Tainted

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Chapter 14

Ramona contacted some of her angelic cohort to help dispose of the body, while Isobel frantically tried to get in touch with Jake. It hadn’t even occurred to her that he may have been kidnapped, but why would it? Abduction wasn’t exactly part of their everyday lives. She sat on her bed cross-legged, cradling her old battered laptop between her knees as she posted on his Facebook and an apparently forgotten Twitter page. She called the Black Swallow, but Dave said he hadn’t seen him.

“Everything okay Isobel?” he asked, “You sound kind of... tense.” She had to stop herself from having hysterics at the understatement.

“I’m fine” she said, sitting there covered in blood. “I just need to talk to him and he’s gone MIA.”

“He’ll turn up,” Dave reassured her.

“I really fucking hope so,” she said, sounding stressed again. “Can you get him to ring me if he comes in?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks,” she hung up and began biting her nails. She thought about showering again, but decided there wasn’t much point. She’d probably only end up with someone else’s blood all over her again. Her other option was to go back out and face Ramona and the other angels.

Fuck it.

She went out into the living room. The trio of angels; the two guys from the alley and Ramona were gathered round the demon’s body dividing up tasks.

It struck Isobel how absurdly normal they all looked; Ramona in her mini-skirt, boots and strappy top, the guys in jeans and t-shirts. They seemed like normal people, even when the blonde one, Elliot, said: “I’ll take the body and dump it in the sea.” He said it in the offhand manner of someone suggesting a quick trip to the off licence. Isobel found their nonchalance in the face of such carnage bizarre, but then she guessed they were used to it.

“I’ll burn the head and heart. Separately of course,” nodded the Mediterranean one.

“It’s imminent now,” Ramona warned them.

“I know,” Elliot gave her a wry smile. “Never enough time is there?”

“No,” Ramona was serious. “We need to kill these things now. Isobel and I can hunt tonight.”

“Hasn’t she been through enough for one day?” Mediterranean chipped in.

“Isobel’s tough,” Ramona told him. “Besides, the time for baby sitting’s over, we need this done or it’ll be 1837 all over again and I really don’t want to relive that one.”

“Past apocalypse?” Isobel asked from the corner. They jumped. All except Ramona.

“Nearly the apocalypse,” she said gravely. “Closest I’ve ever seen to the end.”

“What happened?”

Ramona shook her head. “This goes south you’ll soon find out. Anyway I thought you wanted to watch the world burn.” The other two angels glanced at each other, but Ramona held her eyes. “Any word from Jake?”

“No,” Isobel said solemnly, looking down. She looked back up, “I’m scared for him Ramona.”

“Makes two of us.” She stared down at the decapitated body. “We’ll find him.”

“I’m sorry about your friend, Lisa?”

“Lisa,” Ramona confirmed, looking surprised. “Thank you.”

“You guys don’t look too beat up,” Isobel said to the others.

“You look like hell,” Elliot observed.

“Been through it,” Isobel replied. “And apparently I’m going there again. Yippee!” she said the last with a faux comical swing of her fist and looked soberly at Ramona. “So,” she began, “We’re going hunting are we?”

“That’s the plan,” Ramona said. “We need to get these demons.”

“We also need to find Jake,” Isobel pointed out agitatedly. “Surely that should be a priority.”

“It is.”

Isobel blinked, “You’re agreeing with me?”

“Yes.”

“Wow.”

“Jake’s a valuable asset, we need him.”

“He’s not just an asset!” Isobel was outraged to hear Ramona’s mercenary tone.

“I didn’t mean…” Ramona began.

“I love him!” Isobel blurted, realising how true it was as the words left her lips. She took a deep breath and calmed herself, not wanting to fly off the handle before speaking again. “I love him,” she repeated, enjoying the feel of the words over her tongue. “I need to know what’s happened to him. I have to.”

Ramona nodded, “Dual purpose hunt. We hunt down the demons and find Jake.”

“Sounds good.” Isobel smiled, although it was tight around the edges, “I could use a night on the town.”

