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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52. Chapter 51

Apollo

August 5th, 2017

8:09 PM


Apollo had to run all the way back, through the fires and the fanning fumes that dressed half a miles radius worth of city with the choking smog, he had to climb and to suffocate and call, over and over, until at last, Dion answered. And they spoke and they met, a top a rooftop far from the fires that ravages. Apollo saw his colleague, his hands bruised and stained, his mask blackened some, his eyes unmoving and his whole body still.  He didn’t bother to ask how it went, he knew it from the poor posture that Dion stood with, how he bent and how he collapsed on his rear and undid his mask and put his face down to his thighs to coddle himself.

Apollo watched Dion's soot-covered sweat drop, he wanted to touch his shoulder but had nothing reassuring to say so stopped midway. He retracted, looked out to the horizon and the swirling mass of clouds above as if hell descended from the skies.

“We need to go back.” He said, rather stern. “It was all a part of their plan, they dragged us out. Distracted us.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know why they wanted us away. We should go regroup at the church. It’s at the epicenter, we’ll be able to move more efficiently if we get th—” 

“Why were there so many bodies? Why were they all burning?” Dion’s voice was eerily calm. He did not blink, did not even seem to breathe as his chest was not going up and down like Apollo’s exasperated body. He neither looked tired, nor distressed, which may have been the biggest warning that he was distressed. Just forcing it down, deep down into his spirit. 

Apollo tapped him. Nudged him but did not exchange words. After a while, perhaps out of boredom, Dion stood, looked at the black mask in his hands and jumped. A cable antenna snapped from the strength of his gallop across to the other roof, it fell near Apollo and scratched the floor with a shriek. 

 


They came to the church or rather the low rooftop near the church on some apartment block across from it, they noticed the crowd and removed their masks as they slid down a fire ladder to the side. It was effortless, the conversion of Vicar to man as they supplanted themselves inside of the crowd now growing larger. The tops of heads shook, the whole crowd vibrated like a colony of bees distressed at the honeycombs death.

Apollo outstretched his neck. Being taller had its benefits, he thought. He looked to the broken glass around the church, then to the hole and the purple smoke coming out of it. The crowd was beginning to scream, most of them had their phones out and repeated to an emergency service. It didn’t help, Apollo knew it wouldn’t. Everyone who could have helped was too busy with the other fires, with the other bodies and the other sufferings. So he took it upon himself to drag the catatonic Dion through the crowd, shoving and pushing down many a people as they made it past, into the parking lot and into the graveyard on the backside.

There were some people waiting there too, with their faces wedged between the gap of black bars and the bits of brown burned and dried leaves coming at a crawl at their feet. Apollo ignored them, climbed over the pointed black fence and walked through the gravestones now blowing ashes from their tops. He began to run and looked for the door into the back entrance. Dion found it first. Well, he found the graves keeper first. And with the grave keeper, the dull face and the door.  It was them three, Apollo noted, and two of them wore the same dead expression like their eyes were looking past objects, at something imaginary and far in the horizon.  

Apollo bit his cheek. He tried nudging the doorknob. Shut.

“I have the key.” Apollo moved to his pockets. Dion kicked the door open. It broke, some screws and steel flew into the wall and stayed stiff and interred. The metal door was at a bent angle, they walked over it and heard it squeal. 

Dion disappeared in the smoke. 

Apollo ran through the fumes, coughing most of the time and covering his face with his hand as the purple exhausted out the door. It seemed to burn his eyes, whatever it was (and it was not smoke, for it did not carry that ashy smell) that contaminated the air. It was a bit denser than smoke too, it sat near ground level, especially as he reached the center of the church where it was strongest and appeared as a large purple cloud, roaming and dwindling out. It was not the time for the center though, not yet. 

Apollo went past a hall, most of the pictures and vases and statues were broken into shreds, some stained red. He stepped over a Virgin Mary, blackened and dressed with a reversed latin cross. It made him anxious. He came past a storage room where a little slit showed light, he peered his eyes and almost immediately removed his head. There was a corpse there, bisected it seemed, from left shoulder to right hip. It was a nun, he remembered seeing her face. 

