First chapter and prologue of Fire & Brimstone
Fire & Brimstone
Pater noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum Adveniat regnum tuum fiat voluntas tua sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo, quia tuum est regnum et potestas et gloria in saecula saeculorum.
Three voices spoke this chant, but when I opened my eyes,only one man was standing there. Wearing a ragged white-on-white suit, the man who wore it looked no better. Red lines sprouted from his irises and went to the back of his eyes. Worry lines covered his face and bags weighed his eyes down while the crow’s feet tightened them. His semi-shaved blond hair accented his creased forehead as he stared at me with a mixture of amazement and exhaustion.
“How are you feeling?” He asked me sincerely, his expression made me want to tell him. His face was inviting me into a conversation. “Do you know who I am?”
I shook my head.
He chuckled, “No I didn’t expect you to.” His expression became serious again, “Do you know who you are?”
I shook my head again.
His jaw tightened and his head fell into his hands. As he began whispering to himself I took in my surroundings. A small living area with a couch I couldn’t see over, an end-table, a light coming from a semi-walled off area I could only assume was the kitchen, and a short hallway to my right.
I tried to get up from the ground but my muscles gave out on me and I fell back down, the man noticed. “Oh, let me help.” And instead of helping me stand, he simply put his hand on my shoulder for a split second.
As soon as his skin touched the dark red fabric of my shirt, a surge of strength and energy flowed through my body, forcing me to my feet. Even standing, I only came up to the man’s chest. He looked down to me and placed his hand on my shoulder again, but this time no warmth or energy came with it. “My name, is Michael. You may think of me as a friend, caretaker, or whatever you wish. I will provide all that you need, and you must only do one thing in return for this.”
I stepped back and hit a wall, I may not know my own name, but I sure as Hell know creepy when I see it. I even tried to tell him to shove it, but all that came out was a hoarse hacking sound that made my throat burn intensely as if the very skin cracked open and began to bleed.
The man quickly pulled a flask with a cross engraved on it from his jacket pocket and made me drink from it. I gulped down the water greedily until there was nothing left but a couple droplets. He took it back and looked at it, then back at me. “Thirsty?”
“Very.” I gasped, my voice a surprise to me. Being the first time I’ve heard it, I decided to use it again, “Who the hell are you?”
“My name is Michael-”
“Don’t give me that shit.” I cut him off rather rudely but I didn’t care. “Who the hell are you?” I repeated, this time angrier.
He looked at me quizzically as if trying to say oh really now? with his expression, “You don’t know who I am, but do you know what I am?” he asked.
“I don’t know, some kind of pervert who doped me up with Rohypnol or something?”
“Hm, so you don’t know your own name but you know what Rohypnol is, very interesting.” He said almost to himself.
“So you know who I am?” I asked him, forgetting that this guy might be some kind of human trafficker.
In answer, the man, Michael, simply nodded to the end-table by the couch. On it, lay a manila folder.
I rushed to the folder and picked it up, immediately beginning to thumb through it. State ID, birth certificate, social security card, a credit card, and a picture. The ID had what I’m assuming is my face on it, and a name. Adam Webber. I was sixteen, 5’10”, and a hundred and forty pounds. Black hair, red eyes, and tannish skin. The state on the ID is Nevada, no idea where, but it’s a start.
Suddenly, I realized something. I’m alone. Michael disappeared. I check the door and see that dust has built up on the chain. Hasn’t been used in some time. I tried to use it, but it held firm, the chain nor the door budged.
I look around the rest of the house. The kitchen is stocked with everything from fruits to junk food and plenty of bottled water, all of the food had a blank white label on it. I picked up a bottle of water and opened it, it smelled sweet. And when I took a drink of it, it was refreshing, like my entire body was being rejuvenated. I sipped it as I toured the rest of the house.
