Dark Angel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: June 12, 2019

Reads: 71

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 12, 2019

A A A

A A A

 

 

 

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

He was awake.

The encompassing darkness and the suffocating isolation and emptiness that had been his sole companions for as long as he could recall were suddenly lifted. He felt a surge within him unlike anything he had ever experienced, filling him to the brim with a power and energy that he hadn’t felt since the fall. No longer would he fester here, a shell of his former glory, a mere gatekeeper to the lost and the tortured. No longer would the scorched scars on his back define him as a has-been, a broken and defeated soul. No longer would anyone question his authoritative power ever again.

Because now he was awake. And he had found her: his one, true vessel.

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

I curled my hand into a fist, cracking my bruised knuckles and savoring the feel of blood pouring down my fingertips. Warm and sticky. That last punch more than likely would have dislocated the bastard’s jaw—had he been human, that is. Honestly, I liked it better this way. These sly little tricksters had a tendency to heal themselves, which just meant I was able to do it all over again. A few bruised or sprained fingers here and there were definitely worth the satisfaction I got from rearranging the faces of these black-eyed assholes.

I grabbed a towel off the table and wiped the blood from my hands as I heard a choked laugh ring out. Turning my head slightly, I caught a glimpse of the unfortunate soul spitting more blood into the ever-growing puddle at his feet. The amount he had lost in the last hour would have been enough to kill a man. But he wasn’t a man. At least…not anymore.

The creature looked up at me and smirked—its crimson, Cheshire-like smile making it appear more demented than anything else. The poor young man whose body was currently serving as its own personal meat suit was nearly unrecognizable as the teenage, grocery bag boy he’d been a mere two days ago.

Demons. They didn’t tend to be too choosy.

“That all you got, Dani?” it asked in a voice that was easily two octaves deeper than the boy’s had been. “Because honestly, I’m getting a little bored over here.”

“Oh, honey, we’re just getting started,” I replied, going back to my table of goodies. “I have a whole bunch of new tricks to try out.” I picked up a syringe and a vial of holy water.

“Oh, this ought to be fun,” the demon mused, staring up at me with its pupil-less, jet black eyes. “You think you’ve got something new up your sleeve?”

“You’d be surprised,” I said as I filled the syringe and approached the being tied to a chair in the middle of the room.

It laughed once more as its gaze fell on the needle in my hand. “Something to dull the pain? You really shouldn’t have.”

“Oh don’t worry. I didn’t,” I said with a smirk of my own. “You know, I’ve exorcised a lot of demons in my time. And, in doing so, I’ve learned things.”

“What kinds of things?” the demon asked as I finally detected a faint waver in its voice.

“Well, for one,” I began, grabbing one of its bound arms, “I’ve been experimenting. We all know what holy water does to your skin.” Several drops squirted out of the syringe and landed on the demon’s forearm, causing the skin underneath to sizzle and burn. A stifled moan escaped my captive’s lips. “Just imagine,” I continued as I jabbed the syringe into its arm, “what it could do in your bloodstream.”

The demon tried to resist it, but screams of agony rang through the air as usual. Ah, their pain is music to my ears. As it squirmed and howled, I placed my hands on either side of the chair and brought my face mere inches from it.

“Where is the nest?” I snarled. The demon’s screams of pain quickly morphed into sounds of choked laughter. “Do you think I’m joking right now?” I shouted. “Do I look like I’m laughing?”

“Oh, Dani, you know how I love it when you get angry,” it sneered.

“And you know that I can do this all day,” I replied. “Where is the nest?”

“Ooh, so serious,” the demon scoffed. “I’m feeling a little turned-on right now.”

“And I’m feeling like you need another shot.” I turned around and headed back to the table, ready to fill the syringe again.

“Blake says hi, by the way.”

I immediately halted in my tracks, my entire body going numb. A golf ball-sized lump formed in my throat, and my shaking hands were no longer able to hold the syringe. As it clattered to the floor, I curled my trembling fingers into fists, which didn’t really help with the shaking. I fought to keep myself calm and controlled as I turned around.

“What did you just say?”

