Chapter Five; Their Dirty Work
July 15, 2017 – North Bay, Ontario
They had returned to Uncle Ben’s house after a long day of driving. Jay Mauser had felt empty on the inside and completely destroyed, but it didn’t prevent him from doing what was right. They would get revenge on Hell, and they would avenge Sarah and their parents.
The drive was long just like before, but the details he had noticed had faded away. His thoughts were drowned by the vision of Sarah’s dead, limp body… She didn’t bleed, which surprised him. There wasn’t a single drop of blood.
He and his brother buried her body is Oshawa where there was no one near by. He hadn’t called her parents, and he didn’t think they deserved to know that she was dead. They had abused her as a kid, and knowing that she was dead was most likely a relief.
And that deep anger returned.
His hand clenched into an iron fist as he squeezed the fabric of his black and white flannel shirt. Jude killed his girlfriend—no, he killed a demon. They could have exercised her… Maybe the demon exit her body… He understood there wasn’t any time for that—it was life for life. But… But Jude didn’t have to murder her. Take her life…
“Look,” Jude said to him, “I know you loved her, but I love you, Jay, and to see you get hurt… Your life was more important at that moment.” Jay remained silent. “She would have killed you, even if your girlfriend was somewhere inside her. But she was already gone, and who knows how long. The day you left she could have been… possessed.”
“Then why didn’t I see it right away? Why didn’t I recognize it wasn’t… her.”
“That’s what demons do,” he sighed. “They act, pretend, deceive… It’s always so believable—that’s how they get you. We were lucky to get out of it when we did.”
Jay looked out the rain-covered window. It continued to trickle down at a rapid pace, pattering onto the glass.
“She didn’t deserve to die…” Jay whispered, shutting his eyes as he listened to the rain. He usually hated the rain; it was cold, unforgiving… But today for the first time in forever, he like the calm take over.
Jude looked over at him with sympathy. “No one ever deserves to die,” he sighed. “Unless they did something to deserve Death.”
“She was innocent,” he sighed. “Beautiful, kind… Full of life. Whenever I was around her, it was like a new kind of brightness lit my life. Elegant, serene and beautiful. I had never felt happy until I-I met her…” He felt Jude’s hand squeeze his shoulder with comfort.
“Keep those memories of her,” he told him. “Keep them alive, remember them… Because one day, you might not be able to make those memories again.”
“I don’t think I could ever forget her, or even stop loving her…”
“You’ll have to let her go one day, Jay. But I’m not saying today, not tomorrow… But soon. Someone will come around to show you the light again. But right now, brother, we have work to do.”
Uncle Ben had come up to him with a suffocating embrace, and he just accepted it without a response. “It’s nice you came back so soon,” Uncle Ben said to him with a smile. Jay didn’t smile back.
Jude shot Uncle Ben a look, and he backed off. “My apologies,” he said after a moment. “You should get some rest—“
“No rest,” Jay cut him off as calmly as he could. “I’m not going to rest until Hell is taken care of.”
“That’s going to take a lot of time, Jay,” Jude said, patting his back. “Rest does sound like a good look.”
Jay turned to face him as if he was offended. “How do you expect me to sleep after that?” Anger took over. “My girlfriend is dead, Jude. How would you feel if someone you loved died right in front of you?” Then he realized his mistake, and pain shot in Jude’s eyes.
“Oh, so it’s all about you now, then?” Jude snarled, taking a step closer to him, and Jay was now feeling like he was getting smaller and smaller each second. “Oh, my girlfriend died, oh, no one knows my pain. And oh, everyone take sympathy on Jay.” Jude shook his head, glaring daggers into his soul. “Well, why should we give a crap then, huh? It’s not like any of us have lost someone dear to them.” Jude went to walk away, but Jay quickly said:
“Look, I’m sorry.” He shut his eyes and shook his head with regret. “I shouldn’t have said that…”
Jude looked back at him with eyes that were slit. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen his brother so full of ire, and this time it was his fault alone. “Once you’re ready to get over yourself, when you realize you’re not the only one who’s lost something, come and talk to me.”
He slammed the front door behind him as he left Uncle Ben’s cabin.
He felt the dagger twist further and further each passing moment, and he felt utterly sick.
