Once outside, Jake spotted the other Guardians who stood leaning against a car near the corner. He seemed apprehensive. He wondered what could have happened that the entire delegation came after him. Certainly it would not be good. Everyone knew that he was meeting with Kate that night.
“What happened? Why are all the guys here? Where’s Mark?” Jake asked, crossing his arms to hide his nervousness.
“Relax, Mark is in the congregation. What brought us here has only to do with Kate,” Lana said worriedly.
“Leave the suspense and speak up!” Jake pinched nerve.
“Yesterday after class, we followed Kate to her house and noticed indications that some sort of creature had been there before, just hanging around,” Nathan spoke. “It was difficult to foresee at it had no distinctive smell of demons. We are now in doubt. We went home and told Mark about it. He explained that maybe it was not exactly a creature but a specific type, not a born devil, who became one of their own volition. You know exactly what I mean.”
“A Guardian of Darkness!” Jake shuddered, thinking about the possibility of bumping into some out there. They were fatal and were much worse than the creatures and demons that faced the boys. Having turned and departed from the planet Zebheus willingly, they had been Guardians of Orpheus many years ago. “What does all this have to do with Kate? Why didn’t you tell me this before?” Jake wondered, looking accusingly at Lana. The previous night they spent hunting for spirits. She had not mentioned anything about that story to him.
“I did not know and nobody told me anything. Yesterday when I left college, I went straight to the mall,” Lana said in her own defense and added, “Half an hour ago, we sensed an immense demonic activity near her house. The strange thing is that when we went to check, there was nothing, no smell nor evidence. It was as if some creature had made the passage but disappeared at the same time unlike the previous cases which could pass through the gates. There was no warning,” she rubbed away a chill. “Everything is getting weirder.”
“Ok! You managed to scare me. I’d better go get Kate, take her home, and check the territory. Whatever these creatures are looking for, they will not give up until they find it.” Squinting, he decided to speak. “Meet me at the congregation.”
“No way! We’ll go with you,” Nathan warned, feeling the protective brother.
“He’s right, the detected activity was outside the box. It’s best if we stayed together.” Olivia seemed a little distressed. Even if she did not like that story, she thought it was best to follow them and check the site again.
“Okay. Follow me from afar and don’t let her know it,” Jake said, leaving to get back to Kate.
He rejoined the party and saw that Kate was being harassed by Tiago. He swore, “All that remained was this close to my night! To my knowledge, the thwack he took was not strong enough to warn him to stop grinding my girl.” Jake abruptly approached him and said in a voracious tone, “Tiago. I noticed how you’ve sympathized with Kate.” With a mouth straight, he warned, “I must inform you that if you do not leave her alone right now, you will eat and drink through a straw for the rest of your life!”
The mission of Tiago seemed to be making Jake’s life miserable. “Relax, partner! Is that not how we are? You’ve been very nervous.” He let out a teasing giggle. “You know my friend, I realized that your girl is quite different from the others.” Tiago was teasing him. He also realized that Kate had a distorted aura.
Before Jake put a fist in his face again, Kate avoided the confrontation by taking him by the hand and moved him away. Feeling that Jake remained tense, she asked, “What happened? Why did you take so long?” She sighed, shaking his hand while he was willing to pull her back. “Do you want to stop getting those hands off me?” While scolding him, she shook her head slightly. “That guy was so screwed up, I could sue him for assault,” she complained, signaling towards Tiago.
Without saying a word, Jake watched her in silence for a moment. She made him tense and restless. When they were alone in her room, he could barely focus on his mission. Kate was beautiful and that dress was too tempting. He imagined how it would have been kissing her.
“Hey! Are you listening?” Kate asked.
“Yes, I am.” He closed his eyes and kissed her face, smelling her scent and regretting the night that was interrupted. All he wanted most was right in front him, but to comply with his duty and obligation was on top of his list of priorities. “Forget about that asshole,” he said, and took her hand without fear. “We’d better go. I’ll take you home.” They left the party while it was still buzzing. The night was cold as the temperature had fallen a few degrees. Jake made a visual signal for the Guardians to follow him. He put his arm over her shoulder and asked softly, “Is it okay to warm you up a bit until we get to the car? You won’t leave me blind or with a black eye? Or will you fulfill that absurd promise of making me a eunuch?”
Kate smiled at him and replied, “I think not. You’re already ugly and scary enough. Blind or bruised would be terrifying. As for the eunuch, do a favor to humanity. Don’t spread your roots around the world.”
