The circle was drawn. Salted, as was written in the rituals. The runes, scryed out in the cleanest way possible when living blood was the medium, were already ablaze with unholy incandescence.

They were general runes, offering a toehold on the mortal coil for any interested creature. The summoner was not picky.

When the answer came, it began as the sound of distant wailing, like mourners of old, before manifesting as a great pyroclastic column of smoke and sound at the dead center of the innermost thurmatological circle. It burst with a howl, revealing a foul and horned demon.

“Who summoned me?” it rasped in a voice made of suffering. “And what souls do they offer in return?”

The shadowy summoner stepped into the light cast by their foul evocation. “Hi there. I’m Sidney Angelle of West Side Realty, and I’ve got a deal for you.”

“W-what?” the demon said. “That is not how this works.”

“What I’m here to talk about is how I can work for you,” Sidney said. “I’ve summoned you into a lovely three bedroom one-and-a-half bath that’s been on the market for far too long. It’s in a great location, ten minutes to the beach, ten minutes to downtown. And it’s in a great school district.

Squinting, the demon snorted. “That’s not enough bathrooms,” it said.

“Of course it is,” said Sidney. “You’re only one demon.”

“But what if I want to have people over? They’ll have to use the whole bath, and it’s attached to the master suite. That’s my bathroom, and I don’t want to have to clean it every time I have people over. What if I take roommates?”

“The half-bath has a shower,” said Sidney. “Someone could make it work, and you could use the other bedroom as a den or for storage.”

“Or I could use the actual storage for storage, and the living room as a den,” growled the demon. “It sounds to me like your builder screwed up and you’re left trying to bamboozle folks into buying a house without enough bathrooms.”

“You can have it cheap enough that you can add another bathroom,” cried Sidney.

“With contractors, permits, and fixtures, as well as labor, this place would need to be free for that to make sense,” said the demon. “Or perhaps you should pay me.”

“Listen,” said Sidney. “I summoned you here for a purpose. What’s it going to take to get you to sign on the dotted line?”

The demon thoughtfully tapped a claw on its chin-horns. “Throw in three souls, one for each room, and we’ve got a deal for whatever the sticker price is,” it said.

“One and a half souls,” countered Sidney. “For each bathroom, since you’re so upset about them.”

“You can’t halve souls, of course. Two, then. Final offer. I do have other places I could be summoned, you know.”

“Deal,” said Sidney, holding out her hand. “I’ll draw up the paperwork. The souls will be here on the move-in day. They’ll think they’re subletting.”

The demon took her hand, and Sidney pumped its grotesque claw firmly, not flinching from the intense hear or the acrid smell of seared flesh that filled the room. “Deal,” it said. “You’re a tough one. Ever think about coming to work for us?”

“Sorry,” said Sidney, drawing back her hand and already beginning to swaddle it in bandages. “There’s a reason I left Wall Street. Too many high pressure sales situations.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!