“You’re brother will cool off in no time,” Uncle Ben sighed, looking unfazed by their argument. “Just go to your room and sleep, please? In the morning we’ll head back to the Farm, and you’ll do what you have to do.”
Jay, with defeat, obliged and headed up the creaky stairs and threw himself onto the coiled mattress.
He had to let her go. At some point, he had to.
But he wasn’t sure how long it would take him, and if he ever could.
So, for now, Jay closed his eyes and let himself fall asleep. But it was haunted by nightmares.
The following day, the brothers had returned to the Farm. The same people walked through the halls, and Jane had led them both to the Headmaster once again. Without a word of good luck, she left them to enter the office and talk to the Headmaster alone.
Today he wore a jean jacket with sweat pants. What happened to his formal attire?
“Hello, boys,” the Headmaster greeted them with a grin as he spun around in his leather chair and faced them directly. “Ready to get down to business?”
They both didn’t sit down; they just curtly nodded, practically glaring at the man. “Give us the case and we’ll be out of your hair,” was all Jude said.
“Ah, but you’ll be working with me for a while.” Jay made a face of confusion. “There are many monsters to be dealt with,” he elaborated. “Vampires, demons, angels, werewolves, ghouls, wendigos… Et cetera. You get the point. We need them gone from Ontario.”
“Wait,” Jude said slowly, “you want us to clear out Ontario before you give us a location for the Amulet of Redemption?”
A nod. “You got that right.”
Jay exclaimed, “But we’ll be crisscrossing Ontario for months!”
“So?” he asked without emotion. He only leaned back into his chair.
Jude crossed his arms. “We agreed to do some of your dirty work, not all of it,” Jude said to him with gritted teeth.
“You agreed to do some of it, exactly,” the Headmaster replied. “We’re responsible for all of Canada, not only just Ontario. You’ll be our Hunters who hunt in Ontario, not the entire country.”
“Not ‘buts’,” he interrupted. “You agreed to do our work, and there’s not going back.”
Jay let out a sigh, pressing his thumb and index finger into the bridge of his nose as a headache formed in the back of his head. He didn’t have much sleep last night, and hearing this… It didn’t help at all.
“Now shut up before I make a few adjustments to the deal,” he said, and that made his brows raised. He couldn’t change the deal, could he? Jay gulped slightly and looked at his brother with a nod. “Now,” he said as they quieted down, “what I want you to start with is a case located in Thunder Bay. A girl named Betty Laurence, about twenty years old, was found dead in her apartment last night. I want you two to investigate what happened to Betty, and report back once you found out who or what did this.”
“That’s it?” Jay asked, making sure.
“Yes,” he said. “Once you’re finished and got whatever is rotting in Thunder Bay in a grave, then you’ll go onto the next task.”
Jude looked at his brother for a moment before he said, “Fine.”
A smile spread across his lips. “Then get to it,” he said and dismissed them.
They both exited the office and Jay could feel the tension in the air. “All of Ontario?” Jude hissed to his brother. “I’d be damned if we aren’t finished in the next year!”
“I knew that this wasn’t a good idea,” Jay sighed, crossing his arms as they walked down the narrow hall.
“They never said that we’d be on a manhunt for multiple different monsters all over the province…”
“What did you expect to happen, Jude? We both agreed to do their dirty work, and the Headmaster did say that we’d have to hunt monsters. We let him make us fall into the trap.”
“We should have just found the Amulet of Redemption on our own…”
“That could take a lot longer though,” Jay said, looking at him. “That would involve so many different cases—hundreds more, perhaps, to locate ground-zero.”
They both turned right down the hall, towards the staircase that led to the exit. Jane was walking up the hallway and stopped in front of them with a cheerful smile. “What are you boys up to?” she inquired.
Jay paused for a moment and then said, “We’re starting our first case.”
“Ah… Laurence girl, right?” They both nodded. “Good luck with that. Just beware, first cases are never that easy.”
“This one doesn’t seem that hard,” Jude said.
A shrug. “Well, it’s not always that bad to get a warning.” She looked them up and down before she turned to walk away.
“Jane,” Jay quickly said, and she looked over her shoulder. “We weren’t… we weren’t tricked into anything, right?”
Something crossed her eyes, but it disappeared instantly. “You have nothing to worry about,” she said and disappeared down the next hall.