He walked past her, into the principal office. Dion was already waiting in there, looking down. Apollo saw him from the door frame and saw his looming figure that stood with the listless face. He stepped up to Apollo, to the corpse laid out in front of him like skinned carpet. He was behind the desk, that Priest. He laid there, feet crossed, arms outward. Dead. Eyes open and staring back, dead. Grey. He had a wound on his neck. Apollo inspected the body with bent knees. 

“Stabbed straight through the heart from his neck. Then stabbed some more.” He mumbled and closed the eyes on the corpse. He looked up -- stood up -- Dion was staring down. His face hadn’t changed since recovering from the fires. And Apollo felt dread for him, or rather guilt for removing him from one fire and into another. 

He groaned. 

“J-just stay here.” Apollo walked away. Nothing would have filled the silence in that room, not the screaming of the crowd outside, not the breaking wind of helicopters above. Nothing filled that room but Dion and the body. 

There were more on the path there, to the center. There was also a voice inside of him, insecurity or sanity, one of those two that screamed retreat, retreat. It was that sharp voice that made him shiver at the feet, that made his head feel empty. He nearly collapsed some steps away from the ceremony room, he did not know whether it was the purple smoke or the feeling of disgust. Or his arm, his arm that felt like the surface of the sun. He rested his had on a wall, a defiled buttress whose painted glass sat below his feet in pieces. The picture of the three kings, dead and fractured on the floor. He looked at them, his eyes rolled back and he felt at last the limit of his stonewall spirit.

Apollo vomited.

He spat and faced forward with the spittle still dangling from his face, strings he cut with his sleeve. All along the halls were scattered bodies or scattered glass, cut in clean vivisections like surgery.

He made it to the church room, the post-Morten congregation. There were bodies here too, much more animated too. He heard breathing from one of them and ran. It was a man, no older than forty with a fedora knocked over to the side, stepped on. There was no boot print, rather a tri-forked footprint. The stamp of the devil.

“What happened here?” Apollo asked. The man looked up to him, he had a missing eye and his mouth could not form sentences.

“Hands.” He repeated.” Hands, hands everywhere. Hands hands hands hands—” So on and on he went in that mantra. He settled down on the floor, one of his arms was missing, one of his foot had been cut along the two skinniest toes. Bits of his flesh along his waist, gone. The dank air was strongest here, the purple aura made it a slog to walk through, but walk he did. He brought his gaze to the many dead and or few moaning, to the edges of the room where the black-suited cultists had died as well. Many of them; cultists, normal people, dead or missing with nothing but a purse or flower or picture frame to show that they were ever here. And was worse, Apollo felt, to not only die but to disappear. 

Most of them were dead, facing upwards, with their hands to the sky or their hands scratching along the floor as if to struggle against a pulling current. 

Apollo could only imagine what it meant. 

He nodded his head and walked, at last, to the very end of the room. A goblet sat on the steps of the stage, he grabbed it before it could roll down. It sat next to the foot of a man. 

Isaac.

He was dead. A giant gash was on his chest. And his body looked deflated. Apollo could not bear to look at the mutilation was partly thankful for the smokescreen of purple, for covering the wound. The corpse lay in shock, nearly nude, with nothing but a white robe on his genitals. He pitied him, this stranger to Apollo's eyes.

He pitied the living too and the dead and with a depressed neck, walked down to the giant wooden doors to break the giant wooden beam that blocked them shut. He punched it, felt his hand bleed but did not care. 

The floodgates were opened, the people came inside, most of them holding their mouths. They were looking for family, then all of a sudden crying for that very same family. None of them, much too preoccupied with Apollo who sulked in the background, who dragged Dion out. Who hoped, in his heart, that he could forever leave this hell.

For the goblet and the corpses began to piece in his head the picture of the incident, one he had read about perhaps, had heard myths about perhaps. 

"They went to hell." He said, briefly, as he tugged Dion along to the graves and the back and the car.

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