Episodic stories of fantasy and science fiction.

Category: Seeking Dusk

Seeking Dusk story

Seeking Dusk: Part 3

This alley… Nice little secret back entrance into the doctor’s medical facility/ home. Hadn’t been out here in a number of years. Really gone to hell. I remember when humans took better care of these cities.

Then again, so does he.

I have two more demons to hunt and little idea where they might be. The Presence sent me here for the first one, but with my connection severed from it down here, memories of what I could have known are hazy.

And if I hadn’t got the old man in a kicking-angels-out-of-his-house mood, he might have had a way to help me track them. Or maybe just rumblings of any kind of demonic activity. While my chest was healed, I lacked the energy for another fight like that hidden demon.

If something like that can sneak up on me again, I’m not sure if I…

No. None of those thoughts. Focus on what we can do. Doctor’s office is off limits until he cools down. There’s the bridge, but it’s more than several blocks away. I don’t have a body, so I can’t exactly call for help.

Lacking options, the bridge is the best choice. Getting there without having half the city’s demons on my tail will be tricky, but if I can get there, it will be worth it.

I pull my wings in tight, and take off running into the city. Getting there before nightfall could mean my survival.

The bridge is protected ground. Long ago, a place of worship stood in its place. A place to praise The Presence. It has been torn down in the intervening years, the greater land around it turned into a park. The bridge used to run over an artificial river that has since dried up.

But lucky for me, the ground is still consecrated. While there, I should be protected from the nasties that lurk in this darkness. Even a simple rhyming demon would be a challenge when I’m drained like this.

It’s a sad thought. The great story of Aluma “Firebrand” ended by a low level demon. Not that the irony would be lost on me.

What’s that?

I dive off to the side, hiding behind the wall of a building. Up ahead are a pack of grief demons. How did I nearly miss them? My mind moves a thousand miles a minute. Thoughts too uncohesive.

Focus, Aluma.

Ahead the demons are still huddled around something. Whatever that something is, they seem… excited? Grief demons don’t get their kicks from much, but that little thing seems too small to be a dead body. If only they could get out of the way, I might see it!

I get my wish, but not how I expect. The demons poof into a puff of sulfur, whatever they were obsessing over going with them. I don’t like this. Grief demons themselves are insignificant, but exhibiting such odd behavior, coupled with the demon who could hide his power earlier…

I really don’t like this. No time to waste, though. Have to get to the bridge. I can think over this all I want once I’m there.

The city seems to fly by me as I resume my rush to the sacred ground. With each step, I hear it. It can’t be coincidence, as each pitter patter of foot hitting ground happens almost exactly as my own do. And they’re keeping up with me, which is no easy feat for a mortal.

Demon’s can’t enter hallowed ground, but a human certainly can. And there are ways for a human to… No. Get to the bridge. You can stop worrying about the demons then, and focus on the human.

I turn down side streets, half hoping I might lose him in the confusion, but he keeps up at every twist.

C’mon, I’m nearly there. Just a little bit more…

“Base! Haha! I’m on blessed ground now, so don’t you-“

I turn and face my pursuer and come face to face with the last person I expected.

“Well, you’re pretty spry for a nearly dead halo. How are you, Alli?”

Before me stood Rand Garrow, an old friend.

“What the actual Hell, Garrow? Why were you following me?!” the words spit from my mouth with a fire that nearly lights up my sword.

“Calm down! I’m just checking on ya, girlie! The doc put out a call for someone to keep an eye on you when you first landed,” he says with a smile. I can’t stay too mad at him. I have to admit, the accent helps.

“Why would he care?” I pout.

I look over Garrow, his outfit absolutely ridiculous. He’s clad head to toe in black, little pouches at his waist. In them, he has gadgets and gizmos, that I’m fairly certain he doesn’t use half the time in his line of work. He’s covered in a long coat. It’s an old thing, likely something he keeps for a reason.

“He may have kicked you out, but he is still a believer. He knows you need help. I told him I’d be the best to calm you down if he pissed you off.” He giggles. “Which he obviously did.”

“And the sneaking up on me helped with that how?”

“Figured I’d never get the chance to catch an angel unawares again, and thought I’d have some fun.”

I give a slow clap.

“Bravo. Really calmed me right down.”

He gives an exaggerated bow, then returns to standing, a massive grin on his face.

“Now, how can I be of service to a heavenly host?”

“I need some sleep. Doc stitched me up, but I’m still not at 100%. While I rest until morning, you keep watch. Saw some grief demons escaped you earlier.”

Rand’s face contorts, his eyebrows smushing together as he stares at me intently.

“Grief demons? Nearby? That’s impossible, I’d have sensed them.”

