Heathens

Apollo and Dion, a dysfunctional rag-tag pair of demon hunters have been sent to investigate the city of Havenbrook and its inhabitants.

The mission is simple: to find the cultists responsible for a recent string of murders and to bring them to justice. Even if it takes killing dozens of demons on the way there.

But things are never that simple when you deal with the dark arts. Cultists, demon pacts, sacrificial murders all stand in the demon hunters' way as they search for the truth. A truth that will force them to question their own identities, a truth about the absolute evil lurking beyond heaven and earth. The question is, if they find the truth, will they be strong enough to handle it?

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9. 12:34 AM

The distant sound of gunshots died. The first thought that came to Apollo’s head was the idea that Dion had died. But then he heard the radio transmission. 

The second thought was the fear that he would have to deal with the beast himself.  

So it was. 

Apollo put his back against a pillar of concrete and waited minutes that felt like days before he heard footsteps. He wanted to believe they were Dion’s, but they were more nimble and he was not, they slapped the floor rather knocked it. He stopped his breathing at the realization. Everything was quiet and silence felt like another enemy to Apollo. A draft blew. Tarp slapped the trucks they strapped to. The top of the concrete pillar was full of what looked like small hairs of metal. The wind whistled. 

He waited. Until he could hear a screech, until he could feel the beast’s breath next to him he waited. This was the worst part, his hand in his jacket and his eyes peering out at the edge of his cover to a sudden nothing. Nothing was there. His eyes widened. His breathing started again like a  high pressure  vault at the bottom of the sea sucking in all matter. He exhaled and released all his intensity off the side of the concrete pillar. It was a high vault outwards.

The pillar collapsed into a storm of shrapnel that shot out every which way, that blew dust like a mushroom cloud up in the air and towards Apollo who could not see much in the warring mist. 

The  pike  was coming for him, straight to his  rapid  beating heart. He had no time to move. No, he did not move his legs. Apollo dragged his hands out of his coat and there was a sudden clank of steel that shot out sparks. The momentum broke, halted. The dust settled on their bodies. Their shadow figures defined behind the mist and spark like a Hellenian vase, with the silhouette of their bodies in tandem. A sword and a spear. Out before the beast was the long pike attached to its very long arm like a black line had been drawn straight through the horizon. Stopping it was the slab. A hunk of metal that Apollo had drawn from his coat, larger than himself, larger than any man, four feet wide and rusted all along its body. You could not see a reflection past its worn metal. It had no hand guard, it had no sharp edge, it was hard to call it a blade or a claymore. It was just steel and handle like a piece of metal had been chipped and broken off of Vulcan’s anvil.

Its tip was  in  the ground and as Apollo removed it from its cemented scabbard. The beast watched with an expanded yellow iris. He was far away from Apollo, wondering if the tall blade would ever have an end. When it was out, at last, the creature looked up as the long swing arced and rested on Apollo’s shoulder. A missile, a mountain top. All along its rusted body were the cracks and creases that spilled dirt from their crevices, a shattered, dull, slab of silver and steel barely held together. Yet there was nothing more frightening to the beast than that bludgeoning tool. It was better to describe it as a jagged  cleaver . Horribly large, horribly hard to manage.

Yet manage Apollo tried. As swift as he could and whatever speed lacked was made up for in its strength. One swing is all it took to split the air into a shrill cry and drag dust across the wide slash like a vortex. Everything seemed to break, whether work of man or God, under the blade as he chased after the demon. They went at it in the complex. The poles shattered. The wood turned to saw dust. The floors were beginning to collapse. It was hard to tell if Apollo was hitting, only that he was too afraid to stop and think about much of anything. Under prepared, under pressure, Apollo could not manage to collect his thought. The beast smelled it, that frightened sweat.

The intimidation of the blade was starting to wear as they dragged their fight back out, towards the unfinished pillars and trailers and pickup trucks that pushed out with each messy blow.

It was beginning to end up terribly for Apollo. For between each thrust of his own blade out came five thrusts back. It was no dance of death as the poets would say of war and battle. It was the butchering of a chicken, the chase, and the dissection.

And Apollo was getting cut. He retreated. He stuck the sword back down like a worn white flag. The beast was not appeased and Apollo hid behind the wide metal. Apollo felt his elbows gashed as they stuck out from the metal shield. He put his shoulder against the blade to help hold it together as the pike hammered down. Apollo looked out and almost had his eye plucked. He could not gauge a good read on the slender fighter, he could not tell what was  arm  and what was  pike . He only knew the beast had as much range as him and  his  was much more efficient. 

He tried removing the blade, tried swinging. But Apollo was kicked. He flew, blade and all, onto wheel barrel holding  brick . It made him turn sharp. He fell on pallets and felt the shards of wood stab his back like deadly acupuncture. The creature ran. The red steam was coming off Apollo's back as his body rejected the wooden daggers. The splinters fell, the cuts receded. But not quick enough. The beast rushed him and he struck his blade into the floor once again. His body was not healing fast enough and he felt the air growing hotter. He wanted to run.

 “Move.” Apollo heard through his mask. 

There was a noise. A pop at first, then the sound of metal scratching. 

At the sound, he immediately kicked his blade up, back to his shoulders. He jumped backward and watched the dirt cover them like murk.  It would have fallen on him had he not moved and he could feel the strength of it as it pushed the air down and blew his hair back. 

It was the crane that fell. High and mighty, collapsing onto the beast and leveling the floor. Apollo landed on a metal container and watched. He looked up, Dion was resting his smoking gun. He looked down and was paralyzed at the image. The beast was ripping its limbs trapped beneath the crane. He was pulling himself from the indentation, limb from limb. It could not wait to stand, it bit at itself like a starved cannibal. It would have stood, Apollo thought. It would continue endlessly, a program of evil running indefinitely. The thought brought something to life in Apollo. He put the sword to his side and watched each crack inside his metal ruffle and deepen its vein into the blade, he saw the dry cracks fill like rivers of hellfire. It was a long wait, but he had time to wait. He spun. One, two, three, four. He counted. And on five, threw his sword out. It flew straight, landed inside of the creature and all the world could see afterward was the large explosion like a pillar of  the  earths  core  shooting up.

The whole city saw the explosion and the smoke that jetted up. The police were hesitant to go inside, opting to watch from afar for the fire to settle. It was perfect. Apollo dragged his legs through the heavy camouflage and picked apart the body like a hungry  crow . The burning remains of the demon lay charred and from its chest and belly out came the stone. A red, philosophers stone at the heart of it all. Fuel for any Vicar. Apollo took it, put it in his coat. He picked up his blade that felt lighter. Metal shavings were coming off of his weapon and it made him bite his lips and groan. Then came the torpor. His whole body scraped the hot floor as he tripped. His eyes closed though he begged them not to. Whatever effort was in him he spent on the last leap, across the crane now on fire and sticking out of the floor like a harpoon into the white, ashy earth.

The police saw the masked figure but did not shoot for they were afraid. The fire dragged at Apollo’s heels and spread all around as he scaled up the black brick walls. 

“Monster.” One of the officers said. So it was.

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