Ahem. Any and all mistakes are mine and I apologize.

"Dude. What the fuck was that?"

Mars opened his mouth, racking his brain for a logical explanation for the monstrous roar that echoed through the empty building. They had been in there not even ten minutes when the sound made them stop in their tracks. Dax, who held the camcorder, looked ready to-for lack of better words-shit himself.

"I, Uh, I'm sure it's nothing," Mars managed. "Come on, Dax, there's no such thing as monsters, remember?" A howl that was a bit too close for comfort rang out. "Still, it won't hurt to leave."

Dax nodded shakily. They started for the lobby, only to freeze. "Bro," Dax said, his voice weak and his face going pale. "That looks like a monster to me." Despite himself, Mars nodded.

He backed away slowly, his eyes never leaving the behemoth before him. It was about the size of a Great Dane, if not bigger. Its piercing yellow eyes burned with hell's fire. Thanks to the flashlight, Mars could see how the canine like creature was hairless and how its skin was had raised bumps, like a plucked chicken. It bared its teeth in a snarl and a glob of drool fell on the floor. That's when he ran.

He caught Dax's arm as the monster—Howler, he was sure—roared and pounced after them. "Run, run, run!" he shouted, sprinting down the haunting corridors of the empty hospital, dodging leftover stretchers. He could hear it behind them, growling and slowly catching up. Not thinking, he jumped into the first open door when they turned the corner, pulling Dax in after him. He slammed the door shut, throwing the lock, and leaned against it.

"Mars! What the fuck, what the fuck, what the actual fuck?!" Dax exclaimed, his eyes wide and terrified.

"Shh!" Mars hissed. "Let me think!" His voice was filled with fear. He looked around wildly and saw that they were in the generator room. There was a catwalk about twelve feet off the ground. The only way up was a single ladder. "There!" he exclaimed over Dax's undying chorus if what the fucks. "I'm gonna guess it can't climb! Go!"

Dax ran for the ladder as there was a sudden banging on the door. "Fuck!" Then, "This thing is coming off!"

Mars quickly grabbed the ladder, holding it in place for his friend. "Go! I got it!" As Dax went up, Mars raked his mind. The catwalk was worn and rusted and barely looked stable enough for both of them. He clenched his jaw as the ladder buckled a bit. Behind him, the pounding, the scratching, got louder, almost drowning out Dax's voice.

"Mars!" Dax's voice broke his trance. "Come on! I'll hold it!" Mars looked up at his friend and took a breath. He stepped on the first step of the ladder, unnerved by how it bent ever so much. He let go and stepped back.

"Dude, can that thing even hold us both?" He asked, throwing a look back at the door. It shook.

"Now is not the time to worry about this Mars, just hurry up!" Dax snapped. Mars look up at his friend, saw the fear in his eyes and nodded.

"Alright, alright, I'm coming," He called up. Growing a pair, he started up the ladder. He was about arm's length from the top when he noticed the pounding had stopped. He looked up at Dax, pausing. "Did it leave?" They exchanged confused looks.

The door crashed down.

Mars let out a cry of shock and tried to scramble to the top as Dax reached out to pull him up. Mars barely got a grip on the catwalk when the ladder was yanked from underneath him. Unfortunately, the grip wasn't strong enough. Dax's fingers brushed the sleeve of Mars jacket, a scream filling the room. It came from Dax, not Mars.

He fell hard, landing on his side. He gasped as pain shot through his arm and side. His vision blurred for a second, his hearing fuzzed out. Far away, someone was shouting at him to get up.

"Get up, Mars, you piece a shit!"

That voice. It sent a chill down his spine, causing him to forget his current situation.

"Get up! Get up!"

Mars blinked, saw the monster looking at him.

"Mars! Get up! Run!" Dax screamed.

He didn't have to be told twice.

The Howler pounced at him, but he rolled to the side, avoiding the beast's jaws. He scrambled up, stumbling, then ran for the door, the monster close behind and Dax's screams echoing in his ears.

Mars was a fast kid. He never took track, but he knew how to run, how to breathe. Despite his speed, the beast stayed on his tail. He blamed the pain in his side. Every time he took a step, it felt like someone was stabbing him. Still, he ran. Dodging stretchers, throwing them behind him and jumping over the fallen ones in front of him. It still stayed close behind. He could hear it behind him. And it terrified him.

As he turned yet another corner, it caught his bag. He cried out and somehow managed to shrug it off, slipping and barely managing to get up in time. The Howler roared in rage and the boy cursed when he saw the only way out was a window at the end of the hall. He took a breath before speeding up and saying a quick little prayer.

The window shattered as he fell through, landing hard on his stomach and arm. He gasped, trying to regain his breath. When he looked up to get up, he saw that he was in a courtyard. It was a haunting sight, the overgrown grass and weeds surrounding the birdbaths and little angel statues. He cried out in pain when what felt like a thousand knives dug into his ankle. He looked down and saw how the monster was biting him and dragging him back. He rolled over, kicking at it, catching it in the nose. That just pissed it off even more. Before he could even jump up, it was on him.