Jude looked at Jay and lifted his shoulders up and then dropped them without effort. “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” He tried to sound enthusiastic about this, but it wasn’t working.
Jay just looked him them and slowly turned away, continuing to walk. Jude quickly caught up with them, and they both exited the Farm. He hated being in there. There was something off, and he couldn’t place his finger on it.
His brother came home drunk—again.
His foster parents were screaming, and Jude fought back. It was the same every day: Jude coming home wasted with the smell of alcohol and cigarettes on his breath, his foster parents themselves were drunk and angry, and here Jay laid in bed, crying. He prayed that one day they’d stop and be a normal foster family.
But that would never happen.
“I don’t care what you think,” Jude yelled at the top of his lungs. “You don’t know what it’s like to lose someone you love!”
“You know nothing of us, Jude,” his foster mother argued back. “You don’t know our loss, our pain, and our suffering. Just because you lost your parents as a boy doesn’t mean—“
“Shut up.” Tears streamed down his face as he tried to hold in his cries. “Shut up. You have no idea what it’s like to not grow up with a mother, a father… To have a brother that deserves so much better than me—a drunken ass, stupid brother who is broken and mean. I know Jay is embarrassed by me, and I know that one day… One day he’ll never want to see me again.”
“Then you better do some soul searching,” his foster father’s voice growled. “Because we can’t help you become a better man, because you’re far from being saved from this… mess.”
“Don’t come to us when you want help, Jude.”
There was a silence—but it didn’t last for long.
“You don’t have to expect me to ask you for help. You never have.”
“We gave you a home, food, warmth—and this is how you repay us?”
A low laugh. “Repay you?” A pause. “Why on earth would I repay you for this hell?”
“Then leave,” his foster father roared. “Leave and never come back. I’m done with handling your bullshit!”
Jay let out a sob. He had only been ten years old at this point of time, and hearing this fight… His brother had gotten into the bad crowd at such a young age, but he didn’t want him to leave. Not yet—he needed him then.
Jude always came back though, even when he said he’d never return. After a week he’d be at the door, apologizing and his foster parents would let him back in, and he’d be grounded for two months at the least.
July 15, 2017 – Thunder Bay, Ontario
Every passing day Jay noticed that he was becoming more like his brother—and that scared him.
Both of them were angry about their past, wanting to avenge every horrible thing that has happened to their family. The curse was passed down because of their stupid great, great grandmother.
“Okay, this is what I got,” Jude said to Jay as he showed him the laptop in a local 80’s style diner called the Starlite Diner. Jay squinted slightly at the screen, and the words blurred slightly as he tried to focus on them. “Two cases here in Thunder Bay both have the same cases that happened to Betty Laurence.”
Jay nodded to his words, and he slowly read through the articles. Both fires, three victims in total… The same pattern, indeed. But the question was: why? “So, you’re saying whatever killed Betty was definitely here?” No, they killed her in Chicago. Of course they killed her here.
Jude nodded. “Yes, and this was only three years ago. Both happened in a span of two months, yet no one bothered to check it out. They say that ‘it’s a normal event that happens, and there’s nothing else to it’. They’ve got the whole population filled with this crap. Just house fires, nothing too big.”
“And what if they are just fires?” He asked. “Hypothetically,” he added as he took a sip of his iced water.
Jude looked stumped. “Then we’ve got nothing. But I know they aren’t just random fires that happen. I know it.” He continued to scroll through the two articles. “I mean, who can explain the same fire each time? Usually the family can get out before one of them dies unless they’re consuming too much smoke… but these? They’ve literally been burnt to crisps each time. They were already cremated in their own homes.”
Jay tried to block out the image. “All right, I admit that that’s not a coincidence, but how can we prove to the cops—“
“The cops? Seriously?” he scoffed. “We can’t get them involved, and they’ll just think we’re escapists from the psych-ward before we can convince them. I mean this isn’t just the X-Files where they can solve and prove every case, Jay. This is real life, and we’re on our own. Plus, the Farm said that we both have to do this. No one else.”
“But it isn’t our job to do this, Jude.” He looked up at him, seemingly forgetting his headache. Of course he was in school for law enforcement… But it wasn’t like he was actually a cop. “We aren’t the RCMP, we aren’t apart of the Federal government. We’re just two brothers caught in a mess.”
