The Truth About Jay Mauser

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Chapter Two; On The Road

July 12, 2017 – Orillia, Ontario

Jay never really thought about how life would have went if he had stayed by his brother’s side, hunting angels and demons for all those years. But he was glad he had gotten out of it while he could—he needed the life of normality, of discovering love and education. Jude never finished High School, nor had he ever gone to college. Plus, he didn’t want to be known as the whack job next door. Jude’s had a couple jobs here and there, working for mechanics and restaurants to gain extra cash, but mainly he forged fake IDs and illegally ordered credit cards under a different name. He wasn’t even sure how Jude had the guts to pull off such risky crimes, especially when his own brother was now a cop—but he wouldn’t betray Jude like that. He understood his motive.

They parked the Mustang by an old motel that looked like it came straight from a horror film that was a couple towns away from Toronto. His finger nervously tapped the door of the ’67 Mustang. If anyone ever caught them… they’d be in a lot of trouble.

The paint on the exterior was peeling, and the VACANCY sign was half lit. Jay Mauser looked at the small building nervously, believing that they were in the first five minutes of a paranormal TV show, and they were about to die. He would have asked Jude to find another motel, but then again, he was exhausted and needed a shower—and he was in desperate need of food.

Letting out a long sigh, Jay stepped out of the vehicle and dragged his bag with him as he headed into their booked motel room. It was worse than the outside. The ceiling was low and isolating; the walls were stained with water and mold; there was mismatched furniture from the early 70’s; and there were several cobwebs around the room that showed it hadn’t been cleaned for a while. There was no doubt that this motel was infested with parasites and bed bugs. Of course it wasn’t a five star hotel, but could he complain?

Grudgingly setting his bag on the bed bug infested mattress, he cringed at the stench of the room. Something was rotten; there were the smells of ash, mold and piss… God, he hoped this wouldn’t last for too long.

He stepped into the bathroom and turned on the faucet, where disgusting, brown goop spilled from it. Jumping back into the door, he felt bile rise in his throat. He watched as it slowly turned into a subtle liquid, but he had to turn it off. Who offered contaminated water to the public?

A knock could be heard from the other side of the bathroom door, and Jay flinched slightly. “Are you okay in there?” a muffled voice asked. Couldn’t his brother leave him alone for ten minutes?

“I’m not leaving you alone until you answer.” Had he said that out loud?

Jay ran a hand down his face, letting out an annoyed sigh. “I’m fine,” he muttered through the door, opening it and staring at Jude who had an arm rested against the wall. He was concerned as well as amused.

“It just sounded like you broke something, or you were hurt.” Jude shrugged.

“I’m perfectly fine,” he snapped and shoved passed him, sitting on his bed and slipping on his shoes.

“Where are you going?” Jude asked him. He still stood by the bathroom, knowing to keep his distance.

Jay rolled his eyes with exasperation. “I just… I just need some space. We’ve been together for—“

Two hours,” Jude interrupted with a flat tone. “Two hours and you’re already running away.”

“I’m not running away.” Jay tied a knot on the shoe and moved to the other one, not looking at his brother.

“It sure looks like you are.”

He had agreed to help his brother with whatever the Hell this thing was, but he didn’t agree to have his brother invade his space. Sure, he loved Jude because he was blood, but there were things that he’s preferred to stay out of, especially their past. He couldn’t remember the last good memory he had of his brother. Everything was always war between them, and he had been glad when Jude decided to leave on the road trip.

“Come on, let’s talk about this,” Jude begged, hurt crossing his features.

“Talk about what, exactly?”

“Is this just because of the bathroom? What, did a spider pop up in the corner and scare you?” Why was everything always a joke?

“No, Jude, it’s not. I’m just so tired of you always acting this way!” He had no idea where this anger came from, but he felt something just… snap.

