I read Rebecca’s message twice. I wasn’t sure how to feel after reading the message.
On one hand I felt joy because she shared her family’s past with me and she loved me enough to disclose all that information to me. On the other hand I was concerned. Concerned of her safety from the clay troopers and concerned that I hadn’t told her everything about me. There were quite a few issues from my past that I hadn’t told her, issues I hadn’t told anyone really. I loved Rebecca but I wasn’t sure I wanted to tell her about my past.
By the time I had finished reading her message for the second time, we had made it to the highway. The sun was already going down. Just in case you are wondering, riding a bull with no saddle is painful mainly on your back and crotch.
As we waited for someone to be kind enough to give us a ride, I told Joseph about Rebecca’s message. He appeared unsurprised and said father Hernandez had already told him all that. He also seemed proud to have known that information before I did. He then went on to compliment my trucker cap.
During the long journey to the highway we had come across a black trucker cap, which was lying on ground. The cap had a slightly curved bill in the front with a picture of a silver skull. This front part was caked with dust which seemed permanently attached to the cap because I couldn’t dust it off no matter what I tried. The back of the cap had innumerable tiny holes while the top had a small black button.
Based on Joseph’s reasoning I had to take the cap because it was to serve as my lucky charm. He told me that we ran into so much trouble because I didn’t have any form of lucky clothing on me. He also argued that his lucky pants can’t do all the work.
I took the cap since I didn’t want to argue with him because at that time I was still reading Rebecca’s message. Besides, the hat really helped hide my unbecoming facial appearance. The reflection on my phone showed me that my curly black hair was becoming long enough to start flowing down the back of my neck, black circles were beginning to form around my dark blue eyes (maybe because of lack of proper sleep for the last two days) and a black unkempt beard now canvassed my cheeks and chin. So I didn’t mind wearing the cap because it helped hide my tardiness and also blocked the sun from burning my face.
Joseph had also picked up something on the dirt road. He found a long white cloth that he wrapped around his head like a patka- that head scarf Sikh men wear. Maybe it was to fend off the sun but truthfully I have no idea why he wore the cloth like that and I didn’t care enough to ask.
There was still no signal next to the highway so I couldn’t call Rebecca, my parents or Craig. It took twenty minutes for someone to finally stop and give us a ride.
Joseph and I climbed into the back of the blue pick-up truck being driven by a nearly toothless old man with long gray hair and a brown farmer’s round hat. The bull, Joseph had started calling Bully, strolled back down the dirt road as soon as we got a ride. As luck will have it, the old man was travelling to my hometown. He also seemed to be in a hurry so he was booking it down the highway. I began thinking that maybe the trucker cap was lucky after all.
It took us two hours to get to my hometown. I noticed Joseph paid the old man for the ride with cash. I pestered him on where he got the money because I didn’t remember him having that much cash before. He confessed that he took it off the nuns back at the farm house. He said the nuns owed us for saving their lives. Once again I refused to be caught up in a useless debate with him, so I let him be. I tried calling Craig and my parents but both calls went straight to voicemail.
We first took a cab to my parent’s house and found no one there. The front door was left wide open which unsettled my stomach. My parents would never be that careless.
We took another cab to Craig’s parent’s house on the north side of town. The house is mainly painted white with an amber green roof, it has four bedrooms, a roomy lounge, a stylish kitchen with a modern design and two toilets. So many memories consumed my mind as I stared at the house’ spacious yard with various fruit trees and well trimmed hedges. There was a wooden swing on a thick magnolia tree where Craig and I often played on as kids. The dandelions Craig’s mother constantly takes good care of, blossomed in the moonlight and the well-manicured lawn his father always mowed twice a month on Saturdays was at the standard of a golf course.
One thing that was off about the house I had spent so many sleepovers and weekend afternoons, was that all the lights were switched off. It seemed as if no one was home. I quickly told Joseph of the layout of the house. He suggested entering through the back while I go in through the front. I wanted to point out to him that is the same strategy we used at the farm house and it didn’t quite work out well for us, but he had already ran off towards the back.