* * *

The moon was almost full in the darkening sky, illuminating the town with its pale luminescence as the two women strode down the street towards The Mortuary; a rock club built underground in an old disused morgue. It had been a favourite haunt of Isobel’s since she was a teenager, but she hadn’t been for a while. It was the kind of place Jake would frequent. More importantly it was crowded and offered easy pickings for the demons who apparently ate human flesh.

“Why do they do that?” Isobel asked Ramona.

The angel simply replied, “Because it’s sick, evil and they can.” She looked round at Isobel, “Demons are all about destruction.”

“And what are you about?” Isobel asked.

“Preservation,” she replied. “Survival. Is this the place?”

“Yep,” Isobel said.

They had stopped outside a thin set of black double doors, open to the night air. A pair of black suited bouncers flanked the door, inside a lone girl sat at the counter. There was no sign over the door. From under her feet, writhing up the staircase she could hear the beat of industrial metal, feel it vibrating through her bones. She closed her eyes, tilting her head back, savouring the moment like a bouquet of wine.

“I know this song,” Ramona said. “I saved a guy at a festival last year, this band were on at the time. They were good.”

“You like metal?” Isobel asked.

“Yes.”

Isobel cast her eyes over Ramona’s mostly black clothing, “I guess I can see that.”

They stepped over the threshold. It was a warm night so both of them had forsaken coats, Ramona paid the cover charge and down they went.

The subterranean club was packed, the crowded atmosphere emphasised by the low ceilings and gothic archways of the place. There were at least two bars that Ramona could see. Most of the crowd wore black, many of the men sporting the check pattern shirts Jake favoured.

“Jake will blend in well here,” Ramona said.

“Yeah,” Isobel observed, “Maybe a little too well.” She approached the bar, leaning over enough to show some cleavage. “Gets you served quicker,” she grinned at Ramona.

Ramona nodded, “I’ve noticed that.”

Isobel shook her head, “You sure you’re an angel?”

“Yes,” Ramona assured her. “But I wasn’t always.” She looked out over the crowd, surveying it for demons and Jake. She thought she’d spotted him, but it was just a lookalike. There were just too many long haired rocker types for one to stand out immediately.

Isobel ordered two beers and handed one to her ally.

“Plastic bottles?” Ramona commented.

“They try to discourage bar fights.” Isobel said drily and took a sip.

“Shame,” Ramona said and started into the crowd.

Isobel followed, shaking her head. Stray wisps of red hair fell into her face and it took her a moment to recognise it as hers, it had been so long since she’d allowed her natural colour to show. She hoped Jake would recognise her. Would he still find her attractive or would he prefer Ramona more than ever? Isobel sighed and shook the thought away, brushing the resultant strands behind her ear where they stubbornly refused to stay. Thick hair was nice but it could also be a bitch. Isobel laughed at herself.

“What’s funny?” Ramona asked looking round.

Isobel shook her head, “Nothing,” she said, still smiling, “I just keep forgetting this is my hair falling in my face. It’s been a long time since it’s been this colour.”

“It looks good,” Ramona told her.

“Thanks,” Isobel said. A moment later, the smile stretched across her face. “I love this song!” she cried, excited, “Let’s dance.”

“Dance?” Ramona blinked, “We don’t have time to dance.”

“Fuck that,” Isobel declared. “There’s always time to dance, especially in the face of the apocalypse.” She headed towards the dance floor calling over her shoulder, “It’s the end of the world, Ramona, not the end of fun.” With that she turned her back and slipped away.

Ramona shook her head and continued her perimeter sweep of the club, taking care to keep Isobel in sight. She couldn’t afford to lose another tainted soul. She sipped her beer and prowled the edges of the club. A couple of guys eyed her up but her challenging looks kept them from trying anything more. Ramona didn’t want distractions. After the earlier battle and the attempt on Isobel’s life, she wanted to kill something, preferably something demonic but over-amorous would-be suitors were always a good substitute. She leaned against a wall and sipped her beer, watching Isobel dance, losing herself in the music. She sighed heavily, feeling the weight of the world pressing on her slender shoulders; she still wasn’t sure Isobel fully appreciated the gravity of the situation.

