My first original story, hope you like it~!
“In the years after World War 2, the people of the time began to hope for peace and prosperity, much as they do after any war. For a while, there were never any serious conflicts, although at that time the survivors of the Cold War, Vietnam, and the like could argue that point. In the years of the new millennium, the two thousandth year on the “modern” calendar, things began to change. New leaders brought in by false pretense destroyed the economies of the world, setting the stage for a massive battle that they and the future of human kind would come to know as World War 3. The survivors blamed it on those leaders and false prophets, but in reality they were just puppets pulled by the strings of an even bigger show working under the table. And under the skin. Rebellion had spread through the different realms, and angels joined sides with demons and attempted a universal reformation. Many of the world leaders were possessed, used to wage pointless wars against other nations in an attempt to spark a fire. Most of the world would be destroyed, and countless investigations would reveal nothing conclusive. Most of the remaining population knew nothing of the real war being raged. And to find out they never did, a secret society that called itself the Black Feather united under a cloak of secrecy in an attempt to kill the Rebel leader, Ashura, a fallen angel. They never succeeded in the task, but during the largest battle in the history of the angels, Ashura’s forces were pushed back and in the end, defeated until it was only himself and his most faithful followers remaining. The three of them fell back, but some were caught and sealed away, and in the final -”
The last words of the paragraph were lost as the pages of the book closed. Firelight illuminated the title, “A History of the Angels,” but it was hardly a truthful book. For one, the book hadn’t even been written by “angels.” It seems most people these days could only guess at what goes on around them.
“It’s like they’re wearing blindfolds.” The Demon Hunter said to himself, placing the book back on its shelf. The Black Feather Library had enough books to last a lifetime, enough even to dwarf the one at Alexandria. But they only served as a reminder to him.
He checked his pack one last time, before exiting through huge double doors and out into the night.
Red Noon, Chapter 1 – The First Target
It was unusually dark tonight, Russell noted as he made his way down the dusty steps of the Blue Harp
tavern. To make things worse, it was raining and the fog only turned the world into a blind man’s paradise. Staring into a puddle, he could barely see his reflection enough as he tightened his tie. It was a dark shade of red, like his eyes, and he couldn’t help but notice as he took the final step down that he looked good in a business suite. His jet black hair fell down into his eyes as he checked his pockets – pen, check; spare paper, check; wallet, check. He paused for a moment, searching through the pockets of the suite’s jacket before – pistol, check.
It was eerily quiet, too, he suddenly noticed. Not that it had anything to do with him, but lately the city – and apparently the entire world – had been beaten down by a series of odd events, one after another. This was no coincidence. Even a civilian like him could see that, hence the pistol, but there was just something unnatural about it. No city – especially a city like New York - loses power at the same time for a week straight. After the third World War the economy was in its final dive, and there was no need for money anymore. It was worthless everywhere, regardless of the note and things seemed to be at their worst. Most of the cities world wide had been obliterated in the crossfire, leaving only the larger cities, and even these were in almost disrepair. Some people called it the Apocalypse, and had barricaded themselves in their churches or places of worship hoping for the Messiah that would never come.
But mostly, people continued as normal as possible under the conditions of the time. Even now, Russell could hear the sounds of cars passing on the street behind him, and could almost feel the city breathing with life – the human was computerized, mechanical, but still soft, like a mother’s caring touch to her new born baby. The animal, cautious and unwavering. But despite all the “normal” happenings, there was something else in the city tonight… No one else seemed to be able to feel it – a menacing presence bearing down upon them. At least, he didn’t think anyone could. Russell had never met another like himself, trained in the art of Demon Hunting. It didn’t seem to have much use these days, even if there were plenty of hunters out there, but in all honesty it had saved him on more than one occasion. His mother had insisted he learn, although he never knew why. But it was the exact reason for him coming to this run down old tavern.
A set of silver bells that hung on the reverse side of the tavern door sang their song as Russell opened it and stepped inside. The tavern was almost as dark as the street outside, with only a few candles to light a room of about twenty-five feet in width because of the power out. The few of its round tables that weren’t decorated with whiskey bottles and cigarette butts were cloaked in neat white tablecloths, and the blue-backed chairs mimicked the carpet on the floor. A jazz tune played quietly from a radio on one of them, but the signal was weak and the song could hardly be heard. There were a few pictures behind the bar to his right, but otherwise the place was barren and empty. The neon sigh next to the door read “Closed,” which explained the lack of customers. The only other person in sight was the bartender, a tall, skinny looking fellow with blonde hair and a tired look on his face. He had been washing the countertop, but he looked up at the sound of the bells and his appearance was suddenly that of a concerned parent.
“Are you the Demon Hunter?” he asked, rushing over to where Russell stood. Whether the man could see his right hand slip into his jacket pocket or not, Russell didn’t know. “Are you Russell Goldsmith?”
“Yes,” Russell said cautiously, careful not to loosen his grip on the pistol he now held, still concealed within his jacket. “And you are?”
“Oh, yes, of course. Excuse me, Mr. Goldsmith!” the bartender almost smiled, seemingly embarrassed by his own negligence. “My name is Jonathan Hughes.” He extended his hand, but Russell didn’t take it.
The bartender - Hughes, - didn’t seem to mind though. He seemed to understand the reason, because he turned towards a flight of stairs at the left of the rear wall and said, “I’m not the demon. I know that my word isn’t enough, so I’ll show you. My sister is this way.” He made towards the stairs.
