Hey guys, this a call to arms, of sorts. I’m looking for a few folks who would like to be test subjects, if you will. I’m in need of some Beta readers for a set of stories I’m writing. I need people who are willing to read my stuff, for free, before anyone else has the opportunity. The downside, they may be a little rough, your job as a beta would be telling me what are the last few things I need to fix before I send the manuscript off to, Max, my editor. Please, if your interested in helping me out send me an emil to email@example.com and I’ll explain more expectations, don’t worry, it isn’t hard work, if you can read and can be honest with me about my work you are perfect for this job. Like and share this post as well. I can use all the eyes I can get on these things.
Time grinds to a stop when your bored. I really hate sitting behind this desk and pretending to care what goes on in the floors below me. Truth be told I have no idea what is even going on anymore. All I can focus on is the two women in the street a couple days ago. They were good, green, but good.
I looked up from my computer to see Tyler Dixon, CEO of Nash Industries, standing in my door. His shirt pulled tight and tucked into his pants with his large belly hanging over his belt. Once Dad left, my first order of business was to make a no dress code rule, business casual, I hate wearing suits.
“You have a visitor, Chrisof Rosu.”
Oh, I know the name, Mafia Don Chrisof Rosu is very well known in New Haven and a major opponent of my fathers efforts to clean up the city. His real name is not nearly as well known as his alter ego however, The Romanian.
“I really don’t have time for him.”
“Well you really don’t have a choice.” Mr. Rosu staggers around Tyler Dixon and waltzes into my office and pulls up a seat in front of me before I can say anything.
“I heard about your father retiring, wish him a congratulations for me the next time you speak to him.” I do not respond to him. “However, I am here on a business call rather a social one. I would like to talk to you about using my company, Rosu Security, for all your security needs.”
Blood flowed to my face setting it afire, my blood pressure shooting through the roof. I glance at my wrist watch and check my pulse. Seventy and rising. “You have some nerve walking into my office after the hell you put my father through offering to ‘secure’ my buildings, are you out of your mind? I will not even dignify that request with an answer. Please show yourself out of my building Mr. Rosu.”
“Very well Mr. Nash, but I am sincere about your father, please tell him for me.” He stood and tossed a card on my desk, “In case you change your mind.” Tyler Dixon stood watching through the door. As Christof passed him, his eyes darted to the floor.
* * * * *
….witnesses claim the two masked perpetrators attacked the security guards around twelve a.m. this morning taking them by surprise. They made off with an estimated two hundred thousand dollars in jewelry and cash. They wore matching blue ‘costumes’ and blue masks covering their eyes. They are considered armed and dangerous. Police are urging citizens to stay clear of the two….
Clicking off the t.v. I had heard enough. I knew the two women in the video surveillance photo’s they placed on the screen, although I didn’t really like the two names they gave them, I really don’t understand media given names sometimes. That is why I had picked my own and let them know. Calico Cat and Blur seemed to be a lot better than the last time I had laid eyes on them.
Light from my phone lit up the office. I rarely leave work anymore because of all the stuff I have to do as a real job, one that pays the bills, the one that puts food on a lot of people’s tables. I contemplated ignoring it until saw it was from The White House. Not that White House but my uncles bar. I hadn’t been to see him in months and I’m sure is worried about me. Truth is I was worried about him as well.
“Yes,” I didn’t mean for it to sound so short.
“Hello, I am calling for Simon Nash,” it was a female voice I didn’t recognize. “This is he.”
“I didn’t know who else to call.”
“What is wrong?”
“Can you come to the bar?”
“I’ll be right there.”
The beeped and the light went out as I turned it off. I turned off my computer and was in my car in a matter of seconds. What was going on? What could possibly be so important that Uncle Ed would have a server call me?
* * * * * * * * *
Eli La Croix pulled the car to a stop a couple blocks from The White House. He had no choice, police cars lined the streets ahead and the unofficial entrance into Haven Village, was blocked by street barricades and yellow tape. A police office walked up to the window and my driver lowered it.
“We are sorry but those two psychopaths are tearing up Haven Village.”
“We need to get over to The White House,” Eli said. “The owner called my boss who is his nephew, he is worried about him.”
“Go around, up Grand and come in from behind, there shouldn’t be anyone up there.”
“Thank you, Officer,” Eli said rolling the window up again.
It took us a little longer to get there but as we pulled up to the bar I jumped out before Eli had the car in park. I was in the bar before Eli was out of the car. I was at the bar before Eli was to the door. I was the first to see him laying on the bar, a knife in his chest. His had clutching a snub nose revolver as it hung limp over the bar. Eli was at my back grabbing me as I tried to get to my uncle. The one man I truly thought of as a father. Blood pooled beneath him and soaked the hard wood bar as it mixed with spilled beer and cigarette ashes. “Simon we need to go back outside and call the police,” Eli said.
I knew he was right, I knew that I didn’t need to compromise any evidence that be left behind so I scanned the small bar as quickly as could without moving. It appears to be a burglary gone wrong. His register drawer stood open, no money inside but a trail to the door, he probably drew his gun and fired at the men, firing because near the front door there were two bullet holes in the large storefront windows. Also near the front door, on the bare concrete floor lay two drops of blood.
Lights and sirens quickly filled the window and it felt like slow motion as the police officer came through the door, we drew his weapon and badge, I could see his mouth moving but I heard nothing, my mind flooding with images of my Uncle standing behind that bar, the one place he truly loved to be.
I turned slowly and looked one more time at the knife sticking out of my uncles chest, I knew that knife, I had seen it before. It belonged to Blur.
“Mr. Nash, my name is Detective Henry Parker, I work for the NHPD, I am going to have to ask you to step outside.” He ushered me to the door as the CSI guys came in and started putting numbered cones down and flashing pictures of the scene. I didn’t need photographs, the images would be burned into my memory forever.
Sitting outside in the cool autumn night I couldn’t help but wonder why would they want Edward White dead? Why did they want to rob him? They had been hitting high end jewelry shops and art galleries. Not small time bars on the north end of Haven Village, they couldn’t have gotten more than a hundred dollars from his register. There was only one man that I knew could help me, and I knew exactly how to get him.
Eli pulled the black sedan to a stop outside of an old warehouse on Euclid in Haven Village. Haven Village was once the industrial epicenter of New Haven. After the industries moved across the river to be closer to the Boneyards (the warehouse and shipping district of the city) the area fell into decay and disrepair. After my father planned the reconstruction of the city Nash Industries offered businesses the opportunity to move to the area at a cheap rate and were offered tax breaks by the local government in order to revitalize the neighborhood. This prompted a rise in the theater and arts, restaurant and nightlife in the area and it turned into the cultural center of the city. I stepped out of the sedan and onto the sidewalk, my foot landing on the damp concrete. Leaning back in I told Eli there was no need to wait on me I would be awhile and would get a cab home.
Taillights disappeared into the dark as I stepped into a little bar that I enjoyed frequenting, The White House. Edward White stood behind the bar drying out a bourbon glass. His long gray hair pulled back into a tight ponytail and his white beard hung to his chest. He wore a vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt and pair of blue jeans. His bar wasn’t a dive but it wasn’t high class either. Few people visited Whites but the ones that did were regulars and Edward knew everyone of them. He sat a bourbon glass on the bar as I pulled up a stool.
“I was expecting you,” he said. His voice was rough like he gargled pea gravel every morning. “Usual? ”
I threw my overcoat over the back of the stool and sat down. “You know what, I think I will have a beer tonight as well.” I downed the bourbon as he pulled a bottle from the cooler and twisted the top. “How’s things been going?”
“Okay, same ol’ same ol’. Business has been steady.”
I turn the beer up and drink it half down in one giant chug. Katrina steps up behind me and asks Edward for a couple beers.
“Hello Simon,” she says. I can sense some hesitation in her voice. A nervousness that I don’t place immediately.
He hands her the beers and Katrina bounces off. Her red ponytail bobbing back and forth as she makes her way to a table. I haven’t seen the guys in here before.
“What is up with her?”
“These guys have been in here the past four nights and they are giving her the willies if you know what I mean.”
I did, “Have you asked them to leave?”
“I can’t, they are Rosu’s men.”
I knew of Rosu, Christoph Rosu, the head of the Romanian crime family and real nasty piece. After the reconstruction the police force was doubled and the mafia in New Haven all but ran out of town. Only recently a few rogue groups have since grown into power and began testing the limits of the law and authority in the city. The meanest of these were the Romanian Mafia, formally known as the Gypsies.
“They keep wanting me to take their protection, for a fee of course.” “Seems to me you don’t need any protection, that is what the law is for.”
“Try telling that to them, Ever since your father announced his retirement the mobs have been making moves. They think with him out of the city things will start going back to ‘normal’.”
As I guzzle down the last of the beer Edward puts another in front of me, “I’m sorry to hear about Sarah, I wish that the Mexican government could have done more or gotten there sooner.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Listen Simon, if you need to talk to someone I’m here,”
Edward placed his hand on my hand and squeezed. He has always had large hands. As a child he would place those large hands over mine and as I had gotten older I expected them to get smaller but they hadn’t, its like they grew as mine grew.
