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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45. Chapter 44

 

Author's Note: First things first, I hope everyone enjoys a good Thanksgiving. Second thing is second. Five thousand reads. That's a lot. I'd like to thank you to everyone who has liked and favorited my book!

 

Dion

July 25th, 2017

1:24 PM


“Try it.” Apollo said. “It’s the Mac-Dog. Seasonal.”

“What’s seasonal about it?” Dion asked. He looked inside the tray. 

“I don’t know. It’s just marketing shit.” Apollo said. “It’s half a pound of fried macaroni and cheese on top of a pure beef, quarter pound hot dog. With the house special Chipotle ketchup. All natural, fresh, charred.”

“How long have you been practicing that?”

“I'm a natural born shill. I get a quarter a line. Demon hunting doesn’t pay the bills, after all.” Apollo laughed though it resembled blowing out air more than anything sincere. He sat down to unveil the mass like a giant golden turd, stuck along the red plastic. It was so smashed together it seemed like a small bundle of papers, spilling grease, and putting it against his mouth, he could feel the butter and breadcrumb topping drip down his hand. 

“It’s the only thing I’ve enjoyed in this city.” Apollo said, pointing to the Colonel Weiner plastic stand atop the flat-topped roof. 

“What does all-natural beef mean?” Dion took a bite. 

“It’s a phrase corporations shout to make you think this hot dog is anything but a cow’s blended asshole.” 

“Disgusting. They should be held accountable.”

“It’s fine by me. I don’t mind ass as long as it tastes as good as this.” He was half way through and his bun was already soggy and deteriorating behind the pinch of his fingers. 

“When no one cares, it’s easy to get away with anything.” Apollo said. “It's the same with murder.”

“What kind of segue is that."  

“It's easy to get away with murder if no one cares. Killing completely random assholes won’t get you caught. Ask any cop, they’ll tell you that the hardest men to catch are those without reason. Because why wouldn’t it be? Who the fuck expects random acts of psychopathy.”

“Well, there’s a lot of random in this world. We should be better at safeguarding against it. Chaos is the devil's tool.” 

"Chaos is the natural state of the universe. Don't make such a blanket claim. That's dumb bible studies shit." Apollo said. Dion rolled his eyes. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve and looked inside the window to his rear. There was an old man mopping the floor, an old man manning the register. There weren’t many teenagers at all. There was barely anyone at all and the building would have looked vacant had it not been for the occasional bobbing yellow cap running back and forth. 

His eyes came back outside to survey the horizon, the empty tables with the rickety metal table tops, stained by bird poop. The umbrellas were on their sides, they were yellow and red and they mostly blocked the wind. There was no sun. All grey, like someone, took an eraser to the ozone and removed every bit of detail. 

"I hope we're doing good." Dion said.

“We’re demon hunters, Dion. Not…”

“Not heroes. Not Superman, not super anything. I’ve heard this already. I didn't ask you to repeat it again.”

“I know but it goes in one ear - ” Apollo said.

“Out the other.” Dion said. “Don’t you have any new lines or is this the extent of your pretentiousness?” 

“How about this.” Apollo said. “I found where Alestor worked.”

Dion’s knuckles tensed. 

“But he wasn’t there.”

Dion slapped his head, he caked it in a layer of fat.

Apollo finished his hot dog. He searched inside his bag and found another, like a rocket in his hands. 

“Everything about him has gone up and left. Poof. He shredded his papers, most of them, he has no secretaries taking calls. It's all gone.”

“How’d you get in then, if it was totally empty?” 

“Through the roof. I made a hole in the ceiling. There weren’t alarms at all, the whole place looked archaic. A dungeon. Just books, Jung and Freud mostly. Some early stuff from his college years, I presume. And lots and lots of case studies. Most of those were shredded, last minute too.”

“If you didn’t find him, why are we having this conversation? Why call me out to dinner.”