“Blake. You remember Blake, right?” the demon said with a smile, which looked even more grotesque with the blood and bruises on its face. “Oh, he talks about you all the time. That is, when he’s not busy screaming and howling in agony as the very flesh from his bones is ripped off bit by bit.”

“Shut your mouth,” I said through clenched teeth.

“We were buddies, you know. On the rack. In Hell. Where you sent him.”

“I said shut up!”

“Every night he screams and begs for it to stop. He cries out for you to save him. Does he even remember, Dani? Does he even know that you were the one who put him there in the f—”

“Regna terrae, cantata Deo, psallite Cernunnos

Regna terrae, cantata Dea psallite Aradia

cali Deus, Deus terrae!”

The demon screamed as I continued to chant my basic exorcism spell. It strained violently against the ropes, fighting with every last fibre of its being to remain inside of its human host, but to no avail. 

“Benedictus Deus, Gloria Patri

Benedictus Dea, Matri gloria!”

As I reached the final line, the boy’s body convulsed for a moment more until, finally, a dark, shadowy figured poured out of his mouth, writhed and twisted in midair for a moment longer, and finally disappeared through the pentagram I’d drawn on the floor—hopefully on its way back to Hell. The boy slumped in the chair, back to being a normal, non-possessed human.

I stared for a moment at the poor soul sitting half-dead in front of me. Now that he was no longer playing host to the latest dark entity to claw its way out of the pits below, his body was very quickly realizing just how badly it had been damaged—both in the extraction and the interrogation. Demons don’t particularly like coming easily (or at all, for that matter), and this one had been rather tough. In fact, if I remembered correctly, I’m pretty sure I had to push him out of a four-story window in order to successfully apprehend him.

It was amazing that the kid even had the energy to lift his head, blood pouring down nearly every open orifice on his face. He stared blindly at me, probably under the impression that I was Saint Peter and he was on his way to the pearly gates of happiness. Or perhaps he was wondering why every single inch of his body was in so much pain. 

“P…Please…” he choked out, coughing up even more blood. How does he still have any left to lose? “Please…”

I sighed deeply as I turned back to the table, bypassing all of my torture instruments and instead enclosing my fingers around the handle of my revolver. My body hesitated briefly, however, before turning back around to face him. It’s for his own good, I whispered in my head as I approached the boy, slowly raising the gun and resting it in the center of his forehead.

For his own good…

I barely flinched as my finger pulled the trigger.

****

 

“Jesus, Winters. You look like hell.”

I rolled my eyes and groaned under my breath before slamming a twenty down on the counter. “Just give me a damn whiskey, would you?” I muttered. “And make it a double. My shoulder hurts like a bitch.”

Remy shook her head, her gaze temporarily flitting between the dark bruises lining my knuckles and the bloodied handkerchief that I had haphazardly wrapped around the gash on my right arm. Couple that with the fact that my appearance suggested I had washed my dark hair with a combination of blood and sweat and then dried off by rolling around in a pile of dirt outside, and I realized I should be extremely fortunate that she wasn’t throwing me out on my ass the second I deposited it on the stool in front of her.

“You do know I’m trying to run a business here, right?” Remy asked, drumming her fingers impatiently on the edge of the bar.

I raised my eyebrows slightly before turning around and looking at the other patrons that were currently inhabiting the bar as well. Two tables down, old man Harvey Larkin had the pieces of his guns spread out over two whole tables, inspecting and cleaning each part individually to ensure they were in working order in case someone else made the mistake of suggesting he should perhaps retire from this work. In the corner of the bar, at their usual booth, the Cooper siblings—James, Cassie, and Simon—were engaged in a heated battle of poker, though their winnings pile consisted of a peculiar set of knick-knacks, which included silver bullets, rounds of rock salt, and even several vampire fangs. The door to the bathroom swung open as Buck exited, no doubt having just finished washing the blood off of the wooden stakes that were now tucked away in the bag slung across his shoulder.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, Rem,” I said. “But your business seems to have become overrun by a crowd of unruly characters.”

“Oh trust me. I know,” Remy said, thankfully setting a glass tumbler down in front of me and filling it with the sweet brown liquid that made my throat burn and my head numb. “You hunters don’t have any shame in displaying just how crazy you all are.”

