Chapters 5 to 9

Chapter Five – Return
I was awakened by the sound of a rumbling train the next morning. My sleep had gone undisturbed, as I had preferred so. An undisturbed sleep meant no demon’s nearby to fight, which meant there was more time heal up from my last encounter.
The air was cold today and outside a faint mist hung in the air, allowing only a fraction of the sunlight to pass through and into my room. I flipped my legs over and kicked away my flask of whisky. My bloodied shirt still lay discarded on the floor, the patch where my wound had seeped into had turned a brownish tone, and some dirt had picked up onto it.
I picked it up, filled my sink with warm water and tossed it in to soak for the time being. It’d been sitting around for a while so it was likely the stain would not come out. I’d have to go buy a new shirt for work.
Which was one among other things I realised as I examined the left over contents of my fridge.
Some left over pizza from a few nights back sat on the top shelf, a small patch of mould growing in its surface. Below that was a six pack of Bourbon and Coke, with a small plate of roughly re-wrapped Swiss cheese. The milk had run out, with only a couple drops left in the bottom of the bottle. There was no more cereal or bread left in the house.
My stomach groaned at the thought of having no food to eat, and this triggered a pain where one of yesterday’s wounds resided. I’d need to go to get food regardless of how I felt.
My phone beeped from over where my bed lay; re-reminding me that there was an unread message on it.
It was from Mike.
“Hey, u know that bird that asked you out for coffee. Well she came in wanting 2 kick ur head in 4 standin her up! Told her u were really sick. U must’ve caught something really bad 2 have not met up with her.
PS: I gave her ur number. Good luck, friend, lol”
There was a second message after that from an unknown number, likely Sandra.
“Your friend told me you were sick. I’m pissed off, but if you feel better, I’ll consider taking the coffee still. This time, your shout.”
Today was going to be interesting. I contemplated calling her to organise another time to meet up, but I wasn’t entirely in the mood, and in the end, it was Mike who’d pestered me into going anyway. I was a little annoyed myself at how Mike had given her my number.
She was only trying to be nice though. Writing down a small list for my trip to the grocers, I scribbled down a note to contact her later and stuck it on my fridge before heading off to restock my fridge with food.

***

The fog had barely lifted by the time I’d completed my shopping. My wallet felt empty now with almost all of its funds gone and my bank account running low. There wouldn’t be any more drinking for a while, though at least there was the highlight that Mike would owe me a drink if the meet with Sandra went to go.
There was a nearby deli that had opened up a few days ago that I’d hoped to try out. My wallet held enough to grab a few sausages for dinner tonight and with a little luck they may not be too pricy on steak.
It’d been some time since I’d had any real meat that wasn’t out of a tin, and fighting demon’s and such always left a strong hunger in me for flesh. Almost as if a predatory remanent of the demon within me wished more a fresh kill in which to feast from. Of course, this would never actually happen. It was messed up to go about killing innocents for food, or to stalk down a animal as well. But if the price was right, I could indulge in some rare cooked meat.
The deli wasn’t too large and stocked a variety of different meats, home brand sauces and a small selection of cream’s and cheese. There was one old man behind the counter who was serving a couple customers. He looked over at me quickly, answered a question for the customer and walked out back briefly to fetch something.
My eyes scanned over the assortment of meat on display. The food wasn’t incredibly cheap, almost gourmet in style, but they looked delicious. I eyed off the cash left in my wallet. A lonely five-dollar note resided with a few scattered coins. It’d wasn’t enough to buy a piece of marinated steak, but the gourmet style sausages were in my price range.
The old man walked back out, tilting his small glasses back up the bridge of his nose as he wrapped up an item in butcher-paper and handed it over in exchange for money.
He thanked the customer and moved onto the woman who was standing over were some whole chicken’s sat marinating in a peppery looking sauce.
I returned to eyeing off the sausages. The Lamb and Rosemary ones sounded nice. A figured loomed over the counter on other side.
“Can I help you?”
“Uh, yes, I‘ll half a dozen of those Lab and Rosemary sausages please.”
“Is that you Shaun?” My gaze lifted to see Sandra eye me from the other side. “Looks like you’re feeling better.” She said coyly.
“Oh, yes. I had a terrible stomach ache. Could barely make it out of the apartment yesterday.”
“You seemed alright the night before.” She collected six of the sausages up in a plastic bag and spun the tip around to seal it. “Did you happen to eat anything you shouldn’t have… or drunk?”
I tried not to respond angrily. “Not that I’m aware of.” I tried to change the topic. “This place is only a couple weeks old. You start working here the first day it opened?”
“Almost. I needed an extra job to bring in some pay and the people who bought this place were hiring. Old couple, bit like the ones you work for.” The front door opened for a few more customers to walk in. “I can’t really talk at the moment. Gets a little busy around lunch time. We do some pies and pasties and sandwiches during lunch time.”
“Quite the business.”
“That comes to three-eighty, please.”
I handed over the money. “I’m sorry about standing you up yesterday. But, I have your number, and you have mine, so if you still want coffee?”
“Yeah sure. Tomorrow at twelve?”
“That’s fine, and I can at least call you this time if anything changes. I better be off.”
“Right, seeya.” She handed back the change and went over to serve the next customer.
It surprised me a little that she accepted the offer. Most women didn’t like being stood-up, for any reason. But there were fortunate circumstances, like not being able to contact each other, and she didn’t know just how close I was really was from the cafe’.
A part of me felt good to be seeing her tomorrow. So far my week had been off to a poor start, fighting demons and getting beaten up. There was one implication though, and that was the case of having no more cash. I’d have to talk to James about getting my pay early, or at least a part of it.
The moment was spoiled when there as another ripple felt around me. Something was watching me closely, waiting. The fog had lifted over the last hour and the sky was starting to clear. IT was unlikely that the presence would make a move in such light. Not at least so long as the presence wasn’t manifested.
The Demon yesterday attacked during midday. Yes, it’d hid in the sewer and kept to the shadows cast by the buildings, but it felt like one of the rare encounters that seemed satisfied to make it’s attacks in the light or shadows, regardless of whom looked upon the incident.
It was possible that a manifested being, or, even a pure blood could control a human or other living creature, or perhaps drag it into the warp where it could be harvested without nuisance.
The presence seemed to linger over me while I walked back towards my apartment. It was defiantly follow me. Without manifesting myself, it was impossible to judge exactly where it was, but in my current state it was still clear that at least two followed. One on either side, likely high up on a building. Perhaps even another trailing not far behind.
They’d have to be dealt with. I spied a long deserted ally where I could take care of them without causing a disturbance. I went down it, putting my goods somewhere safe, and waited for the creatures to make their advance.
For some reason they didn’t make an advance. I manifested between the two worlds to track their location more accurately. One lingered at the end of alleyway where I’d come in. Two seemed to reside within the building on my right, and another three on my left. Another seemed to be present behind me, hiding its presence enough to remain mostly hidden. It was likely to be the head of this group.
A strong sensation welled within me, my inner-demon hungry for battle. If the one behind me hid its presence so well, then it was best to destroy it first to prevent it from coming up from behind. But, if it proved to be manifested, then the other’s could attack and the battle would become too dangerous.
They remained stationary for a moment longer before they slowly began to disappear. I stood in place, monitoring their movements as best as possible. They were leaving. But why? The presence behind me remained in place as the other five vanished.
The last presence waited for a little longer before it completely vanished. Had they analysed me and waited to assess my strength before attacking? Were they afraid to make their assault? They were organised at a level that meant that one of them had to be manifested, and with how well it seemed to hide itself, it was likely even a pure-blood.
It occurred to me that no memory had come to me this time. Out of the many that were around me, nothing had come.
The memories I received were generally the worst recollection of the apparition, the reason why they became what they were. I’d never considered that a pure-blood, being a spawn from the Spirit dimension itself, would not have memories.
Was it possible that all six presences I felt were pure-blood’s? Or had one of them masked the other’s somehow. I’d felt a ripple, but not anything else. Was it done intestinally? I couldn’t understand what had occurred. All encounters so far in my life had resulted in combat, especially when they’d followed me to somewhere. Never had they watched, then fled.
It was best not remain where I was for too long. If they were indeed true-demon’s, then if they returned I’d never stand a chance. Not after being injured the previous time by just one encounter.
I collected my belongings and departed for home as quickly as possible to eat and prepare for work.