“First-fold. I need you to be aware of one thing going forward.” Apollo cleaned his mouth. Gulped, swallowed. “We’re getting closer to him but I don't think it'll be a clean mission, not anymore than it has been already at least.”

“What do you mean by clean?”

“I mean this. Alright? I suspect some people are going to die before we can find an answer. We can only follow a trail of blood and for that, blood has to be spilled. The unfortunate part is how cleanly this guy's been. He’s wiped all his data, he’s gotten rid of all my leads. I couldn’t find his son. I couldn’t find anything, not an ex-college friend, not an ex-drug dealer. I just have a name, soem addresses that he'll never come back to. That’s it. The guy is slippery.”

Dion slammed the desk. 

“That’s not good enough. How can you expect me to just take that? Blood for blood? Be smarter. You're the brain, aren't you? Find this fuckers tracks. This thing, this beast. Think of the ruthless atrocity he's capable of.”

“And ruthless charity. From the few pieces of information I picked up I can tell you that his last few patients, those still alive, all received free treatment. There were no invoices, it seems that our friend was getting ready for the war a long time ago.”

“It wasn’t treatment then.” Dion figured. “ It was recruitment. An interview. Who the heck would join him? Who would be as willing as he was to murder as effortlessly as he's done.”

“One of those recruits, slaves, whatever which way you’ll call them, was someone by the name of Selena Breyer. You killed her at the press office. Burned her alive.” Apollo said.

Dion stood still, fries in his mouth. He put his head down almost in grievance and brought them back up in renewed conviction, anger almost, stubbornness in the righteousness of his action.

“She killed her kid a decade back before she even met him. I guess she wanted help all of the sudden. Or at least that's what the records show.” Apollo said. 

“So she was already practiced in the art. Well, makes sense that she’d go hand in hand with this creep.”

“She was schizophrenic. Took Olanzapine, probably stopped taking it when she killed her kid. Probably came to this town to forget she did, decided to see a doctor one day, then well.”

“It sounds like you want me to forgive this cunt. Doesn’t matter how much you try to excuse her, she did what she did. Live by the sword, die by it. Kill the weak, die weak.”

“You truly are holy. Indiscriminate with your acts of piety as you are with your acts of violence. You can’t justify everything underneath the holy book. That’s not how the world should work.” Apollo said. Dion stood. He left his food unfinished and on the table, growing stale. 

“If you’re going to humanize murderers, I’m going to leave.”

“I humanize them because the easier time you have in understanding how someone can go so wrong, the easier time you’ll have in avoiding those situations in the first place. Better to learn through someone else than one day, wake up, realizing you’ve become a monster.” Apollo said. Dion turned to walk. Apollo grabbed him by the arm, Dion who then tried jerking away from him. 

“You hit me cheap last time. Don't let it get to your head though, it was luck. This time you won't get so lucky. So sit down and stop and think. Think of all the times in which you've gotten in trouble and how they all have one origin of sin, your stupid anger. So stop, sit, and think.”

“You and The Priest, all you do is fucking lecture.” Dion said.

“Good, You’re learning how to curse. And yes, all we do is lecture dumb fucks like you. Except he’s an even bigger prick than me.”

Dion took a deep breath and relieved his lungs. His nose flared, like a bull, and ended calm and round and red. For the nipping chill had made his face swell with warm blood. 

“Don’t mix your food up.” Apollo came down to push aside the fries Dion had stacked on his hotdog. “The flavors get all fucked if you do that.” 

“Now you’re making fun of the way I eat, you jerk? You know what happens to people who feel overburdened, right? They explode.”  Dion slapped his hands down. The umbrella wobbled and the wind circulated around it, Dion could feel it cutting through his hair and blowing it to the side, covering his eyes. Like the ocean wave, collapsing and in its fall, pushing and crushing sand out to the shoreline. 

But Apollo was a rock. Weathered, already used to the sanding of time and the coarse feeling of his outer shell being thrown and ruined. 

