New York City was lit up with blue and red lights flashing, filled with sirens blaring. People watched from inside their homes, wondering what poor saps were killed this time. Gang killings were normal. Snow blanketed over the empire city, a pinkish hue where the bodies and blood lay. A burly African cop taped off the scene, shaking his head. Another turned green, glancing at her partner. One large crowd formed outside the yellow crime tap. They were in Brooklyn right now.
One last cop car pulled up, their lights and siren shutting off. Journalist and reporters soon swarmed them, asking multiple questions.
"Is this murder gang related?"
"Is it some sort of initiation?"
"Will the killer strike again?" The crime scene unit was working diligently, moving body to body, conversing with eachother. This one was just brutal. Blood painted the snow pink for fifty feet. The coroner examined a body of a forty year old man who had his stomach ripped open. Then shook his head. Who was strong enough to rip open a full grown mans stomach? Better question. Was that a finger nail in his wound?
Using teasers, he carefully gripped a small, transparent object. Yes, it was a fingernail.
"Back off. We just got here you vultures," a deep voice boomed from inside. Detective Grey stepped out, trotting behind his female partner, Melissa Warner. She kept her auburn hair in a messy bun. The crime scene was right outside a bodega. Fourteen bodies scattered the streets and sidewalks. Somebody painted a cross on the bodega's windows in a victim's blood. Another symbol too. And another. And another. He had enough time to paint seven symbols on the bodega's windows before running off. Enough time before the cops responded.
"What we got Wilson?" Detective Grey asked, coming up behind a skinny brunette CSI guy in glasses.
"Fourteen people slaughtered," he retorted and stood. "There's too much blood. The killer might have left something behind." Wilson bent beside's the body of a middle aged woman. "Coroner said six different knives were used to kill her. There's no ID on any of them."
Detective Warner knelt besides another body: a young man. "His holding something. Check this out." Wilson uncurled the victims hand, and held a uniform badge between gloved fingers. "Lincoln Memorial Elementary School. Isn't that some rich private school in Manhattan? Why would he be holding this?"
"Because," another detective said, "witnesses say they saw a young kid being followed by these people. The kid went crazy and started hacking away, yelling out they were demons sent to kill him by Hell."
Warner blinked. "A young kid? What did they look like?"
The detective flipped a page in a small note pad. "Golden blond bangs and the back was ink black, blue eyes and very small. They couldn't tell if the kid was a boy or girl. He appeared androgynous."
Grey clapped his hands. "Great. Can't be too many androgynous elementary kids who go to a Private Manhattan elementary school."
"They already know him," the detective said and pointed to St. Ann's homeless shelter. "His name is Julian McCoy. He was born there twelve years ago. He and his mother were taken in by therapist five years ago. His last name is Valentine now."
Grey said. "Where do they live?" Ten minutes later, they traveled down Church Street towards Manhattan. Warner hated seeing young children being left on streets and alleys. Who could live like that? There are too many homeless people in the world. Cars piled up at every stop light. Christmas was four days away and late shoppers rushed in stores, not caring if they stopped traffic when crossing the street.
They arrived at a brown stone half an hour later, which would have been quicker if traffic wasn't backed up. In a city of eight million people, this was the easiest case ever. No more than five minutes after arriving at a crime scene, they found the killer and where he lived. But this was the worst case. A boy in elementary school committed fourteen brutal killings in less than an hour. Then had time to paint symbols in their blood on windows. What's going on the world?
People had explanations like violent movies, video games and music made kids become violent. Most times it's not true. Warner skimmed Julian's school file. He was twelve years old. There's no mention of his birth file anywhere in there. Supposedly, his father ditched his mother three months into her pregnancy. Good grades, friends, teachers loved him. Played in two plays. Nothing screamed serial killer in this file: A great home in Manhattan with a loving mother and step-father.
