Chapters 0 to 4

UNTITLED

By Shea Meadth

Section One – Slayer

Chapter Zero – The End

The dark shadow’s that once swelled up began to rise up from within once more. My very soul felt like a weight had been put upon it, shackling it to a dark and empty centre where no light would see it again.
I was afraid of this. This darkness. This overwhelming sensation of being lost within it; to have your soul torn apart; to have your very being shattered in so many pieces.
The blood in my veins seemed to boil as my body was overcome by a fiery heat. The pain grew stronger with each moment, causing me to grit my teeth and tears to run down from my eyes.
Fear finally overcame me and I collapsed onto my hands and knees, gasping for breath, trying to scream out for help, but well aware that no matter how hard I tried no words would be fathomed.
In my mind a flush of memories flooded me. In a twist of this fate, they were the ones I cherished. My lover, smiling, a beach, the sun setting in the distance, and warm touch on my skin. The sensation brought on more tears as the pain began to sear. My body ached more than ever, and these thoughts of old times were far from helping.
The memories pressed on like a slideshow, unhindered by my attempts to push them back. The thoughts of my time with her were haunting me, causing me this grief. I prayed for them to stop coming to me, to let me move on and get away, but they would not allow.
My body convulsed, the spasm starting from my chest then making its way quickly through my body. I clutched my chest as pain hit my heart. The pain blinded me, making everything else around me a blur. I willed for it to end as I tried once more to scream out for help.
But again the memories persisted to haunt me. She stood there, watching, frightened. Frozen in her place. I recalled this incident perfectly, my fear began to leave, and the pain subsided. In a brief moment I was calm again and now the only tears that fell were from the woman who now sheltered me from the horrors that consumed me.
In my state of pain, I felt a short happiness in the memory.
I forced myself to fight off the pain again and stand. Each movement protested against me, screamed back to let the shadows overwhelm, to allow me to slip back to madness and return to the dark state where I resided so long ago.
But I resisted it. Things may have gone from bad to worse, but things were far from ending right here. I recalled a promise once made; to live on, and be happy. I’d requested the same in kind in hope that things would get better.
With those thoughts, however, the memories pressed on again. Forcing unto me things which I never wanted to see or know. The pain hit me stronger than before. My eyes went into a blur. My feet got caught upon something and I began to slip, my feet being taken up from underneath me. I felt my body get flung backwards, my body following it into the air. The light left a blurring glow to my eyes as something caught the back of my head.

Chapter One – The Beginning

My eyes opened to a blurry light above my head. I attempted to move and was greeted by strong pain. My head throbbed, and the sound I realised was the sound of a radio next to me which sounded much loud like a jackhammer. I slammed my hand down upon the snooze button, silencing the noise.

I couldn’t recall what had occurred prior to waking up, or why my head hurt so badly. I rubbed my eyes until I could once again see. A patch of light made its way through a parting in the curtains.

I shifted my feet back over the bed, touching the icy floor. My head continued to throb. I couldn’t recall anything from earlier. My room was dark and foreboding. The single light that hung from the roof barely lit the floor. It flickered as a train passed nearby.

“I need to get the hell away from this place.” I muttered to myself as I forced myself to stand and walk over to the bathroom.

The mirror reflected a tired man’s face, stubbled beard, tired eyes, a scar above the right eye. I splashed water over my face, allowing myself to enjoy it’s cool kiss. The man in the mirror stared back at me, locking it’s eyes into mine. There was a brief glimpse of darkness within the hollow eyes. A sadness that was held deep and hidden from all other’s. Hidden behind those eyes was a man who had been left tortured, laid to waste, and wallowing in regret for a past he wished to forget.

I splashed more water over my face and exhaled a deep breath. The world around me ripples slightly and a strange tingling issued through my spine. My head swam with an old memory; a dark thought of corruption that was capable of infecting the weak of heart.

“It’s time to get back to work… I hate this place.”

I departed my room and entered into the dank hallway outside. It was a fairly stingy apartment where I resided. Low cost and poorly maintained. But my life had never been one that provided a decent pay rate. Not since a past event that had haunted me since.

The hallway rippled. One of my neighbours, an old lady who’d been living in the old apartment back when it was still almost marginally looked after. She smiled through her few yellow teeth. “Going out for some tea, are we Shaun?” I simply nodded at her as I passed by. “Don’t forget some biscuits!” She cackled.