Jude sighed. “I know we haven’t seen each other for five years… But we need our brotherly bonding, y’know?” He shook his head, lifting his arms and dropping them with defeat. “Truthfully… I just wanted to get to know you more.”

Maybe he should cut his brother some slack. Yet again, where was he five years ago? He left without a goodbye, and then returns expecting him to not give a crap?

“Jude…”

“Listen, please.” Jude looked down at the ground, clearly afraid to look him in the eye. “You’re my brother, and leaving was the worst thing anyone could possibly do. I just want to make it up to you.”

“By inviting me on this crusade to find some ‘justice’ for our parents? This isn’t exactly the best family reunion you could offer.”

“I tried, Jay. I really did.” His blue eyes finally met Jay’s. Tears lined his eyes, but Jay didn’t feel one bit of sympathy. “You know I’m not the best person, and I never will be, but you have to understand that family shouldn’t leave each other’s sides, even in the darkest of days.”

“Then where were you?” He was the one that left him! None of this made sense at all. “Where were you when I got accepted into college, when I graduated High School, when I fell in love… Where the hell were you?”

“I-I know I wasn’t the best brother, but I can make it up to you. I promise.” But he knew he would only break it. Every time he made a promise, it was always broken. Jude once told him that they’d have a real birthday party on his thirteenth birthday. Their foster parents didn’t give a damn about what they did. But Jude showed up that night, wasted, and he had vomited on the carpet.

“Right,” he said. “Like you could keep a promise.”

“You don’t believe me?” He looked surprised, hurt. A mix of a dozen different emotions.

“Should I?” His voice cracked as he felt sadness overwhelm him. “Should I actually believe that you’d want to make up for what you’ve done in the past?”

“Yes, Jay. I actually would think you’d believe me,” he snapped.

“Because we’re blood?”

“Because we’re family! Brothers. Why don’t you take that into consideration?”

Jay let out a cry of frustration. “Yeah, says the one who—“

“Stop making excuses for the past,” he yelled. “Stop saying that I’m the bad guy, because I know what I did. And I’ve regretted it ever since I left you that day. I wish things could have ended better. I thought that when I returned…”

“What did you expect?” Jay stood up, shrugging on his coat. “You really think we’ll be best buddies after five years? I had to deal with your drinking, your drug addictions… You came home at two o’clock every night, and even our foster parents were too afraid to reason with you—“

“I was messed up, okay? I admit it! But I fixed myself up, Jay. I’m not who you think I am. I’m a different person!”

“Then who are you now, Jude? Are you a new, replenished man?” It was a challenge.

A muscle feathered in Jude’s jaw, and he was slowly walking towards him. His hands clenched into tight fists, and they turned the colour ivory. “Maybe I’ve been a dick my entire life, but haven’t you ever wondered why I’m so angry?” He spoke with a deadly calm.

Jay refused to back down. “No, I haven’t,” Jay replied. “I haven’t because all my life you never cared if I failed a test, got beat to pulp by the older kids. Did you ever care when I cried in the dark because I thought there was a monster under my bed? You only ever told me to suck it up.”

“I fucked up!” he cried. “I know I did! But stop blaming me for the past, Jay. Just stop holding grudges for my wrongs because I was a kid, and I was afraid too. I was so damn scared, and I still am…”

Jay scoffed, shaking his head. How did this suddenly all become about him? “Everyone’s scared of something, and I learned how to face it.”

“Yeah, you did.” Jude stared hardly at him. “By running away from your problems.”

“And drinking until you forget them is the way to solve it?”

“Maybe,” Jude sighed.

“Well, that’s a stupid way to think.” Jay moved to leave, but Jude stepped in front of him and blocked his path. “You know you’re just like everyone else,” he seethed. “Pushing, bullying… You haven’t changed one bit.”

“You don’t know me, Jay.” It stung because it was true. “You never will.”

“Maybe it’s for the best.” Jay shoved him to the side and took his chance to run out of there. He was so done arguing this with his brother. Yes, maybe he did run, but what else was there to do? Fighting wouldn’t solve anything.