Regina White had been his sister and my mother. Uncle Edward has always been there for me, after my mother died two years ago he pulled me from the gutter outside of this bar and took me to his house. As much as he hurt himself his concern was my my wellbeing. He wouldn’t tell my father where I was hiding. My protector, my gaurdian. I wished there was something I could do to return the favor.
Katrina bounced back toward the bar, her green eyes glowing in the dim light of the bar. “Edward, I have an emergency, is it okay if I go, its just those two guys and my shift is over anyway.”
“Sure dear, be careful going home, okay.”
“You know I will,” she leaned across the bar and gave him a peck on the cheek.
In a second she had her jacket and was out the front door. The two men stood, one following her and the other coming toward the bar. He stood behind me and placed his strong hands on my shoulders, I could feel his tenseness. He slammed my face into the bar and pulled a pistol from his pocket. Then he placed the barrel to the back of my head.
“I wouldn’t move from that stool if I were you,” his eastern European accent was thick and barely understandable, but I got the gist. “Listen carefully to me old man, if you do not take the protection I will make sure that everyone you care about suffers. Even Mr. Pretty Boy here. I saw you on the t.v. standing next to your father man thees afernoon. Don’t think you are going to follow in his footsteps, we are taking back our city.” He pushed the barrel harder onto the back of my head.
My fists clenched as I could hear Katrina scream, her shrills echoing off the old brick buildings. My eyes darted as I saw Uncle Edward’s hand sliding under the bar, I knew he kept a sawed off shotgun under there, Ol’ Susy he called it. I just hoped he wised up and left her under there.
The goon turned and walked toward the door, the sound of his heavy footsteps growing quieter as he reached the door. I looked and Edward who looked at me and I gently shook my head and mouthed the words, ‘not now’.
Edward pulled his hand back as the door slammed shut and the screams of Katrina quieted. The sound of a loud sports car drowned out anything else in the city. Blood poured out of my nose and soaked my white shirt and blue tie. I turned and to my surprise a battered Katrina staggered through the door and collapsed to the floor.
Page 1 int. kitchen…night 3 panels
Panel 1 Close on a digital clock on the wall. It reads
Panel 2 meduim: through a window no light can be seen,
Panel 3 close: a sink holds only plate but two wine
Page 2 INT. LIVING ROOM…NIGHT 5 Panels
Panel 1 medium: A young couple stand by the door,
embracing tightly, he holds a small “overnight”.
Panel 2 close: They peck one another on the lips.
Panel 3 close: MARC pulls away looking at JENNY lovingly
in the eyes.
Remember, leave the porch light off
and don’t answer the door. Just
I know, how many times have we been
over this. I manage everytime. I
love you and I’ll be fine.
I love you too, see you in the
Panel 4 medium: He slips out the door and into a pool of
kids in Halloween costume.
Panel 5 Close on digital wall clock. It reads 9:34 P.M.
Page 3 INT. LIVING ROOM…NIGHT 4 Panels
Panel 1 Jenny sits alone on her couch watching television
with the lights off.
Panel 2 close: front door.
(Sound: A loud knock on the
Panel 3 close: Jenny looks toward the door, startled.
stupid kids. the light is off.
Panel 4 close: door.
Page 4 int. bedroom…night 7 Panels
Panel 1 Close: on an alarm clock which reads 11:13.
Panel 2 CLOSE: Jenny lays in her bed alone. Apparently
Panel 3 CLOSE: door.
(KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!!)
Panel 4 CLOSE: Jenny’s eyes look startled.
Panel 5 Close: She holds the clock and looks at it.
Panel 6 Medium:
( A louder knock.)
Panel 7 close: She continues to lay in the bed, trying to
ignore the rapping. With a pillow over her head
Page 5 INT: Living room…night 4 Panels
Panel 1 wide: Living room is dark there is a know coming
from the door.
Panel 2 medium: Jenny sighs and throws the blanket back
and climbs out of bed.
Panel 3 close: Jenny’s hand Picks up a robe from the floor
Panel 4 Medium: throws it over her short shorts and pink
wife beater, stumbling out the door.
Page 6 INT. LIVING ROOM…NIGHT 7 Panels
Panel 1 She crosses the room headed for the door.
Panel 2 close: Door,
JENNY (OFF PANEL)
Panel 3 close: her hand on the door knob,
Panel 4 close: the door cracked leaving the chain on.
Peering in are a pair of eyes.
Can I help you?
Panel 5 close: opened slightly more showing a man who
appears behind the door. He is scruffy, five day growth
on his face, and ratty clothes. ELI’s eyes are shifty
Yeah, my truck broke down just up
the road and no one will open up.
Thank you so much.
What do you need?
Just to use your phone ma’am and
maybe a cup of coffee while I am
waiting on a ride.
Panel 6 close: closed door. Jenny’s fingers are on the
Panel 7 Medium: door is open and she is gesturing the man
Thank you, again. You don’t know
how many houses I tried before
I can’t imagine you were as
persistent with everyone.
You have to forgive me, you were my
Page 7 INT. KITCHEN…NIGHT
Panel 1 Eli holds the phone to his ear, he appears
Panel 2 close: slams the phone in its home.
I don’t know what to do now, no one
is answering the phone.
Is there no one else.
Panel 3 Jenny pours a cup and hands it to Eli.
I am sorry but after you finish
that you will need to leave.
I understand. You can’t be too
careful now-a-days, you know.
Panel 4 Close: Jenny leaning against the wall next to the
Especially on a night like
tonight. you know, Halloween and
Panel 5 She looks at the clock. 11:53.
Panel 6 Close: Eli face, he looks devious.
You’ve heard the stories, I’m sure,
about the missing people every
Yeah, you need to finish, I’m
I’m almost done. You don’t have to
be scared of me. I ain’t gonna
hurt no one.
Panel 7 close: Jenny appears to grow more nervous.
Please excuse me, I have to go to
the restroom. Just finish your
coffee and show yourself out.
Listen, lady I would like to stay
until I can get in touch with
someone. It is freezing out there.
Panel 8 Jenny walks away, briskly toward the bedroom.
I really am sorry, just leave.
Page 8 INT. BATHROOM…NIGHT
Panel 1 Jenny storms into the bathroom with the stranger
Panel 2 She slams the door and locks the door knob.
Panel 3 She sits down in the floor and curls up into a
ball and begins to shake.
Come on, lady, I didn’t mean
to scare you, your safe with
Ok, I am leaving. I hope you
have a great night.
Page 9 INT. LIVING ROOM…NIGHT
Panel 1 Eli gets almost to the door when…
Panel 2 Sound: loud banging from the bathroom.
Panel 3 He stops and runs back in the direction he came.
Panel 4 Close on the clock. 12:00 A.M.
Page 10 int. hallway…night
Panel 1 close: Eli foot connecting to the bathroom door.
kicks the door in,
Panel 2 medium: running in halfway he stops.
Panel 3 medium: Eli stumbles backward into the hallway.
WHAT THE HELL?
Panel 4 wide: A huge hairy creature with a long snout and
sharp drooling teeth leaps out on him.
Panel 5 close: the teeth of the beast dig into a torso
Panel 6 Close: on the beast looking up
Page 11 INT. LIVING ROOM…morning
Panel 1 Jenny lays on the couch under a small quilt,
Panel 2 The front door opens and Marc walks in carrying
Honey, I’m home.
Panel 3 Jenny raises up and peering over the couch.
How was everything?
Panel 4 close: he leans in and pecks her on the cheek.
Fine. Nothing exciting.
Panel 5 close: tv is on the news a blond talking head is
reading a piece of paper
…the truck was found near a…
Panel 6 close: She pushes a button on the remote.
Page 12 ext. woods…day
Panel 1 A creek flows gently over rocks and moss. A leaf
acts like a boat as it travels down the stream.
Panel 2 It passes rocks and moss, sticks and downed tree
Panel 3 close: It keeps going until it stops on the white
face of Eli as he lays in the creek.
Caption sometimes things are not what they appear.
Panel 4 Medium: Eli’s body lies in the creek. His chest
Panel 5 Wide: Eli lays in the creek, flowing from his body
is his blood, mixing with the once tranquil setting of the
fall creek giving it a darker feel.
(Images are royalty free images I found)
A faint light from his cell phone made it all but impossible to see in the dark room that once housed the penthouse at The Tower. One of the largest residential buildings in the city and for only the elite. Daniel Martin was an elite, or rather used to be an elite. The scribbles on the wall gave me a good clue as to who the killer had been and who most likely had been my spy. But I damn sure wasn’t about to tell Detective Kyle Harper the information. For one I know he couldn’t take the answer I would give him. And for another it would only get him hurt.
“Okay, I will tell him,” Kyle said before he placed the phone in his pocket. “I’m afraid your ex-wife isn’t at home Alan. Anywhere else she might be?”
“Not that I am aware of.”
“Why did you think that your wife might be in danger Mr. Valentino?”
“My line of work doesn’t make many friends Detective,” but again I couldn’t tell him it had been because of the thoughts that I had of her while the spy watched me. I had no proof that she was in any danger but the fear popped up anyway. If Lucian in fact had spied on me, why?
“I understand that son,” he said. “So you don’t think you know who that might be. The Hitman? You haven’t heard the name before?”
“I’m sorry Kyle I haven’t.”