The hallway ripples again, this time the sensation stronger. Something was getting closer. Another sensation rose up within me, one of lust and hate.

The memory came back, it’s imagery clear. A group of men stood in a room surrounding another. The man in the middle laughed at them, then pointed a gun to his head. The others followed his actions. The memory faded.

The sensations within me grew overwhelming. There was a strong pain within my chest. The throbbing on my head grew powerful. I clutched my chest, gritted my teeth. The world around distorted and warped out of place, changing slightly. I felt myself fade from reality and reappear within a dimension in between another.

I heard the echo of the old lady laughing somewhere in the world behind me. In front I saw the shadowy figures of what I had sensed. The figures loomed towards me, hungry for the souls of the helpless victims that lived in the real world. Feeding off their very fear and hatred.

It was my past that lead me to become whom I am today; and my curse henceforth to make use of it for the betterment of others, as a retribution for the evil I committed long ago.

My hunger grew overwhelming as a strong primal urge took control. I felt my body change into something else. Something as dark as the creatures I sought before me. My mind was now not my own.

I now saw the creatures clearly. Three of them stood at the end of the hallway. One of them made its way into a room looking for a meal. The other two made their way down the hallway, eyeing me off. The closet let out a disfigured scream and charged.

In an instant, I plunged my fist through its chest. It screamed out in pain, clawing at me. It was a weak creature. Each swipe didn’t even leave a scratch. I brought my free hand around its neck and clasped it shut, squeezing it tightly. The second creature advanced now, ready to kill. It seemed like it’d be as weak as the first. With a swift movement, the creature I held was swung heavily at the second, launching it back across the hallway. It faded out just in time to avoid smashing into the door at the other end. But the one in my grasp was not so lucky.

I breathed deeply the scent of this creatures broken soul and then finished it off. It broke into shadowy wisps which dissipated into the air. A part of me remained strong. It was a bad idea to consume it. A risky method that could possibly transform what little part of me remained human.

The creature that had previously entered the other room lunged from behind, flipping me through the air and down the hallway. This one was the strongest of the group. It’s remaining companion remanifested itself back into the hallway. They were trying to corner me.

Both charged. But they would both die quickly. I’d already grown bored of these creatures. The primal part within me wished to end this worthless confrontation. A blade emerged from my left arm and cut through the air. The strongest of the pair was sliced in half before reaching me. The one behind changed its direction to escape. Before the chance could come for it, my weapon slashed downwards, severing it in half. It joined the fate of its companions, fading out into a wisp of smoke.

The world around distorted again and the pain in my chest returned. I felt myself return to the world I resided in. The hallway back to its original form. I fell to my knees, coughing, my throat dry and beads of sweat running down my body.

“Did you get the tea, Shaun?” Cackled the old lady, still sitting in her chair at the opposite side of the hallway.

I forced myself to stand up and began to walk off. I felt like shit, so why not drown it out?

“Don’t forget the biscuits too.”

It was strange how things had come to pass. Before any of this, demon’s had only existed in stories from religious teachings. But since fate had taken its own intervention, I’d come to see the world for what it is. Mortals who scurried about, living in between the real and the surreal. To all others this was life as it was and would always be. You were born, you lived, you died; and for some you went to heaven or hell.

But my experience over the last eight years had taught me that when you die, you don’t get such a luxury. Or at least that is what my own demon had taught me. That there is simply this dimension, then there is the spiritual one. When you die, you die. Your soul is taken to that dimension where it resides as a fragment of a great whole.

But in a strange twist that seemed to incur more frequently than it should. Many who die would be consumed and not be set free like others. That is where ‘demon’ comes into play. These shadowy figures that plagued the living. Feeding off them like they were no more than livestock for the taking.

But unlike them, I had not died, nor been spared to live. I was an in between that had occurred by an unusual chance. A deadly agreement. It was a pact that bound me to this plane to fulfil my oath to protect man as best as possible. I had hoped that in doing so, I’d make up for my wrong past and be given a second chance. But after eight years my demon had grown stronger. Almost all my emotions were numbed and nonexistent now. But it seemed to benefit my ability to sense these creatures now.

