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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42. Chapter 41

Alestor
July 25th, 2017
12:35 PM

 

"This would be your thirteenth. Thirteen isn't that far from twelve.” The voice said. 

The candle dimmed in front of Alestor and the cool wind blew across from one end of the car window to the other. The hairs on his arms stood. His nose dried, he could feel it, smoke congesting him and filling his skull with the musk.

“This one isn’t just one more.” Alestor said. “He’s my son.”

“More of a reason to get rid of him, the betrayal of the son ought to be punished.” The voice said. “He’s sold you out once. He’ll do it again.” 

A candle (or maybe more apt to call it the telephone or receiver) sat in the glove compartment, eating string and releasing the smell of hot burning wax. It dripped on its sides and absorbed into the seats like white ink on for the draft of some great proclamation.  

“You can’t say that with certainty.”

“I can say it with good faith. I've seen it, in the church steps, in the quiet solitude of the small room he's called haven. Some dusty hotel, with the whores and abusers to his rear, moping and crying and contemplating with his loose tongue what else to say. And to whom? Oh, Alestor. This is good faith I speak with, and good faith is all you've ever needed.” The voice said. “He told the Priest, he’ll tell the journalists, the police, the world. And the few who believe in that mortal, flawed law, will fight for him. Fight against you. Few is all anyone ever needed to start a war. Or end it. You should know that.”

“You’re not fucking helping me!” Alestor slapped the dashboard and watched the radio compress and change its tune. “Just orders, always orders. For what? The promised land?”

“Paradise. Not just any land, but the land, the only land worth fighting for. To breath air and not feel death creep upon you, to live without the anxiety of the day to day. The mocking, the sadness. To live with your wife. Paradise. And it has room, room for your son. You know that, don’t you? Death isn’t the end. It’s a new journey.”

“I’ve lost so much. How could I give you the only thing left?”

“You’re still thinking in terms of what is lost and what is gained. You lose nothing but stand to gain everything. Don’t consider this a murder. It’s a displacement. You’ll see your son, you’ll see your wife.”

“You say that.” He reached into the glove compartment. He found a flask and drank. “But can you prove it.”

“All I have is my word. But was it not my word that saved you from the Vicars? Ten minutes, ten minutes sooner would have killed you.”

“And maybe I deserve to die.” Alestor said. He drank, it felt hot down his throat. 

“Maybe. But if you die, so does the dream. I can’t help you when you’re dead, not like your mother and your son. Paradise needs its key and you’re sitting on it, waiting on it. All it takes is one more death, blood for heaven. A cup, filled. That’s all this has been for, the chalice and your happiness.”

“This…” He held his nose bridge. “This is my son.”

“Your son, your faithless son. The modern Judas. I think he’d have more nobility in his sacrifice than his life. You know that to be true, too.”

Alestor teared up. They fell down his cheek and with it, sense, reason. The dribble, the stream, like a faucet on his chin. All of it, draining down that black hole. 

“What’s it like?” He asked. “Is my wife there. What about my baby girl? I never got to see her first birthday. Never got to see her fall, or walk, or yawn or cry or laugh. Never got to see her face for what it could have been.”

“She's beautiful. Blonde, like your wife. It’s all beautiful.” The air nipped at his neck. “Joy, happiness, like a drug. You'd think it'd be boring. But they keep going, smiling, laughing. There is no feeling of tiredness, no boredom. Just a stupid, pure, joy. Ecstacy. The fields of grass, the marble temples. It’s holiness. As best as it could ever hope to be.”

Alestor drank and with each drink, falling deeper into the words. A whirlpool, spinning and flushing him, crushing him, tearing him. 

“The sky is like a bubble. It feels so close, it wraps around you so tight and snug and comforting. A blanket of clouds. The weightlessness of it all. It's so close, the sky, you swear that by just standing, you might be able to touch it. The world feels so big here yet so small that you might be able to hold it in your hands. It's a goodness that swells your heart and that hurts me most. That you might not get to feel this. God has not promised you this land, God will not give you this land. I will though, I will, because it is birthright. All suffering is birthright to everlasting joy and you have suffered. Haven't you?"

Alestor's eyes glazed, he tilted his head up and down.

"It waits for you if you’re willing to fight for it, if you can muster the stern stuff to take it.”

“I feel weak. I’m scared. I’m chased and worried and waiting, waiting for them to kill me. Those fucking hyenas, the smell - My scent - The know it. My name, my home. They’ll chase, and chase, and chase. And it feels like the more I run, the more my feet and my body break away. It hurts, it fucking hurts.”

“Then let them find you. Let them come and face judgment. And you? You will be there too. As jury, when my guiding hand strikes upon them an endless fury and an endless pain. I promise you.”

He took a final gulp. The car turned on, the shield wipers sprayed and dragged across the foggy window. 

"Remember. It was your son that brought them to you in the first place." The flames flickered with the finality of the tone. 

"Is it necessary? His blood."

"Yes."

Alestor cleaned his face on his sleeve.

“I don’t need to make it hurt.” Alestor said.

“If only you knew what little pain means for true, good and proper eternity.” 

“It’ll be quick.” 

“If that will make it easier.”

“I won’t leave Isaac, not for a second. 'Till the very end.”

“As a father should. That's true devotion."

“Make me humble, please. Take me to him.” 

There was a silence. Alestor rolled up the windows and listened in the privacy of his car. To his side, an old cabin in the woods. A forgotten summer home. Nostalgic pain. The holes were plentiful on the dark wood planks that boarded the home, the patches to those holes were few. The whole house rumbled to the car engine and in front of the door stood the porch, slanted and sinking deeper into the wet mud. Loose foundation. 

A swing rested on the porch, next to a potted collection of roses now turned to rough, brittle black sticks. A swing set, two white ropes, and a dirt-colored plank. It jumped in the front of the porch. It swung. It went up, creaking, and fell down. Like the checkered flag fall of a race, Alestor drove. Like the pendulum fall, he chased. 

 

Author's Note: I know, I know. I need to post these chapters in more reasonable hours. I'll try harder from now on.

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