Chapter Six – Relaxation
The previous night had gone by slowly. Not many customers had come in and those that did had left an hour before closing. Fortunately, James had granted me part of my pa early, mainly because I mentioned the woman I was seeing the next day. He seemed pleased that I’d be going out and meeting someone new instead of my normal routine.
Admittedly, I’d grown anxious too. I needed an escape from the real world for a while. Getting a coffee with Sandra would fill my normally wasted time and give me a chance to relax for a while, instead of being on edge.
I knew in my mind though that this wasn’t really a date, just repaying with a coffee at lunch. Nothing really. Sort of more like hanging out with a friend, except in this case, she was still a stranger to me who’d I’d only come to meet due to her son’s Frisbee colliding with my head.
Mid day approached as I stepped out of the shower and checked my previous injuries in the mirror. A large bruise remained around my waist line, and a few more up my right arm, but nothing else. There were various advantages and disadvantages to being a half-breed. Quicker healing was probably one of the best highlights. If there was a downside to the faster healing, it was that sometimes I craved food more. Typically meat.
I’d developed a taste for having it as rare as possible, and the sensation of sinking my teeth into a bloodied piece of steak satisfied the urges for such.
My phone buzzed upon the table in the other room. I dried and half dressed before picking it up to check the new message.
“So are you still coming, or are you sick?”
Slipping on the rest of my clothes, I replied to the message as I headed for the door. “On my way now, so long as you’re there.”
A moment before I’d reached the bottom of the stairs of the apartment, it buzzed once more. “if you beat me there, I like a cappuccino, creamy, three sugars.”
Sweet tooth, I thought while walking through the exit and into the sunlight. With luck there’d not be any more demon’s roaming about and my meet could go uninterrupted.

***

Hot Rod’s was an old sixties style bar that’d become very popular over time, especially on weekends. It’s design contained retro style florescent lights, an old, still working, juke box from the era, and various sixties style paintings hanging from the walls, some classic posters from old movies I’d never even heard of.
The place became even more popular when it started hosting its own baking competition’s each year to raise money for a chosen charity, or by having a sausage sizzle. It worked well as popularity booster. Though popular, they didn’t make the best coffee in the around or pies, but they did make a good sandwich!
There weren’t many people when I’d arrived, and Sandra was not in sight. I wondered about ordering now and hoping she wasn’t far off, or if I could order, but ask for hers not to be made until she arrived.
I took a seat in a booth by a wall and made myself a comfortable as a waitress came over and greeted me. I passed off ordering anything for the moment and waited.
Almost ten minutes went by and Sandra had not shown up. I considered getting up and walking away when a woman came along and sat down across from me. Sandra was wearing a blue top with matching skirt, with her hair tied back into a pony tail. She looked rather fetching.
“Sorry I’m late. Did you order yet?” She inquired.
“No. I was waiting for you first.”
“Fair enough.” She Hailed over a waitress. “Hello. Can I please have one extra creamy cappuccino, three sugars.”
“I’ll just have a short black, please.”
“Will that be all?” She said, marking down our orders.”
“I think I’ll have chicken, salad sandwich too please.” Asked Sandra.
“Anything for you, sir?”
“No, just the coffee is fine, thank you.”
The waitress walked off.
Sandra fumbled through her hand bag and pulled out a phone. I sat there almost awkwardly as she fiddled around on her phone for a moment and put it away.
“So, are you feeling better today?” She asked.
“Yes. Much better.” I replied while recalling the my encounter two days ago. “Still not sure what made me sick. Glad to be done with it… How have you been?”
“Not up to much. Just working, getting by as best as possible, just like everyone else.”
“Must be tough.”
“What is?”
“Being a single mother.” She gave me a weird look. “Wait. That was your kid the other day… wasn’t it?”
“Ah, no. That was my nephew.”
“Oh, sorry.” I felt my face go red. Sandra had a small laugh to herself.
“No, I’ve never been in a relationship where it’d come close enough to that kind of thing. That day I was just looking after my brother’s kid while he and his fiancé’ got some preparations done for their wedding. That was part of the party at the place you work that night.”
“Ah, okay. It all makes more sense now.”
She laughed a little again. “Sorry for the confusion.”
The waitress returned with the coffee. “The sandwich will be ready just a minute.”
“Thank you.” Sandra replied as she took a sip from her coffee. “Tastes a little better today. I think they may have changed their roast.”
I sipped from my own, savouring the bitter taste. “I wouldn’t really know. I don’t go out for coffee much.”
“Do you do have any other jobs apart from the working at the bar?”
“No. I did once, but that was quite a long time ago.”
“Any hobbies then? You work nights, so you must have some free time on hand.”
It occurred to me that I didn’t really have any hobbies. Each day played out the same. Wake up, roam about the city, slay creatures whenever they would appear. Killing demon’s seemed to be my one and only real hobby. But there was no way to explain that to Sandra, she’d think I was insane.
In the attempt to not look like a complete bore, I made up a hobby, or at least recalled a hobby I once partook in and pretended to still do it.
“Sometimes I do a little writing. Haven’t done any for a while though. Used to do some oil painting too. But work runs late and lately I’ve been a little too tired to do much in the way of painting or writing, so, instead I go for walks and hang out at the park. It’s not much, but it relaxes the nerves.”
Sandra looked over the top of her mug at me, eyeing me off with her deep blue eyes.
“Yeah, I can relate a little to that. Life sometimes just gets too busy for us to enjoy things we used to. It’s understandable how you’d prefer to just relax in the park.”
“Do you have any hobbies?”
She pondered for a while. “No, not really. Used to do a little bit of art too. Just drawings and such. Learnt the Guitar a year back, but don’t really play it much lately.” She took a long sip from her coffee. “I really should try and get back into playing it again, but I just can’t find the time anymore to sit back and re-learn it.”
“You must be kept pretty busy.”
She seemed to get lost a little in thoughts. It was possible that I’d brought up something that she didn’t want to remember.
“The weather’s been a little all over the place.” I said, trying to change the subject, as the waitress returned again with the Sandwich.
She thanked the waitress and eased into the booth more. “No late night for me tonight.” She stared out the window for a moment. “You’re right. The weather has been all over the place. Probably going to end up being the coldest winter we’ve had for a while.”
“Probably. I’m not really complaining. Kinda enjoy the cold.”
“Well, don’t go out and about in the rain just yet. There’s more thunderstorms predicted over next week.”
I laughed. “Who knows. A jolt of electricity might be what I need to get myself going.”
She laughed back and began eating her sandwich.
It was starting to feel nice to spend time with her. I’d been stressing so much over work and life lately that I’d forgotten to take a step back and relax. I sipped gain from my coffee and smiled. “Come to think of it. They might be using a different roast now.”
“I thought you didn’t go out for coffee?”
“Not recently, no, but when there’s time and my wallet permits, then I’ve come here a few times.”
We finished off our drinks and prepared to depart. I paid for the coffee and food, with a little extra for a tip. My mood had lifted and a part of me began to feel like actually doing the hobbies I’d mentioned before. There was probably some old paints sitting around somewhere in the apartment.
We stopped outside the cafe’ to say goodbye.
“Thank you for the coffee. It’s good to get out and relax for a while.”
“Yes, it defiantly is. Thank you for the invite in the first place. I defiantly needed to get away from things for the time being.”
“You’re welcome.”
“So anyway. Do you want to maybe get another coffee sometime?”
She looked at me and smiled. “Actually, I’d like that. Same place this Friday? I’m busy the next two days is all.”
“Yeah Friday’s just fine. I’ll see you then.”
We parted ways and as I did, for the first time in ages, I felt really enthusiastic about doing something.
A slight pain was felt in my chest for a moment which then faded. Must’ve drunk my coffee a little too quickly, I thought to myself; that or it was time to eat. I went home and decided to find my old paints.