No other could see these beings. It was probably for them to sense their presence through a drastic change in air temperature, or a typical foreboding sensation, like hairs sticking up on the back of the ones neck. But they could not see them properly, and even then, the best chance of witnessing them was if they’d had the near-death experience caused by one. But the that slightly heightened sense would be no better than seeing rippling. Like the effect one would get when viewing the world through hot gas.

I’d wondered if the old lady had been able to see what occurred. It was not the first time creatures had made their way through the apartment looking for a meal, and the old lady almost always spent her time sitting outside her room. Maybe she could see a faint rippling from where the creatures passed. Though her mental state likely left her seeing things like that all the time regardless.

It was still fairly early in the day. Perhaps it was too early for a drink. My head throbbed from the last battle. Whether I followed it up with a drink or not didn’t matter. I needed some fresh air. I decided to head to the park.

Chapter Two – Reflections

The City’s Memorial park was just about the only refuge of greenery within the six hundred-or-so mile worth of concrete. It was doubtful it was the best park ever, but it’d served well as a breeding ground for the pigeons and small marsupials that lived in the area. Many people still came here to relax and take a breather from the over-stressed life they lived. But that was during the day. At night it had become a haven for drug deals, street fights and even the odd murder dumping.

But it was midday now. I sat on a bench near the small pond, watching a few ducks mingle between each other. A kid skipped a rock across the water towards them, scattering a few and causing them to distress. I observed the ripples it created as I reminisced on the memories that would not leave me.

“Eight years now.” I spoke to myself.

I’d forgotten how I’d come to be how I was today. There was the odd memory that made up a small fragment of many others, but nothing that could fit an entire picture. It was almost impossible to make it all fit together, and with demon’s always on the prowl, it was even harder. With each creature, there was a brief intermission where a part of their memory would come to me.

I eased back in the chair and tilted my face to feel the warmth of the sun. It wasn’t easy to handle the memories some times. Depending on who it was, the memory could come to me in a overwhelming manner which could leave me incapable of shifting between the two dimensions. Though I’d grown stronger since my early days, there was the rare occasion where a demon had been too powerful.

I thought back of my first encounter with a manifested spirit. It was so powerful that those in the room who’d never even seen such had frozen in place from fear. They couldn’t see it as I did, but they could still feel it’s overwhelmingly dark presence.

I’d shifted in the point between the dimensions, gathered all my strength, and tried to engage the creature. I’d made the mistake of underestimating my foe.

The memory flooded me. A family on the ground dead and left hanging. A man kneeling over them screaming in agony. Then flames that engulfed the entire room they were in. Before this, the only memories where those of murderers and criminal actions. I’d never encountered something that had been a result of someone’s anguish, and never so vivid.

The creature swatted me aside effortlessly. I hit the wall hard, unable to phase out to shield myself from impact at the time. Then as I tried to recover, I could only watch as the creature didn’t just feed off the people in the room, but manifest and slaughter them. Their blood spraying the walls.

The sight awakened something fearce within me. I struck out, slashing away like wind. The creature finished off it’s last victim, a small child not even six years of age, cowering in her dead mother’s arms. I was too late to save these people, and I regretted not acting in a more appropriate matter sooner. Id been given the power to stop this from happening, and I’d misused it. Those people suffered.

The murders made headline. Seven brutally murdered in their own home. I remembered reading the headline and almost breaking down. A strong hatred welled up inside me. I phased out and almost manifested myself. If I’d not been drunk, I believe I’d lost all control. But instead, I’d passed out.

I closed my eyes and tried to forget the memory. I’d come to the park to escape the thoughts, not to revel in them.

I listened to sound of birds in the distance. It was difficult to discern between them, despite that there were only being a few species that lived in the park. There also the sound of car horns and engines beyond that. I’d pondered leaving the city once to get away from the noise, pollution and crime. But I’d never found the time, or the enthusiasm. It was difficult to recall when I last lived outside the city. My memory had faded mostly since the last eight years. Especially that of my childhood. I lamented that I’d forgotten the many faces of friends I’d left behind, and wondered if my family were still missing me.

I’d moved a long way from home, and since then, had never been able to save the money to return for a visit. If I were as important to them as I would have hoped, then they’d be able to come see me.

If they knew where I was.

I tried to drift off into sleep, trying to focus out the sound of noise and allow only the sound of the birds and water from the pond reach me. I closed my eyes and relaxed, drifting off into a pleasant slumber. Then an object hit my head.