An ambulance was sitting outside a brown stone. Two cops were speaking quietly out on the steps. Warner climbed up and knocked. A few seconds later, a blond woman answered. She had golden blond hair and a thin body. Tears ran down her face, landing on her expensive purple jacket. She led Warner inside and up some stairs. Old paintings and vases decorated the house. A Persian carpet. HD TV. Surround Sound Stereo. Everything was rich. Mr. Valentine must make thousands of dollars to own this.
They walked in silence until reaching a room with an open door. Voices came out of it. A female paramedic spoke to Julian, who was still covered in blood. What an exotic beauty this child had. He seemed so small and frail.
His eyes stayed on the ground. Warner flicked a little crystal angel that hung off a shelf.
This wasn't the normal room of a kid. Books piled every surface. Angels and dragon statues stood in corners, desks and nightstands. No games or movies. Nothing that screamed crazy. The walls were a pale shade of purple, contrasting with the wooden floor.
Julian wouldn't answer the paramedic and chewed his nails. His white shirt, pants and even sneakers was stained in dark red blood. Warner excused the paramedic and knelt down, gingerly taking one of his fair, small hands. The boy's cerulean frost eyes held no emotion. One nail was missing from his right hand. His index finger. Defiantly. This boy killed them.
"Hey Julian. That's Greek right? Meaning Jove's child?" He nodded wearily. "Can you tell me what happened earlier today?"
Julian pointed at a statue of Michael, the Arc Angel. Warner's lips tighten. "And what did Michael tell you to do?"
"Not Michael," Julian squeaked. "The demons were after me. The angels speak to me." Oh god he's schizophrenic. And only at twelve years old. Warner put a hand on Julian's shoulder, smiling a wan smile.
"And what….what do they say?"
"They are angry. The demons are still trying to bring Lucifer back but they can't," Julian said, leaning forward. "But they can't find Lilith. Only she can get Lucifer out of hell."
Arms wrapped around Julian. Mrs. Valentine sobbed. "Are you going to arrest him? He's not well," she cried.
"We're going to have our psychiatrist talk with him at the station. Just to observe his mental health." Mr. Valentine stepped in.
"Look," he said, "I'm a therapist. Let me." Warner shook her head.
"He's your step son. Our psychiatrist is very good at his job. But you can sit in with your step-son if you want to. Wait one more question." She faced the young boy. "Why were you in Brooklyn?"
Julian rubbed his hands. "I don't know. I can't remember why."
Six years later and things have changed. Julian's parents moved to a different brown stone in Manhattan. Those murders were solved. Julian is now living in Mary Elizabeth's Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, a mile from the murders.
Now eighteen years old, he grew at least a foot, standing at five nine. His hair is longer, reaching just a few inches below his neck. His eyes were almost weighed down by his thick black lashes. And his accent isn't all that pronounced. Mary Elizabeth's Psychiatric Center stood in Brooklyn, far from the brown stone in Manhattan. The hospital housed many patients since it was built in the early nineteen hundreds. It was a colossal grey building with close to a hundred rooms.
He rather liked living in Brooklyn and not Manhattan. Manhattan is too rich for his tastes.
Patients roamed the hallways, some ranting to themselves or keeping their head down. Stark grey walls and white tiles where ever you go in this place. Every few feet there was a plant or pictures, something to distract the residents. Doctors kept TVs in living areas. They encouraged patients to paint whenever they could.
They wouldn't even let Julian keep his many angel statues even though he first threw a fit when they brought him there. But they did put up a cross, a painting of Michael slaying Lucifer, and the crystal angel. Snow gently fell across the giant city, the sun dipping below sky scrapers and office buildings. Christmas trees and lights were put up. Julian stared out the window while adjusting a worn out pink tee-shirt. It used to be red.