I took out my revolver and approached the front door. I gently knocked three times but no one replied, so I let myself in. I followed a narrow corridor and took the first left turn which led me to the lounge. There were four people seated on the lounge’s long leather couch. It was too dark for me to identify them. They barely moved as I entered. I couldn’t suppress the thought that something was not right.
“Hello? I am sorry I let myself in, but I did knock,” I said.
The people remained motionless. Qualms roiled in my belly as I reached for the light switch and turned it on. The reason these people were not moving or responding to me became apparent. They were all dead.
Craig’s parents were dead.
My parents were dead.
I felt a compression on my chest as I stared at the four bodies in the living room. They were all naked with slit throats. Blood spilled out from their necks to the rest of their bodies, their stomachs were sliced open and various internal organs were pouring out on to the dark green carpet on the floor. Their eyes were gorged out and nowhere in sight.
My knees felt weak, my stomach felt hallow and tears leaked out of my eyes. I lost control of my own body and couldn’t move it. My vision was spinning. I felt detached from my body and my consciousness seemed to be drifting off into space because my whole world had been shattered to pieces.
I didn’t feel like I was still in that living room looking at my dead parents. I felt like I was far away in the endless abyss of the universe. Even as I heard the yonder sounds of police sirens and even as Joseph tugged my arm for us to escape, I felt distant.
The next couple of events happened so fast it was almost like flash scenes of a montage. The police running into the house, pinning Joseph and I to the floor, handcuffs on my wrists, my rights being said to me, riding in the back of a police cruiser, waiting in a windowless room with one metal table and three steel chairs, two deputies trying to get answers out of me and throwing all sorts of accusations like how I killed my parents and nuns at a farm house a couple of miles from the town, being shoved into a cell and Joseph joining me later were all events I thought were happening to someone else as I stared on.
My mind was so overwhelmed with grief it was still drifting in space for me to realize the five bikers who were in the cell with us. I finally snapped out of my trance when Joseph pushed me against the wall and stood in front of me facing the bikers.
I noticed two of the bikers were seated on the cell’s long wooden bench and three of them were standing. Four of them were bald as an egg and one had really long hair like a band member of Guns and Roses. The bikers all wore black leather vests drawn red flames on the back, faded blue jeans, iron tipped black boots and I realized they were not wearing anything underneath their vests. Their eyes remained glued on us.
Joseph leaned back to me, “I know that look they are giving us but don’t worry I won’t let them do anything to you.” He then spoke up to the bikers, “take it easy gentleman. I know what you want. I can give it to you. But please leave my roommate alone, his parents have just been murdered. If you want to r**e someone, r**e me.”
Joseph then yanked down his pants and put his hands in the air. All the bikers turned away in disgust.
One of them said, “Man, pull up your pants. We aren’t going to r**e anyone.”
“Really?” Joseph asked before he eventually pulled up his pants.
“Come on, man, we are not like that. Uhm your zipper is still open.”
“Oh yeah I know. It’s broken but I don’t care because these are my lucky pants.”
“Ooooookay, we aren’t criminals, man. We aren’t even supposed to be in here.”
“Us too!” Joseph exclaimed.
“Ha dumb cops, am I right? I am Savage,” the black masculine biker with a dragon tattoo on his neck and a golden bull ring on his nose said. “That’s T-Rex,” Savage said pointing at the six foot tall guy with dark brown eyes and one arm completely covered with tattoos.
“Hello,” T-Rex said in a voice that really shocked me. His voice was very soft. He spoke like someone who just inhaled a lot of helium.
“That’s Firecracker, Malicious and Shotgun,” Savage continued the introductions.