I raised my glass in a mocking salute. “I’ll drink to that,” I said before tipping several drops of the whiskey down my throat, never recalling a time in my life when alcohol had tasted quite so satisfying. “Can you blame us though?” I asked. “With all these goddamn rules and regulations those government assholes seem to love writing, we don’t have a lot of freedom anymore.” I shook my head, rolling the half-filled glass back and forth between my palms. “We should have stayed underground. Would have made things a hell of a lot easier.”

“Really?” Remy asked incredulously. “You want to go back to all the sneaking around? Sleeping in crappy motel rooms. Living off of the best cuisine you could pick up at your nearest convenience store. Thinking up some bullshit excuse to give the cops to get them to let you on the crime scene. You really want to go back to that?”

I shrugged. “Why not? Jack and my parents operated that way for years.”

“Well, Jack and your daddy kind of had a built-in advantage, now didn’t they?” Remy said. “As for your mom…well…she was just damn good at what she did.”

I felt a small smile creep up my lips as my mother’s face momentarily swam across my field of vision. The smile, however, quickly morphed into a frown as I took another swig of whiskey, emptying the glass, as a second face gradually replaced hers. Mom probably could have saved that kid, I thought bitterly as I signaled to Remy for a refill. Mom wouldn’t have let him die like that.

“So are you gonna tell me why it looks like you got into a fight with a possessed lawnmower or am I just going to have to guess?” Remy asked, pouring herself a shot of whiskey after filling my glass again.

I sighed and rubbed my tired eyes, fairly certain they were more red than brown at this point. “Same shit as usual,” I replied. “Looking for the nest. Hunting down any semblance of a lead I can find.” My hands started trembling slightly, forcing me to release my glass and clench them into fists, wincing as the cuts on my knuckles split open even wider. “Losing innocent people to a cause they have no business being a part of.”

I could practically feel Remy’s eyes on me, forcing me to keep my gaze on the edge of the jet black cocktail napkin poking out from underneath my glass. It really didn’t help that, when she did speak, I could hear a subtle break in her voice that she hadn’t been able to fully mask.

“How old?” she asked.

A lump had now formed in the back of my throat, and, for a moment, I doubted I would really be able to answer. “He was a kid,” I replied. “Seventeen at best.” I tried to take another swig of my whiskey, but my hands were shaking too hard to hold it steady. “I wanted to save him. He seemed like a good kid. But…”

I trailed off, quickly draining the rest of my whiskey before my shaking hands could drop the glass. “But there was nothing you could do,” Remy finished for me. “It happens, Dani. Sometimes you can’t help it.”

Yeah. That’s one way to put it, I thought, suddenly feeling the corners of my eyes stinging. “It knew about Blake,” I mumbled, not even fully convinced that what I had said had been at all audible. “It said that he…that…” I took a deep breath. “It said he…calls out for me. Every night…he calls out for me. Like he doesn’t know. Like he doesn’t remember…”

Remy’s hand suddenly slammed down on the counter, jerking me out of my painful thoughts and back to this (slightly) less painful bout of reality.

“You better not be trying to tell me that you’re going to sit here and believe a single word that came out of a hellspawn’s mouth,” Remy said, sounding disappointed at the mere thought. “And here I was hoping you got your mother’s brain and not your daddy’s.”

I opened my mouth, but no sound seemed eager to come out. I’d known Remy long enough to know that it was better not to argue with her on certain things. (Or, rather, on most things.) But I also knew that she was right. I’d been in this business long enough to know that your mind was a demon’s favorite place to attack. They could read your thoughts. Your fears. They would use those thoughts and fears against you. Twist and turn them until you believed them so hard that you were practically on your knees, begging for the pain to stop.

Of course the demon would know to use Blake against me. Of course it would try anything it could to get in my head. After all, these bastards had learned by now that getting into a fight with me almost always ended in their smoky asses taking a one-way trip back down into the pit of ultimate suffering. They would do anything they could to prolong that inevitable fate even just so.