Chapter Seven – Duel
To my luck, more than twenty-four hours had gone by without encountering any creatures at all. It was odd to have a break from fighting and it gave me the day to relax and actually try painting. I’d become rusty over the last two years since when last I’d painted.
I’d tried to paint a house sitting on a hill by a meadow, but instead stuffed up the front and converted it into a barn. It didn’t really matter if it turned out right, it felt good to simply be doing something else for a change.
I’d gone to work happier that night and breezed through everything else in a pleasant mood. Mike joked about me liking Sandra and made little chants. He seemed happy for me though, and after much stirring for the night, I’d recalled that he owed me some drinks and wedges. He’d shot me a angry glance, then laughed again.
“Hey, instead of me shouting you a couple of pints, how about you come over to my joint on Monday night. Not like you’ll have much else to do without work to keep you occupied.”
“For your information, I’ve started painting again! And there’s plenty of things for me to find to do.”
“Oh really? Well then, excuse me from inviting you.” He laughed. “Can I help you, sir?”
I began to wash up some more glasses that had been left on the bar while Mike attended to the man’s drinks. It had been a busy night earlier, but it had emptied almost as fast. Now there were only a few stragglers having small conversations and the odd drink.
“So anyway. You in or not?”
“Ah, why the hell not. Sounds like good fun.”
Mike laughed. “Great! You remember where my place is, right? See you there.”
“What time?”
He pulled a mock-thoughtful face. “Dude. We’re drinking and sleeping where we fall. Pick a time and drop by!”
“You’re a strange man, Mike.”
We both laughed at each other and went back to work.

