- that the demon at the beach was Simon Wong
- that he can hide himself and others
- the reason for Leo's reaction later at the energy work
It also shows how much Emma's progressed.
I REALLY should have insisted that this passage stay in White Tiger.
“You have to take me to the toilet, Emma,” Simone said loudly. “Hurry up, I want to go on some more rides.”
The entrance to the toilets had a privacy screen covered with a rambling vine.
“And it was really high and Leo held my hand and I want to go on it again and I wanna go on the roller coaster and I wish I was bigger so somebody could take me,” Simone said without taking a breath as we walked out.
“There’s other coasters you can go on. There’s plenty more theme parks here,” I said.
“Good,” she said, then squealed.
Strong arms wrapped around me and a hand covered my mouth.
I acted completely on reflex. My brain didn’t have anything to do with it. I shrugged my right shoulder to loosen one of the arms, slipped my own underneath, grabbed the arm, took a step back, and threw her over my shoulder to land on her back in front of me. I dropped one knee onto her chest, held her right arm with my left, and raised my right hand into a fist inches from her face.
She appeared to be mid-twenties, and Chinese. Plain shirt and jeans, nothing special. She glowered at me from the ground but didn’t attempt to escape.
“Is this one?” I said.
“Yes,” Simone said. “You should take it to Daddy.”
“We can’t drag young women around theme parks, people would wonder what we’re doing,” I said. “How big is it?”
“Little,” Simone said. “Only level six.”
“Is it alone? Any others nearby?”
Simone’s eyes unfocussed. “This one’s by itself.”
I raised my fist menacingly. “What are you doing here?”
She glowered at me without saying anything.
“Are you alone?”
She snarled and attempted to throw me off. Her left hand came up in a fist towards my face.
Once again I didn’t even think. My right hand lashed out to block. Then I smashed my fist into her face.
It was like hitting a rotten log. My fist went through her human shell and into the black stuff beneath. She dissolved into black goo which dissipated quickly, spreading like streamers over the ground. The goo stuck to my fist where I’d hit her.
I rose and controlled the urge to wipe my hand on my jeans. “I need to wash my hand now, sweetheart.”
“Okay, Emma,” Simone said, eyes wide. “You were great.”
We went back inside.
“Where would you like to go next?” I said after I’d washed my hands.
We returned to Leo and Mr Chen. Simone shook my hand free and ran to them. She grabbed their hands and pulled them to one side, away from the crowd, and gestured for them to bend so she could speak to them.
“A demon attacked us, and Emma killed it,” she hissed with delight.
They both glanced up at me.
“A demon? Really?” Mr Chen said.
I shrugged. “Most people don’t explode like that when you ram your fist through their faces.”
Both Leo and Mr Chen watched me, expressionless.
I raised my arms. “What?”
Mr Chen straightened and shook his head. He bent again to study me carefully. “Are you all right?”
“Right now I’m fine,” I said. “But later I’ll probably have a huge attack of the sobs.” I shrugged again. “I feel good.”
Mr Chen nodded once sharply. “Then I think you are ready. When we return to Hong Kong, I will start you and Simone on Energy Work.”
Simone squealed and clapped her hands.
Leo straightened and his face went rigid.
“Is there a problem, Leo?” Mr Chen said.
Leo remained unmoving, then shook his head once sharply, his face still rigid.
“Good.” Mr Chen turned, still holding Simone’s hand, and stopped dead.
The mainland tourist who had taken our photo at the beach stood on the other side of the square, arms crossed over his chest, watching us.
“That’s the one from the beach,” I said.
“Simone, look,” Mr Chen said, without releasing her hand. “Watch. I’ll show you.”
Simone stiffened and squeaked. “It’s a really big demon!”
“How big?” I said.
“Really, really, big! Daddy!” She was breathless. “That’s the same one!”
“Let’s go,” Mr Chen said. He strode towards the demon, still holding Simone’s hand. Leo and I took up position on either side of them, guarding the flanks, walking sideways and keeping an eye on the rear.
The demon saw us coming. He spun and walked into an alley between two of the theme park’s shops.
We hurried to follow him. When we reached the entrance to the alley, he was gone.
Mr Chen stopped and concentrated. “Gone. Gone far.”
“The same one, Simone?” I said.
“That’s the one that came in when Daddy was on the Mountain,” Simone said.
“No,” I said. “Simon Wong?”
“Yes. One Two Two,” Mr Chen said.
Leo sagged. “We let him take photos of us.”
“Why couldn’t Simone tell he was a demon?” I said.
“Because he is an expert at hiding his nature. No wonder Gold couldn’t pick him,” Mr Chen said. “Even I had trouble sensing him at the charity concert.”
“I don’t like that one,” Simone said.
“You know what he looks like now, sweetheart?” Mr Chen said.
Simone nodded, eyes wide. “Yes, Daddy. I’ll know if he comes near us again.”
“Freaking coward,” I said under my breath. “Always runs.”
“Gone,” Mr Chen said. “I don’t think it will be back. It probably wasn’t expecting you to be as good as you are, Emma.”
Simone jiggled. “Emma’s so good!” She grabbed Leo’s hand. “Come on, Leo, let’s go!”
Leo was unsure. “Mr Chen?”
Mr Chen waved them away. “He’s gone. You go.”
Leo still hesitated. “There were two of them on the beach.”
“And Emma just took down the other one. This one can probably hide others when they are close to it. They are both gone.”
Leo grinned and shook his head as she dragged him away.