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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29. Chapter 28

 

Sophie

July 20th, 2017

11:13 PM

 

“Do you know anything about this boy? His name was Pip.” Sophie held the photo to the twenty-fourth bitter face she had seen today. He nodded his head, Sophie bit her lips and made the scorn clear with a groan. Useless. 

 

They walked away and she wandered, next to a metal unicorn barely recognizable. It looked like someone had sanded down all feature and paint, she sat upon it and put her feet up against the coin machine to her rear. The heavy bustle of laundry machines churned behind her.

 

All day she had to tolerate their faces. 

 

‘I don’t care. That’s not pleasant.’ She remembered an old man saying such. He was throwing unlucky lottery tickets out to the birds like breadcrumbs. She wished to say that he was the only one, but that was wrong. There were also the shaking, falling weaves of old women who ran from her at the sight of the picture. She did not understand. Are they even human? 

 

The unicorn below shook, she fell on her butt. She heard a man laugh to her rear, he was beside a soda machine chained behind a metal gate, she was sure, was there to keep the thieves away from wobbling and breaking the mechanisms. He was taking out money and collecting it into a small black bag held at his waist, she began to laugh. 

 

“Fanny pack. You’re wearing a fanny pack, loser.” She said. The man looked quiet. He was glaring, behind the shades and the folded mustache. 

 

“Why don’t you go home, kid.” He said. “Actually? Stay there. I’ll go call my boss.”

 

She didn’t stay there. She ran off into the light posts that flickered. They felt like vintage cameras, light bulbs bursting at the image. She ran through traffic, dashed through the honking cars.

 

“I’m the only one with balls in this town.” She said, her middle finger up in the air to the two guards across the street from her. She didn’t hold it for long, it was obvious they stopped looking for her after a while, and she walked down the street. Her map was out, her feet were kicking around a stray bottle that rattled with the pebbles lodged inside. Artisan Lager, it read. It smelled of urine. And it rolled down the corners, it led her through the streets and the growing noise and the bustling groups of people.

 

There was a buzz in the air from the red fluorescent lights, she felt it on her face. It was the hair on her body sticking out, pointing, attracted to the magnet of red light. The people around her felt it. It was on the streets, in the liquor stores. The people acted on it. She could hear the voices of smacking lips all around her, in the alleys, in the gutters she swore she heard it. There was nicotine and the nostril flaring smell of alcohol and the cooling agent, the herbal note of marijuana that made her calm though she did not know why. 

 

Then there was vomit. It was distinct. Bile. She had made it to The Devil’s Tail. This is where the scum is. One of the windows was broken, a plastic grey sheet had been put over it and the fabric breathed with the music inside. She didn’t feel so courageous anymore. She looked at the people going in and the weird ways they had made their hair. Could gel do that? She looked to the men. Where do their tattoos end? She shuddered. 

 

All she wanted was an answer, she’d settle for a hint of Pip. Sophie took a breath, fixed her over-alls and dragged her blond hair into a ponytail. She took a step and felt the breeze of a man. He looked studded, a robot with too many buttons, glistening brighter than the stars.

 

He showed her her teeth and unhinged his jaw for a laugh. The thought appeared only once, could what happened to Pip happen to her? No. She was stronger, she thought, better, smarter. 

 

She stepped on the laughing man's shoes and dug her heel deep in his toe. 

 

“What are you laughing at?” She said. He held his foot and the people around her, hanging by the walls of the alleys, began to stare. 

 

She clutched her pocket and the outline of her knife. Some of them went to stand and she walked quick, deeper in. Her hands were to her pockets, her eyes dashed along the shadows of the walls and the irking sound of people dragging themselves through alley water. When she caught her hands trembling, she punched herself. When she heard the loud creak of a straggling cart, she ran. She turned back to catch the fleeting feeling, the stalking sound of people. A mod, perhaps. There was no one. She did not feel courageous, she did not feel much of anything but a want to go home. Regret, bursting her heart with a constant beating. 

 

She hit something. Her body fell, a crash of metal resounded out.

 

“The fuck is your problem.” A man yelled.

 

“I’m.” She stood wide-eyed as if struck in the face. “I’m looking for someone.” 

 

“Fuck off.” He said and lifted his cart away. Sophie looked at the man and how he picked from the garbage and how the other villains in the alley knocked him aside. The homeless man spat, it looked like sludge hitting and filling the cavities on the floor. Sophie knew not to talk to him or the people who had shoved him. She walked away to the back end of the club and where she could see a bouncer throwing someone into the floor. He did not stand, rather laid on the parking lot, head sitting on the stone obstacle on one end of a lot. She groaned and almost felt his pain and imagined her own face scraped against the floor like that. It made her shiver and retreat, she stepped back.

 

“Where are you going?” She felt a hand on her shoulder.

 

She wanted to amputate it off her. It felt like a parasite on her that leeched from her all strength. An infection of the touch, a bite from Medusa’s head, petrifying her. Sophie turned her face, slow and careful. He wore no tattoos and no studs and was not particularly strange and that frightened her the most. The black shirt, the shaved face, and teeth that showed through darkness. His hat was thin and crooked like a birds beak. She felt like a worm.