“Fuck!”

“Oh my, I’m so sorry!” Yelled a woman. “Jason, apologise to the man.”

I turned my head around to see a woman with her hands on a child’s shoulders.

“I’m sorry, mister.”

I half yawned. “It’s fine. No harm done.” I forced a calm smile and stood up. A rubber flying saucer had hit me and landed close to me feet.

“I really do apologise for that. He has a strong arm, but maybe he needs more work on his aim.” The woman blushed as she apologised. I picked up the disk and walked over, kneeling down to the child’s head height.

“It’s fine. Here you go. Try to put less power into your throw and you should have more control.”

The woman half laughed, embarrassed still. The boy smiled back at me as I stood up to walk away.

“Oh dear.” She said. “I think it may have hit you a little too hard. Oh no, I really am sorry.”

I touched my hand t the back of my head and felt a slight sting. “Ah… it’s nothing. It’ll heal.” I forced another smile.

“No, really. Um…” She seemed really embarrassed now. She brushed her hair behind her ears. She had a pretty face, with light blue eyes, and hazel coloured hair.

“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it’s fine.” I looked her in the eyes and smiled calmly, this time, not forcing it. “Take care.” I said as I turned around to return to the bench again to rest.

“Yes… again, sorry. Common Jason. Let’s go get lunch… we can play more later.”

I’d already taken back my seat before the pair turned to leave. I checked the time. My current job consisted of working in a bar serving drinks. I started late, around seven at night, then finished up around two in the morning. It was far from being the best job, but it paid the rent and kept some food n the fridge, and since I’d been working there for six years now, the people there would allow me a couple free drinks from the Tap, and some potato wedges for dinner.

Thinking of it, the five people that worked there were the closest thing I had to a family during my time living here in The City. O’Malley’s was a small bar, able to fit about thirty odd people in at once, and another twelve out the back in the small courtyard. The couple who owned it, the O’Malley’s, lived upstairs. They’d spend most their time there taking care of personal business. Their son lived a couple blocks away in his own apartment, and helped out with the business on weekdays, preparing the place for the night. The other two that worked there lived in the vicinity as well. They were good people, kind of heart, but strong in their resolve.

I set an alarm on my phone so if I drifted off for too long I’d be woken up in time to head off for work. They’d been nice to me these last six years. The least I could do was arrive on time, ready for work.

***

            I woke up, laying in bed, sweating. A dark corridor  laid ahead of me. There was a faint scream and I ran in its direction. Voices echoed ahead of me. I felt cold, unable to breath. The air was thick and rancid with the scent of burnt flesh.

I felt tears run down my cheek as I sprinted down the dark corridor, unable to reach the end. There was another loud scream, followed by a gun shot. I made it to the end, and reached for the door, but froze in place instead with my hand upon the handle. Blood trickled through from underneath the door.

***

            My alarm went off, waking me from my nightmare. I clutched for my phone and switched it off before resting back, breathing hard. Sweat trickled down my forehead. The world around me rippled and a dark chill loomed over me.

I checked the time. It was dark now, five-pm. Strom clouds had gathered over the park and the people that were once there had left.

The world around me rippled again. The dream revisited me, flashing through as a memory. Another demon was nearby, hunting. It was time again to fight.

I felt myself change and drift out of the physical and into the dimension in between that and the spirit one. As I felt myself change, the sensation of the memory and the dark creature nearby grew stronger.

It was upon me already, drawn close by my reaction to its presence. It felt strong.

I darted away quickly, losing focus on my phase shift. The bench were I sat crumpled into a heap, a tall shadowy figure standing over it. Eye’s glowing a chilling blue, it’s breath casting out a faint haze.

It’s breath was visible.

Focusing as much as possible I shifted out and into a battle ready state. There would be no fooling around this time as this creature was manifested.

It observed my movement, readying itself for combat. A sharp object grew out from its arm, not that unlike the weapon I manifested for combat. I readied my own, and made my stance to defend or assault based upon how the demon reacted to me.

The standoff lasted for a few minutes. Time passed slowly as rain began to fall. Our eyes locked together, waiting, assessing the opponent. It was rare to find something that was as cunning as this.

