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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4. Chapter 3

Alestor

July 15th, 2017

3:15 PM
 

It was only a few minutes into the murder and John Alestor was already interrupted. It was a knocking that came from his front door, a familiar tempo. He rose and stood in his dripping sweat, felt it collect on his collar. He set down the tender fish bone blade on a table adjacent to his seat and came down from the room, now in complete darkness. He skated across the wood floor, down the stairs with hustle and vigor. All of him was white, the boxers, the socks, the coat. All of it except for a particular red stain on his shirt. Realizing it, he started stripping. But the knocking was getting angrier. 

“Hold on.” He moved button to button. Grunted. Ripped it, threw it inside of a closet to his rear to forget about it and walked towards the door. 

"Hold on." He screamed. It sounded like a battering ram was oppressing his walls.

Alestor looked through the eye-hole and sighed. 

“You’re home early.” He opened a sliver of the door. His eyes spilled through the slit, they looked like two small black holes. His capillaries throbbed as if little red worms jumped into an abyss.

“I was studying.” The boy behind the door said. 

"Right, hold on." Alestor said.

There were five locks in total, two chains, three dials that thumped and clanked as they hit the the wall and the floor. When they opened he couldn’t help but fan himself dry, especially with his son in front of him.

The look they gave each other was standoffish with their raised and stretched chins to give the appearance of an under bite. Their noses bloomed. It was a long look between the two. He was a slim boy, tall too but you would not have noticed with how low and bony his shoulders were. His clothes were too big for him and it made him seem like a mummy underneath ceremonial wrapping.

“Why are you naked?” The son asked. 

“Oh?” Alestor looked down. “Oh. Oh, some girl spilled her lunch on me. I didn’t get too mad about it, she was already embarrassed enough. I took the clothes out, they’re in the laundry now.” The boy responded with a dull look.

“Is that the truth?” He asked.

“Of course. What’s the point in lying about something so small.” Alestor said. 

“I don’t know, you tell me. What is the point?”

By now he was getting nervous again like he had gotten earlier before. He looked around to see who else was outside, neighbors who watered their grass lazily with beers in their hands, another who backed his giant orange truck into a pole. That one was in a hurry. Moving houses, probably. His panorama gaze grew more intense, narrow and focused, and with it came a narcissistic paranoia. He wanted back inside his cove and yanked on his son’s arm.

“Come on, get in. You’ll catch a cold.” He said. 

“It’s summer.”

It didn’t matter. The son was dragged through the house and plopped down on the sofa.

“Are you hungry?” Alestor asked. 

“No.”

“How was your day at school?”

“Fine. How was your day at the clinic?”

“Fine.” Alestor bit his lips and looked up the stairs. He brought his eyes back to his son. 

"Just fine?" He asked.

“I dealt with a young mother today, she left her husband and child. Didn’t know why she left them, only knew they made her feel terrible.” Alestor said.

“Sounds like it was rough.” His son turned on the television. 

“A little, for me. A lot, for her. I’m just the man she talks to.”

“Rough, huh. Why not move on, start writing papers, doing research. That seems a lot easier than dealing with people.”

“Maybe.” Alestor began to climb up the stairs and hung by the rail. This is how it always was, his son sinking into his seat in defiance like the Tiananmen square, the man in front of the Chinese tank, calmly protesting. His son looked to his direction as he put another foot on a step. It felt like he was under a search light with the intense heat on top of his half naked body.

“I need to go find a shirt.” Alestor laughed. "Then some long forms and stuff. The day isn’t done yet"

“Dad.” Isaac lifted himself.

“Yeah?”

“Let’s move.”

“What?”

“I’ve been looking into transferring credits. We can go anywhere.”

“Where’d this come from?”

“A couple months of mulling it over. And the city.” His eyes narrowed. “The city, mostly. It’s draining having to listen and watch the nasty shit going on. They closed off half the cafeteria and half  of the science labs the other day. There was graffiti all over the chem rooms. Crazy shit written. Junkies did it, the police think.”

“I understand. If you want to go I can pay for it.” Alestor was leaning off the guard rail.

“I don’t want to go without you.” Isaac stood.

“Don’t worry about me.”

“If mom was here I wouldn’t have to, but I can’t imagine leaving you alone. That stuffs unbearable, you know that...” He grabbed his elbows, hugging himself almost.

“I know it better than you.” Alestor gripped the wooden rail. He could feel his fingers digging deep and beginning to crack the wood into splinters. “I study it, I live it.”

“I want us out of this city. It’s not good. It’s like a fucking dungeon in here, with the people, with the streets.” Isaac said. 

Alestor breathed out, his cheeks hollowed. “I went out the other day to grab a burger. I saw some woman dragging around some flowers and a photo in the corner of the street, weeping, just fucking crying and walking and screaming ‘Jane, Jane, Jane. My daughter Jane.’ I turned and next thing you know, she almost threw herself in front of a semi.” 

He gave a desperate chuckle. “Good thing there was a fucking red light.” 

“Don’t curse.” 

“W-what? What about the sto- Wait? Don’t curse? I’m fucking nineteen.”

“I don’t care. You’re in my house.” Alestor punched the wood. It bent.

“Alright. Alright, that’s fine. That’s fine…That’s fine.” Isaac held his breath. His animated hands orchestrated some woeful plea. “The point isn’t the cursing or even the suicide. It’s about the city and how bad it is for us. We have the money to move, so why not?”

“I know we have the money because I made the money. I started the business. Me and your mother. Both. We made an empire through all the shi—crap—  in our lives.”

