changes went, she didn’t know if she’d need some major surgery to fit into a normal life afterwards. I really, really hope that if this goes too far, I have some way of not being stuck looking like a freak forever.

Sean walked up and she gave him a small wave as he did. He was good looking – not quite Hollywood good looks, not Henry Cavill or Bill Skarsgard good looks, but more everyday good looks. Blue collar, with muscles he earned at work, not the kind of muscles he earned from someone like Kelly. He gave her a dopey smile.

“You look…wow, stunning,” he said, and she returned the smile.

“You look pretty good yourself. C’mon, our table’s ready.” She walked first, which was a mistake, because he did wrinkle his nose slightly.

“You’re a smoker?”

“Only a couple times a day, when I’m nervous.” She smiled at him, let him think that she’d been smoking because of the date. He seemed to relax.

“Fair enough. I’m not a huge fan of it myself, but for someone as pretty as you, I’ll overlook it.” He winked at her and laughed, and she laughed back, but wanted to roll her eyes instead. Plus one point for being cute, minus one point for that.

Dinner went well for a bit after that initial speed bump. Fondue was delicious, and you had to eat it slowly enough you had to talk. They had the kind of banal conversations that first dates were made of, although she had to be careful when talking about her business so far. Hmmm. I wonder if “I teach an exercise class of literal demons’ is third date material, or fifth? She laughed at the thought, right when he was finishing a joke that hadn’t been funny, so it was good timing at least.

Things got rocky at desert. When dipping marshmallows into the rich chocolate, chocolate so dark it was almost black, their hands brushed together. Probably a calculated move on his part, a chance to get some physical contact, but for Kelly, it was like she had just grabbed a live wire.

It was Sean, but he was twelve, and the boy on the ground in front of him was a year younger. The other two boys with him were about his age.

”I said to stay away from my sister, you little fa-”

The homophobic slur was cut off when one of the other boys kicked the boy on the ground in the stomach, and he cried out in pain.

”I’m sorry, Sean, I’m sorry.”

Sean spit on him. “Yeah, you better be.”

But it wasn’t just like a movie, she could see into Sean, see into his soul. He wasn’t just doing it because the kid, Eugene Brown, had been flirting with his sister. He did it because he liked being big, he liked being strong. It made him feel good, powerful. She saw him inflicting petty torments on people around him. Deliberately cutting off someone who was trying to make a turn. Giving waiters complex orders and then yelling at them for it being wrong, even if it wasn’t. Cussing out people on the phone tech support. Tiny, little sins.


The word filled her, and she jerked her hand away from him.

“Woah, you okay?”

She looked at him, feeling her fingers curl into a fist. “Eugene Brown.”

His eyes widened. He remembered the name. You never forget you first victim. “How do you-”

“Shut up. It doesn’t matter how. What matters is you’re a bully, Sean. You’re a petty, tiny little man who likes feeling powerful. God, I can’t believe I was actually thinking I might hook up with you.”


“I said shut up!” She shouted the last four words, standing up as she did, and he looked into her eyes and those eyes were burning so brightly the contacts couldn’t hide them and in that moment. But that wasn’t why he shut up. He could see that scene she had seen, Eugene on the ground crying, but this time he was Eugene, and he felt every kick, every poke.

By the time he came to, Kelly was already gone, shaking in her car, not sure if she should be satisfied or sick.

I need to talk to Chemosh. She’d ask the demons in her class afterwards. One of them would have to know a way to contact him. At least whatever had happened had spared her wasting any more time with that asshole.

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