Friday, December 16, 2011

Mall Demons! The Storm Rolls In

I am about to put the book-length version of the Mall Demons series to bed. The Kindle version will be out soon. Until then, here's another part from the stories I've posted on Wattpad. Enjoy!

Part 4 of the Mall Demons Urban Fantasy Series

Daniel wiped down the last of his tables, looking over his shoulder to scan the restaurant patio. Two men sat at a table having drinks. Daniel had that annoying feeling that someone's eyes were on him, but it wasn't these guys.
"An-da-le! Daniel!" Jose, one of the other busboys, walked by, urging Daniel to move faster.
 Carrying a tub full of dirty dishes, Daniel followed Jose into the kitchen. He looked over his shoulder towards the patio. That nagging feeling wouldn't go away. Daniel didn't know it yet, but he would be nagged by that being watched feeling consistently over the next few days.
"That was my last table," Daniel said, placing the tub on a long rectangular stainless-steel table next to the sink.
"Very good, very good," Jose said with a strong Spanish accent.
About 15 minutes later, Daniel moped out of the Chevy's restaurant onto the sidewalk in front of the mall. Jose emerged behind him, leaned against the fence lining the patio and lit a cigarette.
"Lo siento, Daniel," Jose said. "Sorry, amigo. I’ll pray for your father."
Daniel smiled back at Jose.
"Smoking's bad for you."
"What are you, eh?" Jose replied. "My priest?"
"No, no," Daniel said. "I'm just saying..."
Daniel waved to Jose as he walked away. He looked down the long empty sidewalk. He wore a look of disappointment. Daniel needed extra cash. He had hoped to pick up some extra shifts. Jose had been talking the previous week about taking night classes. Now Jose was having second thoughts. The economy being what it was and the cost of those classes being a few grand more than he'd expected, Jose decided he couldn't afford it.
After Daniel turned his back on Jose, he had that feeling again much stronger this time. He looked into the shadows of an alley to his left. Two eyes emerged when Daniel turned his head to scan the darkness.
"Spare change?" A homeless man held out his hand.
Daniel reached into his pocket and gave the man his last dollar coin.
"God bless you.”
The way the man said it gave Daniel an uneasy feeling. It seemed too rehearsed. Or maybe too businesslike, but Daniel nodded anyway. He took a few steps and was about to turn the corner when he felt a sharp gust of wind behind him. For a second that feeling from the restaurant intensified. Then just as quickly, it lessened.
He looked back to the alley entrance which was now empty darkness. The homeless man was gone.
"Weird," Daniel said to nobody.
Halfway down the block Jose was using his last five minutes of break to smoke a cigarette. He saw Daniel disappear around the corner. He exhaled a long stream of smoke which rose up through the patio's slat roof and into Sargas Vak's squinting, red eyes.
"Stupid humans and their infernal habits," Sargas said.
Sargas waved the smoke from his eyes.
"He might as well get used to smoking," said a second demon who settled on the roof next to Sargas Vak.
Sargas cleared his throat, then leaned over and spit a stream of hellish, black phlegm onto Jose's head. It covered his forehead, poured down his face and into his mouth. Jose took a long drag from his cigarette sucking the smoke and demonic phlegm deep into his lungs.
"That will speed things up," Sargas said.
Meego Bose laughed. More smoke reached them on the roof.
"Reminds you of home doesn't it?" Meego Bose said.
"I have not been back in centuries."
"I know," Meego said.
"Do you, now." Sargas faced his new apprentice. "I doubt you know much."
Sargas ascended like a sinister raptor stretching his wings. Each thrust sent him higher into the sky until the mall seemed the size of a shoe box. Meego climbed after him.
Sargas was searching for something. He knew the time had come again. He looked at the mall. This was the battleground. At one corner of the roof, Sargas thought he saw it. But just at that moment, Meego whipped past him his tail striking Sargas across the face.
Sargas growled. Meego hovered defiantly next to his new master.
"Insolence!" Sargas said.
The demons circled each other
"I know one thing," Meego said. "You will not dispatch me as easily as your last apprentice."
Meego whipped his tail at Sargas again. This time Sargas caught it in his hand. Meego howled. Before Sargas could react, Meego clawed at his own tail ripping it from his body. Nearly instantaneously, another tail grew in its place.
Sargas tried to hide it, but the surprise was etched on his face. He tossed away the dying tail.
"You have mastered regeneration," Sargas said matter of factly. "Maybe you do know more than your predecessor."
The sky lit up in the distance as a storm rolled in. The sound of thunder followed. Sargas stole a glance towards the roof corner, but not for long. Meego was ready to pounce. This demon had no desire to remain an apprentice for long.
"I know what you want Meego, but now is not the time."
"The best time to dispatch your master is at the beginning," Meego said.
"It is also the best time to consume your apprentice." Sargas countered.
