The Gates (2009)

Free The Gates (2009) by John Connolly

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Authors: John Connolly
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    “Which is,” said the demon huffily, “if you’ll wait for me to finish, a demon capable of assuming almost any shape or form, based on psychic vibrations given off by its victim.”
    “You’ve lost me,” said Samuel.
    “Oh look, it’s not that complicated. I’m supposed to become whatever scares you. I just picked the whole slushy tentacled thing because, well, it’s a classic, isn’t it?”
    “Is it?” asked Samuel. “So you’re a bit like an octopus, then?”
    “A bit, I suppose,” admitted the demon.
    “I quite like octopi.”
    “Octopodes,” corrected the demon. “Don’t they teach you anything at school?”
    “There’s no need to be rude,” said Samuel.
    “I’m a
What do you expect me to be? Pleasant? Tuck you in and read you a story? You’re not very bright, are you?”
    “No, you’re not very bright, turning up here in the dead of night and being caught out by an old sock.
you haven’t assumed a form that scares me. You’re an octopus.”
an octopus,” said the demon. “But scarier. I think. It’s hard to see under here.”
    “Whatever,” said Samuel. “If it’s all about psychic vibrations, then why didn’t you take the form of something else?”
    The demon muttered something.
    “I beg your pardon,” said Samuel. “I didn’t quite catch that.”
    “I said, ‘I can’t do psychic vibrations.’” The demon sounded embarrassed.
    “Why not?”
    “They’re hard, that’s why not. You try it, see how much luck you have.”
    “So you just take a form and hope that it will be scary? That all sounds a bit casual, to be honest.”
    “Look, it’s my first time,” said the demon. “Are you happynow? It’s. My. First. Time. And I have to say that you’re being very hurtful. You’re not making this easy, you know.”
    “I’m not supposed to make it easy,” said Samuel. “What would be the point in that?”
    “Just saying, that’s all,” said the demon. Samuel heard it sniff dismissively.
    “Okay,” said Samuel. “I’m not very keen on spiders.”
    “Really?” said the demon.
    “You’re not just saying?”
    “No, I really don’t like them very much at all. Why don’t you start with that and see how you get along?”
    “Oh, I will. Thanks very much. Very nice of you. Give me a minute, will you?”
    “Take your time.”
    “Right you are. Much appreciated. Don’t go anywhere, now.”
    “Wouldn’t dream of it,” said Samuel.
    He sat on the bed, humming to himself and patting Boswell. From under the mattress came various squelching sounds, and the occasional grunt of effort. Finally, there was silence.
    “Er, a question,” said the demon.
    “Do spiders have ears?”
    “You know, huge big flappy things.”
    “No. They feel vibrations with the hairs on their legs.”
    “All right, all right, I didn’t ask for a lecture. It was just a simple question.”
    There was silence again.
    “What are the things with big flappy ears, then?” said the demon.
    Samuel thought about the question. “Elephants?” he suggested.
    “Elephants! They’re the ones. Right, are you scared of them?”
    “No,” said Samuel.
    “Awwww,” said the demon. “I give up. Let’s forget about the whole shape-shifting thing. Just climb off the bed and we’ll get this over with.”
    Samuel didn’t move. “What will you do if I climb off the bed?”
    “Well, I can eat you, or I can drag you down to the depths of Hell, never to be seen or heard from again. Depends, really.”
    “On what?”
    “Lots of things: hygiene, for a start. After tasting that sock, I don’t fancy eating any part of you, to be honest, so it’ll have to be the depths of Hell for you, I’m afraid.”
    “But I don’t want to go to the depths of Hell.”
wants to go to the depths of Hell. I’m a demon, and even I don’t want to go there. That’s the point, isn’t it? If I told you that I was going to take

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