“Empire? It’s an therapists office. An office you can leave any time you want, like mom would have wanted. Don’t confuse your crutch as honoring a dying wish. She would have wanted you to have moved on. Besides…” His eyes retreated to their corners and he looked away. “You’ve just been acting funny…you know…”

“Funny? Funny.” The wood broke under his grip. “To hell with that.” 

It collapsed into shavings. Isaac fell back on the sofa, he could not speak. 

“I will not fucking leave, I can’t. You’re young and brash and lacking in foresight, you don’t know suffering. You don’t know starvation, you live in the luxury of my spoils. With fucking food in the fridge. With fucking air conditioning.” He spoke soft and walked down. 

“My work feeds you. It feeds me. It fed your mother and it would have fed my daughter. It was what made us. It was what we were good at, what we were meant to do until—” His hoarse voice stung Isaac. Alestor was looking for the words. “You don’t think I want to leave this place? I do, but I can’t. I don’t have that stern stuff in me to weather a future without it.”

“And I’m telling you that’s a good thing. It’s good to be afraid. That’s part of change.” Isaac managed to say between a tone that was both pitiful and blunt.

Alestor ran down and put both hands against his sons face and he would have maneuvered them to his neck had he lacked the little sanity left. 

“Some people like the idea of moving on, and they like it because they think in their small brains that somehow, someway, things will get better. Let me tell you something: they don’t, they never do, they never will.” Alestor shook his son. “There’s a hole in my heart and it's frightening to look at, I’m sure. It’s the type of terror that makes people want to jump from the fifteenth floor. But I’m a bit smarter? Wouldn’t you agree? And I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to walk around that hole. So don’t you lecture me, don’t you pretend you’re better.” He let go of his sons face. 

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” Isaac asked. He rubbed the red markings off his cheeks. What a smite those words were that drew Alestor back. He raised his finger to his son and bit his underlip.

“I told you not to fucking curse!” He shouted. At nothing, for Isaac was not listening as much as he was judging. He stared at his father like a concerned guest at a zoo, just watching the animals wander and rage and act out the small picture of their lives. And when was done watching his father, Alestor saw him stand, walk to the kitchen and sit. Confused, maybe scared at the table. After a while his son settled into a meditative pose best described as gargoyle-like, brooding and high above. Alestor turned on the television and raised the volume until the bass was ringing his ears into deafening buzzes.

He left. A little angry, a little tense. And he saw from the corner of his eyes, his son, just staring. At it hurt him some, it felt like his heart was falling down to the pit of his stomach and melting in the acid.

“I need to get back to work.” Alestor walked away, he cleaned spit from his chin. "We're not having this conversation again. You hear me?" 

The air was cool against his naked body. He walked up, past a hallway, past two rooms and to his study, then another door from within his study, to a corner of the house that seemed highest of all. There was a latch on the ceiling and he began working the lock. He looked back to the loud sounds. He couldn’t hear his son. His chest depressed. And he shook his head before climbing up. The square door glided shut.

He was in that dark room again where he heard a shingle of metal and shimmy of a man strapped in leather. Alestor moved his hand into the darkness of the room until he grazed a rope and pulled. 

In front of him was a gagged man. Masked, devoid of identity. He looked like cattle to Alestor, disgusted him like cattle would too. 

On the cattle’s back were runes. They spelled out ‘Bael’ and filled out a layer of a circle. Further within was another circle and more long lines and more long runes, an alien language. Alestor spoke the strange tongue, the enunciation was experienced, eloquent even. He felt the geometrical designs on the branded back. The tattoo looked gray underneath the buzzing fluorescent light, his (the gagged man’s) body looked gray. A stool sat to the rear of the gagged cattle. Above it a cup that smelled foul like something gamey and wild. It was a boiled mixture, it steamed. Alestor drank the muddy water and ran his fingers to the right of the cup where a ruined line of coke lay a top a shard of mirror glass. He brought up a piece, his hands shook. He sniffed, his nose bled. Like the girl he had bumped into earlier in the day. The thought tightened his face and he shut his mouth to enjoy a muffled scream. It gave him courage, anger did.

“He doesn’t understand but he will. Won’t he, master?” He said with a strained face. It was all hitting him like a diamond bullet through his brains and out his chest. Courage, faith, all coming through as a shining ray on his perforated body. He was glowing or at least felt like he was glowing. Alestor pushed down on the gagged mans back with his palm and inspected the canvas. 

“You will too. Monster that you are. Rapist. Murderer. You will be redeemed in your sacrifice. Vindicated some.” He traced the seal again with his quaking hand. “I’ve saved you from a terrible fate.” 

He breathed, almost backed off before he took another sniff of coke.

His heart would not stop slamming itself inside the cage of his chest. He could feel tingles up to his finger tips and at the touch of the blade felt his energy discharged, collapsing onto metal handle. The gagged man put up his greatest attempt of struggle then and there, he shook, like a broken washing machine, shook, hoping to wrestle himself off the leather straps. Nothing. Alestor held his hair. When the hand fell upon his scalp, the gagged man tried his second best attempt. He looked to Alestor from the corner of his eyes and wept, cried, sobbed. Pleading, please, please in a muffled voice. It didn’t matter. Alestor gripped harder, nearly pulling hair out.

“Don't weep. You won’t be alone soon enough.” Alestor bit his tongue to strangle a cry out of his lungs.

The blade rose high up. There was nothing for the gagged man but the comfort of their heavy breaths like bodies in heat. He could see his death coming, from the corner of his tired eyes where the metal reflected light from the bulb overhead. It was a strange thing to see, that blade. It looked like a lone star in the night sky but fell like a comet.

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