At the sound of our voice, the whole mass of tentacles jerked and retreated. A basketball-sized eye peered out of the door to 213, and then disappeared. Sloshing and crunching noises, followed by a thud and a squeal, echoed through the hall.
"Shit," I said.
Dinner, the gun whispered.
"You don't think it ate them, do you?" I asked.
"Maybe," Jonas answered. His indifferent tone reminded me, again, that the well-being of the residents wasn't high on his list of priorities.
There was no point in dithering. I moved from the potted plant to the opposite wall, pressing my back against its surface. Weapon pointed at the ceiling, I inched sideways until I was a foot away from the open door, and then stopped. Jonas was close behind.
Inside the apartment, something slurped. I peered through the doorway, sure that the creature would hear the sound of my heart beating or the breath that whispered through my mouth one slow inhale at a time.
The demon was staring back at me.
I grabbed for the banishing rune in my pocket. My sudden motion must have startled the demon, which shrieked and flung a half-dozen tentacles at me. Two wrapped around my waist, pinning my arm to my side, and two more wrapped around my legs. The last pair reached up towards my gun arm, but when demonic flesh touched enchanted metal, the rubbery limbs sizzled and jerked away.
A sudden, hot burst of excitement from my gun, and then I was pulling the trigger. I didn't so much aim as point and click at the seething mass of black, rubbery limbs that were wrapped around my body.
I missed. I couldn't believe that I missed, but a hole the size of a dinner plate in the floor attested to it. The demon screamed and crushed me in his grip, clutching and twisting me like a rag doll. White streaks crawled through my vision.
My partner tore after the still-shrieking demon, chasing it into the apartment. My knees buckled and I fell to the ground, landing next to the severed, steaming ends of the tentacles that I thought I'd missed. Saltwater was leaking out of the wounds like air from a punctured tire, and the iron grip around my body slowly relaxed.
I took a breath, tasting blood, and pushed myself to my feet. My gun was still clutched in my right hand, humming with satisfaction. Thuds and squeals echoed from the interior of the apartment. There was no time to waste; Jonas probably had the creature well in hand, but he couldn't banish it.
The rune was inscribed on a smooth, polished glass sphere about the size of a silver dollar. It fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. I fished it from my pocket, switching my gun from my right to my left hand in the process, spat out some blood, and went to find the fight.
"Little help, here?" Jonas asked.
He'd ripped a twitching tentacle off the demon's body, and was punching the demon every time it tried to move. His blows left noticeable purple marks on the demon's body. I was starting to feel sorry for it; the poor thing had never stood a chance, and Jonas was being particularly ruthless.
"Open it up," I said.