The Righteous Hand
A swift chill swept through from the west wing to swathe like Arctic fingers round my entire body, it was then I noticed the walls begin to warp and bend; demonic emaciated fingers ooze through the pliable facade. The beastly form of the devil's messenger slipped from the wall like grease from glass and stood before me.
"Your time is near, Grey!" it rasped in hollow tones that sent the heat of hell's breath rushing into my face.
The acrid stench of sulphur emitted with its every word, assaulting my nostrils with the taste of eon's old lost souls. The skinless beast, dripping putrid flesh that was once an earthbound man, but is now one of the demon horde, stands before me. Its intention; to end my life, to drag my soul down into the darkened depths of damnation and there to be feasted upon by Satan's minions for all eternity. But not today.
A twist of my right wrist and a spray of holy water jets into the beast's unholy face. With screams that would please Satan himself the messenger melted. Its decaying shell slithered to the floor with writhing pain to pool at my feet. Finally to make damn sure, I empty a canister of salt over its remnants; toss the empty canister into the blackened remains and walk away. "Yeah, but not today!"
The name's Lazarus Grey and they call me The Righteous Hand.
For the past fifteen years of my fifty I've been an entity seeker. My weapons are not guns and knives, but salt and holy water, and one other...the righteous hand, right hand in fact; bloodless and as cold as a penguin's ass. A power bestowed upon me by those above, to turn evil into ash with a single touch to its demonic soul. My purpose in life, to vanquish those that serve the dark, destroyer of the demon breed. This righteous hand, bestowed by the Quorum of Saints holds no harm to the mortal, but when touching an entity, in any guise, will burn.
The deed was done, now onto the next hunt.
My cell rang, it was Father Ryan, my..."guide" to demonic occurrences, just how he got his info I didn't know, nor did I care, but his info was always on the button. Turns out my next "execution" would be some mind-sifting abomination that sucks memory from its victims. Would you believe the place it had chosen to terrorize is a backwoods town down south called Devils Bowl.
I drove into Devils Bowl at approximately five in the evening; as soon as I saw the place I knew that something wasn't right, a Psyclesh Demon is normally a city dweller, hunts in densely populated cities where minds are more abundant. Here in an outback hick town it wouldn't last long, something just didn't smell right, something was wrong. I would need a safe house, somewhere I could retreat and be safe; this then would be my first task.
Three days passed, and I finally found the lair of the Psyclesh, it secreted itself in an abandoned graveyard just outside Devils Bowl, no one used it since the new church had been built some thirty years previous. An ideal home where the Psyclesh could easily mingle with the shadows during daytime, protected from the killing rays of the sun. But tonight that deviant of damnation would end its reign, and be sent back to the pit of eternal corruption.
I arrived at the graveyard shortly before dusk, that way when this ghoul showed its repugnant face I'd exorcise it in true righteous fashion, quick and easy. I placed myself in a corner from where I could watch the yard, the slightest movement and I'd move. I struck up a half chewed Cuban, drew deeply and exhaled a cloud of blue-tinged smoke.
I kicked back for a couple of hours, not moving, silently watching, need a lot of patience in my game; place is as quiet as the grave, if you'll excuse the pun. Then I heard it, a scraping sound. In this business you train your senses to pick up on the slightest of things. Hearing, sight, smells these are what give you the early warning and keep you one step ahead of the game.
I fine tuned my hearing and zeroed in on the sound; the scraping is the grate of a tomb lid being opened, somewhere off to my left. Grinding the cigar stub into a tomb wall, I get to my feet. Years of hunting has made my movements stealthy, I could easily send this demon back to the pit within seconds, if it had been any other than a Psyclesh. To destroy the Psyclesh it has to be feeding on the memories of its victim, so I would need to tail his slithering ass until it feeds.
There it is, slithering like a slime infested snake, its oily black demonic form being fluid, a thick shadow that clings to the earth, snaking its way to whoever steps in its path. Speed is on my side, the Psyclesh when in need of replenishing is slower. I keep a fair distance back; the demon slithers from its crypt, snakes across the earth and out the broken iron gates of the cemetery.
Keeping to the sides I follow the Psyclesh as it slinks silently into town; it stops and blends into the shadows, waiting, unseen for its next victim. I secret myself into a dilapidated bus shelter only a few metres away, and wait. Forty-five minutes later I see the figure of a young woman approaching, I can't help wondering what she's doing out this late. I know the Psyclesh won't pass up the opportunity; its hunger for nourishment will force it to take the first mind that ventures near. The young blonde girl, approximately in her early twenties, give or take a few, closes in on where the Psyclesh lurks. I make my move knowing exactly when the beast will strike; I should have realised!
Pouncing from my concealment, I go for the Psyclesh, but it's not there. The girl stops, and as I stand in front of her I now realise. Her form changes to that of a young man dressed in full length black trench coat, his eyes burn with the flames of damnation. I pull out a half cigar and light it, exhaling the smoke towards the demon.
"Nice night to die, Lazarus." He says in a confident manner.
"You know, many of your kind have said the same thing." I reply.
"Many of my kind? You have never met my kind before."
Yeah right, enough let's get this over with, and with that thought I reached out and plunged the righteous hand into the demons chest. The hand burned deep, sinking through the flesh, and then I realized. The righteous hand was having no effect, the demon just looked down at my hand buried in his chest and grinned. I forcibly dragged the hand free, and felt weak from the strength this demon had sapped from me.