And yet…I also knew what had happened that night in the warehouse. I knew Blake had drank it. Coerced or not, his soul was damned. There was nowhere else he could have gone after I—

The loud, shrill ring that suddenly issued from my pocket startled me so violently that I nearly fell right off my barstool. After hastily straightening up and praying to some higher power that no one save for Remy had actually seen that, I fished the obnoxious device out of my pocket and hit the Ignore button with barely half a glance at the screen.

Remy raised her eyebrows slightly. “You wanna tell me what that’s all about?” she asked as I threw the phone down on the counter and signaled for one more refill.

“Jack wants a report,” I replied, feeling an unseasonable chill run down my shoulders as I took a swig. 

“Okay. And…?” Remy asked.

“And he’s just going to have to wait until I’m ready,” I replied. “I’m having a drink right now. I’ll call him later.”

“Or maybe you just don’t want to tell him about what happened,” Remy said. She shook her head. “Danielle Marie, you know he only worries about you because he cares. Your daddy was practically a brother to him.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I said. “But there are just some things he doesn’t need to know.” Not right away, at least, I added to myself as I took another drink of my whiskey.

“Hey, Angel! You gonna just sit up there moping all night or are you gonna come play cards?”

Seemed as though Simon had finished taking his brother and sister for all they were worth and wanted me to join in on the fun. Not only that, but he insisted on using that stupid nickname that he knew I hated.

“How many times do I have to ask him not to call me that?” I groaned under my breath.

“As many times as it takes to justify you getting those inked on your back in the first place,” Remy replied with a smirk, resulting in a middle finger salute from me as I grabbed my jacket from off of my lap and threw it over my shoulders, hiding my black angel wing tattoos. “Why don’t you go over there and remind that boy that it’s stupid to invite the daughter of Mark and Sarah Winters into a card game of any sort?”

I shook my head. “Not in the mood. Probably just going to head back to the motel and call it a night.” Not to mention the fact that if I didn’t get this gash on my arm sewn up before too long, I’d be running into a whole new list of problems. 

Remy looked ready to call me out on the bullshit that she knew just came out of my mouth, but we were both spared the trouble of hearing that as the phone behind the bar rang loudly. Remy reached over and picked it up.

“Hello, Ambrosia Bar.” She turned suddenly to face me, her smile widening. “Well, hello there, Jack. Oh, you’re looking for Dani, are you?”

I groaned again as I downed the rest of my whiskey, threw another twenty down on the bar for Remy, and hopped off my stool, heading for the door.

“Call him!” Remy yelled at me.

“Bite me!” I yelled back with a wave as I exited the building.

****

 

“Ah! Son of a bitch,” I grumbled under my breath as the needle slipped from my fingers once again, causing me to stab at the half-closed gash on my arm. I was never any good at doing this left-handed, not to mention the fact that I couldn’t seem to get my hands to stop shaking long enough to get more than two stitches in at a time.

“Seriously, Mom,” I groaned, downing one of the little bottles of tequila from the motel mini fridge in the hopes that it would help to numb the pain at least a little bit. “You couldn’t have passed on just a little bit of that medical talent? Had to give me your foul mouth instead?” I knew that she would have been able to close this up in two minutes flat. Hell, she had to stitch Jack up so much that I’m fairly certain even he would have been able to do a better job than me at this point. But he was two hours away, my parents were both six feet underground, and I wasn’t about to waste my time sitting in a hospital waiting room for six goddamn hours. I had better things to do. Like drinking.

Several painstaking moments later, I wrapped some fresh gauze around the newly sewn wound, figuring maybe that would stop the infection from killing me long enough for Jack to fix it when I returned home in the morning. Despite the hard time I’d given Remy, I did finally call and give him my report (though I may have fudged some of the…rather “bloodier” details a bit).

“You do realize that if you keep ducking my calls like this, you’re going to have to deal with Addison directly, right?” Jack had told me over the phone.

“And you do realize that I don’t give two shits about ducking his calls either, right?” I responded, cradling the phone between my ear and my shoulder as I sat on the edge of the motel bed and started cleaning my revolver.

Jack sighed, and I could almost picture him running a hand through his slightly greying hair. “Dan, I know you have your own agenda and I know how important it is that you find Eli—”

“And it would probably be in your best interest to stop that train of thought right there.”

