Hound

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


When a series of strange murders occur in Detroit, a young medium steps in despite words of warning and gains the help of a black dog.

Submitted: August 12, 2018

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Submitted: August 12, 2018

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Blood and mildew— that’s what any normal human would smell on the corner of 7th and Main. It had just rained so a light sheen of water covered the towering skyscrapers of Detroit and the corpse sprawled out on bloodied concrete.

Dark brown eyes roamed over the body from a distance. The police and forensics teams were keeping it from view with their water-soaked bodies but bits and pieces could still be seen from across the road. The body itself was shredded along the throat and chest area like some wild animal had torn into it with razor sharp claws and jagged teeth. A look of pure shock and terror was etched into the corpse’s face, mirroring the very look of a man killed a similar way only two days ago.

“Serial murderer,” one officer said to another. “Probably some psycho with a knife.”

Brown eyes rolled and turned away from the crime scene. They were the eyes of a young man in his mid-twenties but held years worth of knowledge and experience no typical twenty-year-old should carry.

A phone rang and the owner of the dark brown eyes reached into the pocket of his leather bomber jacket. A large, brick-like phone appeared out of the pocket and the young man pressed it to his ear. He greeted the person on the other end with a polite “Adrian Alcon speaking” and waited patiently for a reply.

“Addy!”

Adrian’s head yanked back from the sudden cry and his ear pulsed in pain from the sudden screech. 

“Are you okay? I heard about—”

“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Adrian stepped backward on the sidewalk until his back hit the cool touch of the brick building behind him. “I got here late. Didn’t even see it.” Adrian tipped his head back and his black hat tipped slightly to cover his eyes. “How about you, Mary?” he asked after a beat. “I heard about the wendigo in Wisconsin.” 

A laugh sounded on the other end. “Worrying about others over yourself as always.” The laughter died just as quickly as it started. “Seriously, though. I’m okay. Just a few stitches.”

A breath of relief rushed out of Adrian’s lungs. Mary could take care of herself; that Adrian knew for a fact. He had grown up with her and watched as she turned into a grown woman with the power to plow down just about any supernatural monster that dared face against her. She was resourceful and strong both mentally and physically— a stark contrast to her twin brother.

Adrian’s mind wandered as the thought brought him back to a time long ago. His sister stood in front of him in the memory. Her arms spread wide, blood dripping from her ears. She was facing a shadowy monster with bloodshot eyes— a creature Adrian now new as a banshee. Adrian sat in the dirt behind her throughout the memory, crying and cradling something warm and soft to his chest.

The memory of the scene weighed on him, like a stone in the gut. What was I holding again? he asked himself. Why can’t I remember?

The speaker of Adrian’s phone crackled. “Do you want me to come back?”

Adrian shook himself. “Sorry, what was that?”

“Head in the clouds,” Mary huffed. “Listen, I can check out of the hospital and be there in a few days. Monsters like this— they aren’t like your little spirits and all that.”

He bit at the insides of his own cheeks. “I know that but people are dying. I can’t wait, Mary. I can do this. I know the spell—”

“Hellhounds are no laughing matter, Addy!” The speakers crackled with her cry. “They’ll rip you to shreds! You’re not a hunter! This isn’t something you can just exorcise!”

Adrian’s head dipped downward, his hat still covering his eyes. “I know that.”

“Then why—” Mary cut herself off. There was a long moment of silence and then a tense sigh. “Fine. I get it. Whatever.” Her words were short but had an air of understanding laced with them. “I trust you,” she said. “Be safe. Okay?”

A small smile returned to Adrain’s lips. “I’m always safe,” he answered. “Love you, Sis.”

“Love you too.”

The line went dead as Mary hung up and Adrian stuffed his phone back into the deep pocket of his jacket. He closed his eyes and let out a breath. His thoughts were running amuck within his head. The devil on his shoulder called him an idiot and demanded he call back and beg his sister to come help him. The angel, on the other hand, patted his shoulder and urged him to continue— to save the next victim of Lucifer’s demons.

You don’t want them to die, do you?

With that, Adrian tipped his hat back in place and looked back to the scene of the crime. The body was gone now and the police and forensics teams were starting to pack up. They had done their usual job. They took pictures of blood splatter and any signs of a struggle. They most likely recorded that the rain had washed away or muted some evidence but what they didn’t realize was how much their own senses muted said evidence.