***

Closing time fell and the bar was sealed up for the night. I was the last one out the door, saying goodbye to Martha as she locked the door behind me.
Almost instantly from leaving that familiar sensation that alerted me to the presence of another demon found its way through me.
A blinding flurry of memories hit me, all too fast to properly count. But it didn’t matter how many I picked up on, because that many memories hitting me all at once meant one thing only, and that was the presence of multiple creatures each whom had wound as they were due to a different experience.
I checked the scene around me. The street was deserted, a aside from a few cars in the distance. I took the opportunity of silence to transition between the dimensions and go on the offensive.
The fight commenced almost instantly, catching me slightly off guard. My weapon manifested and slashed out with blinding speed and accuracy, severing the nearest demon in half from the waist. Another two lunged from behind, weapons at the ready.
I dodged away, using a parked car as a vault to get away from being struck. Three more demon’s waited on the other side, their eyes glowing and form’s shadowy. They made a hollow screaming noise and attacked as well.
My blade glided through the air as I tackled the nearest to the ground, plunging my weapon into its head and slashing violently to stay the other two. They seemed to draw out their own weapons, small shadowy blades. They weren’t manifested, but they weren’t weak either.
I took to the defence, parrying their weapons, one by one, as they made their strikes in turns. The other two had made their way around and prepared to corner me between them as I sensed more on their way to attack.
It was unusual that so many had come to this very spot to attack. It was like another trap had been set. Was there a true-blood behind this?
Rather than take any chances, I channelled more power into my being and quickly overpowered the two that attacked from the front, slicing them in half like the first. The two from behind fell to the same fate, as I dodge their assaults and tripped them up, plunging my weapon down into their centre with a quick thrust.
Five more approached again, three with their own weapons drawn, but still all as shadowy as the first set. None of these demon’s were truly manifested, but they were all strong. There had to be someone behind this, and it was likely that they were close. But it was difficult to determine their position with so many on the constant assault.
Another blur of memories hit me, flooding my vision for a moment and setting me off guard. I felt the coldness of a blade cut through my arm, causing me to buckle, but not enough for me to not strike back and kill who had hit me.
I leaped backwards through the air to escape being encircled, just as more memories flooded me. Even more demon’s were making their assault from behind me. Even if they weren’t manifested, it was becoming too dangerous to fight them all alone. It was time to decide on whether to fight or flight.
The thing was though that even if I fled from combat, they could all still follow me wherever I went. There was no way of hiding from them. They would all have to die. Each and every last of them.
A strong anger welled up within me. I tasted blood in the air and the scent of death. The intoxicating aromas filled me with a blood-lustful urge. I felt my mind begin to become overwhelmed by the sensations.
I fell to one knee, breathing heavily as a I felt my being begging to transform into a inhuman state. My muscles bulged, and my heart beat heavily. A sharp pain issued from my back and my head felt like there was a jackhammer ploughing into it.
The demon’s around me seemed to slow down as if caught in a time rift. I stood up and grinned at them through sharp teeth.
I attacked, slicing the air with a hellishly curved pike, the scythe-like crescent spouting from its tip cutting through them all in a single slash. My sword had not gone. It hung from my side in a scabbard, ready for use when my pike which seemed to be an extension of my arm was of no need.
It slashed through them all, cutting both the demon’s and the very air. They all seemed to move too slow to be a challenge now. None of them could touch me no matter how hard they tried, and the battle which was once a challenge quickly became effortless.
Until something else made its way towards me, moving at a speed that was like my own. It’s form was of a powerful creature, long curved horns spouting from its head, a bulky masculine body, and a frightful design of gold and crimson armour. Blood glistened on its sharp fangs as it snarled at me.
Those creatures that still remained alive backed away, giving a wider berth and bowing at the beast as it approached. It was clear of the amount of power this creature had over the others. A tremendously evil aura emanated from it that was felt through my own core.
I felt my inner demon cry out for battle. It would not go unsatisfied tonight.
“Prepare yourself, mortal. I, Duran U’ Melganis, Acolyte to the Unholy Legion, will be your opponent…” It raised a mighty sword towards me and snarled. “You better be as mighty as they say you are… It has been a long time since I’ve been amused in conflict.”
Duran charged fiercely towards me with tremendous speed, letting out a long battle cry as it did. I withdrew my Pike and unsheathed my sword, prepping myself to counter attack.
Swords clashed and bolts of eerie red energy shot off, cutting a few of the creatures who remained still too close to the battle.
“Yes! With your death I will be sure to be granted a place as Executioner!”
“So is that why you’re here?”
Duran parried my sword off hand and tried to slash vertically at my gut, but I managed to evade it bring my sword back down upon his, forcing it down as he tried to lift mine up. We forced ourselves closely into a deadlock, snarling with sharp teeth.
“I do not understand you demon’s and your culture very well. And honestly I do not care. You’re all foul scum that deserved only t be eradicated.”
Duran laughed manically as our deadlock ceased and we sprung backwards and began to circle each other, waiting for a moment to attack.
“You are no more than a half-breed. How should one like you be able to understand how true demon’s operate. We of true blood are the only ones that have the right to move back and forth between worlds , unlike you half-breed’s whom are no more than a mockery of what a real demon is.”
“Does it matter, half-breed, true-breed, you’re all worthless! Preying on the weak, stealing their lives and feeding off their misery!”
“You know nothing, half-breed. Us true-blood’s have the right to do as we wish. It is our rightful purpose up here on the top of the food chain, where we bel-”
I didn’t care anymore about his useless ranting. I’d been watching his movements, analysing my best approach of attack. I shifted my sword arm back and swept around to his side, bring my weapon up in a sideways sweep. He parried it sideways, roaring out in frustration. My pike was resummoned and in a swift spin about its long, crescent blade slashed through his gut.
Duran slipped backwards and fell off guard as my blade plunged itself into his chest.
“Damn you… How could I be beaten?”
“You so called true-blood’s are all the same. You all act so high and mighty that you underestimate your opponent.” My blade dug deeper into him. He gritted his teeth and raised his weapon to strike. I withdrew, quickly twisting my blade as I did. He roared in pain. “Fool. You were never a match for me.”
“I am not dead yet! Half-breed, finish me!”
I smiled sinisterly. My demon wanted to watch him suffer. The other creatures lingered still, keeping their distance and snarling. I sheathed my sword and felt and withdrew my pike. My rage subsided and my form eased slowly back to its normal.
Duran coughed blood. “This is what separates us true-blood’s from you half-breeds. Where as we may kill others, we do it for a reason.” He gestured with his sword to the shadowy forms that lingered around. “Look at these vile creatures. They serve no purpose. They hunt, feed and kill with no reason. They are vile creatures. They’re worthless, mindless, servants. Cannon fodder. Filth. You, half-breed. I’d have expected you to at least have a mind, unlike others.”
“I’m nothing like you, or these creatures. I am still a human. And I do not care one bit about your principles.”
“Half-breed! Have you no sense of honour!” Duran steadied himself on his blade and stood up. Blood oozed out of his wound and pooled on the ground before him. “If you are still human as you claim, then have some honour and finish me!”
I stood there, staring into the bright yellow eyes of Duran. He sheathed his sword and waited for me to unleash a killing blow.
“If I understand any of your culture right. You lost your honour the second you lost to me. So piss off and crawl back to your masters and let them redeem you instead.”
“Then you leave me no choice.”
Duran drew his sword and charged, his weapon held high. I re-summoned my pike and knocked his weapon up and into the air, then stabbed it through his skull. I withdrew it and watched his body slump down to the ground. A crooked half-smile on his face.
His body began to turn to cinders and disintegrate into ash. All the creatures that once lingered quickly began to flee the area, their master now dead.
My form changed back to its human self and shifted back into the physical dimension. I felt my body become overwhelmed by fatigue as I fell to the ground on my hands and knees, coughing up blood and gasping for air. My right arm seared with pain from where I’d been wounded before. It seemed to have healed up a small amount while in combat, but not enough.
I’d need to make a decision. Get medical assistance immediately, or try to make it home safely on foot. It was probable that a few creatures were within a block’s radius. Focusing my strength, I shifted back and used what was left of my power to dash through and phase myself through walls and back to my apartment.
As soon as I returned, I phased back and collapsed onto the floor.

Chapter Eight – Gambit
I awoke the next day to the sound of my phone ringing. My vision blurred as I stared blankly across my floor. The faint scent of blood wafted to my nose and my throat felt dry.
My mind flashed of the battle last night. I’d pushed myself hard to gain the advantage against the horde of demon’s and the Pure Blood. There was also the wound that pierced my arm.
My phone continued to ring as I stretched my arm into my pocket to answer it. My arm felt like it bore a great weight on it as my phone was dragged out and flipped open.
I tried to speak, but could not muster the words. I cleared my throat as best I could and tried to speak again. “Hello?” Was all I could barely muster.
“Shaun, where are you? I’ve been waiting for ages!”
I tried to speak again. “I’m… sorry.” My throat needed water to be able to speak properly.
“So what’s your excuse this time!”
I forced myself to stand and used the wall to the bathroom to brace myself. “One moment. Need water.”
I flipped it to loud speaker and put it down. “…sound like you’ve been having the time of your life last night. You sounds like your over partied.”
I drank my water slowly, splashing my face and allowing it’s coolness to refresh me. Sandra sounded pissed. The water filled my throat and caused me to cough. The mirror reflected my tired face, a cut above the left eye, split lips and a few scattered bruises.
“This is over, Shaun. I tried to be your friend and get to know you, but I will not let myself be fooled.”
“No, wait. It’s not what you think.”
“Goodbye, Shaun.”
She hung up before I could get back and try to explain things to her. MY body fell limp to the floor. My heart sank and a brief pain hit my chest as my heart sank. I punched the floor angrily and swore out, cursing the demon’s that had ruined my life yet again.

