Alex Glenister laid her head back on the chaise lounge. It was comfortable enough, but she couldn't settle no matter how homely the furnishings were. The bearded shrink took a long drawn slurp from his glass of 'distilled' water. This signaled to Alex he was going to begin talking again.
"Alex. You do know what bereavement is yeah?" he leaned towards her smiling empathetically. But his silly face fungus and patronizing manner annoyed Alex beyond comprehension. She was twenty; of course she knew what bereavement was.
"Yeah, I think so." She humoured.
"It's the path that people follow when a loved one dies." He continued, completely ignoring her last comment. "Everybody reacts differently of course, and the healing process takes time. You may feel fine about your Father's death now, but eventually you will realize how you feel underneath." Alex only heard half of what the man was saying, the rest was a blurry mass of unintelligible hum. She had learned through her counselling sessions that it worked best to nod or go "mm." when the 'weirdo with the beardo' occasionally known as Professor Grubb paused.
"Mm." -he just paused.
"Well, Alex. It's time for me to say goodbye to you." He stood up and walked over to her holding out his hand. Alex shook it begrudgingly as she got up to leave the room. "And remember, it's completely normal for you to experience heightened emotions at any time so don't be hard on yourself." The shrink nodded to the nurse who just entered the room; Janice took Alex home after the 'consultations' and checked in on her everyday. "If ever you need to chat. You have my number."
Yep, in my bin Alex thought to herself as she left for what was now 'her' house.
The car's wheels crunched on the gravel as it pulled into the drive of 22 Borough Road, Southwark. It was a highly respectable place even for South London; no one would guess it was right next to a not so a well thought-of district: Bermondsey was the epitome of drugs, arms and more unspeakable doings.
"Cheers Janice." Alex said abruptly yet politely as she shut the car door. She didn't hold Janice with the same dislike as 'beardy'; she just didn't want to be followed in.
"You don't want me to make you somethin' then?" Janice called with her distinct Liverpool accent from the rolled down window.
"No thanks, I still have the chicken you did me last night." Alex was already halfway to the door. Janice clucked disapprovingly.
"Alright then, but if you need to talk to someone…" this time Alex cut her off
"-Yeah I know I have professor Grubbs' number!" she cried exasperatedly
"Yes, but I mean you have mine too."
"Oh… yeah, thanks." Alex felt a little abashed. She smiled at Janice as she shut the door- Her number wasn't in the bin.
Alex made a bee-line for the large speakers in the living room and turned on her music. The heavy rock obliterated all of the noises that would have been coming from the kitchen, but Alex didn't hear them so she settled on the couch, picking up the book she had left there earlier. She sat there for a while, absorbed in one of her father's strange books. Ever since she was little, his books had fascinated her. They told wondrous tales of vampires, werewolves and demons, but they were not typical horror stories; they had a certain disturbing realism about them, which was most likely why Alex found them so enthralling.
The smell of tobacco crawled lazily through the air, Alex sat bolt upright. She didn't smoke, nor did anyone she knew. That could only mean one thing; someone was in her house. It seemed to be coming from the other end of the house; she grabbed an umbrella from the hallway and stalked into the kitchen. Sure enough the fridge door was open, but no one was behind it. At that moment the music that was blaring suddenly stopped. Shit. He's behind me. With a rush of adrenalin she spun around flailing her fashioned weapon. The umbrella met nothing but air and completed its arc uninterrupted. He was standing too far away; in the doorway. He was tall and well built, his hair was a mousey blonde and short, he carried a briefcase and wore a suit with a trench coat, everything about this man suggested he was normal. Except for his startling grey eyes and the silver tipped cane he carried in the same hand as a lit cigarette. Alex would have run at her would-be burglar, she was fair matched with an umbrella to a stick. But there was something about him which seemed familiar.
"Wh-what the hell are you doing here?" Alex asked, shaking from the adrenalin rushing through her veins.
"Turning the music off. It's terrible." He said matter-of-factly, his accent was posh, just as businessman-like as his attire.
"No. I mean, why are you in my Dad's house?" she rephrased
"I thought it would be yours by now." He said absentmindedly as he drew pensively at his cigarette. The last remark made Alex even more uncomfortable.
"What the- who are you?!"
