Sunday, September 13, 2015
A chapter of a rough draft of a book I'd written some time ago about a demon hunter and his adopted brother, the son of the devil.
A few hours passed and after many intense rounds of Angry Streets, we were interrupted by the sounds of sirens. I looked outside and saw the flashing red lights of three passing fire engines. The trucks headed down the street and turned the corner. In the direction of where they were headed, I could see fiery ash and smog rising. Below the ash, my eyes finally caught the sight of a burning building.
BRAK: “Damn, another fire! Devilin come on! Get your shoes on and follow me!”
Devilin: “Why? What the hell are you talking about? Let the firemen do their jobs.”
BRAK: “Hurry up we’re wasting time!”
He quickly threw on his black gym shoes without caring to lace them up. My own gym shoes had Velcro straps so I just slipped them on and strapped them effortlessly. Neither of us idiots took the time to grab a jacket, a decision I knew would bite me in the ass tomorrow.
Devilin: “Fine, I’m right behind you.”
My building wasn’t very large at only five floors total and I was on the fourth. Devilin and I made our way down the stairwell quickly enough. We glided down flights of stairs as if they weren’t even there, after seven flights we were out the door and running. The other apartment was about eight blocks east and four blocks north, a nice jog in any case. I immediately regretted leaving my jacket behind after the cold air hit me nice and good. What was worse was that the air was moving against us. After four blocks, my adrenaline started pumping nicely and the cold was less of a bother. At the pace we were going we’d be there in another three minutes.
As we got within three blocks of the blaze we could see the gawkers. They were outside, lined up and down the street to stare at the carnage. A few of them turned their attention to us which I didn’t think was a big deal, until they continued to stare. Once others joined in, I began to wonder why the hell they were staring.
BRAK: “Devil boy how are you looking?”
Devilin: “Like a million bucks.”
BRAK: “You know what I mean. How do you look?”
Devilin: “Like a human. Why are we doing this anyway? This kind of stuff happens all the time you know. It’s not our job.”
BRAK: “I know that, but it’s something we have to do. I can't allow others, who are innocent, to die when I can prevent it.”
Devilin: “I guess. I know for a fact that most of the people inside are not innocent.”
Why was the kid questioning me at a time like this? This really wasn’t the best time. Too much was on my mind right now. I’m thinking that our little arsonist has struck again.
We made it to the apartment building only to discover it in total ruin. The fire raged out of control and reached out with burning hands, the windows suffered from the embrace and twisted black until they broke sending shattered glass onto those below. The escaping fire crawled out and flew upwards. In front of the building the survivors of the mess sat and looked up waiting for their loved ones to be rescued. Many were crying because they knew it was too late for some. Near them, the firemen stood and most of them looked to be in a panic. One of them was yelling into a radio.
Fireman: “We need backup, I repeat we need backup! We’ve already lost a few men and there are still others inside! We need it as fast as you can send it!”
Damn this was bad. If the fire department had already suffered casualties then there must have been some sort of explosion.
BRAK: “Devil boy we’ll be helping them search for survivors.”
Devilin: “I’m already one step ahead of you.”
We made it inside the building and spotted burning corpses not too far from the entrance. The victims were outfitted in firefighters gear. After looking at the damage I could tell that an explosion had claimed their lives. Not only was the fire damage here particularly bad but a large part of the floor was destroyed and the rest falling under into the basement. The bodies were also scattered to where it looked like something knocked them backwards. The explosion must’ve came as the firefighters were rescuing people.
The flames were still burning strong even as we entered, the catalyst must have been some sort of chemicals. Even as we walked through the blaze Devilin and I were spared from harm. The reason devil boy was spared should be obvious, being the son of the son of Satan gave him certain perks, an immunity to fire being the main one, but for me the process was different. My immunity came from a pact that I formed with the immortal hell warrior Sergio. Thanks to this pact only the hottest of hellfires could harm me. This stuff in the apartment just felt like a light breeze. My clothes were safe thanks to that same pact, an aura was being extended from my body to protect them. This aura granted safe passage to those who were in personal contact with us. It would allow us to save those who were trapped in here from burning to death.