“I know it isn’t, but we need to do this for our parents. They would have wanted this.” Jude tapped the table. “Do this for Sarah.”
That really punched him in the gut. But he didn’t give in. “Really? You think they’d want us to hunt some thing that killed them? We’re only people. We’re not super heroes; we’re not superheroes. We’re just regular citizens of a governed world.”
“And you want to live a normal life? You want to let that thing get away for what its done?”
What was there to say? Sure, he hated that their parents died… He was freaking upset that Sarah was… dead… But it wasn’t their place to bring justice and bring this monster down. They didn’t even know if it was a monster! Hell, it could have been a house fire and mom and dad were just too late to get out of there. Jude was a child when it happened, and he had seen demons, angels and monsters. There was one in Sarah, and no one could explain the lightning that illuminated from her—
But they were only people.
“Then we’ll solve this,” he cut him off. “But if this is something that is too much for you, then I’ll do it on my own. But promise me, Jay, that you’ll help me at least for a little bit.”
“And if you’re wrong?” Jude’s expression changed entirely. It wasn’t doubt—it was more of a lack of hope that he didn’t believe him.
He shook his head. “Then I don’t know, Jay,” he sighed. “I would just be a boy who was haunted by something that wasn’t real.” He lifted his shoulders up, and then they dropped pathetically. “But please, help me with this. Help me get somewhere, cause I fear I might go insane if I don’t—if we don’t—figure this out.”
Jay let out a defeated sigh. He couldn’t abandon his brother now, could he? Plus, he could drop out if this turned out to be something… worse than he expected. “Fine. It’s what we agreed to do…”
Light crossed Jude’s features, and this was the first time he truly looked happy. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” he sighed and took a bite out of the hamburger he’d left untouched.
Jay didn’t know what to think when he went over the cases one last time. The reports given by witnesses said they saw no indication of a fire until it just happened. It was all of a sudden. However, the Mauser brothers decided to talk to the neighbors themselves. They started with the Blake family who lived across the street. The neighborhood was small, and it meant that everyone could be considered as suspects and witnesses—although, they couldn’t assume anything yet.
Jay honestly didn’t know what to expect. He’d only interrogated his classmates in practice, and usually he failed miserably at the simple task. He even doubted at times that this was the road that he was destined to go down. And doing this? What if he messed up and broke their cover?
He couldn’t let his anxiety take over at this moment. They were parked in their driveway, and they both stared dully at the small, white-bricked house with a picket fence and blue door. It was cute, but it didn’t fit the neighborhood. The rest of the homes were reddish-brown with black doors and hedges to fence their yard. But this, however, stood out.
Stepping up onto their porch, the Mauser brother’s knocked on their blue door and waited for a response. Jay realized he was sweating with nervousness, and he hoped that Jude wouldn’t acknowledge it. “Is this a good idea?” Jay whispered to Jude, his voice strangely relaxed.
Jude shrugged. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “I’ve done this a couple times before, so just let me do the talking.” Was that a good idea? He had no idea, but he allowed his brother to do this, even though Jay had been training for interrogation and inquiry.
A few seconds passed before the door creaked open, revealing a young woman with a sleeping infant in her arms. “Um, I’m not interested in fundraising...”
Jude shook his head and removed a badge from his pocket and showed it to her. “Wish we were here to discuss that, Miss Blake, but we’re here for more dire circumstances.” Jay was surprised at his professional tone. “I’m Agent Harley, and this is my partner Agent Burtowsky,” he added as he pointed to Jay. “We’d like to ask you a couple questions.
“The RCMP is here?” She was already trembling, but she opened up the door to allow them in. They weren’t wearing the proper uniform, but she didn’t seem fazed.
The Mauser brothers stepped inside, and they were lead into a small living room with a single couch and wooden chair. At that moment Jay wished he were home, sitting on his sofa with Sarah, and holding her in his arms... He felt like a homesick child.
And he felt bile rise up his throat.
“Are you all right?” Miss Blake asked Jay with a raised brow, and he curtly nodded.
“Yeah…” He wasn’t, but he wouldn’t tell her that.