"I knew your father." He replied reaching into his trench coat, but Alex waved the umbrella dangerously.
"Not so fast mate. Do you think that you can just say you knew my dad and I'll forget the fact you've broken in and trust you? Nice try." She moved towards him and reached into the pocket herself, pulling out a photograph of her dad and the man standing in front of her.
"Believe me now?" Alex rubbed her fingers subconsciously over her dad's face.
"Yeah, but… what is it you want? What's so-?"
"Let's start with a conversation not involving threats or pointed objects shall we?" he said, cutting her off and motioning back towards the living room. Alex nodded, still not taking her eyes from the photograph. There was her father, a lot younger than she could ever remember him, but that wasn't what drew her attention; the two men in the photo were wearing the same identical silver cross. The one she was wearing under her t- shirt, the one she'd started wearing after her dad had died.
Alex followed the man into the living room. Looking over to the coffee table she noticed a plate with a chicken leg on it, the mysterious intruder picked it up and sniffed it as though it could be poisoned.
"That's my dinner you know." She remarked. He ignored her and bit into it without second thought, still holding his smouldering cigarette in his left hand. Alex sat on the opposite sofa uneasily and waited for him to finish her meal.
The bone landed with a light thunk on its plate, the man first wiped his fingers on a tissue had pulled from his pocket then sat looking at Alex expectantly. "…what?" she said almost angrily; why did this man make her feel so unnerved?
"You really are clueless aren't you?" he asked. Before Alex could answer he continued "I used to work with your Dad. Do you know who he worked for?"
"N-no I hardly ever spoke to him about work… I just knew he was always away on business." She couldn't help but feel foolish. She barely ever asked her dad what he did or where he went, when she did, he was cryptic. "I never even really knew him-" The man cut off her trail of speech in a slightly callous manner.
"He worked for an organization called Debello. It's Latin; basically translated it means 'The Vanquishers'" he looked straight into Alex's eyes as if looking for some reaction from her. There was none.
"The Vanquishers? What some kind of pest control company-." He looked at her with an incredulous look. "-I was joking… What do you mean 'was'?" she asked.
"I'm the only one left." He looked down at the carpet this time.
"I'm sorry." Alex picked up the book she was reading before and laid it on her lap, unconsciously picking at the torn edge of the spine.
"No, s'fine. Your father obviously kept it a secret from you. Very wise of him... But it makes my job all the more difficult." He paused when he saw the book on her lap.
"Your job?" He was still staring at the book.
"It's my job to teach you how to fight, if you choose to."
"Okay now you're really not making sense. Fight? Fight what?" He didn't interrupt her this time.
"I promised your father that when he died I'd induct you into Debello, if you chose it."
"Can you please just tell me straight and simple? I'm not thick! What IS Debello?" Alex shouted frustratedly, the way this man kept avoiding a certain topic was making her nervous.
"We fight demons. Or rather ones that make it to our world" He said simply. Alex stared at him open mouthed, not knowing what to believe. "Those books" he motioned to Alex's lap. "They're all true, at least mostly."
"B-but my dad only read these. He didn't believe this stuff! He was a Christian!" She was fuming now. Her head was spinning rapidly, as if in a dream. This couldn't be real could it?
"If you believe in heaven surely you have to believe in hell?" this stopped Alex.
"What defines you as a Christian is faith in God and his good cause." He was trying his best to calm her down. She needed to be thinking clearly when he asked her. He looked at her again; she was staring at the book in her lap.
"…So I'm to be a kind of Demon hunter? Like my dad?" the man finished his smoke and as there was no ashtray he stubbed it out in the plate.
"No." she looked up "I'm going to give you a choice. You can agree to work with me, as your Father suggested. Or you can stay here. Live your life normally and this will be the last you ever see or hear of me." Alex looked at him intently, almost waiting for his face to crack into a smile and tell her it was all a joke. But he just stared back with the same intensity she did.
"Is it dangerous?" she asked. All of her fears rapidly vanishing
"Incredibly" he stood up from the couch still not taking his eyes off her. She stood too
"Would Dad have really wanted me to do it?" He paused a moment to consider, and with a slight twitch in the corner of his mouth said;
"Then count me in." Alex extended her hand, the man stood motionless for a moment, as if sizing her up "I don't even know your name."
