Chapter 36: Information
Chloe and Alex sprang apart at the intrusion. “Kerlvin,” Alex growled.
“Not the nicest today, are we?” the demon replied, unconcerned, a sharp black claw digging at something in his teeth. Chloe looked away in disgust as Kerlvin flicked away a small rat arm. “I see you found the box.” He glanced back toward it. “Oh, good, you found a way to open it.” He inspected his black sharp claws. “No one was dumb enough to give it blood, I see. That would have been disastrous,” he snickered.
Chloe looked concerned. “What would have happened?”
“Oh, nothing much.” He grinned, and it wasn’t a pleasant grin. “The box would just gain an appetite, an appetite that could be sated only by death.” He reveled in the looks on their faces. “The death of the one foolish enough to give it blood in the first place…poor simple Aaron.” The cackle that followed turned Alex’s stomach.
“Well, I’m glad nobody gave it blood then,” Alex replied angrily.
Chloe floated between them. She could see Kerlvin’s eyebrow raised and knew he was taunting Alex. “Thank you for helping us find the box.” She calmed.
“Oh, I did no such thing. In fact”—he looked to where the severed rat arm lay—“the one who did lead you was delicious.” The look on Chloe’s face brought the sickening grin back to his. “Although now that you have it, I am guessing you have some questions.”
“Well, yes, we do,” Alex confirmed, stepping in front of Chloe. The leer she was receiving from Kerlvin made him uncomfortable. “I think all we have to do is return some of these things to their owners, right?” Alex frowned at the noncommittal response from the demon. “We have two problems, though.” He waited until Kerlvin gave him his attention. “Chloe’s necklace isn’t here, and we have no idea what these medals mean or how we return them. I mean they are from all over…” Alex faltered at the clicking of a sharp black claw on the wooden floor. Kerlvin seemed to have completely lost interest. He examined the claws on his left hand while the ones on his right foot scratched at the hardwood floor.
“Can you please help us?” Chloe asked, ignoring the warning look from Alex.
“Well, since you asked so nicely.” Kerlvin laughed. “No.” He continued his inspection.
“That’s OK. I am starting to like it here.” Chloe shrugged. “I mean I have no place I need to be. I could spend another seventy years here.” She smiled around at the room. “One hundred and forty years.” Her eyes returned to the demon. He pretended to not be interested, but Alex could see Kerlvin was looking at her over his knuckles. Chloe ran a ghostly hand along the rough plaster. “I am feeling at home here. I guess it really is my home.” She twirled, arms outstretched. “I have missed having a home, being around those like me.” Alex was about to point out there weren’t any other ghosts around when Kerlvin broke in.
“Yeah, yeah, I can see what you are doing.” His hand fell to his side. With a huge sigh as if it were a great inconvenience, he began to explain, “You’re right about the items. Return them to the victims, and they will be released.” He held up his four-fingered hand to halt Alex’s question. “The medals are the easiest.” He looked from one confused face to the other. Clearly enjoying their lack of understanding, Kerlvin allowed the silence to drag. Finally, he stated, “The items he took were trophies, right?” The demon waited. Alex looked at Chloe. She looked back at Alex. Both shrugged and looked back to Kerlvin. He rolled his eyes. “He took trophies…” Blank stares. “Trophies are prizes…” He waved his hand in a small circle encouraging them to get the idea. He huffed. “Prizes can be given out as medals…”
“So we give the medals back to the government?” Alex asked.
Kerlvin slapped his own forehead and growled, “Dumb as his brother, that one.”
“They were rewards for killing,” Chloe whispered. “So, if we destroy those awards…” She hesitated. Kerlvin waved his hands toward himself, encouraging her to continue. “He has no trophy…so those souls can rest.”
“Oh, thank God!” Kerlvin gasped dramatically, flourishing his hands. “Well, not really. Me and the big guy don’t actually see eye to eye on many things.” He shrugged.
Alex wasn’t listening. He was hurrying back to the box. Scooping up the medals, he glanced around as if the best way to destroy them would jump out to present itself.
Back down the hall, Kerlvin and Chloe stood in uncomfortable silence. “Thank you for helping us,” she whispered.
Kerlvin threw up his hands in defense. “Hey, hey, I haven’t helped at all. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. If you followed scratching, that was on you. If you understood that trophies could be medals, then hey.” He shrugged. “I’m a demon. I am not going to help anyone.”
“Well, I am thankful we found this information.” She threw him a quick smile as she hurried to Alex. In spite of himself, Kerlvin smiled too. It quickly slipped into disgust as his wings unfurled, and he took off toward the second floor.