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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46. Chapter 45

Author's Note: Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. Here's a special, festive chapter to cheer you all up. :)

 

Jeremiah

August 1st, 2017

6:33 PM

 

Jeremiah had been there when his partner, Officer Heinz had been stabbed through the abdomen and sent flying to the wall and he was there to stare, to open his jaw wide and gloat his eyes upon the scene of blood coming down from the wall in streaks, bleeding bark. The plywood breaking, Jeremiah breaking. His eyes falling upon the monster, a run and then darkness.

Jeremiah had been there for the bid his partner had made in the comatose room, on the bed, tranquil and steady. The son who watched from a distance, the wife who came every now and then to share her hand. He had watched the family come together and around the machinery and body. Jeremiah shared some of that pain, too much he probably would have said. For it collapsed him like a star and left him dwarfed by the emotion. The son, the wife, both looking at Heinz every day for the last few weeks, hoping and brushing away growing hair from atop of his head.

Jeremiah had been there for the blue comet. The bullet Dion had shot out, though, without the knowledge of the shooter, he thought it the wild gunslinging of the great almighty Himself. Just a comet from space, an act of God. The plastic donut man atop of a food shop had collapsed on the front of his car, melted plastic and melted metal mostly. It had blown his car to pancaked cinders and it was hard to explain to the insurance woman behind the line (some days after the fact of the 'accident') that a comet had destroyed a building and that the sign or face of the building (he exaggerated) had fallen on top of him like some booby trap of a temple in the forgotten Amazons.

The insurance woman thought it was just arson, honestly. He thought it was God. They were both wrong, it was just a man who had gone insane some miles off and who had nothing to lose in his anger.

He never got the full claim on his car.

Now, he was car-less. A few days later he turned in his badge and pistol, some part by the hand of the commissioner who had done his duty in hiding the details of Jeremiah’s testimony of the transpired attack on Heinz. The commissioner thought about it, what could have happened; hallucinations, insanity, foul play.

In the end, he (the commissioner) decided that the unruly trash (Jeremiah) had gotten drunk on the job and that on that certain night, in that particular place of the town, a group of gangsters had taken their turns at beating and stabbing Officer Heinz and Jeremiah was too disabled to do anything about it.

And no one questioned the changes the commissioner made because no one accepted Jeremiah's claim, that it was the work of a monster or a demon or a thing.

Who would?

No one. The next logical step was then to exile Jeremiah, the act of which exonerated Officer Heinz, who truly did deserve the honor of the medals and ribbons pinned to his hospital gown on his brain-dead body. Though, really, what merit of pride did any badge from the city of Havenbrook command? After all, respect is relative. Trash begets trash and the respect of thugs and murderers was not something anyone should ever be in want of.

That’s why it hurt so much for Jeremiah when Heinz died on July 24th, at around 5:56 AM. Interestingly, after a visit by the commissioner and after the doctor had made the claim that it was probably 'Colby Heinz would survive the coma.’

Well, he was wrong. Or right, so right in fact that the idea of a conscious, now dignified man, might have ruined the scheme the commissioner had made on behalf of Alestor.

And so the scheme finally distilled here, reader, and I know it to be a bit of a stretch but you must understand then when you get into the heat of the plan, the details become finicky and messy. I won’t describe the death (it involved needles and an IV bag), but I will say it happened.

Here we are then, the plan funneled down to its natural, as the natural end of everything, at a cemetery.

The bagpipes were loud and the men were playing with puffed and reddened faces. Jeremiah stood from afar at a healthy distance only describable as, cordial to Officer Heinz and his family but not necessarily to the officers and their loud bagpipes.

He was behind a tree. With a his coat so long as to be confused for a trench coat, and with one eye peering out from the side of the birch as he looked onward to the ceremony. A graves keeper came around with his leaf blower, he brushed his feet and shot the lawn clippings onto his shoes and pants. It stained and the mild dew carried the scent up his pants so that even his groin smelled of fresh grass. The rest of the family of officers or of blood were out on folded chairs, either weeping, pretending to weep, or wondering why they were here in the first place with narrowed eyes. Jeremiah stared at them and in small intermediate breaks of the congression, took pinches of sunflower seeds from his one of his many pockets to eat. All he ate were seeds and whiskey like a drunk squirrel. Though that might be an insult to the vermin itself, Jeremiah was worse than a mess. He was a dying mess, a landfill refuse burning a hole through the dirt. Burning of guilt and of anger and of shame.

“I don’t owe you anything.” He said, lips barely parted for the flask. He was looking at the falling coffin of Heinz. Then he looked at his child, the autistic boy. He wanted to take back what he said. That and many more things.

