Chapter 9: The Hooded Figure
A month went by as I watched Jordan and Alicia get closer every day. I knew it was just a matter of time before things got serious between the two of them, but I was happy for him nonetheless. As for me, Alex would hardly even talk to me, much less give me a second glance. I often tried to figure out what I did that caused him to not want to speak to me. I came up with the obvious conclusion that it was because he just didn’t like me. That was it. I hardly even looked at him anymore, knowing that it was no good. He would just give me the stink eye anyway.
October was just over the horizon and everybody in Hunter Academy was getting ready for the Halloween banquet. It’s where you dress up, set up stands in the courtyard, give out candy and play games. It sounded like a lot of fun, but I was at a loss on who to dress up as. I’d never really liked Halloween. Most kids my age dressed up and hung out with friends as they visited neighbor’s houses, gathering candy. My idea of Halloween was staying home and watching horror movies on the flat screen with my mom, while we both pigged out on candy. It was sure to be different this year, and especially without my mom. I felt a lump in my throat as I thought of her. I called her every weekend, but sometimes that didn’t feel like enough. Sometimes I wish she was here so I could talk to her about Alex and the freaky note that was still hidden under my pillow. A voluntary smile appeared on my face. Knowing my mother, she would hunt that person down and make them feel sorry that they had every typed that note in the first place. I can almost guarantee it.
Of course I hadn’t received anymore notes after that. Every day as I walked to my room, my eyes would instantly start looking for a piece of paper around my door. I started to relax after three weeks had gone by when I was sure there were no signs of notes. I would type my password in the little keypad (for I had finally memorized my password) and would just waltz in my room, like I had no care in the world, and would start on my homework. Thoughts of threatening notes were soon forgotten. Mostly I was worried about whether I was ready for an oncoming test.
I was starting to get used to my weapon. Although I still eyed it with dismay whenever I looked around me and at my classmate’s weapons. I couldn’t help but feel a little aggravated at destiny. Why pair me with Sais? I mean, I have to admit; they were pretty awesome, especially when we trained with them in Weapon’s class, but I couldn’t help but feel that this weapon wasn’t for me. I even tried to talk with Ms. Peril about it.
“There’s no mistake.” she said emotionlessly. I felt like I was looking in the eyes of a snake. “The Sais chose you to be their master. And for that you shall be. It can’t be undone. I’ve seen how you work with them and it is quite impressive, considering you’ve never worked with weapons before.” I frowned at this information. She didn’t seem to notice. “Give it time. You’ll come around.”
I grimaced at that, but didn’t argue with her any farther. The bell had rung and I needed to get to my next class.
At the end of the day I went straight to the dorms and up to my room. I was tired from today’s events and almost didn’t notice the note that was taped to my door. My heart was pounding so loudly in my chest that I was surprised it wasn’t echoing throughout the entire corridor. Hesitantly I pulled the note off my door and opened it, my hands shaking so violently that I accidentally dropped it on the floor. I took a deep breath and bent down to pick it up. I opened it up with trembling fingers.
I need you to come by my office.
I have a task for you.
I felt my body relax as soon as I saw the signature. I wonder what Death wants; I thought as I unlocked my door and threw my stuff on my bed. I hope whatever he has in mind isn’t anything serious. I closed my door and heard an audible click as it locked behind me.
I found the office easily enough, but I was surprised by how small the reception area was. An old woman, maybe in her early sixties sat behind a small, mahogany desk, typing quickly on a laptop. Occasionally she would look up to smile friendly at me. My lips would curl up into a voluntary smile. In a way, she kind of reminded me of my mammy. Four orange chairs seemed to line the wall next to a door which I assumed was Death’s office. I took a seat and waited patiently for him. I could hear voices from inside his office. I wonder who he’s talking too.
I was just looking around when I noticed Jordan taking a seat next to me. I eyed him in confusion. “What are you doing here?”
“I had a note on my door from Death, saying he had task for me. What are you doing here?” he smiled teasingly. “You didn’t get in trouble, did you?”
I smiled in return and replied playfully, “Yes, Jordan. Because I do a lot of bad things. Stealing carriages, making rude gestures at little children. Yeah, I’m real bad.” We both laughed at that last part. Just the thought of me ever being a bad girl was kind of a joke. The elderly woman looked at us as if she didn’t approve of our laughing, but didn’t scold us as she went back to work.
