I’m not really sure how to start this entry so I guess I’ll just start it.
Within literally minutes of posting on Wednesday Warren Fucking Miller called me. I almost didn’t answer. I’ve been avoiding his calls since I talked to him Monday, which like — I’m an asshole. I know.
“Shiloh?” he asked and he sounded like a worried kid, which is so not the point of him doesn’t he know he’s supposed to be a hot pretentious delinquent who doesn’t care about me?
“How’s Keith doing?” I asked.
“Yeah, he’s doing like really well,” he said. “I think whatever those things did to him is wearing off because he started getting sad again so he called a psychiatrist and like he’s getting help and shit —”
“That’s great,” I said.
“Right, yeah,” Warren said impatiently. “But listen, WHAT THE FUCK WERE THOSE THINGS?”
I was on my way to meet the girls at the Circem Street house and didn’t know how to deal with a boy freak out so I just told him to meet us there. Like look I spend a lot of time with girls, okay? I have a single mom and Madelyn is my only friend — and she’s gay so like literally I only spend my time with girls.
Okay so I get to the Circem Street house and Sophie and Iph were all arguing about how to fireproof the corner of the house, like shouting about whether to use sand or water or some incoherent magic shit, and Georgia was like “I think there might be some pressure for them to do this well or something because they’re both like totally freaking out,” and then Feather Dog, who’s shoulders don’t fit through narrow doorways, managed to arch his neck in far enough to lick my ears and you know what I think maybe Madelyn isn’t actually my only friend anymore. Like she definitely used to be. But like… I don’t know I still get invited to parties and shit without her. And like after Wednesday night — I mean spoilers, hang on we’ll get there.
Warren arrived as Iph and Sophie finished getting their spell together. They dipped their fingers into water and drew them all over the walls, and where the water was it sort of glittered? It didn’t glow like you see in movies, but they had this really subtle glitter, like sun on a river. Warren walked in just in time to see them pour gasoline on the walls and floor, and then throw a lit match into it.
He screamed and scrambled back, expecting a blaze obviously, but the fire barely fizzled, it just sorta burned up the gasoline and sputtered out. Magic 🤷🏼♀️
“Okay,” he panted. “So… the last two weeks of my life haven’t been a long elaborate dream, then?”
“Fraid not,” Georgia replied cheerfully. “Wanna help us catch some imps?”
Warren Fucking Miller stared at her, and then at me for a long moment. Then he said, “Yeah, alright.”
The plan as it stood at that point was this:
1. Iphigenia and Georgia would go out to the woods and light an enormous but (magically) safe bonfire.
2. Then they’d call the cops on themselves
3. Once the firetruck was busy, Sophie, the boys and I would sneak into the church, net the imps as quickly as we could, load them into Sophie’s (fire-proofed) car and bring them back to the Circem Street house.
Warren laughed at us.
“What you think this town has one firetruck? No. You’re going to need more than one fire to distract them all.” He was already getting his phone out. “You all should just go to the church, we’ll handle the brave boys in blue.”
“We?” I asked, and he grinned at me, and spoke into the phone.
“Hey Keith? Call Joey. We’re going to light some fires tonight.”
“You sure about this?” I asked when he got off the phone and he waved me off.
“Please, lighting fires all over town? That’s kid stuff. An easy Tuesday. Don’t even think about it.”
So, come 11, we all loaded into the cars, wished each other luck, and rolled out.
Johnny, Trevor and Scott were already waiting for us in park across from the church, and they weren’t alone. Maisie Jorna, Lucy Stumpton, and Tilly’s best friend Simon Corfeild were all there too, sharing cigarettes on the hoods of their cars.
“Oh god is that Lucy?” Georgia sighed, shouldering her backpack full of enchanted nets. Cuz remember apparently Georgia and Lucy made out a few months ago, right after Madelyn disappeared? I mean, that’s the rumor anyways.
“Ready?” Iph said.
“Hey guys,” I called.
“We brought more help,” Johnny said.
“I can see that,” I said. I cleared my throat. “Hey.” Lucy and Simon greeted me back but Maisie just took a long drag on her cigarette and looked me over.
It was time for me to explain the plan to everyone. I think I probably cleared my throat again. I probably cleared my throat like thirty times, I must have sounded like a cat with a hairball. It was like doing a class presentation except like a zillion times worse because I had to describe how we were going to catch fucking mythological creatures.
But I did it. Georgia helped me pass out nets.
“You seriously want me to believe this shit?” Maisie said, not taking hers.
Something sorta snapped in me because I could feel my eyes go black and my mouth fill up with smoke, and I said, “bitch, you think I’d play around with this shit after Keith? Or Bella?” My voice cracked. “Or Mads? You don’t have to be here, but if you’re gonna stay you’re gonna have to trust me.”