The smell was the big one. No regular human could really pick up the scent of a hellhound. Hellfire and brimstone— the smell was so distinct. Only true mediums like Adrian and hunters like Mary could really pick up on the scent. Though, to regular humans, the smell of sulfur— rotten eggs, to be exact, was a similar stench.

Adrian started down the street, nose in the air as he followed the pungent scent. It weaved past hot dogs stands and homeless men sleeping in murky gutters, took turns around dark corners, and finally stopped outside the door of an old antique shop with its windows busted open and glass littering the carpeted floor.

I know this place.

He did. Adrian had seen it in the paper about two days ago. A man in his mid-forties had been killed. His neck had been ripped open and large lacerations tore open his chest. The police had said the same thing they had tonight, that it was a serial murderer— a human.

“Pretty shitty, ain't it?”

Brown eyes snapped away from the destroyed storefront and to an old woman with a shopping cart filled with what looked like useless garbage to Adrian’s eyes. She was short and stout, her skin a russet reddish-brown similar to Adrian's own.

Adrian’s gaze fell away from the old woman and back to the antique shop. “It is,” he answered back and he meant it, 100%.

“Knew the guy who owned the place,” the old woman said. “Nice guy. Gave me his lunch sometimes.” She shook her head. “Dumbass punk. Why they gotta be nasty to old folk like him? He didn’t do nothing! I hear they ripped him to shreds!”

Adrian bobbed his head as he listened.

“Who are you anyway? His grandbaby or something?”

“Or something.” Adrian took his hat off and nodded at the woman. “I’m Detective Alcon,” he lied. “I’m looking into this case. Did you see or hear anything that could give me a lead?”

The woman stiffened the second she heard the fake title and a grimace graced her face. “A detective, huh?” She shook her head, her gray hair falling from her bun as she did. “Nice boys like you can do that line of work? Never thought I’d see the day.” She leaned heavily against her cart then. “What’s in it for me?”

Adrian raised a brow at the woman. “You’d be helping a man who fed you,” he offered. “A man kind enough to look your way.”

A laugh burst from the woman’s lips. “That’s great!” she barked. “Listen to you all kind and soft. I didn’t think kids like you still existed in this damn world.” She reached out then, poking Adrian’s chest with a grubby finger. “This is a man-eat-man world, Kid. Look out for yourself or you’ll be pushing a cart down the street like me or...” She pointed at the busted-up shop. “Dead like that kind old man.”

There was a spark of sadness in her voice as she said those last few words and Adrian couldn’t help but wonder about her story. The shop owner’s death hurt her but not enough for her to help out with the goodness of her heart. If Adrian used his spells, he could look into her heart— her past—  to find the answer out himself. He couldn’t though, not now. Spells like that took energy and if the shop he now stood in front of housed the very creature he was hunting, he’d need all the energy he could muster. Curiosity would have to wait.

Twenty dollars in cash passed between Adrian and the woman.

The woman smiled. “Thanks, Kid,” she said. “I was walking on the other end of the street when it happened. Didn’t even notice till I heard the crash.”

“Did you see anything? Smell anything?”

“Smell?” The old woman paused. “Yeah, actually. Now that I think about it...the bastard was sure damn stinky. Smelt like egg! Rotten ones!”

Adrian perked up. “Is that so?” He looked back at the shop. “I think that’s all I need. Thanks for your cooperation.”

“All you need?” The woman raised a brow at him and shook her head. “You detectives sure are smart, huh? Figuring shit out with rotten eggs and shit like that.” She started pushing her cart down the sidewalk. “Thanks for the cash, Kid. Remember what I told you! Look out for yourself!”

Adrian waved her goodbye and stepped into the broken shop window once she was gone. The place was a mess of crime scene tape and dried blood. In the air were the unforgiving stench of death and rotting eggs.

Carefully, Adrian pulled off his gloves and pressed his hands together. He muttered under his breath, whispering a spell that would put up a protective barrier around himself.

CRASH!

A shelf of glass utensils fell over and Adrian snapped to attention. His hands fell apart as the noise startled him, his spell momentarily breaking.

He looked towards the fallen shelf, his mouth dropping as he peered into a set of burning red eyes. They were the eyes of a dog— a large one at that. It was two times bigger than any St. Bernard and its black fur…

Wait a minute, fur?

Adrian looked the dog over. Hellhounds were hairless. Their skin hung off them, covered in boils and soot from sitting in the fires of hell. This dog; however, was nothing like that. Not a single patch of hair was missing from its body and no boils could be seen by the naked eye. That could only mean...