A part of me felt anxious. This battle would be a worthy one. I felt my inner demon grow hungry for combat, my blade seemed to grow stronger, my form more distorted from its human one.

The creature altered its stance ready to pounce and I followed in suit. A flash of lighting streamed through the air and in that instant we clashed.

Sparks flew through the air causing more ripples between the two worlds. Each strike launched was countered swiftly, then the other would exchange a blow, which would have to be countered again or dodged. The battle raged onward for ten minutes, neither letting up the assault. The ground had been torn up and  a nearby tree had a long gash across it from where a blade had missed the target and slashed at the trunk instead.

This battle had to be put to an end soon. Strong as I was now, I didn’t know if this creature could endure longer than me. Best to end it quickly than to draw the battle on any longer.

I slipped back, dodged a slash, and discarded my weapon which vaporised into a wisp of smoke. The demon striked at me, but it faulted when doing so. My plan had worked, it made a slopy attack as it hesitated. I deflected the blade with my apposing arm, batting down the demon arm and gripping yanking it down. I remanifested my blade and drew it down across it’s neck in a quick strike.

It fell to its hands and knees and as its head continued to tumble off and disappear. The body then collapsed and vanished along with it. The battle was over.

I breathed deeply and exhaled to try and calm my nerves before I returned back to the physical, falling onto my own hands and knees to cough and splutter. Blood trickled down my arm. The blade had left a cut when I’d deflected it. If my move had not worked to confuse the creature, it would have pierced my heart.

Rain fell upon me, cooling my body. There was now only an hour to get ready for work. Forcing myself to stand up, I ran back to my apartment to get ready for work.

Chapter 3 – Chance

            I’d been drenched by the rain when I’d reached home and struggled hastily to get dry and changed. My previous fight had left me worn down and with less time to get back and ready for work.

Outside the rain continued to poor down and thunder resonated in the distance. The lights flickered once more as a train rumbled past nearby. I adjusted my work shirt in the mirror before noticing a splotch of blood on my right shoulder.

“Shit…” Cursing my luck, I quickly removed my shirt and rummaged around the bathroom for a bandage. I was going to be late for work at the rate I was going.

Finally I located what was left of my bandages. Normally there’d be a small stash of minute medical equipment. Some of the items I’d bought off black-market dealers, like morphine and cauterizes. It was in my line of work that these items were needed. Fortunately, it had been a while since anything more than what a few pain killers and bandages could fix.

I finished covered up my wounded arm and exchanged my ruined shirt for a new one, tossing the bloodied one aside on the floor. There was only twenty minutes before work began. I donned my raincoat and sprinted out.

***

            The bar had begun to fill up by the time I’d arrived for work. A group of eighteen had booked half the bar for a engagement party. Most had arrived already and were talking happily over drinks

“Oi, Shaun!” Called out Mark from the other side of the bar. “Come on, you’re late. We’ve got a long night ahead of us by the looks of it.”

I rushed over, apologising, as I scooted between the crowd and towards the back room. Mark was twenty-eight, like me, but younger by a few months. His hair had bleached tips that were spiked up with gel. He watched carefully over the drinks he mixed with full complete concentration.

As I entered, Martha, the woman who part-owned the bar with her husband, glanced over and smiled. “You’re late Shaun. Are you alright?” She stood up from behind the oven, watching me over with her deep blue eyes. She was fifty-five now, but looking still as young as a she was in her late thirties. But she wasn’t as energetic as she once was, and with her husband starting to suffer from the effects of osteoporosis, it wouldn’t be long before they’d have to retire.

“Yeah, just got delayed because of the weather. It’s coming down really heavily.”

“Okay. Lisa called in sick an hour ago, so she won’t be in. Patrick said he’ll come down around eight to fill in when he finishes work.”

“Alright. See you out there.”

I hung my coat over a rack and hastily made my out to the bar. Mark was serving up some drinks to a couple of rowdy customers who seemed to be drunk already. Three more waited to be served.

“Hello, how can I help you?”

“Yeah, uh, one scotch and coke, and two more on the rocks, please.”

I nodded. “That’ll come to twenty-two dollars.”

They handed over the cash and I went on my way to prepare the drinks.

“Enjoy your day?” Inquired Mike.

“No better than the last. The weather certainly took a turn for the worst. Caught me off guard a bit when I was down by the park.”