He thanked me and I left the scene alone. I had no idea why Lucian would want to kill this Demon King, a member of the 200, one of our fellow followers. I knew why I had wanted him dead but had Lucian made the same deal. I knew one thing about Lucian, he wouldn’t go after this man unless someone paid him, and they would have had to pay him well.
As I slid one foot into my car a blinding light shot through the car and out into the city street. Her beauty breathtaking, Marlie sat in the passenger seat, her hands to her side and looking straight ahead. She had no other color and looked like a feminine shaped blue light. But the shape held that of the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. A small button of a nose, long flowing hair and a slim fit body. She had no need to showcase herself like this for me I knew what she was and pure energy had no shape. But I guess it put me at ease.
That was until she spoke. “Alan, she has been taken.” Her voice sounded like a thousand angel choir singing, but the words made me feel entirely different.
“By who?” I asked as I slid the rest of the way into the car and closed the door. We had parted ways in order to keep her safe. This was never supposed to happen.
“I don’t know, its being blocked. All I’m getting is a location. It’s at a warehouse south of the city, near the river. If it is being blocked Alanesis, it has to be one of the 200.”
“Did Lucian kill Daniel?”
“You know the answer to that Alan. But he does not have her.”
“It isn‘t Lucian?”
“No. I saw Lucian. He is on his way there. Lucian is but a pawn in this game.”
“So I guess His deal is off?”
“I think if this truly is a member of the 200 he may overlook this one error.”
Pulling out of The Tower parking lot I noticed Marlie disappeared as quickly as she arrived. A bright dissipating light left me with only a general location, but that gave me more information than I needed.
The room behind my office held weapon after weapon and while it offered a huge variety for the killing of humans or nephilim, guns, swords, bow and arrows. But there was one item that I needed in order to destroy the person who had Cassie. From what Marlie had told me it had to be an angel or a fallen, either way it would take The Blade.
The Blade was my Excalibur. Although not as large the great mythical sword, she did the job. 10 inches of narrow forged metal came to a thick gold front bolster and pearl handle that led to the gold rear bolster which curved slightly around my hand. She had been dipped in the sweet perfume of the Qeres, a scent blessed by the creator himself and which some believe the Egyptians used in the process for mummification. The truth in fact was that he created it for the sole propose of killing angels, the Fallen and the 200 more specifically. It was then given the angels Michael and Rafael to destroy us. I happened to get my hands on some and made myself weapon. And if Lucian had killed Daniel then he would have had to dip his arrow head into the Qeres or he had found a new way to dispose of a Fallen. Either way I wasn’t comfortable because something told me someone had a price tag on my head.
No matter, I was headed south of town looking for Cassie.
I could feel the eyes watching me, that uncomfortable feeling I got in the parking lot. Lucian, I was sure, and his deadly bow were nearby. The Blade began to glow but was it because of Lucian or was Cassie’s captor nearby. She would glow to alert me to the presence of an angel, and Lucian was beginning to make this difficult.
Pulling the car into a small warehouse which appeared to be abandoned, I noticed it looked like the perfect place to take a kidnap victim. Tall grass stood five feet in the air and blocked most of the door. The once heavily used loading dock now sunk down into the ground in a reverse ramp had long ago been flooded and held stagnant water and gang graffiti. A rusty tin roof littered with holes held no sign of shelter, allowing the weather invade the building.
My foot splashed in a puddle as I stepped out into the dark, the only light given was the glow of The Blade as it shined through the sheath at my side. Two silver 9mm in my hands for protection. They wouldn’t kill an angel but the silver plated bullets would get rid of any lackeys he might have.
The sense that someone was watching me came flooding back. Someone defiantly held watch over this place. I had to be close. Or close to a trap. I had to admit that I was aware of the fact that this could all be a trap to lure me out into the open. Why would Lucian do this to me? What could he possibly gain from killing me?
An arrow flew past my face sticking into the side of the building. I saw it blinking and then BOOM!!! It exploded sending debris flying everywhere and large graffiti wall came tumbling down sending dust into the air. Suddenly a fist landed along the side of my face and I saw black.
Cool water slapped against my face as I came to, lying in a pool of water with the sprinkler from the fire suppression system throwing water at me like a garden hose. I scanned the interior of the building and saw only darkness and a few rusty pieces of equipment and bare shelves. I tuned out the sound of splashing water and tried to focus on any sound that might let me know where my attacker lay in wait. I knew it to be Lucian from the arrow, I had seen those many times throughout my long life. I also knew he missed on purpose.
“Hello, Alanesis. How does it feel to be on the losing end of a battle? I must say that I was hoping for more of a fight.”
I didn’t recognize the voice. “What do you want and where is Cassie?”
“With my brother.”
What did that mean?
“Alan, I hate to do this but he is paying me an awful lot of money.” Lucian said. I still didn’t see him but he sounded closer than the other Demon.
“Lucian, Why are you working for this joker?”
“Alan, he is the strongest Fallen I have ever met. He came to me in my sleep.”
The only demons I knew that could invade dreams were succubus and incubus but Lilith was the only one powerful enough to hold power over Lucian and frighten him. And I knew the person out there was not Lilith.
“Who are you then, if you are so strong.”
“Lets just call me The Sandman, Alan.”
“And who is The Sandman?” I felt around for The Blade but she no longer sat in her home at my side. I still had my guns but I assume that was because they knew they would do me no good.
“Are you looking for your knife, Alan?” Lucian said.
“You know me well, Lucian. We were once friends.”
“We were until I asked for your help and you denied me.”
“I couldn’t Lucian, you know that.”
“But you could go after Daniel this time? Your morals have softened I guess.”
“This is about me getting back in. He promised me.”
“HAHAHAHAHA, He promised you?!” The sandman screamed. “He promised me a lot of things as well. A lot of things that he never delivered. He is a liar, Alan. A liar.”
“What do you want with me then?” I asked. Still scrambling for the knife.
“Revenge. I would have had my own kingdom once. And you chose the wrong side. Now I have came for my revenge.”
Suddenly an arrow pierced into my leg and felt the weight of a large being on top of me. His face did not exist. It was blank, void of features. How could he see, how could he smell, or hear. It was a complete nothingness. Pure evil if I had ever seen it.
“I am done Sandman.” Lucian said from a distance.
“You are done when I say you are done.”
“You promised me Rebecca, where is she?”
“In due time, son, in due time.”
“I am not your son, I am no one’s son.” An arrow shot through The Sandman’s shoulder and stopped an inch from my face.
I pushed with all I had and sent the Sandman flying. He landed three feet away in a pile of wet boxes. Then I saw it, a glowing from a table a few feet away. I made a bolt for it, limping and dragging one leg.
“Where is Cassie?” I yelled.
“I told you she is with my brother, and your father. If she was a good girl.”
Suddenly I realized that Cassie was dead. There was nothing I could do but get revenge. Then I heard two gunshots and saw Kyle running through the sprinkler rain. He fired two more shots the landed in the center of the Sandman’s chest.
“Alan are you okay?” Kyle screamed as he approached the scene.
“Kyle get back!”
The Sandman threw his hand into the air and Kyle flew fifteen feet into a shelf. He lay there unconscious, water hitting his face.
“I don’t understand.”
“I planned for millennia to take over that kingdom. And stopped me.”
I felt his fist in my back. I flew into the table. His foot landed behind my knee sending me to the concrete floor.
I saw a glowing next to me. My blade was with in reach, just next to my hand. I slid my finger across the blade and blood trickled to the ground.
“Lucian get Kyle out of here.”
My wings, I haven’t used them in years, shot out of my back and I lifted into the air. The black feathers dripped with cold water. I looked down on the faceless man, The Sandman. Lightning shot from my fingers striking metal all around me.
Lucian scooped up Kyle. His eyes now open and on me as I floated above floor, bright lights shooting from my hands. I needed The Blade. I turned and fell, swooping like a hawk on a mission to snatch a field mouse. I grabbed the knife and sent it to the sheath and shot back into the air. Suddenly I was hit with a shelf that had flown through the air.
Laying on the ground looking up at The Sandman, his face saying nothing, emotionless, cold.
“She is gone forever. That is your punishment Alan. Live with that for eternity. And you won‘t stop The Happening.”
I shot a bolt from my hand. It struck a transformer that set of a loud explosion and a chain reaction. His attention diverted I jammed the blade into the only spot I could reach, his inner thigh of his right leg.
An open window at the far end of the warehouse shown red and blue lights flashing. Unfortunately it was my only escape. My wings beat with all the energy I will. The Sandman fell to the floor clutching his leg as the building came down around him. Mounds of rumble consuming his very being. I left him there to die a slow death. I hadn’t hit a vital point on him, his head or his heart but it would infect him slowly killing him as he lay paralyzed.
White walls and the smell of sterilizer filled my nostrils. Next to me stood my friend Marty and my assistant Phoebe. He blond hair glistened fluorescent glow of the hospital.
“We nearly lost you,” Marty said. “You have to stop using that blade on yourself.”
“Sir, you had me worried,” Phoebe said, leaning down and pecking me on the cheek.
“How is the detective?”
“He’ll be fine. I’m sure left with a lot of questions.”
“And what about Cassie?”
