Chapter Fifteen; The Lullaby For A Dead Man
September 14, 2004 – Millgrove, Hamilton
“N-no… you can’t be. That’s ridiculous!” Jude exclaimed and stepped back, and he hit the wall behind him that was stained with his blood. His finger touched his head where he’d been hit, and he winced with pain.
She held her hand out to touch him, but he smacked her hand away, and then regretted it. “Sorry… Just don’t touch me.” He was afraid of her. He was utterly afraid. This girl he had had his tongue sliding down her throat was something else. An angel, a monster—whatever she was—and he wanted to be nothing apart of that.
And then he face paled.
“Where’s Jay” he demanded.
The girl held her hands up and said, “He’s safe. He escaped from the window and I told him to hide.”
Jude’s heart was racing now, and so were his feet as he was suddenly down the stairs. The wind kissed his cheeks as he ran outside, and he turned around to face the house. Where had he gone?
“Jay?” he called. No answer. “JAY!” he yelled louder this time.
Still no answer.
“God dammit, Jay, answer me!” he said angrily and walked down the alleyway beside the house. His arm brushed against the wooden fence that was rotting, and he heard the girl behind him. “What do you want?” he muttered to her.
“To protect you,” she responded. “There are many things out there worse than him.
“There’s more?” he inquired with a raised brow.
She nodded. “And he’ll be back soon. I wasn’t able to kill him,” she said and removed a blade from her jeans that had been tucked, he assumed, in her underwear.
Jumping back, he hisses, “Woah, keep that away from me.”
Shaking her head, she took his hand and placed it in his palm then closed his fingers around it. “Keep it close to you—it will help you in need.”
He looked unsure. “What does it do?” It sounded stupid after he said it.
A smile spread across her lips. “It kills demons.”
Jude could have sworn his heart skipped a beat. “What?”
“That man in there, he wasn’t human. He was a demon, a guardian of Hell. It is the assassin of the Devil.” The demon with the black Stetson… There was something in his gut that told him he looked so familiar… “The Devil cracks his whip, and he takes out his sword of Death. And he has his eye on you, Jude Mauser.”
It was almost like magic when a mark appeared above his elbow. It burned like a crisp flame and he hissed as a shiver crawled up his spine.
“He’s going to… murder me?”
“I suggest you run, Jude Mauser,” she replied, and a deep sorrow crossed her bright, blue eyes. “They will only return and keep on coming back—they want your head on a stake, and they’ll stop at nothing.”
“How am I supposed to leave everything behind?” he whispered. He wouldn’t leave. He couldn’t—he would never leave his brother behind with their foster parents. They would only hurt him. “How am I supposed to leave my own brother?” They were all they had left.
Anielle placed a tender hand on his shoulder. “Be strong, Jude. You need to help your brother, but he’s not the one at risk. If you stay too close, you’ll only hurt him. Do you want to do that to your own little brother? There are far more darker things out there—truths that must be learned. Keep your brother out of this. Find the three keys, and you will be safe.”
It was like a rock pierced itself into his stomach and stayed there. Guilt—pure and utter guilt that haunted him.
“I won’t leave him,” he said and threw the blade into the rose bush. “You can try to scare me off, but no one’s going to put my head on a stake.”
“I’m not sure if that’s so wise—“
“Do you think I care what you have to say?”
Anielle looked hurt, but it disappeared almost instantly. “Don’t come crying to me when you’ve got a knife through your neck and a crying brother by your side.”
And then she was gone, just like that with the sound of flapping wings echoing down the narrow alleyway.
Inhaling a sharp breath, he looked at the blade for a long moment before he picked it back up. It was perfectly forged, and it looked like nothing from dad’s old collection in the basement of their old house. He wondered if those knives ever survived their… burning. Wincing at the thought, he dragged a finger up the plain hilt made of what looked like iron and coal. Letting out a sigh, the male made his way into the backyard and called out:
“Jay, it’s okay to come out now.”
It took a few seconds for a head to poke out of the white, painted miniature house Jay liked to hide in during hide and go seek. “Jude?” he whispered, and then went running for him. His arms wrapped around his brother and hugged him tight. “Thank goodness you’re safe!”
Jude laughed, and it died after he remembered what Anielle had said: “They will only return and keep on coming back—they want your head on a stake, and they’ll stop at nothing.”
He wouldn’t leave his brother. Anielle must have been lying, right? The mark burned in response, and he knew he was in trouble.
