Mark’s next door neighbour and business partner Pat kept telling him that power flowed through his veins. He took a breath and closed his eyes, trying to will the power back out again and into the ash wand in his outstretched hand. He pointed it at Pat’s door. A narrow beam of blue light squeezed out of the end and hit the lock. Nothing happened. Sighing, he folded the wand and put it in his pocket. He took out his key and let himself into her house.
He heard her moving around in the kitchen, back from sorting out the invasion of reptilian arsonists in a garden in Llandudno the day before, while he had expelled a banshee from a pub in Macclesfield. This morning’s job was to sort out an elderly-care home with a spirit infestation. Mark opened the kitchen door.
Pat coughed, wafting her hand at a cloud of green fumes. “Damn, they’re still moving,” she said.
Mark peered through the smoke. Two dragons, one red, one green, as iridescent as hummingbirds, each about an inch long, stood in the palm of her hand hissing at each other.
“They might be tiny but they’d incinerated every plant in that,” Pat said. One dragon snorted, and shot a tiny flare the size of a match flame towards the other. “Help me separate them.” She pushed her hand towards Mark.
He picked up the green one with his forefinger and thumb. “I’ll put them in the safe.”
“No room, there’s a backlog of entities stuck in there, waiting for me to get the chance to dispose of them.”
“Get the dragons to set each other alight and burn each other up.”
“That won’t work,” she said. “An entity can’t destroy another entity. If they could we’d be out of a job. I was trying to find a way round the space problem using this new incantation I picked up online. Instead of you having to exorcise them and put them in containment, it renders them immobile and you can leave them anywhere.”
“Wouldn’t it get a little cluttered after a while?”
“No, apparently they fade away gradually over a few hours. At least, that’s what it said on the website.”
“Seems like more trouble than it’s worth.”
Pat moved her hand away as her dragon flamed at the one Mark held. She shook her head. “I think it should make things easier. Exorcising a recalcitrant entity the usual way can be exhausting. It causes something like a bad hangover, without any of the pleasure of the night before.”
“I’ve felt that. Bit like 24 hour flu?”
Pat nodded. “Consider it an occupational hazard. But this new method doesn’t seem to work, the dragons are still moving about. Good job I tested it on something small.”
Mark looked at Pat’s notebook open on the table, the dragon still held between two fingers. “You should have printed the thing out instead of copying it. This looks like an inky spider’s crawled over the page.” He held the green dragon at arm’s length and read the incantation. This time, red smoke billowed. As it cleared, he saw the red dragon motionless on Pat’s palm. She picked it up by a wing.
“I can’t read my own writing,” she said. “Well done.” She put the dragon on a shelf next to a pile of recipe books. “You stay there, Boyo. We’ve got work to do.” Mark put the green one next to it. They stood, as immobile as toys. Pat picked up her car keys. They got into the car, she slipped her stiletto heels off and they drove away.