He gasped as the Howler sank its teeth into the soft flesh of his shoulder. Hot tears burned his eyes as he grabbed a piece of glass and started stabbing the monster in the neck, but the action seemed to have no effect other than slicing the boy's hand. He could feel its teeth graze his bone before tearing the flesh away.

That's when he started screaming.

There was a flash as the holy water filled bullet flew from the old western styled colt. The Howler roared in pain and rage, the bullet lodging into its shoulder. It looked up and bared its teeth, teeth stained crimson with the boy's blood. Marcus cursed, knowing the kid was as good as dead. He fired again and the Howler jumped at him. He didn't even try to jump out of the way.

He moved with the Howler, falling on his back as he stuck his silver dagger into the soft flesh of the beast's belly. An inhuman scream filled the courtyard as the blade was pulled down the sizzling skin, a putrid smell filling The Shade's nose. Before any intestines or other entrails could be spilled on him, he kicked the Howler over his head, where it landed in an unmoving heap. The man stood, reclaiming his fedora from the ground and shaking off the dirt and blades of grass from it before putting it back on. He pointed his gun at the Howler's head, right between the eyes, and dusted off his black trench coat before pulling the trigger.

The hole in the front was precise, small and delicate. The back of its head, that was another story. The skull was in jagged pieces, brain matter still clinging to it as it littered the overgrown grass. He smirked as the body quickly started to decompose, effects of the silver and holy water. Within seconds, only a pile of dust and a clean dagger was left.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust," he muttered darkly, picking up his blade and replacing it in its sheath. "Good riddance." There was a painful gasping behind him and he turned to see the boy still breathing. "Damn." He made his way to the boy, unmoved by how bad the deep wound on his right shoulder was. There were bites on his arms, blood spreading through the sleeves of his jacket, and a fairly good-sized piece of glass stuck in the boy's hand. He had fought back, that was clear. His shirt and jacket were ripped, revealing a tattoo in an old English font across his broad chest. As Marcus pointed the gun at the boy's head, he read it.

Only God Can Judge Me.

His finger tightened on the trigger when the boy opened his eyes. Those piercing green eyes seemed to stare right through him. He hesitated. He knew the boy was already infected. By next month he'd just be another monster on the street. The boy whimpered in pain, his face an alarmingly pale hue from blood loss. His eyes watered, those hard green eyes from earlier gone. In their place were terrified eyes. The young eyes of a boy who didn't want to die. Pleading.

"Damn." The Shade put away the gun and knelt by the wounded shoulder, pulling out a flask of holy water from one of his hidden pockets in his jacket. "Hey," he snapped, ripping the glass from the kid's hand. He barely noticed. "Hey!" Marcus repeated in annoyance, patting the boy's cheek when his eyes drifted shut. "Stay alive. This is gonna hurt." He poured the holy water on the wound and the boy's eyes flew open as he screamed. Marcus put a hand on his chest, holding him down as he thrashed, the wound sizzling.

"I warned you, didn't I?" The boy finally relaxed, tears streaming down his face. "Talk to me, kid," he quickly added when the boy's eyes started to roll back. "Got a name?"

"Mar, Mars," the boy somehow managed. Marcus arched an eyebrow as he poured the last of the water on Mars's arms. He screamed again, this one weaker and a bit hoarse.

"Mars? What, your parents name you after a planet?" Mars shook his head weakly and opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out. "Hey!" Marcus snapped, pressing a cloth over the raw shoulder. The boy closed his eyes in pain and tears escaped. "I asked you something."

"The god!" Mars sobbed. "The roman god of war Mars."

"That's all you had to say," the Shade muttered. Then, "How old are you?"

"Seventeen," Mars whimpered.

"Huh." The man looked down at Mars's shoulder. He lost a lot of blood. This could all be for nothing. The cloth would stop the bleeding, thanks to the Magician he bought it off of. Still, it might be too late. "Got a girlfriend?" he asked, searching his many pockets for his book of seals. Mars shook his head. Shade remembered that other boy as he pulled out the book. "Boyfriend?" The boy shook his head again and The Shade frowned, more so out of frustration for not finding the right seal than not getting a straight answer. "Then what was that other kid?" he demanded, his frustration leaking through his voice. Mars was struggling to stay awake.

"He's my bro. He okay?"

Marcus shook his head. Damn kid was more worried about his friend than himself. "Yeah."

Mars smiled weakly. "Cool."

"Idiot," he muttered, finally finding the seal he needed. He ripped the page from the book and glanced down at the boy before sitting him up. "This is going to hurt more than the holy water," he said seriously. "You've been warned."

He pressed the paper on the back if the boy's neck. He went rigid, his eyes going wider than what The Shade thought was possible. He screamed an inhuman scream, like the scream of an animal slowly being killed. He thrashed madly, but Marcus kept a grip on him, keeping him as still as he could while chanting the Latin phrase needed to contain the beast. By the time he was done, Mars was unconscious, his breathing shallow and labored. This didn't worry the Shade. The boy would live. It was the sirens in the air that worried him. He set the boy down and stood, tipping his hat before turning to walk away.

"Sorry about that."