Conroy led us down the hall, to my old room which overlooked the backyard. There was a chair outside the room, to the left of the door. I assumed that was his post. As soon as the door closed behind him, Plum looked around and removed a mirror from the wall over the dresser. She walked over to the window, aimed a reflective glare at the window, put it back on the wall and turned off the light.
We looked down into the backyard and waited. I could hear Plum swearing under her breath, as we watched the party below. Men and women were skinny dipping in the pool, passed out on lawn chairs, and casting frivolous spells. The crowd erupted in laughter as the raven-haired woman who had greeted us at the door pried a drunk man’s hands off of her breasts and turned him into a pig.
I was beginning to wonder if Delilah and her coven had driven away in the van, when the water in the pool suddenly became quicksand. In their intoxicated state, the partygoers thought it was another harmless prank and several of them jumped in. Then a man, who felt himself being sucked into its depths began shouting and flailing his arms. The others laughed, until his head disappeared and he didn’t resurface.
As they looked on in stunned silence, Delilah and her crew came running out of the shadows and pushed in the onlookers standing along the lip of the pool. Anyone passed out on a lounge chair was flipped into the pool. In short order, the quicksand dragged them down. The more they struggled, the faster they sank. Plum turned the light back on.
“Now, it’s our turn.”
Before I could ask what she intended to do, Plum knocked on the door. Conroy’s annoyed voice sounded. She told him that she had to use the bathroom. He said it sounded like a personal problem to him and made no move to open the door. Plum shot me an amused look and hammered on the door, until Conroy shouted at her to stop. She continued, until we heard the chair slide back. His voice sounded close to the other side of the door. We could tell that he was poised to yank it open.
In a flash, Plum’s insubstantial right arm swung up and out of Ross’s body, penetrated the door and pulled Conroy’s head forward through to our side. I gasped, unable to believe my eyes. Conroy struggled to free himself, pushing from the other side of the door.
“Let me go,” he shouted.
“I really don’t think you want me to do that Conroy. All you had to do was open the door, but you had to be hard headed. Now, look where it has gotten you.”
“Fuck you! I’m not opening the door.”
“No Conroy, fuck…you,” whispered Plum. She released her hold and sank back into Ross’s body. The door solidified through Conroy’s neck, effectively separating it from his body. I jumped back as his head hit the floor and came bowling towards me. Plum retrieved the key from Conroy’s pocket, before his body dropped to the floor in the hallway, with a sickening thud. She unlocked the door, ushering me and Beastie out in front of her. I was still in shock. Plum had give me a push, to get me moving back down the hallway.
We paused outside of Flame’s office and Plum knocked on the door. When no response came, she opened the door and we strode in. Flame was eating a big plate of spaghetti. She gave us a shocked look, which would have been funny if I hadn’t just seen Conroy die.
“What the fuck? Conroy? Conroy, get your ass in here,” shouted Flame.
“Oh dear, I don’t think he can hear you. Let me get him for you,” purred Plum.
She produced Conroy’s head from behind her back, tossing it onto the plate of spaghetti. The slight widening of Flame’s eyes was the only sign that she was surprised. She sat back in her chair and looked up at us. Plum laughed and clapped her hands.
“That’s my Flame. Always calm, cool and collected under pressure. That’s why I recruited you for my coven.”
“You recruited me…Plum? Is that you inside that body?”
“The one and only.”
“I thought you were dead.”
“And you wasted no time in making yourself at home in my office. Tell me something Flame, did you even try to warn me about the attack? How do I know you didn’t destroy my host body, so that you could take my place?”
Flame licked her lips nervously. She glanced at the door, appearing to be weighing her options. Plum laughed again.
“Don’t waste your time trying to call for backup. Those idiots downstairs would never hear you over that blaring death metal music. I thought I taught you better. How many times have I told you over the years, never leave yourself vulnerable to attack. A bomb could go off up here and they wouldn’t hear it. If you had been on your game, you literally would have seen us coming. While you were up here in my office with the door closed, those fools let us in through the front door and told us where you were. Then Conroy there, let us stroll right in here. I could have struck you dead then. The way I see it, you owe me.”
Flame continued to stare at the door. Just then, we heard the sound of breaking glass and a muffled scream. Flame looked at us quizzically.
“That’s right darling, we brought our own back up. They are downstairs disposing of your coven. Now, let’s get down to business. You are going to make me a list of all the survivors from my coven and their whereabouts. Then, you’re going to write down everything you know about the House of Venus. I don’t need to tell you what I will do to you, if you try to pull a fast one and leave out or misrepresent any information.”
Flame reluctantly retrieved a yellow legal pad from a stack of papers and rooted around in desk drawers, until she found a pen. Plum stood and moved behind Flame, looking over her shoulder as she wrote.