The dog growled low in the back of its throat and bounded from where it stood. It rocketed towards Adrian and the air knocked free of his lungs as the dog’s weight barreled against him. A hot tongue lapped at Adrian’s cheek and a small chuckle fluttered past the young man’s lips.

“Hey, hey,” Adrian gasped as the dog continued to lick him. “What are you—”

Woof!

Adrian reached out and scratched the dog’s ears. It earned him a happy whine and the dogs weight fully pressed against his chest as it comfortably settled down there.

“A black dog, huh?” Adrian said as he caught his breath. “I thought you were a hellhound.”

The mistake was a common one. Black dogs were always mistaken for hellhounds. They were omens, not creatures sent out to do Lucifer’s bidding.  The sighting of a black dog is said to bring a person joy, a second sighting is said to bring sorrow, and a third sighting is said to bring death. The third sighting was the reason people typically mistook the creature for a hellhound but that’s unfair. Black dogs don’t maim and kill, they are simply spirits that live to help and warn those in need.

“Well, now,” Adrian chuckled. “You wouldn’t know where I can find the hellhound that tore those people up, would you?”

The dog nuzzled Adrian’s face and the medium was struck suddenly, a wave of nostalgia washing over him for reasons he couldn’t figure out. The waves pulled at his mind, dragging something familiar— something Adrian couldn’t yet see—  towards the surface. The laughter and strangled cries of a child managed to break free though and an uneasy feeling sat in the pit of Adrian’s stomach as he listened to the whispers from his past.

“Can I stay with you?” Adrian asked once he got his bearings. “Will you lead me to the hound’s next victim?”

A bark was Adrian's answer and the beast hopped off of his chest. It circled him as he slowly got up and then bounded for the back door.

Adrian dusted off his clothes and marched after the dog. Joy burned in his chest as he did. He was getting close to the hellhound— close to saving someone in need.

——

Adrian sat outside a fairly new tattoo shop. The place was empty for the night and the only one inside was a young man with black ink decorating his freckled beige skin.

The black dog sat by Adrian’s side. It was panting quietly, tired from the six-mile walk.

With sweaty palms, Adrian stroked the dog’s fur. It was almost calming in a way and Adrian was thankful for that. His sister hadn’t been kidding around when she talked to him earlier. She was a hunter— a person who trained over half of her life in order to fight the monsters that went bump in the night. Adrian was only a medium— a person who dealt mostly with ghosts and other forms of spirits. They weren’t easier to get rid of but they also didn’t have big teeth and claws strong enough to behead a man in one swipe.

A howl struck through the night and Adrian fell out of his thoughts. He looked around himself, searching for the source of the frightening noise.

Something shifted in the shadows across the street.

“There!”

Adrian slapped his hands together and a beam of light shown from his fingertips.

“Spirits of Earth, hear my call. I beg of thee, protect the land beside me!”

The light from Adrian’s fingers exploded outward and with it, a barrier stretched. It circled the entire tattoo shop and the few stores and blocks around it.

“Do you really think such a weak spell will keep me from my prey?”

Adrian grit his teeth. “Long enough to send you back to the pits of hell,” he snapped. “Now show yourself!”

“How snippy of you.”

“Show yourself!”

A heavy silence filtered between Adrian and the shadowed figure before him. The young medium held his breath, nerves and the scent of hellfire choking him right there and then.

The figure stepped forward after one more tense second and Adrian’s breath left him. Now, this was a hellhound.

It was a hideous creature that stood on hind legs. There was no fur on its body, only pink flesh and boils that oozed and pussed with a disgusting white and green fluid. Its eyes were pitch black and empty of all emotion.

Adrian held the demon’s gaze and started chanting. “Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursi—”

The hellhound let out a howl and snarled its fangs in Adrian’s direction. “Don’t get in my way, Boy!” it threatened. “This is the will of Lucifer— of God himself.”

“You’re killing innocent people!” Adrian snapped back and he mentally slapped himself. Of all the things to do, losing concentration before a demon was one of the worst. He couldn’t help himself though. He was angry— furious even.

“Innocent you say?” The hellhound chuckled in amusement. “That’s interesting.” It tipped its head to the side. “I see...is it because they’re like you that you defend them? Is that it, Boy?”

“Like them?”