“Hey” said a voice next to her shoulder. She looked round. Next to her was a young guy, around her physical age, just under a foot taller than her. His hair was done in loose dark spikes and he wore a leather jacket over his t-shirt.

“Hi,” she said and went back to watching Isobel.

“You waiting for someone?” he asked.

Ramona looked back at him, “If you say you’re the one I’m waiting for, I’ll hit you,” she said.

The guy laughed, “I wasn’t going to, but nice to know all the same,” he held out his hand, “Nick.”

“Ramona,” she pointedly didn’t shake his hand. Eventually he dropped it.

“Right,” he said, “Enjoy your standing around.” He wandered off.

Ramona went back to her beer, scanning the crowd and watching Isobel. She was a good dancer and clearly knew the music well. So far there was no demonic scent to the air, but that could change all too quick. Ramona watched as Isobel enjoyed herself. She supposed there was no harm in blowing off a little steam and Isobel certainly had enough to expel, it had been a rough few days for her. There was a time Ramona had loved to dance, hell she still did. Ramona could lose herself to the rhythms of the music and her body for hours. But sometimes her solemn duties weighed heavily on her, especially with the apocalypse looming over them and tonight she just wasn’t in the mood. She eyed her rapidly diminishing bottle and sighed. She needed another beer. Isobel was clearly a bad influence. Ramona lost sight of her in the moshpit for a second and started forward, away from the wall, before Isobel re-emerged a second later. Ramona leaned back against the wall, but didn’t relax. The only realistic way Ramona was going to be able to protect Isobel was by proximity. Anyone could come along and stick a knife in her, then goodbye world. “Fuck it,” she said angrily.

“You okay?” A voice said to her left. Her head flicked round so quick it startled the man speaking to her; a tall, skinny guy trying to grow an afro.

“Yes,” she said simply.

The guy just stared at her.

“I’m waiting for my friend,” she smiled, trying to dispel the unease emanating from him. “And I’m sick of waiting.” With that she headed towards the dance floor.

Isobel threw her arms in the air and cheered as Ramona approached. “You decided to have some fun after all!” she smiled.

“I can protect you better if I’m near you,” Ramona explained.

“Of course,” Isobel smiled and sighed at her.

“What?”

“It’s not the end of the world yet Ramona. Come on have some fun.”

“Let’s see how much fun you have when you’re burning in Hell because you were too busy dancing to bother saving the world.”

“Yeah, well that’s gonna happen anyway, so why bother?”

“I told you, to stop your dreams.”

“Yeah, my dreams” Isobel sighed and rubbed her eyes. “You know I was starting to enjoy myself then, for the first time in days I felt like me again.” She turned to Ramona, “Then along you come.” She sighed again, “Whatever, you want another drink?”

“There’s nothing here, we should move on.”

“After one more drink,” Isobel pushed. “Come on Ramona we’ve hardly been here an hour, give the monsters a chance to show up.”

“Fine,” Ramona wasn’t entirely unhappy about the idea. “One more beer.”

“That’s my girl.” Isobel slapped her on the arm and turned on her heel, heading for the bar. Ramona downed the rest of her beer, following Isobel. She put her empty bottle by the pumps where the barman could get it and turned, leaning back against the bar, surveying the crowd. It was a classic pose she’d always loved.

Isobel looked at her and smiled. “Looking for business?” she asked.

“In another life,” Ramona said.

“Were you really a hooker?” Isobel asked handing the barman some money and passing Ramona a beer.

“Thanks and we didn’t use that term, but yes, I was.”

“What was that like?”

“Grim,” Ramona took a sip of her beer. “I don’t recommend it. I prefer to choose who I sleep with. Also there was very little protection compared to today, against anything. I saw a friend give birth in the afternoon and be sold to a man that night.”

“Jesus.”

“He wasn’t watching,” Ramona sounded angry.