Firecracker waved at us with his bony hand but I could barely see his face because of his long black hair that draped over his eyes to his chest. Malicious and Shotgun were seated on the bench and nodded their bald heads as they were introduced. They had no distinct features besides the countless tattoos covering their entire bodies and their thick arms which were akin to an elephant’s leg.
Joseph introduced himself and me. He then began sharing with his new friends almost everything about himself… and about me. For the longest time I wanted to slap him to shut up, but I just let him be. I didn’t feel like talking so I sat at the far edge of the bench Malicious and Shotgun occupied.
After a while, the sheriff walked into our cell with three of his deputies holding rifles. The sheriff and his deputies wore their hats very low. His round rimmed hat was obscuring most of his head, so I could barely make out the sheriff’s face. I could only see the thicket white hairs sticking out of his long and pointy nose. I could also see his equally protracted chin which didn’t have a trace of beard.
The sheriff ordered all of us to line up against one of the walls. Him and his deputies stood opposite us. I could already sense something bad was about to happen but didn’t expect what transpired next. The sheriff ordered his deputies to aim their riffles at us.
All seven of us began protesting loudly to this great injustice before the sheriff lifted his hat revealing his blacked out eyes and furrowed face. The cell was graveyard silent as the sheriff’s black eyes stared back at us. It’s only then I noticed he was chewing something. He slowly walked towards me and glowered into my eyes. He reached into his pocket and took out something oval. He looked down at it and then back at me. I felt queasy when I realized he was holding an eyeball.
“It’s your fault,” he said in a terrifying robotic voice. He threw the eye into his mouth and chewed louder than necessary with his thin lips making a sound like that of two people smooching each other.
The words he said were eerily familiar. I had just seen them somewhere. I then remembered. There were the same words smeared in blood on the television in Craig’s parent’s lounge. The eye ball this jerk was eating could have belonged to my mother or father. Rage filled my heart and I felt livid. All I could see was red as I jumped at the sheriff.
We flew down to the floor and I landed on top of him. I began choking him with both hands. The deputies had averted their guns towards me, giving Joseph and the bikers an opportunity to run at them. They tackled the deputies to the floor. I noticed Malicious and Shotgun quickly ran out of the cell which the sheriff and deputies didn’t bother locking or closing.
I was still wondering why the two bikers had ran away, when the sheriff punched me on the jaw and I slumped off him. I fell to the concrete floor with blood filling my mouth as the disoriented sheriff stood up. He ran his boot into my ribs and a throbbing pain pierced through my stomach. He then went on to trample on my coiled up body like a burning rag.
I had my hands over my head, when a liquid was splashed on the sheriff’s face. Steam emanated from his skin and his face sizzled like bacon in a frying pan. He screamed blue murder as he covered his face with both his hands. More water was sprayed on him and white flames burned in his eyes before he puked black slime and passed out.
I noticed Malicious and Shotgun were standing at the cell entrance holding orange and green plastic water pistols which were probably filled with holy water. The deputies were already passed out on the floor next to small puddles of black slime. I assumed they had also been baptized with the anointed water from the biker’s water guns. Savage pulled me to my feet and commanded us to follow him and his crew.
We ran out of the station which seemed empty probably because the deputies and Sheriff we left lying unconscious in the cell, were the only ones on duty. The motor bikes of the bikers were not yet moved to impound and were lined outside the station. I rode with T-Rex and Joseph was with Savage as the bikers drove us to a barn sided cabin on the East side of town.
They were more bikers at the cabin, hundreds and hundreds of bikers. A long line of motor bikes were queuing outside the front porch of the wooden cabin. I assumed this was their hide out place or something. We settled into the cabin and had long introductions with all the bikers there but I forgot most of their names as soon as I was told.
Before leaving the station I had quickly searched and found my phone and weapons. I stepped outside the cabin and firstly called Captain Ledger. He picked up after two rings.
“Tell me you have good news,” he said.
“I need your help.”
“So no good news then?”
