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Warlock rides along in a burning car

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“Shit shit shit,” Nanny said from the driver’s seat. He slammed his hands against the wheel with each word before angrily beeping the horn. The blaring sound blended with the thousands of other horns and Warlock cringed under the wave of noise. Alongside them, stationary cars queued in a never-ending queue leading to nowhere; the drivers were unaware that they were spending their possible last hours on earth stuck in a traffic jam.

Warlock was, once again, in the backseat of the Bentley and tagging along as Nanny tried to stop the world ending. He kinda hoped he could do something more than being another thing Nanny had to worry about but how could he help? He was only eleven.

“The biggest traffic jam in England’s history…” Nanny turned the radio off in frustration and went, “Why?”

“Why what?” Warlock asked but Nanny didn’t answer. Instead, he growled and let out another string of curses before yanking the wheel and going onto the hard shoulder. They sped past the lines of cars and Warlock spoke up again, “What are you doing?”

Nanny kind of answered, though it was more like he was talking to himself, as he mumbled, “Tadfield. North. Pick up on the M40 at Denham.”

Slumping back into his seat, Warlock resigned himself to being the useless passenger.

*

With wide eyes, Warlock watched the sky turned blood red as they neared the M25. Nanny stopped the car just out of reach of the flames, even then Warlock could feel the intense heat the motorway radiated.

It was that kind of dry heat, Warlock thought, that sucked all the… like wetness, from your body and left you needing a drink.

“What are we going to do now?” Warlock asked as Nanny flipped through the book.

“Come on Agnus –” Nanny said but stopped suddenly when a hand reached over and took the sunglasses off his face. Warlock stared in horror as he realised the empty seat in front of him was now occupied.

The demon looked over his shoulder at Warlock, who felt frozen under those cold eyes, “Is that the boy?” The demon asked, turning back to face Nanny.

Warlock’s sigh of relief got stuck in his throat when Nanny replied, “No. He’s no one,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I’m just his Nanny.”

“I know you’re lying Crowley,” the demon growled, breaking Nanny’s sunglasses, “You better hand him over now and hope for mercy. There’s no way out of London, not without burning us all to ash.”

There was a confusing mess of emotions sitting heavily in Warlock’s chest that he wanted to ignore. So, he focussed his anger on the disgusting creature in front of him and said, his voice full of indignation, “Why not?” He continued, now with a hint of pride, “Nanny’s a powerful demon. He can get us through no problem. Right, Nanny?”

Looking expectantly at Nanny, Warlock felt a rush of excitement as he saw Nanny smirk at him in the mirror and start the car again. Before going, he turned in his seat and handed the book to Warlock. “Look after that,” he said and then put his foot down. They drove forward slowly at first, but started rapidly gathering speed as the car entered the wall of flames.

Racing along the burning road, Warlock was not surprised to notice that he only felt a mild discomfort. It was as if there was a thin shield around him that kept the heat at bay.

Smoke started rising out of the other demon, who was begging Nanny to stop driving. But Nanny was grinning widely, even as the smell of burning rubber filled the car, and continued to drive. Crumbling into a pile of ash, the demon disappeared not long after they went onto the M25.

“How are you doing this, Nanny?” Warlock asked. Through the window, he could see that the car itself was now on fire, though he and Nanny were still perfectly alright (Nanny was actually slightly singed from the other fire but Warlock didn’t think that counted).

“As you said, dear,” Nanny replied, looking back at Warlock with a strained smile, “I’m a powerful demon and if I say the car is not on fire, the car is not on fire.”

*

The car lasted the rest of the way on the M25, into Tadfield village (where Warlock openly laughed at the man who gave them directions and chose to ignore the burning car) and until the entrance gates to the airbase.

Clambering out of the car, Warlock gulped in several breaths of the fresh cold air; he still held the book protectively against his chest. Nanny knelt on the tarmac and watched as the car fell apart into the burning wreckage it should have become hours ago. Walking over, Warlock nudged Nanny until he said a tearful goodbye and stood up.

They went over to the three people at the gate: one was the guard (Warlock could tell because of the familiar uniform), another was an old man holding a weird gun and there was also a brightly dressed woman.

“Crowley?” The woman said, her face brightening.

“Hey Aziraphale,” Nanny said without hesitation, “Nice dress. Suits you.”

The woman…Brother Francis… Aziraphale glanced at him and, turning back to Nanny asked, “What is the boy doing here? It’s dangerous.”

Nanny shrugged, “Well I couldn’t really leave him behind, could I?”

Warlock slunk back as Aziraphale said, “Never mind,” and asked Nanny to open the gates.

As he said that, the gates rose and everyone watched in disbelief as four children (around his own age, Warlock couldn’t help but note) rode onto the base.

The guard ran off to phone his superior and Nanny gestured towards the gate and asked, “Shall we?”

Warlock followed the adults through the gates, a few steps behind them, still clutching the book as he felt it gave him a reason to be there.