Phoebe placed her hand on my hand. “I’m sorry. She hasn’t been located but a torture chamber was found in the basement of the warehouse…” she paused. “There was a lot of blood.”
I couldn’t breathe. “At least I got the bastard.”
Marty looked at me, his face solemn, “They didn’t recover The Sandman. The was no body.”
I saw red, “Phoebe, find me Lucian Green. And any information on The Happening.”
Valerie and Bradley exited François’s Bistro on 5th. He leaned in pecked her on the cheek. What could be so important about this girl? This human. It made no difference to him, Samuel had a job to do.
His green slimy skin glistened in the moon light as they drew closer to him. And when he caught the mans scent his eyes glowed red.
Lucian had worked hundreds of jobs over the years but none quite like this one. He watched as Alan sat in his car across that parking lot. Unflinching his body never moved, he sat, crouched like a cat ready to pounce on its pray. He had an ability to slow his body, will it into near paralysis, so much so that his heart nearly stopped.
He watched steam from his mouth folded around the rusty autumn leaves. Things were changing and he knew that. He could look around and see that the world was in a state of change. On one of its many cycles that he had witnessed. And this job was proof of that. Alan? This made no sense to Lucian. He was untouchable. One of the 200. No one touched the 200. But someone wanted Alan out of the picture. A man, by what Lucian could surmise was a very powerful man. He had never met a demon that could invade someone’s sleep. The things he could do in there gave Lucian the chills.
Alan finished backing his car out of the parking lot and sped off into the early evening twilight. He knew nothing of what had happened with Alan over the last three hundred years and he knew nothing about “The Sandman” or what his endgame was. He did know however that he didn’t want to mess with him. He feared The Sandman more than he feared Alan. And in all his years if he learned one thing it was that it was about survival.
The car stood still at the stoplight on 17th and Vine. I could see the car flying up on me with the red and blues flashing in the windshield, not on top of the car so I knew it wasn’t a squad car but a detective and I knew it was most likely Kyle Harper. But why?
The could hear the tires as the car skidded to at stop just behind mine but as the light turned green I decided to remain still. I saw Kyle step out of the car. His black hair blowing in the cool breeze. He turned the collar of his tan leather jacket up over his ears as he came along side my passenger side. He opened the door and helped himself in.
“Can I help you detective?”
“Drive, the detective will lead. I want to ask you a few questions before we get there?”
“Why are we going to the tower?”
“Because the man from who your client needed protection, died late last night and I think I might need your help.”
“I was on my way to see my ex-wife, I feel she might be in danger.”
“I will send a car over to her house,” with that Alan sped off led by the detectives car. As he promised he radioed to have a car over to Cassie’s house.
“I don’t understand who I help you. I am a private detective. Surely you have people more capable than I.”
He turned to me, his face flush red. His hand hovered near his gun. I could feel the tension rising in my chest. I may be an angel but I could still feel emotions. I could still get scared, still feel pain. I could still feel happiness, and sadness. And at that moment I felt shock and surprise and worry. What was Detective Kyle Harper going to ask? And why was his hand near his gun?
“Alan, he had an arrow through his head. So last night I had a guy beheaded with sword and then his boss was shot with an arrow.”
“This is the twenty-first century, who uses a bow and arrow and swords in this day and age?”
“I don’t know Kyle.” Actually I did know. I used the sword to kill the werewolf but who took out Daniel. That was my job. It was my one way ticket. Marlie had told me that if I did it I would have a ticket back in. Now that was gone.
“Also someone had wrote the words ‘The Hitman’ in the victims blood on a wall in the apartment.”
My heart raced with the words. I knew who the killer was, and I knew if he was in town it wouldn’t be good.
The Sun beat down on the mud soaked battlefield. The brown slush had become so deep that the horses couldn’t move through it and the chariots were all but useless. The heavy and light infantry of both armies had bedded for the night and the sun had woken us from its blistering heat pulsating down on us. The putrid smell of the burning hair and organs wasn’t lost on us demons. The smell isn’t any different than that of humans. My guess was that Ramuel had burnt the dead of his army and Akibeel’s.
I looked down the line of men to my right. I could see the younger demons, and I knew what they were thinking. Why did I sign up for this, Ramuel can never give me what I had with the lord. I was stupid to follow him. I wished that I had felt different but the fact of the matter was I had been there, once long ago, but I had been there none the less. I, however had learned to accept the consequences of my actions and regretted them for only a moment.
I started to feel something on my skin, not just in one place but all over, tightening. I looked to my left and I could see Lucian sitting like a stone statue. His body frozen, like a freeze frame in time. A portrait of him standing stoic with his shield and his sword, light leather armor guarding organs that would be vital to humans but nearly unimportant to us, only his heart and his head, like us all, bared the burden of being important. However his mind and his hands are what I needed him for most.
The constricting continued and I shifted my gaze to the sun, watching it rise higher into the sky. It was moving at an enormously fast pace. I counted as I watched it pass a large rocky hill down line. 1…2…3…4…and then it passed another red rocky hill. They appeared to be no more than six inches apart, however they were many miles away. The tightening was almost becoming unbearable.
“Lucian, what is happening to me? I need your help, old friend.” I again turned my gaze to him but the action was much more labored now. I saw him again standing indifferent to anything that was happening on the battlefield. To the average person it may not have seemed like much was happening at all, but because nothing was happening meant that quite the opposite was in fact the case. Someone was freezing us in time. Incasing us in a muddy tomb.
Thud…Thud…Thud… I could hear the galloping of Akibeel’s forces closing in on the side of the Mountain we were disparately trying to hold. I managed enough energy to turn my body to see someone riding across the battlefield. He sat atop a giant steed, clad in armor from head to toe, he appeared to be from another time. Bright metal, like that of our swords, shined a reflection from the sun. I needed to know who was controlling the sun, making it move so fast across the sky and making it burn so hot, as to nearly instantly freeze us in time. This, however, wasn’t my demon.
I had struggled and dug deep to find the strength to help Lucian get his hands free from is muddy tomb. If he could help me get a few of the other demons free we might be able to free up the line. Akibeel’s forces marched meticulously across the ever hardening ground . Avoiding any suspicious areas. I wriggled my finger until I broke it free from the tightening tomb. Then with all the energy I could fathom I moved my whole arm back and forth until soon the layers were falling off like rubble falling from a building in an earthquake, pieces falling and hitting the ground until I once again could breath.
I ran, jumping over large rocks, and mud incased bodies until I reached the side of Lucian. I franticly searched the ground for something to get him free. Nothing seemed to fit the cause so I grabbed the next best thing, my dagger from its sheath.
“I don’t think so, you be careful, I‘m very delicate.”
He said to me.
“O, you say that now,” I chuckled.
I picked a little at the corner near the inside bend of the elbow until soon he began to move on his own. He worked feverishly, shaking like a wet dog until all his mud had fallen to the ground.
Both of us turned our attention to the ridge to see the rest of Ramuel’s army frozen in thick red mud as well. I looked at Lucian suggesting his help.
“I can’t make it rain Alanesis.”
“No but you can give these men some strength to break their chains.”
“That I can, but you know what I need.”
“Enough, I’ll take care of you.”
I slid the dagger back out of its leathery home and place the razor sharp blade along my left wrist, dragging the blade across it. My hand nearly fell off as the blade sliced through my flesh and through the bone with little effort. Lucian grabbed me quickly and held the hand over a rock on the ground. Light shot from the ground and splintering into thousands of forks, Lighting bolts filled the skies sending little tentacles of light raining down and landing abruptly on the top of the soldiers heads.
Ramuel was the first to brake free raising his sword into the sky, shouting a battle-cry that I didn’t understand, but it was apparent to all his men for they all found extraordinary strength and broke free of their bindings.
Suddenly everything around me blurred, Lucian’s face became a contorted, an out of focus mess.
I could still hear the galloping of horses and then the thunder doubled and I felt the whoosh of wind blowing by me forcing the smell musky smell of sweaty, dirty horses into my nostrils as they headed for Ramuel’s front lines.
Then I could feel the stillness of the air. Lucian and I were the only ones left at that part of the battlefield.
The view from Lucian’s perch across from The Tower gave a clear line of sight to Alan alone in the apartment with the detectives. He could see his name scribbled on the wall in the demons blood. He knew that Rebecca had done this. Was it a message to the authority’s, the Higher Powers or to Alan? He knew he had a job to do but he also knew that at that moment he had other fish to fry. He still had to find out who mystery the man was, Sandman, and why Rebecca was in his city.
As Rick would say, “Of all the Gin joints in all the world, she had to walk into mine.”
An autumn sun rose early and hung low in the sky, throwing bright orange rays onto the cityscape. My hand felt a sting from the cool air as I tugged gently at the large metal handle of a glass door to the offices at Valentine Enterprises. A bubbly blonde, Phoebe, scooted toward me with a cup of coffee and a manila folder. She was always busy, or at least appeared to be.
“Mr. Valentino. You have a ten a.m. with Mr. Palmer and then a lunch with Mr. Stafford.”
“Okay. Just buzz me when they arrive. You know the drill.”
