Unbeknownst to William Wichel, his heritage stemmed back through centuries of mysticism and arcane lore. The clue was in his name, ‘Wichel’, derived from ‘witch all’, or ‘all (of) the witches’. Back in olden times, William’s ancestors had been mighty in their knowledge, power and influence; to such a degree that they evaded the witch hunts with ease, because they were actually witches and wizards; unlike the hapless old women who liked to dabble with herbology and were shunned by their neighbours for being ‘a bit odd’. One of William’s neighbours, the famed Cat lady of Croydon, constantly harped on about how she was descended from the last witch to have been burned in England, but William tended to avoid her whenever possible, because she was a bit odd. William, on the other hand, was not odd, nor was he remarkable in any mentionable way.
Of slim build and meek of manner, William had learned at an early age to conform, fit in and just get on with the mundane day to day crap that life tended to fling his way. He had an unremarkable admin job in the centre of Croydon, working for a local accountancy firm with very little prospects for advancement other than becoming a senior administrator in four or five years’ time. He’d had two girlfriends over the last few years, neither relationship had ended well; as each woman in question had declared him to be exceptionally boring and even lacking a sense of humour. He had objected to both criticisms; but not very loudly, and not until the accusers had left the room, and his life.
It was Tuesday morning; William was sitting in his kitchenette waiting for his toast to pop and sipping a mug of tea. He hated Tuesdays. They were the worst day of the week, unless he was on holiday. Mondays were bad, because it was the first day of the working week, but you tended to accept Mondays for what they were. Wednesdays weren’t too bad, because whilst the previous weekend was but a fond memory, you were midweek and only had two days till the next weekend. Thursdays were great because tomorrow was Friday and the end of the working week and Fridays were, well Friday. Tuesdays, however, were the really crap days of the week. The weekend had gone, you’d already done one days work, you still had an interminable length of working days to go until the weekend and you could still remember what you’d been doing only a couple of days ago, even if that had been nothing much at all, because, at least, it meant you weren’t in work. So, yes, William hated Tuesdays. His toast popped and it made him jump, he sloshed hot tea down his shirt, scalding his chest and ruining his work shirt.
He sighed, perfect start to a typical horrible Tuesday. He removed his shirt and threw it towards the washing machine. Then he went to rescue his toast, now cooled. In a rather distracted manner, he proceeded to smear butter on it; which, disappointingly, didn’t melt, and then stabbed his knife into the jam, slicing the upper part of his left index finger, in the process, with the serrated part of the blade.
‘Ow! Bugger it!’
Annoyed he then spread the jam and a hint of his own blood onto the buttered toast slice. There was something remarkable about this wholly mundane and unremarkable process which was lost on William. Indeed, in years to come when he pondered this morning, he never could work out how everything that happened, happened. Had he been knowledgeable in the ways of his forebears he would have realised that the bloodied swirl that he had crafted upon his slice of toast was, in fact, an ancient and arcane summoning sigil. In itself powerless, but because it contained a blood offering from a descendent of arcane wizardry, it infused the sigil with power. It had a pronounced effect.
William finished the swirl and heard a thunderous pop in the middle of his kitchen floor. He looked up as his nostrils became assailed by an eggy, sulphurous stench. His immediate thought was that the pipes had burst and were now spewing sewage into his flat, a matter that he immediately became resigned to, because it was, after all, a Tuesday. What met his gaze was not, thankfully, a burst pipe and a pile of raw sewage, it was something far more mysterious, terrifying and revolting.
The demon was quite startled by its sudden presence in a small kitchenette, in the slightly less desirable section of Croydon central. In fairness it had been nearly a century since a human had had the audacity to summon him and that individual had paid for its audacity with its soul. The demon’s thumb and forefinger talons caressed the necklace around its neck fondly as it considered the soul trapped within it. The demon raised its horned head and looked at the meek and unremarkable conjurer in front of him. He scanned the floor carefully checking for pentagrams and other mystical sigils that may have him trapped, imprisoned or threatened to torment his being. There were none. None at all. The demon was bemused and perplexed; and then it started to get very anxious. For a summoner to have no protections up against him at all suggested that they were either utterly foolhardy or immensely confident in their ability to keep him contained and to do their bidding. He looked at the bare-chested individual in front of him and, erroneously, came to the conclusion that the summoner was of the latter persuasion.
William was so gobsmacked by the apparition in front of him that he forgot to be scared. The demon was always hypersensitive to human emotion; it was part of his skill set, to be able to determine human emotion, because that was what he played on, to rend their souls to his pot. The demon detected a total lack of fear on the part of the summoner, and it was for this reason that he made his erroneous conclusion that William was, in fact, an immensely powerful magician and one he needed to be very cautious of.