Jay returned two hours later, sweat beading from the top of his brow. He had gone for a jog to cool himself down, and when he entered the motel room, he immediately recoiled. Jude was on top of a stripper.

“What the hell,” Jay exclaimed, and quickly Jude got up, throwing on his jeans.

“I didn’t think you’d come back so soon—“

The stripper interrupted him, “He could join us.” She patted the bed beside her, grinning like a devil at him. “Come, have some fun.

Jay grimaced. “I’d rather not,” he said with a disgusted tone, as he made sure he didn’t look at the naked stripper.

She looked disappointed, but didn’t say anything more. “Maybe you should leave,” he said and whispered something in her ear that made the stripper giggle. Her hair was knotted from being played with, and as she put on her clothes, Jay pointed to the door.

“Please, get out,” Jay said to her, and immediately she got up and shuffled away without another glance back at Jude.

“At least I got her number,” Jude said proudly.

Jay rolled his eyes. “I’m only on this crusade with you for a week,” Jay reminded him. “You don’t have time to play around with girls and get fucked.”

Jude shrugged. “Well, what’s done is done,” he said and ran a hand through his short-cropped hair, and then moved towards his black duffel bag and removed his laptop. “Before I went scavenging for some… hot stuff,” he said to him, “I pulled up an article about people mentioning ‘demons with glowing, red eyes’ and, apparently which is strange, that they had horns.” He scoffed slightly. “I thought demons looked like us, but they’re showing their true selves.”

Jay moved over to his side at the table in the corner of the motel room. Jude continued, “According to the lore, demons had the horns of a goat, and the tail of a lion. Their eyes glow in the night, and the monster is revealed in the shadows. They prey on the weak, and are deceitful to those they can manipulate. Anyone walking down the streets could be a demon, but there are different species revolving around Heroikai and Aerokai—the seen and unseen.”

“So, you’re saying the guy next door could be an Aerokai?” Jay asked him.

Jude nodded. “Yes, exactly,” he said. “However, the Heroikai never reveal themselves to the public, however only two nights ago one was spotted by a man in the North Bay area.”

“That place is almost deserted.”

“Which is probably why demons are showing up there—not many people live in Northern Ontario.”

“But why now? Why show themselves to the public?” Jay shook his head, reading through the article.

“I remember a story mom once told me when I was four,” Jude said, and it pained him to hear the word mom. “She would tell me that angels are watching over us and fighting the demons that hunt like wolves in the night. They were always with us.” He shrugged. “But I saw the demon in the house when mom and dad… died. I saw the red, glowing eyes, I saw his true self. What if… what if there aren’t any angels left? What if they all abandoned us?”

His heart was pounding. He wanted to refuse to believe in such things… That angels and demons weren’t real. But he’d seen them, and his brother had seen them… There was no denying the truth. “You think that demons are trying to take over?”

“I’m not sure,” Jude sighed. “But thirty years ago, there’d never been a claim of a demon murdering their family, up until mom and dad were…” Jude shook his head, and pain laced his blue eyes. Burned. They were burned.

A sudden cold fell upon him at the thought. He never had a relationship with his mom and dad, but Jude—he knew them, he loved them. He had memories with them. Jay had only been a few months old when they died. And the pain that he could see in his brother’s features was something he’d never truly understand the pain of never knowing his mom or dad. There were pictures, so he knew what they looked like, but their voices… There was nothing.

“I know you might think I’m crazy for implying this,” Jude said to Jay. “But you need to hear me out. We’ve seen the supernatural beings—we’ve hunted demons. And now, for sure, I know that they took mom and dad’s lives.”

Jay nodded, inhaling a sharp and painful breath. “I believe you, Jude,” he whispered. “I believe that demons were involved… But how are we supposed to prove that that’s what happened?”

