She couldn’t be sure, but Beatrice was pretty confident there was a demon on the other side of the door. Her ear was pressed close, and she could feel the grain of the wood tickle its tiny hairs. She was focused, listening intently. On the other side were muffled noises, but nothing that offered definitive answers. Her eyes were squinted nearly shut, her brows were drawn together, and she waited silently.
Beatrice shifted the weight of the hot pizza box in her hand and prepared to knock. She had places to be - Mitzi was closing with her tonight and after she’d dropped the ball last close she wouldn’t let it happen again, no matter what waited on the other side of the door. Besides, there was no way they’d found her.
She made a fist and brought it to the door. She only rapped twice, then held her breath again.
Earlier, she’d been answering the phone, taking orders from customers while she waited for a delivery. She mostly delivered pizza, but everyone worked together, and Mitzi had needed her help answering the phone. Beatrice jumped right on. Toward the end of the night, a strange call had come in, and Beatrice had been terrified of the voice on the other line, deep and rumbling and raspy, like a grandfather who had smoked the last forty years of his life.
But it was her job to deliver, and she couldn’t be sure it was really a threat. After all, they could easily disguise their voices, so why would they have called using their real ones? They argued briefly over what kind of pizza to get - there seemed to be two of them, one who desperately wanted anchovies.
She waited with bated breath until she heard shuffling feet on the other side of the door. They got closer, and Beatrice could tell whatever it was, it was heavy. Her fears were confirmed when the door swung open and two gigantic, black horns curled out of the doorway and into the velvety night, blending in and blurring at the edges.
She took a step back and formed an upside-down “u” with her mouth. Then she flung the hot boxes of pizza as hard as she could at the demon in the doorway. He roared in anger and staggered backwards, giving Beatrice a second’s worth of time to slip into the living room on the other side.
She dodged a swinging first and then turned to pull the demon in after her, staggering, his eyes full of grease, cheese and smelly fish.
“I told you not to get anchovies!” he screamed into the room behind him, obviously in pain.
Beatrice realized they weren’t alone in the bright, clean room. She wondered how in the world they had found such a clandestine home, and what they’d done to empty it out. The thought made her sick. Where was the family?
“You have two seconds,” she spat, “before I end both of you. And you know it.”
The second demon, the one with a taste for anchovies, lumbered into the living room from the kitchen.
“You know what we want - he wants you to come home,” he said, spreading his thick, muscular arms wide in a gesture of helplessness.
“And who are you?” Beatrice asked as she turned to face him. He was smaller than his counterpart, and lighter skinned, so he must be younger. He was gray, more like the color of a sweater and less black, like Donald, who was still scraping pizza remnants from his face.
“Don’t tell her your name!”
Donald growled from the corner behind the front door, where he stood next to a pristine white sofa. His dark skin stood in sharp contrast to the room and its furniture, which could’ve been pulled straight from an IKEA catalogue.
“So you’re new?” Beatrice asked the younger of the pair. “Did Antonin get fired?” She directed her second question to Donald.
“No, he wasn’t fired.”
“Then what?” she shot at him.
Donald rolled his eyes.
“He’ll be back next time, don’t worry.”
Beatrice deepened her scowl at “the next time.” “Give it up,” she said. “I’m never going back.”
Donald shook his head slowly, looking down at the ground as if in defeat. But then he lunged forward without warning, grabbing for Beatrice. She danced backwards out of his grasp, only to step on the new demon’s toes, who was a bit behind Donald’s attempt to capture her. He squealed in pain, grabbing his foot, but continued to hobble toward her. Beatrice stumbled, but quickly caught her balance and threw a hook. Donald blocked, pushing her towards a bookshelf on the wall furthest from the door. The empty pizza boxes lay abandoned beside the door.
Beatrice took another swing at Donald as he came at her again. She connected with the side of his face. He screamed in pain and grabbed his cheek. He staggered backwards, bowling the smaller demon over, who had been trying to help.
“You are useless!” Donald screeched from the floor, where the two were a tangle of nasty- looking limbs.
“Don’t hurt yourselves,” Beatrice said, grinning at the heap on the floor. “Okay, you two, go on back home. Tell daddy I said hello.”
She stared hard as Donald, his scaly black skin so out of place in the suburban home, began to dissipate into thin air. It was as if someone were erasing him slowly, his skin and glowing angry eyes fading into nothingness. Soon, it was only the newcomer left, who began to fade too, and slowly disappeared.
“They said you could do that,” he said quietly just before he blinked out of view.
Beatrice stared back, not sure what to make of the fact that she had a new foe. With the immediate danger gone, she turned her to attention to room around her and took stock of the damage.