“This from an angel,” Isobel shook her head. “God, what a world.”

“I never said I was a saint.” Ramona drank.

Isobel leaned next to her, helping her prop up the bar. They drank in silence for a minute, both watching the crowd, Isobel primarily looking for Jake. Where the hell was he? Ramona stiffened beside her, subtly sniffing, inhaling the sweaty nightclub air.

“What?” Isobel asked.

“You smell that?”

Isobel inhaled deeply, nothing stood out, “What?”

“Sulphur,” Ramona said, eyes scanning the crowd, “I smell sulphur.” She looked to Isobel, “Check your arm.”

Isobel did. The fine black veins were subtly moving under her skin, just visible in the dim light of the club. “Thank God it’s dark in here,” she breathed.

“It’ll help,” Ramona said, eyes wandering over the punters in the club, trying to identify the source of the sulphurous smell. “Help us camouflage, blend in.”

Isobel looked at their black clothes, a smile quirking her lips. “I think we’ve got that covered already.”

Ramona either didn’t get it or chose to ignore the joke, her attention entirely focussed on scanning the crowd. No one stood out as being particularly demonic.

“You think it’ll know what’s happened to Jake?” Isobel asked.

Ramona shrugged, “It might. If we can find it.” She looked to Isobel, “We need to circulate, flush it out, same as before.”

“We can’t kill it in here.” Isobel stared ahead, seeing images of the day’s slayings in her head, remembering the feel of bone grinding against her knife as she cut…

“You okay?” Ramona asked.

Isobel blinked as if coming back to herself, “Yeah, fine. Just had enough killing for one day you know?”

Ramona smiled sympathetically, “I know. I’m impressed you know, taking down a demon by yourself.”

“Yeah, well I had a secret weapon,” Isobel waved her scarred hand in the air.

“Still impressive.”

“Thanks.” Isobel didn’t sound especially pleased, “I’m a good murderer.” She took a long guzzle from her bottle.

“They’re not people Isobel,” Ramona said.

Isobel just gave her a sideways look. “Funny how much they scream like one when you’re sawing through their spine.”

“They want you dead so they can destroy the world.”

“I know!” Isobel almost yelled, “For fuck’s sake Ramona, I know that!” Quieter she said, “I know it was kill or be killed, I just...” she sighed, “It was horrible.”

“It was kill or be killed,” Ramona shrugged. “You chose kill, same as me.” She sniffed the air again, “I’m losing the scent. We need to circulate if we’re going to find this thing.” She was about to move when Isobel spoke.

“I wish Jake was here.” She stared down into her bottle. “I wish he was.”

“Did you mean what you said?” Ramona asked. “That you love him?”

Isobel shrugged, “Yeah,” she looked at Ramona defiantly, “Yeah, I love him.”

“Then we’ll find him,” Ramona said. “But first we need to find this demon. You with me?”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Yes.”

Isobel sighed heavily and took a drink. “Lead the way,” she gestured expansively at the club.

“You’re tainted,” Ramona smiled. “You lead.”

Isobel shook her head and pushed away from the bar. Side by side the two women walked further into the club, hunting their unidentified quarry. Isobel kept one eye on the black veins crawling along her arm.

Good thing I never got that tattoo, she thought, immediately wondering if that had actually been her decision at all. Despite Ramona’s assurance she wasn’t entirely convinced about her choices being her own. She veered left following the direction her blood led her.

Like a road map from Hell.

“Back off.” She heard Ramona say behind her. She turned and saw Ramona staring down a shaven headed guy, who was returning her major eye contact. Hell, he was smiling at her.

“Oh, come on,” he crooned leering at her, “It was just a little touch, that’s all.”

“Another little touch and I will end you,” Ramona snarled, glaring at him.

“Hey,” Isobel said.

Ramona looked at her and Isobel gestured to the side with her head, “You okay.”

“Fine,” Ramona said and cast a last furious look at the offending guy. “Let’s go.”

