The bed rocked and the house groaned around me. Terror thickened the air in my lungs as I leapt from the bed, simultaneously yanking my katana free from its sheath. I ran into the hallway and stopped, straining to listen in sudden quiet of the house. I could hear a car alarm outside, and dogs barking, but nothing came from downstairs except a draft of cold October air.
I moved down a few steps, crouching until I could see the hallway below. I heard a heavy footstep, then another.
Thump, scratch. Thump, scratch.
The stench of demon, mold and old blood, hit me and I reeled back. I clutched my sword, my many years of training vanishing from my mind. I was freezing cold and frozen.
“Evelyn!” screamed a familiar voice. Oh, God. Samuel.
A hair-raising growl came from the direction of my living room. I lurched to my feet. “Samuel, get out!” I yelled.
The strange thump, scratch of the demon’s footsteps came toward the hallway. A giant, doglike head appeared, followed by a thick body, spiky with greasy fur.
The Bargeist was the size of a damned pony.
The big, flat head turned toward me, pointed ears twitching. Ruby eyes set in black relief found my figure on the stairs. Dark nostrils flared and his mouth opened, showing me rows of wickedly curved teeth. Saliva dripped from his ruddy tongue onto the floor, hissing as it splashed on the wood.
He lifted his head and howled, a high, unearthly sound.
Then he charged.