"Rupert Maverick." He shook her hand.
They both lounged in the living room for a time, Alex shifted on her couch and watched the smoke crawling lazily from Rupert's newly lit cigarette.
"What happens now? Are we just waiting for demon's and ghoulies to come flying in, or are we going to do something?" Alex couldn't see him but Maverick was now laughing, the smoke rose in short clusters; like an Indian smoke signal.
"What!?" she exclaimed. He continued laughing for a while then eventually stopped.
"You're not going anywhere until you've had the induction and at least a few month's of training." He chuckled a little more.
"Yes. It's how Debello 'inducts' a new member. I suppose the title isn't clear enough." He said sarcastically.
"Is Debello the reason my dad died?" Alex said softly, breaking the mood.
"What makes you say that?" he shuffled from his position to face her, a serious expression on his face.
"Well' if you're the only one left, it can't be a very sound job… I mean you're not exactly accountants are you?"
"I don't know exactly how he died, but I know for a fact Max Glenister didn't die in a car crash." There was a long silence; it wasn't awkward, just quiet. Alex broke it.
"C'mon it's late." She trailed up the staircase to her room, Maverick followed, stubbing out another cigarette on the plate still left on the table. He followed her all the way to her room when she stood in the door looking at him strangely. "The spare room's there" she indicated to the door opposite hers. Maverick sighed; this was going to be difficult.
"That's nice; I'll get the mattress from there and move it into yours-."
"There is no way you are sleeping in the same room as me! You come in here… for all I know this could just be a weird occult, hoodoo thing!"
"Believe me miss, I take no pleasure whatsoever from doing this but-." Before he could finish Alex shut the door in his face. He sighed under his breath. "Women."
Alex yawned colossally and stretched her arms wide enough to feel the satisfying crack between her shoulder blades. She wasn't surprised by her lethargy; she did after all have trouble sleeping last night. She moved to the door and opened it, her feet then caught on something spongy, causing her to hurtle face first to the ground, she cringed expecting pain but instead she thudded against something soft. As she struggled to get up disgruntled noises began emitting from the soft obstacle. Alex almost laughed; it was Maverick.
"BLOODY HELL!" he shouted among other things as they both scrambled to get up.
"Oi! Rupert! It's me you twit! I fell over you!" Alex shouted, slightly muffled by Rupert's shoulder. She eventually rolled off him and they both got up. "What the hell were you sleeping in my doorway for?" he brushed himself down as he rose, Alex waited for an answer, only he gave none. He merely walked down the hall and said gruffly
"c'mon. Breakfast." Alex decided not to question him any further and followed him downstairs.
Maverick walked into the immaculate kitchen and opened the pantry - it was almost completely bare except for one pack of Cornflakes. "Um Alex?" he asked as she put the kettle on and got two cups from a cupboard "what's for breakfast?" Alex sighed as she pushed past him to get to the pantry.
"Okay we have…do you like Cornflakes?" she picked up the box and rattled it at him enticingly.
"I said where's the food not where's the dry cardboard shavings" he replied looking bemused.
"Tough, that's all there is." She retorted throwing the pack at him.
They ate their undersized breakfast in the living room. Maverick screwed up his face with each crunch as if it caused him pain to chew.
"Come on it's not that bad, sometimes there's not even any milk." Alex said
"What do you eat apart from this?" he said between agonised chews
"Well, this for brekky, then, down to the greasy spoon for lunch. Dinner is usually brought by my mate who kind of lives here too- when she's not working at church late." She looked up at Maverick- his face hadn't improved. "Fine, we'll go shopping later- you can buy what you want… Debello is a full time job isn't it?" she didn't wait for him to reply. "So where do you get money from?"
Maverick placed down his bowl "The Organisation. They're not our employers as such; they just help with 'funding' and alert us of any unusual happenings."
"Ruddy hell! Can't you people think of decent names?! "The Organisation?! This is sounding more and more like a James Bond film!" as she paused after her rant Alex looked over at Maverick, who was staring at her.
"Are you done?" He said crossing his breathed deeply before replying.
"Yeah, for now. What are they- the church?"
"A section of it- unknown to all but us and a select few. But we aren't like them we're neutral."
"You see earth is closer to heaven and hell than you'd think. In fact they're parallel to one another. You see, this street exists three times- here, in heaven and in the underworld"
"Blimey, so good and evil is literally around every corner."