“Yeah, it certainly has.” Mike poured a few drinks and handed them over to his customers. “Doesn’t seem like it’ll deter people from going out though. Might have made’em more active!”

I laughed and finished pouring the drinks. “Yeah, looks like it’ll be along one. Can I help you?”

“Gin and tonic please.”

“Six-fifty please.”

“Ah, Shaun, you’re here.” Came an old voice. “I trust you didn’t get caught by the rain?”

I turned to face James, “Mr. O’Malley, I’m sorry. The rain did catch me off guard.”

“It’s no worry Shaun. Better late than to never arrive at all.”

Yes, of course.” I handed the drink over to the customer and cleared a few empty glasses off the bench.

James was showing the signs of his age. The last of what colour his hair had had left him a couple years back, and the wrinkles on his face showed how tired he was becoming. But despite all of that he showed an uncanny strength and stubbornness. Martha had discussed with him before about retiring before his age caught up with him, but he was the kind of man who didn’t wish to spend the rest of his life doing nothing but sitting back in a chair. He had agreed that in a couple more years, when he’d hit seventy, he’d retire for good. We all hoped that time wouldn’t catch up with him sooner than expected.

There was some talk a while back about what would happen to the bar when they’d retired. There was Patrick, their son, who could take over when they retired, but he was working over in bank firm, with an aim to become a manager there.

Mike had been working the business for a while, but though he enjoyed the work, he didn’t feel like the responsibility of taking over the business and running it for himself. Then there was Lisa, but she’d made plans early in the year to move over seas to France to study an art degree.

I pondered the possibility of taking over the business for myself. I’d enjoyed working here, and it generated a decent income. If I took a management course in my free time, then running the bar wouldn’t be any trouble at all. But would with my current life style, it was likely impracticable to operate a business most the day.

The night continued to move on and the bar continued to fill up. The large party had become almost entirely drunk and started to sing, filing the bar with half slurred songs and laughter. I’d wondered once what it’d be like if we set up a Karaoke machine in the bar. I imagined that it’d sound a lot like it did now, but louder and with an out of pitch tune.

“Hey, can I order a drink please.” Came a woman voice. I slipped out of my thoughts and focused back to work. It was getting late.

“Yes, of course. What can I get… you?”

It was the women from the park.

“Oh. Hello again. This is… um… awkward.” Her eyes darted to my head to see if the mark was still visible. “Again I’m really sorry about before.”

“It’s fine. Really. I’ve taken far worse injuries before. That Frisbee barely left a bump. Now, what can I get you?”

She smiled and pushed her hair back behind her ear’s again. It seemed to be a way for her to cope with embarrassment. “Ah, just some coke please.”

I grabbed a fresh glass and filled it with ice. Mike brushed past me. “I saw you flirt with her then.” He began to pour a few drinks, chuckling softly to himself.

“I wasn’t flirting. Her kid hit me in the back of the head  earlier today with a Frisbee.”

“Oh really.” He glanced back at her quickly. “Don’t see a ring on her… Look’s like we’ve got some MILF.”

“Dude! Common! We’re working here! Keep that to yourself.”

“I’m just saying. When was the last time you hooked up with a girl, kid or otherwise?”

I thought about it for a moment, unable to recall when last I’d dated someone. “You know, it doesn’t really matter.”

Mike shook his head and went back to serve his drinks. “You’ll be a lonely man with that attitude.”

I ignored him and went back to give the woman her drink. “Here you go. That’s four bucks too.”

“Yeah, it’s on the Lawrence Miller TAB.”

I nodded and added the amount to a check list. “Will that be all for now?”

“Yes, thank you.” She turned to walk away, the paused and turned back. “Hey, you’ll probably say no, but, can I at least shout you a coffee some time? You know, as an apology for the little accident today, and thanks for being nice about it.”

I was about to decline the offer when Mike came up again. “My friend would love to.”

“Huh? Mike, what are you…”

He whispered closer to my ear. “Dude, common. If you date her, I won’t bother you for a week.”

I thought about it. “All right. Make it two weeks, and a Pint of Guinness for you to leave me alone on this shit.”

“Deal.” He walked back off to serve another customer.

“You know, if you, don’t want to, that’s fine.”

“No. I would like to go get a coffee with you.”