“You’re right. I am a jerk, and this isn’t about food.” Apollo leaned back. “I want to get back to my point. I want to catch him but I can't predict the universe. Too much randomness. But I can predict men. I can imagine what lead this educated person to this part of the world, what terrible rolls of dice he must have had and what great love he must have summoned his strength from. Enough to grab the Dealer, to punch him and to reroll the weighted dice. Yeah, I know this Alestor guy. I'm sure I do."

Dion stared.

"When I find him, I need you to promise me something. Don't kill him."

“I can’t make that promise.” Dion said.

“Don’t make it then, fucker.” Apollo said. “Just keep it. We are not here to throw down the executioners sword. We're here for balance, the right of the blade belongs to one person, to -"

“God.”

“No. To the state.” 

They looked at each other with the intensity of the cold. The numbing feeling, the feeling of heat leaving their bodies from their breaths, steam, rising and becoming a part of the amalgam of the gray sky. A very cold, harsh, overwhelming intensity. Apollo found his pocket, he took out a cigarette and filled the air with the scent of tobacco. Dion put his hand over his nose and they looked out to the street, both having said their peace. 

“We wouldn't have to have this conversation if you just listened to what I said early on. Don't get too attached." Apollo puffed. “Vicars with big hearts always become big targets. Caring too much can kill you.”

“It’s what makes life worth living.”

“It’s also what makes life short-lived.” 

“I’d rather live a short life with my big, boring, cumbersome heart that live with whatever you have.”

“It’s called logic.” Apollo said. “I'm telling you what to do because I was like you, once. I know it's hard to believe because I'm a younger man, but it's the truth. I know what makes men and I know what breaks them, after all, they’re the same thing.”

Dion looked at him and the forlorn expression on his face, the gaunt in his eyes and the shadows the hollow parts of his face made. Apollo looked as if sinking into himself, disappearing into a singular spot, his event horizon.

“Those words sound loaded. You have something you want to tell me?”

“I know what caring too much means. I wasn’t born callous, I was made callous. I've seen plenty of men who thought they had that true and honest courage. But as well know, a true and honest courage is only one that has been tested and unbested. Most people don't have that.” Apollo said. “Not me and I think, not in you either, no. I just want to keep your little mind safe."

Dion felt insulted. Betrayed of his expectation of what Apollo was, he sneered and spat and denied all at once. His annoyed jerking, coughing, fidgeting ended with a dishonest laugh. 

“Well if you care about me so much, why don’t you explain what all this mumbo-jumbo means. What hurt you so badly? Hmm? Or are you saving it for your date with your psychotherapy friend. How Romantic.”

“Shut the fuck up.” 

 


The air went silent. The birds stop chirping and the wind ceased its howling and turned to whimper. Time to stopped and Dion lost track of the hour in that moment. He sat still, put his head down and waited for some kind of movement. Apollo did not move. He looked forward, into the streets and the buildings half-empty and now murmuring life like some diseased patient in the ward. There was a woman cleaning a carpet, wacking it against the wall from outside her window. There was a couple, screaming at each other. Otherwise, it was still and lifeless and Apollo carried that silence. Like Atlas, all the earth’s weight in awful, awkward silence. And he carried it. Did not protest, only looked out. 

It wasn’t until they heard a paramedics truck scream out that Dion finally breathed. Two cars followed the truck, they both crashed into each other. The harsh clang of metal like armored horses forced to butt into each other disturbed Dion who stood up. But they were alive, both drivers, uninjured even and he just watched, with Apollo. And he found himself more disturbed in Apollo, who stared at the angry people. He wondered if he saw something different. Dion nodded his head, annoyed, that he was even curious, for a second, at his partner's frame of mind.

Apollo stood. He looked to Dion and said: “We’re scouting tonight, every night, until we find them. Alright?”

It was the only thing he had said all day that made any sense. Dion turned to him and in that same solemn silence, shared his answer. Yes, of course. We’ll catch him.

 

 

Author's Note: Oh my, 5k reads. I'd like to thank you to everyone who has liked and favorited my book!

 

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