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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25. 8:06 AM

It had been three days since the sewer incident and they were pressed. Apollo bit his nails as Dion drove around the corner. They looked on outside to the shoeless children and the arcade cabinets they tiptoed in front of. Street fighter, or Metal Slug, they couldn’t tell with how ripped and broken the cabinet stickers were. There were liquor stores every other house, it seemed. Then the houses disappeared, then the road did too. Wooden fences became chain link, dogs roamed around, eating off sewer gutters. Crows picked and dragged carrion from the mud roads and from a sidewalk they could see a man in a wheelchair with a sign that read, ‘help a poor veteran’ and the cup that laid below him.

 The first thing Dion did when he stepped out was hand a few coins to the poor man. The second thing he did was shiver. He couldn’t tolerate the feel in the air, though Apollo did. This was the real heart of the city and the darkness was everywhere. They walked towards a parking lot half transmuted into forest. 

“They’re gon’ take me to the Saint Jones you bitch.” A woman was flailing her arms in the air, blue plastic bags hung on her arms like the swollen, rotten fruits of trees. Her hair was held together by a rag, a piece of an American. It was red and white. “Those devils are gon’ take me to the saint jones where the CIA live, let me tell you. They gon’ fill me with poison, ‘ell take my soul away I know it.” 

Another woman came by to drag her back to a small cove underneath a tree, a patch of blue tarp. She was apologizing to them with a very fragile smile.

“She’s sick.” She said. They sat and Dion couldn’t take his eyes off them.

“Don’t even try helping. Some things are beyond your control.” He said.

“It just makes me feel wrong.”

“Weak, you mean.” Apollo said. “You can’t punch disease in the face. You can’t wrestle it. You just fight it, endlessly, until it comes for you. For all of us, really.”

“Well, not us.” Dion said. “We’re different.”

Apollo spat. He whispered yeah in a dismissive tone and wandered.

 

There was no path to follow, just an endless patch of black asphalt that bled into the forest. The homeless were scared but they gathered around the flowers. Some slept, some drank, some picked the little joys from the floor. It had rained yesterday, Apollo was reminded, by the heavy dew collected on the poles and tarps that drizzled when they shook. It was as if they were sprinkles, watering these poor whithered souls. Well, it hadn’t done its job, Apollo thought. They all seemed dead.

“What are we doing here?” Dion asked.

“What’s the matter. I thought you liked helping people, why don’t you go around offering your services.” 

“I can’t help any of them.” Dion said.

“Hey come on, don’t be such a defeatist.” Apollo egged him. Dion frowned at the sound. “We’re just here to get a name, there was a murder nearby. Some kid, Matthew ‘Pip’ Lafayette. I have a belief that his murderer was one of our guys.  One of our many guys. I just want to see if anyone here has some information.”

“Jesus Christ, that’s horrifying.” Dion clenched his fist. “Are you sure it was them?”

“No. That’s why I’m here though, right?”

“What about the drug dealer?” Dion asked.

“He comes later. Don’t worry about him. Just ask around. Here.” Apollo threw a couple twenties into Dion’s hand. “Go buy some information. Don't. Give it. Away.”

“We’re just giving them twenties?” Dion asked. 

“You’re right.” Apollo reached for his hand. “That’s more than they deserve.” 

Dion pulled back and glared at him. Apollo smiled and watched him wander about into the little town of homeless.

The poor were everywhere, walking in droves, hanging clothes by the tree branches, hanging themselves by the metal stakes stuck in the floor that held their little bright-colored roofs together. They ate bread and crackers, they boiled water on small portable stoves and drank from little flasks in their jackets. He went around them carefully, watched them stack up on each other in the trees like a tower. The tall grass hid some sleeping on the floor and after a while Apollo became nervous to walk at all. It was like that for at least an hour. A dreadful hour, as he stared at their dirty faces and the way they looked at him like he was common place, like to some capacity, Apollo was like them. He hated being similar. He looked to his suit, it seemed neat and clean. He looked at his skin, it was not blemished or dirty like theirs. Yet they smiled, yet they passed him on as one of them. Apollo stepped on a man’s foot and looked away. He would have been caught in a disagreement if he didn’t hear the loud voice of Dion.

“There’s just no speaking to you, is there?” 

Apollo walked by. He touched Dion on the shoulder. 

“You talk to him.” Dion walked away. He opened the door of the car and slammed it and waited inside with his arms folded on himself. Apollo looked down to the man, it was the person holding the veteran sign who Dion had donated to. 

“You should be more grateful.” Apollo said.

“You should get the fuck out of my sun.” The vet said. 

“That’s probably the reason why you’re homeless, you’re unreasonable. I just want to ask some questions, old man.” 

“Ask away. You ain’t getting any answers though, you little shit.” He turned the wheel on his chair, Apollo stopped him.

“I’m not done with you.” Apollo said. “Were you here on July sixteen, at around noon, maybe dusk.”

“Get out of my sunlight.” He said. 

Apollo stepped aside and looked at him underneath the brightness of the sky. He wore a beret and over his black shirt he wore a green sweater. There was a marines patch on his shoulder, the pins of his service and sacrifice were attached to his hood. 

“What platoon did you serve in?” Apollo asked.

“Fuck off.” He said. Apollo put his foot in between the wheels again. The veteran felt himself stop and he looked up. He smiled and in one move, pushed Apollo. Tried to at least. He fell back to the chair and stood again to retry. 

“You’re not even crippled?” Apollo asked. “Did you even serve?”

“No.” The man answered. Apollo let go of his wheelchair. “I didn’t. What the fuck do you care?”

“I thought you’d be the one to care. Stolen valor and all that shit.”

“Valor is for dogs. So is pride, so is respect and decency. Ain’t no one ever been decent to me.” The old man said. He was wheeling down, Apollo followed himself and found himself jogging just to catch up.

“That’s shameful.” Apollo said.

“What the fuck are you going to do about it?”

“Nothing.” He held his wheel. “So long as you give me some information.”

The old man wheeled back to the streets and to the corner that he was yearning for.

“You think I give a shit about being blackmailed? If I cared, I wouldn’t have told you in the first place.” He said. “I’m not like you city folks. I have nothing to lose, I have no need or desire to stay here, no fear of being caught. Run me out of town and I’ll find a new spot, scream at me and I won’t listen. That’s the difference between you and me. You’re a dog and I’m a horse, I go where I please, I graze where I please.”

“I’m glad to hear you have so much to look forward to in your life, you old fuck.” Apollo said. “But a kid died. A kid that didn’t have a chance to go anywhere, do anything. He was cut to pieces.”

“What do I care for kids. They die everywhere all over the world, what’s one more body?”

“Everything,” Apollo said. “It’s everything to me. You tell me about this body.”

“Or what? You’ll take my life. Go on then. Do it here, let's see if you have the balls.” His voice was loud. His eyes were red, his breath smelled of cheap vodka. Apollo started to laugh, mostly to diffuse the staring faces.

“How about I just buy your information, you over dramatic fuck?” He asked. 

“I’m not selling anything for a shitty twenty your friend was offering me.”  He said. "Give me five hundred."

“He already offered you twenty huh…” Apollo said. He smiled. He could a vein crawling around his neck, he could feel his face redness. Dion could too, as he rolled up in the car. Apollo smiled, there were daggers behind his teeth and he felt the urge. He grabbed the man by the collar. Dion opened the car.

“I know exactly what to sell you.”

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