July 29, 2017 – On The Road
The place where the mark had been forged on his skin had healed up nicely after Shannon fixed it. Jay eyed it with wonder as to why he’d been chosen over his brother. Was it his punishment for not saving Sarah? Or was it Jude’s punishment for killing her?
Despite the reasons, he was glad it had been him. Jude didn’t deserve to die, nor did he deserve the fear of being murdered. Although the things he had done, Jude was a good man, and he’d done more than his foster parents had ever done for him.
The sight of demons came next to none, and Shannon sat beside him contently as she rested her almost pale-blue eyes. He couldn’t help but think how beautiful and serene she was at that moment, and when desire kicked in, he forced himself to not kick his balls for the thoughts that ran through his mind.
Yes, she was beautiful, and something about her was Sarah, but Jude had admitted to him of his feelings towards her, and he couldn’t betray that. It was the Bro Code, right? From that comedy TV show How I Met Your Mother. Jay smiled at the memory of watching that television show with Sarah on that one rainy day where they’d suddenly came across it.
Blinking his thoughts away, he eyed the sign that read Nova Scotia. Relief flooded his bones, and he knew they had hit the next milestone. But now they had to find the Amulet of Redemption, and he was sure that it wouldn’t be so easy to find.
From the corner of Jay’s eye, he could see that Shannon had gone tense. “I can feel it,” she whispered, and Jay fully looked at her. “The feeling is strong, and it’s making me sick.”
He put a hand on her shoulder, and he knew that Jude was watching them though the window. This doesn’t mean anything, Jay thought and offered a smile to the angel. “I’m here for you,” he said to her. “Tell me where it is.”
Shannon shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut. “It’s in a dark, forbidden place. Secluded from the world—hidden.” She breathed, and it sounded almost like it was hard for her—almost painful. “It’s guarded with monsters and… something else. It’s dangerous.” She opened her eyes and took his hand. Her face went completely pale. “I should have seen it before.”
“It’s okay,” he said quietly.
“What’s going on?” Jude inquired, turning to face them. Uncle Ben was completely silent, soaking everything in.
“We’ll talk about it later, okay?” he said to Shannon, and after a long moment, she nodded.
He didn’t trust Uncle Ben one bit, and he saw his fingers turn ivory on the wheel after what he’d said to Shannon. No, he couldn’t trust him—at all.
Jude stared at them, eyes flicking back and fourth, until he realized what Jay had been thinking. Winking at the two, Jude turned back towards the front and let them be.
Nothing seemed right to him anymore, and after that clear reaction from his uncle, he was most definitely hiding something. But what?
Was he hiding a secret with the Farm? Was he with those agents that showed up at their door? Was he working with…
No. No, he couldn’t be… Could he? With the Devil?
And then he realized Shannon had heard every thought, and she touched his shoulder, and he began to hear her own very thoughts.
I wanted to warn you before.
What? What is he hiding?
Are you sure you want to know? Jay stared at her for a long moment. If he learned this dark truth that Uncle Ben was hiding, would he regret ever hearing it? Or would it save him and his brother—or possibly the entire world?
Yes, he said to her in his mind. Tell me what you know.
She nodded, and suddenly like a flash of lightning, his eyes rolled back, and he saw everything.
He stood in a room with the Headmaster and his uncle, but he was only the image of a blurred ghost. There, right before him, he saw Uncle Ben hand the Headmaster a book—the journal he had given them.
“So that’s it? A stupid, old book?” the Headmaster hissed to Uncle Ben.
Uncle Ben put a toothpick in his mouth and chewed on it before he replied, “That’s it, the very thing. Though, I’ve made some alterations, so they believe everything.” They… who’s they?
Far away, he could hear a soft tune of the violin, and a shiver crawled down his spine. It was beautiful and horrific at the same time.
The Headmaster smiled a nasty thing that turned devilish. He hated that smile of his. It was almost like he was the Devil himself. “You really think they’ll buy it?” he asked him then.
“Those boys are gullible enough to think that this thing holds the very truth to their lives. Yeah, sure, Eliza E. Mauser is real, but that deal?” He let out a laugh and shook his head. “It’ll just make them go running right for the Amulet of Redemption. The perfect trap.”
He shrugged lazily. “I’m trusting that you’re right. And if you fail me again, like you did with your sister and her husband?” He grinned once again. “You’ll regret the day you were born.”
