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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27. 6:00 AM

The sweat came off Alestor’s back and stuck his skin to the bed. It had been a night of strong images. He looked to his side and found a picture of a woman whose smile made a cold feeling drag across his spine and he put the picture face down as he became worse. The feeling would not leave. Not for an hour, as he went around the house looking for all the photos of his wife that smiled and stood and reminded him of the feeling in him that worsened. It was one-thirty-four in the morning when he was done. He fell on his bed and sat. It wasn’t long. He stood. He paced. 

He’s coming.

The stands of the knocked over photos shook like scared, wagging tails.

Alestor looked out to the moon and the dreary voice came to him underneath. It was in the floorboards. It was in the door frame. It was in the walls. The color, a light blue, he painted with his son years ago, flushed out. Everything turned malicious, everything closed in on him and the walls looked dark, like a black sea washing over him. He felt washed up. He sat down, catching his breath. He ran out the door, down the hall to a room whose locked doors annoyed him as he rushed through the combinations. It was his study. He struggled to the table on the end of the room. He quickly took out a brown bag. Like an addict, you could see the dependency on his face and his shaking hands when he felt the coarse pink salt pinched through his fingers and spilled all cross the floor and table. He threw, as quickly as he could. He threw in pinches, then handfuls. Then the whole bag all at once which gave life to the fire.

“Hmm?” 

The flames licked and he could hear the voice through the snaps and crackles of the fire. He immediately knelt and felt his shins bleed as they dragged across the rough floorboard. 

“I’m here, oh bountiful one?” Alestor said. The fire dimmed for a moment and all he could hear was the quick breathing of the being from beyond. 

“Be quiet.” It said. “I should have your tongue ripped off that you would suffer me another failure.”

“You said” Alestor started. The fire slapped the ground.

“I said? What does my saying have to do with your lack of action, with your failure?”

“We tried. We even gave you the boy.” Alestor said.

“And now his pride is wasted too. He tells me so.”

“You’re with him?”

“Where else do you think he’d go?” The being asked.

“Pip was his name. He’s as embarrassed as I am.”

“Pip,” Alestor repeated. It shook him. Pip. The familiar face, the blood. 

So that was his name.

He was rattling. “Is my wife with you too?”

Alestor felt the fire ride down to him and burn his hands. He broke from his prone stance and rolled away, holding his hand.

“Do you think you’re in a position to negotiate your wants? Another death and you haven’t even killed the hunters. Are they that much of a problem?”

“They’re durable. They’re getting closer.” Alestor said.

“Let them get as close as they want. You’re almost, right?”

“Yes but I’m afraid we’ll need at least another ceremony. I don’t know if we can hold on till then.”

“Then don’t.” The voice said. “Let them come, I doubt you have it in you to commit to the plan anyway.”

“What?” Alestor asked. “I won’t compromise this. I need this.”

“Oh, suddenly, you’re full of conviction.”

“I want my wife.” Alestor said.

“And what a nasty desire that’s been.” 

“I’ve only done what you’ve demanded.”

“Will that suffice?” The voice laughed. “When you stand in front of the tribunal, will that work? I was only doing as told. Will everyone accept it? Will your wife, if you ever meet her, enjoy this?”

“Why torment me.” Alestor cried. “Don’t you want this as much as me?”

“I’m beginning to want more. Those two vicars seem more the toy than you could ever be.”

“They’ll kill us both.” Alestor said.

The fire wrapped around the room and he could feel the grip, a manifestation of all the fumes and heat, choking him, squeezing his body and forcing him into convulsions.

“I would never lose. Thousands of years, I have never lost, thousands of years more, I will never lose. You’ve shamed me twice. Maybe I should cut my deal then?” The hand let him go, dropped him to the floor and receded. The walls were covered in soot, ash like the volcanic earth had been spread over his study room. Alestor was coughing, finding breath amongst the smoke and heavy air. He heard the voice laugh.

“But that would be something, wouldn’t it? Every day these two make me happier, is that love.” He laughed. “Lust, maybe. I’d like to meet them more. But for that, I’d need you, wouldn’t I?”

“I’ll have it done night.” Alestor massaged his throat. “No more errors. No more hesitation. Then we’ll see you soon.”

He could see the smile, the cool veneer and the rows of ivory through the heart of the flame. 

“Oh, by the way.” The demon said. “Keep an eye on your son. He’s got quite the mouth.”

It crackled and died, both voice and fire. Like a poor joke and its poor audience made to laugh and to pity him. 

And nothing remained but the pink salt turned to pink glass, like the painted church windows had shattered onto his fireplace. Alestor knelt, his pain now gone and he walked over to the fire pit. He reached inside, nothing burned and it felt cold. The life of the room had been sucked through this hellish vortex. He touched the glass and it shattered in his hands.

It was enough to make him cry for all that he was to do. He put his hands on his scalp and wept. He could hear his son and it made him feel worse, he heard knocking and he covered the sound with his hands. 

After a while, Isaac had stopped and so had Alestor. His cheeks were red, the scratched marks below his eyes glowed and his fingernails were covered in dead skin cells. He could hear the grandfather clock ring at six, a familiar alarm. It was early morning, what madness had warped time for him. He shuffled to his desk, what was left of it. Half of it was burned to a dead pile of ash. He picked up a phone on the good side of the desk. He looked in his drawer for something to help him cope, for he knew, that today he would accept his fate. The executioner's bell was ringing, after all, and it was loud in his lonely house.

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