The living room area had a couch with a coffee table in front of it and a TV in front of that, and an end table on one side and a floor lamp in the other. Behind it was just empty space and the door. The end of the hall had two doors, one leading into a small bathroom and the other to the small bedroom. They were both very simple, the bathroom having a toilet, sink, and shower. The bedroom had a queen sized bed, two nightstands, a dresser on the far wall, and a walk in closet.
I sat down on the bed and put my head in my hands. The tears came from nowhere. But once they started they wouldn’t stop. Soon my entire body was racked with sobs and I fell to the floor, curling into a ball. I had just learned my own name from a small plastic card and a strange man locked me in some house, possibly in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in Nevada.
I stood on shaky legs and walked to the closet. Nothing was in there, except a chest. Pulling it was a strenuous task that took a few minutes. Opening it revealed an NRA member’s wet dream. Pistols, a shotgun, a couple rifles with and without scopes, and several other guns I couldn’t really identify along with more ammo than I could count. What the hell was going on?
I sat back on my haunches I pulled out a small black pistol and sat down on the bed. After sitting for several hours I switched to a laying position with the pistol still grasped firmly in my hands. I remained like this until I went to sleep.
5 years later
I sat outside the small café and sipped my bitter coffee. Not a real big fan of the stuff but I needed the boost. He was sitting across the street outside another, smaller café. He eyed the waitress as she refilled his coffee and walked away. Wearing a black trench coat and fedora he looked like a grade A creep but knowing what he really was made it all the worse.
About an hour or so went by until the same waitress left the café and went down an alley, presumably toward her home. Idiot. The man followed her almost instantly. He didn’t even pay his tab.
Crossing the street without really looking made a couple people stop and honk at me, but I didn’t care all too much. The alley winded its way between and behind several buildings, the last of which was a small apartment building. Shit.
Luckily, I caught a glimpse of the man through the glass door going up the stairs. Moving quickly but not too quickly, I followed him up the stairs and stopped at the corner he had just turned, around the corner was a single door. I leaned my ear against it and listened. Nothing.
I stepped back and Focused my vision. Barriers around the apartment. Since the door was locked, I did the only reasonable thing and kicked it in. Do Barriers hold up if you can see through them? Do they account for vision as well as hearing? Question for later.
My foot connected with the cheap door with a loud crack, and as soon as I crossed the barrier, the waitresses screaming pierced my ears, followed by the man saying, “Scream all you want, bitch! No one’s gonna hear you!”
“I am and honestly, you’ve got a pair of lungs on you.”
They both paused and the man turned around as I closed what was left of the door. “P-Please, h-help me! He’s trying to-” she began, but I cut her off.
“Ya ya I know I know. I’m here to stop the villain and blah blah blah. Anyway, let’s get this over with, I got shit to do, man.” I said, yawning as I pulled my knife from my inside jacket pocket.
He stood up and brandished his little pocket knife at me against my combat knife. Cute. As he stepped toward me, knife at the ready, he whipped his other hand forward and threw a small penknife at me.
It just barely cut across my cheek in tandem with its owner slashing at me with his knife. He managed to barely catch my shirt and slash it a pretty good ways down, blood trickled down my cheek. I stepped back and flipped my knife around and raised my arms into a boxer’s stance.
He slashed at me again but this time I managed to weave around it and slam my fist dead center into his face. As he recoiled back I rushed forward and took him to the ground, pinning his arms with my knees, my knife to his throat. He coughed softly for a moment before speaking, “The angels have taught you well, boy. So what now, you just gonna kill me in front of this innocent young thing?” He smirked as the last word left his mouth. The waitress looked from me to him, terrified.
I shrugged, “Pretty much.”
The look on his face was priceless as I brought my knife down into his throat.
Blood bubbled around the hilt of my knife, staining my hands red. I Focused as he was in his death throes, the human façade melted away and I was left with the true form of the demon.