"That's one way of putting it. And there's a balance between the three, it's our job to make sure it stays that way, which is hard when Demons and Angels are finding their way through to this world and throwing the balance all over the place."
"How do they get through?"
"There are rifts all over the world. In fact; there's a rift near here. Throughout Debello history it was always referred to as 'The Gateway'," he paused as Alex looked sceptic again but continued nonetheless. "It's a weak point where spirits- good and bad from the other worlds can cross far more easily, in the case of Angels they're usually lost."
"What do you do with Angels when you find them, they're good aren't they?"
"We take them to The Gateway and they'll find their way back. Demons and other spirits don't tend to be so co-operative." He smirked ironically at the last statement.
"What do Demons look like?"
"You and me most of the time. When they make it across to this world demons are incredibly weak, so they have to take a human as their host and 'manifest' themselves into that person."
"And they can manipulate that person?"
"Yeah." He said uncomfortably. He got up and took both of their bowls into the kitchen. He returned too quickly to have washed them up, and picked up his coat from the banister and chucked one of Alex's at her. "Come on, we're going for a walk."
The streets of London buzzed with life, Taxi's, double decker busses, cars and cyclists crammed the roads. Hundreds and thousands of people went about their business. Alex and Maverick stood on the Millennium Bridge over the Thames looking down on it all. Alex leant against the rail and Maverick put his hands in his pockets.
"There's, more than seven million people down there." He remarked "All of them ignorant to what's going on, except the demon manifests of course."
"How can you tell if someone's a demon?" Alex asked casually, as if asking the time.
"It's not too hard when you're used to it, you just know. But they react badly to pure salt, Holy water burns them and they flinch when you say the name of God."
"You'll understand soon enough." Alex sighed and banged her head lightly on the rail causing a light thunk.
"It's all riddles with you isn't it?" Maverick didn't answer. "Well, let's see if I can get one straight answer from you; is there a reason we went for this walk?"
"Yes. I'm hungry" he said as he turned and walked towards the nearest café. Alex shook her head and followed him.
After a 'much more wholesome lunch' as Maverick put it. They began walking home.
"Just a question; why can't we take the bus?" Alex asked, annoyed from the excess of unnecessary exercise.
"It's not a good idea for one of us to go into crowded, confined spaces where there could be potential demons."
"Well you're buggered in London then" Alex remarked.
As they entered the house Maverick put his coat on the rack, Alex walked straight past with her coat still on and flopped onto the sofa with a moan of disdain.
"Oh don't be so overdramatic, it wasn't that far" he said as he lit a cigarette. Alex removed her face from the sofa to look at him disdainfully.
"Wasn't that far!? You're kidding; we walked from north London to south and back again! Remember that big watery thing? That was the river Thames, which we walked over."
"If you're going to be fighting the supernatural you'll need to be a lot fitter than you are now" he sat on the opposite sofa.
"How can you lecture me on fitness? I'm surprised you can walk at all, the amount of cigarettes you smoke!"
At that moment there was a knock at the door. Maverick leapt from his sofa and ran towards the door, Alex followed suit. They stood either side of the door, peeping through the frosted glass at the shadowy figure standing before them. Rupert held his cane up and Alex turned the doorknob slowly when a voice called.
"Alex? You there?" Alex breathed a sigh of relief; Violet
"Rupert, it's okay, it's my best friend Violet." But he held out his arm as she was about to open the door.
"How do you know that?" He squinted through the glass as if he could see a little better. Alex shrugged him off.
"Don't be ridiculous!"
"Alex? Is there someone else with you? Come on open the door I've got the shopping." Violet called. Alex opened the door and smiled at her best friend. Violet smiled back, and then stopped when she saw the large form of Maverick standing in the doorway menacingly. "Oh sorry I can come back-." Alex cut her off.
"Don't be daft, come in he's a friend of my Dad's." Alex cleared the doorway as Violet shuffled in with a couple of bags, before taking one, she shoved one in Rupert's arms receiving a bewildered look, they then proceeded to the kitchen.
"So how are you holding up?" Violet asked packing groceries into the pantry while Alex tackled the fridge.
