"Oh, sweet merciful goodness! I think it sunk its teeth in even further!" I think I reached shrieking at this point, but I was very much against it biting my arm clean off. Diego ran over and began prying its jaws apart while I punched it in the back of the head.
After several seconds of tugging, Diego found a nerve on the little demon and it shrieked, releasing my arm from its jaws. Instead of letting go, it wrapped its stubby arms and legs around the wound it made, and clung to me as though I were a life raft to save him from drowning.
"Why the hell are you being so goddamn stubborn? What's the point of you?" I asked through gritted teeth and threw myself at a wall, using it to cushion my impact. It let out a pitiful squeak and let go. Instead of dropping straight to the floor, though, it hovered for a second before exploding to shreds. Diego and I just stared, dumbfounded.
When the dust settled and the strips of garden gnome flesh fell to the ground, there was a stereotypical-looking demon, red skin, black horns, bat-like wings, et al, hovering at my 6'3 eye level, flapping its wings to stay aloft. It immediately began flying toward the stairs to escape, but before I knew what I was doing, I barked out a couple syllables that might have sounded close to "No! Stay! Me!" and some other things I couldn't make out.
It looked like a cartoon at that point, with the way it seemed to collide with an invisible wall, and fell to the ground. When it landed, it dusted itself off, whipped its barbed tail along the ground and stared straight into my eyes, which made me want to take a step back, but some base, lizard-brain instinct told me not to budge, so I didn't.
We stared at each other, oblivious to Diego going back and forth between stammering about something and tilting his head back. It seemed like an eternity that we stared, having unknowingly entered a contest of fortitude against a full-fledged demon. My eyes started to burn, but in the end, it blinked first.
Almost immediately, as it looked away, down to the ground in defeat, did I realize that a segment of my brain I had no idea I had partitioned off suddenly became accessible. I could tap into the senses of this demon, an imp, as it was known where it came from. I didn't press for details, but they came anyway. I watched the imp fight amongst its kin to survive bursting forth from the stomach of a poor human woman, its brothers and sisters falling, dead, from the hole in her stomach. I vomited.
A whole lifetime of being a literal trickster from hell, pitting other demons against one another, all the while acquiring knowledge by pouring over books in some horrible library in the abyss, and how to access that information became clear to me. This imp owed me everything it had or ever will have, so all I had to do was demand it tell me what it knows, and it will. I also realized that the transfer of information was going the other way, too. The imp was learning about me and my life.
"Whoa...amazing. No, horrifying. No...whoa...." The imp flapped its wings a several times before launching up to a perch on my shoulder. It coiled its tail around the arm it bit into, and instantly the pain began receding. I was back to myself. I turned to Diego, excited.
"Hey, dude! Remember how Esther at that bookstore is always going on about her cat being her familiar? Now I've got one, too! This imp challenged me and I won! Kick ass!" I was so excited.
It was at this point, however, that I noticed we had an audience. Slowly, I turned toward the possible statue of Tandamum to see the bewildered faces of my neighbors.