***

The other’s noticed a change in my mood almost the instant that I’d walked in through the door. Patrick stood behind the bar cleaning some glances and waved at me. I shot him a half smile and barely waved back.
Lisa walked through from the kitchen just as I went to go through.
“Hello Shaun, how are you?”
“Hello, Lisa.” I walked past her and into the kitchen, going straight to the sink to fetch a drink. James was tending to a clip board with a check list of items that needed to be re-ordered on it.
“Shaun. Good to see you.” He went back to checking his list.
“Evening, Mr O’Malley.”
“You’re looking a little pale there, Shaun. Feeling a bit sick again?”
“No, I’m fine.” I got myself a glass of water and slowly drank the contents. James observed me over his clip-board. Then Patrick came into the back.
“Shaun, what’s up? You barged right in and barely shot me and Lisa a glance.”
James put down his clip-board and went over to fetch his own glass of water. “If there’s something wrong, Shaun, you can talk to us.” He said while pouring his own glass. I repoured myself another glass and slowly drank half of it. “Try and take it easy tonight.” He walked back over and returned to his work.
Patrick stood at the door for a moment, then went back out to the bar. I didn’t finish my drink, and instead tipped out the rest and went back out the front to work.
There was a fair crowd out about this night. Not hectic, but it would be steady going enough to hopefully take my mind off things. Lisa purposely shifted close to grab a glass and start washing it. “What’s wrong? You were happy last night.”
“I’m fine.”
“No you’re not.” She took the glass and put it away before serving a customer.
I decided it best to try and not engage in too many conversations with them to avoid having to discuss recent events. Despite it only being one day so far in which I’d spent with Sandra, I’d enjoyed the time and the thought of seeing her again made me happy. Now that opportunity had been lost.
The night continued on with customers coming and going. The night dragged on a little longer than I’d liked, but fortunately the other’s had decided it best not to question me on what was wrong. It was a pain avoiding most conversations with them, but I simply was not in the right mood for discussion and prefer not to get into an argument with them over anything. So instead we’d gone through the night keeping conversation minimal, and our goodbye’s at the end of the night quick.
However, Lisa, determined as she tended to be, cornered me on my way out. “Common, I know something’s happened and it’s getting to you. You were so happy yesterday, now you’re all down in the dumps, so something bad must’ve happened.” I tried to get around her, but she’d blocked me off from the door between her and a table. “Shaun… Talk to us, alright. We’re your family here.” I looked her in the eye’s and tried to think of something I could say to get her off my back.
“Fine… That woman I was seeing. We came into a problem of sorts, and now she doesn’t want to see me anymore. So now what chance I had with her has gone right out the window and I’m pretty damn pissed off about it.”
Lisa stood in place, then gave me a sincere look. “There. Now was that so hard?” She patted me on the shoulder. “You’ll be alright, Shaun. And whatever it was that caused it, I’m sure it’s fixable, if you can find it in yourself to try again. Otherwise, don’t worry. There’s plenty of girl’s out there who’d love to meet you, I’m sure.”
I stared down at my feet for a moment, then looked back at Lisa. “I know… I’m alright. Just angry, is all.”
“You’ll be alright. You’ve lasted this long in life after all.”
I smiled. “Better be getting home.”
We left the bar and for a brief moment I wondered what things would be like if Lisa didn’t have a boyfriend of her own. She was kind of heart, and strong willed, and fetching without a doubt. I pondered trying to contact Sandra again, or if it was best to let this one go and see what the new day would bring.