“She smiled and brushed her hair away again. “Okay, um, you free tomorrow afternoon? There’s a small cafe’ a couple blocks down from here; Hot Rod’s.”

“Yeah, I know that one.”

“Okay. See you then. Oh, and the names Sandra, by the way”

“Shaun.”

She smiled sweetly at me and walked away, shooting one last backwards glance as she did. I felt my face blush a little.

The rest of the night seemed to go by a little better after that.

Chapter Four – Demon of the Wind

I’d begun my day tired as always. Wake up, curse the lack of sleep I’d gotten, and finish off what was left of my whisky flask. Fortunately I’d not encountered anything the previous night. I’d slept in relative peace after getting home from work and dreamt relatively about nothing. For me, that was a good night.

I found my blood stained shirt sitting in the middle of the floor where I’d discarded it. I’d left it there to remind me to wash it, but with my headache looming, I decided upon procrastinating as much work as possible until night time came and work called.

A chime sounded. Eleven O-clock. I’d not forgotten my agreement to meet the woman down at the cafe’. A part of me felt more like not showing up, but, a deal was a deal, and despite being bribed into the meeting, I wasn’t the kind of guy to stand someone up.

I followed up a quick breakfast of toast with a warm shower. Though it was simply meeting someone for a quick coffee as a means for apologising, I found myself throwing more clothes on the floor to find one of the few decent shirts I owned. It was an odd sensation that I’d not felt for a while. I was slightly anxious to go out and relax over coffee with another, as opposed to hang out alone or do nothing for the rest of the day.

There was now thirty minutes to get down to the cafe’. I headed out the door, saying hello to the old women who sat outside her room as I departed.

Outside the sun peeked through the clouds that hung overhead. It wasn’t a very warm day, but the slight chill in the air felt nice, and added a bit of freshness to the rancid air of the city.

The cafe’ was just around the next corner. It was only a few blocks away from where the apartment was.

A dark chill loomed over me and my mind froze on the thoughts of something sinister.

I cursed my luck while focusing my senses to pick up on where the demon was. It felt powerful, yet it wasn’t nearby. The strongest sensation came from the direction of an ally way.

It was time to go back to work again. With luck, it wouldn’t take long.

I calmly strolled down into the ally way, trying not to draw any suspicion from the people walking by. The as soon as the shadow’s hid me, I allowed myself to be drawn back into the dimension that lingered in between in order to locate the demon.

In that exact instant, the memories hit me.

There was a dark room. A man paced back and forth, watching some helpless victims dangle upside down from the ceiling. Two seemed to be already dead. He picked up a long knife and licked the blood off from its tip gently. A woman in the middle of the group wept, unable to scream from fear. Her face bright red from the blood rushing to it.

The memory suddenly faded, along with the presence of the demon. I felt a cold chill drown over me. It was just here, and I knew it. But now it’d disappeared. The world around me rippled. It was nearby still, but for somehow it’d managed to mask where it was.

There was a faint scream from an a down below. I ran quickly to the nearest man-hole and phased through it. The presence suddenly grew overwhelming. I froze in my place, unable to move anywhere. The stench of blood and sewage filled the air.

Suddenly I was sent flying backwards and into the wall. It too dark down here. If this demon was going to be beaten, I had to get it to come to ground level where visibility was better.

The presence came over me again, this time right above me. I acted fast, grabbing a hold of what I presumed was the demon’s arms and phasing out and upwards.

The demon screamed out at me as both of us glided through the earth, shattering the boundaries of the world around us and warping the dimensions. It was a difficult trick to manage with phasing, but neither dimension was the same. With enough focus, one could distort the world around and pass through solid mass. But not for long, and it took an incredible strain on the one doing it.

But at least now the demon was out in the light where it was easier to track it’s movement.

It smiled at me through sharp teeth, glaring at me with its bright yellow eye. It laughed, then span me around and into the wall of a building. It laughed at me as it held me back against the wall, hovering several feet off the ground.

“I know of you.” It spoke, its voice resonating with coldness and evil. It sniffed me and licked it’s lips. “I know of you… Hunter… Slayer… Vanquisher… Oh yes, there are many names for you that have been given, many titles.”

It threw me through the air into the opposite building, then slammed itself into me. I fell to the ground hard, coughing out the air in my lungs.