He leaned back a bit and slipped upon a tombstone, its name faded out and a long crack running through the middle of the stone. This all we are, Jeremiah thought, bones and stone and dirt on top of dirt on top of dirt until the last tick-tock of recordable time comes to put a stop to the spade.

“What am I doing here?” He asked. No one answered, not the Priest staring from afar, not the graves keeper and certainly not Heinz. He stood up and wiped himself of dirt and stood like a pygmy, half-hearted with his spine curved and neck bent. His eyes were heavy, watering. The ceremony was coming to its end and the people were standing, strangers and friends and fiends, all grabbing dirt and pouring it over the body of Officer Heinz, Colby Heinz, or to his family, Colby “Kobe” Heinz. The jersey went down with the coffin. Jeremiah remembered buying him that number, forging the signature of the famed NBA player too. He always thought himself clever. Heinz probably knew though, he always knew things and Jeremiah had always looked curiously and his factoids and strange love of hobbies and sport, he’d ask, “Is there anything you don’t know?”

And Colby would say, “Well, my wife says I don't know when to shut up.” And they’d laugh.

The silence hurt now.

But he didn’t know what to say, only watched as everyone around him left. He stopped hiding after a while and learned it didn’t matter, he was a leper to the force now and perhaps out of pity, they ignored him. Or respect, or the appearance of respect to Officer Heinz.

There were only three real people at the funeral by dusk hour. The son, the wife, and Jeremiah. And it was the son, of all people, his small black suited body, that came forward to Heinz. His pants were stiff and it was obvious he outgrew them two years ago. It made him wobble. A small penguin, pale-faced and black feathered. He came to Jeremiah and took raised his hand. He was holding a small bundle of dirt, his mother came up immediately after the reveal.

She smiled at Jeremiah.

“He doesn’t know how to act around people.” She said and tried with that I-want-to-appear-all-together-but-really-this-is-too-stressful smile to convince him the kid wasn’t trouble. He wrestled out of her hands and threw out the fist again.

“Stop it.” The mother said. “Stop it, Bartholomew.”

He didn’t stop. He threw the dirt onto Jeremiah, Jeremiah who instinctively strafed back.

“Apologize. Right now.” The mother said then. She slapped him on the bottom. He didn’t cry. He was pouting and his face was scrunched. His lips were shut and his eyes would stare up to Jeremiah. When he looked back though, the boy turned his head though tried to keep his glare from the corner of his sockets. Jeremiah smiled. He looked like those painting in the spooky houses, though malfunctioning. More hokey than haunted.

“Your dad named you after a song. You know that?” Jeremiah laughed. The boy eased, his shoulders leaned out. “I asked him what the band was, he said he forgot. He only remembered the song being good. Your dad was that kind of man, a little too free. Though you wouldn’t know it from the way he worked.”

Jeremiah leaned down. His eyes were still overbearing, his face was still drooping and he felt vacuous. His skin was pale and the dimples on his face looked like small puncture wounds. But he tried to smile.

“I saw your dad run two miles just to catch some guy who stole some playing cards, tackled him into a palette of dishwasher soap bars and napkins. He was always like that, free and honest and hard about what was right and what was wrong.”

The mother loosened her grip on her son. Their heads fell as they mourned in unity and after a while when the sun had fallen completely and the white-beige light posts around the winding brick road lit up, did he bend over and scoop the black dirt. It was moist and gritty, it clung together like play dough and he morphed it into a ball as he walked towards the mound. To the side were the tracks of a wheel loader now gone. In front, the round mound. He dropped his handful of dirt and closed his eyes.

He didn’t see the boy running down the hill and the mother failing in stopping him. He skipped across, his pants ripped around his waist and his undersized white shirt stuck out from the hole like extra pockets. He came to Jeremiah and slapped his hand. He awoke.

“Tell me more about my dad.” The boy’s eyes were looking down. His face was struggling, Jeremiah couldn’t tell in what way it molded. The tectonic plates of emotions within him were moving and he did not know how to express them. The boy moving back and forth in a rocking motion as if in the cradle. A sedation for his troubled heart. A distraction, that went up and down. The mother ran down. Jeremiah stared and put on that face of the boxer with the mouth guard, prepared with a squashed face for the incoming impact of a hook.

Bartholomew went flat. He struggled, his head fidgeted away. His mouth stuttered, but he said at last, what was fighting for his will the last few seconds.

“I want y-you to tell me what happened to my d-d-dad. How did he d-d-d-d-die?”

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