He stopped at the same moment, frowning with greater scowl. “Okay, now it’s official. You won. I will look for a psychoanalyst,” he said.
Laughing, the two walked to the car. She was freezing as the weather had changed a lot. Before leaving for the party, she thought of bringing a jacket. However, the night was pleasant and seemed to have no possibilities to cool down. She felt an agonizing sensation and a shiver through her body from head to toe, accompanied by a searing pain in her chest. The night seemed strange and aroused a ﬂeeting feeling. With the intention to get home, she requested for Jake to hurry. He was afraid, concluding that there was something wrong with her. After leaving the party, the girl had been completely upset and barely spoke to him on the way back home.
When they finally reached the gate, he asked, “Is there something wrong, Kate? Why are you so upset?” He stroked her face. “Was it something I did?”
She shook her head. “It’s alright, I’m just cold and I have a headache,” she stared at him, forcing a smile. She was not feeling well and wanted to go home soon. Grabbing his hand, she added, “You were nice to me today. You almost convinced me you were a hero, hitting one thwack on that cheeky face.”
Jake laughed and smiled. However, he deduced that Kate was disappointed. Being cool and a hero perhaps were not exactly the attributes that she expected from him. When they were dancing close together, he could have sworn she felt her heart racing.
“I’d better go and put my mother to bed.” She rubbed her arms, trying to head off that icy feeling. “No doubt she’s asleep on the couch waiting for me. I’m sure there’s a possible interview.”
They both laughed at the possibility that Kate’s mother was waiting for her. He came over and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Should he kiss her? He decided not to because he knew he had an audience. The other Guardians were watching and waiting for him.
“I really enjoyed tonight. I hope we can do it again sometime,” he whispered and placed a kiss on her forehead. She said nothing, waved her hand, and hurried off towards the house. As soon as the girl entered, Jake thought about the possibility of keeping a vigil at the outskirts, hoping that such demons returned. It would be the only way to keep her safe. In all the time he spent in front of the house, he had not sensed anything unusual. There was no sign of demonic activity.
Jake walked towards the Guardians who were standing near a car parked down the street. He would call them to assemble a schema relay aiming to watch over the entire neighborhood, but once he distanced himself a few meters from the house, he heard a very loud cry, making him freeze at once. “Kate!” he shouted. Without thinking, he ran towards the house.
The front door was ajar and upon entering the room, Kate noticed the darkness that dominated the room. She smelled an odor which was thick everywhere. It was horrible and had the disgusting smell of death. The same ﬂeeting feeling which she felt earlier had awakened a terrible memory. Swallowing hard, she ran desperately searching for her parents. She heard noises and moans coming from the kitchen. Kate froze instantly, feeling dizzy, and felt a stinging pain. She believed it to be reaching her soul. She watched two horrifying demons destroy everything. They looked like dragons, had horns covering their heads, and huge wings covered with sharp spikes that looked like razors. Their eyes were red and their mouths were full of sharp teeth. They had a long, pointed tail and their bodies were covered with thorns. The beasts were identical and differentiated only by color, one being gray and the other black.
She screamed with horror when she saw her father dead and disemboweled on the ﬂoor while her mother remained alive under the unclean body of one of the creatures. In a moment of desperation, Kate went to the kitchen drawer looking for a knife. The creatures seemed to see her. Great, she thought, so it would be easier to crimp the dragon in his gut. She did not think twice when running towards the creature that attacked her mother. She tried to complete the dangerous notion that she would submit to his life as it no longer mattered. From that day, nothing more would make sense.
When she was about to stab the creature, she felt a sharp tug on her arm and was knocked back. Bewildered, she looked up and saw it was Jake. Rising rapidly with the knife, Kate did not listen to what he said and moved towards the devil.
“Kate! With this you won’t be able to kill him!” The Guardian tried to hold her with great difficulty. She possessed incredible strength, perhaps due to some adrenaline rush. Kate pushed him away. Jake, failing to hold her, shouted to Lana, “help me!”
