“I cannot! I will travel this week as I cannot get a refund!” lamented a redhead.
“Traveling? Are you kidding?” Jake glared at the girl. “I do not know what you have been up to, Olivia. You always come up with some excuse when something unforeseen arises. I do not know why I even surprise myself!” Suspiciously he added, “If it is not true and you just want to play the smartass, you can start finding a place to stay next week. I will mount a vigil by your window!”
“I also will not be able to cover the shift. Samuel finally asked me out and guess what? Our meeting will be next week.” justified a short-haired blond girl with big, green eyes.
“Lana, is that a joke? You have this whole week to do it, so stop being petty!” Now, it was time for Nathan to rage.
“As if!” she snapped. “You know, Samuel is extremely inﬂexible. He is proud and will never invite me to a meeting again!”
Nathan frowned at her and let out a grimace. “Maybe the real hidden agenda behind this is just to get away because you are afraid. It’s no secret to us as you always become frightened when the portals go into great activity,” he said.
Lana put her hands on her hips and asked him, “And you? What’s your excuse? From what I know, you will not travel far and will not have a date!”
The four young men were arguing frantically. The confusion was related to who would be the lucky one to protect the region in Mark’s absence, as he would be away during that week. The smart Guardians have predicted the busy and exciting nights out that would follow the raids.
Jake rolled his eyes, pointed at everyone, and shouted, “No more bullshit! You’re acting like children. Where’s the professionalism, guys? You know what? I’ll take the next shift. Anyway, this week I have nothing exciting or fun to do other than to kill some demons.” It was as if he did not care, however he was apprehensive. The time indicated that the next day would be intense. The portals would come into great activity and various creatures and demonic entities would take a walk on Earth that night.
Mark entered the room, holding a steaming cup of coffee. He said, “I see you’ve resolved the issue and I can go for quiet socializing. Do I need to worry?” The conductor raised an eyebrow in question and pointed to the troublemakers, “Lana? Nathan?”
“No,” both grumbled sullenly.
“Great!” He sat quietly in a chair, sipped his coffee and vented, “Unbelievable! Why must you always be so uncooperative and moody? Will I have to wait you to complete a century of life before you act like adults? Frankly, I miss that law which forbade sending brats with less than a hundred years to work here on Earth!” Mark, who was still angry, put the coffee cup on the table and added, “God of heaven! Next time, be smarter rather than wasting time arguing and making excuses. Just take your luck at the straws like any mortal and cowardly being would do.”
They stole glances with each other, not liking a bit of the context and direction in which the conversation went. Continuing with the scolding, Mark revealed, “Do you think I do not know? You are making excuses to get away! The next few days promise imminent invasions. The gloomy weather stretches out there.” He gave a fierce look to everyone and said, “We must be prepared to protect the entire perimeter that is part of our jurisdiction!” He motioned for Jake to approach him. Mark said, “I want you to be responsible for them.”
Jake stared at the conductor and protested. “That’s impossible! I’ll have to kill many demons, cover your shift in that week! Please be kind to me and do not place this burden in my life!”
Mark said, “Touching, but I’m not convinced. Now, stop whining!” He pointed to the door. “Get out of here, all of you! I need to pack!”
As Mark had warned, the first night Jake would cover his shift had begun turbulent. He sensed a signal from a portal which was located near a park. As expected, the demons resolved to cross at the worst times. A few hours earlier, he had a fight with Tiago, a asshole he always faced when they met at a party. Today, he and Tiago went to the point of facing a full brawl of punches and kicks. Jake was stronger but got his leg hurt. Also, he did not exclude the fact of taking a good punch and got a black eye. His body remained sore. His healing powers did not apply to such situations and Jake was not willing and not very patient in facing any demon. Incidentally, patience was one of the virtues that a great majority of the Guardians did not possess. He parked his car in a secluded street. He picked up his bag and limped towards the place where he had received the signal of demonic activity.
Jake stopped when he came across the first clue that indicated the presence of some creature belonging to the Kingdom of Darkness. The smell was terrible. He would never forget the characteristic odor of demons; they stank of rot and sulfur. Judging by the intensity in which the smell manifested, the Guardian did not rule out the possibility that the devil was hiding somewhere close. He could also sense the presence of Jake. The creature had created a portal on a very busy site, predicting that Jake would not use his supernatural powers in front of humans. It was imperative that Guardians did not reveal their supernatural attributes to humans nor the true nature of their existence.
“Clever creature!” Jake muttered aloud, looking around the park. In fact, he was furious. Killing these creatures without using his supernatural powers was complicated. The demons were fast, powerful, and moved like smoke. In one instant, they were in one location, and seconds later, they materialized into another. The chances of success in a face-to-face fight with the demons were not so rosy when not using any powers. However, he had preventive measures. He carried it hidden in his backpack, his mystical sword. At the sight of him, the Guardian froze. The demon was hiding behind a couple who was pushing a stroller. Jake knew he could not simply kill him in front of humans; he would have to improvise. He followed the couple who casually strolled through the park, accompanied by the beast that crawled behind them. Humans could not see nor feel the presence of creatures of darkness.
Jake needed to approach the couple in an attempt to ward off the devil. He thoughtfully scratched his face, hoping to find a simple solution to his problem. Suddenly, he was hit by a simple idea. Jake would do what every normal human being would. He asked the couple, “Hi! What time is it?” As he asked the question, he observed the creature. The demon was a female. Her body was covered with scales from her tail to her neck. Her long arms had built-in sharp claws like daggers. Her bat wings were folded behind her back and instead of feet, she had a tail. She was disgusting because of her hair, which were actually fine snakes. To complete the package, she had a thin waist and she was red in color.
