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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8. 12:25 AM

Oh, the stars would fall tonight.

They stood in a rented apartment room but could not fit themselves in it quite yet. For the last few hours, they had been in a fumble of fear. They sat around a table, hand out as they watched the pulse of the string of life. There was no movement, sometimes. There was, sometimes.  Sporadic things.

“Are they working?” Dion asked.

“Yes.” Apollo said. Dion wandered around the first few hours, Apollo kept his eyes on the string. He did not want to see it move, he did not want to admit to a fear that was pulsing in his heart. He wanted this whole thing to be over and done with, simple, neat, orderly. But on the third hour, he saw the coiling. The string, like a snake, wrapped around his arm, burned his arm, stung his arm with a tight grip. The faint glow of the string reciprocated in his eyes. Dion could see it across the room like torchlight and began smiling. He unwrapped his arms, the same symptoms were on him.

"What do we do?" Dion asked.

"We," He held his chest. "We find it, see if it's here."

"We know they're out there." Dion spat and could not hide his jovial face.

"We need to make sure."

"Alright, let's go then. Why wait?" Dion said. Apollo was trying to relax his chest. He looked to Dion whose irises turned red with the manipulation of his excitement. Apollo’s did too as he tried filling himself with honorable rage, punching and scratching at his own thighs and finally committing himself. 

“We’re leaving.” Apollo said.

“How will we find it?”

“Hotter the better, colder the deader.” Apollo chanted like mantra. He was bumbling between fear and anger. “That’s what she taught me.

“Well, alright.” Dion smiled. “Hotter the better, colder the deader.” 

Apollo reached into his coat and put his hand against that esoteric design stitched on the inside of his jacket. It was the smooth feeling of felt at first until his whole hand was on it. Then it slipped. It felt like water as he maneuvered inside this curious zone like going through a pond blind. When his hand came out he had in it a strange mask. Waxy looking, almost, white except for the area and shadows around the eye sockets that seemed tainted with black lines. It looked like a Rorschach, odd design. Was it wild plumage? Leaves on pale dirt? A broken porcelain road, black veins perhaps. Its face was neutral, it had nothing else to it but the leather straps that attached themselves to the back. 

Dion revealed his own, a simple smiling mask with crescent eye holes that dripped with blue-stained tears across the contours of its cheeks. These were their life masks, like thieves or jokes across the night. 

Apollo put his feet against the window sill, he looked up to the edge of the roof top across from him and looked down to the singular ladder shoot and lonely street. He jumped like a leopard across the sky, narrow-bodied, and landed like a storm. Shattering brick, disturbing gravel. For the night came and the hunt called.
  

 

 

Standing high above the edge did not help Apollo's pores from leaking. He felt death upon them both. His hands shook and he could feel the vibrations and heat wrapping around him. They were above on an apartment rooftop where the steam and smoke of a ventilation shaft contaminated them with the hot air, across from them was the faint smell of processed meat from a factory. Rancid and processed, like rot in bleach. It did not help Apollo. He was nervous, too cold to feel the warmth of vapors and his limbs felt tight like they were hypertrophied, full of an anxiety that was bound to explode. A balloon animal, shaped and bent by a clown. Pressed, pressed, pressed. Pop.

“What do we do?” Dion asked.

Apollo looked down with crimson eyes at the construction site that spanned half a block. They could hear noise. They could see details in the blinding darkness, their inhuman eyes adjusted, they were made for these things. Yet it did not help his mind for every new figure in the shadows made Apollo’s stomach clench harder.

“We’re going to wait until it comes out, then we’ll kill it. We’re in a good spot to see where it runs.” Apollo knelt on the edge of the roof. He was surprised his gloves did not slide off his wet palms. 

Dion tapped his foot. He shook his shoulders and began to kick around some plastic bags that floated. Apollo would have said something to him had he not felt the tightening of his throat. Then he stood.

Both of them got closer and reared their heads as they saw the first thing to come out. A man running, blood on his body. He fell. Something was thrown at him, a can of paint that spilled white all over and knocked him down. Dion tightened his hams to jump. Apollo held him. 

The creature behind the man finally made his appearance and Apollo could feel his brain focus, all petty thoughts disappeared into the backdrop of his primal instincts. Live, kill, eat. He felt sick looking around the blurred and slow time around him as his adrenaline high pumped through. He looked down at the creature. Tall, big bellied, but thin limbed. Neck-less for on the top of it's torso was a birds head. They mistook it for a plague doctor until its horrible mouth opened and the small ridges of its teeth showed like serrated blades. It to be something worse. It squawked and shrieked like a banshee’s siren.

