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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49. Chapter 48

Isaac

August 5th, 2017

5:43 PM

It was the last chance Isaac would get to live, he knew it, he read the silence in the room and the rattling of his shackles around his leg and his arm and his neck. They had been added throughout the days after every tantrum he threw periodically and now, half of his body was immobilized, bulging red from the chafe of the metal or from the bruises of his beaten flesh. He put his ear to the pipe, it carried the sound of the store. He could hear mild chatter like the chirping of songbirds out. Then there was a shuffling of feet like the rolling thunder. Then a curious tone, a debate and finally a conclusion. They spoke with an understanding and said; hmm, yes, of course, we’ll do that. 

The meeting was done and it made the beads of sweat on Isaac roll down. The door opened. 

Alestor walked into the room. He shut the door behind him, soft with the precision of a concerned father afraid to awake his infant son. There were no babies here though, only beaten bodies. Isaac looked up, there was a swordfish with pale blue flesh right above Alestor and it stared down at Isaac with its pointer. 

“It’s time to make a choice,” Alestor said. “And no one else can make it for you, it’s a choice that’s been waiting for you for twenty-one years now. You’ve been making it all your life but now, not tomorrow, nor the day after, now. Now, you must make it. And please, make the right choice.”

Isaac looked at him, with the only eye he had that worked. Half of his face was heavy and bloated with purple or yellow flesh. He looked like a leper and felt like a defeated boxer, still fuming but knowing it was all for naught. His head sat on an incline, his chin rested on his bent knee, his whole body against the wall. It was a position best described as morbid laziness. He just didn’t want to stand. He tried moving his tongue to lick chapped lips but couldn’t work it through his swollen lips, the bruised balls of blood planted underneath his nostrils.

And yet. With his lethargy and his hopelessness, Isaac still found a way to summon his strength. It was strength born from anger. And anger? Anger can cure any kind of malaise. Isaac’s head rose. He sniffed, he could feel blood travel through his nasal passage and down his esophagus. It tasted like metallic mud. 

“Mom used to make me admit to the wrong stuff when I did when I was a kid. When I stole. When I got in fights. She always made sure I admitted the crime or at least gave my case. And she made sure to do it before the punishment came.” Isaac’s knees buckled. “She said it was important for a man to admit to the crime before the fact. Not after. Because it’s what makes the answer genuine. So if you want an honest answer, I want to be treated like an honest man. Remove the chains.”

The cronies arrived and they looked stiff at the front door, their white veils sucking in and out of their mouths. Alestor looked at his son, he swallowed spit and from his back pocket felt a key. He tossed it to one of the guards who held it with cupped hands and who went around to the pipe and the chain to find the pin to fill.

“I have to be reasonable, I hope this is good enough.” Alestor rubbed his eyes. They were swollen, bulging and dried. “I want that answer. Will you join? Will you leave? Or will you stay? Those are good odds, Zac. Two out of three keep you alive.”

Isaac walked forward and the felt the pull of the man behind him, holding his leash. It was a stern yank, it reminded Isaac to be gentile, to behave. He went forward anyway, shoulders pronounced like bullhorns, the hair growing on his sides and his neck falling down like a mane.

“What odds did I ever have? This isn’t a coin toss, this is my life.” Isaac said. “You made your peace a long time ago. I can see it in your eyes, you knew the answer before you entered the door.”

“No, I don’t.” Alestor said. “You have to make it, right now, Zac. Say it. What do you want me to do.”

“What do I want?” Isaac looked around and rubbed his chin and his face and stretched them, so his eyes looked bigger than they were as he pulled down. His body felt heavier though he was sure he had lost weight, having starved in his enthrallment.

“I wanted what mom would have wanted, to move on. That’d be normal, wouldn’t it be?”

“We didn’t get normal circumstances.” Alestor said.

“Of course we did. Death isn’t special, there's no conspiracy to it. No superstition. Sometimes it just happens.”

“Her death didn’t just happen. It was organized by a tyrant who stopped caring about His creation a long time ago.” He spoke with flamboyant hands as if wafting away dust from the air, though there was none. His hands were twitching. The flesh was ruined, bleeding, cut open at the knuckles. It was the injured hand of a man who had spent a good few days beating his son. Alestor noticed the wounds immediately. He put his hands behind his back and looked for a pair of white-leather gloves in his pocket.

“That’s insane.” Isaac shouted. “Circumstance is circumstance, shit happens. And it’s your choice in how you deal with it. And you’ve dealt poorly.” 

He felt his chain pull and everyone felt an urge to pounce, but they did not. Alestor was moving forward, with the intensity of a bird of prey. He was taking wide strides and his hands were outward, ready to clinch. 

