"You see the match last Saturday?" Jonny Harris asked Teddy Demme.
The other man unlocked a padlock and swung open the chain-link gate in front of them.
"Nah, had to do a job for Mr Herbert. Caught the highlights on Match of the Day."
Jonny and Teddy walked back to Teddy's BMW. They drove through the gate, stopped the car, got out, closed the gate and locked it behind them.
"I reckon it's the Gunner's year this time," Jonny said.
"Nah," Teddy replied.
They got back in the car and drove down a small tarmac driveway towards a large warehouse. Teddy parked the car around the side of the dilapidated building and both men got out.
"Nah?" Jonny parroted. "Unbeaten at home, top of the league on Boxing Day ... it's their year for sure."
The Eye and the Gherkin could be seen off in the distance, but this was a flat, grey, forgotten part of the city, still waiting in vain for the economic upswing that would lure the developers back to throw up even more shrines to the worship of capitalism. Until then run-down warehouses stood empty and green weeds reclaimed the tarmac margins inch by inch.
"Nah," Teddy said.
He unlocked a side entrance and pushed open the door.
"They'll fuck it up on the road again to Stoke, Birmingham or some other Northern shithole. Wenger will give it the usual whine about his kids being kicked off the park while Fergie grinds out another title for United. Same as it always is."
On the other side of the door was a small hallway with a little office on the left hand side and exits both ahead and to the right of them.
"You gotta have faith," Jonny said.
Teddy smiled and shook his head.
They took the door to the right. It led through a pair of fire doors, up a set of stairs and into a small observation room that overlooked a large black space.
"Got to hand it to Sir Alex," Jonny said. "I can't stand the grizzled old bastard and United are scum, but you got to respect him. Year after year, he keeps picking up those trophies. If only they could get him for the England job."
"He's Scottish," Teddy said. "And far too smart to get stuck with that poisoned chalice."
They walked down another flight of stairs and into a short corridor that terminated in a heavy metal door. It looked like a recent addition, as did the fancy electronic card reader on the wall next to it. Both seemed a little excessive for such an uninteresting-looking warehouse.
"Shame," Jonny said. "He'd soon whip that overpaid bunch of pampered tossers into shape. We wouldn't be losing four-fucking-one to the fucking krauts under him, that's for sure."
Teddy inserted a card into the reader and punched in a code. Bolts slid back with a loud clank. He pushed the door open and they walked through into a cavernous room. Teddy pulled a switch on the wall and floodlights flared on, illuminating the whole room with a harsh white glare.
Jonny paused and looked around in wonder.
CCTV cameras whirred back and forth on wall-mounted brackets. A circular section of the floor, about ten metres in diameter, was cut out. The pit was surrounded by a sturdy metal railing about five feet high. A couple of plastic chairs were arranged around its circumference. The top of a cage, its walls thick metal bars, rose up out of the centre of the pit.
"This is all a bit James Bond," Jonny commented.
"It needs to be the highest possible security," Teddy said.
"Yeah, but this is like something out of ... I don't know ... the X-Files or something. How can Mr Herbert afford all..."
Jonny stopped talking.
They'd advanced close enough to the pit for him to be able to see over the rim and into the cage. Something sat cross-legged on the floor about two metres below them.
It wasn't human.
It had red skin. Red like blood. Black wings like those of a bat scaled up to human size were folded behind it. A pair of black horns grew out of its temples and curved down behind its pointed ears. Instead of feet it had a pair of cloven hooves. A long black tail with a spade-like tip lay curled around it.
Jonny turned to Teddy. "What the fuck is that?"
Teddy shrugged. "What does it look like to you?"
Jonny knew what it looked like, but it couldn't be that. They didn't exist. All that religious stuff, it was a load of bollocks, wasn't it? I mean she--for Jonny was close enough now to see it was a she--might look like something out of an old horror film or one of those computer role-playing games, but that didn't mean she was an actual...
"Demon?" he said.
Teddy shrugged again. "As good a name as any," he said.
It didn't mean she was an actual demon demon. She could be an alien that looked like a demon. Or some kind of top secret experimental mutant that looked like a demon.
"What's she doing here?" Jonny asked.