“Uncle Ben, who lives up in the North Bay, can help,” Jude suggested. “He has a cottage we can stay at, and I gave him a call after you left. He says we’re missing out on the big picture.”

“Then, what are we waiting for?” Jay went to stand up, but Jude stopped him.

“Don’t get too excited,” Jude warned. “We still need to get some rest, and then we’ll head out at first light.”

“Before we get going, we need to eat,” Jude called to Jay as he got changed in the bathroom. “I saw a diner down the street called Starway Diner. It looks like it serves good food, and has hot waitresses.”

Jay exited the bathroom and closed the bathroom door. Making a face at his brother, he said to him, “You do know I have a girlfriend, right?”

“Yeah, yeah, a hot girlfriend, too.”

Jay shot him a glare. “Don’t get any ideas.”

He held up both arms for defense. “No worries, she’s your girl; I’m not planning on stealing her away from you.”

“I don’t think you could.”

“And I’m not saying I would,” he replied and threw on a red mackinaw shirt. “Anyways… Let’s get going. I’m starved.”

Jay immediately obliged and picked up his duffel bag and swung it over his shoulder as he followed his brother outside the motel. While Jude returned the key of the motel to the front desk, Jay started the car and latched on his seatbelt.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Jude asked him with surprise as he eyed him in the driver’s seat.

“You already drove, so I’d say that it’d be my turn to—“

“But it’s my car,” he replied flatly.

Jay shrugged lazily. “So,” he muttered. “Just get in the passenger’s seat.” Jude looked clearly annoyed, but he got into the passenger’s side anyway. He could feel the daggers being pressed into the side of his body, and when he glanced over at Jude, he quickly snapped his head away. “Do you want me to—“