“Your watch does not work?” asked the man, pointing to his watch. The creature which had not manifested itself looked at him with glazed eyes and dropped a laugh worthy of a horror movie.
“It could only be a female, right?!” Jake snapped with a disgusted expression referring to the creature.
“What did you say?” the man asked accusingly.
“Uh ...” Jake was confused and turned his attention to the creature. He realized the blunder he had done. Mentally cursing himself for forgetting that he was wearing a huge watch, Jake apologized to the man and pointed to his wrist. “My watch does not work... My female, she broken!” Jake said.
The man looked at Jake as if he were some kind of insane space creature. The woman put the baby on her lap. The man said, “Listen, son. If you need money or some object of value, unfortunately I don’t have them. You are strong, young, and handsome. You should not use drugs!”
Yikes! The situation was becoming embarrassing. The damn creature was rolling on the ﬂoor and laughing. Jake would not let this bring him down. He decided to risk plotting another plan, ruining his own reputation to save that family.
“You are right! I really need to stop using drugs,” Jake said. With his head down and a sad expression on his face, he asked, “Will you do me a favor? Could you take me to the nearest church here? I do not know any as I’m new in town.” Joining his hands in a gesture of supplication, he added candidly, “I’m sure praying and bringing me to a good priest would be a great start!” The creature grunted and stopped laughing. Take that, hideous creature from hell! Jake thought triumphantly, throwing a wink and his best killer smile to the devil. She would be forced to leave the couple. No demonic creature had access to a church. They could not go in, simple as that. Unsatisfied and outraged, the beast raised an eyebrow in challenge. Now, the battle was waged between the two. Demons were proud but rarely got away from their opponents when they were challenged or provoked.
Frowning, the man asked, “Church? Are you sure? Don’t you want a plate of food?”
The guy wanted to play the good Samaritan. Ah! What’s this? Jake was nonconformist. He was not in his best day, but also was not poorly dressed. Neither was he drugged. Jake made a mental note that when the whole farce was over, he would check it out at home just in case. Then, he remembered that he was still limping and had a black eye. Tiago, the son of a bitch! Returning to reality, Jake asked, “No, sir. I would prefer to go straight to the church. Thank you kindly.”
Everyone stopped opposite the entrance. He had the intention of sending the couple into the church and get rid of the demon once and for all. Jake spoke, “I’ve been thinking and I came to the conclusion that it would be best if you entered first and talked with the priest about me.” The boy hunched his shoulders. “Do you know,” he gestured to himself, “to prepare you... I’ll be out here waiting.”
The woman, a tall brunette, looked angrily at him. Her stock of patience was out. However, she did not complain to her husband. She watched the baby and entertained him with a rattle. Little did they know that there was a hideous beast by their side which considering its proximity, seemed to be part of the family.
“All right, son! Let us do it for you. Just promise us that you will take everything seriously and abandon this teeming life of drugs and crime,” the man said.
Crimes? Great! There’s more items for his list of marginalities. Jake said, “Thank you! Hurry up, I’m excited.” He thanked them, pushed the couple into the church and closed the door, leaving only him and the creature outside. The beast did not move. She just stared at him and put out her long, forked tongue, trying to detect his intentions.“You know, if your snake hair was not so disgusting, I would invite you for a walk. You have quite a waist on you,” he said as he tried to distract her.
The creature widened its huge yellow eyes and disappeared. Moments later, she abruptly materialized right in front of him and pushed Jake with all her might against the wall. He shouted in rage and pain as the beast sank one of its sharp claws into his abdomen. The other was in charge of crushing his neck. His plan did not work as expected. It was too fast and did not give him a chance to fight back. His thick blood began to ﬂow through the perforations, staining his white shirt.
Jake grabbed the creature by her hair, which were actually poisonous snakes. He needed to reach his backpack which had fallen on the ﬂoor from the attack. All he needed was his mystical sword. He tried to pull away but the demon was too strong. He used all his strength to carry her in an attempt to bring her down and push her against the wall they were leaning on. He fell to the ground in a thud. The snakes ceaselessly bit his arm and hand when Jake held the head of the beast. He looked away from the mouth of the creature which placed its poisoned tongue out, trying to inject more toxins into him. The Guardian was getting groggy from the poison and the excruciating pain in his abdomen throbbed intensely.
While Jake lay on the ﬂoor, she rolled over him and tried to suffocate him. Jake reached out and managed to get his bag, shaking it and spreading the objects that were inside. He desperately patted the ground in search of the sword and when he found it, he activated the light beam. The creature was pushed backwards and her head was cut off. Then, the demon became a black mist. Jake looked around and noticed the mess he had caused. His backpack was open and all his belongings were scattered on the sidewalk. He looked at himself and his lips parted in surprise. He was all bloody, sweaty, and disheveled with a torn and stained shirt. On the ﬂoor was a filthy puddle of blood with a dark, gooey liquid that oozed from the creature when it was mutilated. He prayed silently that the good Samaritan would not appear at that time with the Salvation Army.
He quickly took off the shirt he was wearing and began to wipe all traces of blood from his face and belly. He also cleaned the ﬂoor. His injuries had already started the healing process as he had the power to cure himself. With the almost tidy mess, Jake was still crouched on the ﬂoor and put his things inside his backpack. Suddenly, the door opened and out came the family accompanied by a priest. They looked at him in shock. With a look of pity, the old priest stammered, “Oh, my son! I see that your friend did not exaggerate. Do not worry, we will help you. We have a hostel for young, homeless wanderers just like you who live on the streets. You can stay there.”
At that time, Jake did not object but could not stop thinking, “A wanderer and homeless? You Must be kidding!!”