The boy was sitting up in the bed, legs crossed and a manic grin stretched across his face. He turned his head to the side, until it was a ninety degree angle, and studied me with a pair of crimson eyes.
Rule to live by – if it had any kind of unnatural eye colour, it’s a monster. Maybe not evil, but not human. Red, black, purple, yellow.
“Mason Crane,” it drawled, in that rasping smoking too long voice. “How nice of you to come.”
“You made one hell of an entrance.”
It moved its head up, hands going to rest on its knees. “Your mother’s one hell of a fuck.”
“Aw, dude, come on. You can do better than that.”
It blinked. Good sign.
“I mean, every single exorcism I’ve been to, they’ve said that to me.” I moved forward, slowly, didn’t want to scare the dickhead. “But you, well, you’re one of the higher ranking ones, aren’t you? Don’t you have something more original in your pocket? I mean, no one ever mentions fucking my dad.” Another step, hand on my belt, just in case I need the holy water holstered there. Water pistol. Very useful. “Or are you lot just that homophobic?”
The demon cringed, twisting the boy’s neck as he turned away from me. “You want the truth, Crane? Even the most powerful of us are too scared of your daddy to slight him. Too much respect, too.” Turned back to me, quick and sharp.
My family was rarely a topic of conversation among the hunters. I knew both parents had been hunters. They’d turned away from the life when I was born, wanting me to have a normal life. But you didn’t walk away from it, and your kids sure as hell wouldn’t escape it either.
I knew Dad had been good. But good enough to scare a demon, even now?
“It was misfortune that killed your papa,” the demon said, twitching, gaze leaping around the room. “But you ain’t him, Crane. And you got a long way to go before you are.”
Too sudden for me to do anything.
I slammed against the wall, and something shook above me. The demon had me pinned, feet planted on the wall either side of waist, hands by my head. It bared its teeth, eyes locking on mine and I had to wonder, what did he see in there?
“You want to join them?” he said, running a finger down my cheek. Where his skin met mine, mine ran ice cold, like it was freezing under his touch. “Want to go visit Mummy and Daddy and your ickle sister down in Hell?”
“She’s not in Hell. I know that for a fact.”
“Do you, now? Tell me, Mason, you’ve seen enough to know Hell exists, but have you ever seen anything that hints towards Heaven?”
Stupid prick hadn’t even trapped my hands.
I lifted the pistol up and fired, jets of water spraying his face. He scrambled back with a screech that wasn’t human or animal, and I kept squirting as, with my other hand, I pulled the cross out and started saying my prayers, like a good little boy.
Recoiled, screamed, leapt back onto the bed. But prayers, holy water and the cross would only keep him back for so long.
“Grey!” I yelled, between lines from the Bible. “Grey, get your damn arse up here!”
The demon crouched on the bed, looking ready to spring again. I squeezed more holy water out, listening to the feet hammering on the stairs.
The flesh on the boy, where the water had hit and burned, was healing, and too fast for my liking. His eyes fell on my cross and before I could aim the pistol, it was on the wall beside the window, then on the ceiling before lunging down. Fingers grabbed at the chain as the door slammed into the wall. A crack, on the cross was thrown across the room, sinking down behind the headboard of the bed. The demon slapped the pistol from my hand and punched, sending me reeling backwards.
Father Grey stepped into the room.
Miracles can happen, okay? And they do, but there usually has to be a very righteous man present. A man whose faith goes beyond anything else, beyond any earthly love or temptation. A man who has never stepped a toe out of line and who, despite seeing the crap we see day in day out, still has an unwavering faith in God.
Grey was one of those men.
At times I didn’t like him, but he was backup and I trusted him with my life and tonight wouldn’t be the first time I’d been shown why I and the others did.
Grey’s voice rose loud and clear. The demon screeched, turning his attention on the priest. It inched towards him as Grey moved further into the room, keeping his focus on the demon, backing up towards the wall. His eyes never switched to me as I crouched down and grabbed the chalk from my belt.
I began to draw, whispering a chant to myself as I did. The demon was drawn to Grey, too focused on him to notice what I was doing. And a man like Grey would keep his attention for ages. Demons always looked for something they could use against you, some historical misdeed, some sin or something, but Grey had none of that.
When I was done, Grey stopped, still clutching his Bible as the demon became still.
Finally, it hissed. Lunged again. And I went at the same time, diving forward and grabbed the boy around the ankle. He was already in the air, and all I had to do was yank him back.