“—but you have to understand there are rules and regulations now. Okay? This isn’t like how things were when your parents and I did this job. You need to remember who you work for now. If you’re not careful, then—”

“Then…what, Jack? They’ll fire me? Put a warrant out for my arrest? I’d like to see them try. You forget I learned from the best.”

“Exactly,” Jack replied. “Which means I know exactly how to find you.”

I scoffed. “Yeah. But you’re not going to turn me in.” I was half-expecting some kind of verbal affirmation from him, and the continuing silence on the other end of my phone made my heart nearly skip a beat momentarily. “You aren’t going to turn me in, right, Jack?”

“Danielle…”

“Oh my god. You’re going to turn me in!”

“Dani, just…hold on a minute, would you? Jesus. You’re worse than your old man sometimes,” Jack grumbled. “Look, no one is going to turn you in. But you need to be more careful out there. Law or no law, Eli is very dangerous. And once he gets wind that you’ve caught on to his trail—”

“He’ll stake me out, bleed me dry, and probably have a 15-vamp orgy atop my bloodless corpse,” I replied. “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

Jack sighed again, figuring that any trace of an argument was useless at this point. “You coming home tonight?”

“What? And miss out on all the wonderful accommodations this beautiful motel room has to offer?” I asked sarcastically. That sarcasm was short-lived, however, as the image of the dead kid suddenly flashed across my mind. “I’m too distracted to drive tonight anyway.”

“Remy told me about the kid,” Jack said, his tone becoming more serious as well. “I know you did what you had to.”

I took a deep breath. “Mind keeping that part out of the report you give to Addison?”

“You got it, Kid,” Jack replied. “You get some rest now. You hear me?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said, hearing that sarcastic edge creep into my voice once again. “I’ll let you know when I’m heading out tomorrow.”

“Sounds good.”

 

****

 

Dear Journal,

They’re starting again. And they’re getting worse. Sometimes, I can’t even wake myself up in time before it happens. I haven’t slept more than two or three hours the last few nights. I’m too vulnerable when I sleep. At least when I’m awake, the nightmares can’t get me. Or so I’d like to think.

Went to another potential nest site today. Turned out to be another pointless bust. Honestly, you torture these demons to the edge of their pathetic, undead lives and they can’t even provide you with the correct information. It’s not even fun anymore. Is it sad that it used to be fun for me?

Speaking of which, I killed a man today. A kid, not even out of high school yet. I can’t even remember his name. I want to believe that he’s in a better place now, but who really knows?

2 AM. I should probably get some sleep. The sooner I get up in the morning, the sooner I can leave this shitty, failed extraction behind me. Although, I can’t seem to fall asleep because all I can think about is the shitty, failed extraction. And it seems hellbent on making sure that blissful dreamland doesn’t come easy. But, who the hell knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky tonight and actually snag a couple hours. Doubt it, but we’ll see.

Here’s to hoping I’m not dead tomorrow.

 

I closed my beloved journal with a snap and set it down on the nightstand before lying back on the ratty, moth-eaten motel bed, suddenly finding myself wishing that I had just sucked it up and driven back to Jack’s house tonight. Despite the fact that I didn’t want to deal with any face-to-face confrontations until tomorrow morning, it would have been nice to sleep in a bed that didn’t smell like an entire army of pre-schoolers had peed on it, or in a room that wasn’t directly next door to, what I could only assume to be, some kind of heated prayer circle based on the amount of times I heard the woman scream the Holy Lord’s name through the paper-thin walls.

Did her sad excuse of a love-making partner for the evening not realize that the more times God is mentioned in said act of love-making, the more the woman is trying to cover up the fact that this just isn’t working for her?

I sighed and closed my eyes briefly, gingerly flexing the bruised fingers on my right hand to ensure none of them were broken. Sometimes I wondered if I should resort to other methods of interrogation rather than just beating the shit out of these demonic bastards, but honestly, it was just too damn fun. Plus, it was more of a win-win situation for me. If they gave me information, great! If not, I got to kick their ass. Also great!