Uncle Ben didn’t even flinch at his words. “I’m sure I regretted that a long time ago, my friend,” he said and took the journal back from the Headmaster. “They won’t see it coming.”
They didn’t—him and his brother. They bought every last word his uncle had told them. And Shannon knew this, all along? Maybe she was only trying to protect them. Maybe she didn’t realize how big of a deal this had been…
Or she was apart of this, too.
“And what do you plan on telling them?” he asked him.
Uncle Ben looked amused. “That they’re cursed and the Amulet of Redemption will destroy everything—which is true, on most part—but the thing they’re missing is that—“
“Hey, no spoilers,” he said, holding a hand up. “I want to see it and be surprised.”
“We don’t know if it’ll work,” Uncle Ben muttered.
The Headmaster thought for a long moment. “Fine. Shoot.”
“A sacrifice must be made,” Uncle Ben said. “One of their lives—Mauser blood of half human, half demon. My nephew, to be exact. But it won’t destroy our kind; it’ll resurrect a knew beginning for all of us.”
The Headmaster grinned. “And He will return.”
Jay’s heart was racing now, and he felt himself stumble back, hitting the wall. No no no no no no no….
We’re falling into his trap.
A hand touched his shoulder and he let out a yelp, but then relaxed as he saw Shannon there. “You can’t trust him, Jay. You should have never come here.”
“What do w-we do?” Jay asked her, grasping both of her shoulders.
The Headmaster spoke again:
“What about their curse?”
Uncle Ben shrugged. “Well, to be honest, it’s easy to fake it when the thing’s real.”
“So the curse does exist?”
He handed him an old letter, and the Headmaster read it quietly to himself. “Only one can inherit it per generation,” Uncle Ben explained. “She had made the deal with the Crossroads, and they don’t easily break off deals.”
“Can we manipulate it?”
Uncle Ben shook his head in answer. “Sadly, we cannot. However, we can make my youngest nephew believe he is cursed, and he’ll go running right where we need him.”
“But it’s only one of the keys? The Amulet of Redemption?”
“Well, yes,” Uncle Ben replied. “Without the other two objects, we cannot bring Him back.”
The Headmaster leaned forward. “Do what you have to do—and do not disappoint me.”
Jay faced Shannon and snarled. “You knew this,” he said with a voice he couldn’t recognize.
“I-I’m sorry, Jay. I didn’t know how to tell you—“
“Well, you should have damn brought it up!” he screamed. “Now, who knows what’s gonna happen.”
A blanket of darkness covered the world around of him, and then it was replaced with the truck and everyone in the truck had disappeared.
Half human, half demon.
What did that mean?
Jay pulled at his hair and rocked back and fourth. Shannon was gone; Jude and Uncle Ben were gone…
Jude. Oh god, what was going to happen?
Without thinking, he was practically flying out of the vehicle, running like a maniac. The wind was cutting at his cheeks, and his legs burned from exhaustion as he ran down the narrow road that leads nowhere.
And that’s where Uncle Ben brought them—nowhere for their execution.
And He will return. Who was He? What was Uncle Ben planning?
Then he realized. The Devil. They were going to resurrect him from the burning of Hell.
All of this had been a lie—this hunt, this world, and his own family…
Jay had no idea what had been the truth, and he ran right into his trap. Stupid, stupid, stupid…
Jay felt as if he were flying as he ran down the road, soaring to protect his older brother. And it wasn’t long before he found them, staring at each other with guns in both hands.
“Jude!” he screamed at the top of his lungs, but he didn’t look at him.
“Stay back, Jay, before both of you get hurt,” Uncle Ben snarled from where he stood. “Jude isn’t in his right mind. Get back.”
Jay shook his head and walked forward. Uncle Ben practically growled like a hound, and when he looked at him, his eyes glowed a deep crimson. “I said: get back.” His voice was different. Inhumane.
This wasn’t his uncle that he’d come to know.
“Put the gun down,” Jay whispered.
Jude replied this time:
“Jay, if you don’t get back, Uncle Ben will hurt you.”
Slowly, he stepped back with his arms raised as Uncle Ben stared at him with a death-like gaze. He was no longer there—he’d been taken by what possessed Sarah. A demon.
Half human, half demon.
Was it him? Was he… a monster, too?