“Just drive,” Jude said as he crossed his arms. Jay raised both brows and didn’t say anything more to his brother; he was just having a tantrum.

~~~~~~~

His brother always went through phases.

He would come home angry and drunk sometimes, and there were other times when he’d come home smiling and energetic. It always confused Jay when he’d come home with different emotions, but he understood that his brother had been emotionally damaged watching his parent’s deaths at such a young age—it would ruin someone, no matter their age.

They satin the booth of a local diner that was styled from the 80’s. The tiles were checkered black and white, and the booths were red. The entire style was retro, unique. He admired the interior of the building, especially how the servers wore short, red skirts and plaid, blue shirts. They all wore long, black boots and leggings beneath the skirts. He couldn’t help but roll his eyes, though, when Jude eyed them all like a wolf.

“Is that all you do?” Jay asked him with a bit of a laugh. “Stare at girls until they notice you?”

Jude shrugged. “I’ve gotta do something to get laid.”

“But—“

“I know,” he sighed and waved him off. “No flirting or sex until this week’s over. I get it. I don’t need to be reminded twice.”

Jay picked at the food he had ordered: a veggie burger with a side of sweet potato fries. Jude finished eating his cheeseburger and regular fries, and then began sipping on the root beer soda he had also ordered.

Anxiety filled his stomach as he thought about how they were going to travel north to see Uncle Ben. They were going to ask question, learn their answers… They could finally figure out what had truly happened when their parents died on July eleven, twenty-three years ago… He wasn’t even sure if he actually wanted to learn the truth.

“You gonna eat?” Jude asked him. Jay nodded, throwing a fry into his mouth. “More than that?”

“I’m not feeling too well,” he admitted.

“You should still eat something,” Jude said and pointed at his burger. “Even if that patty just looks disgusting, you should—“

“You don’t have to insult my choices, Jude, when you’re trying to make me eat.” Yes, he was a vegetarian. He had decided to take that route three years earlier, and he wasn’t going to back down from it.

Jude’s expression turned guilty for a slight moment. “Sorry,” he said. “But I’m just trying to make sure you’re being healthy, y’know. Eat up, and we’ll get going. We’re not leaving until you eat at least half of the burger.”

Inhaling an annoyed and long breath, Jay finally took a large bite of the veggie burger and swallowed. Jude uncomfortably watched him the entire time until he finished every last bite, even though it felt like he was overstuffing himself.

They started driving north with classic rock blasting through the speakers, and Jude sang along to every song that played on the station.

Be a simple kind of man,” Jude sang with his scratchy voice, and he gripped the wheel with determination. “Be something you love and understand.” Jay smiled a little to hear that his brother was in a better mood than earlier. He couldn’t remember the last time he heard Jude sing.

Jay rested his head against the cold window, and he slowly closed his eyes. This was going to be a long ride—North Bay was almost five hours away.

He woke up to this brother poking him, and jolting awake, Jay looked over at his brother with wide eyes. “What time is it?”

“About four o’clock in the afternoon,” he told him as he got out of the Mustang.

They were almost there. Glancing around, he realized that they were in a gas station. It was an old looking building, and the station appeared run down. He thought that most gas stations in Canada were considerably nice, but this place… apparently not.

After Jude filled the tank, he popped up into the window and said, “I’m going to grab some snacks.” He then left without another word and entered the convenience store.

Letting out a sigh, Jay took out a bunch of CD’s that were in the compartment. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zepellin, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Boston were the first CD’s he found, and when he noticed Kansas, Asia and Styx, he let out a laugh. He and his brother had always listened to these bands when they were younger.

His favourite band was Boston; his favourite song: Long Time/Foreplay. It was one of their greatest hits.

Jude soon returned and threw a bag full of junk food into the back seat. He started the car. “How did you pay for that—?”

“It’s called Fake Credit Cards,” Jude told him and began to drive off with a loud purr from the engine as he buckled himself into the car.

“And I guess you don’t care that that’s illegal?”

“Not one bit,” Jude replied with a grin.

Jay rolled his eyes and leaned back to grab a bag of ketchup chips. “I guess since they’re already ‘paid’ for…” He plopped a chip in his mouth.

Jude barked a laugh. “That’s the spirit!” he exclaimed.

“I’m not going dark side,” Jay reminded him. “You stole them, and if the cops go chasing us because you forged a credit card under a different name, then you’re the one getting into trouble. Not me.”

“Fair enough,” Jude said with a careless shrug.

They were surrounded by the forest. Large white pines shadowed the road, and Jay was surprised to see that the sun was still shining—the road was dark and gloomy, and almost terrifying.

A cloud covered the blue sky, and the radio kept on going in and out. “Damn, reception,” Jude cursed and tapped the radio until it went completely out. “Seriously?” he moaned.

“Great,” Jay muttered. “It’s one thing that this road is ’terrifying’, and now the radio goes out? It wouldn’t surprise me if Jayson comes running down the street with a chainsaw and tries to kill us like we’re in Friday The 13th.”