I landed with the boy demon on top of me, in the middle of my chalk drawing, arms wrapped around him as he struggled.
“Help him!” Grey barked into the doorway.
I was strong, but demons were stronger. Luckily, Ma and Pa came rushing from the doorway, both falling to the floor beside me.
Well, it would have been lucky, but neither of them did a damn thing. They glanced down at me, with my arms around the waist of their son as he thrashed about.
“Pin him down!” I yelled. “Don’t worry about me!”
It was the mother who moved first. She leant forward, putting all her weight on the boy’s arms, leaning across his body. Her eyes locked on mine and I spotted the tears shining there.
“He’ll be okay,” I said, as the dad moved down, pinning down his son’s legs. “Grey’s good.”
“Why us?” she whispered. She was shaking, the tears threatening to roll down.
“Because demons are attracted to good people,” I said, and spotted something flicker through her eyes. “It sucks,” I grunted, twisting my body as the demon tried to roll off me. “But nothing you can do.”
Father Grey began, stepping forward and standing over us. He sprinkled holy water over the demon and the boy screeched, swearing at the good priest.
“Jesus,” I muttered. “Think they’d know the swearing don’t fucking offend us anymore, wouldn’t you?”
Despite everything, or perhaps because of it, the woman laughed. I winked at her, as Father Grey began the exorcism ritual.
The demon tried to lunge up, pulling me with him, but I snapped him back down and he turned his head, teeth gnashing at the air as he tried to bite me.
The ritual went on, the demon twisting and turning but with the weight of three people, he was pretty much trapped. The woman’s eyes kept flickering between me and her son, and I knew what she was looking for.
“He’s in there,” I said. “I promise, he is in there.”
More holy water. Salt, sprinkled up and down the boy’s body. The demon screamed.
“They’re alive!” it cackled, smoke rising up from every inch of flesh. The father’s eyes widened, the woman recoiled.
“It’s just hurting the demon,” I explained, rushing the words out. “Not your son. It’s…”
“The vampires,” the demon said, laughing now. “Poor little orphan Mason. Always hoping they were still out there. They are, Crane. They’re out there and they’ll be coming for you.” It kept laughing, and over his shoulder my eyes connected with the dark brown eyes of Father Grey.
Something unspoken went between us. Over the years, the other hunters had come to learn who my parents were, but they were under strict orders not to let it out. Didn’t want my family by blood coming looking for me. Didn’t want the authorities to know who I really was.
And Grey knew about that night, about Jefferson saving me and beating himself up because he couldn’t save my family.
And we both knew a damn demon, just before it gets thrown back to Hell, wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.
It really had no reason too.
“Aw, mate,” I choked out, “just fuck off already, all right?”
Grey finished the ritual, and the demon’s back arched, palms flat on the floor.
“Get back!” I yelled, watching as the parents scrambled away from their son. I let go, wrestled myself out and crawled away, turning back just in time to see thick black smoke engulf the boy.
When it disappeared, the kid lay flat on his back, eyes closed and chest rising up and down, steadily. I moved forward, grabbed his wrist and flashed Grey a big smile.
“Strong pulse,” I said, tapping the boy’s cheek. “Strong kid,” I added, before climbing to my feet and stretching my neck. “Well, that was exhausting. You going to stay?”
Grey nodded. He’d sit at that kid’s bedside all night, tapping cool flannels against his face, there to reassure the boy when he woke from his nightmares. There to explain what had happened to him.
Both parents looked from Grey to me.
“Well, I would say it’s been a pleasure…” I left the rest of the sentence hanging in the air, as I moved to the bed and reached down behind the headboard to retrieve the cross. There was an extra chain in the car, but I wasn’t going to put it back into my pocket. Instead, I clutched it in my hand. It got torn from my neck more times that I would have liked, but so far I’d always managed to retrieve it.
He picked his son up and put him on the bed. She grabbed my arm as I went to leave.
“How can we thank you?”
“No need to.”
“Please, just…money. You must take money.”
“Talk it over with him,” I said, nodding my head towards Grey. “He’s always looking for church donations.” I flashed her a winning smile, before ducking out the room and heading down the stairs. I could feel the shards of glass in my arms and back, but it didn’t matter. Not really. I’d done my job.
Now all I wanted to do was go home and sleep.
Total Word Count: 7,856