At a loss for what to do, William fell back into his normal subservient and indoctrinated manners. He turned to his counter, made a second mug of tea and a ham sandwich, which he placed on a small plate and then proceeded to hand both of them to the demon.
The demon took the proffered gifts. He looked at them suspiciously and then back to William who smiled encouragingly at him and bade him consume them. The demon sniffed the content of the mug and then took a sip; the liquid scalded his lip in a very pleasant manner. The liquid itself was fruity and soothing, it tasted of bergamot. He consumed the rest of it in a single gulp, searing his throat. He then turned his attention to the sandwich, he looked back at William who was holding two glass jars, one of sandwich pickle and the other of English mustard. William presented each one to his impromptu guest, who peered at each in turn, before opting for the English mustard. William spread a generous dollop over the slice of ham and then stood back waiting for the demon’s approval of his offering. The demon sniffed the ham, honey cured, it reminded him of Barcelona in the 14th century for some reason, he took a tentative nibble. It took a moment or two for the extra strong English mustard to kick in at the back of his throat and his eyes started to water. This was bloody marvellous. He smiled, there was an ominous creaking of ancient leather and sinews as his face cracked into a grimace. He eased himself down onto his cloven haunches and his spearhead tipped tail flicked backwards and forwards like a cat’s, with soothing satisfaction. It took but a moment to consume the delicacy and before he could become saddened that his repast was finished, he found a second mug of Earl Grey tea in one taloned paw and another ham and mustard sandwich on his plate.
Breakfast was conducted silently and when finished the silence started to become awkward, until William suddenly jolted from his reverie.
‘Bugger! I’m late for work. I’m so sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave,’ William commanded politely of the demon. But for fear of offending his curious guest he continued, ‘But please, do feel free to pop in for breakfast whenever it suits, especially during the week, as I’m always here.’
Whilst the demon completed his repast, William dashed around his flat and collected his things required for a day at the office, he even remembered to put on another shirt. When he returned to the kitchen the demon was still sat on its haunches in the middle of the floor. In fairness, as William started to actually consider the situation, it probably was to be expected that the demon might not know the correct etiquette in such a situation. William removed the empty mug and plate from the creature, putting them in the sink to wash up that evening. As he did so, it started to occur to William that perhaps none of this was actually normal in any sense of the word. Could he be having some kind of delusional break from reality caused by stress from work? He shook his head, that seemed implausible as he was never stressed with work. Bored maybe, but never stressed. He turned back to his guest, who had finally shifted from a sitting position to an upright one; difficult though this was for him as he was too tall for the flat. His head was bowed forward and his spiked spine was pressed into the ceiling stucco, piercing through the plasterwork and creating dust all down his back.
‘Hmm.’ William said more to himself than to anyone else in his kitchen. He made a decision, walked over to the demon, took his right taloned fist in both of his, shook it vigorously and said farewell to the creature.
The demon was on completely new ground here; he’d never been invited round for breakfast before, nor had he ever been invited to just pop in when he felt like it. No one had ever made him tea before, let alone two mugs of Earl Grey and no one had ever served him honey cured ham with extra strong English mustard sandwiches before. He had been in existence since nearly the beginning of time and he had experienced many things, most of them gruesome. He was uncertain to say the least, so, in the end he allowed his paw to be shaken and released and then felt the need to say, ‘Thank you,’ in a deep guttural tone, followed by, ‘Perhaps see you next Tuesday?’
The response to which was a resounding, ‘Yes, by all means.’ The conjurer even smiled at him as he said this.
The demon said, ‘Good, next Tuesday it is then, goodbye till then, then.’ And with that the demon disappeared with the same thunderous pop that it had arrived with.
Life, after breakfast with a demon, changed for William, in many subtle little ways. No one remarked, for instance, that he was late for work that Tuesday morning. In fact, many people actually greeted him cordially and at lunchtime he’d been invited into one of the senior partner's offices for a chat about his future. By the end of the year he had completed all his accountancy exams, a meteoric rise given that it normally took several years to achieve such a feat. By the end of the following year he had replaced the senior partner whose office he had gone into on that fateful Tuesday. And by the end of the year following that one he had his own practice, which he never attended because he was having far too much fun living in his villa in the South of France and doing stand-up comedy at one of the local taverns. But the highlight of his week was always Tuesdays; his whole week was just an anticipation of breakfast on Tuesdays. Two mugs of Earl Grey tea, two sandwiches of honey-cured ham and extra strong English mustard on buttered white bread, followed by a thank you and a possibly see you next Tuesday.