Charred black skin, beady red eyes, razor sharp teeth, and weird patches of fur spotted around its body. I grimaced and punched him, covering as much of his face with my fist as possible. As his last breath exited his body, his true form flickered for a moment then vanished, leaving behind the sad middle-aged man it was possessing. Easy kill.
I stood and heaved out a deep breath, gently touching my cheek where the knife currently embedded in the wall nicked me. A small layer of blood coated my middle and ring fingers. Not too bad.
The waitress looked at me with a mixture of terror and… more terror. “Look, sweetie, I won’t hurt you, I was just here for him. Just give me about an hour to ditch this place then call the cops, okay? Okay.”
“T-T-Thank you!” She barely managed to get the words out. “You’re my-”
“Don’t finish that sentence.” I said abruptly. “Just… don’t.”
And with that, I turned around and walked out of the door. Leaving behind a terrified girl in her mid-twenties, a dead body, and a pretty busted cheap apartment door.
The drive back to Vegas wasn’t as bad as the drive down to Oklahoma, but it was still long and boring. And The Offspring and Metallica can only do so much for boredom. Eventually after driving for what felt like a week, I pulled into my driveway of my lovely little house in the suburbs of Las Vegas.
The cool night air felt nice on my skin after being cramped in my car for so long. After getting my duffel I tossed my keys around in my hand until I had a grip on my house key. A soft creak of the chair on my front porch stopped me dead in my tracks.
Instinctively, I reached for my gun before I actually looked over and saw what it was. “Girl, you almost got shot.” I chuckled.
“Whoops. Sorry, man. Always seem to forget you carry all the time. Do you have a gun in your bathroom? Like under the sink or some shit?” Alex asked.
Alex was the sixteen or seventeen year old daughter of my across the street neighbor, Rosemary. She was a fairly athletic kid and never wore anything more than shorts and a tank top, it seemed. Even in the winter. Her little brother, Ben, was the exact opposite. Always in his room playing video games and whatnot. Maybe I should teach him how to shoot a gun.
“Mom saved you some leftovers. Chicken parm, sound good?”
“Anything your mom makes sounds good.” I reply, pushing the key into the lock, but not turning it. I look at my watch, eleven-forty. “Isn’t it a school night?” I ask, almost genuinely concerned.
Alex just shrugged, “Eh. It’s whatever. First period’s a blow off class anyway. Just wanted to get out of the house, you know? Take a walk, sit on your porch or whatever. How was your trip?”
“Not too bad. Just a bunch of sales BS. Easy enough though. Not much of a struggle with the sale so that’s good, I suppose.” I turned the key in the lock, the tumblers shifting with it. “Go to bed, kiddo. And tell your mom thanks for the food.”
Before she left, she turned around and said, “Wanna come over for dinner tomorrow night?”
“Sure, I’d like that.”
We said our goodbyes and I watched to make sure she went home before walking into my own. I dropped my bag next to my couch, the light from the lamp casting a small shadow. I stopped. That lamp shouldn’t be on. I’m pretty sure I turned it off before I left.
A clanking of glass on my kitchen counter confirmed my suspicions. Since they already knew I was here I just went ahead and pulled my gun and strolled into my kitchen.
“Hello, Adam.” Michael said somewhat cheerfully.
I looked at him questioningly as I put my gun back in its assigned pocket in my jacket, “The hell are you doing here?” I asked, grabbing a glass and pouring some whiskey into it.
All of the supplies Michael gives me are from Heaven itself, so they taste good and rejuvenate me. But, over the years, some of it has lost its touch. Except the whiskey. And the cigarettes. And maybe the watermelon. The ham though, went stale about a year in.
I was also genuinely confused by Michael’s presence in my kitchen. He (or some other punk ass angel) leaves a scroll in my mailbox, which will then disappear after a few days. “Well,” he started, “I’m here to give you your next assignment. It’s rather, eh, touchy. To say the least.” He walked past me and into the living room. I followed, sipping my whisky along the way.