But I stopped as the face of that poor kid swam into my thoughts again. True, while the demon was inside of him, he’d become a snarky, condescending piece of shit. But once it left, he was just a normal seventeen-year-old who worked as a bag boy at the local grocery store. He had friends. Family. A girlfriend maybe. He was probably working there to help pay for college. Or maybe he had a deadbeat dad and he had to work to help support his mother and his four younger siblings. Or maybe he was a complete and total asshole who was one class away from flunking out of school and, when he actually did show up to work, he was lazy and irritable to all of his coworkers.

Either way, he was now spread out on some hospital autopsy table with a bullet hole in between his eyes and a laundry list of other injuries that will most likely have the coroner scratching his head for a good portion of the night.

Frustrated, I got up off of my bed and made my way back over to the mini-fridge, grabbing another tiny bottle of tequila and nearly downing the entire thing in one gulp as I attempted to force that kid’s face out of my head. There was nothing I could do now. He was dead and that was that. An unlucky victim of circumstance. A poor defenseless kid possessed by a demon with a death wish. He was doomed from the start. There was nothing I could do except try to get some information out of him. Make him feel like he did some good before I had to waste him. I had no choice, I thought as I finished the rest of the tequila. I did what I had to do. I had no choice. I had no choice. I had no—

“Everyone has a choice, Dani.”

My heart nearly skipped a beat in my chest as the empty tequila bottle crashed to the motel floor. In one seamless motion, I grabbed my revolver from the nightstand and whirled around towards my bed, raising the weapon and pointing it at the shadowy figure standing in the corner of the room. I didn’t even hear the door open. How the hell did he get in here?

“Who the hell are you?” I shouted at the intruder, wincing slightly as the botched stitches on my arm throbbed from the sudden and abrupt movement.

“What, you don’t recognize me anymore?” he replied in a voice that sounded way too much like—

“No,” I said, tightening my grip on the gun in an attempt to get my hand to stop shaking. “No, that’s impossible. You’re—”

“Dead?” he finished. “Yeah, I am. Don’t you remember, Dani? You’re the one who killed me in the first place.”

He turned his head into the light and smiled. My hands shook worse than ever as I stared back into his bloodshot eyes.

“Blake…” I choked out, too shocked to say much of anything else.

“But I suppose you didn’t have a choice in that either, did you?” he asked.

My throat didn’t seem to want to form words, but that didn’t seem to matter as Blake’s teeth suddenly transformed into a set of sharp, pointed fangs.

“Well, looks like you’re going to have to do it again.”

I had barely enough time to register what was going on before he lunged at me. The scream never left my lips as my finger squeezed the trigger tightly—

My eyes suddenly opened wide, and I sat upright so fast that I doubted that I’d actually been lying down at all. My gun was lying on the floor, evidently a result of my post-nightmare thrashing about, but I had somehow managed to retrieve my silver hunting knife from under my pillow. My right arm was throbbing worse than ever, but I was able to reach up and switch on the bedside lamp. No one else was in the room, and there was no indication that Blake had ever been there in the first place. 

The clock on the nightstand read 3:37 AM, and the bandage wrapped around my arm was now stained a bright shade of crimson. It had been a dream, that was all. Just a highly vivid, realistic, extremely unsettling dream. But, then again, that had just been the norm for the past six years. I don’t know why I would have expected anything else.

My throat suddenly burned as the tequila threatened to burst its way back up, and I forced myself to swallow back the bile, rubbing my tired and heavy eyes. I groaned and winced as I peeled the stained bandage off of my arm, seeing that two of my stitches had popped open in my struggle. Looks like Jack’s going to be seeing me a bit earlier than he thought.

I staggered into the bathroom, turning on the sink and splashing some cold water on my face in an attempt to wash away any last traces I may have had for potential sleep before staring blearily at my hellish appearance in the mirror. Six years. I’d been doing this job for six goddamn years. I’d gone up against ghosts and demons and monsters that existed only in normal people’s worst nightmares. Hell, I was the daughter of Mark and Sarah Winters—two of the best hunters the organization had ever seen. And I was good at my job, no doubt about that. 

If only I knew how to hunt the shit that haunted me at night.

 


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