"Yeah, not bad. You know, one day you think you're normal, and then it turns out your dad was a demon hunter and he wants you to follow in his footsteps." Alex said off-handedly. Rupert stiffened, glaring at Alex as she turned around to her friend. Violet paused momentarily.
"Wow, heavy. So who's this guy-?" She asked. Maverick moved towards her threateningly.
"He's the 'guy' that will wring your little neck should you not forget everything you were just told!" He was inches away from her now. But an orange came out of nowhere and whacked him in the side of his head. "Oi!" he shouted as he turned to see Alex holding another with an expression of grim determination.
"You won't touch one hair on her head, I happen to trust her. And it would be a bit hard for her not to realise something was suspicious because she practically lives here too!" she threw the other orange missile this time to be deflected by Rupert's cane. They stared daggers for a moment then finally he yielded.
"Fine, but I don't like it." He said gruffly as he left the room.
"Charming that one." Violet remarked.
"Ah, he's just jealous he can't have me all to himself" Alex replied. For the first time in what seemed an age the two friends laughed together.
"Do you believe me?" Alex asked when the laughter died a little.
"Course I do."
"Thanks. I'm not sure I quite believe it myself."
"So who's the grumpy bloke?"
"Rupert Maverick. He's now the last of the Vanquisher's or Debello-that's what they call themselves, they were a demon hunting organisation but he's the last one now. I suppose he's a kind of my mentor now…" Alex paused a moment "You remember those books we used to read all of the time?"
"What the Van Helsing type ones?" Alex nodded. "Whoa those take me back. What about them?"
"They're true. They were written by members of Debello… What are you doing?" she asked as Violet began to walk out of the room.
"I'm gonna read through them again. Scrub up on our knowledge of the 'netherworld'." Violet said the last word in a mock horror voice. Alex shook her head with a grin on her face then followed Violet into the living room.
Robbie watched the proceedings from an overhanging oak tree; he watched the three figures talking in the lit doorway. Only he wasn't Robbie anymore, the demon had fully manifested itself into his mind now, soldier demon to be precise. He tried fighting it but it hurt too much. Besides the voice said he would be free soon.
So he watched as he was told, the Glenister girl welcomed the stranger into her house and closed the door. Maverick had come the day before, and he recognised him again as one of the people standing in the doorway. The demon manifest daren't go any closer to the house; he knew what protected that house. He disappeared into the blackness, to return to his master, just as planned. In his determination he didn't look back to see Maverick observe him darting amongst the shadows in the trees.
Alex went after Violet, when she caught up, she found her frozen in the doorway looking into the living room. She wondered what was wrong, but when she looked over her best friend's shoulder, it was clear. Both of the sofas were pushed to the walls, the table was upturned and moved to the far end of the room. It was stripped bare except for a single gothic looking chair on a burgundy rug, neither of which Alex had seen before in her life.
Rupert stood by the chair holding a full bottle of Vodka. Alex pushed past Violet.
"I've never been much of a person for drinking games-."
"Induction." Maverick stated briskly. As he started to empty the alcohol, spreading it on top of the carpet around the chair.
"I thought you were doing that tomorrow?"
"I didn't think we'd be found so quickly. There was a demon manifest watching this house when you opened the door." It was Violet's turn to speak.
"Are we in danger?"
"No the house is protected." He turned to Violet and Alex walked past him but he took no notice.
"Then why the rush?" Violet enquired, he really didn't give much information without being pressed.
"Because it's not 'that' protected!" he turned back to the chair fuming to find Alex sitting in it with a sober look on her face.
"Come on then. Let's get this over with."
The warehouse on Asylum Street had been abandoned for four months; it had already drifted into severe decadence. The walls had hardly any surface left on them that wasn't spray-paint. All of the water mains leaked, making a repetitive dripping rhythm enough to drive anyone insane. But it made no difference to its only occupant- his mind was already lost. The bags under his eyes told he hadn't slept in days, his hair had become greasy for lack of washing, and his stubble was progressing considerably. None of which concerned him. Abel Scyllah tapped along to his only entertainment irritatedly. He was waiting for vital information.
"So what do you think John? When I find a way into that house. Which I will. How shall I kill the Glenister girl? Don't you just want to watch her snap like a twig? Or shall I snap her mind first? Yes I think that'll be more entertaining" he spoke into the air mockingly not expecting a reply. His host had been under for a long time now, but surprisingly he felt a stab of pain in his side. "well, well. That's new." Scyllah remarked.