Jude shook his head with annoyance. “The one thing about this car,” he said, “is that the radio sucks.”

“Insulting your car now?” Jay sounded surprised.

“I’m not insulting her,” he shot back, suddenly defensive. “It’s just weird how a bunch of trees block the signal.”

Jay shrugged. “Yeah, I guess,” he replied and looked out the window.

He jumped in his seat when he saw a pair of red eyes in the trees, but they quickly passed them as they continued to drive.

“Jude—“

The music started to play once again, and Bon Jovi’s Wanted: Dead Or Alive blasted from the speakers.

“Ah, there she is!” Jude said and looked over at Jay. “What were you saying?”

Jay shook his head—it was just his imagination. “Nothing,” he sighed.

“I don’t buy it.” He pointed at his face. “Those eyes tell a thousand words, brother.”

A sigh escaped his lips. “I just thought I saw something.”

“Did you see a ghost?” he asked.

He shook his head. “Nah.” A shrug. “Probably just a light or something. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

And it was nothing, he supposed. Maybe it was just a car on a side road, or someone camping out in the forest. This area was, in fact, a popular camping area. The forest was just getting to him; the isolation, towering trees and cloud-covered sky. His imagination was getting the best of him.

“We’ve never really… talked about what happened…” His words trailed off, and he felt for mentioning it.

When Jude glanced over at him, he knew exactly what he was talking about. “It’s not really something I want to discuss,” he admitted.

“I know,” he sighed. “But I never got to know them, you never really told me any memories you had of mom and dad.”

Jude was silent for a long moment. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to—“ Jay said, but Jude cut him off.

“Don’t worry, it’s fine.” He thought for a second, and a sad smile crossed his mouth. “There was one time she brought me to the park… God, I can still remember her smile. Bright, welcoming and sweet. I always picture that smile, y’know. It helps me remember that there was a time when I was truly happy, when mom was there, smiling.”

Jay tried to picture that smile, and he closed his eyes.

“She always told me I was small but mighty. I felt so proud when she said that to me, and I believed that I could be a hero someday. Dad would always sneak me treats from the cupboard when mom wasn’t around.”

He was so lucky… So damn lucky that he could have decent memories of his parents.

“Mom got angry, of course, when she found me with cookie crumbs all over my face. I wasn’t allowed sweets for a week sometimes, but dad always managed to find a loop hole.” He let out a sigh then. “You should have seen her, Jay… She was the happiest girl in the world.” A shadow crossed his face. “I just don’t understand why anyone—why anything—would… kill her the way she died…”

Jay cast him a sad look. “We’ll find the person who did it, Jude,” he reassured him, “and we’ll kill him.”

He was dreaming.

There was a long, dark road, and lightning split the sky, and thunder shook the ground with a shuddering force. He stood in the middle of the road, looking down the horizon. His eyes widened and his heart thumped rapidly with fear. There was something strange about the sky. It wasn’t a dark, navy blue sky full of bright stars. It was a deep crimson—the colour of blood—and there was fire falling from the heavens.

The end of days.

There wasn’t a single sign of life, and he stood there alone on that road, witnessing the disaster heading towards them. He was afraid, he admitted to himself, and he wanted to run. But his legs were glued to the tarred ground, and it was then he realized he was sinking.

He let out a panicked cry, struggling to get out of the tar, but the more he tried, the more he sunk deeper and deeper and deeper. He was drowning, he was going to die! He watched his knees disappear into the endless black, and he felt burning ooze crawl up his throat. He was stuck, he was choking by an unknown force… he was utterly helpless.

But then, suddenly as if nothing had happened at all, he found himself ten feet away from the tar. He stared at it with fear, and he put a hand to his throat, making sure that everything was okay. After a long moment, he stood up from his spot, and he stumbled down the road, attempting to get as far away from the tar as possible.

The trees were dying, he noted, as he continued down the long road that led somewhere. The sky was on fire, and this was the practical doomsday. He didn’t even realize that this was all a dream.

He couldn’t stop himself from tripping as he fell forward and smacking his head against the cracked road. He quickly regained himself and turned his body around to see what had caused him to fall.

It was a male’s body.

His hair was a slick, raven black. His skin was pale and broad—but unmoving. He wore flannel and ripped jeans, and his shoes were covered with mud. Jay quickly moved to his side, shaking him.

The body didn’t move.

He flipped the body over, and everything seemed to stop when his eyes looked at the face of his brother.

Jude?” he whispered, shaking him endlessly, hoping he’d wake up from this sleep. “Jude, wake up!”

A hand grasped his wrist, and his brother’s face was suddenly two inches away from his own. “Go back!” he cried, his eyes full of insanity and fear—and then they turned black. A deep, unforgiving black that could consume an entire soul. There was nothing left inside him, and his heart pounded against his ribcage, and his mind screamed: demon.

He fell back again, but this time, he didn’t move, didn’t show any sign of life.

He was gone.

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