Oh. Oh shit.

“Garrow, I can’t take another game right now, so please be serious. I saw a pack of grief demons just back the way we came.” I point back from the way we ran here.

“It was just before you started following me.”

Rand shakes his head.

“Alli, I’ve been following you since the Doc’s place. We never saw grief demons on the way here.”

Yeah. Okay. Now I’m starting to worry.

Seeking Dusk: Part 2

My eyes open slowly as I come to. This is definitely not the alley. I squint around the room, but shades are blocking most of the light. As my eyes adjust, I realize where I am. The mix of medical and occult books strewn about tell me he didn’t take much time to clear a space for my body when he brought me back.

I sit up and feel the soul thread tighten in my chest. I run my fingers over it, the wound completely gone. I guess he hasn’t had time to pull out the string after healing me. The doc did a good job stitching me up. The poisonous energy that had affected me from the demonstrike was dispelled.

That was a stupid mistake. He was strong, I should have seen that coming instead of standing around, letting it infect me.

The door opens and I turn to face my rescuer. Dr. Alexander Matthews walks in. He’s an older man, somewhere in his 80’s, who’s helped The Host for several decades. A devout catholic, and excellent medical doctor, his assistance has proven invaluable to pretty much all of us who’ve passed through The City. A few of us have even been lucky enough to run into him on his travels.

He’s not a huge fan of the repercussions from meeting the angels. It’s nice to think we’re all little mindless servants to The Presence, but to learn we all have our own personalities, some of which are a bit… cruder than what you’d expect upsets him. My personal love of curse words ticks him off good.

“Good afternoon, Doctor! Fine day?”

“Hello, Aluma. It’s good to see you up,” he says as he takes a seat in his office chair. “I see you got yourself in a good mess. Care to tell me about it?”

I could hear the distaste in his voice, like a disapproving father.

“Just demon hunting. This one wasn’t too bad, he just got a lucky shot in.”

“Lucky? Last time I saw a beast get a supposed lucky shot, you barely had a scratch.” He lights his pipe before continuing.

“You normally acknowledge skill in your adversaries, even in these filthy creatures. What happened?”

I sigh before answering. Not that I have any answers.

“I’m not sure. He seemed weak. Didn’t even think he was the demon I was after. But he was just standing there, I knew something wasn’t right. I knew it. I, of course, engaged him anyway.”

The doctor looks over me thoughtfully.

“And you underestimated his skill?”

I shake my head.

“No. I underestimated his power. Doc, when he jumped out of the human, he was taller than the buildings near where I passed out.”

“Disturbing… A demon with the ability to hide its power… Any thoughts?”

“Don’t I normally ask you that?” I jumped down from the table.

The doctor walked over to some of his books and started leafing through them. “I’m afraid my knowledge of any such ability in demonic beings is lacking. I’ve never encountered it before. There are some materials they can hide behind, but it’s unlikely this man had a cursed iron wall.”

“No. Ooooh! Unless he made it invisible! Demons are sneaky like that!”

“Cut it out. You’re such a child,” he places the book back on the shelf.

“Don’t say that to me, youngster! I’d been a warrior-legend before your parent’s eyes first met.”

He shoots me a dirty look. For a human who supposedly follows a humble path, he sure demands respect.

“You have to be careful. Your enemies are exhibiting a previously unheard of ability. They may be hiding more. Use your head for once, Aluma! Courage doesn’t have to mean stupidity.”

“Oh, Dr. Matthews! I didn’t know you cared!”

Okay, now even I’m not sure why I was teasing him. Was I scared?

“Child, you may have years on me, but your maturity could do with some work. For just a man, I’ve had contact with so many angels, but you have to be the most frustrating! For the servants of my Lord, I never expected such… weakness!”

I tensed up. He’s gone too far.

“Alex, do not presume me to be human. My conscience does not weigh upon my actions. I do not fail in my tasks. If I was chosen for this assignment, then I can and will complete it. And to question my role, is to question that very Lord you so revere.”

I’d gotten to him. Not a single curse word in the past day and I got to the old man. He opens his mouth and says one word.

Exieris.”

In a blink, the old office disappears and I find myself outside, staring at his door. Oh yeah, I got to him.

Seeking Dusk: Part 1

I can only imagine what it was like to see all of reality form in the beginning. There isn’t any evidence, but I’d like to imagine it’s much like leaving The Presence. One minute, you’re part of a massive consciousness of angel and god, the next, you are you. Complete

As the dimensional tunnel swirled around me with every and all colors at the same time, I felt the last bit of The Light leave me. It always felt so strange for it to be gone. More so than the sound of a symphony, the smell of your favorite food, or a piece of art leaving your short term memory. I couldn’t imagine it in my life at all.