Teddy shrugged. "Mr Herbert acquired her. Cost him a right old pretty penny, I heard."
The demon looked up at them. She was actually quite shaggable, Jonny thought, for something with horns, wings and a tail. There was an elfin quality to her face, like one of those hauntingly beautiful model waifs. There was also a slutty air about her. It was hard to say what exactly. Something about the pout of her full lips, in the line of her cheeks, in the way her long, silky black hair cascaded onto her slender shoulders.
And mainly because she was stark bollock naked.
Those were some gorgeous titties, Jonny thought, a real overflowing handful. They hung above her flat midriff like ripe round fruit. Her crotch was hairless and Jonny could see the folds of her vagina. She didn't seem bothered by this in the slightest.
Yeah, the kind of girl, if you took her home after pulling her at a club, you'd know exactly what you were in for, Jonny thought.
"See that circle," Teddy said.
He pointed to a circle drawn on the floor in the centre of the cage. It looked odd. Jonny could clearly see it was drawn in ash or some other black powder, but right in the centre of the line he thought he saw speckles of red light, which could be the glow of flickering embers ... if it didn't look as though the fire was burning in the ground far far beneath them. Lines criss-crossed the circle in a star pattern. The devil girl sat in the centre of it.
"Supposedly that's all that's needed to keep her ... it," he corrected, "right where it is."
"Then what's with all these bars?" Jonny asked.
"To stop you having any foolish ideas of getting too close to it," Teddy said.
Still seemed a little excessive to Jonny.
Those eyes did unnerve him. It looked like someone had injected crude oil into her eyeballs and filled them up until they were solid black all the way through. They weren't eyes, they were wells and Jonny had a feeling he didn't want to find out how deep they went.
"What am I here for?" Jonny asked.
"You pulled guard duty," Teddy said.
"Yeah. Mr Herbert wants someone here at all times to keep a close eye on it. The cameras aren't enough. Shite electrics. Keep cutting out all the time. So he wants a good old-fashioned human to keep watch and raise bloody hell if anything funny happens. You brought a book?"
"Yeah," Jonny said. He pulled a battered old true crime paperback out of his back pocket.
"Good. I'll be back for you at six," Teddy said.
With that he turned and walked away. The metal door shut behind him with a metallic clang. Jonny was alone with ... whatever it was in the cage.
He raised clenched fists. "Yes!" he said with an excited hiss.
He was in! He had to be. They wouldn't have let him see this if they had no faith in him.
And asked by Mr Herbert himself, fuck yeah. No more breaking heads down at the Dog and Duck every Saturday night. He was on the move. He was doing real jobs for the organisation now.
He hadn't expected anything as weird as this, though. He walked around the circular railing. The demon, or at least the thing that looked like a demon, sat cross-legged at the centre of the circle within the cage. They were definitely wings folded up behind her back--black and leathery like a bat's. He saw the point where her spine extended out into a long black tail, as slender as a whip. The spade-like tip flicked up and down, dispelling all notions it might be some kind of elaborate costume.
Devil. Demon. Look them up in an encyclopaedia and he'd see a picture looking a lot like her.
This was too fucking freaky.
He knew Mr Herbert had influence, but this ... What the fuck was the boss mixed up in?
He completed a full circuit and stared down at her. The demon stared back at him with a dispassionate gaze.
"What's your name?" she asked, causing Jonny to startle as if a gun had gone off close by.
She spoke? She spoke English?
"Jon," he replied. "Who are you?"
"Melacetia," the demon girl replied. Her voice was sexy smooth. Smooth like melted dark chocolate.
It wasn't the right question.
"What are you?" Jonny asked.
That was the right question.
"A succubus," Melacetia replied.
Nope. Didn't help.
"What's one of them when it's at home?" Jonny asked.
"A sex demon," Melacetia answered, "a mistress of the forbidden arts of pleasure."
The way she rolled her tongue around pleasure sent a little shiver through Jonny's bollocks. Well, she was naked after all.
"What, demon as in demon-from-hell demon?" he asked.
Fuck. This was heavy. Jonny had stopped going to church some years ago. Didn't seem like such a good idea now.
.... There is more of this story ...