***

It was a dark night and storm clouds roamed across the sky. I was happy to finally be getting home and hoped that tomorrow it be possible to get away from the stress of life and not have to worry about fighting any demon’s.
My hopes were drowned almost as soon as I’d reached the steps to my apartment. The world around me rippled, faintly, but the sensation was there. No memories came to me, which meant either a pure-blood, or more likely judging by the sensation, just a normal demon who was too far to properly pick up on it.
The sensation remained. I’d need to go on the hunt. My body phased out again and my senses began to pick up on where the demon was.
“Not too far away at all.” I licked my lips. “Time to hunt.” Since the call from Sandra, I’d been revelling in the thought of getting pay back on some demon’s. This was my chance to do so.
My demonic energies focuses further and I sprung up high into the air, and began to sprint from roof-top to roof-top. The ripple’s I felt directed me close to where the demon lay, yet no memory came. I instantly began to power up further. This was going to be a long fight. A Pure-blood was likely involved here.
Eventually I landed on top of a tall apartment building, with the sensations felt rising up towards me. I sniffed the air and detected a strong hint of fear and blood. It was time to act now before people got seriously hurt.
The floors below me were dark and cold. Lights dimly flickered randomly casting an evil ambience throughout the corridor where I stood. I detected multiple targets around me, shifting from room to room. Yet oddly, there were no memories or other sensations felt. It was possible that there was a manifested or pure-blood nearby who masked the presence of the others. In which case, it’d be my focus here.
A shadow loomed from behind, a wispy creature that seemed to sniff the air. It watched me for a moment before roaming off to another room, not even worried about my presence. My blade was summoned and I cut through the air, cutting the creature in half along the mid section.
It vaporised into a wisp of smoke without letting off any noise. Something was not right about these creatures.
Another gently walked past me, almost bypassing my senses. I came around with a quick swipe and took it out by the throat. Like the last it vaporised into nothing without a making a sound.
Two more advanced down the hall. I felt them eyeing me off with hollow eyes. Then they attacked, wisp blades extending from their arms. They charged at a furious rate, each hall-light they past diming out then back as they past. My blade came up and sliced the first from the head down. The second shifted out of the way to avoid my strike and phased out through the wall behind it.
The presence of these shadow’s grew stronger as my senses began to pick up on more and more of them. There was a scream from the next room. I phased through the wall to investigate quickly and save whoever was on the other side.
There was another scream that was slowly muffled to nothing. A shadowy preyed itself over a man who’d turned pale. Her eyes went cold and lifeless. Then, as if nothing had occurred, he went about his business. A woman entered the room, the same hollow look in her eyes.
The shadow spotted me and phased backwards through a wall. I was about to follow as three more phased back through, weapons ready.
I went on the defence, defending against their strikes and countering them as soon as a chance arrived. Another shadow entered from behind and phased its way through, not caring about the battle. A blade from another shadow cut through it and severed it in half. Neither seemed to care. These were defiantly not normal creatures. But what were they.
There was another scream from outside. I cut my way through the shadow’s that remained in the room and made my way to the new noise, hoping to get there in time.
A door slammed at the end of the corridor, and two shadow’s phased in after the person. Taking no time, I jetted down the corridor, slashing through another shadow as it entered the corridor. I made it to the room and saw a woman cowering on the floor, a shadow crouching near her, its hands out. The second turned to face me and prepared for a defence. However, it wasn’t fast enough to stop me from phasing past it and killing the shadow that beckoned out for the woman. My blade came around an then slashed the remaining shadow in half.
There was a weeping noise from behind and strained breathing. I turned to see the woman staring up at me, hands clasped over her mouth and tears running down from her eyes.
“Sandra…” My heart sank at the sight of her sitting against the corner of the room, fear stricken and unable to move.
She stared right at me. Was it possible that she could see me? She seemed unable to speak. Then her attention shifted to something behind me.
A strong presence had appear from behind, a looming shape unlike the other shadows that roamed the building. It sat on the floor watching me. A dark haze emanated from its body and cast the room in a eerie chill. It shifted slightly and a pack of shadow’s advanced through the walls from behind it. This was the creature in control.
Sandra whimpered behind me. I sensed her fear and anguish. She was so frightened that she must’ve been in pain. I could not allow what had happened to the others in the building happen o her as well.
The world around me rippled, my form shifting again further from its human side. A sword appeared at my side, and pike in hand. A dark, evil aura rose up from within me, and a blood-lustful urge made its way throughout me. I bared sharp teeth and charged for the demon in control.
The shadows intervened, casting themselves in the path of my onslaught. My pike jammed through and impaled two of them, eliminating them from the battle. Two took to attacking from the rear, while the others assaulted from the side. They were trying to encircle me, but their efforts would be futile. Not even considering my sword, I slammed my pike around, cutting and bashing the shadows with ferocious force. They had not chance against me in my current state, but the demon that controlled these shadows would be a whole different matter.
It continued to sit in place unmoving as I cut down wave after wave of shadow. There seemed to be no end to their attacks. Each time one would be cut down, another, or more, would take its place. The demon had to be creating them itself.
I javelin threw my pike at the demon and charged with my blade out. A shadow leaped in the way to take the blow and was impaled by the pike. It vaporised with the tip of the weapon only a few inches from the creature. I slammed into the tip and thrust it forward before the shadow vaporised and the pike fell. There was resistance on the end. My weapon had pierced its target.
The shadow vanished in smoke to reveal how accurate my aim had been. The demon sat in place still, with the pike piercing through its centre. It hadn’t even tried to deflect the blow.
Shadow’s attacked from the sides to stop me from launching another attack. I parried them away with quick strikes and attempted another attack, my sword poised to come down upon the demon’s head. Another shadow came within the way, taking the full blunt of the attack. My sword was stopped abruptly by something as it came down through creature.
The wispy smoke from the last creature vanished to reveal the demon had reacted and blocked my attacking by grabbing a hold of the blade. Crimson dripped down through its clenched hand and oozed down my blade. It looked up with hollow eyes. I felt a sense of fear run through me. My inner demon roared back in anger as I tried to pull my sword from its grip. It stood up to my height, revealing its slightly disfigured, and muscular human form. Then with a single swipe of its free hand it slugged me across the room.
I landed a few feet from Sandra. She looked on in horror. I wanted to tell her to run, but I doubted that she’s have the strength; and with the demon blocking the path ahead, there was no escape.
The shadows in the room disappeared into the air, leaving a wispy trail that led back to the demon. It seemed to breath back in their essence. Then it charged me.
I’d not even sprung back to my feet by the time it’d reached me and grabbed a hold of one of my leg. It swung me around and threw me against another wall so fast I didn’t have the time to phase out.
I felt the wall behind me buckle and something solid break apart. The demon advanced again, clenching its fists and reading for a strike. I had to react fast before it landed another blow. The creature was only using its fists to strike, which still gave me an upper hand with my sword, but only if it was possible to get around being blocked.
It charged suddenly, trying to pummel me into the wall again. I managed to phase out, and leapt up through the air, landing behind it with a short tumble. I retrieved my sword off the ground and spun about to face my foe.
It continued its swift advance, launching a cabinet across the room as it approached. Thos battle had to come to an end quickly before Sandra was caught in its advance.
I dashed forward, letting loose a ferocious roar, my blade held high to bring down. It launched down to get under me and counter my weight and attack. Exactly as I’d hoped. My Pike was no use at a long range because it was blockable, but it was still of use here. I re-summoned it , slipping it back through my grasp and stabbing it into the floor. It became a trap, and with the amount of velocity from the charge, the demon could not avoid it.
My weapon pierced through it abdomen it brought me to the ground and pinned me. Despite the pike protruding through it, it was more than capable of ignoring it and trying to pummel my face to the floor.
I brought my sword between me and the demon, using all my effort to slide it carefully through and to gain leverage. With the right motion, it could sever most of its neck.
Steel cut into my own chest and hands as I forced the blade through, then with a clean slash it cut through the demons throat. A dark blood oozed out over me which smelt of rotten corpses. It punched me again in the face, then shifted its weight back and punched me in the gut. It was amazing how ferocious it was, despite everything. My demon cried out for a finishing blow.
With all my strength, my blade came across again slashing at its torso. I discarded the weapon briefly to grab hold of its shoulders and tumble it over. Now it was pinned by my weight. I removed the pike and speared it down quickly through its skull. It didn’t moan, like all the shadows it commanded, but as its wounds oozed and it’s body began to turn to cinders, a sudden rush of wind rushed forward and the moans of people briefly filled the room before silence fell again.
I stood up, collecting my sword from the floor and sheathing it. My pike vanished into wisp of reddish smoke. The ash from the fallen demon began to fade away too leaving behind a slight tint on the floorboards and some blood stains, both from myself and the demon.
Sandra had remained motionless in the corner, staring off. It was possible that she’d seen all too much, and now she was in complete shock. I began to phase back, slowly as o not cause myself more harm than had already been done. I felt pain shoot through me and my heart raced. It’d take a lot of pain killers and patching up to allow me to work tomorrow.
Before phasing back completely, however, there was a slight ripple again, and a brief memory of a long hallway with a door at the end. The memory faded before I could detect where it came from, but it was clear it was far away.
A strange sensation came over me though, as if something was watching me. I looked outside the nearest widow which overlooks a few buildings and towards the park in the distance, and for a moment it looked like something was standing on a nearby building observing the situation. My vision blurred as I continued to phase out and just as it returned, the sensation of being watched departed me.
My legs buckled and my body felt like a thousand tons had been put upon it. I’d phased out and now the reality of my wounds had struck me fully. Blood dripped from my brow and my breathing was almost chocked. I coughed up some blood, then vomited onto the floor. I’d probably need to phase out partially to get back home.
But before a decision could be made, something warm rested upon me. Sandra had crawled over and began to cry.
I’d have to remain here for this night.