“We were arrested and we had to escape from prison.” I could hear him deeply sigh on the other end. Couldn’t blame him, I should have started the conversation a bit better. But I had no time for pleasantries, had to get to the point. “The sheriff and his deputies were possessed and were going to kill us. Anyway we shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. I am not sure of the details but I think we are being suspected of killing my parents and nuns at a farmhouse a few miles from here.”
“Your parents are dead? I am sorry to hear that, you have my deepest condolences.”
I swallowed hard and fought back tears as I wasn’t sure what to say.
“There are also dead nuns? Damn it Stanford, I said no more killings!” the police captain stridently said.
“I swear we didn’t do it. You said it yourself, I am no killer. It’s that damn demon, it set us up. Please contact the town sheriff and clear our names? Preferably after about three hours or so when they wake up.”
“You knocked them out?”
“We exorcised them. Just like we exorcised the nuns but we didn’t kill them.”
The police captain took a while to reply. After an agonizing minute he then said, “Okay fine. I will see what I can do, but for the love of God, kill this demon before more people get hurt,” with that, he hang up.
Then I tried calling Rebecca but she didn’t pick up. I was still in the process of trying to call her again, when Savage and Joseph came up to me. Savage had already told Joseph that him and his crew are trackers who came to town because they had sensed the presence of a strong demon here. When him, T-Rex and part of his crew were scouting the area, the police arrested them on some bogus charge. Savage was already suspecting something was not right with the sheriff.
He told me that he can track down Bathym but it could take a couple of days. With the anger that was burning within me, I wanted to find and kill the demon immediately. I communicated this to Savage and he proposed what he called an unconventional way of finding Bathym quickly. He said he often contacts Budsturga when he wants to rapidly find a demon. Budsturga is a demon that specializes in information dissemination about hell and demons to people in exchange of favors. The demon loves to play games.
I was reluctant to deal with a demon so was Joseph. However, Savage assured me that the demon doesn’t claim souls on the deals because they are of no use to her. The favors she usually asks for are just so she can have fun with humans because apparently we are like toys to her.
After a long hard couple of minutes of debating this with myself, I then asked, “How do I contact her?”
Joseph protested and argued that we can still track down Bathym without the help of a demon. But I was too compelled with animosity, revenge and foolishness that I completely ignored him.
Savage took us back into the cabin and brought out a long black rag drawn several symbols with red paint. I had no idea what the symbols were because they just looked like Chinese writings to me. Savage asked me to step onto the rag and as soon as I did, he delivered a hard blow to my nose. I fell down to the floor holding my nose which was now fountaining blood. My head was thumping with pain and my trucker cap had flown away from my head.
“What the hell, man?!” I heard Joseph scream.
“We have to spill blood for her to come. And blood spilled out of anger, is the one she likes the most,” Savage said.
“This is insane,” I said as I stood up with my nose trickling blood onto the rag.
“Yet it’s the only way to summon her.”
“I am not doing this,” I said stepping back.
“Do you want to find the demon who killed your parents or not?” Savage asked as he stepped forward and threw another punch at me which caught me on the cheek.
This time I staggered back but didn’t fall. The rest of the bikers had formed a circle around us and started cheering. I began feeling anger manifest within me. Before I could attack Savage, he was welted by a beer bottle on the back of the head. He fell facedown on the rag. Joseph his assailant, was about to pounce on him when T-Rex bear hugged him from behind and pulled him away from the fight. T-Rex dragged Joseph deep into the sea of bikers and I couldn’t see where the Goliath sized biker took him.
Savage was on his knees and blood poured out from the back of his shiny bald head. I booted the side of his head and he fell on the rag. He was now lying on his back and I climbed on top of him. I delivered blow after blow to his face before a feminine voice commanded me to stop.
The crowd of bikers quieted down.