“I’m just going to put her to sleep,” she murmured to them as they settled. “Would you like anything? Water, coffee, tea?”
“Coffee would be wonderful,” Jude interrupted him and shot Jay a look. He mouthed what? before he realized she’d already gone off. Nothing, Jude mouthed back. Jay had to roll his eyes with annoyance.
“So,” Miss Blake said cautiously as she returned a minute later, setting down two mugs. “Are you here about the death of the Laurence family?” Her hands were playing with her cardigan, her eyes continuously snapped back and forth from the two…
Something was wrong, wasn’t it? She was nervous and cautious. However it could be due to the fact that “RCMP” was in her living room.
“Yes,” Jude replied as he moved for his mug of coffee. “And we’d like to start at the beginning.”
“The beginning?” she inquired, raising a brow.
“Well, before they were… taken by the fire.” Jude shrugged. “Did they have any enemies, or anyone that just didn’t like them? Did they have finance problems…”
“Finance problems? Enemies?” She let out a bitter laugh. “You really expect me to know their personal life?” She realized her mistake, and quickly said, “I’m sorry. It’s just… It has been hard for us after we heard they passed.”
Jay nodded with understanding. “We understand, Miss Blake. You don’t have to answer anything that makes you uncomfortable, but it’d make it easier for us if you could tell us all you know.”
Miss Blake looked down. “I know that Mr. Laurence had been running a large company—the Laurence Corp. Something might have gone down, you know? But I have no clue what could have happened.”
“So, he could have made enemies with other corporations or with his own company?” Jude asked her.
Miss Blake shook her head. “I wasn’t close with their family,” she told them. “I’m not much of a use to this case.”
“Anything is useful,” Jay reassured her with a smile, but she only frowned.
“Why are you asking so many questions about their family, anyway? It was of natural causes. A fire is common in America, everywhere...”
Jude and Jay exchanged a look, before Jude said, “It’s just a procedure we go through every time there’s a sudden death.”
She nodded to his words and scratched her chin. “There is something that happened the night before that concerned me…”
Jay leaned forward, his brows raising to their highest peaks. “And that is?”
“Well… the night before their deaths… there was a man standing in front of their home. He was all in black with a Stetson on his head. He watched them eat dinner, and I wasn’t sure if I should have called the police.” She let out a shaky breath. “But when I turned to look away… h-he vanished into thin air!” Her eyes met Jay’s, full of plea. “I thought I was going insane.” She shook her head. “And what was weirder is that the next day… There were whispers about bankruptcy. Then suddenly, they were hiring people off the streets as if they had all the money in the world. And Mr. Laurence was then driving down the street with a fancy ol’ car… He wasn’t the richest man in town.”
He vanished? Maybe she was insane, because it wasn’t physically possibly to just disappear. From all that he knew, ghosts didn’t exist, nor did monsters or demons; they were all made-up stories by people seeking attention. And then the money… Jay furrowed his brows, and with a glance cast at Jude, he might have the slightest idea what they’re up against.
“We believe you,” Jude murmured.
Miss Blake looked relieved. “You do?”
“Is there anything else you remember?”
Miss Blake looked down at her feet, and Jude took a sip of his coffee. “Well,” she said. “To be honest, no one really liked Mr. Laurence. He was rude, and he practically spat on people down the streets.”
“So he did have enemies?”
“Not exactly… People tended to stay away from him, and he and his wife got a divorce. Then their daughter died…”
Divorced wife, sudden money, and a dead daughter… What was Mr. Laurence getting himself into?
“Wait… But aren’t we talking about Betty? She’s the one that died.”
Jay sighed. “Sometimes, Miss Blake, it’s not always the victim that deserved the beating. We need to look at all possibilities.”
“You don’t think that Mr. Laurence did this…”
“No,” Jude quickly said. “But we will make further investigations.” He and Jude both stood up on their feet.
“Well, I guess I don’t really have anything else for you boys…”
Jude nodded. “Thank you for your time, Miss Blake. We’ll contact you once we have more information.” He stood up, and Jay followed suit, handing her their card.
“Please do,” she responded, taking Jay’s hand and squeezed it. “Let’s just hope this fire isn’t a ghost.” It was a joke, but it unnerved him in different levels. He didn’t know what to think at this moment, and he only smiled and turned to follow his brother outside.
