As their teacher’s voice filled the room, intoning the strange words, Jenny and Josh looked at each other.
“Whoa,” Josh said, “Isn’t he supposed to be translating that stuff into English?”
“Keep your voice down!” Jenny whispered. “I’m sure Mr. Symarian knows what he’s doing. Besides, whatever it is, I think something’s happening.”
“What do you mean?”
“Haven’t you noticed?” she said. “It’s getting colder in here.”
“Maybe somebody left the window open…” Josh’s whispered voice trailed off. The window was shut tight. As they watched, lines of frost were forming over the panes of glass. “It could just be a cold snap,” he suggested.
Jenny shook her head, and pointed. Across the room, the window on the office door was also frosting up. Josh stared at the door, agape, and then they both looked back at their teacher. A patch of air above the center of his desk was starting to shimmer, the way hot air shimmers on a summer’s day. The surface of the desk directly beneath was slowly and ominously beginning to darken.
Suddenly there was a popping sound. Mr. Symarian had stopped his chant, and was now peering with interest down at the desktop. Standing there on the desk, looking around with a somewhat disgruntled expression, was a bright reddish-orange six inch tall demon.
As Jenny and Josh looked on in amazement, the demon spread first one leathery wing, then the other, eyeing them critically.
“Hello Sid,” said Mr. Symarian.
The demon glared up at their teacher reproachfully. “You couldn’t have picked a better color, maybe?” he said in what sounded like a strong Brooklyn accent.
“Sorry,” Mr. Symarian shrugged. “I’m a little rusty.”
“Yeah, right. And now ’cause you’re rusty, I’m rusty.” The demon shook his horned head in resignation. “Amateurs! I need a smoke.” He waved one of his tiny taloned hands, and a perfectly proportioned little cigar appeared in his fingers, already lit.
“Sorry Sid, you can’t smoke in here,” Mr. Symarian admonished.
“You gotta be kidding me,” the demon replied. “Who’s idea was it to bring me here in the first place? Cut me a break, will ya?”
“You know the rules, Sid. Local customs. It’s not up to me. They’re His rules.”
“Crap,” the demon said. There was a bright reddish-orange flare, and the little cigar vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.
Jenny and Josh had been silent throughout this exchange, too stunned to speak. But now Josh found his voice. “You said crap.”
The demon looked at him, as if seeing him for the first time. “What’s it to you?”
“Demons aren’t supposed to say things like that.”
Jenny chimed in supportively. “And whoever heard of a demon that smokes cigars?”
“And what’s the deal with the Brooklyn accent?” Josh added. “That is a Brooklyn accent, isn’t it?” His tone was almost accusing.
Sid rolled his eyes. “Look kids, I’ve had a rough day, and I’m not in the mood to debate theology with a pair of human whelps. But since you asked, don’t you think it’s kind of nuts, these questions?”
“I think they’re perfectly reasonable questions,” Jenny said, and Josh nodded in agreement.
“Oh give me a break. I’m a friggin’ mythical creature. You know, as in `Imaginary, fictitious, not based on facts or scientific study.’ I’m not even supposed to exist. You gonna stand there and tell me what accent I’m supposed to have?”
“He does have a point,” said Mr. Symarian.