Noises that were outside and inside were toned out by voices in his head. The sky looks so ominous today, he thought. The heater blew pieces of black and blond hair in his eyes. The bus will be coming soon. Every few days, he'd suddenly leave and escape to church. Doctors went crazy wondering where he went the first few times. Now they would go to church and find him sitting in the front pew, staring at a statue of St. Michael, muttering about something. Father Joseph never minded. He's been preaching there for thirty years and saw some weirder characters than schizophrenics who believed they heard angels. Father Joseph wouldn't turn anyone away just because they had problems. Whatever the reason, people were still allowed in his church as long as he was a Father.
There would be homeless women, men and children trying to find shelter in here from the cold or trying to steal whatever money. Others found comfort being surrounded by angels.
Julian peered around a corner, lightly tip-toeing down a flight of stairs, beat up shoes squeaking. Thankfully, nurses were too busy tending to another patient to notice him. He ran outside, holed jacket flying behind him. Correcting himself after slipping on black ice, Julian took a seat on a bench, clutching both sides of his head.
The voices wouldn't stop.
They're angry. Angry that demons are becoming more bold in looking for Lilith.
"Julian, when are you going to get a new jacket? This one is worn out," a voice said. Dr. Truman, Julian's doctor.
"I like this jacket. It's warm." He flipped his hair. "It's not going to be thrown away until it's in tatters. I learned that on the streets." Julian fingered a small silver cross bracelet, thinking. "Do you believe me Doctor? About all of this."
Truman placed on hand on Julian's shoulder. "I believe there's something out there we can't explain. Things we only scratched the surface of." Julian's eyes brighten.
"The angels are getting mad," he said with rapidity. "There's going to be a war soon once the demons find Lilith. She will raise Lucifer from Hell." He's been saying the same story for the past six years. Nothing has changed. But it's getting worse. Violent images plaque his sleep every night for almost two years now. Ones of people getting killed and the earth burning up.
Truman patted the boys shoulder. "For Christmas, I'll buy you a heavier jacket, one that'll last until this one," he pulled at it, "falls apart at the seams. Heck I'll take you shopping to buy you new clothes. You've had these clothes for three years." His jeans were severely ripped, revealing large patches of skin. There were many holes in the jacket. His shoes were tearing themselves apart.
Julian shrugged, totally immune to the cold. "I'd like that Doc. New clothes sound fine," he said. "But who's going to pay for them? You?"
"Yeah. I'll even treat you for lunch at that fancy restaurant everybody is talking about. I heard the food there is amazing." Julian knew what he was doing. Distracting him. Talking helps muting the voices.
The bus pulled up and that was the end of the conversation. Julian took a seat in the back, smiling goodbye at Dr. Truman. He sighed. This teenage boy wouldn't hurt anybody by nature. But times came when things turned violent.
Many doctors ended up injured. Julian would become truculent and attacked anybody who got close. It became more frequent. What's going on in that head of his? Dr. Truman wondered what would happen if Julian got seriously injured one of these days. Heading back inside, he craned his neck back, watching the bus disappear, and then he sighed. Julian shifted uncomfortable in his seat, staring at passing buildings.
Church is the only place where he feels safe. It's his solace. Storm clouds formed overhead, threatening to storm again. They had six snow storms in the past three days. Snow covered every nook and cranny possible and ice hid under multiple layers of snow. Several car accidents happened these past few days because of that. People couldn't go outside without getting hit.
Some were fatal, some weren't. Either way, people got injured during winter because of hidden ice.
Julian scratched at bandage concealing his thin wrists. Back at the hospital, Dr. Truman tapped a pencil on paper, looking them over. The file was Julian's.
Name: Julian Wesley Valentine Nee McCoy
Born: March 24th, 1994
He spread it out, trying to figure something out but didn't know what yet. This kid was normal until he turned nine. Leaning back in his leather chair, Truman sighed heavily. What was he trying to find? A way to prove Julian isn't crazy. But that's absurd.
Anybody who believes they hear angels speaking can't be right in their head.
Angels would never tell somebody to murder innocent people. If they were real, why won't they show themselves? If they truly cared about humanity, come down here and do something about demons walking the earth. Don't use people to do your dirty work. Truman ran a dark hand through thick graying black hair and resumed his work.