After we walked further in we discovered an older woman passed out on the ground. I ran through the flames to get to the woman as fast as I could, devil boy ran right behind me. When we finally reached her I placed my fingers on the side of her neck and felt the, thump-thump-thump, of a heartbeat.
BRAK: “Here, take her to the firemen and hurry back so that they don’t ask you any questions. When you come back, take the eastern staircase up. I’ll take the western one. By splitting up we’ll be able to save more people.”
Devilin: “Fine, I’m on it.”
He departed and I headed to the staircase. I ran up the first then second set of steps as quickly as I could, skipping some three at a time. The stairs so far weren’t too bad, there was damage but they were sturdy enough to support my weight. Once I hit the next floor I slowed my pace to survey the area. The fire was spreading to the north mostly and so I followed it to those who were the most in need. Along the way I saw someone near one of the windows. I jogged closer and saw that it was an older woman, her face scrunched in determination. She looked like she was ready to make a leap out of the window and I would have gladly let her if I was sure she’d survive. It wasn’t much of a fall down but still with the wrong landing she could really hurt herself. I couldn’t let her do that if I could help it.
BRAK: “Hold on a second! If you jump out of that window then you’ll end up breaking something. Come on, follow me to the exit.”
Woman: “Are you crazy, look at all that fire down there.”
She pointed to the growing blaze at the end of the hall.
Woman: “You’re no fireman and even if you were I’d still take my chances on this window.”
BRAK: “I won’t hold you up then. Can you tell me if there are any other survivors here, and if so where are they?”
Woman: “I don’t know if they’re still alive but some old folks were in the recreation center down the hall. Check down there.”
After that she jumped out of the window I looked out after and saw that she made a good landing, she limped afterward but as far as I could tell nothing was broken or twisted. She had a good point though. I didn’t think about how hard it would to convince people to follow me into a burning abyss. But I guess that was just how people were. Even if they had nothing else to lose most would still follow the path of least resistance. People were perfectly fine dying as long as they didn’t know precisely when. I should probably just give up, all of a sudden this seemed fruitless. Then I thought about what Devilin said earlier and giving up was no longer an option. I needed to show him that we humans could be selfless, on occasion.
I headed down the hall and entered into a fairly large room that had so far been spared from the spread of the flames but in about five more minutes that would change. Mostly older folks and younger women with children populated the room. I could see that they were trying to escape out of the window. Their plan was flawed however. The old clothes that they tied to vending machines, tables, and the door wouldn’t ever support the weight of even one of them. Most of them seemed to know that, I could see that they were too afraid to test their invention. Now I had to get their attention.
BRAK: “EVERYONE LISTEN TO ME!”
All eyes were now on me. I needed a plan to get them out of here, right now I didn’t have much of one. I guess I’d have to improv.
BRAK: “You have to follow me out to the front exit doors. There are firemen waiting out there to help you all. That’s the best way to leave here safely.”
Pretty Young Woman: “The fire down at the end of the hall is blocking the staircase. There is no way we can get to the staircase let alone the doors.”
BRAK: “That weak makeshift rope won’t hold any of you. Listen to me, we need to go down the hall. That’s the only way we’re gonna get out of here alive.”
Old Man: “That’s crazy! We aren’t going into that hell to die with you.”
BRAK: “How do you think I got past those flames?”
Desperate times called for desperate measures. It was time to test these people’s faith.
BRAK: “Everyone listen up, I have a plan. There’s only one reason that I made it down here and that same reason is what we’re gonna use to get you all out of here. I asked the lord to help me find survivors and he delivered me past the fire without a single burn on my clothes. If we follow my plan, no, his plan. If we follow his plan then he’ll deliver us safely out those front doors. We just need to hold hands and pray to him.”
They’d never believe that. I can’t believe I tried so damn hard. I tried way too hard. That was the highest grade of bullshit that I’d spewed in my entire life. I felt so lame.
Pretty Young Woman: “Okay I’ll follow you, but if you get my son hurt I’ll kill you myself.”
BRAK: “I wouldn’t dream of it.”
This lady was really hot, even if she was way too gullible. I didn’t let the direness of the situation distract me from her beauty; with caramel skin, short black hair with blond tips, coke bottle figure, and cute little cotton pajama shorts I saw that she was more than just that. She might’ve been taken though, a little boy that shared her features stood near her, I didn’t see a father around anywhere.