More flashes of light interrupted the dark sky. This time it came from below them, from the roof. There on the spot Sargas had been observing stood two brilliant figures.
"I guess we will both be forced to wait," Meego said.
Meego bowed his head in a show of reluctant submission. Sargas met the bow, then descended.
"I speak for our side," Sargas said without turning back to face Meego.
The two angels watched the demons clash.
"If we can keep them fighting each other, this will be over quickly," the warrior angel said.
The second angel wore the armor and red cloak of a general. He remained still observing the demons above.
 "A house divided will not stand," General Batalla said.
 Sargas and Meego landed in front of the angels. At once, Sargas roared and flapped his leathery wings summoning several dark mists which turned into imps and surrounded the four combatants. General Batalla calmly pulled out his sword. The sight of the heavenly sword caused the imps to step back into the shadows so that only their red eyes were visible.
 "One of these days I will catch you without that sword," Sargas said. He stepped forward. As he drew nearer to General Batalla, Sargas' skin sizzled like frying bacon. "One of these days."
 "Not this day, Sargas." General Batalla sheathed his sword. "This day is for the presentation of terms."
 "Very well," Sargas said. His tone changed. The proceedings had begun. "We have roamed through this shopping center and have found it suitable to our needs..."
 At Sargas' words, the imps drew nearer again so that their evil faces appeared to be hovering in the darkness. Sargas continued.
 "We have gone back and forth," he said. Sargas grinned. "Its inhabitants willingly belong to us."
 "You crossed the line," General Batalla said.
 "And I dealt with my apprentice!"
 General Batalla motioned to his lieutenant who stepped forward with a scroll. The warrior angel unrolled it and read:
 "One has been chosen to prove he is blameless and upright. The chosen fears God and shuns evil. The fate of this ground shall be decided through him. The hedge around him shall be loosened."
 The warrior angel paused and glanced from side to side noticing the imps inching closer - each wearing widening grins. They knew their work was about to begin. Meego looked like a lion ready to pounce. Thunder and lightning rumbled overhead as rain showered down on them.
 "Is that all," Sargas asked.
 "There is more." General Batalla motioned for the reading to continue. With more authority, the warrior angel read the final words on the scroll.
 "Everything the chosen has while on this ground is in your hands, but you may not lay a finger on the man himself off the battlefield. The chosen's name is Daniel."
 At the mentioning of Daniel's name, the imps danced and let out demonic laughter. One by one they vanished. Their mission was now clear. This army of the night had its target.
 "You may not touch him!" General Batalla reached for his sword.
 "We understand the rules, general," Sargas said. "My imps are merely leaving to make preparations. When Daniel returns, we will attack him so brutally that he will surely curse you and your kind to your face!"
 With those final words, Sargas took flight into the night followed by Meego.
 "Go inform the others that it has begun," General Batalla said.
 The warrior angel nodded and disappeared in a bright flash. A few seconds later, Evangeline and Watcher appeared in an orange flash.
 "I thought I felt your presence nearby Evangeline," General Batalla said.
 Evangeline bowed. Watcher remained erect.
 "You may rise," General Batalla said. He scowled at Watcher. "You may want to teach your companion about respect."
 Watcher met the general's stare.
 "There are some advantages to being an outcast," Watcher said. "I bow down only to those I respect."
 "Now, now...let's not divide this house," Evangeline said. "There's work to do."
 General Batalla gave Watcher one last scathing look, then turned to Evangeline. He moved to the roof's edge with her.
 "You must go to him. Prepare him for what's coming," he said. "It is your duty to protect Daniel. Is that clear?"
 "Yes, general."
 "Do not fail us." In a flash of light, General Batalla vanished, leaving Evangeline and Watcher alone on the roof.
 Watcher walked over to her. They looked down at the sleeping city below. There was a peaceful calm that unnerved them.
 "Ready to reveal ourselves?" Evangeline asked.
 "Let's rock!"
 They flew off the roof in a flash of orange, and in a bright arrow of light streaked through the rain towards a dark high-rise apartment building in the distance.
 Daniel was reclining in bed. He read the Metro Hospital bill in his hands:
 He placed the bill in the opened Bible on the bed. The sound of rain hitting his bedroom window caught his attention. It looked like this storm was dumping a lot of water, Daniel thought. Maybe enough to flood. But he would worry about that later. Daniel closed his Bible and placed it on the nightstand. He prayed for a peaceful night's sleep so he could face the next day and whatever troubles that came with it.
 Daniel did not know yet that his prayer could not be answered.

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