I looked up and saw a short chubby woman with long black hair tied into a bun. She was standing within the circle of bikers, a few feet ahead of me. She was dressed like a maid. She had a long pink dress with a white apron. She was even wearing light green cleaning gloves. She had big round glasses, her thin lips were red with too much lipstick and she looked to be in her late thirties or early forties. Whatever her age she looked like someone’s mother. Her unblinking brown eyes stared sternly at me. The woman was holding a black Lenovo laptop. On the screen of the laptop was a more attractive woman with long curly black hair, smooth skin, green eyes and a slim model type body tightly pressed on her long black glittering dress. The woman was seated on a chair with her legs crossed. There seemed to be raging fire burning behind her.
“I am flattered you did all this for me but please stop,” the woman on the laptop screen gracefully said.
I got off Savage and stood up. I found my trucker cap and put it back on.
“I could feel your anger and hurt from a mile away, Stanford. Tell me what you want to know,” the woman asked.
“I-the demon-you Budsturga?” I didn’t know if it was the effect of fighting a biker or my awkwardness with women was coming back, but I failed to speak to her.
The elderly woman holding the laptop walked up to me and positioned the computer right in my face.
“What’s wrong? You never called a demon from hell before?” she chuckled to herself. “Let me guess, you want to know where Bathym is?” Budsturga asked.
“I can show you where he is but you would owe me.”
“O-owe you what exactly?” I said finding my words again.
Budsturga laughed, “I can only tell you that later.”
The deal was already shady to me but I was desperate and not in my right senses so I shrugged off my worry and nodded once to the demon.
“Touch me,” she seductively said.
I hesitated moving and briefly looked around me. The bikers were all staring back at me.
“Go on, don’t be shy,” Budsturga said.
I placed my hand on the laptop screen and closed my eyes. My mind drifted away and my heart felt a sense of calmness. Images blitzed into my mind and I felt a small migraine. All of a sudden I knew exactly where to find Bathym.
When I opened my eyes, the woman holding the laptop and Budsturga were gone. Joseph ran up to me from deep in the crowd of bikers and asked if I was okay. I told him I was better than I okay, I was now hopeful.
I asked Savage for a ride back to my parent’s house. When he dropped us off, he asked if they is anything else he can do to help. I said no, he had done enough. He gave me his number in case I will need it.
When we walked into my parent’s house, I felt elated for the first time in a while. Seated on the couch and looking as comely as ever was Rebecca. She ran and embraced me when she saw me.
“What’s up with the hat?” she asked.
“It’s my lucky hat,” I replied.
A wet sensation on my cheeks made me realize that I had started crying. Rebecca asked me what was wrong. I poured my heart out to her. I told her everything that happened to me including the nuns, the bear demon, the bull, the sheriff and my parent’s death but I left out the part about dealing with Budsturga.
I don’t know why I did this, I guess I was ashamed she would judge me harshly like what Joseph’s angry stares were doing. I felt so bad about keeping this from her just after she had told me all about her family and her past.
She offered her condolences and asked about the funeral arrangements. I actually hadn’t thought about that, I told her. I was too focused on revenge and killing Bathym, I hadn’t really thought of putting my parents to rest. I told Rebecca that as soon as Bathym is back in hell, then I would give my parents a proper burial.
Rebecca introduced me to her uncle and the figure with a black ski mask on its head. In her text message she had neglected to say that T1’s ski mask had no holes for eyes or a nose, it was just a woolen mask covering the whole face. I wondered if the first clay trooper could even see behind the mask.
Rebecca said she saw my missed call but couldn’t answer because they had ran into clay troopers on their way here. It turned into a bloody fight but nothing T1 and her uncle couldn’t handle. She asked me if I saw her message.
I told her I had but I can’t go into hiding with her until I find and kill Bathym. She was very understanding and assured me we will find and kill the demon together. I noticed her uncle was annoyed by this but didn’t say anything. I told Rebecca I know exactly where the demon is.
Before I could tell her more, my phone began vibrating in my pocket. I pulled it out and felt a lump on my throat.
Craig was calling me.