The sun finally disappeared, casting darkness across the city. What lurked in the dark is what's dangerous. Those who believe that never leave after it becomes dark. Even though it was four thirty, there wasn't any sun out. A moving bill board said "Shop at Macys for the Holidays. We have the best deals at forty to sixty percent off! Clothes and accessories for women, children, everybody!"
It showed pictures of adults and children in the latest fashions. If only others could afford prices like that all year. The other passengers never even glanced at the teen. They wouldn't bother. A homeless man on a street corner held a sign reading 'Will work any job for food or money'. Julian clenched his knuckles so tightly they turned white. The homeless hit a nerve with him. Growing up on the streets for seven year, he knew how hard and terrifying it was. Not knowing if you get enough food, find enough shelter during storms or winter, and not getting in trouble with gangs.
When not going escaping to church, he tried giving what ever spare change he has at the time he found at the hospital to them. He often visited St. Ann's, the homeless shelter he was born in, from time to time.
It wasn't that he was the good of a person; Julian just hates seeing people suffer. The bus stopped again, picking more passengers. Julian's breathe hitched. Those faces. Distorted faces with burnt off pieces of flesh, ugly grey skin, horns curling their heads. Demons. They found him again. But, of course, nobody saw them. Julian averted their black eyed gaze, their sharp, pointed teeth flashing him. He rocked back and forth, gripping and un-gripping the black of his hair.
They aren't real. They aren't real. Those three words were repeated in his mind over and over. That didn't make them go away. By this time, the other passengers gave him strange looks, whispering to each other. What was wrong with this boy? Is he retarded or something? Julian muttered phrases from the bible, and hoped that that would make them go away. When he looked back, they were still there.
Why him? "Excuse me sir? Is something the matter?" an elderly woman asked. She carried a cat's crate on her lap. "Do you have a headache? I have some aspirin in my purse."
Julian shook his head. "I'm OK miss. Just tired," he lied through his teeth. "Christmas you know? It gets stressful."
She chuckled. "I know. It's hard finding the perfect gift for people. My granddaughter wanted a tabby cat for Christmas." There was a jerk. The bus pulled up to the bus stop closest to church. Julian practically flew off, catching himself using the bus stop side. The doors closed, allowing nobody else off. He breathed a sigh of relief. They won't follow him now. Shoppers pushed him away, not even looking up from their phones or I-pods to apologize. Technology has gotten everybody now a day.
Even little kids had cell phones. Growing up poor, he really never had electronics before James took them in. Hundreds of little snowflakes dotted his ink black hair. It was a two mile walk to church. A very fat boy bullied a skinny kid in glasses. Another kid join, this one looked tough. Nobody bothered helping. A street vendor stepped in. The very fat boy stole a glance ay Julian, who learned at a young age to stay out of trouble, and kept plodding towards a bodega.
The tough looking kid yelled out but he didn't listen. An icy wind buffeted Julian. Sky scrapers and high rises bent in the strong wind. More billboards offered huge one time sales. Wait till New Years. He really hated those yearly sales. Their prices were just as high as they always were. Those who made good money could afford the expensive places.
Dark clouds rolled over head, threaten another storm. Julian forced open a gas station door and stumbled inside. Two customers gave him weird sideways glances. Julian isn't well favored in the city. He avoided their gaze, and desperately tried untangling his hair.
He'd wait until the storm passed over. Church is a quarter mile away, but better be safe than sorry heading out in this storm. And it was freezing. Julian's hands and exposed patches of skin became red as tomatoes. Almost frost bitten. They slowly became numb.
The store manager, Henry, a large beefy man, tapped Julian's shoulder. "Jewels, costumers aren't so…well, welcoming of you in here." The teenager blinked and shrugged, long delicate fingers tugging at the last snarl.