And Isaac moved back. Until he hit the leash-holder. And finally, when Isaac felt trapped between the two did he look at his options. What terrible ones he had, to fight or to surrender to a fate that seemed dreadful. And biting his lips (and how difficult it was to move his face), he grimaced. He turned. Punched the holder of his chain. The man groaned and leaned forward. Isaac bit his hand then and there. He almost tore through two joints, index, and thumb. The man screamed, let go, and all at once the seven spectators started coming forward. But they stopped midway. Isaac held them back, with his chain spinning and cutting the air with a whistle and the feeling of wind turbulence. He looked like a medieval knight, with his mace swinging wildly through the air like a helicopter rotor. He shot out it. The audience leaned back to dodge and they all lagged themselves under the threat. The spinning chain a weapon, a centrifuge that seperated Isaac and his anger from one another, materialized it into one, hopefully hurtful, end.

And Alestor did not care. He walked forward. Hands out.

“Get away.” Isaac screamed. He sounded the mighty roar, but Alestor moved. The intent was clear in his eyes and it made no difference, weapon or not, he moved up. And Isaac realized this. He was losing ground. His foot went over the body he had just punched. Then it touched the wall and it seemed the whole room was out to crush him.


“Back!” Isaac screamed against the impregnable walls of the room. The shout didn’t go far.


“Fuck off!” He flung the chain out. He felt it hit Alestor, felt the vibrations up to his shoulders and heard the rattle as it dragged around the floor. It was then that he himself was tackled down by some odd four or five (it was too much of a mess to count) and as Isaac descended, he could see from the corner of his eyes, Alestor. Falling. Both of them, falling. Isaac into the floor, Alestor into the water where his arms tried desperately to grab onto the edge of the boat. He missed, he sank. 

“I split his head open.” Isaac screamed to the others who were confused by the act, they looked with fidgety eyes between Isaac and Alestor or rather the bubbles of Alestor that came through the surface of the water.

“Someone bring him up.” One of them shouted. Two volunteered to dive in. The boats shook as the three bodies descended. They waited. Their breaths were shallow, their eyes open and their bodies were sweating, cold sweat. There was curiosity, anger, in the bag of emotions, and for Isaac, a light pull of melancholy. It felt like the tug of the chain. The two came up.

“I can’t see anything down there.” One of them said.

“Keep trying!” Another woman shouted. Her voice sounded fragile like a broken croak. They began to grit their teeth the more time passed, the more time their anger had to fester. They directed their gaze from the water to Isaac, Isaac who was still down on the floor, a knee above his neck and three different pairs of arms around his body. Isaac who had not taken a breath the whole time, who felt it hard to do anything but to watch. His eyes were glazed. He looked lost, caught in a light so bright as to leave him stupefied. They picked him up. They dragged him through the store. He did not move much, only dragged, like a piece of furniture. They set him in front of the fishing store, not in the porch with the half-rotted wooden pillars (that was too dignified of a spot for Isaac), they set him in the mud, next to a pile of old firewood and furniture, some of it cremated, some of it still wet from the morning mist. He felt the mud crawl up his body, splatter. It made him wet and cold, but he did not want a fire. He did not want much of anything. 

“I killed my dad.” Isaac repeated. He was not proud, not ashamed either. His eyes were open. His skull must have been vacuous as there was nothing in him that or about him that resembled sentience. No, the silent death had left him silent. A scream, a person screams when the action inherent is to cause suffering. But a death, especially those intimate and quick ones, those are silent. Isaac was laid out on the floor like a sponge trying to absorb the seriousness of his action through osmosis. One half of his face (the half he could move) was open. 

There was crying for a moment, threatening, then screams. Calls to keep him alive to suffer, calls to kill him. And once again they debated. Once again they came to that conclusion; hmm, yes, of course. We’ll do that. 

Four of them surrounded him like eagles at Prometheus’s side, pecking at his liver. They were here now, to peck-peck-peck away at the solemn son. 

Isaac heard the click of a Glock. He felt the barrel behind his head. Smelled gunpowder. The bullet should have shot out, would have, had no one heard the sound.

The sound of bubbling and of the splitting waters. The sound of a second Moses at the red sea, bloody red. There was an image of a man, one distorted and volatile beneath the undulating waters. 

Alestor. 

He was coming out, one heavy leg after another, breaking out of those swamp-like waters (or so they seemed in the horrifying evening) with nothing but downcast hair to lead him. The twigs, the dirt and the mud all on him like a placenta. He was birthed in the murk, baptized in it. Two people came up to him crying with joy. He sent them away as he stood on his own. He whipped his hair back and from his pocket, out came the sticky cloth. A large square, soft veil that contorted and stuck to his face. Yellow and black, the king in yellow. It was his crown, that small square of leather. It seemed glued to him now, a feature of his face in and of itself.

Alestor came up to Isaac. Isaac could not look at him, only fidgeted in the mud. He was sad a moment earlier, now he was afraid. He didn’t know what was worse, the feeling of killing or the feeling of death above him. It didn’t matter. He knew both now. Alestor knelt down, he rubbed the hair away from his son’s face.

“Don’t make such a scene.” He said. “Or we’ll be late for sermon.”

Isaac tried to scream. But there was no air in his lungs and simply laid mute as the two white hands wrapped around his eye and neck.

 

Author's Note: And you thought your dad was a prick.

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