After our laughter died down, Jordan looked at me quizzically. “But seriously,” he said. “What are you doing here? I figured you’d be in your room studying by now.”
“I’m here for the same reason you are,” I responded. “Death left a note on my door, saying he had a task for me as well.”
Jordan’s eyes seemed to widen. “I think I know what he’s calling us in for.”
“Well, please share your thoughts. I love to hear you’re theory.”
“I don’t think it’s a theory. More like a fact. Every student gets called in to the headmaster’s office every week to do a task.”
“Ok.” I said slowly. “And what is this task.” Hopefully it doesn’t involve helping the cleaning staff.
“Demon hunting.” I felt my body stiffen at those two words. Okay, so helping the cleaning staff didn’t sound like such a bad idea after all. “Morgan and Gabrielle did it last week. They said it was awesome.”
I nearly forgot how to breathe. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this kind of thing.” I admitted shamefully.
Jordan snorted. “Yeah, right. You’ve killed two demons. That night when Morgan, Gabrielle, and I met you and then the night before the orientation.” He smiled encouragingly at me. “You can do this. I know you can. And just remember that I’ve got your back. Always.”
I smiled halfheartedly, not truly convinced, but touched that he had so much faith in me. “I hope you’re right.”
Jordan was about to say something else when Death’s door swung open, revealing Ms. Tabby and Mr. Grey as they exited his office. Jordan’s uncle didn’t look surprised to see us here. “I believe he’s waiting for the both of you.” Neither one of us replied as we both stood up and walked into Death’s office. We sat down next to each other in the two comfy looking chairs, facing his humongous desk. It was completely cluttered with picture frames and stacks upon stacks of papers. Jeesh I would hate to be headmaster. He must stay busy all the time.
Death didn’t seem to notice us as we sat quietly in our seats. He seemed to be filling out some paperwork. When he was finally done, he sat the paperwork aside and looked at us expectantly, his pale hands stapled together. He smiled kindly at us.
“I’m glad you two got my message. I wanted to talk to the both of you about something.”
Jordan raised his hand, hesitant. “Um, is it about those hunting assignments I’ve been hearing about? Because Morgan and Gabrielle told me about theirs last week.”
“Yes. I want you and Spencer to patrol sometime this week and find a demon to kill. Bring me back its ashes after it is slaughtered and I will grant both of you a hundred points. Those points will help you raise one of your grades in any of your classes. It’s a good deal.”
Jordan looked at me pleadingly. “C’mon Spence. Latin is kicking my butt and I could use all the help I can get. Please.”
I looked back at Jordan as he silently begged for me to agree. I sighed tiredly. “Yeah. Okay.”
Death looked pleased. “Good deal. It’s Monday so you have all week to get it done. I’m expecting a lot from you two.” I slumped in my seat at his words. Why did he always do that – expect more from me then others? Of course, it wasn’t just me this time. I grimaced at Jordan’s uncontained excitement.
“You’ve got it, sir. We’ll get it done as soon as possible.”
“If I may make a suggestion. I would patrol every night – just in case. At least until you have found and killed a demon.”
We both nodded. I was not as enthusiastic as Jordan. We left his office then, both in different moods. Jordan, excited and thrilled – me, pissed to the point where I was about to set the whole school on fire.
That night, Jordan and I patrolled until it was nearly time for curfew. We did not – to my relieve – encounter a demon. Jordan was disappointed, but told me that we would try again tomorrow. I wanted to scream and throw something at him. I can’t believe I let him talk me into this. But what did you expect when you came here? My subconscious snapped. That everything would be simple and dandy! Did you not think you wouldn’t have to hunt demons? Why do you think it’s called Hunter Academy you stupid ass. I flinched. I was reluctant to admit that she had a point, but I still didn’t feel ready to fight. Twice I’ve come into contact with demons and I’ve frozen in place each time. I get so scared in their presence that I’m literally paralyzed. And I don’t care what Jordan says. Yes, I have killed two demons, but really that was just out of luck – no matter what he or the others say. He couldn’t seriously think I was fighting material. At least not yet, anyway. Maybe once I’ve gotten a little more training.
So the next day went by in a blur as I waited for the day to come to a close, which meant I would have to go out hunting for monsters afterwards. Honestly, I don’t know why Jordan was so excited. To me, the idea of fighting and killing monsters wasn’t exactly an appealing thought. Not that I had a soft side for those things, but mostly I prefer studying about demons then actually seeing them in person. I guess that makes me a coward, but I don’t care. Demons scare the crap out of me.