"There's a lot you don't know about me Scyllah. I'm stronger than you think." It took John a lot of energy to resist, let alone speak. He wanted to aggravate his demon manifest a little, but not overdo it, after a few moments he let go. He needed to save his strength for the right time; he needed Abel Scyllah to underestimate him.
"Oh go to sleep little boy." Scyllah muttered when the echoing voice of his host died. The fact his host was talking again was worrying. But he shouldn't have been surprised seeing as he was -
"Master, I have news." The soldier manifest had returned finally, interrupting Scyllah's trail of thought.
"Well?" he turned and stood calmly despite his stomach fluttering with anticipation.
"It is as you said. The house is under a high boundary protection." Scyllah shuddered as a chill crept up his spine. This was bad. It would take most of his strength to get past that barrier. But if it has to be done… "But there is one other thing there is another girl, just a friend I think and…Maverick is there."
Scyllah froze. The hairs on the back of his neck prickling. Maverick. He thought. If he's there…shit. "Do we proceed sir?" the soldier asked nervously, interrupting again; unknowingly getting on Abel's nerves considerably, before the manifest knew it his master had spun around and knocked him to the furthest wall with a blast of malevolent force, killing him instantly. Scyllah ignored the crumpled body and rubbed his forehead. If Maverick is there, he would have to wait… or somehow draw the girl out. A smile spread across his face; that was it. His uneasy feelings suddenly washing away, he clapped his hands together and strolled out of the building. It was time to clean himself up.
Alex slumped in the chair, smoke drifting around her. Maverick picked her up and carried her to her room. Violet just stood and stared open mouthed, then eventually followed.
"Is she okay? Should she be like that?" Violet asked uneasily as Maverick lowered Alex slowly onto her bed. He didn't reply. Violet felt a stab of anger; he was ignoring her again. "If you've hurt her!-." he turned to face her.
"Isn't it funny that when people are stressed they always resort to anger? Alex is fine! She's just exhausted from the induction and needs to rest, probably also from hearing your whiny voice! I know I am!" He walked past her while he was still shouting and continued as he left the room, his voice echoing down the hallway. "Are you gonna help me clean up or what?!" he cried from the living room. With a sigh Violet followed.
"So, what exactly was that thing?" she asked as they rolled up the carpet. "All I saw was Alex , then that green fire. But she wasn't burned. Why is that?" Maverick took the rolled carpet from her and walked towards the study at the far end of the room. Violet went to follow, still waiting for an answer but he shut the door in her face. "Oh that's mature." She muttered collapsing into the sofa. After a few minutes he returned. "Still not talking to me?"
"Look princess. Alex might think you have a right to know every little detail of what's happening. But you don't cut it with me." At that Violet stood up and walked to the door. "What are you doing?"
"Going." She said abruptly
"Good." He replied, matching her terseness
"I'm coming back, I just need some air!" she shouted slamming the door behind her.
Maverick lit a cigarette aggravatedly. He hated young people; they were far too impulsive for his liking. He knew he shouldn't have been so abrupt with Violet but she wasn't his responsibility. At that thought he returned upstairs to check on Alex.
She lay on the bed with a cold sweat, she whimpered quietly as if in a trance. Maverick put a cold flannel he grabbed from the bathroom on her forehead; she quietened, slightly reacting to his touch but still in deep reverie.
"Come on then, let's get this over with." Alex's hands shook but she gripped the chair with determination. Maverick nodded at her with an expression bordering on respect and walked towards her, when Violet blocked his way spreading her arms as if it would help to restrain him.
"Hang on." She looked intently at Alex. "Are you sure about this?" The two friends exchanged glances for a moment.
"Yes, I'm sure" Alex replied, at that Violet sighed and stepped aside to let Maverick through. He poured a little more alcohol at Alex's feet and muttered.
"It helps to lubricate the transition between here and the other worlds."
"Is that where I'm going then?" Maverick paused a moment.
"For a few moments… whatever you see just remember this- they can't see you." Alex nodded nervously. "Are you ready?" starting to feel dizzy Alex shut her eyes. "Alex?" her eyes snapped open.