The hellhound took a step forward. “You are. I can sense it. I love humans like you. You’re so easy. You’re the type of people others cry over at funerals. People say things like “they were such a good person” or “what a kind soul” but they’re wrong. They’re always wrong. You humans have a saying— the quiet ones are the ones you have to look out for. Isn’t that right? That’s not true. It’s the kind ones who are truly dangerous.” It smirked. “You sell your souls to help others. You are the ones who become demons.”

“You’re wro—” Adrian shook himself. “No. No! Shut up! Infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio...”

“The corpse on 7th and main? She was a pediatrician. She was treating a kid with no hope of surviving,” the hellhound continued and it started walking towards Adrian. Its clawed toes clicked against the asphalt like the deafening thud of a ticking clock. “And the antique shop owner? Who do you think he sold his soul for? How about the man you’re protecting now?”

Adrian ignored the question and focused on his spell. Just a little more. He was almost there.

“How about you? Whose soul will you give yours for, Boy?”

“...Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias libertate servire, te rogamus, audi nos!” Adrian clapped his hands together. “God of Heaven, arm thy servant!”

Silver light engulfed Adrian's body and he pulled a sword from the center of his left palm. It shown a piercing white that easily sliced through the darkness of the night.

“Oh, scary,” the demon taunted, not faltering for even a second. “You’re going to protect the man in there? Want to give your soul for his?”

“You’re not taking anyone’s soul,” Adrian hissed. “This is my job. This is what I do. I will stop you.”

“We’ll see about that!” The demon lunged then, its claws flying right for Adrian’s throat. “You’re just like them! I can smell it. Your blood! So sweet—”

The black dog that had been panting on the steps to the tattoo shop leaped between Adrian and the demon. It snarled and gnashed its teeth at the hellhound, tearing off a good chunk of the demon’s shin. The attack gave Adrian the time he needed and he shook off the hellhound’s words. Clear headed, he charged and slashed through the air with the sword made up of his spirit and the magic residing in the earth around him.

“AHHHH!”

The hellhound’s arm thumped against the concrete. Its boils popped and the liquid inside bubbled like acid when mixed with a base. The liquid ate away at the arm, turning flesh to a pinkish slop and bone to a blackened goop until all that was left of the disintegrated arm was a murky rain-like puddle.

Anger flared in the hellhound’s eyes as it stared at the puddle and it sent a fiery gaze Adrian’s way. “DAMN YOU, MEDIUM!” It screamed. “DAMN YOU!”

The black dog lunged at the hellhound again only to be swatted away with powerful claws. The sound of bone snapping filled the air and a pained yelp bust from the black dog’s jaws.

“No!” Adrian cried and he made to run to the black dog’s side. The hellhound stood between them though, a cruel smile on its curled and bloodied lips.

Adrian swallowed hard and held up his sword. It was now or never. He could do this. He could!

With a manic battle cry, Adrian charged forward. The hellhound charged too. The street around them lit up with streaks of white and black magic as they collided and the stench of blood and rotten egg filtered through the air.

——

Adrian awoke to something warm and wet licking at his face.  He blinked slowly, brown eyes meeting red. They weren’t a frightening red. In fact, they were calm, peaceful even. For a moment, Adrian wanted to close his eyes again and drift away with those gentle eyes watching over him. That is until he heard a pained whimper.

Adrian tried to claw his way back to consciousness. He focused on the red eyes above him and touch, hoping that the two senses could ground him in this difficult moment. He was holding something— something warm and wet. It was familiar and Adrian blinked slowly, curious of what it was.

His vision began to clear after a moment. As it did, he found himself clutching the black dog to him like his life depended on it.

Oh. Adrian realized. That’s right.

He looked around himself, finding the barrier he had put in place was now shattered and a large puddle of goo was oozing next to a glowing sword of pure magic and energy. There was a head in the puddle— the last thing of the demon to start melting away.

“I did it?” Adrian asked. To himself or the black dog, he wasn’t really sure. “I sent it away?”

The black dog barked in answer and licked Adrian’s cheek with its long, wet tongue. It was the dog’s way of saying congratulations and Adrian felt something warm— pride—  mingling in his chest.

“Are you okay?” Adrian asked the dog. He reached up to stroke a hand through black fur, not noticing the blood that covered his hand. “I heard something snap. I thought—”

A lick to the face silenced the median and quickly reassured him that all was well. Black dogs were omens— spirits. Though they had bone, flesh, and fur like any normal dog, they could heal faster than most animals and creatures.