She handed be a resume as we made our way to the elevator in the main lobby. The double towers were connected by one lobby with elevators on each end going up their respective towers. My office sat on the fifth floor of tower two on the left. Phoebe walked with me every morning and she reminded me of my calendar for the day everyday. I had been doing this for hundreds of years I had it down. But I liked having someone around to get me coffee. I don’t know why because as an angel and then as a demon I can’t taste anything. We don’t have to eat.
“You have a visitor in the office. She is here for an interview.”
“No a job interview. She is applying for an research position.”
“Why aren’t doing the interview?”
“She asked for you sir, the resume is in your hand.”
So it was. Valerie Campbell. I didn’t recognize the name, who could this woman be? I did need a researcher so probably someone who found my name online and wanted to speak to the top of the totem pole.
The elevator door opened to my office and I saw her sitting across the room intently staring at the wall. She wasn’t ready a magazine or watching the t.v. She sat completely still in the chair with her hands crossed over her lap and a portfolio bag next to her.
It wasn’t the bag or the professionalism that caught my eye. It wasn’t the fact that she had to be right out of college or the pressed business suit that fit her so well it had to be tailored. It wasn’t her calm confident demeanor or the slight smile that could melt an iceberg that caught my gaze. It was her familiar eyes and uncommon wavy light brown hair. It was the button nose and high cheekbones and slender athletic build that set me aback. I had a name for the girl on the street two nights ago and her name was Valerie Campbell. My question now was, what did she know? I don’t believe in coincidences.
“But before you meet with her there is a detective in you office. A Kyle Newton.”
As I pulled the door open to my office I saw Kyle standing at the large plate glass window, peering out onto the city. His sandy blond hair disheveled as always stood up suggesting that he had just rolled out of bed. His tan sport coat stood open revealing his shoulder holster and a badge on his belt that held his blue jeans in place. Tucked into his blue jeans was a coffee stained white dress shirt and a tie loosely tied at the neck.
“Detective Newton, what brings you to my side of town?”
“Did you hear about he lumberjack that was beheaded two nights ago?”
“Sure, hasn’t everyone?” I pulled up a my chair and offered my guest a seat.
“I think I’ll stand. This shouldn’t take too long. Where were you last night Mr. Valentino?”
“Working late here at the office. You are more than welcome to follow up with Phoebe. She has my schedule. How does this concern me?”
“Well the lumberjack, was no lumberjack. He was a personal guard and enforcer for Daniel Martin.”
I knew the name Daniel Martin as a high level mobster and demon in the city he was on my radar. I also knew exactly who the man worked for. Martin had his had in just about every criminal activity in the city from drugs to prostitution to illegal arms.
“Again what does this have to do with me?”
“Just thought that you might know something. You have client that is under your protection because he was threatened by Mr. Martin. Is that correct?”
“I’m sorry detective but at Valentine Security we promise to hold our clients personal business confidential. I’m sure you understand.”
“Alan, a man is dead on the street and he is a man that was threatening one of your clients and you are in a business of protecting people. You could see why I would need to ask you about your whereabouts.” He moved closer and placed his hands on my desk and looked me in the eyes. He didn’t intimidate me at all.
“Detective, my client is in a safe location. Neither he or myself were anywhere near the victim. So I don’t see how I can be of help.”
“Thank you for your time and I am sure I will be back.”
“You are welcome in my office anytime Detective.”
As Kyle made his way to the door it opened and Phoebe escorted him out and showed in the next visitor.
Valerie defiantly had a beauty to her. I could see why Rowland had his eye on her. “Please Ms. Campbell have a seat.”
She sat in the chair across from me and crossed her long thin legs, her skirt riding up showing most of her thigh. “It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Valentino.”
“The pleasure is all mine. I see you are applying for a research position within the firm. What qualifications do you have?”
“I must be honest. I am right out of college and I am interested in working with the best. I have so much yet to learn but I want it to be from the best.”
“Is that why you went to Daniel Martin first?”
“Wh- how-how did you know that?”
“I am the best, remember?”
“Well I guess you just proved you are.”
“How would you like an internship? It doesn’t pay anything for the first six months, however you will be given everything you need. I will put you up in an apartment and you will work with Kimaya.”
“That sounds great. When can I start?”
“Phoebe will take you to your room and show you to your office. I wish you the best of luck.”
I wanted to keep an eye on her. Martin wanted her for something. My question was what?
I didn’t have the answers to any of the questions that I posed to myself over the last several hours but I knew if anyone did it would be my old informant Barbas. He lead me to Martin, but I had made that a bust and God would send someone else to clean up the mess that I had caused. Not that I cared, I saved a woman’s life and ended the life of a low level nephilim.
Barbas owned a dive in a back alley in a seedy part of town. I could smell the filth of the street the instant I stepped out of my Audi. My shoes splashed in a puddle on the wet pavement as the brisk fall air hit my face. I pulled my jacket up around my neck to block the slight breeze that blew the filthy smell around, circulating the stench throughout the city.
I dug my hands into my pocket and finger the 9mm pistol tucked safely into my jacket pocket. My foot sank into a deep puddle soaking my designer shoes and jeans up to my ankle. I shook my foot as if it were a dog shaking access water off his coat after a recent swim, but to no avail.
I looked hesitantly down the dark alley, trash cans and bums filled the alley with a putrid smell, this might very well be were the stench has originated.
I moved my hand off the 9mm and onto my key ring and press the lock button. Then in an obvious attempt to let the bums know the car is off limits I hit the alarm button, making the car’s horn beep in two short bursts. Then as another warning, did it again. Maybe a bit overkill.
The entrance to the back alley dive sat down a flight of stairs at the end of the alley. It was one of those basement joints. The kind only the locals know about. When I say locals I don’t mean the people who live in the neighborhood, I mean other demons and nephilims. Barbas ran his place for nearly two hundred years, catering to a crowd that can’t really go to the local in club of the season. It allowed our kind a refuge from the city above.
It also allowed Barbas the opportunity to gain certain privileged information. Like any other bar in the world the bartender knows everyone’s business. For the right amount of cash and the right amount of discretion Barbas has been known to allow some of that information to slip.
I slowly descended the stairs to the outside basement entrance and the wet pavement once again began to be pounded by large raindrops. I was immediately sorry that I didn’t bring along my umbrella.
The sound of fist rapping on the large, heavy iron door echoed in the alley. My Audi parked out front, my designer clothes and the loud rapping of the door pretty much killed any chance at discretion with Barbas tonight. But I had to try my luck. Something was going on in this city and I had a feeling that it was going to happen soon.
A large bald man cracked the door. I didn’t recognize him, but that didn’t mean anything. He might not look the same the next time I knock on the door either. Most demons pick a look and stay with it, but some change their appearance like some change clothes. I could see the benefits of canceling ones identity, however I like to make myself age with the times but when its time to move on to a new life I always come back to the same twenty to thirty something and start over.
I gave the secret code that I had used a few days ago hoping that it hadn’t changed. It hadn’t. I entered the bar and was surprised to see that most of the demons in the bar looked normal. Or better yet, human. It became hard over time to get used to the way we look without shape shifting. We prefer our human appearances, as often as some might change them. Here, in this safe haven for demons, I was actually a little surprised that we all choose to appear human.
The bar was stocked with the usual human spirits but everyone knows that you can get some specialties of the house, some legal, others not, from the bartender. I sat at a stool at the end of the bar and ordered a Scotch and water, from a short, balding man with a beer gut. He couldn’t have been more than 5’5″ and had to weigh two hundred pounds. Again, why would someone choose this appearance was beyond me.
There were a few people in the bar, but for the most part it was pretty quiet. I was trying to blend in as much as possible, but not being a spy or an undercover cop, my blending skills were obviously lacking.
“Is there something your looking for other than scotch, sir,” the round man said to me as he began to pour himself a drink. “Because if you are, you came looking in the wrong place.”
“Can’t a guy have a scotch in a watering hole that doesn’t make him feel like a freak?”
“Come on, the Audi out front and the designer clothes don’t do the trick?”
“Got me.” I was trying to play it cool, again lacking.
“Son, I think the man your looking for left along time ago.”
I was beginning to think the same thing. But then something in his eyes caught my attention. It wasn’t something that particularly appealed to me. Baldy was coming at me from behind with a barstool. Why?
I ducked out of the way just in time to see the stool smack hard onto the bar and shatter into a million pieces and some kind of instinct took over and I gave baldy a quick uppercut to the chin and he fell backwards like a tree falling after a lumberjacks final blow knocks the last hope for survival out with his axe. Sent him crashing to the floor.
I turned around and downed the last bit of scotch and tossed a card on the bar.
“Tell Barbas that Alan needs his help again,” I said slamming the glass down and sending ice flying everywhere. “I think it’s a matter of life and death, and it could be bigger than anything we’ve seen before.”
It began as soon as I got in my Audi in the staff parking lot. Leaves from the trees that surround the office building had already begun to fall and were covering the ground in a wet multi-colored blanket. Reds, yellows, oranges and browns everywhere the eye could see.
I turned the key and almost instinctively I glanced into the rearview mirror. Why? I had no clue. I was beginning to feel weird lately. Maybe it was because things with Cassie weren’t going like we had planned, and hoped. I loved her so much, the softness of her skin, the softness of her soul. She was a kind person and I just couldn’t give her what she wanted, needed.
This felt like something else though. My eyes went from being focused on the backseat to the wooded area from a small park that boarded the parking lot. Again, why?
