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This is either the beginning of an Urban Fantasy Novel or a standalone short story, not sure which, but let me know what you guys all think.

       

Dawning

   The auto shop was a mess. Most of the bodies had been torn to pieces, you could still smell the blood splattered where it landed. It was difficult to even count how many had actually died. The corrugated tin in the walls and roof had melted and warped. In some places the tin had turned molten and run in rivulets to pool on whatever flat surface appeared handy. Much of the cement flooring had cracked and buckled and the oil soaked flooring of the pit still smouldered though it had been at least two hours before I’d arrived.

Detective Lois Sargin stood patiently to one side, waiting for me to finish. I didn’t really need to look much further, I could smell the stench of their taint before I’d walked in the door. I gave Lois a nod and moved to one of the few pieces of equipment in the room I could still recognized.

The lift had fallen unto the safety levers, but the Chevy truck on top of it was still largely intact, only the windows and mirrors were gone, shattered by some wave of force. Lois was a large bodied woman, though not fat. She was tall and broad, wide shouldered and wide hipped. She moved with the grace of a dancer, but even her nearly silent steps echoed in the emptiness of the shop.

“We counted three bodies.” She said quietly. “Plus some pieces we didn’t recognize. Officially it’s an exploded welding torch. Unofficially Travis…” She shrugged. “I thought it was something you should see.”

I nodded once hard and pulled the rosary from my pocket, chewing back on the nausea threatening to overwhelm me. I touched the old metal side of the Chevy, letting tension slip from my body and easing my mind backward in time. The world jumped and reality spasmed around me. Time rewound itself as I focused on a slight spot of rust on the body of the truck. There was a flash of light and the Chevy’s windows reformed, rebuilding themselves rapidly. Sounds and screamed flashed past my ears, metal screeched and ran. The lift in front of me heaved the truck back into the air and blood flowed back into bodies.

The scene lurched to a sickening stop. I swallowed back the bile burning in my throat and turned. I heard the laughter before I saw the demon. She was barely nine years old and wore a thick, blue, child’s ski suit. Her laughter was rich and bubbly, but her eyes were missing, only empty holes remained. She stood swaying and laughing in front of a kneeling man in a grey shirt. The man spoke swiftly, recounting every evil thing he’d ever done. With each passing sin his skin grew looser until it was hanging like drapes from his skeleton and still he spoke.

The second demon was older. Still female, she was fourteen and fat, dressed in black clothing and heavy makeup. She swung a baseball bat with spoiled glee and her body twisted around the massive belly. Her face twisted with hate and scorn, the bat smacking into the bodies of the mechanics with increasingly meaty sounds.

I twisted away from the scene, raising my fist. I didn’t need to see details. It took two heavy punches to shatter the window in the Chevy’s driver’s side door, breaking the spell at the same time.

I fell to a knee breathing hard. I could still feel the warmth of the earlier fire, the smell of demon taint filling every pore. The world spun slowly around me, trying desperately to correct itself. I gripped the rosary tight and waited, forcing my eyes closed and whispering any prayer I could think of. Lois stood silently at my side, forcing a casual stance and holding a bottle of water out toward me.

I rose shakily to my feet, ignoring the water. “Epifomorae.”

Lois stood silent, waiting for me to explain. I left her waiting, reexamining the destruction of the auto shop. Epifomorae would often kill for fun, but sometimes they had other purposes too. They were a lower form of demon, too weak to have any real spell power, but they could mimic a mummer’s ritual well enough to summon something if given instructions. And something had melted the walls. Maybe something big.

I turned slowly in place, searching every scorchmark or debris path, but I saw nothing. Reluctantly, I started to relax. Lois stood with her arms akimbo, the beginnings of a scowl on her face. I shook my head, adjusting the white color of my priest’s cassock. “I don’t think anything came through. Your people are probably right, about the blown cutting torch. One of the Epis probably blew the tank for kicks.”

Lois cocked her head. The scowl was fully formed now. “What are Epifomorae?”

“They’re what happens to children in hell. No one can resist hell for long and after awhile you become part of it. You serve it to serve yourself. The way you serve it depends on who and what you were when you arrived. Children who are that twisted continue to twist. They usually become pets for greater demons, messengers and playthings. Cruel and sadistic, wanting only to inflict pain.”

“How do we kill them?”

“You don’t.” I said, meeting her gaze. “This is a matter for The People.”

She sneered. “The ‘People’. Half of that collection of misfits are addicts, drunks, or so lost in sex they can barely find their own clothes. Tell me what I need to know and I’ll take care of it.”

“No, Lois. You’ve done enough and you already know too much. This sort of knowledge is dangerous. The more you know, the stronger the hell-spawn can sense you. That’s why we keep these things hidden. Plus, some questions don’t have easy answers.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean? Dammit, Travis…. Father Dawning, I need to know.”

I fought back a retort. Her stubbornness was one of her best traits, but it could be very tiring at times. “All demons and demon spawn have one encompassing, underlying goal. To make you like them. Deal with demons too long and you’ll become them. Even killing them can taint your soul.”

“And?”

“Epifomorae are still children, demon or not. Within reason they look like children, they act like children, they sound like children. They can be banished with spells and rituals, but to kill them, to really kill them, you have to dismember them.” Her eyes widened and I continued. “To kill an Epifomorae you have to cut a screaming child into little pieces.”

“My God…”

I straightened my color and collected my coat. “Sometimes God asks a lot. Sometimes it’s more than most think they can handle. Some of The People have faith. Others sometimes need to feel they can lean on something. No one can do it all on their own.”

Lois swallowed and said nothing. I gave her a soft smile. “Are you coming?”

 

 

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