"Okay." He walked away from her to the edge of the carpet and picked up a large, thick book which looked as ancient as the gothic chair she was sitting on in fact it looked like it was made of the same dark mahogany. Maverick turned through some of the thick pages and stopped on one, he began speaking but Alex and Violet didn't understand it. "Is animus seen opportunus per authorities of Debello adveho pro porta ut obtutus super otherworldus. perceptum scientia quod ops persevero pondera. Suscipio is electus animus , futurus illustrator, futurus ostendo via , ingravesco a Debello. Now through fire and water to travel."
Alex looked up. She understood the last verse, she looked at Violet to see her reaction; there was none, she still looked puzzled. Before Alex could say anything Maverick had taken his cigarette from his mouth and threw it into the carpet. To Alex it seemed to fall for an age; everything moved in slow motion. Then, as the smouldering end touched the rug it burst into a vivid green flame, engulfing Alex and all she could see.
Cold. Falling. All she could feel was the sensation of falling and the cold. After a time the feeling faded and Alex opened her eyes, to meet a brilliant white light, when her eyes adjusted she could make out shapes, buildings, roads which she recognised, and finally people. It was London, just brighter, somehow more refined and in the midst of clouds.
She gasped in amazement at the beautiful panorama before her. Just as she was about to step towards the shining city, she fell again, for longer, further but it was no longer cool, it began to get warmer and warmer until the heat became stifling.
Alex opened her eyes again, and at the very moment screamed. At least her mouth opened in horror, no sound came from her. It was London again, but it was filthy, every window was smashed, there were fires everywhere. The roads were cracked and emitted a kind of black steam. Again she saw people, but it was in a stark contrast to the white city. The people were running, screaming, being torn apart by dark figures that looked like dogs, and other humanoid creatures with burning red eyes seething with malevolence. Alex tried to close her eyes but couldn't, she stood for what seemed an era, frozen in shock. When eventually everything faded to black. But she was still aware of everything around her, or rather the lack of, when she noticed she stopped breathing, starting to feel dizzy she gasped for air but there was none, she screamed, but there was no sound, trapped in the void of nothing, Alex passed out.
Violet walked aggravatedly for a while, stamping on any litter unfortunate enough to cross her path. That man! She thought. He can be so "unbearable!" she shouted the last word into the night to echo down the empty streets. Only they weren't empty, there was a single dark silhouette walking her way. Violet looked down as the figure approached, embarrassed at the thought of them hearing her.
"Are you alright?" the deep voice of a man asked.
"Um, yeah will be." She replied embarrassed, the man wore an immaculate pressed suit and was clean shaven. He had a nice face which at the moment looked concerned. "Just you know, shouting at the city, as you do." He smiled
"Yeah, I do it all the time." He said sarcastically, this time Violet laughed. "See? Feeling better already."
"John Gallagher" he extended his hand
"Violet Hammond" she reached out to shake his hand. At the moment she touched his skin she felt dizzy and confused, as if a huge pressure was bearing down on her.
Abel closed his eyes and read the girl's mind; she wasn't Alex, Dammit… but she did know her. Best friends, the two of them. A grin spread across his face…Perfect. He broke the connection by letting go of the girl's hand but still held on to the control he had of her mind. As if the tiniest thread of his consciousness latched onto hers, not controlling her; that would break her mind, just persuading her.
"Come back with me, I'll make us some tea." He said his eyes flashing dangerously, their kindness lost. Violet struggled a little but couldn't help the overwhelming feeling she wanted to go, but she didn't even like tea. Still the feeling pressed her, and she followed the man into the dark.
Alex's eyes snapped open and she gasped for air, she couldn't see anything but incomprehensible blurry shapes, a moving haze held her shoulders tightly. She struggled in panic and was held tighter. She stopped when she could smell the distinctive scent of cigarettes on the coat of the person. Maverick.
She relaxed a little and her vision slowly returned. But she still shook from the horrors she had witnessed only moments ago. "Are you alright?" he asked letting her go and sitting beside her.
"All those people…" she stared at him blankly still shaking from the image of the hundreds of bodies being ripped apart by the dark figures with red eyes. Maverick's expression turned grim.
"Yeah. I know." Alex looked around the room, her sight had returned fully now so she noticed something was missing.