"I'm leaving once the storm ends. It looks like a bad one," he said. And then he shivered, a cold breeze raking through his body. Then started rubbing a small bruise forming on his small chin. It must have happened after hitting the bus stop. It hurt like hell. "Do you have any ice packs? This hurts." He poked the purplish bruise, but later regretted it. Pain shot up his small jaw.
Henry reluctantly handed Julian an ice pack. "Just stay back."
Just stay back.
Everybody said that. Stay out of the way, we're working. I'm sure most kids hear that. There was a binging sort of sound. Somebody must be at the pump and needed to be filled. Even squinting, the thick layer of snow blowing made it impossible for anybody to see. Hail started thudding to the ground. The windows rattled rapidly, snow pounding against the door.
He walked back and forth rows, examining goods, picked them up, and then set them down, a never ending cycle.
Warmth slowly washed over him. The church bells could be heard ringing. Very pleasant bells. They rang five times. Hopefully this storm will pass.
Though Father Joseph never minded what time people showed. Father kept the church open late. Julian fixed his jacket, eying a bar of Hersey's Chocolates.
James only allowed chocolate on Halloween.
A sudden loud bang, bang followed by shortly by police sirens was normal. The others in the store didn't even look up. You can get murdered and nobody would help. Great times living in the city. A small gust of wind blew through the store. Somebody else entered. Whoever it was, they weren't happy. They spoke in harsh whispers with great rapidity.
Two customers and Henry had strange expressions painted on their faces, so the new customers must have been speaking in a different language, but to Julian, they made sense.
"Azazel will be mad. We lost him again," one hissed. "His powers make it so we can't find him."
"Don't forget. THEY are trying to locate him too." He nervously glanced at him. For the past ten years, he what he said were demons. People with burnt off pieces of flesh, horns sticking out of their heads, black eyes, sharp teeth and bone poking through their flesh. They freaked him out.
For some reason, they appeared more frequently. The doctors believe his mind is getting worse.
Heart racing and eyes wide with fear, Julian's head ever so slowly turned. Two demons. And they started towards him. One was a woman and the other a man. They made it so he couldn't leave. The woman bared her teeth.
"And just which one are you?"
Julian kept muttering, "They're not real. They're not real," while scratching his head. The female demon leaned in close. Hot breath tickled his neck.
"We're as real as you are." The man came behind Julian and grabbed a fist full of hair. "We need to speak with you." Julian struggled and clawed furiously, twisting. He screamed, then kicked the male demons knee and sprinted. By now everybody was staring at him. Another person took a hold of him.
There was more yelling. He could barely distinguish what they were saying.
"Julian! Julian!" Henry was yelling. He had to be the one holding him. "Nobody is hurting you! Stop fighting!" Large hands clasped his small wrists. He had to get away or the demons would surly kill them all. "Please stop this. I'm taking you back to Mary Elizabeth's right now!" Julian managed to escape his grasp.
"No!" he screamed. "They're just follow me there! They find me everywhere!" He gave one final shove and was off. The storm, barely over, violently attacked him. Hail, wind and snow blasted at him. Stores were closed because of the bad weather, shut off to any unfortunate traveler caught. What's worse was that every sidewalk was covered in a thick layer of ice and wet snow, which made it hard for escaping.
In a matter of minutes, the storm and dark clouds disappeared. A bright low moon hung, surrounded by countless shining stars. Club signs glowed. Smoke rose from restaurants as their lights turned on. One again, the city became alive again. Seven thirty. I was in there for two and a half hours?
Night owls few their coops, waiting in lines for clubs. Christmas trees sat in various store windows and corners strung with colorful lights. Julian stopped dead, and doubled over, winded. Running a full mile avoiding people and taxis hoping to run you over to get where ever they were heading was difficult. He realized if he kept running for another five miles, he'd be in Queens. He stared at the sky as he walked, ignoring the working girls strutting their stuff in thirty degree weather.
Night time was his favorite because of the constellations. They were fun to study. He knew almost all of them.
Oh god, the voices again.