“So you’re the one who hired me then?” Russell said then, his grip loosening slightly as he followed the young man. There didn’t seem to be much of a difference between their ages. Russell, in his early twenties, could see the inexperience in Hughes posture, almost similar to himself: a little too relaxed for the situation – but maybe that was because he knew what was going to happen to the girl upstairs.
“Yes.” Hughes replied. For a moment his smile was replaced by a look of pure sadness, but he must have noticed: he quickly corrected himself and sped up his pace before reaching a small wooden door, cracked and worn with age. Its withering locks were rusty, and its hinges groaned in protest as Hughes slowly opened the door and stepped onto the second floor.
Like many shops in this area, there was a living space above them for the owners. What was obviously the living room of the apartment was painted a creamy white, and the walls and ceiling were cracked with age. There were no pictures hung on the walls; they were too close to the subway for them to stay in place. Hughes didn’t have much to call his own, apparently. The only items Russell could see (aside from more lit candles) were a small couch for two, a television, phone, and a small lamp that was seated atop a milk crate. The kitchen was empty, aside from a thirty-year-old refrigerator, covered in a child’s stick figure drawings. One was of a girl and a boy, taller than she was. A rainbow highlighted the sky behind the pair, and the grass under their circular feet was green, aside from nearly illegible text: “To Jonny, love Sheena.”
“My little sister drew me that picture a few days before she got sick.” Hughes said quietly, obviously noticing where he had been looking. “She doesn’t deserve this… The poor thing…”
Russell had heard those words before. He himself had even said them once, during his first assignment for the Black Feather. But he wasn’t the same boy of sixteen anymore. He knew Hughes was only expressing his concern but he would have to be stronger than that if he wanted to save his sister.
“Exorcisms are very painful, physically, mentally, and spiritually.” He told Hughes bluntly. “Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. If you can’t handle the sight of your sister in -”
“No, I can!” Hughes said sharply. “Don’t think that I don’t know I could be the next target. I’ve read all about these kinds of demons, and I know what I’m up against.”
The two men stared at one another in silence for a moment, each measuring the other up. Russell wore an indifferent expression on his face, and Hughes one of unquestioning determination. In the silence they could hear themselves breathing.
“Jonny…?” came a quiet voice suddenly, shattering the veil of tension as both Hunter and Client turned to the new sound. The voice was almost faint, like the girl who said it was dying. But Russell knew she wouldn’t, even if her body had reached its limits. Not with a demon inside her…
Hughes rushed into a nearby room, much different from the ones outside it. Sheena Hughes’ room was a dull pink, decorated with flowered curtains and a large bed of the same style. The floor was covered in toys and get well soon cards, obviously from her friends and whatever family she may have had. Her nightstand held a picture of the girl and her brother. The girl in the picture had blonde hair like him, but her eyes were green, unlike his blue ones. She wore a red ribbon in her hair and a smile on her upturned face, reveling in the sunlight of the day. But the girl who now lay in the bed was a shadow of her former self. She looked to be on the verge of death: the “light” had gone from her eyes and she appeared to be staring at nothing. But yet, she was awake.
“Jonny…?” she called again, weaker than before. It was clear to Russell that this girl had a special gift before he had even entered her room. He hadn’t moved a muscle, and had remained silent because her door had been opened. But even so, she knew he was there.
Was that why she was a Target…?
“Who is that man with you?” she asked quietly, still not looking at anything in particular as if she couldn’t see anything to focus on. “I’ve never met him before.”
“He’s here to help you, Sheena.” Hughes said, kneeling down beside the bed reaching for her hand.
“Don’t touch her!”
Russell grabbed the back of Hughes’ shirt just in time. If he had gotten any closer to her, he would have been killed.
“S…Sheena?” Hughes stared open mouthed in disbelief: this was no longer his sister. When he had reached out to her, she had pulled out a hidden blade. She had come close to killing her target, too. Russell could see a horizontal streak of blood form from a small cut on Hughes’ neck.
Russell didn’t hesitate. “Hughes, can you restrain her?”
“Y-yeah…” Hughes was obviously shaken, but it was apparent that his love for his sister won over his fear of the demon inside her. He cautiously began to approach her, wary of anything else she may have been concealing. Russell turned to the windows. Pulling back the blinds so that the racks fell to the floor, he opened the windows and flooded the room with fresh air and as much light as they were going to get. An exorcism would normally be done at noon, when the sun was brightest. But this case was different. And his method was the complete opposite of the norm. Russell hoped the backup generator would work long enough as he turned on all the lights in the child’s room before turning back to Hughes, who was restraining the girl with extreme effort – he barely had a hold on her. He would have to do this quickly.
“Stand her up.” he said, and Hughes did his best to do what he was asked, but the demon had given the girl almost supernatural strength, and she was struggling against him for all he was worth.
“LET GO OF ME!” The girl shrieked, clawing and biting at Hughes. When it didn’t get anywhere, the demon tried another trick: “Brother, please, you’re hurting me!” it cried, using the girl’s voice as a tool to manipulate Hughes’ mind. But he withstood, focusing only on restraining his sister.
Russell took a deep breath before taking a step towards her, preparing himself for whatever he would see. There were plenty of Demon Hunters out there, but the reason Russell had never met one like himself was because of his unique abilities. He had the gift of what some would call magic. It was his way with these unknowns that had landed him with this job, and his title – Red Noon.
Placing a finger to his forehead, directly upon the spot of the “third eye,” he whispered a chant. He closed the distance between the three of them, and placed the same finger upon the forehead of struggling girl. Taking another deep breath, he stood for a moment listening to the sound of her struggle against her brother’s restraint. He could almost hear the demon trying to escape the tiny body.
It knew what was coming.
“Release!” he cried, and instantly he fell into darkness.