It’s the Very Beast of the Equinox

“Oh, a park ranger! Thank God! Thank God!”

“Yes.  I am a park ranger”

“Me and my buddies on the hill over there have been out lost in the woods for, what, hours?  Must be… but it seems like days…”

“Yes.  Hours.  Only hours.  I will help you now.”

“That’s great.  Just great.  Maybe you can help us out with another problem.”

“Yes.  I am a park ranger.  I help people.”

“We’re looking for a teacher of ours.  A cat named Dr. Waterman.  He sort of looks like Fritz Leiber.  Have you seen him wandering around here?”

“Yes.  I have not seen him.”

“That’s gre… wait, what did you say?”

“Yes.  I have not seen him.”

“Shouldn’t that have been ‘No, I haven’t seen him?'”

“…Perhaps.”

“Never mind.  We’ve just got to find him.  We went up to his cabin this morning, and the place was totaled.  It was like Gamera plopped down on it.”

“Yes.  Well.  I am sure that nothing horrible has happened to his body.  No limbs ripped from their sockets or eyes plucked from the skull, or ears used as tiny, tiny tea cups.  Instead, I feel he is probably in town, having a beer at the local tavern with the Grey Mouser.”

“Pardon?”

“Yes.  His cat.  The Grey Mouser.”

“Ah.”

“Yes.  The Grey Mouser.  Who is in no way dining on his former owner’s entrails as we speak.”

“Of course… of course not.”

“Yes.  I am sure none of that has happened and you need not fear for your teacher.”

“That’s comforting.  I think.”

“Yes.  Your friends seem reluctant to come down the hill and join us.  Perhaps you should tell them I am a park ranger.  I help people.”

“We’ve been having… problems in these woods.  I’d could tell you stories… but you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Yes.  It is hard to believe that which we do not understand.  But I am here to help you out of these woods.  I am a park ranger.  It is what I do.”

“And we would be glad for your help.  It’s just that… well, we need you to answer one more little question.”

“Yes.  I have answers to a lot of questions.”

“That’s nice.  All I want you to do is tell me your name.”

“Yes.  I will answer your question.”

“…Okyfine.  If that’s the way you want to play it.  What’s your name?”

“Yes.  I am Park Ranger Asmodeus.”

“Asmodeus.”

“Yes.  That is my name.”

“Right.  HEY GANG!  YOU ALL OWE ME A COKE!  HE’S DEMON TOO!

“Yes.  That is not true.”

“Look, you’re not fooling anyone.  Asmodeus is a demon’s name. Facts are facts.  Besides, you’re not the first one to pull this one on us.  There was also Park Ranger Baal, Park Ranger Beal Zebub, Park Ranger Scratch, and Camp Counselor Samael.  You and tell your buddies that we’re not falling for that any more.  No matter what you do, no matter what you say, you ain’t getting the Book of Evil and that’s that.”

“Yes.  I see.”

“We’ve got our holy symbols and we’re not afraid to use them.”

“Yes.  Very well.  You have won.  This time.  But there will be…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Other chances, other tries, other opportunities.   Your buddies said the same thing each time.  Just leave us alone and let us leave this woods, okay?”

“Yes.  If this gambit has failed, perhaps we should do… something else.”

“And one last thing.  You see Park Ranger Lucy Fir, you tell her the date’s off.  With all of this time to ourselves, me and my girl have patched things up.”

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