A chuckle rumbled from afar and Adrian’s gaze fell on the slowly melting head of the hellhound he just fought.

“You’re just like...the rest.” It smiled, its black eyes twinkling as it looked Adrian’s way one last time. “Just like…”

The hellhound finally melted away and soaked into the concrete.

With the danger gone, Adrian tried to push himself to his feet.

He couldn’t move.

Frowning, Adrian moved his hands under him. He tried to push but his limbs were too weak.

“What—”

Bile rose in Adrian’s throat as he stared down at himself. His torso was torn open, blood gushing out. He shook his head as he stared at the wound and gripped the black dog’s hair like a vice. “I’m fine,” he reassured himself. “Probably be just a few stitches.”

The black dog whined and nuzzled Adrian’s leg.

“I’m fine…” Adrian stammered. Tears were building in his eyes now. “This is my first time—” He looked at the dog. “I’ve only seen you once!”

The black dog shook itself and pressed its nose to Adrian’s. At the cool touch, the medium’s vision went black and he was suddenly sprawled across bright green grass. In the distance, he could see a little boy running with a dog. He was smiling and laughing, completely at joy with the world and the bright, sunny day.

Joy.

“No…” Adrian croaked. “No...no it can’t be…”

The green grass vanished and this time, when Adrian opened his eyes, he was sprawled along the tile of a cold white floor. It was the floor of a hospital room and as Adrian looked around it, his eyes fell on a young man with a dog resting in his lap. On the bed beside him was a girl with an identical face to his own. She was covered in wires and her breathing was slow and labored.

“I…know this,” Adrian realized. “This...this was…” He swallowed hard as the memory came flooding back. He and Mary had been walking home from school when a starving banshee had rushed them. They had been hurt but Mary had been the worst off. If their parents hadn’t come looking for them...

A series of tears fell down Adrian's cheeks. He could still feel the sharp pain of fear even now. He’d been scared— terrified that his sister would never wake up. It had been then though, that a black dog appeared by his side and comforted him with gentle licks to the face and hands.

Sadness.

A scream belted out of Adrian’s lungs. The younger version of himself didn’t react to the cry. He just sat there in a white plastic chair, sobbing into the soft black fur of an omen of fate. The dog, on the other hand, turned its head to the side. It started at Adrian with those gentle red eyes and, with a blink, Adrian was back in the damp streets of Detroit. 

Death.

Adrian gripped the black dog’s head with shaking fingers, pulling it closer to his own. “Stay with me,” he pleaded with hiccupped words. “Stay until the end? Like before?”

The dog settled down by Adrian’s side without further pleading. It set its head against Adrian’s shoulder and its tail thumped against Adrian’s calf.

“I can’t feel that,” Adrian said as he watched the tail hit his leg. “I can’t feel it. I...I can see what you’re doing...but…but…”

The black dog’s tail stilled and a tongue licked Adrian’s face for what felt like the hundredth time that night.

“It was right.” Adrian stammered. “The hellhound. It was right. I’m dying— for a stranger. I’m dying and…and…” A strangled noise left his lips. “I lied to Mary. I promised. I said...I said I’d be safe. Mary...Mary...Mary…”

A whine left the black dog and it moved so it was looking Adrian in the eye again. The red pierced through the night much like the light of Adrian’s sword. In a way, at this moment, they worked the same. Adrian’s sword had sliced through the demon and now, the black dog’s gaze did the same for Adrian now. It bit through the fear and soothed the medium until his breathing evened and his eyes began to flutter with a heaviness only those near death could feel.

“Mary...” Adrian whispered again.

It was the last word to leave his lips. For, with the small sigh he breathed after speaking, Adrian’s soul left and the young median’s eyes fell shut. His heart followed next, beating three more soft beats before finally giving in.

The black dog stood then and licked Adrian’s brow one last time. The jingle of the tattoo shop door opening caught its attention and it looked up in time to see a young man with freckled beige skin staring not at it but the medium sprawled along the concrete.

“Holy shit!”

The black dog began to trot away.

“Somebody, help! Help! Somebody’s been hurt! Help!”

The black dog vanished into the shadows of the street and ventured on to the next human whose soul was in line with fate’s sharp scissors. For this was the life, of this black furred hound. Men, women, children— it would visit them all and, if need be, it would stay by their side and comfort them until their soul left the world of the living and ventured to the next.


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