Chapter Nine – Motionless
I awoke the next day to light shining through the window, its warm glow touching my face. I felt a head spin and nausea almost as soon as my eyes opened. My head throbbed and my throat felt dry and cried out for water.
There was light snoozing nearby. Sandra had curled up on the couch across from where I sat. After last night’s horrors, she’d said almost nothing except for a muffled goodnight as she lay down on the couch to sleep. She’d chosen to stay in the lounge room where I sat in a chair, hoping that the closer she remained, the safer she’d be. Though after the encounter from last night, even I doubted that any lesser creature would come nearby; frightened off by a strong demonic aura.
She shuffled again, pulling the doona further up to her face and cuddling the pillow beneath. My mind recollected the nights events, trying to piece together the puzzle. Never in my time had I encountered such a strange demon. One which summoned shadowy forms of itself to do its bidding. Or more so, one which harvested the very life out of someone, leaving them as a cold husk of their former selves.
I’d done a quick investigation of the other residents as soon as Sandra had fallen asleep and stopped shivering. Those who’d been affected had returned almost to normal. Unaware that anything had even happened. It seemed that killing the demon released those souls it had recently harvested from back to their original hosts.
Though with this detail, nothing seemed to fit. It was unlikely for any demon of pure blood to act this way unprovoked. Or maybe it wasn’t a pure blood. Sure, there were no memories or indications of it being just a manifested creature, but from any previous encounter of a pure blood it seemed that they only harvested or killed when necessary, or if the time called for it. Which of course, led to the probability that this was a manifested demon, and not a pure.
It certainly attacked these people without any consideration for what may happen. But it didn’t do so with a fatal poise. In fact, it’d purposely left those harvested with no memory of even being attacked, and in a liveable state.
So maybe there was someone behind the attack?
There was that strange, yet familiar presence I felt after the battle. Of being watched by another demon. It was unlikely that it was a random passing by when such a battle had occurred so close by.
Before I could continue to piece together all the clues, Sandra awoke from her slumber with a faint yawn. She pulled the doona over her head briefly to shield from the light, and cautiously un-hid herself. Her skin seemed paler than before as I observed her eyes dart across the room, looking for anything else.
“I’ll go get you something warm to drink. You look unwell.”
She looked over at me, fearfully, then nodded her head and muffled a thank you.
The day seemed like it’d be a warmer one than the rest of the week. A faint mist had lifted from the cold night to embrace the sky as the sun rose higher up. It’d been a long night, and both me and Sandra were fatigued. Not surprising, we’d slept in till late. My body protested my movement as I went through the kitchen.
I found some milk in the fridge and poured her a glass to put in the microwave. It was odd moving about her house. Normally after a night of fighting, or any night for that matter, I’d wake up to the sound a rumbling train, or even a neighbour yelling down the hallway outside. Compared to where I lived, her apartment was a palace.
Sandra had righted herself by the time I’d returned with a warm glass of milk, her doona wrapped around her like a cloak. She extended a hand to receive the glass, and I noted a cut along her knuckle. She probably had more injuries hidden away behind her clothes from the fight. I walked back to the chair and sat down, regretting that I’d not been wise enough to try and take the battle someone further away.
The floorboards where the demon fell was still faintly stained with char and blood. Mostly my blood. A few drawers and a shelf lay in ruin, scattered among the room. I’d need to clean up the place. It was unfortunate that the items could not be replaced by my wallet though, seeing as how it was my body that’d smashed into some of the things. At least with a little money I’d be able to afford fixing the part of the wall I’d been hurled into and left a small hole.
“Can you do me a favour, please?” Sandra muttered into her glass, her eyes transfixed onto mine.
“Yeah. Anything you need.”
“Please don’t leave… I feel safer knowing you’re nearby.”
I smiled sincerely at her and nodded. “Of course. I wouldn’t think of departing so soon.”
She didn’t say anything else for a while after. It was going to be a while before she could speak more freely. Though now it seemed that it may have been better for her well being, had she been harvested, then returned to normal with her memory erased of the event, there was no way of knowing what would have really happened. Or even if the demon could be defeated. In truth, it was her anguish that’d given me a stronger determination to defeat the creature.
My body ached as I shuffled through her apartment. Perhaps the O’Malley’s had some plaster at their home to use? I’d have o ask tonight before going back to work.
Sandra emerged from the shower, a towel wrapped tightly around her body. I blushed a little and looked away, but couldn’t help imagining her without the towel on. My chest stabbed briefly with pain and my body protested further.
My medical supplies were all at home, too far to walk there and back without Sandra knowing I’d left. She didn’t wish to be left alone, and a promise was a promise. My injuries would heal soon enough and it wasn’t the first time I’d endured pain for a long period of time without seeking any medicals. I’d be able to stop by the apartment for some clean clothes and painkillers later tonight.
Sandra would need to be convinced that she would be safe for this night to come, at least so long as she stayed within this block. There was no reassurance of safety further away from here. The only reason for safety was that the battle had cast a strong resonance over the location. A lesser demon or spectre would not come close by until it began to dissipate entirely; a few nights perhaps.
She came back into the lounge and sat down on the couch, wrapping the left behind doona back around herself. I’d need to comfort her somehow. Reassure her that she’d be safe without me nearby. After collecting a few things from home, I’d be able to remain longer. But to keep things seeming normal, I’d need to return to work.
She seemed a little less frightened than before, hopefully because she felt safe with me nearby. It was almost amazing that she’d not run from me after seeing what I actually was. She seemed to shift into a daze and stared off at the patch of floor where the other demon had fallen, then snapped back with a quick jolt when she’d realised I’d gotten up and moved to sit next to her.
“How are you feeling?”
She looked at me, staring deep into my own eyes as she sussed me out. Before tonight, she’d known me as an acquaintance. Just another guy in the City who went about daily life, earning money and enduring the daily grind. Now she knew me as something else. Something evil, so to speak.
I reconsidered my motion of trying to comfort her and went to stand back up and move a little further away when her hand caught my arm. She gently pulled me close and rested her head upon my shoulder. There was a warm sensation through my body as she began to drift off to sleep again, a single tear falling down her cheek.
“I’ll still need to go to work later. If I take the night off, I’ll be in strife.” Her eyes reopened and I felt her grip tighten upon my arm. “It’s okay. You can trust me when I say that nothing will be able to hurt you. You’re perfectly safe so long as you remain here, and I promise, as soon as work’s over I’ll hurry right back here.”
Her grip loosened. “Is it really safe here… After all that’s happened?”
“Yes… I promise. For now, you’re safe here, even if I weren’t around.”
She snuggled into my body further, exhaling a faint sigh as she did. “Please come back soon.”
Having her press against me left an awkward sensation, yet, it was pleasing. I held her close and remained almost motionless as she continued to rest.