It landed softly by my head. “I always wanted to meet you. They said you were powerful. A worthy opponent.” It kicked me in the side and I hunched over on my side. “But you’re weak. Yes, I sense a great strength within you.” It sniffed again and let out a satisfied sigh. “A fine meal indeed… but, you’re dirty. Filthy. Diseased.”

“Any other pretty little compliments?” I coughed.

It kicked me again. “Heh, you certainly have a cocky attitude. But yes, I do. You, are a pathetic half-breed. Filth. You’re a disgrace to us of pure blood. Just like many others, who I will actually thank you for removing. It’s always good to minimise the amount of filth that goes around these days trying to pass off as true fiends, but even those that consume enough to become manifest are merely no more than like you are… Filth.”

I forced myself to stand up, shifting away to make some distance between me and the Demon. “Who the hell are you then… So called, pure blood.”

It spat at me. “You are filth. A peasant. Peasant’s don’t speak the name of those who are of true blood, therefore someone like you, a weakling who over eight years doesn’t even have the capacity to truly manifest and become even close to a true Demon will never know my name, hence forth, you can only call me, mi’ lord.”

“I’m not really into the formal shit.” I spat blood on the ground. “How about I just call you arsehole?”

It kicked me again into a dumpster. “I grow tired of your presence. I’d hoped that you would be more worthy of combat, or at least a proper feed… I’ll let you live for now. You’re not trouble to me, so long as you don’t kill any of my brethren, in which I mean those of pure linage, not half-breed scum like you.”

Using the dumpster as a brace, I forced myself to stand. “So what? No second date?”

“It’d be wise to watch your tongue in the future, boy… I may not be in such a good mood next time.” With that, it phased into a shadowy wisp. The world around rippled and a strong wind picked up around it as the demon glided away and into a temporary rift to its own dimension.

My body phased back into the physical again and sheer pain hit me. My breathing seemed strained and each breath felt like a knife stabbing into my chest. I coughed and blood spat onto the ground. There was no way I’d pass off as okay if I went to the cafe’ now, and I doubted that there was time.

My watch read twelve-thirty. I’d wasted too much time. It was best to go home.

***

            The day wasted away as I lay in bed resting my injuries and contemplating my previous encounter.

Never in my time had any Demon been so powerful and cunning. All had proved savage and seemingly mindless or hell bent on a single goal. But this one was something else. It’d lulled me into a trap, beaten me back, then left me to recover from my wounds.

It’d spoken of itself a pure-blood almost as if it were from a royal linage. A small rage lifted in me at the thought of being slandered as a weak, half-breed; an inferior being whose only purpose was to clear the garbage that these ‘pure-bloods’ hated.

The clock in my room chimed five O-clock. I budged from my resting place and grunted at the pain. It felt like my muscles had been overstressed for an extended period of time, and my breathing felt shallow. I’d wondered about seeing a doctor to check for any abnormalities but past experience told me that if I gave myself time, all my wounds would heal up, at least enough to ignore.

I reached for my phone and dialled in work. There was no way I’d be going to work in my current condition. There’d be more trouble than good.

“Hello, O’Malley’s Bar?” Spoke a man.

“Good evening Mr. O’Malley. It’s Shaun.”

“Ah, Shaun. To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”

“I won’t be able to make it into work tonight. I’m sorry.”

“Really. You don’t sound too unwell. What’s the matter?”

“I…” I thought about what to say. My voice didn’t sound anything like I was sick, and even so, James was a smart man who knew when someone lied. But I couldn’t tell him I’d been in a fight, Demon or otherwise. “My guts killing me. I think I may be getting a stomach bug of some sort.”

“Fair enough. Did you eat something you shouldn’t have, maybe?”

“Don’t know for sure. Either way, it’s giving me hell. I’d only slow things down if I came in today.”

There was a brief pause. “Alright, no problem. You get plenty of rest and check in with a doctor tomorrow. I’ll see if someone can fill in for tonight.”

“Thank you, sir. Sorry to let you down for tonight.”

“Don’t worry about it. See you tomorrow if you can.”

“Of course. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” He hung up.

I assumed he was a bit pissed off, but with luck, Sam would be able to come in. I snuggled back into my bed and tried not to think any more about my encounter. I drifted off into sleep a moment before a feeling of regret hit me for standing up Sandra.

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