Michael reached over to the cool leather of the passenger seat and grabbed his phone without taking his eyes off the vagabond shuffling his way across the darkened parking lot. He watched the homeless man for a few more minutes, thumbing the power button on the side of the phone. Once the man was out of sight, he pressed the button, and, just as it had a thousand times before, the prospect of hearing from Dez lit a spark of hope deep in his core. The screen beamed to life.
No text messages.
No missed calls.
Another press of the power button left the broad interior of the 1971 Chevy Nova SS once again draped in shadows. Disappointment and worry replaced any good feelings he may have had when he picked up the phone. It had been almost five months since she had literally vanished into thin air right in front of him, leaving him stunned and a little confused.
Then the covens had slipped into a state of utter chaos.
They were pissed.
They wanted retribution.
They demanded her head.
After many hours of talking himself blue in the face, he finally made a good number of them understand that Dez was not the bad guy in the situation, but it did not sate them all. The majority of the covens wanted Dez to come back and stand before them to give her account of what had transpired, to explain what led her to choose ending Cassandra’s life. But most likely to explain her newfound abilities.
Of course, justice was what they were all yelling about, and that’s the story they stuck to. Representatives for some of the covens couldn’t believe that Cassandra, their leader and trusted advisor for centuries, had been behind the events of previous weeks.
In a desperate attempt to get ahead of the apocalyptic curve, she had taken it upon herself to align the coven with a demon. Not just any demon, but a prince in the hierarchy of Hell, one of the original fallen angels. After going on a blind hunt for the demon to stop him from opening the gateway to Hell, they killed him, but not before an unknown number of lesser demons escaped, and several lives were lost on the side of the white hats, his brother Lucas included.
Shortly after the gateway was closed, Dez made the connection between the demon and Cassandra. They had dropped everything and flown back to Italy, and Dez faced off with Cassandra in front of the entire Council. The whole scene ended with Cassandra reduced to a pile of ash, and Dez…
she just vanished.
Michael knew why, of course. Dez had used her newfound ability to manipulate Hellfire to execute Cassandra for her crimes. He felt, deep down, Cassandra got exactly what was coming to her, but in the eyes of the Council, the death sentence was not Dez’s to hand down.
They were wrong.
Dez was the only one who could have stopped her. Cassandra was much too old, much too powerful, for anyone else to handle. An extraordinarily powerful witch and vampire with more than a few centuries under her belt, she would have wiped the floor with any Council member who decided to step to her. There really was no other way.
He wished Dez had stuck around to stand behind her actions; it didn’t do her case any favors when she fled. All it accomplished was making her look guilty of some wrongdoing. He could easily track her down, but she had left for a reason. Whatever the reason, she would come back to him when she was ready. He was giving her the time she needed.
Sighing with frustration and no small amount of defeat, Michael pulled the black leather briefcase up from the passenger floor and opened it on the crimson red seat. He removed the Desert Eagle and its suppressor from the case, careful to keep both low and out of sight. As he screwed the silencer into the barrel of the gun, he took one last look around the parking lot of the vacant warehouse. Tucking the gun inside his leather jacket, Michael climbed out of the car, closing the door quietly.
He made his way across the parking lot and slipped between the two decrepit concrete buildings. Of the benefits which came with being a vampire, flawless eyesight in complete darkness was Michael’s favorite. It gave him a distinct advantage when he needed to fulfill a contract at night. His mission this night had nothing to do with a contract. Since the night at the gateway off the coast of South America, all of Michael’s time was taken up with worrying about Dez and tracking down the demons who had escaped. If he was right, tonight would be his forty-ninth and fiftieth kill.
Michael crept around the building, careful to stay quiet and out of sight. As he rounded the back corner of the decaying buildings, he stopped to make sure there were no vagrants hanging around. Sure the coast was clear, he continued on to the crumbling loading dock on the backside of the building on the right. The metal stairs leading up to the dilapidated concrete pad were falling apart, the railing long since having fallen off. Shards of broken glass littered the ground, making every step Michael took far louder than he would have preferred. When he reached the top of the stairs, he pulled his gun out and checked the chamber one last time, careful to make sure the cool slide didn’t click too loudly when he gingerly moved it back into place. He was pretty sure there were only two of them in the building, but in the event there were more, the key to getting the jump on them was to be as stealthy as possible.
Michael entered the building, mindful of where he was stepping, never stilling his eyes from scanning his surroundings. He listened intently for any betrayal of the demons’ presence, but heard nothing. The wide open room was void of any furniture or machinery. Nothing remained on the expansive floor but pieces of the falling walls and more shards of dust-covered glass.
Satisfied there was no one near the loading dock, Michael made his way to the large metal staircase leading to the upper levels of the building. He moved silently and swiftly, confident he wasn’t alone in the structure. He just needed to find where the demons were squatting. The two he was after had taken possession of some of the local homeless, but he had seen and killed enough of their kind to know them on sight.
He worked his way up the rusted stairs, always listening. He reached the second floor of the building, and stepped onto yet another empty floor, dirt and refuse the only occupants. He turned back and continued up the stairs. The third level was also silent. He reached the fourth and final floor, and his ears were greeted with silence. Rather than an open floor like the previous three, there was a maze of hallways and rooms. He stepped off the stairs and started down the center hallway. As he passed each room along the hallway, he strained, listening for the tiniest noise.
He knew they were here, and given the absolute quiet he was greeted with, they knew he was here as well. He glided down the hallway, stepping lightly. He was about to give up, nearly convinced he had been wrong, when the terrified scream of a woman ripped through the air from somewhere on the same level, closer to the interior stairwell.
He turned and ran, following the pained sounds of the woman’s terror.
Down the main corridor.
Another right, and the screaming stopped. Michael moved quickly, searching each room in the area. Suddenly, there was a crashing sound from somewhere at the end of the hallway. Michael ran down the hallway, slowing right before he reached the door. He took one quick clearing breath, and turned the corner, gun raised.
The two men stood over the body of a girl in a torn grey sweater, her faded blue jeans and ripped red panties scrunched down around her ankles. They looked up at Michael, their black eyes gleaming in the minimal light, and released a loud combination of a sick, feral growl and blood-curdling scream, a horrific ear-piercing noise, like giant fingernails scraping down the world’s biggest chalkboard. Without hesitation, Michael fired one shot in the dead center of the demon’s forehead, and immediately did the same to the second. Both demons dropped to the floor with no sign of life. Just to be sure, Michael walked over and shot each one in the head a few more times.
Michael’s attention turned to the girl. He listened but heard no pulse. Kneeling down, he checked her neck to be sure, and still found no heartbeat. Given the odd angle of her head, it appeared one of the demons had snapped her neck. Probably to stop the screaming. He shook his head and walked away. There was nothing else he could do here. He didn’t bother burning the bodies to dispose of the evidence. Chances were pretty good no one was going to find them until much later anyway, and by that time, he’d be long gone.