Before my testosterone got the better of me I gave her a nod to assure her of the journey we faced before us. I wouldn’t let the fire have her or her son. Silently the others walked a little closer to us. I grabbed the woman’s hand and told her to grab someone else’s. After we were all linked I made sure to tell them all to hold tight, whoever broke the chain would die as well as those behind them.
When I could feel the chain close nice and tight I bowed my head in a false prayer and the others followed suit. I wasn’t a preacher so I kept it short and sweet, a few others rambled on after I was done. I held the faint belief that some kind of GOD existed but whatever it was didn’t intervene in situations like this. Most people didn’t understand that. I guessed the idea of someone watching over you brought hope. I also understood that to gamble your life like these people were doing required a lot of hope.
Okay we were just under five minutes. The fire had finally reached the outside of the door, we had no time left. I heard shouts behind me and felt movement in the chain. I looked behind me and saw that some had abandoned it. Dummies.
BRAK: “Where the hell are you fools going to go? Come back here we’re leaving. There isn’t anywhere else to go.”
There wasn’t, only the young ones would survive the jump out the window, the older folk didn’t stand a chance. We needed to leave now, there wasn’t time for this.
BRAK: “Come on, every moment you spend fooling around puts this woman’s son in danger and the other children too.”
Pretty Young Woman: “Hurry up or we’ll leave you here!”
I liked her aggressive style. I would’ve married her then and there if I could. It took another few seconds but the people finally joined hands again and we were finally ready. I slowly ushered the group forward with myself two paces ahead, I needed to clearly show them this “trick.” The fire had begun to invade the room after all that and as I led the group forward I braced myself for another flight. There was a bit of pulling resistance in my occupied hand but that was to be expected. As we neared even closer the children had begun to cry and that was when I could feel a swell of second doubts throughout my hand. Those less brave and even the brave, truthfully, were wrestling with their gamble.
BRAK: “Hold the children close, we’ll all get through this.”
We were now face to face with the head of the impeding flames and I noticed the apprehension of my party. What I was about to show them they’d never seen before and would never see again. I moved forward very carefully, very slowly, and extended my unoccupied hand into the fire. Instead of burning I only felt warm motion, like a windy eighty degree day. It felt good honestly so I extended my right leg into the fire. When the people saw that I wasn’t bluffing, they stood dumbfounded.
Old Man: “Well God Damn. Did yall see that shit?”
Old Woman: “Don’t ever take the lord’s name in vain again Luther.”
Pretty Young Woman: “Doesn’t that hurt?”
I didn’t have time for small talk so I just shook my head. They were bewildered by this spectacle but I couldn’t just let them stand and gawk. I moved my other leg forward and pulled the woman nearer to me. I must’ve looked like some mad Dmon trying to pull her and her son into hell, my body was almost all the way in except for my left hand. There was fear in her brown eyes but she followed me all the same, the courage that must’ve took to put her and her son’s life in my hands. When she stepped forth then her son the rest were an easy sell. They came forward one by one. I saw them all, each letting go of a past fear, surpassing a former limitation. I was reminded as to why in a group full of Dmons that I was so proud to be a human.
We walked to the end of the hall and to the stairs. To my relief the stairs were still intact, we walked down those a little more quickly. With their fears subsided all I could feel in the air was their excitement, it was buzzing. They couldn’t wait to see the next miracle, but unfortunately for them their show was now over. I led them down the stairs and through the front doors to the outside world ending our brief journey together.
The outside air was an affront to the atmosphere of the apartment. It hit me hard and I was filled with an empty chill. I shivered as I surveyed the evacuation area where the survivors huddled together. Backup hadn’t showed up yet, that much was obvious. By the paramedics I saw many slumped over bodies on the ground. A few were breathing warm air into the night causing small fog plumes. At least they weren’t dead but too many of them were unconscious. Devil boy must have knocked them out to avoid explaining to them why they would be able to run through fire. His way saved a hell of a lot of time. It reminded me of how much time I had just wasted literally holding these people’s hands. Saving them shouldn’t have been this hard. You’d think they’d be begging for my help. Shit! I didn’t have time for these kinds of thoughts, or any kind of thoughts for that matter. I had a lot more to do.