The first bat interrupted Edwin’s French horn playing in the rudest way possible, flapping around his head as he puffed away at the mouthpiece.
“Even the wildlife is trying to stop him,” a guest in the front row sniped and then guffawed. Apparently, fine, Victorian dress hadn’t improved their manners. That’s what he got for recruiting an audience of vagrants.
“There’s another!” A woman’s voice this time. A murmur passed through the audience, then a scream, then came the mad rush for the door, his audience trying to escape.
Edwin tried to stop playing, so he could talk sense into them, but his mouth held fast. No matter how he pulled, he couldn’t pry his lips away or stop the horn from stealing the breath from his lungs.
The pair of bats grew into a flapping swarm, whipping around Edwin, the sound of them mingling with screams from the audience.
Then, it appeared. A great, hairy thing appeared, goat legs, long fangs. It spoke with a voice so resonant, the bass sound reverberated in Edwin’s chest.
“My love. You should have invited me. Why have you stolen my horn?”
Against his will, Edwin played faster. Discordant, shrill, grating, the notes drove the swarm into a frenzy. The world beyond the swirl of claws and teeth became a memory, but one sound pierced the haze.
The demon spoke again, “Fear not. I forgive you, and this party has such potential for delight. Now, we’ll have a time.”
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