Everyone was sorta silent for a minute, and then Johnny said, “you heard her, Maze.”
Maisie took her net.
We waited quietly for maybe ten minutes. And then, finally the fire truck made a little whoop and started flashing its lights and pulled out of the chruch parking lot.
“Guess War and Keith know how to light a fire,” Georgia said.
“Oh ya those guys can fuckin party,” Scott said appreciatively.
We drove across the street. We parked our cars with the back facing the church doors for easy imp transportation. Then we shouldered our nets and we went inside.
It was dark and smoky. I think that despite the fact that we all knew what was in there, we were all a little bit terrified. Like they’re little monkeys that are also on fire. It’s scary. The cross behind the pulpit was smoldering so it looked like masochistic Jesus had brought the Drama™
We stood there waiting, for what seemed like ages, and it crossed my mind that maybe they’d all gone and I was going to look totally utterly batshit insane. But then an imp poked it’s blazing little head up over a pew bench. The wood smoked under it’s little hands.
“Holy shit,” Scott said.
The imp shrieked. It sounded exactly like a thousand children wailing. Then it took off.
“GET IT!” Sophie roared and burst into motion.
It took like two hours to clear the place out. Picture us: running around the church, falling over stuff, diving under the pews, crashing over the pipe organs, trying to corner these shrieking little demons with nothing but our wits and some magic nets. One of those little fuckers grabbed my forearm and now I have a huge raised hand print blister that I’m gonna have a hard time explaining to my poor mother. Iph healed it up pretty well — it doesn’t hurt anymore, but it’s gonna scar for sure.
We found a nest of them in the pantry in the communion wafers. The babies were so tiny and sweet. They weren’t even on fire yet, they just glowed and sparked and smoked like crazy.
Warren, Keith and Joey were amazing they lit like thirty fires across town to keep the fire department away and then joined us at the end to help. It was pretty much love at first sight for Keith and Joey. Like imps are 100% definitely their patronuses.
We filled all twenty hutches. Some of them we had to double up with imps. We felt so bad ass.
“We’ll do one last sweep, yeah?” Johnny said, when we’d loaded all the hutches into the back of the cars. They came back with one imp, an old one, not even on fire anymore, just glowing like a hot coal. It looked up at us, its little fingers wrapped around the net, eyes luminous.
“They’re sort of sweet,” Sophie said, kneeling to get a closer look.
“They’re literally little demons,” Simon replied. “Like it makes you think that some catholic in middle ages stumbled across an infestation of these little guys and was like OH yeah, this is the sorta shit we should put in hell.”
“Well they weren’t wrong about them being absolute hell,” Maisie sniffed, pulling a cigarette out of her bag. All our faces were smudged with soot.
“Hey, can I get one of those?” Warren asked, and Maisie offered him the carton.
And that mother fucker leaned over and lit his cigarette on a straight up demon.
“That was edgy as shit,” Georgia said, but the rest of us were laughing. Maybe you had to be there.
We all went back to the Circem Street house to unload, which presented some unique issues. Well, one specific unique issue named Feather Dog.
We had everyone come in and meet him one at a time. He was pretty chill about the whole thing actually. I think he was just excited to be meeting new people.
We just didn’t tell Maisie that he killed Bella. It wasn’t his fault, he didn’t know any better. I feel bad about it but he’s not gonna hurt anyone else — we’re keeping him fed and supervised now. Like what are we going to do? Kill him? Do we believe in justice for wild animals?
No. I don’t, anyways.
So yeah, everyone met Feather Dog, and then we brought the imps inside and lined them up in the water proof corner of the house, and sat back to admire our work.
It was like almost three by that point. School was starting in like five hours. But I wasn’t ready to go home, and I don’t think anyone else was either.
“So… what are we gonna do with these guys now?” Trevor asked.
“Well, we called our coven sister,” Sophie said. “She’ll come pick them up and drive them out to the Emporium in a few days. We just gotta feed them until she gets here.”
“What’s the Emporium?” Simon asked at the same time Maisie said, “what do these things eat?”
“The Emporium is like a museum for haunted or cursed objects… and also, like… a wildlife rescue? But for creatures from other places. Like not earth.”
“Not earth?” Warren demanded. “Are you saying these things are aliens?”
Iphigenia made that thoughtful, I’m about to over describe something face. “Sort of,” she said.
We stayed at the house for like an hour, listening to the soft crackling of the imps burning, before people started falling asleep. Warren gave me a ride home. Everyone wanted to hug when we said goodbye. I guess de-imping a church makes people into friends.
Actually, I have to go. I’m supposed to meet people at the Circem street house to feed the imps. I love feeding them — they eat wood, and when they eat their fires get all huge and crazy. It’s amazing. Madelyn would love it.