* * *

Work seemed to pass by slowly as patrons came and went throughout the night. Mike had come in later than he had meant to be and had copped a quick mouthful from Patrick who’d become disgruntled at his constant late arrival.
It was good though, however slow, to take my mind onto something else for a while, bu between each brief moment where no one was ordering, my mind would wander off back to the previous night.
It was difficult to hide my tired poise. Twice in the first hour I’d almost fumbled and dropped a glass and my work had slowed down to a manageable pace. Of course, it wasn’t the first time I’d been at work worn out and sore, and Patrick, nor Mike, questioned it as they too had been there and done it all before.
Thankfully, it was Lisa’s night off. When she was on she’d be prone to badgering us to pick up the slack if we were lagging behind, and occasionally she’d nick off out back to do more work and leave whoever was out of it to manage on their own just to tease. But, with her playful and feminine manner gone for tonight, we’d only need to improve our act if one of the O’Malley’s came out front.
After what felt like a couple hours too long, patrons finally began to depart and James decided it was time to begin packing up. It may not have been as fast as a normal Sunday, but it had still lasted until the break of midnight.
As soon as it had become silent, my mind wandered off back to last night once more and was caught up in thoughts. There was something amiss about it all. But there was no way of possibly finding out. I thought of Sandra, alone at home, probably wrapped up still on the couch with the lights all on. Praying that she’d be safe. As soon as the time to pack things up came and the final drunken patrons were asked to leave, I’d spurred up all the effort that I’d not used before and helped clear things at double the pace.
“Why the hurry, Shaun? You got somewhere to be tonight?” Inquired Patrick.
I considered telling him exactly where I was going and making up an excuse for a cover story, but could not think of one.
“Just to a friends… Nothing special.”
Mike came up from behind and smacked me playfully on the back. “You got yourself a lass, haven’t you?” I felt my face turn a light shade of red as Mike strolled past, half laughing.
“So what if I do?”
Patrick laughed himself. “So is this why you were tired tonight? Have a late one, perhaps?”
I was really blushing now, but I hid it by picking up a stack of chairs and walking off to put it away. Perhaps it would have been easier to have Lisa around than these two?
“Well just remember, Shaun.” Said Mike. “Party over at my place tomorrow night.”
I strolled back to collect another stack. “Yes, I remember.” Truthfully, the party at Mike’s had skipped my mind ever since the battle from last night. Had he not brought it up, I’d likely have no even remembered all-together.
“Right… That does it for tonight.” Said Patrick as he wandered over to the front desk to retrieve the keys to the bar. “I’ll lock up and whatnot tonight. Catch up with you two tomorrow.”
Me and Mike said our goodbye’s and departed the building. Despite living in the other direction, Mike followed by to talk.
“So,” He finally began, “Who’s the lucky girl this time?”
“Believe it or not. Sandra.”
Mike didn’t seem all too surprised. “I see. So in the end she couldn’t resist your charm.” He laughed. “Unless of course it were the other way around.”
My mind wandered again for a moment before my reply came. “No, I’m sure it was my own ‘charm’, as you put it.”
Mike gave me a light punch to the arm. “You dog. Alright. Well you take more care this time, alright. She certainly seemed like a nice lass when I saw her.”
I punched him back. “I think I can maintain my own relationship with taking your advice.”
“And what does that mean, hm?”
We laughed together before he stopped in his tracks and took a deep breath of air.
“Ah, the cold night air makes the smell of patrol not so bad. Alright, Shaun, I’ll see you tomorrow night. Try not to be too tuckered out.” He walked off, laughing to himself.
As I walked off I wondered if all my weeks were going to be as full on as this past on had been.

* * *

Sandra had been asleep when I’d arrived at her apartment and after a couple minutes of buzzing, she’d answered the door and let me into the building. She’d re-curled herself up on the couch by the time I’d reached the fifth floor and entered. She’d began to drift away into asleep as I wandered through the apartment, using the toilet and shower at first, then making myself a cup of tea.
Despite being worn down, sleep was the last thing that was on my mind. My discussions with Mike and Patrick had rekindled the possibility that me and Sandra would have another chance together. She’s showed a nervous affection when I’d remained close by earlier that day and she showed signs of enjoying it too. But it was impossible to read her mind and know for sure if she was merely thankful and seeking safety, or if she actually did still like me.
I decided that while my mind was awake and her resisting to sleep, I may as well question the matter.
As before, when I’d sat down nearby on the same couch, she’d shimmied herself closer and rested upon my shoulder as I sipped at me tea. Taking in the aroma of chai’ before enjoying the taste.
“Have you been alright since I’d departed for work?”
She nodded then mumbled a yes.
“That’s good.”
She gently snuggled closer. “You were right. This apartment is safe. They can’t even get close.”
It had struck my mind that she’d been in a very close encounter and been heavily involved during the fight. She’d taken notice of me, even when manifested and detected the spectres and their controller during the whole ordeal. Among all things to have passed my mind, the fact that she’d been affected to the point where her senses were heightened, even if only a little, to a point where detecting demons and spectres was possible.
“So… You have been able to see them then?”
“I’d hoped that it was my mind playing tricks on me at first. Just haunting visions from last night.” She bit into her lip. “I’m scared still. I know you said this place will remain safe for a while… But they’re out there. I can’t go to work today. They may come for me, and…” She paused, unable to imagine what could possible happen.
“There’s a lot of explaining for me to do.” I breathed deeply the aroma of my tea once more before setting it down on the coffee table. “We live in a world that is just another dimension alongside another. Maybe more. These, things, you’ve seen come from a dimension of spirits. Or the ‘meta-physical’. We live in the ‘physical’.”
Sandra broke in. “So heaven and hell?”
I’d pondered once that Heaven and Hell were where these spirits would pass from in the earlier days, but come to think of the terminology used inaccurate for place. But in a way, it did seem to fit.
“You could call it that. But it’s not as it all seems. There is not a place of good, and then a place of evil kept separate here. Merely another dimension, where I presume there is good among the evil. Just in a different manner.” I stumbled upon the thought. “It’s actually difficult to explain that part. Easy enough to say, these creatures don’t often pass through. They are misguided souls who through a tormenting event have manifested their entities into something of horror. Sometimes, they manifest themselves in a more whole form… like that one from last night.”
“And yourself?” She added, curiously.
“Not quite. I have not died. I am simple in shared partnership with the soul of a ‘demon’. That is why it is possible for me to detect these creatures and manifest my own being to fight.”
Sandra stirred a little. There was fear. She needed to be reassured that she was more safe than it seemed to be.
“You can relax. I’ve never raised my blade against anything else but a demon. I’m a guardian of sorts. And you need not worry. Encounters are rarely fatal. These spectres feed off the fear and misery of those around them, not their souls.” I’d misinformed her a little. It was true, a weak spectre would be incapable of manifesting its and killing someone. But one capable of manifesting could manage the task easily. The encounter last night answered this factor. “There are small time cases. Where a demon becomes manifest and kills. But nothing like last night… That was different to anything I’d ever seen before.”
Again she quivered. I felt as if my information was making things worse for her, not better. If something was out of place for me, then it was frightening for her.
“Try not to dwell too much upon it. You are safe from harm. Even if they’re present they are likely merely passing. Hide your fear from them, and they will take even less of a notice. By all means, however, call in sick for tomorrow to give yourself more time to put your mind at ease.” Not sure if my information was making her feel better or not, I offered service. “I can remain with you whenever I’m not working or out, if you’d prefer that. I’ll protect you… I promise.”
She nuzzled closer again, lifted her head and I gazed to her eyes sympathetically. Then she kissed me softly and rested back upon my shoulder, slowly drifting off once more. Forgetting my worries for the moment, I close my own eyes and drifted off as well.

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