As soon as Ramona turned the shaven headed man, took one last squeeze of her behind.

Isobel was still thinking, Oh shit, as Ramona turned on him.

She whipped round, hair flying out in a dark wave. Her arm lashed out with incredible speed and strength, smashing into his face. He flew back, slamming into a concrete pillar before falling to the ground, screaming and clutching his broken nose. Crimson blood poured through his fingers, running down his shirt front, soaking into his jeans and dripping onto the floor. He looked up at Ramona, enraged and terrified.

“I did warn you.” She shrugged nonchalantly and turned on her heel, stalking toward the exit, as security closed in.

Isobel stood there mouth agape for a minute, before following, her mind still trying to process what she had just seen. “Jesus, Ramona,” she said as she caught up to her outside the doors. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“Yes, I did.” Ramona whirled round. “That bastard had no right to touch me like that. I am not going to take that sort of treatment and frankly neither should you. Or anyone else. Besides,” she shrugged, “That’s nothing. You should have seen some of the bar fights I grew up around.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’ve seen it all in three and half centuries,” Isobel intoned, not without sarcasm.

“Not all of it, but enough.”

“Right, fine, whatever.” Isobel closed her eyes and took a deep breath to compose herself. She could hear ambulance sirens approaching. Ambulance and probably police. “How do we get this demon now?”

“We wait,” Ramona said. “We needed to get him out here anyway, there was no way we could have killed him in there without being seen.”

“So the plan’s still on?”

“Yes. The plan’s still on.”

“Then we need to hide, get off the street before the police arrive.”

“That alley,” Ramona nodded to a narrow side street opposite, “We can hide and keep an eye out for our demon.”

Together they trotted over, disappearing into the shadowy mouth of the alley. From the darkness they watched the paramedics tend the man Ramona had assaulted, while two officers questioned him. He was still bleeding heavily from his nose.

“God, Ramona,” Isobel whispered, as she watched the paramedics wrap white bandages round his head. They quickly soaked through with blood.

The angel just shrugged and the two of them settled back into the darkness to wait.

* * *

Over an hour later, Isobel was examining her fingernails and thinking about Jake when thin black veins began creeping down her arm. “Ramona,” she said, extending her forearm toward the angel.

“About time,” Ramona peered out of the alley, trying to pinpoint the demon.

A young man in his twenties was escorting a slender dark haired woman in a skimpy white dress away from the club. They were downwind and Ramona caught a hint of sulphur on the night air. “That’s the guy,” she said nodding and slipped out of the alley.

Isobel had no time to protest that The Mortuary’s bouncers were probably looking out for them, so she just followed Ramona, sliding up beside her in the dark, putting herself between Ramona and the bouncer’s eyes. They trailed the demon for a few minutes as it headed towards a more secluded part of town.

“It’s heading towards the old town,” Isobel informed her accomplice. “There’s lots of alleys, twittens, it’s a bit of a maze.”

“Not much traffic this time of night?” Ramona asked.

“They’re a few pubs, so it’s a risky place for an ambush.” She looked round the bustling town centre, “Better than here though.”

“It’ll do then.” Ramona’s voice was hardening, preparing for combat. “Here,” she held her smaller flick-knife out to Isobel, “For when you’re ready. I’ll trust you to know when the time is right.”

Isobel reached into her pocket and withdrew her own sleek pen knife. “Got my own,” she said solemnly; she wasn’t looking forward to fighting the monster they were tracking. “Good thing clubs don’t search girls very thoroughly.”

Ramona smiled and tucked away her blade. They followed the demon for another half mile or so, the crowds thinning as they entered the old part of town. Modern buildings were increasingly replaced by Victorian and Tudor architecture. Ramona smiled wistfully at the date 1679 carved prominently on one building. Isobel looked up, also noticing the date. “How old were you then?” she asked.

“Twenty,” Ramona told her. “I was working the street at that point.” She smiled, “I was good at it too.”

“You sound like you miss it,” Isobel commented.