 

“You’re looking for someone I hear? Maybe I can help you. I keep trying to tell the police but they don’t believe me. But maybe they’ll believe us together.” His eyes were beady and small and his breath smelled like something putrid. She could see the toxic stench as fumes, watched them go up like a spirit leaving his body. She moved her hand and the photo of Pip escaped her arm. It fell. The man picked it up and Sophie stared at him. She hoped the bouncer would help now, perhaps throw this man out like the other. But he was not there, only the door and the swishing sound it made as it went in and out. 

 

The man put a finger to one of his nostrils, he blew out the other. Sophie wanted to leave, but could not. She couldn’t shake the idea that perhaps he knew something. That he was involved. She drew her hand from him and put it over her heart, the other hand was to her knife and her eyes fell on the face of the man. A rat.

 

“I’m trying to find out what happened to him. Would you have any ideas?” She could feel her heart through her chest. Louder than the music, louder than the far-off laughs of fools and drunks.

 

“I might,” He said. “I might’ve seen him somewhere, sometime. Maybe you can help jog my memory.”

 

“You’ve either saw him or you didn’t. He’s dead already.” She felt his breath. 

 

“Well, that’s unfortunate. Maybe I know something about that too.”

 

She felt her blood freeze. The man threw the photo away. Sophie clutched her knife, she varnished the small blade. She swung. Horizontal, across from her. It cut him and he took a step back to hold the palm of his hand. The wounded dog.

 

 

“You fucking bitch.” He sucked on his wound. He was very much a stray dog with his famished frame. The small wrists and necks. He was a sick man, she figured, of mind and body. She held the knife to her side as she faced him. They looked like two crabs locked in dance, wide hands outward. She cut him again. This time made him howl. She looked around for help but there was no one conscious, not the frenzied men and women inside, not the drunks outside sleeping on bags of trash. Alone. Alone she fought. Stabbing, slicing, the small feral cat against the hound. She cut him and tattooed his arm with the tribal marks. But he pressed. Angrier each time he bled a new way. He backed her to a wall and she screamed when she felt it against her back. He grabbed her at last and she could feel his hand bleeding onto her own.

 

“Everyone thinks I’m funny. I swear baby, you’ll think I’m funny too.” He grabbed her neck. It felt slender and limp in his grip. He reached for her. “Come on, fight like you did before. Fight like your friend did.”

 

She swung. Her mouth could not fight a finger to bite, so she swung. She couldn’t reach him, but she swung. Nothing mattered much but the swing. Even as he laughed, as he felt her and pushed her further from him. She swung. 

 

And eventually, he fell.

 

Face first into the mud, nearly dragging the girl with him. He shook violently a bit, his eyes rolled up his skill. A police officer with his flashlight lit her face.

 

“Are you alright?” He said. He dragged her out of the alley and towards the street where he screamed at the club goers. “Nothing to see. You hear me?”

 

Another officer went to the direction they walked from with cuffs. She read the name tag of the man guiding her, Officer Palas.

 

“He’s yours.” Palas said. 

 

He took her to the car and sat her and immediately began typing on his computer screen. He wrote some things, heard the radio and slowly began to turn it all off until there was silence.

“I had a call in about a girl causing trouble at the Laundromat, then I got another from an anonymous tip. Apparently, she was watching the scuffle from inside the club. But not out of mind, I guess. I put one and one together.” He smiled. “Glad we found you when we did.”

 

“Me too.” She looked down and her depressed arms.

 

“You know what freaks are running around town at this hour. Why would you think of running around like you did?”

 

“I’m looking for a friend. Or at least learning what happened to him.” He presented the photo in her hands and let it droop like her arms. He grabbed it. His eyes widened, she saw and fell back to the wheel as he handed it back.

 

“I’ve seen him in reports. You must be the girl I keep hearing about, the mule, they called you.” He started the car. “You’re the one they couldn’t kick you out? The one screaming at all the officers a couple days back?” 

 

“I’m not ashamed. I was just trying to figure out what happened to my friend.” She lied. She felt her cheeks go red. He laughed then saw her and stilted his humor with a cough. They went off and followed the golden-yellow lines.

 

“You should really let the police handle investigations.” He started off with his arm dangling out the window. “Some answers aren’t worth finding out. The truth hurts, you know?” 

 

“I can handle it.” She said.

“It’s rare to see someone as young as you act like you do. You really are a mule.” He smiled. “And that’s a good thing. It’s good to be tough and to be stubborn. Even if it gets you into trouble.”

 

He looked at her, the red light reflected off his eyes. The air felt cold. His smile did that veer off.

 

“But boy is it stupid huh? To do something like that in public.” He said. 

 

She could not move. She was held by a fear as she looked at him. She looked at the badge and the numbers, she looked to the name and the face that looked excitedly out towards the street. She saw ahead, she knew they were driving but she did not know where.

 

“Don’t you need to know where I live?” She asked. Her breathing stopped and she felt her pocket for where the knife should have been. He confiscated it. 

 

“Homesick all of a sudden?” The windows rolled up, he threw down his hat to her feet. His arms looked flexed and the streets were empty. “I thought you wanted to know what happened to your friend?” 

 

Author's Note: I hope this chapter format makes things less confusing, I'll probably edit the older chapters. Eventually.

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