The knocking was what woke him up. The noise of it filled the living room and passed through the thin walls. There someone at the door. It was undeniable. Further more, by the intensity of the knocking, whoever it was knew he was home. To ignore them would be an act of the utmost disrespect.
After a moment's thought, Luther found that it didn't bother him in the slightest. He curled up a little more snuggly beneath the blankets and tried to get back to sleep.
About thirty seconds later, there was the much louder sound of something in the living room exploding.
He fell out of bed. A second of stunned silence later, he grabbed the lamp off the bedside table and ran out of the bedroom. He came into the living room wielding the desk lamp as though it were a baseball bat.
Oh good, he thought, catching sight of the wreckage and fighting the urge to giggle. They hadn't blown the living room up. Just the front door. From the look of the splinters, it had exploded inwards.
A woman was standing beside the TV, looking through some magazines that had been piled on top.
"Who are you?" he said. "The fuck happened?"
She didn’t look up. "Why do you have so many National Geographics? You don't actually read these, do you?"
“I asked you a question!"
"Better Homes and Gardens," she said. "I take it you don't actually follow any of that advice. This place is a dump."
He headed for the kitchen, where a phone was hanging up on the wall. He made sure not to turn his back on the strange woman.
"Why are you in my house? Who the hell are you?"
The woman smiled and, for the first time, looked up at him. There was something strange about her eyes, though he couldn't place what. "Nice choice of words. The name's Lilith."
He made it to the phone. "Well, Lilith, you-"
The woman chose just then to come forward and kiss him full on the lips. It went on for some time, and when she finally pulled away he found it a bit hard to breathe. Despite the sulfur-y smell, the kiss had actually been quite pleasant.
"What was that?" he managed.
"Nothing. I just own your soul now."
Lilith threw herself onto the couch and picked up the remote. She made a 'shoo'ing motion with her free hand. "Go on. Get out there and do my bidding."
Luther's head felt odd. The edges of the world were fuzzy, and he felt like he was trying to think through a fog thick enough to be annoying but thin enough to ALMOST see through.
"All right," he said. "What?"
"Just go. Shoo. Bring me back some Cheese Puffs and diet cola." She started channel surfing.
Still not quite sure what had happened, Luther headed out. He caught sight of the wall clock. It was four thirty. Well, maybe there was a place open somewhere. The last things he heard when he left the house was the sound of a crowd chanting, 'Jerry, Jerry', over and over.
* * * * *
Lilith was still there in the morning when he woke up, and she apparently hadn't moved all night.
"This TV stuff is fascinating" she said, eyes still on the screen. "I've seen twelve murders, three suicides, one funeral, three kidnappings, and the corruption of two priests since yesterday."
He glanced at the TV and saw a coroner and a detective examining a dead body. The words CSI MARATHON ALL DAY were placed discreetly in the corner of the screen.
"Cool," he said vaguely. He sat down on the couch beside her. Instead of looking at the screen, however, he just stared at her.
Pretty was the only thought that wriggled out of the mud clogging up his head. Pretty.
She glanced over and saw him staring. "Oh for- close your mouth, will you? You're attracting flies."
He closed his mouth, but continued to watch.
"Ugh." She rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Okay," she said eventually, setting the bowl of popcorn aside. "Enough TV. We've got errands to run." She got up.
"Errands?" he said.
"Yep! Come on. You got a car?"
"Good. Where're the keys- oh wait, here they are." She took them off the counter and headed for the hole where the front door used to be. "Alright, I'm driving. Hurry up."
He wordlessly followed after.
* * * * *
The rest of the day was spent shopping, which consisted of Lilith picking out the most expensive clothes the local stores had to offer and Luther paying for them, looking slightly confused all the while.
They visited boutiques in the mall, shops downtown, department stores and- almost as an after thought, a hardware store for the new door. Luther hardly talked at all, except for the occasional noncommittal grunt.
"I have to go in for work," he said vacantly to the dinner table some time after they'd gotten home. The table was empty save for a few shopping bags: dinner had been some time ago. "They'll notice."
"It's eight PM," Lilith said from the sofa, once again enraptured by the TV. "You're about twelve hours too late."
The phone rang.
"Well?" she said. "Answer it."
He did as he was told.
"Lou? It's Connie. You weren't in today. Is everything alright?"
He blinked a few times. Connie? Connie. . . Someone important. . .
"Yeah. I guess. Sorry."
Even through the fog in his head, he could hear the concern in her voice.
"I'm not sure, actually. I think so. . . "
"Tell whoever it is to hang up," said Lilith.
"Connie, I've gotta go-"
"Are you sure you're okay? Who was that?"
"A. . . girl. I think?" He frowned. "Sorry. My head's kinda-"
Lilith groaned and pulled herself off the couch. "Do I have to do everything for you?" She snatched the phone out of his hand and said,
"Hey. New management here. Whoever this is, I'm gonna have to-" She stopped and listened. Luther dully noted her eyes widening, her cheeks flushing.