The Guardian ran to assist Jake while Olivia fought with the demon that attacked Kate’s mother. Nathan was in charge of killing the other beast. The kitchen was in chaos. Olivia, with her supernatural powers, released a thick curtain of air over the creature, throwing it away from Rosalia. The beast struck back with a puff of fire that looked more like a kind of acidic lava, solidifying any object it touched. The Guardian, being agile and smart, intercepted the ﬂuid with a powerful air lock. While the demon was preparing for another attack by providing more viscous lava, Olivia threw everything at him and with her mystical sword, she began to strike the beast. “Take this, you fucking killer!” she screamed crazy while hanging on his back, holding it by the horns. With several thrusts, the Guardian pierced its eyes and tore the throat of the creature with her sword. The devil’s roar reverberated throughout the room. It was hard to kill as it had a body completely covered by a dense layer of spiny scales that hindered access of the sword. Due to Olivia’s insane attack, the spines of the beast pierced her arms but she did not care. To kill it was her only goal.
Meanwhile, Nathan tried to distract the other demon. Deviating from the bursts of fire, it caused small earthquakes in the kitchen. The whole house Kate shook, toppling furniture and objects including causing huge cracks in the walls which threatened to collapse at any moment. However, this unusual action prevented the creature from aiming his acid on Nathan and the others. He took advantage of the instability of the beast and opened a crater, causing the demon to fall into it. With the beast trapped inside and inept, he closed the hole, crushing the beast. It squirmed and let out puffs of fire.
Jake looked around and saw that his friends were managing to dominate their opponents. He could not let Kate go loose. He hugged her tightly, stroking her hair while she cried a lot. She was completely out of it but was less angry. He felt a little relieved that Kate had dropped the knife and did not struggle as much. She just trembled and sweated through her cold skin. Lana, who had come to help Nathan, made sure that Kate did not escape and ran back up the creature. “Stay calm beautiful, I’m here.” Jake wiped with his fingers the tears that streamed down Kate’s face. “Nothing bad will happen to you. Please, you have to trust me,” he said.
“Let me see my mom. Is she still alive?” Kate said, sobbing.
“Come with me then, but do not dare to approach those beasts,” he warned the girl and took her to her mother’s inert body. Rosalia was badly hurt and had lost a lot of blood. She was breathing with great difficulty.
Kate crouched coming very close to her face. She put a hand over her head and the other stroked her face. To Kate’s relief, her mother opened her eyes. She looked at her daughter’s face and said, “My dear, do not cry. You’ll be fine, I promise. They will never find you as they cannot see you.” Rosalia coughed up blood as she spoke. “My angel, all these changes were to protect you. You are very special.” Rosalia reached out in an attempt to touch her daughter’s face. “We did what had to be done! We did what was in our power to be able to save you, so do not hate us.” Rosalia struggled to breathe. The injuries caused by the beast were devastating.
“Who or what are they, Mother? Why do they want to kill me? Tell me, please.” Desperate to unravel this puzzle and break this cycle of horrors that repeatedly destroyed her life, Kate questioned her mother in tears, knowing she had little time left.
Jake accompanied the suffering of both closely. He remained crouched on the other side of Rosalia in an attempt to discover the source of the attack. Still fighting for her life, Rosalia called the two closer. Taking the hand of her daughter, she asked weakly and with narrowed eyes, “How was the meeting? Did he kiss you?”
Upon hearing her mother ask about her first encounter almost dying, she let out a sob and lied, “Yes Mother, he kissed me.”
The Guardian felt a strong distress crushing his chest and a pain that seemed to grind all the nerves of his body as if he were in the shoes of the poor woman. It was not fair that Kate’s parents died that way because of those damned demons. He clenched his jaw firm to ward off that sickening feeling and looked at Rosalia, who smiled upon hearing the response of the child. Moments later, the woman, her voice trembling, looked at him and pleaded, “Take care of her, please ... Kate needs you ...” Soon after the request, Rosalia took a last breath and closed her eyes forever.
The house where Kate lived was practically in a state of calamity. In addition, most of it was destroyed due to the fickle tremors, creatures, and where four Guardians argued hysterically while a frightened and desolate girl cried and cried. Fortunately, she lived in a cul de sac and had no neighbors who lived close by. The houses were far apart in that area so there was no fanfare. The tragedy had happened in the kitchen where the bodies of her parents were stretched lifeless on the ground, bathed in a sea of blood. The demons turned into a black mist after being killed, disintegrating entirely in the air.
After Rosalia died, Jake pulled Kate away from her mother’s body and took her in his arms. He no longer wanted the girl to witness all that carnage. He had even covered with a blanket what was left of her father’s body. Kate tried to get near him but the Guardian prevented her from doing so. A bloody and full vision of savagery like that would further traumatize her.