Ramona gave one of her elegant shrugs. “It was my human life, it wasn’t a laugh a minute, but part of me misses it. Still,” she looked at Isobel and smiled, “I wouldn’t trade now, not for the world.” Her eyes locked ahead, “Where did he go?”

Isobel consulted her arm. “Left,” she said.

They turned left and climbed a steep flight of old concrete stairs. A couple more turns brought them to a secluded side street, a short way up from a raucous pub. They glanced up the side street as they passed. The man they were following had his female companion pinned against the wall and was kissing her neck, small sounds of pleasure fell from her mouth. His other hand was hidden from view, lost in the folds of her skirt, a fact not lost on either Isobel or Ramona.

“They do this,” Ramona commented as the woman moaned a little louder. “After she climaxes he’ll rip out her throat and start eating her while she’s still alive.

“Jesus!” Isobel’s face drained of colour. “Why?”

“They enjoy human flesh.”

“Jesus,” Isobel grimaced and looked at Ramona. “Won’t she scream?”

“Not if he removes her tongue.”

Isobel just blinked, silently absorbing yet another shock. She wished to God she’d never seen this side of the world.

“Reminds me of my old job,” Ramona mused. She stopped just past the side street, Isobel stopping with her. “We’re lucky he’s distracted, but it won’t last” she said, switching to business mode. “You hold him still and I’ll ask him, very nicely, if he’s seen Jake.”

“And then?”

“And then we kill him.” Ramona’s compassion was folding away, her ruthless, sadistic streak coming to the fore.

“Right.” Isobel took out her penknife again and flicked out the short blade. She’d found it in a drawer earlier today and couldn’t recall ever having used it. Moonlight glanced off the weapon and Isobel caught a brief glimpse of her black-eyed reflection, distorted by the steel. “I’ll be glad when this is all over.”

“Won’t we all,” Ramona sounded tense. Isobel met her gaze then focussed on cutting her palm. She traced the wound from before, being careful not to go too deep. Blood welled out of the wound, glistening black in the moonlight and shadows. A man walked past from behind, wishing her and Ramona a good night. Ramona wished him one in return as he ambled by. He didn’t see what Isobel was doing.

“We need to be quick about this,” Ramona said and headed into the side street.

The woman’s moans were coming quicker now.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Ramona drawled, “Honey.” The demon’s eyes flicked round as did the woman’s. “Let her go,” Ramona told him.

The man just laughed, “Who are you?”

“You know who I am,” Ramona said. “At least you should know what I am.”

His cocky smile faltered as recognition dawned.

Ramona’s widened in anticipation.

“Who the hell are you?” The woman asked, smoothing her tiny skirt down.

Ramona ignored her, focussing only on the demon, her eyes locked fully on her prey.

“I’d get out of here if I were you,” Isobel warned her. “This guy isn’t what he seems.”

“Men never are,” Ramona said, staring right at the demon, “Ain’t that right baby.”

“This your girlfriend?” The woman asked, drunkenly.

“Something like that.” Ramona continued to glare at the man.

The woman looked at the major eye contact between Ramona and her supposed beau and obviously saw something that alarmed her. She fled past Ramona and Isobel, out into the night.

Ramona smiled at the demon. “Isobel.”

She stepped forward, hand held out, bleeding palm facing the monster. The demon froze in place, a snarl of defiance forming on his face.

“What do you want?” he snarled, his voice twisting into something evil.

“Jake.” Isobel said, moving further forwards, palm outstretched. “Where’s Jake?”

“Who?” The demon asked as Isobel walked right up to him and smeared gore down his face, holding him rooted to the spot with her will and her blood. He tried to resist, to move his head. He couldn’t. Ramona had been right; getting blood on them definitely made the demons easier to control. Isobel stepped back, still holding out her hand. “Jake.”

“I don’t know any Jake,” the demon snorted.

“You’d know him,” Ramona said, coming up to the demon, standing right in front of him, moving Isobel slightly to the side. “He’s tainted, like this one,” she nodded to Isobel, “long hair, tallish, grungy looking. Any idea where he is?”