"Oh you bitch!" she said. Luther could hear the tiny, tinny voice of Connie shouting on the other end, but Lilith wasn't listening. She held the phone away and flicked her index finger at the speaker. A tiny speck of red lightning left her manicured nails and flew into the receiver. With a smile that seemed to make her lips look even redder, she slammed the phone back onto the hanger.
"There," she said. "She won't be bothering us anymore."
"'Kay," said Luther.
She yawned and stretched.
"Welp, I'm going to bed." She looked him up and down. "You stay here. Sleep on the couch."
She turned and left, flicking off the lights as she did. Luther went to lie down on the couch, and spent the next few hours staring blankly up at the ceiling.
* * * * *
They were partway through breakfast the next morning when the new door burst open in a rain of splinters and blue light.
Something like a muted form of indignity reared through the murk.
I just paid for that. It was the clearest thought he'd had all day.
Connie stepped through the wreckage, dark hair held back in clips, brown, almond eyes surveying over the rims of her glasses. They widened when they caught sight of Luther sitting in the corner, eating from the plate on his lap.
"Luther! Are you alright?"
She moved towards him. Lilith shot up out of her dining chair and stood between them.
"Hey!" she said. "Just who do you thing you are-" the words died in her mouth.
Lilith glared. Connie glared back.
"You," the both simultaneously hissed.
"You know each other?" said Luther.
"Witch," said Lilith.
"Whore," said Connie.
"What do you want?" said Lilith.
Connie pointed at Lou. "You can't have him," she said.
"Why not? Not like you had dibs on him."
"I got dibs on him when he signed the employment contract. He's one of mine."
"I didn't see your name on him." To Luther, she said, "Hey, you! Get over here."
He dutifully set his plate down and started towards her, only to have something tug on the back of his shirt. He turned, but didn't see anything there. The invisible hand pulled him aside, out of the kitchen and away from Lilith.
"Luther," said Connie. "Don't. Whatever she says, don't listen." To Lilith, she said, "Why do you need him anyways? He's a pet shop attendant. Not exactly a good catch. Don't you have someone important to seduce?"
Lilith scowled. "What, you think I'm shacking up with that? Fuck no. I leave my work at home when I'm on vacation. I just needed a place to crash." She smiled at him. "I like having a butler. What are you," she leaned forward and poked Connie's shoulder. "Going to do about it?"
Connie pushed Lilith. Lilith shoved back. Connie hurled a ball of blue flame. Lilith dodged and started tossing sulfur-y smelling red fire of her own. Luther stared vacantly at the spot where the front door had been.
I need another door, he thought. But for some reason, he couldn't quite motivate himself to go get one.
"Luther!" Connie shrieked. "Do you have a Bible?"
"Huh?" Luther looked away from the wall, turning his whole body to do so. Lilith and Connie were wrestling on the floor, tearing at each others hair and cloths. "Huh?" he said dully.
"A Bible, dammit!"
"Uhh." He squinted, trying to think. "Nnnnnno," he said eventually. "No."
There was a flash of red light and a scream, followed by swearing and the sound of glass breaking. Luther shrugged and returned his attention to the door.
"Tell me," said Connie, staggering to her feet. "Does your boss know you're here?"
"What?" hissed Lilith. She leaned back against the wall for support and held a hand over her left eye. Black gunk trickled down between her fingers.
"Your boss. Does he know you're here when you could be working?"
"Shut up!" A bolt of red lightning left her fingertip and hit the wall inches away from Connie's head.
Connie laughed. "Well then, this is easy. Hey!" she raised her voice. "Hey, Lucifer! Satan! Look over here! Yoo-hoo!"
Lilith waved her hands in the universal sign for 'no! No!' and looked around nervously. "Shut up!"
"Hey! Lucifer! D-man! you're not going to believe where Lilith is. . .
A tense second of nothing happened. Then, the whole house began to rumble. There was a shriek and a howl and a deep laugh. The hardwood floor beneath Lilith shook and splintered. Flickering red light shone through the cracks, and sour smelling smoke billowed up.
"Fuck!" she said. The flames rose up and the room was filled with a strong gust of hot wind and the sound of people screaming.
Then, she was gone. Then it was all gone. The floor was whole and clean. The air was clear of smoke. The place was still a mess from the scuffle, but there weren't any stains or scorch marks from the fire fight.
Connie stood beside him, breathless, but looking extremely satisfied with herself. She grinned at him.
"Well that was fun! How're you feeling, Lou?"
"Ah. Better?" He wasn't sure. Better seemed like the answer she was looking for, though.
"No, you're not. You won't be fore another couple days. But that's okay, I'm giving you the rest of the week off."
He frowned. "Today is Friday."
She patted him on the back. "Yep. Lucky you, right?" She looked around the room and tutted. "You're going to need all the time to clean this place up, I'd guess."
"Connie?" said Luther. "What the hell just happened?"
Connie bucked him under the chin. "Nothing you need to worry about. Much. Maybe I'll tell you later. For now, though, I've got to get back and make sure Gene hasn't burned the place to the ground." She turned to go. "See you Monday. Eight 'o clock sharp. I'm docking your pay for the days you missed."
And then she, too, was gone, leaving him staring at the place where the door had been.