Tote That Barge, Lift That Baal
Byline: Gary Llewellyn
Dateline: July 28th, 2017
Due to the consumption of copious amounts of LSD in my youth, I no longer have any concept of time. Or, at the very most, an extremely loose concept. The original plan was to hit up all seventy two of these jerks, most of which won’t be happy to see me. It dawned on me as we were skipping out on the hotel bill this morning: by the time I round up all these legions, Interpol, Oberon’s fairy army, and the Nixie Alliance of Lesser Fae could have run roughshod over half the planet and Stephanie been deported to the Bigfoot colony on Mars. This requires some out of the box thinking. For instance, while we were running from the hotel dicks, I was thinking to myself, wouldn’t this be so much easier if we were invisible? A legion of spirits is great, but an invisible legion of spirits? That’s free room service for life, son. Well, as everyone knows, the Ars Goetia tells us that Baal, the first king of Hell himself, teaches us the power of invisibility. Which is ironic, considering when one thinks invisibility, the last person one thinks of is Baal. Discretion is not this guy’s strong suit. He has no control over the volume of his voice and I don’t think he’s aware of it. On top of that, he got a voice that sounds like a blender, weed wacker and chainsaw are engaged in raucous BDSM menage a troi. He also had a tendency to talk during movies. Real embarrassing, but we’ve always been cool because I’m probably the only entity in the universe that never gave him shit for it.
Baal currently resides in a suburb of Phoenix, which is great because I always wondered what four thousand degrees felt like. But it’s a dry heat, so I’ll just catch fire, rather than smolder. Desert environs are not old Gary’s milieu, feel me? I pulled up to his cul-de-sac rancher around one in the afternoon, which is peak ignition time. I can only describe the macadam, as I walked to the house, as gooey and fuming. I can see why he moved here. He’s gotta be a pig in shit. He was standing outside chatting with a neighbor about the heat. His cat head saw me first.
“Holy hells,” he ground out the words with a voice like someone sawing a Sherman in half. “Gary Llewellyn, where have you been, you old scoundrel?”
I scratched behind the ear of his cat head. His toad head began to purr. We partied a lot back in the day.
“Baal,” I nodded.
“Vic,” he bellowed at his neighbor, “This my old friend, Gary.”
“Gary,” Vic held out his hand and flashed a middle management smile. He looked like he was dressed to go golfing, but everything about him said he always dressed like that.
“Vic,” I shook his hand.
“Nice to meet an old friend of Baal’s, here,” he chirped. “Sounds like he was he was quite the character back in the day. The stories he tells over dinner,” a goofy chuckle tumbled out.
“I’ll see ya, Vic.” Baal sounded like two trains driving through each other. “C’mon in, Gary.”
I entered his house and it was a meat locker. “You have the AC on?”
“It’s fucking hot out there,” Baal made a noise I decided was a sigh. “I can’t take it like I used to.”
“Getting soft in your old age.”
“Gary, I’d love to catch up, but I know that’s not why you’re here.”
“Is it that obvious?”
“I’ve heard things.”
“Like Oberon had you executed. Like Azmoday lent you a legion. Like how there’s no love lost between you and Stolas. And I know that Interpol is baiting you with your friend. The girl Mort has you running around with.”
“Word travels fast in the Hells.”
“It’s filled to the brim with gossips. What do you need, Gary?”
“I need you to teach Azmo’s spirits invisibility.”
“Ah, you mean to attack by stealth!”
“No, I just want to cut down on travel expenses. But, now that you mention it…”
“Listen, Gary, give Az his legion back. Take mine. All sixty six. They already know invisibility.”
“Yeah, they’re just sitting around collecting dust. It’ll be good for them to get out and stretch their legs. But, Gary, don’t go running headlong into this. You need a strategy. They’re waiting for you in Zurich. It’s a trap.”
“That’s why I’m not going to Zurich. I’m hitting them in Lyon. Going straight for the throat.”
If You Leave Me Now
Byline: Stephanie Morgan
Dateline: July 28th, 2017
Heya, SEG-ers. I’m in Barcelona, Spain. What to see something really trippy? Look at an aerial photograph of the city. It looks like someone tried to min-max Simcity. I’m not sure why I’m here, to be honest. I’m looking for the tarrasque I last saw in the Riviera. He said he was coming here to settle down with a girl he met at a rave. I have to admit the search was a lot easier with the gaggle of kobolds that decided to follow me for whatever reason. And I seem to pick up more wherever I go. It’s kind of like leading dozens of cats. They basically take care of themselves, they’re cool with me, but try to take the face off anybody else. Best of all, I haven’t had to pay for anything for a week, which is great because the SEG checks have gone from bouncing to disappearing altogether.
I found the tarrasque brooding in a small, dark apartment. It appears his girlfriend Ione went back to Minneapolis after the ketamine wore off and he’s been wallowing in his filth, surrounded by his dozens of his own terrible paintings. The acoustic guitar in the corner made me nervous. It was strung with nylon strings. I pulled a chair between him and the guitar and sat down blocking his eyeline. If there was even a one percent chance he’d taken up flamenco I couldn’t be too careful.
“I remember you,” he squinted in the shafts of sunlight coming in through the window I had opened. He peeled his head off his yellow pillow, drenched with sweat and tears. “You were there. The night I met my sweet Ione,” his head slammed back down on the pillow and he wept.
“I’m sorry about what happened,” I tried to be sympathetic as I looked at a framed picture of the two of them. She looked twelve. “How old was she?”
“Sixteen and a half,” he sobbed.
From sympathetic to skeeved, I tossed the picture aside. “Look, uh, tarrasque.”
“Nathan. I didn’t rescue you from a petting zoo so you could perv on little kids on drugs at the beach. Or so you could drown in a puddle of your own sweat, for that matter.”
“I wish I never left that petting zoo,” he screamed into his pillow.
“Grow up, Nathan. I don’t know what’s happening because no one will bother to explain it to me, but I know something’s happening and it’s bigger than your creepy heartbreak. Look at yourself, blubbering in your own mess like a poet because your high school lover sobered up. And I’m pretty sure your relationship was illegal.”
“Age of consent is sixteen in Spain.”
“Still gross. You’re like a thousand years old.”
“One thousand, three hundred and forty three.”
“You’re in your forties? Whatever, you need to get your shit together. Things are happening that involve fairies and Interpol and all sorts of shit I don’t know about, so you can either remember you’re an ancient killing machine and come help me or sit around here being an Eeyore.”
“What’s an Eeyore?”
“Don’t worry about it. Look, we’ll forget the last month happened. You’re in your forties and you just got out of prison. You were having a midlife rumspringa. I get it. But, now you need to come with me and these weird little imps and help figure out what’s going on. Now, up, up,” I began whacking him with one of his paintings.
“Okay, fine,” he whined. “I have to take a shower first.”
When he emerged from his apartment he smelled like a stripper.
“I used her shampoo,” he said. “To remind me of her.”
“What did I say about forgetting the last month?”
“Baby steps,” he sidled up to me. “Hop on.”
“What? Really? After all those years in the petting zoo?”
“Yeah. It’s okay. You’ve broken me out of two prisons. It’s the least I owe you.”
I sat atop Nathan as we headed off.
“We should get you a saddle,” I said, wobbling.
“Don’t push it.”