I stared intently at the woods for a moment waiting, trying to focus on something, anything. Movement, I decided, I was looking for movement. Something, someone was in the woods. No, that’s crazy. Why would someone be watching me? There was no reason for anyone, anything to be spying on me.
I clicked the transmission into reverse and gently released pressure from the brake, still focused on the woods. And then it caught my attention. Movement, what I had been looking for. I hit the brake. My car sitting in the middle of the parking spaces and the drive between them. I glanced at the radio to see what time it was. Why? Didn’t matter. Fifteen minutes past four, and the fall sky was already turning gloomy, twilight.
I focused on the woods again, a breeze rose in the air, rustling the trees and knocking leaves from their homes and onto the ground where they would die and decompose. Their short lifespan over, only to be replaced by new life next spring. I lost what had been moving before. As quickly as it had my attention it was gone.
I finished backing out of the parking spot, the tension suddenly released from me. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. Whatever was watching me was powerful. A creature that I didn’t want to encounter. That left me with a question. One that bothered me the entire drive home.
Why? It just kept ringing in my head. Why was it watching me? Why was I nervous about it? And what did it want? Suddenly I remembered that when I first got into the car I was thinking of Cassie. If what was watching me was a demon it was possible, depending on the demon, that it could read my thoughts. Was Cassie safe?
I hate the feel of leather, I know most people don’t, but I do. It always seems to stick to my skin and pulls on me when ever I move. That was what I was thinking about when the lawyer came into the room. Not about Cassie or about the condo, or the money that I made off of the business or the cars. Not about the love of my life, my very long life, leaving me when I don’t even know what I did. Not about the child that we talked about adopting because I refused to have one, me being a demon and all. I was thinking about the leather chair. The fucking chair.
“Mr. and Mrs. Valentino, sorry that I am running late. Lunch went over, I was meeting with another client,” he said as he tucked his bright green tie close to his body as he sat in his leather chair. How can anyone like these things, I thought again. “I hope you’re more on time when it comes to the separation papers, Mr. Rowel,” Cassie said, wriggling in her chair. She must think there uncomfortable too. Maybe he has them so we don’t sit here forever.
“I’m very sorry, and ultimately the amount of time this takes is up to you two. If you can’t agree on anything it will take longer than if you can handle this like adults.” He has a short temper. I like that when he speaks to her, maybe not if he acts like that to me.
“Mr. Rowel, please excuse Cassie, what she is trying to say is that we would like this to be as quick and painless as possible,” I had to add my two cents. She glared at me as though she never loved me, I know that isn’t the case. There was a time in our lives that we were inseparable and when I looked into her eyes I knew that it all would end happily. I didn’t care about heaven or hell. About good or evil or the blurry thin line that defines the two. All I cared about was going to bed next to her and rising in the morning in the same fashion.
Now all I could seem to think about was the fucking leather chair in the lawyers office, and how on more than one occasion in my long life I had become the Unforgiven.
Lucian‘s breath has seemed to escape him and his palms are cold with sweat as he watches the target. He’d expected the feeling to pass after the first three thousand years or so, and to some degree it had, but Lucian had never killed someone of such a high rank before. One mistake or if one of Daniels men saw him he was a dead man, demon.
Daniel liked to flaunt his power, his untouchable power. Bella’s vaulted ceilings and crystal chandeliers was the attraction of the city. People called a year in advance for a table and you still had to be somebody to get one. Daniel ate his spaghetti with marinara sauce in the window so everyone could see that he was a somebody. What people didn’t know was that he was a something.
Daniel’s life began before anything that he now inhabited did, he was tens of thousands years old. One of the first to fall from the grace of God. None of that mattered to him, he was content living the way he did. He needed nothing from the almighty being that created him, like a son leaves the comfortable womb of his mother, Daniel had simply outgrown the cradle that God had provided for him.
He had his fellow fallen friends that helped him in his quest for riches. He also found his calling in the form of business, some more legal than others, but what turned him on was money and women. As a matter of fact it was this that caused millions of his fellow demons to fall with him. Daniel was neither the first nor last to fall but he was powerful enough to gain the head of one the divisions that the Two Hundred took.
Lucian wasn’t as powerful. Then. With his endless quiver and dead on shot with a bow his services were always a welcome addition to any demon king that wanted them, and was willing to pay for his talents. Untouchable, Lucian thought, We’ll see about that.
Daniels driver sat waiting at the door as he finished his meal. Without so much a moments hesitation Daniel stood and disappeared from his table. Lucian sat quietly on the bench across the road from Bella’s. Daniel reappeared at the door a moment later and made a line directly to the car.
His hand was as steady and unwavering as a mountain. His eye focused on his target. His mind and conscience as clear as a fresh spring. His thoughts stayed on the job at hand. He never fancied himself as a villain, although maybe to some he was. The ones that took the arrow probably did, if they had time to think. But he didn’t. He liked that he was ridding the world of the scum, the trash.
Daniel had a side business. It wasn’t his primary source of income but it was his none-the-less. Porn. Not the bleach blonde, fake boobs, tight leather or bondage porn. But child porn. He paid people to rape children and made money from it. He was scum.
Granted the guy that was paying Lucian to kill this scum was probably no better than Daniel. But the way he figured it, somebody would hire him to kill that scum someday anyway.
Daniel stepped into the open expanse of the window. He was a brave man. Lucian’s hand still held steady. Why did we choose this, he thought. I can’t let my mind wonder know, he tried to remind himself as he saw Daniel raise the window as he did every night at exactly ten o’clock.
Lucian’s perch on the building across the busy downtown street gave a perfect line of sight into Daniels penthouse. Then he saw her. She walked up behind Daniel and placed her arms around his bloated belly. Disgusting. Angels were supposed to have the perfect physique. And they can take nearly any form they chose, was this the best that Daniel could do? Her dusty auburn hair hadn’t changed in nearly a century and a half. It couldn’t. She would forever be the same beauty that she was the day she died. Lucian couldn’t say the same for Daniel.
He had to do what he was paid to do. Had to finish Daniel and stop him from ruining any more lives. The slick wooden arrow sat silently in the cradle of the bow, waiting, begging for release. To have the cool autumn air rip across its body. Lucian gave the arrow its wish. He focused one more time to make sure he was dead on. Of course he was. He released the string from his fingers.
The arrow sped through the air with the speed of a thousand horses and hit the monster in his left eye, but didn’t stop. It kept going until the entire length of arrow had had its fill of blood and brain matter. It came to rest over the headboard of the lovers bed. Dripping red liquid onto the angelic white satin sheets.
A single scream was all Lucian heard as he saw the demons body fall to the hard marble floor like a limp sack of potatoes. He didn’t fly through the air or fall stiff backwards like in the movies, no, he just went limp and fell into a ball at Rebecca’s feet. Her perky breasts covered in Daniels blood.
Their eyes met, Rebecca, or whatever she called herself now, had saw him. Saw the killer of her lover. The man that she was once in love with. The man that helped make her the monster she was. With that exchange of glares Lucian knew that he was in trouble. His worst fear had been realized. The assassin could be identified.
Bright light flooded the small room and Lucian rose from his slumber slowly. His eyes trying to focus but the light was too bright and his eyes, still tender, burned and shot with pain. He threw his hands up in defense from the light but the blows from the yellowness streaming through the open window only continued to blind him. Then he saw it. Something next to the window and he, in that instant, remembered closing the curtain last night.
His mind, because his eyes were failing him, tried to focus on the being in the corner of the small bedroom. He couldn’t, black was all he could see. Black surrounded by a great flood of light.
“Don’t try to focus too hard Lucian” the dark man said, in a deep penetrating voice that sounded like that of Legion. Several voices seem to come at once. Had he not known the power of Demon Kings he would have assumed several people were talking in unison. He knew that wasn’t the case. “I am no one,” the voices continued, “But if you wish, call me Sandman for I came to you in a dream.”
Lucian tried to set up in his bed but an unknown force held him in place, firmly to his bed. Back pressed against the warm wet sheets.
“I have a job I have for you.” Lucian’s eyes were beginning to focus and he was starting to make out the appearance of the man standing like a statue in the corner of his room.
“Focus if you want Lucian, but the next time you see me I will not look the same.” Lucian had no reason to doubt the demon king, there were two possibilities, shape shifting or more likely with a demon king, he was powerful enough to possess a human that would, as a result, never be the same. His mind would be like Swiss cheese, full of holes in his memory and flooded with images he wouldn’t understand. It was a cruel and devastating thing for the person to face. He would eventually die, normally the result of a seizure.
“What kind of job,” Lucian finally managed to let the words escape his lips.
“I need you to convince someone that they need to help me in my future endeavors.”
“I’m not a negotiator. I kill demons, Sandman,” He said the name as though he were mocking him.
“I understand your talents, but I can not have this one dead.”
“The only thing that should concern you is the money.”
Lucian’s eyes began to focus more and now he could see almost all of the man that stood before him. His white tailored suit with white shirt and red tie screamed “Wall Street GQ” not “crazy demon king”. He stood with a raven on his shoulder peering at Lucian with a watchful eye. His face, still hid in darkness, stood as a testament to the mystery of the man.
