Josie felt the wall panel shift slightly in her hand. She’d been running her hand along it and found a little depression; when she pushed the whole panel moved. In the two weeks they’d lived here nobody had said anything about a sliding panel down here. It wasn’t like she could see it with the lights out.
Josie was in the basement to change a fuse. Who uses fuses any more? This place must have been built in the stone age. The handle on the door leading upstairs had come off in her hand so she was stuck until Mom and Dad got home. Stupid house.
Pull yourself together Josie, she thought, tightening her housecoat sash. You’re fourteen years old; only little kids are scared of the dark. There’s nothing to fear down here, except maybe spiders. She shuddered.
Spiders or no spiders she pushed onward, or rather sideways. The panel slid open enough for her to slip through, so she did. The space beyond was just as dark as the basement. Her foot hit something. She reached down and examined it with her fingers; it was a foot-tall wax stick with a string sticking out the top. A candle!
Yes, she thought, now all I need is a way to light it. A tiny red ember started to glow on the end of the wick, and in moments blossomed into a flickering yellow flame. Well that’s handy. Other candles sprung to life around her, forming a circle. The faint light momentarily blinded her.
The room was about seven feet on a side, and its only contents were two circles drawn on the floor; her circle of candles another outlined in silver. Both had tiny foreign-looking letters around their rims.
Josie reached to pick up a candle and her hand stopped about an inch from it. What the? She tried another one with similar effect. Soon she had traced a circle around herself defined by an invisible force that prevented her from passing. Even sitting on the floor and kicking at it with her bunny-slippered feet had no effect.
Great. I’ve gone from being trapped in the basement to being trapped in a little circle. Can this get any worse? As if in answer the candles started to smoke. A sickly-sweet fog like burning honey rose around her, leaving her blind again.
The fog cleared quickly and she found herself somewhere else; a cavern with dozens of bookshelves and strange objects. But the main thing of interest was the demon. It was about her height but had a cluster of tentacles where its legs should be; its body was covered in writhing fur. It wore a white tee-shirt that was ripped in a dozen places, which from the bulges covered three breasts. It had thorny vines for hair and its face was almost human except for the oversized dark eyes. It was wearing glasses, and held a book in one clawed hand.
“Eew! It’s hideous!” Both girls said in unison.