Lana, angry and indignant, waved away that unfortunate scene. “People, what nonsense was that? Can someone explain to me why we didn’t foresee these demons?” She pointed to where the creatures had been before. “And the smell? They didn’t smell.”
“That is not right! Something’s wrong,” said Nathan, wiping the sweat from his brow. “It is very rare for that kind of demon to transit on Earth. They do not kill humans. Is there anything that does not fit in this story?” he said thoughtfully as he wiped the dirt off his shoulder. “The creatures passed through the gates, we sensed the signal, but we did not detect them.”
Lana looked at him seriously and felt butterﬂies in her stomach. “It seems that when we checked the area, they were already present. However, they had some kind of lock or protection to prevent them from being tracked.” She tried a logical explanation for what had happened, and wondered why the bloody carnage had to happen just this week when she was responsible for the shift. Hell was even conspiring against her. In addition to sending spirits and bastard entities, now they were sending hideous, murderous beasts.
“What about the smell? I have never witnessed anything like it. The creatures did not have any smell,” Olivia said incredulously.
Kate interrupted her cry and bellowed in a voice above normal, “Are you kidding? Are you not smelling it?” She pointed to Lana, “You were saying that you were here before and saw nothing?” She looked and asked all the Guardians, “What has happened here? Who are you and how did you kill these demons? From what I know, young people do not gallop about beasts from hell. They do not carry swords in their purses and cause earthquakes!”
Olivia looked at Kate and said angrily, “And by that, little girl, we have just saved your life! I have to agree. With that little knife that you had on hand, it couldn’t have done much. The most that it could have done was to cause your own death!” Olivia, who no longer liked Kate, could not repress her discontent and took the opportunity to vent her anger, “Do you want some advice, girl? Arguably the weird one here is you. The demons are after you, not me!”
“But of course ... You do not smell it because it is already used by you, so certainly that smell is coming from you, redhead!” Kate stared at her, biting her lip hard. Her vision darkened as a result of anger and pain. She realized that she would be able to commit crazy things right there. Still staring at the pretentious redhead, she added with a pointed look, “You are right. With the knife I could not even kill some demon. However, I might as well cut your tongue.” She broke free from the arms of Jake, took the knife and raked the ground.
“Stop already, you two! That is not how we solve problems.” Jake pulled the redhead roughly by the arm, brought her close to his face and yelled in her ear, “And for you Olivia, I will give you some friendly advice. Keep your poison well away from Kate because if you dare to talk to her again, you will turn into black smoke.”
“Look at that! He’s pathetic, guys! Our Guardian playing the Romeo!” Olivia looked at him, giving a sarcastic laugh and said, “You’re taking this thing too seriously. The meeting was arranged so you could investigate her.” She pointed directly to Kate. “I was enjoying this detective thing so much that I went to that little party. I saw how much you took advantage of her. I saw when you were about to kiss this weird girl,” Olivia said bitterly.
Hearing these last words, everyone was silent. Jake did not fight the charges and Kate looked away, staring at his calloused hands. She stiﬂed a sob, feeling betrayed and outraged. Stood facing him, looked directly into his eyes, and gave him a slap in the face. “How can you lie and deceive me? If you knew there was something wrong with me, why did you not tell me? See,” she said, pointing to the lifeless bodies of her parents. “Now, they are dead and I have no one ...” She grabbed her own hair, screaming in fury and total despair. “How will I go on now? This was my third foster family!” She walked from one side to the other, kicking pots and objects that were scattered on the ﬂoor. Everything seemed too surreal. Feeling the most cursed creature on the planet, she continued, “My other families were also killed when I was a child. I never had anyone to turn to! No one believed in me! You knew everything, so why didn’t you tell me?” Completely out of it, she pounded Jake’s chest while she cried.
“Kate, it’s not what you’re thinking. Listen to me, please,” he begged, trying to make her understand. “I was trying to help but I just could not touch a delicate subject like that all of a sudden. I needed you to trust me before I could do so.”
“You were trying to kiss me!” she accused him. “I do not want to hear anything more, Jake. Stay away from me! All of you!” she said while crying and ran towards her bedroom.
“Give her a break. The girl just lost her parents. From what I understand, this is the third time!” Lana said, holding Jake by the arm, stopping him from going after her.
Kate entered her room with a single goal, to pack and leave. It didn’t make sense for her to continue living in Alcantes let alone in this house. After all, it had practically been destroyed. The creatures had to be found.
