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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47. Chapter 46

Alestor

August 4th, 2017

9:22 PM

 

Alestor stopped the routine flagellation and let his son catch his breath. He watched Isaac, clinging to pipe with the tight grip of both his hands as if hanging over a cliff. The desperation in his breath sounded heavy, a deep winding. 

Isaac's shirt was torn into pieces on his backside, skin clung in small centimeter long tears of flesh at the bottom of each of his lash wounds. His back was red. Swollen and Alestor watched the blood ooze out. The right side of Isaac's face was mutilated, bulged, as to appear as a second head altogether. It looked like an aborted Siamese twin clung to him and it weighed his head down.

“Just give it up.” Alestor pleaded. His breath was worse than Isaac’s, his legs struggled to lock. His eyes darted and his grip was lazy, the threads and ends that now had fresh blood on them spilled into the gaps of wood and wet themselves in the lake. 

His son couldn’t answer. He had his face to cold pipe that iced his bruises and wounds. Alestor could see him licking his teeth, what remained of them. 

“Talking never did anything for you. You’d nod your head, you’d pretend to listen but the minute I turn around you’d always backstab me.” Alestor threw the whip. “You said you’d be a doctor, you became an artist. I swallowed my pride. You said you’d always work hard, you dropped out. I had to force you to go to school, to get a job, to do anything. You lazy brat. But that’s not your greatest offense. You said you’d love me, that you’d love mom. I’ve never seen you once at her grave. Not once! Not for her birthday, not for yours. Not once after the fact.”

“It hurts.” He spat blood. His eyes were shaken, a ship lost at sea swaying course-less to the rhythm of the waves. “All of it hurts. All of me.” 

“That’s no excuse. It hurt me too. You know that? I lost a daughter that day, you lost a sister. I lost a wife, you lost a mother. You never mourned them like I did, you never cared. And it’s because of that, that I can’t say I was surprised to find you ratting me out.”

“I wanted to understand you.” Isaac wheezed. “Mom would have done better with you. She worked day and night with the rapists and the pedophiles, in prison asylums like this, hoping and squeezing what humanity they had left. Like fucking toothpaste.”

“Don’t compare me to those degenerates.”

“You’re right.” Isaac coughed. “That’d be an insult to the sick. No, you’re worse. Some people can’t help their nature, but you? You became this, you made this out yourself. Whatever you are. Child killer, murderer.”

“You think it was easy for me?” He kicked Isaac’s legs. They were purple and no longer worked and he had no energy to move them, only flinched a bit at the sharp pain. “Faith is never easy. I’ve worked for a promise, do you think that’s easy?”

“That’s what makes you worse, doesn’t it? I can say a psychopath has no choice in how he was made, but you? You do it out of love.” He looked up. “What great fucking love you have. Can’t say you ever showed any to me.”

“Everything is out of love.” He kicked his stomach and winded Isaac, Isaac who clinched and who laid out on the floor. “I’m doing this to save you, you fucking idiot. Ungrateful bastard. I don’t care what you think of me or what I’ve done, I just need you to make a promise. Promise to stay by my side, to never snitch. A promise to be quiet for the rest of your life. You can live any life you can so long as you do it in silence. You hear me? Change your name, change your background. I don’t care. Just shut your fucking mouth.” 

He was prodding his son with the tip of his boots, stabbing his elbow with the curiosity of a child and his stick.

“I can’t promise that.” Isaac sniffed. “I tried it for a week, let it happen more like it. I can’t ever do that again.” 

“You disgrace.” Alestor raised him by his shirt, all that remained of it at least. It resembled a scarf. 

“I feel the same way,” Isaac said. “If you ever let me out I promise I won’t just rat you out, I’ll fucking kill you.” 

Alestor held him close. He felt his son’s breath on him, it was shallow and rapid. He could feel his eyes swell with the anger he saw in his kin. 

“You’d rebel? Against your father?”

“What father?”

“You have no idea how hard it is keeping you alive or how close you are to the end of the rope. I can’t keep the others at bay so if I can’t convince you, no one can. And if I can’t convince you, then…” Alestor felt his legs shake. 

“It’s hard to convince someone when you argue as the sinner pretending to be the saint. How you convinced anyone is above you.” Isaac said. “I don’t think you ever loved anything. I think you loved mom the same way you loved work, with that calculating, cold, obsession. It wasn’t only after you lost her that you even started caring.”

“Obsession is love.”

“A corrupted love. A narcissistic love.”

“Well, it’s the only olive branch you’ll ever get from me. I want you to live, even if just to satisfy my ego, I’d like it for you to have a family one day too. Maybe then you’d have context about all of this.”

Isaac laughed. His throat hurt, it felt caved in but he laughed with that crackled, agonized howl and filled the room with the noise. His face extended out, his whole body was still and the moonlight broke through the small interstices of wood planks to hit him. It looked like his face was being cut in two as the moonlight scarred him straight down the middle of the face. 

“Whatever is in you must exist in me. The genetic curse. Why in the fuck would I ever pass that on to anyone else?” He said. “I was so afraid a few weeks back when I first saw the killing, the stabbing, the bleeding. But I lost that in here.”

He shook his hands and the sound of chains hitting and rattling broke silence. 

“I don’t fear much anymore but one thing, having to live with the fact that I never disobeyed you. That I let you run amok.”

Alestor snapped, his eye twitched and he swore he heard from the darkness of the room, past the boats that jumped calmly on top of the water line, he heard the voice and the words: kill him, do it now. The son disobeys the father, kill him. 

“Shut up. Shut up, shut up, shut up.” He roared. 

“Talking to your imaginary friend again? What was his name? Stix? Ass?” Isaac said. He was forcing the laughter from his broken mouth, licking loose teeth, snorting blood and snot to lubricate a warm pain in his throat. 

“Shut up, you fucking asshole.” Alestor screamed. He was slapping at the air, at the circus of sound. A carnival of noise wanting one thing, saying one thing. He pulled his hair, knelt and yearned for the black leather whip now camouflaged with the lacquered wood. He kicked it, heard it fall with a plop into the water and shouted again. 

“One last chance, do you hear me, Isaac? One fucking last fucking chance.” He went out, through the door. Went past the hallway, past a bathroom and the sounds of fornication, four maybe five. He went further, through an intermittent room where two of his worshipers laid on the couch with their tongues out and their heads slanted. High on quaaludes or perhaps so involved in the illusion of their acid induced journey that they were lost. 

He knocked the couch with his imposing walk. They fell further back. He made it to the small room. A janitors closet once now re-purposed into a place of worship, an unholy confessional stall. To the front was the skull of a cow laying on its side, to his right was a metal table that rattled with the closing of the door. Everything shook. The beads, the bone, the pictures and most of all, Alestor. He was finding candles, finding pink salt, painting the floor with insignia and rubbing out the rough edges of his lines. 

“Tell me. Tell me what to do, please.” He pleaded. Everything fell, the sand, himself. He lay in prostration. His hands dragged to his face to gather tears. He could hear knocking behind him and the collection of breaths waiting for him. 

“Is everything alright?” One of the voices said.

No, no, most definitely not. And Alestor held himself. 

“Is it wrong to do bad for an ultimate good?” He asked quietly. And from the corner of his eyes, he could see the light shining and answer forming through the skull of the cow. A fantasy, maybe. Or perhaps, a vision of a better time. 

And Alestor smiled. With those crocodile tears, he smiled. He grabbed his chest and shouted: “Of course, of course, that’s it!”

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