“I think I’m going to have to pass.” Lucian sat up in his bed, leaning his back to the headboard and bracing himself for an attack.
“You’ve never turned down an offer before.” His voice was arrogant and bitter by the fact that Lucian would have morals, even a code perhaps.
“I don’t like the feeling of this one.” It was true. On most occasions Lucian wouldn’t even ask questions. He would simply take the money and walk away. But something in his gut told him this wasn’t a good idea. There was more to this than a simple business deal.
“It’s simple, just talk to Alan Valentino. If you won’t, I have several waiting in line that will.”
“Then ask them.”
“You see I can help you, if you help me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I know about the girl. Let’s just say that you won’t have to worry about Daniel’s men coming after you.”
“You won’t touch her, I can handle this on my own.” In a cold sweat and shivering, Lucian awoke to darkness
flooding his room. He rolled over and looked at the clock. He had only been asleep less than an hour.
He only had one thought on is mind. Why Alan Valentino?
THE ONLY WAY IN
Most of the stars were absent from the sky due to an abundance of street lights and dilapidated brick buildings, warehouses and storefronts lined an otherwise barren street which remained moist from a late afternoon shower that had done nothing to clean them. Although it had just rained there were no longer any signs of future precipitation in the sky. As a matter of fact a half moon shining just enough light to make the dark corners of the city glow slightly was the only thing visible in the night sky.
Below the sky, in the decrepit city, a woman moved briskly along the sidewalk. A slight breeze picked up and blew her long blonde hair, whipping it around her face covering her pale blue eyes. Pushing it to the side she made it possible to see again. Her red sequined dress enhanced the fact that she has a small frame and the matching purse makes her stand out among the local homeless crowd that line the sidewalks. Her heart beat at a slightly elevated pace but she felt little danger from them as their bodies lay resting against the abandoned buildings, if half were alive surely no one could tell.
Her heart sped rapidly in an instant as the sound of a muffled huffing, similar to a flop-eared bloodhound sniffing the ground for a scent, rose in the air behind her. The woman whipped her head around but only saw wet pavement and dirty bums who still laid seemingly lifeless on their cold concrete beds.
I have to get out of here, she thought to herself. I can’t believe that bastard kicked me out of the car.
She lowered her head in an attempt to leave the frightening scene behind her. She tried hard to remain focused on one thing only, willing herself to remember she had to get home safely. She pulled her purse in close and reached inside, fumbling for the something. It has to be in here, DAMNIT, finally pulling out a cell phone.
The click clack of her high heels on the wet concrete reverberated through the quite street, bouncing off the surrounding buildings like she were yelling ‘hello’ into the Grand Canyon.
Her long bony fingers touched the tiny keys as she heard the sound of tires on the wet pavement. She raised her arm high in the air as bright yellow taxi sped by her, leaving her as alone on the street as the bums were in the world, ‘no’ she thought ‘at least they have each other’ and in the passing of the yellowness she noticed something that made the pit of her stomach turn and do flip flops, barreling around and turn in on itself.
His red flannel shirt and tattered blue jeans didn’t seem fit in with the local crowd either. He looked as though he should be a lumberjack or truck-driver, not walking down the city streets. His size was immense, he must have stood nearly seven feet tall and weighed three hundred pounds of what looked like pure muscle.
She glanced down at her phone and realized that she had already dialed the number nine.
“Thank god, Only two more numbers,” she mumbled under her breath.
In a loud whisper, as if coming just outside her ear, she heard the man with a deep baritone and foreboding voice. She didn’t know him or his voice, but somehow she knew it was him. “I wouldn’t be thanking him if I were you.” The mans voice sent shockwaves through her body and her fingers betrayed her as she dropped her phone. Sending it tumbling, end over end to the hard concrete below. Her eyes fixed on it as the faint light extinguished as it shattered into a tiny pieces on the sidewalk below her feet.
Why had she walked out of the restaurant and refused a ride from Martins driver? Did it matter that Martin was a creep and all he wanted from her was sex? At this point, no. She couldn’t help but wonder how much worse the night would have been if she had gone to the Ritz with that scum-bag instead of walking down these mucky streets.
Shit! Now what am I going to do, she thought as she bent over to pick up the shattered remnants of her five hundred dollar phone. And as she did, she got the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach again, she knew something bad was about to happen.
She glanced over her slender shoulder to see the hairy man standing, hovering over her. She could look deep into his eyes, into the soul of the man.
And she didn’t like what she saw. There was a want there, but not a sexual want. No, this was something else. A bloodlust. His long hair covered jaw line led to his salivating mouth. To her wonderment clear saliva actually dripped from his long K-9 like teeth.
“Please, mister, I don’t have anything,” she stammered to get it out and when she did it was barely audible.
“Oh, but you do have something. You have all that I need.”
Without a thought her legs began to move under her, she was running like she was being chased by a monster. Hell for all she knew, she was. After about four steps she had lost her purse and her high heels, leaving them scattered about the sidewalk. Fair game for the homeless men and women who laid by, sleeping. The shoes alone would bring them several hot meals.
From around the seedy brick building I could see everything as it unfolded. The man harassing the pretty blonde, the bums laying up on the sidewalk. I studied the scene and weighed my options carefully. The problem was that I didn’t have many of them to weigh. The woman was being chased by what I could only assume to be a nephilim, a creature created by the cross breeding of fallen angels or demons and mortal humans. This one appeared to have lycan characteristics, probably a werewolf.
I could feel the cold steel of the pure silver blade on my back and the weight of the stainless steel 9mm pistols that hung at my waist. I stood in the shadows watching as it all take place. Frightened.
Admittedly this was my first attempt and I was probably overcompensating for the lack of experience hunting demons and nephilims with all the comic book type equipment that I carried.
I stood in the shadows as the man continued to follow the woman. He wasn’t my intended target. The man that she left at the restaurant had been on my radar for some time as a demon that had become somewhat of an annoyance.
As the footrace approached me, I stepped out of the shadows and into the faint light of the street. With my sword drawn I watched as the beauty ran past me, sprinting for her life.
The werewolf skidded to a stop and looked me in the eyes and, I knew in that moment, that he was indeed a werewolf.
What should I do, I thought. Martin was my hired target. Not this man. This guy was nothing in the scheme of things. He wouldn’t know the difference between Gorgonzola and Grigori.
“I’m assuming silver will do the trick, nephilim,” I said as an insult. Although, from the smirk that appeared on his face, showing his saliva dripping fangs, I thought he probably didn’t take it as such.
“What is this? A Demon working for the man? Martin will love to here about this.” The werewolf’s eyes glowed red. “I can’t wait to tell him.”
He jumped at me and without thinking, almost instinct, the sword swung taking the lumberjacks head off, slicing through it like a carving knife taking the breast from the thanksgiving turkey. With one solid swoop the beasts head rolled into the street.
I looked around to see if anyone was watching, If any of the bums had seen what I had just done. I had killed a man in the street. With a sword. I took his head off and wasn’t done. I had to finish the job. I had to go to the Ritz, find Mr. Martin and take his head off as well. I had to kill two people, two people that the rest of the world had no idea were monsters. What I saw in people no one else could see.
I had to take the lives of demons and anyone else that “he” saw unfit.
I had to, doing His work would be the only way I was getting into heaven. Or should I say back into heaven.
I don’t who did this artwork, but i love it.
Ever since Angela had called to tell him she was preparing roast beef for dinner he couldn’t wait to get home. He knew when he walked through the front door of their modest home he would smell the meat, potatoes, onions and garlic all soaking in the wonderful juice. Shawn knew like always the beef would be so tender it would literally fall apart and melt in his mouth.
He knew when he walked through the door he would see her standing in her linen apron with a smile on her face. There weren’t too many days that he hadn’t seen her long blonde hair up in a ponytail. She often thought that she was plain and no matter how many times he tried to convince her otherwise she wouldn’t take his word for it. Yet she never complained about the way things were. The choices that they had made in their lives together.
Shawn knew when he stepped across the threshold of the modest home he shared with his beautifully plain wife and his two children he would hear their footsteps galloping down the stairs from their rooms, arms wide awaiting the embrace of their father. Sara and Trey were exactly seven minutes and forty-five seconds apart. He often joked, although it was true, that Trey was a surprise child and Sara was planned.
Shawn knew all these things to be true, just as he knew that leaving the motel at seven thirty in the evening to go home to that perfect life was a bad idea. He knew that turning his car onto the dark stretch of road that led through the beautiful countryside was the wrong thing to do, but with all of the things he knew, Shawn could not figure out the one thing bugged him. Why through all the things that he has done his beautiful family has stood by him.
“Are you sure you can do this,” Bailey asked him.
Shawn had met her through a friend of friend and they had hit it off wonderfully. Even though she was twenty-three, ten years his junior, he never felt she was less mature than him.
“I know how you feel about this Shawn, but we have to do this. I’m compelled to and I know you are. We are two of a kind.”
“It would just be so much easier if we did what we promised,” Shawn said. Something inside felt wrong, he could feel his stomach turn just saying the words. His hands began to shake and he dropped his scotch glass. It fell and time seemed to slow. A million thoughts were able to rush through his mind as he watched the glass fall. He felt a sudden pulse of sadness for the glass, which struck him as odd. He knew no matter what he did to save the glass from hitting the thinly carpeted floor it would, and when in did it would shatter into a thousand tiny pieces, broken forever, unable to be repaired. Perhaps it could be replaced and maybe it was the most logical outcome. And just as he thought the thought the glass crashed to the hard floor and shattered, just what he had suspected would happen.
