Now the genie was sitting in the chair across from Brine, munching potato chips and watching a videotape of a Marx Brothers movie.

The genie insisted that Brine take some sort of action, but he had no suggestions on how to proceed. Brine examined the options and found them wanting. He could call the police, tell them that a genie had told him that an invisible man-eating demon had invaded Pine Cove, and spend the rest of his life under sedation: not good. Or, he could find the dark one, insist that he send the demon back to hell, and be eaten by the demon: not good. Or he could find the dark one, sneak around hoping that he wasn't noticed by an invisible demon that could be anywhere, steal the seal, and send the demon back to hell himself, but probably get eaten in the process: also, not good. Of course he could deny that he believed the story, deny that he had seen Gian Hen Gian drink enough saltwater to kill a battalion, deny the existence of the supernatural altogether, open an impudent little bottle of merlot, and sit by his fireplace drinking wine while a demon from hell ate his neighbors. But he did believe it, and that option, too, was not good. For now he decided to rub his temples and think, Why me?

The genie would be no help at all. Without a master he was as powerless as Brine himself. Without the seal and invocation, he could have no master. Brine had run through the more obvious courses of action with Gian Hen Gian to have each doomed in succession. No, he could not kill the demon: he was immortal. No, he could not kill the dark one: he was under the protection of the demon, and killing him, if it were possible, might release the demon to his own will. To attempt an exorcism would be silly, the genie reasoned; would some mingy prelate be able to override the power of Solomon?