Bishop sighed at the refunded bits of delicious burger that float in the toilet bowl. It hadn’t been a particularly expensive burger, he’d learned not to let his impulse buying edge into consumables, but it had been tasty.
As he pushed the lid of the toilet closed, he said a small prayer of grief and pushed down on the toilet handle. There was a woosh and Bishop flopped down. He pressed his back to the cold enamel of the bathtub. Both knees drew up his torso and he rest his forehead on crossed arms against them.
The basement of the bed and breakfast had been decorated in the 70’s. Pastel greens were painted directly on the dry walls, all the decorations set to match with dark green floral patterns and toilet seat covers.
The basin of the toilet hissed as water filled into it. The bathroom shared space with the water heater for the house. It grumbled behind two louvered doors in the far corner, closest to the restroom door.
His stomach grumbled back.
The heater murmured a joke.
His stomach shuttered and Bishop laughed. Clearly they had gone to school together.
He smelled sulfur.
The groaning of the furnace was louder than before, the sound of deforming metal. Golden flames licked up from the inside and overtook the louvered doors, quickly after a clawed hand, enwrapped in brilliant blue flame reached through the doors and grabbed the frame supporting them. The blue flame burned so hot that the water heater deformed to a failure point, spewing hot steam into the bathroom and nearly extinguishing the much colder orange flame.
It was not a long task, but timely enough for the demon to pull itself from hell and into the bathroom where Bishop was. At the first scent of sulfur, Bishop was on the move. He threw himself backward into the tub and turned the spigots up to their highest setting.
As water began to creep up and around him, Bishop reached into his pants pockets and removed a handful of sacred salt vials. He prayed over them, smashed the vials against the bottom of the tub, and began to sanctify the bathtub as holy water.
The demon, blue-flame chains dangling from his ankles, trod toward the bathtub with a weight that shook the foundation of the bed and breakfast. Where his feet touched the floorboards turned immediately to ash, and the concrete beneath to molten.
Bishop continued praying, despite water filling his mouth. He didn’t know how long the contract would be for to summon a demon this size. It couldn’t have been minutes. At least not a dozen. Bishop considered his phone- but no, it had been left at the desk before he had sprinted into the bathroom.
The demon towered over the bathtub, additional height given through the illusion of refraction. It raised one meaty, club-sized hand up and slammed it down against the surface of the water. The bathtub shook.
The flames ellipsing the demon’s hand evaporated- even in their high heat, and turned to steam before the sanctified water. Bishop was completely submerged now, and only hoping that the holy water would protect him. He learned something new.
The properties of the holy water directly touching the demon had an effect like how a human’s skin would burn if touched by the demon. Tendrils of acidic corruption drew up it’s fist and arms and it howled over the sound of the whistling water heater.
Bishop only heard the muffled versions of all of this. Light was beginning to fade in the back of his mind. He probably shouldn’t have kept praying despite the water. He had no proof that had helped.
It demon raised a foot, and kicked the bathtub. It cracked. Water began to spew onto the hardwood floor. Bishop didn’t have a plan. The demon kicked again, and a tidal wave of holy water bathed the ground with Bishop riding the holy wave.
The demon couldn’t keep his footing, not at first, as the water began to cover its feet. It reared back onto the sink counter, and then allowed itself to fall forward onto Bishop. It’s only purpose in this realm to kill Nathan Bishop and drag him into Hell.
But the contract was up. Midfall, the chain around the demon’s ankle went taught, then reeled it in with such ferocity that had it not been a magical creature in the first place, it would have separated at the ligaments in the knee or hip and still fallen on Bishop.
Thirty minutes later the police had turned up to investigate the exploding water heater.
“So you said you were just enjoying a bath at the time of the rupture, Mr. Bishop?” The detective had asked, a quizzical brow was pinched on top of his restless head.
“Thats right, Detective.” Bishop asked, trying to remain unphased by the scrutiny.