“I’m not waiting any longer.” Dion said. Apollo wanted to tug him back but was too slow. Dion went forward, to a closer rooftop. He reached into his clothes and out came his instrument of death. It was too big to call a revolver, too heavy for any normal man. It was pointed forward and seemed to carry Dion with its own weight. Dion aimed up and it sounded like the heavens collapsing down onto the earth. Apollo felt the air break and push out. He opened his eyes and saw the meteor falling down.  

Pure silver, neon blue and heading straight for the beast. The creature heard it, too late but heard it and began to turn. His arm tore off into splatter and matter, black specks that turned the brown walls polka dot. Dion smiled behind his mask. So excited was he that he did not notice his own hanging wrist, the bone was sticking out, skin barely attached his hand to his body. He heard his gun fall and then realized the pain. Dion picked his gun with his good hand and pushed his broken hand back together against his chin. Apollo observed, it began to heal. Red mist came from the wound as the tendons and bones and muscles aligned themselves and reattached like self-healing machinery, red wires, red oil coming back to one another. 

“You fucking idiot, don’t push it.” Apollo leapt down to him. “Let’s go.”

But Dion would not move. He watched the arm of the demon regenerate as well, cell by cell, skeleton, then muscle, then that onyx flesh. 

Both of them seeds of the same breed, germinated in some unholy soil. 

The beast stuck its long hand into its mouth and out came something out of a carnival side show, a sword swallower. He removed the blade. It seemed bony, perhaps it was a part of his own body, Apollo thought. It was not a thought to hold on to.

“Move!” He screamed and pushed Dion to the side. The spear whistled by and struck through the metal vent behind them. The fan went flying, the building shed bricks. Down below the monstrosity was fixing itself up from its bad throw and vomiting out another weapon.

“We can rout it, start moving.” Apollo said. He began to jump roof tops before he looked back at Dion who was standing again by the edge and who with one strong gallop of his feet, threw the brick beneath him all directions and headed straight for the monstrosity.

“Listen to what I’m telling you.” Apollo spoke into the mask. There was nothing but static.

Dion put his hand against the side of the wall and stone broke into dust as he scratched it all the way down. He hopped like some maddened cat, knocking and throwing pipe and wood as he managed down. It looked like a deforested jungle of pipe and cement and plank. 

He was laughing. Apollo did not want to hear Dion laugh. He was sickly hungry. 

Dion was shooting smaller bullets all the way down from different chambers in his gun. And all the way down he was cut and ripped. More spears were chucked his way, more damage was done to both beasts.

He landed onto a broken floor. To his side, the unconscious body of Jeremiah, to his front, the beast staring back. Dion watched it. He was curious, falling into a desire for violence, just as Apollo feared. The beast reached into its beaked mouth, out came the skewer. He was a machine.

Apollo gritted his teeth as he looked down from above. He decided to move again when he had his fill.

“Just push him back. That’s all you need to do.” He told Dion. Static again. Apollo spat, slapped his forehead and headed on wards, past them, to the flat stone foundation, barely fenced by wood walls, where incomplete cement pillars erected upwards like albino evergreens.

Dion pointed his gun at the beast and stood. He listened, somewhat, to Apollo. But there was another competing muse in him, Mars.  

He shot. The thing ducked. It was quick. He was impressed. Both at the creature and his wrist that managed to stiffen itself better than before. He was only bleeding this time. He did not wait for his pain to subside or for the blood to stop dripping from his wrist, he shot again. Careful now, with tact to his rhythm, an uneven pressure of bullet shots as if a drum line had stopped and started only to trip over their abrasive beats.

The leg came off of the demon. It would not stop it though. It used its own stake to push himself back. The monstrosity hid behind the tarps and shot out its spears. Dion was stabbed in the foot. He grabbed the skewer and broke it, shattered it into bone dust. He would have chased through was stopped again. This one cut his shoulder and caused him to kneel lower. The creature was moving far and away. His body was fuming red.

Dion stared. His face clenched, his eyes closed as he held his bitterness back.

"You coward, come back." He shouted at the drifting footsteps. "What dignity is there in running."

So angry was Dion that he pushed through his healing feet, the pain, the blood and would have given chase but he stopped. For above he could hear groaning. A withered cry of death. This one was human. His heart was torn. Two voices, two desires roamed in Dion's mind. To help, to kill. He wanted to scream but he bit his tongue until it cut. He bled, drooled red. Hellish smoke released from his teeth as his tongue fixed its tip, it was the dying smog of his violent outburst. He fired an azure shot out at the sky. A flare. 

"It's not heading your way specifically. But close enough." Dion said.

"What the fuck do you mean close enough?" Apollo started. Dion cut the sound off his mask with a press of the button.

He looked around himself and it seemed like the world was finally coming back to his blurred vision.

Dion rested Jeremiah against a wall. He looked up to the moaning inside the castle of wood and decided to run. It was an excuse, he lamented, to not fight. 

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