Once they got into the ’67 Mustang, Jude turned to Jay and said, “You thinking what I’m thinking?”
A nod. “I’m thinking another idiot who made a deal.”
Jude winked at him. “Precisely.”
“But why Betty? Why take her life?”
“Maybe it was apart of the deal? Money for life?” They both got into the Mustang.
“Who would be crazy enough to bargain his own daughter away,” Jay sighed, leaning into his seat.
“Obviously the guy named Laurence.” He heard Jude let out an exasperated sigh before he started the engine, and the low growl of the vehicle and indie rock by the name of Don’t Stop Believing by Boston, filled his eardrums as they headed to the next house on their list. The street only consisted of five homes—minus the Laurence family—and they got the same information from each home.
The Laurence Corp was a huge thing in the neighborhood, and the Samson’s claimed that they knew someone that had it out for Mr. Laurence for firing him due to the “lack of work and consistency” he had performed. He was furious, they had said, and he went off without a word for days until he returned, happy as a dog with a new toy. However, the news of the Betty Laurence being cremated in her own apartment had changed his demeanor, and he’s been sulking in his room ever since. The point of the story they were told? They hadn’t any idea. He couldn’t be claimed as a suspect if he was upset about their deaths, until he felt, well, guilty. Although, even if they wanted to ask him questions, they weren’t even allowed to step a foot in his room.
No one else mentioned a man in front of their home, and not even the local dog walker knew what was going on that night. They all said it was just a fire that killed the Betty Laurence. But Jude, however, continued to look unconvinced. His face revealed everything he was thinking; it wasn’t a natural cause, that thing killed the family, these people were brainwashed by modern society, and that he was thinking about the night of their parent’s deaths.
It wasn’t definitely a demon bargain.
Stepping into the black Mustang once again for the sixth time, he shut the door and waited for Jude to join them as they finished up at the last house on the street. It was only 3:46 p.m., and he could have sworn it was later… He let out a sigh and rested his head against the leather seat, closing his eyes. He was exhausted, and the desperation of going home was still itching under his skin, but he knew he couldn’t abandon his brother now.
“Okay, so we’ve got a whole lot of nothing,” Jude muttered as he got into the driver’s side. Jay opened his eyes and looked at him, letting out a tired yawn. “Were you sleeping?”
“No…” he lied, rubbing at his eyes.
“Right.” He put the key in the ignition and turned it. “So, the Laurence family wasn’t liked by the company, but other than that, there’s nothing about why they’d be targeted.” Jude sighed. “So, let’s say Mr. Laurence was an idiot an bargained away his daughter’s life. Why would he do that for money?”
“Maybe he didn’t have a choice,” Jay put in.
“Everyone has a choice.”
“What if he was… I don’t know… In a tough situation. His family was targeted by that guy who lost his job. What was his name? Fred Samson. What if he threatened him?”
“I mean, I couldn’t say you are wrong,” Jude said, rubbing at the back of his neck.
Jay looked out the window and stared at the large building called Laurence Corporation. “Clearly there was a deal involved. He would have been desperate to do such a thing.”
“There’s only one thing we can ask,” Jude said and looked out the windshield with a dark look of certainty.
Jay furrowed his brows, eying his brother once again. “What do you mean?”
“Erica E. Mauser made a deal with the Devil,” Jude replied, gripping the wheel tightly. “There’s no doubt that she was the first, nor was she ever the last. People are so stupid… They’ll make deals for anything because they’re selfish and don’t consider the consequences.” He squeezed his eyes shut. “We’re going to the Crossroads, Jay. We’re going to talk to the Devil himself.”
Jay raised his eyebrows, pure fear lacing his expression. “You’re crazy. We can’t do that!”
“Oh, yes we can,” Jude said and reached into the compartment, removing a tin. “I’ve been saving this.” He opened it and revealed its contents. A lock of hair, a raven feather and… blood. Jude’s blood. “I’ve been saving it for a long time. And today… we’re going to use it.”
“At least we can rest—“
“No,” Jude cut him off, shaking his head. “We do this now, today. The sooner this is done, the sooner we can find the Amulet of Redemption.”
For Sarah, he thought. For mom and dad…
“Okay,” Jay said. “Let’s do this.”