Not to mention this assignment was cutting into my homework and social time. I felt like I hadn’t gotten anything done when I came home around ten. I spent most of the night trying to finish everything, staying up late then what was really necessary. I was tired and continued to yawn throughout Human History. At one point I almost fell asleep. If it hadn’t been for Jordan’s constant pinching and poking – I probably would have got detention. Mr. Xavier isn’t exactly a warm person.
I was glad that I didn’t sit next to Alexander in any of these classes. I was sure today would have been the day where I would have probably exploded and started demanding answers. Like why wouldn’t he talk to me? Had I done something wrong? Had I offended him in some way? Then I wondered…was it because I called him Alex that one day? I guess that was a stupid thing to assume, but I was just coming up blank with this guy. He said he didn’t mind that I call him that, but maybe it bugged him more than he was letting on. I shook my head, not completely convinced by this theory. No. More than likely it’s because he doesn’t like me. But I just didn’t want to believe that. I was hurting to the point where I couldn’t breathe whenever I thought about it. Over dramatic, I know, but I wanted him to like me – even if meant just being friends.
When the day finally came to an end, I went back to my room and dressed slowly. I wasn’t really looking forward to another night of walking around in the cold, autumn air, in itchy leather pants, while staying tense to the point where you can barely even move. That’s the part about the hunt that I don’t like. You, constantly looking around, just waiting for something to jump out of the bushes and naw on your leg, like a dog chewing on a bone. It gives me chills every time I think about it. I sighed, feeling nervous. But the sooner we kill something – the better. Then I can return to my somewhat normal life that I’ve built here and maybe get some algebra homework done before midnight.
“Why so down, Spence? You look unhappy. What’s wrong?” Jordan asked for the hundredth time that night as we sat on the old, rugged bench next to the candy shop on Main Street. The sweet aroma from the shop hit me like a wrecking ball, making my mouth water. I frowned, unable to answer him. What could I say? I was pissed that I was even here, waiting around for some demon to walk into town and attack us. Do demons even wander this way where they know their enemies lie? Wouldn’t that be suicidal?
“Do demons really just come a waltzing into towns where hunters are around?” Jordan merely nodded. I frowned, feeling agitated. “Isn’t that kind of stupid on their part?”
“Some are pretty stupid, but most of the time they’re just desperate for something to eat. They usually don’t care if the city or town their trying to attack is full of hunters. They just want to find somebody to sink their fangs into.”
I gulped at the image that Jordan created in my head. Some really huge demon, creeping in the shadows, stalking some unknown prey until they kill and devour them. I shuddered involuntarily. I probably just foresaw my demise.
“But don’t worry,” he said, trying to make me feel better, I think. “Most of the time it’s one or two demons and usually their not much of a threat.”
“Why is that?”
“Because demons that often come into our territory are usually small types. They’re not much of a challenge if you ask me.”
I felt myself relax at this new information. Hopefully that’s all we deal with – small demons.
We fell into an eerie silence as we continued to look around ourselves, trying to remain vigilant. The street lamps that seemed to line down on Main Street glowed brightly in the darkness, making me feel a little less frightened. I have a pathologically fear of the dark. At night when I’m trying to sleep, I either have the TV or my bedside lamp on all night long. Pitiful, I know. All the shops were closed, making them look haunted as the shadows creeped upon them. I wasn’t completely sure, but I could have sworn I saw a silhouette of a man in front of the weapon shop across from us. I shrugged it off, telling myself it was just the trick of the lights or something. I was about to rescan the area, but I saw in my peripheral vision, something glowing. I looked back at the weapon shop and saw the black figure was still there, but this time I could have sworn I saw red eyes, staring at me. I rubbed my eyes, but when I looked again, the shape of the man was gone. Maybe it was my imagination…
Jordan and I both jumped up at the same time we heard a distinct howling from the other side of town. The sound sent a chill down my spine.
“You think that was a demon?” I was surprised my voice wasn’t wavering in fear. That’s a first.
“Yeah. I’m sure it was. It sounded like one.” Jordan replied sternly. It was weird seeing and hearing him be serious for once. It was completely baffling. “C’mon. Let’s do this thing.”
