Carmichael jolted awake. Cloying, choking heat shuddered from the vents and he fumbled for the controls to turn it off. He looked around the small sedan, at the crumpled receipts, flat coke in plastic cups, and the herd of coins that had migrated across the dashboard while he’d been asleep. No David.
Carmichael turned and rubbed the fog away from his window. He peered out of it. In the dim, evening light he could make out what he thought were footsteps in the snow. He fumbled with the seatbelt, jamming at the button to set himself free. The belt retracted across his lap in an anemic slide. He threw it off and opened the door. The crisp, cool air was a welcome relief.
He stepped out into the snow and looked around the vacant streets. The sun was alighting the western horizon in a brilliant fire that stretched over the snow, reflecting the golden beams for far longer than the time dictated it should. Snow piled up against the wall before him and a streetlight flickered in a staccato attempt at lighting the area in the gathering dark. His air ghosted around him, clinging to his lips in the still air. Where the hell was David?
The door slam echoed, the sound of his feet crunching through the snow the only sound that accompanied it. He pushed himself through the snow towards the wall, slipping between it where the other footsteps led. Before him was a pavilion with a — he squinted — was that a ball of yarn? Carmichael cursed under his breath. A dark shadow skittered towards him.
Carmichael obeyed without thinking. “What the hell are you doing?”
David looked up from the stick he was dragging through the snow. “I’m drawing a pentagram. You almost ruined the southeast point. Sorry for yelling.”
Carmichael looked down at the snow before him to see the tip of the star inches away from his boot. The circle looped towards his other boot and he shifted backward. He glanced back up at David, but the other had resumed his dragging. “We have a meeting to get to.”
“I know,” David looked up with a smile. “But this is gonna make the boss so happy.”
Carmichael shifted towards the junction between the points that would bring him closer to David. He saw four other objects sitting against the ball of yarn, but couldn’t tell in the dim light what they were. David finished the star and sauntered over, smile still plastered on his face.
“It’s going to make the boss happy that you drew a pentagram in the snow in the middle of fucking-nowhere Kansas?”
David wound up and threw the stick. It twirled and landed two feet away. Carmichael looked between the two as David shrugged. “Nah, what comes of this will make the boss happy.”
Carmichael looked at the stick again. “You know what, I’m not even going to argue. It’s freezing and will take longer to convince you to get back in the car than to let you do whatever it is you want. I’m gonna have a smoke.”
Carmichael shuffled back towards the wall, dragging the pack of smokes out of his coat pocket. He thumbed one out and slipped it into his mouth. He cupped the flame of the lighter around the tip of the cigarette as David began to chant. Carmichael breathed out a stressful breath of smoke with a disgruntled sigh. He turned back to David and let the cigarette fall from his mouth. Holy shit, it worked.
The pentagram glowed a brilliant pink as David chanted. With a final cry, the street light blinked out in embarrassment as the pink light lit far more than it could ever dream of. Carmichael squinted at the light, wanting to see what David had done. It faded as the temperature dropped and Carmichael blinked away the residual dots of light.
“David,” he muttered. “What did you do?”
“Five objects to call a demon. Figured the ball of yarn would get me something good.”
Carmichael stared at the giant, six-eyed cat before them. It was taller than the pavilion it leaned underneath to bat at the ball of yarn. It began purring and rocked the ground beneath them.
“What?” David shouted back, turning to look at him.
“How the hell are we getting that in the car?”
David’s crazed grin split his face again. “We’re gonna ride it.”