My foot just hit something at the end of the bed. Something that growls. I lie perfectly still and slowly open one eyelid. There is a circle of black fur there. The shape of the body and head are unfortunately familiar to me. How the hell did it get in here?
Xandra shifts in her sleep and I put a hand on her arm, whispering in her ear, “Xandra, do not move. There is a Tasmanian devil on our bed.”
The animal lifts its head and snarls at me. I am about to use magic to send it flying off the balcony when Xandra yawns and says, “I know and he wants me to tell you to shut up and to stop pulling the covers off him. Can we go back to sleep now?”
My body becomes rigid again. What did she just say? She believes the animal talked to her? One of us may be losing our mind, and I do not believe it is me. Unless Xandra is still dreaming. “What do you mean ‘he wants me to shut up’?”
The animal growls in my direction. I need to get the thing out of here. Tasmanian devils are vicious. Once again, I get ready to zap it with magic. Once again, Xandra says something that makes me go still. “No face biting,” she says sleepily. She stretches her leg out and lightly kicks the animal off the bed.
I am back to believing she may have gone mad. “Xandra, what are you talking about?”
“He wants to bite your face off.”
“Who?” I ask, though I suspect I already know. Does she really believe the ugly little thing is talking to her? The Tasmanian devil jumps back onto the bed and growls at me again.
“Shut up,” Xandra grumbles almost unintelligibly, “or I’ll push you off the bed again.”
Indignant, I say, “I will not shut up.”
Xandra is now getting annoyed with me. “Not you,” she huffs.
“Then who? And do you realize how dangerous these creatures are. You cannot just kick them and expect them to go away. They are dangerous.” I cannot stress that enough.
Finally opening her eyes, Xandra peeks over the covers at the Tasmanian devil who is now circling around and using its long nails to fluff up the comforter before lying down again. It is going to tear the thing to shreds. Once it has a nice little nest, the damn thing pulls the covers off my feet with its teeth and wraps itself up in them. This is bizarre.
Xandra gives me a sour look. “You’re right, he’s not going away. He’s going to sleep. Can we worry about this in the morning?”
Is she serious?! “You expect me to sleep with a Tasmanian devil on our bed?”
She peeks at the creature again. The one now snoring quietly at the end of the bed. Okay, this is going beyond bizarre now. Looking back at me, Xandra says, “Yup.”
She is actually serious about letting this forest animal remain on our bed. I am not going to let it sleep on our bed. Shaking my head in annoyance at my wife’s blasé attitude, I pull magic. As I have many times in the forest to other Tasmanian devils, I am going to use it to scare off the dirty little scavenger.
My magic stops just short of hitting the creature. It’s like there’s a wall of magic around it keeping mine at bay. “What the hell?” I mutter. I pull more magic and try to push it through the Tasmanian devil’s protective wall. It does not work. “I am not able to make him move,” I tell Xandra. My voice must have wakened the ugly little thing because it growls at me once more.
Xandra’s response is to kick it off the bed again. “Xandra, stop doing that. He is going to attack us,” I hiss. And without being able to use magic against it, it could actually hurt us.
The creature leaps back onto the bed and to my great surprise, it starts the nesting process again. “Obviously not,” Xandra counters.
I have had enough. I throw back the covers and stand up. Quickly covering the forest scavenger with the comforter, I scoop it off the bed. It begins to behave as Tasmanian devils do, it snarls and scratches, trying to free itself and attack me in the process. Fortunately, I have long arms and can hold it far enough away I do not need to fear its teeth or claws.
Xandra sits up. “What are you going to do with him?”
“I will set him free outside.” The beast continues to growl in its cocoon.
To my consternation, Xandra asks the creature, “Why do you want to stay here?” She cannot still be sleep addled enough to believe it will answer her.
The devil responds with a growl. For some reason, Xandra flings her own magic at it. Angry, annoyed magic that gets past whatever was blocking mine. The comforter twists in my hands, wrapping the Tasmanian devil even tighter than before and she silences its growling. Nonplussed, I ask, “Suddenly you are concerned about him attacking us?”
“No,” Xandra replies. “He called me a twit.”
It could be a spell. Please let it be a spell. I concentrate on the room for a second, trying to sense any foreign magic residue. Nothing. My words are slow and even as I ask, “How could he call you a twit? These animals do not have the capability of speech. Nor reason.”
If she is not under a spell, what else could it be? Did fighting Belial in Egypt do something to her brain? If that was the case, would she not have shown symptoms sooner?
Xandra cocks her head to the side with her brow crinkled. “You can’t hear him talk?”
The better question is, “You can?”
She nods. “Yes. He says he’s my Familiar.”
There is definitely something wrong here. I let the Tasmanian devil fall to the floor with a thump. “A Familiar?” I ask, hoping she misspoke. Please do not let my wife be crazy.
Xandra’s brow scrunches tighter. “Yes, a Familiar.”
No, no, no. “As in an animal meant to assist you in performing magic and to do your bidding?”
Annoyed again, she snarks, “Yeah, that’s what a Familiar does.”
That is not what Familiars do because there is no such thing as Familiars. “Xandra, Witches having Familiars is folklore.”
Her eyes drop to the sack of Tasmanian devil on the ground and then rise back up to meet mine. Pointing at the creature, she asks, “Then how do you explain him?”
Please, please let it be a spell. If Xandra is under a spell, she can be cured. If she is simply crazy, there may not be a way to fix it. Using the evenest voice I can manage at the moment, I explain. “He is simply a wild animal that has wandered into the house.” Please, my love, understand this to be truth.
She does not take my words as truth. Instead, she becomes defensive. And loud. “Really?! And he just happened to go up a flight of stairs and choose our room and then randomly decided to call himself my Familiar so he could stay?”
The only thing I can think to say in response is, “Are you well?”
“Yes,” she snaps.
“Yet you believe this creature,” I point to the thing on the floor, “speaks to you?”
“I don’t believe it, he does!”
I cannot help but smirk at her poor choice of words. But it passes quickly. It is time to get help. “Maybe we should wake Tabitha, have her check you over.”
“Kallen, stop implying that I’m crazy! The stupid thing talks to me!” Xandra practically screeches. Like it usually does, magic begins to flow into Xandra as her feelings of agitation grow.
I put my hands up, palms forward. “Okay, okay, calm down, Angel. You can put that magic away anytime now.”
Getting off the bed, she stands with her arms crossed over her chest. “Why can’t you just believe me? Weird things happen to me every day. You know what, fine, let’s go wake the whole house up because you don’t believe I have a Familiar.” She turns and stomps toward the bedroom door.
I am not handling this situation well at all. Xandra feels like I am attacking her when all I want to do is help her. I need to fix this. Moving quickly, I put myself in her path and put my hands on her shoulders. “I am just worried,” I say softly. “I did not intend to make you angry, but there is something going on here that is not right.”
Xandra does not want to argue, I can see it in her eyes. But my words are simply not enough to calm her at this point. She attempts a small, tight smile but the glare on the rest of her face makes the smile moot. Stepping around me, Xandra walks to the door and opens it, determined to prove to me she is right and I am wrong. I really wish that could be true. Using my ability to send telepathic messages, I wake everyone else and ask them to meet us in the kitchen.