rough draft of The Demon of Petty Disturbances
by K. Kylyra Ameringer
Tronaugh muted the sound on the telly. "Sit down and listen to me for a moment, young man," she said with her best prim and proper schoolteacher attitude. "The universe, time, and all its multifaceted elements are a huge interwoven fabric. We pull the tiniest thread here," she said, plucking at the air, "or there," plucking in another place, "to influence certain events to unfold that then allow you humans to, of your own free will I might add, step right it the path of a rolling boulder to avoid a pebble in the road." She gazed at Dick's frown. "Look, when you walk down the street at night, what makes you take one path over another? Why, if you took a left at a corner rather than a right, you might run into, say, a mugger, who would take all your money, maybe stab or even beat you!" A smile flashed across her face. "And what makes you go left rather than right? Perhaps a street light is out towards the right and it seems too dark, or maybe a bottle was broken to your right and you want to avoid the glass. See? That's the way reality's intertwined. So you take the left, the mugger does his thing, and everyone's happy. Everyone makes out."
Dick blinked at her dazedly. She tried again. "How about those queues at stores?" she asked him. "Ever notice how your queue is the slowest, but when you switch to a faster queue, that one becomes the slowest?" Dick nodded his head. "See? A brilliant piece of work, that."
"You do that?" Dick asked.
"Me? On, no, no. Not me personally. One of my friends does that. A very good, very old friend. The Demon of Continuous Queues." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "That's a specialty, you know. Time-space differentials. In reality, every line can't be the slowest for every person there. It requires some pretty heavy juggling of dimensional realities, I'll tell you that much! But I could influence you to, oh, say, forget something that you needed to buy. Or, even better yet, make you grab some impulse items right before the check-out that'll throw your total balance over your budget. Ah!" Tronaugh began to laugh heartily, "That's a good one. And then there's always -"
"I don't want to hear anymore about it!" Dick interrupted her. "Fine. Okay. You're as good as advertised. I believe you. But right now I am hungry and I am tired. I am going to get on the phone and order a pizza and have it delivered and then take a hot shower."
DT gurgled from his place on the floor. "Order us a large cheese and onion," Tronaugh said. "Extra onions!"
Dick shook his head and crossed the room to the phone. His order put in, he slipped into the small bathroom to take a shower before the pizza arrived. The volume on the telly began blaring out again as the bathroom door closed. Dick sighed. He hoped this was going to be worth it.
A mug of steaming coffee was set down in front of him. "You don't look so good, Dick. Is there a problem I can help with?"
Dick looked up into Joe's smooth, bland face. Yeah, Dick thought, I've got a demon in my flat that's driving me nuts. "No," Dick shook his head a little. "Just been sick, that's all."
"Yeah, that flu can be a nasty bit of business," Joe said uncertainly, sitting down on the edge of the table. Joe looked at a point above Dick's head and cleared his throat. "Anything else you want to tell me about?" he asked.
"Else?" Dick repeated.
"Yeah, you got anything else going on?" Joe asked, looking him squarely in the face. "You know, drug problem or anything?"
Dick shook his head to clear it. "What do you mean, drug problem?" he asked slowly.
"What time do we receive shipments of inventory, Dick?" Joe asked, resuming his consideration of the point above Dick's head.
"Ah ... e-eleven a.m., every day."
"That's right, eleven a.m. every day. And what time is it now, Dick?"
Dick looked at the clock on the wall. "Half-twelve," he said slowly.
"That's right, Dick. Half-twelve. Do you know what it's doing outside right now, Dick? It's raining. It's raining on my newly delivered inventory that's still sitting outside because you didn't go and load it in like you're supposed to, every day, on this job at eleven a.m.!"
"Joe ... Joe I'm so sorry. I'm ... I'm really so sorry," Dick stumbled over his words. "I haven't been able to get any sleep the last couple of nights. I ... I have this problem, see."
Joe was looking at him now. Dick wanted to tell him, wanted to blurt out everything about Tronaugh and DT, but somehow he couldn't. He couldn't tell Joe about the past few days. He couldn't tell him that The Demon of Petty Disturbances and her young charge loved to eat cheese and onion pizzas and spend the night belching and farting. He couldn't tell Joe about the missing food, the noise, the dancing, or the urinating in the corner. Joe was waiting with an expectant look on his face.
rough draft of The Demon of Petty Disturbances by K. Kylyra Ameringer