"She threw a wobbly and went for a walk." Alex looked at her clock; it read twelve fifteen.
"When was this?" Alex felt she was being overly inquisitive but she couldn't shake off the feeling something was wrong.
"About two hours ago, she said she'd come back but she must have gone home." Alex got up unsteadily but firmly, Maverick tried to push her back down but she fended him off. "Oi, you need to rest" he shouted at her as she stumbled past. Alex feverently pulled on her shoes without tying them and tore out of the house. Maverick watched her as she staggered out of the gate into the street Shit he thought and ran after her.
"Violet?" Alex felt incredibly lightheaded and dizzy, as if the ground was moving of its own accord beneath her. Eventually she inevitably tripped on a lace and plunged face first into the ground. The concrete was freezing cold, and quite hard as Alex discovered when she fell. In a few moments Maverick's heavy footsteps approached and for the second time that day picked her up easily as if she were made of foam. "N-no you can't Violet!" he put her down in the driveway; she stood for a moment then lowered slowly to the floor.
"You idiot! You can't just saunter out there in your condition; you may as well serve yourself up on a silver platter for the Demons!" Maverick shouted at the street more than Alex, she just murmured in reply, still feeling vertigious. "Demons and their kind are weakened by sunlight, so as soon as you leave the protection of the house they'll be drawn to you like moths to a flame." He knelt beside her to pick her up.
"And yet you let Violet go!" Alex beat on his chest as aggressively as she could, but in her state it didn't affect him much.
"Violet isn't in danger, she's normal, not a demon hunter." He said softly.
"Maverick, you have to believe me something's not right." Just then a scathing, hissing voice filled the driveway.
"You should listen to your girl Maverick, she has intuition." The soldier demon crouched on the tree overlooking the gate, he was a young teenage boy, the demon's eyes turned completely black as he mentioned the demon hunter's name.
"What do you want demon?" Maverick said strongly, as he stood taller he seemed to grow in size as he walked in front of Alex towards the demon manifest.
"To pass on a message from my master;" the demon jeered
"Who is your master?" Maverick demanded
"The message is for you." He said to Alex, she shuddered as his eyes turned to her but she stood up supported by Maverick. "My master has your friend, and she will die. Unless you do one thing."
"What?" Alex found she couldn't look the demon in the eye.
"You take the book to my master and deliver yourself to him."
"What book?" Alex asked, the Demon shrugged lazily and pointed to Maverick
"Ask him he knows. That is the message." The demon began to move away when Maverick shouted:
"Who is your master!?" the Demon turned around slowly and replied before disappearing into the darkness.
"Abel Scyllah." Those two words froze Maverick on the spot, for the first time he was speechless. Alex saw his expression of terror at the mere mention of the name. They remained still for a while when Maverick finally regained himself and with one arm guided Alex back to the house. This time she struggled a little but yielded easily.
They sat on the sofas again; Maverick stared at the carpet in silence. Alex held her head in her hands, her head spinning impossibly; not from the side-effects of the induction but from the questions running through her mind; how do I get Violet back? What was this book? Why did this Abel Scyllah want me? And why has the mere mention of his name scared Maverick so much?
"Abel Scyllah wants you because you have the book, he scares me because he is the most powerful demon to ever cross to our plane and I have no idea how to stop him." Maverick was still looking at the floor Alex could have sworn his mouth didn't move, she paused momentarily.
"I didn't say anything."
"Nor did I, demon hunters can read each other's minds." Alex wasn't too fazed by this, normally she would have made a fuss but she was still numbed by the shock of everything else that was happening and merely accepted it.
"Oh." She looked at him again and saw his hand was shaking and poured both of them a scotch.
"You didn't say if we can get Violet back." She said as she handed him his glass.
"It's more than likely she's safe until Scyllah gets that book. Which will not happen while I still breathe."
"We have to try! She needs our help!" Alex shouted suddenly getting up from the sofa and pointing out the window.
"I didn't say we wouldn't try, but we need to be prepared." Maverick got up and stood beside her looking out of the window. "If Violet is still alive- it means Abel knows he can use her, and he won't move until we do. If we take our time and you're properly trained we will stand more of a chance." Alex stared out of the window down onto the streets, Violet was out there somewhere.
"I'm gonna find you mate."