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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36. Chapter 35

Sophie
July 20th, 2017
1:21 AM

It was a long struggle Sophie put up before she came to the spot of her death. Though she did not know it yet.

For at the moment all she knew was the sharp pain in her lungs from cold air. It transformed, it went to her lower body from a stiffness of her ankles and difficult twist as she came around a corner. She fell.  The glass knife in her hand cut her palm. She switched hands, rubbed her ruined skin on her garments and wrapped it with a piece of her sleeve. So much of her body ached, it felt pricked and prodded as if returning from duress in an iron maiden.

"Where are you girl?" She heard in the distance. An echo of an echo, her body slow and steady as it came up. Her bruised knees were made to shiver and she looked side to side. Half the wall was ripped and laid to ruin to her right. On her left was a small hole in the wall, she ran into it. A toilet blackened with the years lay on its side. Its contents spilled, tar or coffee looking fluid that smelled of something septic. She crawled away from it. In front of her, there was another door or the door frame at least. There was nothing there really, just a small stake on the side of the wall. There were stalls and there were sinks. And she ran past them all. 

“Come back sweetheart, I need you.” She could hear him. Closer now, a voice that boomed and seeped its way through every nook and cranny. She swore she heard something else, a bloodhound. Tender steps of something tactile slapping away at the floor. She came to the cafeteria, it was down the hall from the bathroom. Some tables were still there and the plastic bright blue colored chairs were there too. They fell into clutter and she held her breath for fear. Sophie looked back to the halls. She couldn’t bear the thought of watching him come through the hallway. She ran for the kitchen. There was a bar of sorts, a serving station that separated the two areas and she hid behind, where the rusted metal ovens now slept. 

She passed her hand past a handle. She jumped. 

The oven door opened and the pilot light rolled out. She could hear her heartbeat, felt it too, in giant pulses through her veins. 

He was coming. Running, screaming inside. She raised her blond head and saw through the broken glass of the food concession stand. It was empty, most of the kitchen was stripped. There was a hose, like a snake, dangling from the wall. A few pots laid about. 

“It won't hurt.” Alestor screamed. “I won’t hurt you, I promise. I’m just going to slit that tender throat of yours.” His hair was wild. His face, a blustering mess of grunts and deep breaths. 

Sophie held her mouth again. She begged her body to hush. Past him, past the madman, she saw the dog. The dumb faced lazy legged dog. Wide and grinning, slobbering over the floor and biting the concrete floor into granite. The mass of tendril-like hairs and darkness. It was tasting for her footsteps. Her body felt torn, tackled in two directions. To fall, to run. A seizure of her heart. 

She stepped over the pilot light. Oh, how she cursed, fuck, fuck, fuck. Maybe they hadn’t seen it? They turned. They knew it, though they could barely see her form and the fear shot into her skull, two wide, white bullets where her eyes should have been, they knew it. 

She ran for it. The metal sounded off like a barrage, like a coming army onto the fielding. Canon fire, the screams of the dead and dying. 

She ran to the exit. Ran past the leaking restrooms and the despondent libraries and the offices of writers and of editors and past the ocean of desks now breathing dust into the air. 

She ran to a window. Thought to jump, saw the smoke and the flames and thought otherwise. Fine then, up further, up as high as the sky. She ran. The stairs nearly fell on her but she ran anyway past the shattering floor and its shifty steps. The rubbled she shot down sounded off like a rolling rock down the great temples and mountains. 

The fire exit lay ahead. She pressed her body. Screamed.

“Open.” She yelled. The doors budged, the moonlight came in and her vision blurred. She fell and crawled a bit before her vision of twos cleared, zeroed in.

Alestor was there. All the loose robes and gowns on him pushed west. He looked like the dying sail of a sinking mast, the ship sunk. Her heart sank. She looked back. She could see four yellow eyes in the now obscure darkness. She didn't know how she managed to run through the nothingness, she didn't realize how bright the night was.   

“It didn’t have to be you.” Alestor said. “You were just the one most convenient to us.” 

She punched the floor.

“You shouldn’t have snooped. You should have just let things go. Don’t blame me for this.” Half anger, half morose. Alestor's voice died and inflected with the confliction.

“Your murderer.” She said underneath her breath. Alestor leaned in.

“Wh-what was that?” His hands shook.

“You murdering son of a bitch.” She repeated. Her nose dripped, her eye lids felt hot as if a hot ring was pressed against both sockets.

“I do what I do for who I love.” He said. He was screaming at the sky. “This isn’t the end. Trust me.”

“Shut up you liar. Shut up, shut up, shut up.” She stood. 

“There’s more past this, you little parasite. And it’s more than you deserve.” His mind was made up. His guilt and his fear shook off, Alestor gripped his knife. 

Sophie gripped her own. Glass, just a piece. She felt the weight in her hand and repeated as she had done on the school grounds, with the other bullies. With Pip.

She cocked her shoulder back, she brought her arm down and with one final throw, chucked it at him. The knife cut Alestor across the cheek. She cut the sympathy from his heart. 

“Where are you looking at?” She asked. “You freak.”

He touched the line of blood. His blood must have been glycerin, gasoline, something explosive because his face was red. His head, shaking and on brink of exploding.

“You ruined my face, you bitch.” He said. He came to her. And she stood still, proud for a moment, that she was not begging. Not in fear, and only just beginning to cry.

She felt the knife run through her. A warmth came to her that spread across her body. A strong sting spread across her belly. The air made it worse. She put her hands up, they fell limp after a while though she did not know why. Her brain and body struggled, split. She wanted to talk, couldn't. She wanted to move, but her limbs refused. The struggle ended after a while and she fell, face first. But it didn't hurt. Nothing much hurt. She tried moving her face, nothing. She was becoming a statue, a museum piece locked into some stubborn pose. It was all guesswork after that, to see what moved and what didn't. A toe, fingers. That didn't last long. 

And she went stiff.

And the burden of life seemed cut from her. The bark and the fire, the moaning and the screaming. Faded. Color faded. Of all things to last longest, she was glad it was her memories and her imagination and her dreams and her feelings.

The grainy film of memories in her head didn't know where to go or stop. So she thought of her mother and grandfather. That kept them focused and she was happy. And she was frustrated. A little worried and very sad. 

Sad, but relieved, that she was cold now, cold and calm.

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