“No.”

“Really?” Ramona said, “That’s a shame.” She took hold of his little finger, “I felt sure you’d know something.” She pulled the finger, ripping it clean off his hand in one swift movement. He screamed, writhing in agony. Ramona clamped her hand over his mouth to stop the screams escaping into the night. She grabbed the next finger, “Where is he?” she asked and pulled again, tearing another digit off. Blood ran in rivers from the stumps, falling to the pavement in the dark like an obsidian waterfall.

“Jesus, Ramona,” Isobel said, looking away, the violence was hard to watch. The demon surged inside her head, taking advantage of her lapse, trying to break her grip. She blinked back tears and refocused her efforts, pushing him back. “That’s making him harder to hold! I can’t keep this up if you keep torturing him!”

“Shame” Ramona said, eyeing the demon’s terrified face. “I love drawing these things out as long as I can.” She smiled cruelly at the man, “Where’s Jake?”

“I don’t know!” he mewled.

“What about the apocalypse?” Ramona said. “What do you know about that? Where are the other sacrifices to be held? When?”

The demon laughed, bleakly. “Fuck you,” he spat through the pain.

Ramona ripped off another finger. Blood splattered the floor, damp noises filling the air. This time she let him scream.

“Ramona!” Isobel cried.

Ramona looked round. Sweat was breaking out on Isobel’s brow, her hand wavering. Even with her blood smeared on the demon she was starting to lose control over him.

“Shit,” Ramona muttered. She turned back to the demon, “Last chance.”

He glared at her. “I have no chance with you,” he snarled, fire leaping into his eyes.

“You know who I am then.”

“Angel,” he spat at her feet.

He screamed again as Ramona tore off another finger.

“Don’t spit at me,” she snapped.

“You’ll not stop us, not this time.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” she took out her small flick knife, flicking it open in a single smooth movement. The eerie white light emanating from within the blade cast a low light on the walls, lending the whole scene a surreal otherworldly quality. She put the tip of the blade under the demon’s chin, steam rising where the blessed steel pushed into his skin. A trickle of blood ran down his neck accompanied by the smell of burning flesh. “Where and when are the sacrifices happening? I know it’s soon. Where’s Jake?”

The demon began to laugh. Ramona’s knife dug further into his skin. Her victim whimpered.

“Ramona, I can’t hold him much longer!” Isobel’s voice was urgent. She was losing control.

“Sorry,” Ramona cooed at the demon, “Time’s up. And I was so enjoying our conversation.”

She plunged the knife into the demon’s chest, piercing the heart. With the man still screaming and writhing against her she sawed a hole in his chest and tore his heart out with her bare hand, throwing it onto the floor behind her. Stepping back she stamped on the heart, fluids leaking out as she crushed the organ beneath her boot. The body slumped inert to the ground. Crossing back to it, she drew her sword from behind her and brought it up to decapitate her foe.

“Is that really necessary?” Isobel asked with a grimace. She knew the answer of course, but she’d had enough gore for one day. She was bent over, hands on her knees, breathing heavily. Holding the demon in place had taken a lot out of her and frankly she wasn’t in the mood for more bloodshed.

“Yes,” Ramona shot her a wicked half smile and swung the sword. It cleaved the head in one swoop, the blade singing as the tip bit into the pavement beneath. Ramona flicked it up, pulling it out of the concrete as if it were nothing and sending a small arc of blood flying in the process. Isobel averted her gaze as blood flowed out of the neck stump where Ramona had severed the head. She sat down heavily on a nearby bench, feeling dizzy and holding her face in her shaking hands.

“You okay?” Ramona sheathed her sword.

Isobel shook her head. “No,” she said, “No, not really.” She looked up at Ramona, her own blood smeared on her face, “That’s the third execution I’ve seen like that today. I’m not used to this level of violence. Hell, I’ve never even been in a bar fight, let alone a supernatural war!”

Ramona smiled, “I used to love a good bar fight.”

Isobel just shook her head.

They were no closer to finding Jake.


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