“So, to start off, you’ll be going to New York City.”
I groaned. Only been to New York once, and let’s just say I’ve had better times.
Michael held up a hand, “Now now, I know how you feel about the place, but just hear me out.” Then he gave me a little half smile, as if to say, you don’t really have much of a choice anyway. “The assignment is to protect a girl and her family while her father is out on vacation.”
I stopped mid-sip and set down my whiskey. “Excuse me?” I began, ready to rant Michael’s ear off, but he held up his hand again.
“Just listen, okay? I owe this man a favor, and I intend to repay his debt to me, understand?”
“Not really, why not just get some lackey from Gabriel’s garrison to watch over her?”
“Well, for one, you just insulted them meaning that they are not suitable for the position. Two, I don’t trust my brother or his garrison. And finally, because I know that if push comes to shove, you’ll kill anything in your way to complete this assignment. Am I correct?”
“Yes, yes, and hell yes.” I replied, “But that doesn’t change the fact that I’ll be babysitting some brat. Let’s be real for a second, Michael. You trained me to do one thing: hunt and kill demons. That’s it. I don’t have very many social skills, nor do I know how to take care of a child.”
“You seem to have a few with the family across the street.” Michael retorted, raising an eyebrow.
“Leave them out of this. And that doesn’t change anything. I’ve grown to know them over a few years, and I’m not supposed to protect them because my Arkangel sugar daddy said so.”
“I think you’re misusing that word. But that’s beside the point. The girl is sixteen anyway, she can take care of herself, you just need to keep an eye on her. That’s all.” Michael looked at his immaculate silver watch which matched his immaculate white suit, “I must go now. Please, just read the assignment description.” He gestured behind him to the end-table, where a rolled up scroll with a piece of blue cloth around it lay.
And with that, he was gone. No goodbye. No using the damn door. Just poof. No more angelic sugar daddy.
I sighed and picked up the scroll, ripping the cloth off and unrolling it. It detailed my assignment. Everything from how to get there to what exactly I was supposed to do.
Apparently this girl, Mary Rollins, is the daughter of the owner of the largest religious paraphernalia distributor in the US, because of course he is. And he is also going out of town on a business trip. So I had to go babysit her and her brother while he’s gone.
I actively kill hell-spawn on a regular basis and Michael wants me to watch some damn brat and her kid brother while daddy’s on a business trip? I mean, at least give me a simple hunt or two on the way there to satiate myself for fucks sake. But no. Nothing of the sort. Just drive and babysit. I sigh as I sit down on my worn down couch and finish my whiskey, still reading this bullshit Michael calls an assignment.
Mary is sixteen years old and goes to a catholic prep school because why not just pile on more shit to the shit cake. Her brother, Reese, also goes to the school but he’s only thirteen. And apparently they have a damn nanny.
Then why do they need me?
Exasperated I pull out my phone and dialed Michael’s number. It rings a few times before he answers in his normal upbeat but serious tone, “Yes, Adam?”
“Okay, so first off, why the hell do they need me if they have a nanny?” I started, ready to fire back to any of his responses.
“Because the nanny isn’t a tattooed, gun-and-knife wielding semi-psychotic demon killer.”
“The hell do my tattoos have to do with anything? And since when am I ‘semi-psychotic’?”
Michael skipped a few beats before responding, “Do you not remember the mess you left behind in New Mexico?”
“Yes I remember New Mexico and that was a one-time thing, okay? Meth is one hell of a drug.”
“You’ve never done meth?” Michael retorted, apparently already at the end of his wits. New record.
“Beside the point. Also, do I seriously have to do this? I can’t even rest a few days to get my batteries recharged?”
Michael sighed, “Fine, you get two days to recuperate, but that’s it. Understand?”
He hung up on me.
I walked back to my room after putting my gun and knife under my pillows. I undressed and laid in bed for about an hour before I finally drifted off to sleep.
God that was a mistake.