I repressed a groan and followed Jordan, who was walking briskly through the vacant streets, looking around every so often, keeping an eye out for danger. By some impulse I couldn’t understand – I turned around. I stopped in my tracks, completely frozen in place. In that chilling moment I forgot about demons and Jordan as I stared at the hooded figure from a distance. I couldn’t see his face, but I could see two, shining red eyes looking directly at me. It almost felt like he was looking into my soul. If I thought being in demons presence was terrifying then I was beyond scared now. To my horror, he took a small step towards me.
“Spencer,” a voice said, making me scream and jump at the same time. Jordan was taken aback by my horrified expression. “What were you staring at? You look like you just saw a ghost.”
“You didn’t see him.” My voice must have terrified Jordan because he was looking at me anxiously.
“See who? There’s nobody here, but us.”
I started gesturing down the street where I last saw the hooded figure, while staring desperately at Jordan. “How can you not see him? He’s right—“I looked back down the street where he was. I was shocked to see the hooded figure was gone. “There.” I whispered. My voice sounded strangled. “He was down there, Jordan. I know what I saw.”
Jordan continued to eye me worriedly. “Maybe we need to get back to the academy.”
“Do you not believe me?” I could hear the hurt in my voice.
Jordan leaned towards me, trying to stay calm for my benefit. “I believe you, but let’s not talk about it here. We need to get you back to the academy as soon as possible.”
“Why?” I breathed. I didn’t like the desperate edge to his voice.
Jordan had grabbed my wrist and was tugging me along as we walked through the creepy and quiet town that is Hallowville. He turned around to look at me – his face grim. “Because I think you might be in danger.”
I was getting tired of Jordan dragging me down the halls as we were making our way to Death’s office to report what I’d seen. I don’t know what the big deal was. I mean, the hooded figure scared the crap out of me, but I didn’t understand why Jordan looked so worried. Finally, I skidded to stop, causing Jordan to nearly fall on his butt. He looked at me, bemused.
“What are you doing?” he exclaimed.
“You’re about to take my arm off. Jeesh Jordan – what is the matter? I know I was being creepy back there, but we’re safe now. Whatever he was – he’s probably long gone by now”
Jordan let go of my arm, taking a few steps back away from me, his face completely devoid of any color. “H-he?”
“Yeah. I thought I told you.” I was almost positive I did. Maybe he was so worried about me that he didn’t hear me mention that the hooded figure was a male. I paused, as I thought about it. “Well, I think it was a man. He seemed masculine and I assumed that he was just some male demon.”
Jordan wouldn’t meet my eyes as he slowly sat down on the cold, marble floor. I instantly became worried about his wellbeing.
“Are you okay?” I asked as I sat down beside him. He continued to look anywhere but at me. “Talk to me, Jordan. What’s wrong?”
Jordan was trembling as he replied softly, “It was him.” I went completely still as Jordan looked at me, his gray eyes filled with nothing but fear. “You saw him!”
“I don’t know who I saw, but Jordan it can’t be Azazel. No one in Eden has seen him in years!”
“Doesn’t mean he’s not out there. Spence, what exactly did you see?”
“I saw the figure of a man in a black hood, covering every inch of his face. The only thing I saw was two red eyes looking at me.”
“Spencer,” he sounded like he was choking. “When he became possessed by a demon, a lot of things about him changed. Not just emotionally but physically as well. Azazel was well known as the red eyed, hooded monster here in Hallowville. Spencer, whether you want to believe it or not, you just saw him and the stories I’ve heard of people spotting him are never good. They always end up dead.”
“But why would Azazel show himself to me? Of all the people in Eden, why had he shown himself to me tonight?”
Jordan was quiet for several minutes as he thought of an answer. Suddenly he’s eyes brightened. “Because of the prophecy.”
Oh, boy. There’s a prophecy now? Jeesh, this place is starting to give me a migraine. “What prophecy?”
“I don’t know it by word, but it said something about a girl who would be gifted and that she would be the only one who could stop him. And if not – something about how Eden would be dragged into darkness, or something like that.” He was looking at me with the most peculiar expression. It looked like hope. “You’re the chosen one, Spencer. You have to be.”
I didn’t say anything. Death had mentioned something about me being the chosen one, but I never really thought much about it. I just thought he was confusing me for someone else. But could it be true? Was it possible that I might actually be the one in the prophecy everyone was waiting for? The one who will finally bring the nightmares to an end. Jordan just said that it would be a girl who was gifted and I fail to see any other females around here that can do all the elements. Am I really the chosen one?
God, I hope not. It’s already bad enough I have homework to do every night. The last thing I need is to save the world from a completely psychotic, demon possessed maniac.