Then Jay stepped forward again and said:
“Uncle Ben, this isn’t you. You’re our family—you may not be blood, but I looked up to you when I was a kid. I loved you. You can fight this. And you know you can.”
“Shut up,” Uncle Ben growled and pointed the gun at him.
“I’m warning you!” Jude snapped, but Uncle Ben didn’t look to him.
“You’re not a monster, you’re a good man.” Jay took another step forward, and he looked into the eyes of his uncle’s that still glowed red. He could have sworn they turned softer.
Uncle Ben grinned. “Then you have no idea what I am, then.”
“I know what’s inside you, and I know what you were planning.”
“Then you know you’re not human,” Uncle Ben replied. Jay stopped moving. “Darkness dwells inside you, boy, and you cannot escape it.”
“What is he talking about?” Jude demanded, but they both ignored him.
“Then I can stop you,” Jay replied and held a hand up. “If demon’s truly have powers, then I can stop you and what you’re planning to do.”
Uncle Ben grinned. “Not without the three keys.”
Jude snapped his gaze to Uncle Ben, and there was almost recognition in his gaze. He knew, too? What’s up with the damn secrets?
Uncle Ben continued, quoting an old poem, “Hidden around the world, the first one known to man, the second and third lost by hand. Buried beneath a scorching fire, only found by something dire. The last one gone forever, only found by one’s desire.” His grin turned frightening. “The Amulet of Redemption is you, Jay. And you must sacrifice yourself.”
Jay’s eyes flicked to Jude, and they both looked into each other’s eyes, pain written over their features.
“Your power could only be triggered here, where the Gate to Hell is hidden.” Uncle Ben let out a laugh. “The mark was never real, Jay. But your brother’s is.” Jay then looked at Jude with furrowed brows.
“What is he talking about?” he demanded.
“I-I… I didn’t know, Jay. Please believe me.”
“But you’re marked and you failed to tell me?” Jay murmured, looking away from his brother. His pain was replaced with anger.
And that feeling of darkness inside him sparked.
It was old and foreign, hidden by his blindness to this curse that was bestowed upon him.
“This was your fate, Jay Mauser,” Uncle Ben laughed. “You were always meant to die—always.”
“Save it,” he growled and turned to Uncle Ben and held his arm up once again, and he felt ice and fire rush through his veins—and it turned into a dark, ice-cold shadow. “If I am the first key, then I can use it against you.”
Uncle Ben shook his head. “We can work together, bring knew things, and resurrect the Devil. He will help you, me. Make this world great again.”
There were so many questions, so many answers untold. How was he the first key, and where were the others? Why was he chosen? Why was he not… human?
“Trust me, Jay: we will be great together. You and I, getting rid of the things that turned this world black. This earth is horrible and dark—but you can make it better. Make your decision.” He lowered the gun and moved towards him, and the red, glowing eyes disappeared. “This is all your decision.”
Jude shook his head with plead. “Don’t do it, Jay.” His words were merely a whisper.
The darkness was strong, pulling him in like he was a fish stuck on the line. He could side with the Devil, or side with the angels. He could feel Shannon’s presence beside him, and he felt a hand touch his shoulder. Do what you need to do. Jay couldn’t betray his brother, this angel he had come to adore.
The Devil murdered his family.
Jay would never go on the side of a damned demon.
This world needed replenishing, to be good again—not to be ruled by something that will burn it to its core.
Humans were good even with their sin. Sarah was good. And they took her away from him…
But before he could react, Uncle Ben raised his gun and pointed it towards his brother, pulling the trigger that followed with a bang!
“No!” Jay screamed, and tears lined his blue eyes, and he felt himself crash to his knees.
Emptiness, he thought. There was nothing.
Not at the moment, at least. It was gone, smothered by the pain of watching blood spray from his brother’s head, and his body collapse to the ground like a ragdoll.
“Murderer!” Jay snarled, and something rippled through him like a wave. It was overwhelming and powerful—pure pain, pure darkness and shadow.
He wasn’t himself.
“You see what you made me do?” Uncle Ben chuckled, shrugging with a smile. “Ah…” He rubbed blood off his face and licked it off his hand. “Delicious…”
He was a monster.
He deserved a place in Hell, forever.
“I will never be on your side,” Jay whispered, and shadow exploded from his hand, shrouding Uncle Ben in its awful darkness.
The only thing that he could hear in the distance was a soft lullaby from the Headmaster’s office—the violin of a dead man’s lullaby.