“That’s nonsense, Shawn and you know it.”
“Maybe, but what other choice do we have. Nothing good can come of what we are doing. The people we love could get hurt.” Shawn didn’t want to discontinue their meetings. Although the cheap motels weren’t his favorite place to meet. The tables and chairs looked as though they hadn’t been cleaned in weeks and he often wondered how clean the beds were. They very rarely offered anything in the way of a well stocked beverage bar. Today he felt lucky to have had the scotch to spill.
“Freedom to do what we want.”
“I have to go now, Bailey, but I will see you at least one more time,” he couldn’t help but say the words. He felt an itch behind his eye, almost as though something were tickling his brain. He quickly placed his palm on his eye, applying a little pressure. For some reason it always seemed to help.
“I promise.” Shawn opened the heavy metal door into the darkness of the night. Two lights stood lonely in the empty parking lot. His car parked in front of their door, Bailey’s next to his. A black sedan sat across the parking lot in front of another row of motel rooms. A tall man in a black suit leaned against it. Shawn turned to Bailey and reached for her. She stepped forward into his arms and they hugged.
“I think he’s a Sentry.” Shawn whispered into her ear.
“Just remember you promised, at least one more time.”
Shawn leaned and pecked her on the cheek. His kiss was soft and moist. A faint hit of vanilla filled his nostrils as he inhaled. He turned, kept his head down, counting steps to his car.
The man in the black suit got in his car and backed out.
Rain beat hard against the windshield and Shawn had the wipers whipping so hard he thought they might fly off blinding him. He hit the scan button on the radio station for at least the twelfth time. There had to be a radio station on somewhere. Someone had to still be broadcasting.
The smell of vanilla still filled his thoughts. Damn Bailey, she’s gonna get one of us hurt, he thought. But he couldn’t help himself. Angela, as perfect as she was, didn’t understand him the way Bailey did. Like she had said, they were two of a kind.
His foot pressed easily on the brake and his old car slowed. He looked up at the sign that always caught his attention as he drove by it. The lights so bright they shown through the heavy rain. He saw the beautiful face covered the large football field size space. It remained smiling as it always had. The dark eyes stared down at passers by for years now and no one ever complained. In fact, everyone loved it. Almost everyone, Shawn found it disconcerting that the eyes seemed to follow him as he drove past them.
What is so special about this woman, Shawn thought. His gaze never leaving the sign until his car had crept passed it and the gaze was broken.
Shawn’s drive appeared as he made a curve. Even though the rain poured like buckets being dumped from the heavens he made the turn onto the asphalt nearly blind. He had made it so many times before that it was almost instinct now.
Just as he turned to pull up the long drive a station crackled to life and Shawn stopped.
“What makes your message so different from everyone else’s, Mercy?” the disc jockey asked.
The voice who replied was like an angelic choir. One of the voices sounded familiar to Shawn, but his mother had been gone for several years, since before the arrival of the Sentry.
In the voice of hundreds of people She replied, “It’s not that different. I just believe that now is the right time. Others before me were just well before their time. Love and peace are as natural as feelings of hate and anger. We just have to learn to control those feelings.”
“How can we learn to control those feelings?”
“Easy, listen to me on my free radio broadcast sent out every Sunday evening by thousands of stations in hundreds of languages all over the world. Or stop by one of my many camps around the nation for a tour of the lovely estates and get personalized program built specially for your needs and wants. All free of charge.”
“Sounds too good, to be true.”
Damn right it does, Shawn thought as he turned the ignition off near the front of the house.
Shawn gazed upon his lovely home, mouth watering from the thought of Angela’s pot roast. Something didn’t fit though. He looked at his watch, eight o’clock, all the lights were off. Their bloodhound, Jefferson, stood outside the front door, shivering from the cold rain. Shawn leaned across the cold interior of the car and lifted the small lever for the glove box. He peered inside and the light from the dashboard reflected off of the barrel of a gun.
His door slowly creaked open and the night sat silent, save for the rain hitting the top of the car. Shawn placed one foot in front of the other in a near crawl. His heart beginning to beat hard in his chest. Why had the Sentry been outside his motel room? They couldn’t have known about him. About Bailey. Only they themselves knew. It was their secret, the only thing the Sentry’s didn’t know about them.
Shawn slid the gun into his jacket pocket and slowly took one step onto the porch. The silence of the night broken by Jefferson letting out one loud bark. Shawn suddenly pulls the trigger, erupting the night in thunder and blood explodes all over white door forever covering it in red. Jefferson’s limp body falls over, landing on Shawn’s foot. Silence again.
Shawn turned the blood stained door knob, waiting for the all he knew to come flooding at him like a wave of glorious light, feeling him with happiness. He stepped into the cold foyer, longing for the gallop of feet and the smell of meat and onions and the sight of a blonde ponytail, but all he saw was darkness. He closed his eyes, wishing they would adjust to the blackness within his picture perfect home.
He opened them. They had adjusted. But not to what he wanted to see. First he saw the blonde ponytail in the doorway to the kitchen. She was as he had imagined she would be, her white lacy apron tied around her waist in a yellow dress like she was June Cleaver. The smell didn’t fill the house, however, she must have never started dinner. She lay in the doorway beneath her was a pool of blood.
Shawn’s stomach turned, did flip flops and it’s contents landed on the floor beside his wife. Her eyes peered into his and she seemed to be smiling.
His feet moved quicker than they ever had before and he took the flight of stairs in three large bounds. He reached the top and time seemed to slow again. He threw his head around the doorway into Trey’s room. He saw the race car wall paper that Trey had begged for repeatedly. In the corner his television buzzed with snow and his radio crackled with static. But his room held no sign of the boy.
Shawn bolted down the hall passed he and wife’s room to his Sara’s room. He whipped around into the still of the room. Quiet. Her ball glove lay on the floor next the bat he had gotten her for her birthday. His eyes moved along the floor and up the bed to his children laying on the bed holding each other, wrapped in each others arms as if comforting one another from a vile creature. Oh, God! he thought. Sara’s white blanket held all that Shawn had ever lived for. All that ever truly made him happy. The one reason he had to live. The lives of his children.
He sank to the floor, pawing at the carpet, trying to generate the energy to reach them. Oh, God. His stomach turned again and what had came up in the living room now landed on the floor next to Sara’s bed.
Shawn stood up and leaned in close to his babies’, he breathed in, taking in their scent. He leaned closer and kissed them on the forehead. Then he saw pressed between the twins was a photograph that once sat on Sara’s dresser, a photograph of their mother and father.
Shawn knees hit the carpet again.
Shawn sat idly outside one of Mercy’s camps. He listened quietly to the message of love and peace emanating from loud speakers that hung outside the walls of the compound. He was curious as to why they even bothered playing the message anymore. Only a few people wondered outside the restricted walls of the compound these days. Her love was all that the people needed anymore. Love and Peace were her only rules.
His brain tickled again. He placed his palm against his eye and pressed firmly. He stopped, something caught his attention, a smell. A familiar smell, sweet and relaxing. Vanilla. Shawn’s hand reached into his jacket pocket and he fingered the cold steel of the pistol.
“Shawn, come in and listen to the message of Mercy.” Bailey’s voice was soft and soothing. His fingers relaxed from the trigger. Her voice echoed throughout the empty streets that surrounded the city sized compound.
“What about freedom?”
“Everyone loves everybody here. We even love you, Shawn.”
“I loved my family.”
“So did we.”
“Then why did you murder them? That isn’t love. That’s confinement. And where is Bailey? What did we ever do to you?”
“Bailey is safe with us. She saw the truth. It’s not too late for you.”
Thunder bellowed behind Shawn. He whipped around but saw nothing behind him. He fingered the gun again, pressing slightly on the trigger. He turned his gaze back to the gate.
Light filled the sky, illuminating the space between him and the gate. Shawn jumped at the sight of three Sentries standing in front of his car.
“Just come in, Shawn, I promise if you don’t like it you don’t have to stay.”
“Has anyone ever left?”
“No but they are all welcome to at anytime.”
Shawn slowly pulled the lever and the door popped open. He gently touched his foot to the asphalt of the wet street.
Shawn’s brain tickled again, and the smell of vanilla filled his nostrils. The tickle turns to an unbearable pressure and he pulled out the gun.
Shawn felt the cold of the steel on his temple as he placed the gun to his head.
“Don’t do that, Shawn.” Bailey’s voice begged. “It’s not the answer.”
“All I wanted was to be free.”
“You promised me one more visit. To talk about our things. The things we can see.”
“I’m here. I kept my promise. Now I‘m going to see my family one last time.”
Shawn held his breath, and squeezed. His brain tickled and hurt. Light flooded his eyes and he saw his wife standing at the end of a long row of pews in long white gown, holding a bouquet of flowers. Trey sat on the couch next to him watching racing. Sara stood holding a baseball glove awaiting the arrival of a ball.
Those where the last images that Shawn saw and those where the things he knew.