"Mrs. Benton," I said. "You... you saved my dignity."
"It wasn't intentional, I assure you." She sniffed, cracking open the breach and slamming in two more cartridges. "If I'd realised it was you I'd have left well alone. I suppose it was you that blew up Edith's house?"
"It was, actually." I spoke up because Mrs. Benton's hearing aid is the kind that whistles when you hit the right pitch. "I had to, though. She'd eaten some of the contaminated meat and was like as not going to become a zombie."
"Contaminated meat? Is that what they told you?" She laughed. "There's nothing wrong with the meat, lovey. It was their 'Number Three Herbal Smoking Mixture' that blew the metaphorical brains out of everybody that tried it. They grow it in Hobbs' Wood."
"Hobbs' Wood? But that' where—"
"—the fae come through. Aye, I know. That's how it got contaminated. Perfectly good weed, growing half in this world and half in Faery. It's no wonder it strips the soul right off the bones, is it?"
"I suppose not." I took a step forward and was surprised when she brought the shotgun up again.
"I don't suppose a shotgun is much good against a demon," she said, "but I'm willing to give it a try if you are."
"It won't kill me," I said, "but I will admit it stings a bit." I could see the police gathering through the kitchen window behind her and raised my hands. "Have you always known what I am?"
"Not always," she said. "Not until Sam and Dilbo moved in. They had a different spot for their other batches of smoking mixture. It wasn't deadly like this one but it did give you visions. Only I realised they weren't visions at all, just a case of seeing what was really there."
"You see the Others, too?"
"Aye. Ghosts and ghoulies and that werewolf you go walking with. I've seen it all. Even Edith was one of them, wasn't she?"
"Was she? That would explain why she wasn't on my list of mortals. What was she?"
"She was one of them sex demons."
I frowned. That didn't seem likely. "Was she? She didn't, um... look like a succubus."
"Said she was retired. She wrote books now. Smutty books. And this is cruel, but I'll confess I poisoned her. Made her a cup of tea with Holy Water I did. I couldn't let her live. Not after I saw the filth she wrote."
"Filth?" The police were closing in. They'd got an armed unit from somewhere. The Met, perhaps. I could see rifles.
"Aye. She wrote about men. In rubber suits. And Women with things up their bottoms. Filthy stuff. I borrowed all eight from the library."
I raised the pitch of my voice. "I expect the librarians put them aside for you?"
WEEEEEEEEE. Her hearing aid shrieked and the police, spotting her dropping the gun to fiddle with the settings, rushed her.
"She killed him," I said, pointing at the corpse. "And the old lady in the burning house, too."