I can only guess that this makes it easier to leave. Which is especially necessary as I may be gone a long time. Three demons had escaped into the human world and I was chosen to hunt them down. I dunno why they would risk escaping the pit so brazenly, but there wasn’t any kind of excuse. The punishment for escape is clear.

The tunnel of light around me began to dissipate. The Presence should have me land fairly close by the first of the demons. While I don’t have it now, in the collective we can see nearly all of the earth. It was this one poking its head out for a moment that made us take action.

Metal poles shot up around me, as concrete materialized and formed into buildings. The asphalt flowed down like a river, making the street. The entire physical world seemed to come into being, much as I did only moments ago.

The city was an impressive feat for these creatures. They had manipulated and built great structures to their own benefit. But with so many people here, the demon was not lacking in people he could hide in.

The bustling on the street goes right through me as I stretch out my wings. Humans have always felt so limited. They can’t see that which is right in front of them. They can’t feel that which is most important.

My wings flap and I ascend, overlooking the crowd. A demon could see me coming this way, but then he’d have to move, and I could feel when he does.

“No. No way it is that easy.”

Across the street is a shady looking guy. Slightly ragged clothes, wearing sunglasses, standing in the alley. He might be a drug dealer, might just be waiting for someone. But the darkness flowing off his person is palpable. It is so much more than even the worst human, but not at the level of the demons I’m looking for.

Still, I guess it’s my obligation to check it out. I glide across the street. A bus passes through me and kind of tickles. Just a bit. I fight the urge to smile though, as it’s hard to be intimidating to a demon when you’re giggling like an idiot.

I fly up, rather than directly approach. Not yet, anyway. I can sense a dozen or two humans in the vicinity. Most are in the buildings at his sides. Two are vagrants in the dumpsters behind him. None have the level of darkness he does. No one seems to be spying on him. No one could come to his aid.

Something isn’t right, but that there is an easy solution for that. I draw the sword on my back and light it up. A holy fire engulfs the blade as my own Light pours out. I don’t push it enough for my armor to form, but it shines off me very clearly. If there’s a demon down there, he should be afraid.

The man is still just looking around. I float to within a foot of him.

His head quickly turns and stops, looking right at me. He lowers his glasses, revealing the darkness behind him. He is possessed by a demon.

“Leave the human, foul one! You have no business with him.”

He laughs a dark cackle.

“Does that usually work? Yelling at the spirits? And here you were supposed to be a hot shot.”

I ignore his insult.

“I’m giving you a chance to go back quietly. Surrender now, return to the pit and-“

“You know that’s not happening,” he interrupts. “I know what you’re here for. So why not summon that armor of yours.”

“I won’t need it to handle you.” I ready my blade.

“Oh shit. You really can’t tell can you.” The man looks genuinely surprised. “Guess it really works.”

He lets out a laugh so disturbing I actually wince. What is he talking about?

“If you had half a brain, you’d have struck me down the moment you saw me. Guess it’s my lucky day.”

The spirit jumps out of his host, the human body collapsing on the floor.

It’s impossible. I’m looking right at it, but there’s no way this was the demon I had sensed inside the man. He was gigantic, easily three stories tall. The power wafting off him was ten times the darkness I felt.

The flam on my sword flickers for only a second.

“Die!” he screams as he swipes at me with his claws.

I try to move, but I’m a little too slow. Too taken in by surprise. His claws get a good hit, as I feel the warm blood running down my stomach. It’s a lot. More than it should be. He’s so strong though…

He laughs that horrible laugh that makes me so uneasy.

“I never thought it could be so simple! Fight back, host!”

His booming voice snaps me back into the moment. He goes to strike again, but this time I fly up, dodging the blow. I make him pay for this mistake, slicing at his arm. The yellow, sulfur smelling liquid that’s replaced his blood squirts out. It was a good cut. That arm will be out the rest of the fight.

He screams out in pain.

“You stupid bitch! I’m going to kill you!”

In tap into my Light more, pushing my Power further. I move blinding fast, shooting toward my foe like a bullet.

Three strikes is all it takes. Three strikes and a monster the size of a building falls.

He cries out in his death throes, as yellow ooze squirts everywhere.

The string of obscenities he shouts make me blush. I would never have considered something in that order. I’ll have to remember that.

For about 15 seconds, the alley is covered in the creature’s innards. I think I might nearly pass out from the smell.

Just as quick as my strikes, the parts of the beast dissolve. His body, his blood, everything. It all disappears into The Void where he’ll remain until the end days.

I release my Light. The glow fades from my body as the fire on my sword extinguishes. Strange. The smell is gone but I still feel off. Now why would-

*Thud*

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