"I told you, you had not met my kind before. Your righteous hand has no power over me."
I take a few steps back. "So old red horns has finally sent one of his big shots."
"You have become more of an irritation to us, and it is time to die!"
I now knew this demon is far more than I have ever come up against, to stand and fight now would be foolish, I needed to escape to my safe house. Quickly I spin on my heels and begin to run, I glance back to see the demon standing there.
"Run Lazarus run." The demon whispers, yet his voice hits me like a scream.
My heart beats fast as I try to put distance between us, a quick glance back and I see the demon changing to his true form. A dark angel of the demonic order, black in shade with wings spread wide it takes to the skies in chase.
Running, running for all my worth, it follows, gliding through the night air on gossamer wings of devilish black, a silent stalker of the night. It closes, swoops, its devilish talons scrape my back sending the very flames of hell coursing through my body. My chest burns, heart pumps rapidly, and still I run. The demon swoops in again, its sharp talons rake my back; I stumble, fall and roll back to my feet in one fluid movement.
Sweat furrows my brow as I reach the outskirts of the farmland that holds my safe house. I leap the border fence in one; as I land the demon glides down and stands before me in all its hideous splendour. Wings fold and shrink; grotesque shifts to human as the demon retakes his chosen mortal form.
It grins as it watches me gasp for breath, but doesn't attack. Why?
"Wearing you out with all that flying am I?" I say in sarcastic defiance.
The demon paced back and forth before me as if trying to decide in which way I should die.
"You disappoint me Lazarus. The name Lazarus Grey is spoken with great respect within the demonic circle. Had you not been an enemy, you would have been amongst the hierarchy, commanding many legions."
"Thanks, I love you too!" I grated.
"It is still possible if you accept the dark one as your master. The legend that is Lazarus Grey will live on in the halls of depravity, serving the darkest one forever."
I take a deep breath. "Seriously, you should lighten up, and stop spouting that crap. There's no way in hell you'll get me to accept anything!"
The demon nods slowly. "The hell is where you will suffer the most insufferable atrocities. " With that the demon again transformed into his true appearance, gossamer wings lift and spread.
The beast came at me with eyes of brandished fire, jagged pin-like teeth bared; closer it came, closer overshadowing me with its bulk. Now was going to be my only chance, as he grew to his full height, ready to enshroud me in agonising death, I flipped my wrist. A stream of holy water jetted forth striking the beast in the face. I knew the holy water wouldn't stop it but it bought me enough time.
The holy water steamed and sizzled on the beasts face, blistering and burning stunning it long enough for me to evade. Ducking under its wing I run like crazy across the open field, I can see the barn a way off; if I can just make it I will be safe.
An earth quaking screech almost bursts my ears. Not stopping I look back, the beast has recovered and is angry. This wings flap in silence as they cut through the air, its flight almost elegant as it soars high, circles the field and then plunges for the death strike.
Just a few more yards to go. I put all effort into those last few yards. I slam into the darn door, crash through and roll, kicking the door closed behind me. I scramble backwards as the beast ploughs into the door making the barn tremble, but the door doesn't give. I hear the beast battering the walls, but they hold, they are held together by more than earthly nails. It's on the roof now looking for a way in, but there is only one door, and for it to enter it must again retake mortal shape.
Silence...I know it is still out there. Then the door rattles, then handle turns and he walks in. He looks round the barn, void of everything except the holy markings on the walls binding the barn together.
He nods. "Impressive."
He stands there about twenty, twenty-five feet from me, eyeing me, and waiting.
"You are not a fool Lazarus; you know these bindings cannot stop me."
"They are not meant to stop you."
The beast looks again at the ritual scriptures smeared in animal blood on the roof and every wall, he realises the runes cast an entrapment spell.
"These simple finger paintings can only hold me for one hundred years. Nothing in hell's time span." He says in amusement. "And I will have the satisfaction of sending you to eternal damnation." He sneers.
I pat down my pocket, and luckily find a half smoked cigar, I roll the end between my lips and light it, the smoke cascades on my breath as I speak.
"Don't intend keeping you here that long; don't intend shaking hands with your horned buddy either."
The demon slowly looks again at the runic symbols as if searching for a gap, and then halts his gaze on me.
"I tire of this game...it is time Lazarus."
The demon begins to transform back to its grotesque self.
"Wait... one question. If I am to die today, who sends me to hell?"
The demon returns to mortal form. "I am Rafan, Grand Duke of the demonic order, commander of forty legions, ruler of the netherworlds of pain and suffering, and your soul keeper."
"Yeah? I'm impressed... keeper of my soul? Not today!"
I press my foot down on the hidden switch, the roof slides apart; the sun is rising, I had delayed Rafan just long enough. Rafan now realises the truth of the matter; his clothes ignite, he is encased in flames. Rafan bellows in agony and transforms to his demonic appearance. He spreads his wings wide, but it is too late. Rafan's ethereal form sparks; a stench of pungent decay fills the barn. Caught in the light of day, with no escape route left open, Rafan accepts his fate in furious screams of demonic anguish.
I had realized the Psyclesh was a trap for something bigger, more powerful, and for this reason I had prepared this safe house, prepared it as a death tomb for a higher demon. Rafan drops to the soil, his hellish body spitting flame. The sun comes up; thankfully I drop to my knees knowing the spectre finally dissolves in horrific howls of agonising pain as the sun's rays crisp its ethereal form.