Michael, you mustn't act so hastily. Demons are growing in numbers. They can't find him. His powers make it so. If we can't get to him, the demons will sooner or later. They already located what part of the world he is in. Should we just sit here and do nothing will demons are winning?
The voices continued. They became frantic. But they're just voices. Figments of a crazy teenagers imagination. Nothing more. Doctors had answers to everything. Loud music blasted in the night, sending chills down Julian's spine.
A dark skinned elderly man ranted and flung flyers. Handed a flyer, Julian stopped at a corner and read it.
Hear Gods message this Sunday. Don't Miss IT!
"Yeah, because I don't hear it already," he said, grinning slightly. Then pursed his full lips. Ice crunched underneath his feet. He wished this year mom would visit. It's been six years since the last time and that was the day she dropped her only son at a Psychiatric Center.
A sudden black, menacing force knocked Julian back. Another caught him from behind. Ugly, black fingers gnarled in his black hair while another set swept golden locks. A hand roughly stroked Julian's cheek. Flash had burnt off to show charred bone. Just then, the street light flashed on. This wasn't the same male demon as earlier. This one's face was still burning off, huge chunks of flesh plopped with a sickening splat despite snow catching it. One arm was bent the other way and a shoulder blade was showing. His lower lip was missing, so was his nose. Two horns sat in a tight spiral on his head.
Julian gagged on the horrid smell. Black eyes gazed down at him.
"Very few angels have androgyny. Exotic beauty is rare among your kind," The demon replied. Sharp nails were dragged from his forehead to his chin. "This will be fun. We're searching for somebody. We like-" he tore Julian's wrap around rose earring off with his teeth, "-torturing people."
"I'm not an angel! Angels and demons aren't real! You're in my head!" Julian screamed and started trashing. Nails pierced his skin. Blood trickled and stained his ratted jeans. Confusion hit him like a million bricks. If this was just another illusion, why is this pain so real? Tires squealed as a truck rounded the corner. The captors weren't fazed.
Fear coursed through his veins. The decayed hand travel until resting on the slight swell of his hips and the demon waved a white feather. There was a strange flapping sound. "Come on little angel. We don't bite. Not that much anyway." Laughter spread among the demons.
"And I don't kick that much either," Julian said. "At least get some cologne. My eyes are burning and I have no idea what you're talking about." He yelped because the demon yanked his hair.
"We know you are an angel. You're wings say it all. Lilith will be pleased we finally got one of you."
Julian kneed him. "I'm a crazy kid from New Yawk. Just go back in my head." A pair of hands that held him was removed. Teenagers in black jackets surrounded them. Some kind of gang.
The leader stepped forward. "This is our turf. Get out you bitches." Now that distracted them. Julian elbowed one and bolted. He cared nothing about if they followed. If he got to church, the demons can't enter. Demonic creatures can't enter holy grounds or they will die. Footsteps chased him. Oh crap. They sounded a couple seconds behind. Wait yes! Halfway to church. Moonlight shone on the bell tower. Something grabbed the torn jacket. He let it slip off. The cold air nipping at his newly exposed arms. As he glanced back, he tripped on a large patch of ice.
He tried balancing himself. Another shot of pain rushed up his leg. The church gates appeared.
Julian forced them open. Wind whipped and howled across the church grounds. Trees swayed creepily every time the wind passed.
"Father Joseph! Are you still here?" Julian yelled, limping. A tall older man helped him inside.
"Julian, what's wrong? Why are you covered in blood?" He asked, and help him into a pew. "Did a gang do this to you?"
Julian gasped in pain and surprise. So that wasn't fake after all. But why didn't the gang notice the demons. "You could say that. Something really weird is going on…No I don't need to lie down. It doesn't hurt that much."
Father Joseph shook his head. "Julian, I'm calling Dr. Truman, just stay here." The father disappeared. The teenager limped over to a statue of Michael, using one hand to steady himself on the pews. Kneeling down, he fiddled with gold cross, closing his eyes and prayed.