Felicia was unwell when I woke her up this morning. She was reluctant to go for our morning walk and coughed her way through breakfast. Dry coughs which rasped her throat and made her talk in a sexier voice than usual, and if she had a terminal disease.
I took her to the doctor. I don’t know enough about werewolf physiology to make a diagnosis myself. Doctor Rubiya saw her straight away, since all the other patients in the waiting room decided they weren’t as ill as they thought when I sat next to them.
The doc was amazed at her symptoms. He said she was unique and wanted to make a study of her, convinced that her case would get his name known in medical journals. We wouldn’t let him. Once we’d had his diagnosis we were more than capable of sorting her out on our own.
It was just kennel cough.
Lydia’s house was on fire. Had I left a cigar casually burning in an ashtray which had set light to her obnoxious flower-patterned curtains? I didn’t think so, but it was certainly possible. I ran along the beach to help. Was this why I hadn’t heard from Lydia in fifty years, because I’d killed the poor woman by visiting her in the past? I hoped not. It would set my research on the origin of the poppets back significantly.
It was already an inferno when I arrived. The flickering I’d seen, which I’d presumed was the beginning of the fire, was actually the roof going up. You’ve got to admire thatched cottages, haven’t you? So picturesque and so warm when they fall prey to accidents.
I’m no stranger to the kiss of fire. I delight in it, in fact, which was why I was so hurt when Harold vetoed my lake of magma on the grounds of the Manor. Opening the door sent a fresh wave of oxygen into the building and was accompanied by all the windows blowing out. The hat, which Lydia had rescued from being crushed by my pert bottom, was already ash. I raced through the house. The piano was singing as the heat loosened the strings and the gramophone records had melted into a single lump of charred plastic. There was another scent there, similar to the charred Bakelite but not. I shook my head and continued.
There was no trace of Lydia in the kitchen or the little scullery, nor in either of the two tiny bedrooms. The ceiling had already come down in one of them. I glanced out of the shattered window at the crowd gathered in the street and a shout went up.
“There’s someone in there!”
Darn it. I hadn’t wanted to be spotted. I retreated downstairs to the scullery and pulled out my travel ticket. I couldn’t afford to risk being spotted again as I left the house. It would raise too many questions. Instead, I opened a portal and went home.
I don’t know what happened to Lydia that night. I am quote sure she survived, for such a close match to Harold would indicate that the blood I’d found at Laverstone Manor belonged to the daughter that Lydia was carrying inside her. It wasn’t until I returned to the present – only three minutes after I’d left and with a suit that had been burned off my back – that I remembered the smell in the lounge and connected it with its source.
It had been brimstone. Lydia had been visited by another demon.
Until the morrow. X