Decided, she grabbed her bag and emptied the drawers and cabinets. She looked candidly at the wall that had pictures of all the places she had lived in and imagined that maybe her life was in summary, escaping from all of this. To just live with the purpose of escaping, what would this life be like? Was it not better to just have died along with her adoptive family? What would she do from now on? Where would she go? The demons will not give up and continue the search. At this point, she no longer believed in a happy ending.
What about Jake, lying like that? Knowing that she was different, however, did not tell her anything. If he had opened the game early on about her being a freak girl, maybe her parents would still be alive. Her beloved parents were brutally murdered by these demonic creatures. Who would believe her? How would she explain this to the authorities? Surely she would not stay to find out how the story ends. Standing with the suitcase ready, she planned to get out sooner. She made sure not to forget to the documents and the bank account number in which her father had set aside some savings to help with her college expenses. At that moment, she realized that the money her parents had saved all these years was for her to have enough money and continue with life. They were ready and waiting for this damn day, the day she’d be an orphan again.
With everything set up, she lamented not being able to bring her books. She could only take what was necessary. She decided to go out the window, thinking it was the best way to escape without anyone seeing her. When she was about to jump, she missed something. A feeling of emptiness and guilt welled up in her chest. Looking back, she saw the old teddy bear lying on her bed. She had it ever since she was a baby. Instinctively, she returned to pick it up. She did not know why but she could not leave it behind.
Mark, who had just arrived at Kate’s house, stared in amazement at the state of the kitchen and was shocked to see the body of Kate’s father disemboweled on the ﬂoor. He listened intently to the incident in which all the Guardians had witnessed. “Inexplicable! The demons went through the portal and we received the signal. When we got here, we couldn’t sense them!” Nathan was sitting on a stool. “We also didn’t smell anything, but the girl did.”
“The strangest of all was the fact that the creatures didn’t seem to see her. When the demon was facing her, it did not react nor attack,” said Lana, completely stunned.
Jake explained, “They really can’t see Kate. Before she died, Rosalia said something about the demons not being able to see Kate and said that even if they continued to pursue her, they would never find her.”
Lana said smiling as she was a little relieved, “Bingo! This explains a lot ... Her parents were human whereas the girl was adopted. It also explains her distorted aura. This fact proves she carries a shield that protects her from the demons.” She gnawed a nail, thinking that the week had barely begun, and so much horror had already been caused. “What do the creatures of darkness want with Kate?”
Olivia cleaned the dried blood off her hands with a dishcloth. She stared at the Guardian and mocked, “Ah, yes ... That should be the big question, one that is worth a million dollars!” Still shaken by the monstrous events of the night, she continued, “I wanted to know the real reason behind all the murders. Why kill the girl’s family if she can never be found?”
“The creatures killed her family in order to extract information. Her parents did not reveal anything about Kate’s whereabouts, which obviously aroused the wrath of the demons. They are already wicked and persistent by nature. They will try anything to obtain any information,” Jake stated as he shook his head, unhappy.
Mark examined the deplorable ravages of the bodies lying on the ground and spoke thoughtfully, “This theory proves the savagery of the murders.” He signaled with his head towards the bodies. Checking the entire kitchen, the regent continued, “Well, the first step is to clean up this mess and remove all traces of evidence. I do not want the police to think it was a homicide.” He called Jake who continued with a hot head, wandering from one place to another, totally aimless, “I need you burn the house down but make it look like an accident. A gas leak, for example. No traces.” He replaced the blanket that covered one of the bodies and asked, “Where is the girl?”
“She ran into the room where should probably be crying,” Olivia said, launching a provocative look toward Jake.
“What is your problem, stupid? The girl just lost the only family she had,” Jake replied bravely, and went out looking for her.
“Yeah, go get her,” said Mark. “We will take her with us to the congregation. We have to find the reason she is being chased by those demons. Based on everything you have told me, they’ve been looking for her for years.
The Guardian walked unsteadily to the bedroom. Kate was furious because Jake had lied and her family was dead because of it. He entered the room but did not see her. He was distressed to find that the cupboard was open and all the drawers were empty. Despair hit him hard, causing him a shortness of breath. Kate was gone and left everything, including him.
“Why did she escape? She’s so vulnerable and distracted at this time. There has just been a demonic double homicide that occurred right under our noses!” he thought. Nervously, Mark ran his hand through his hair. An inexplicable situation like this where demons created portals and invaded the land undetected was totally unacceptable. All the Guardians who inhabited the Earth were extremely sensitive, endowed with great supernatural powers and spells. All these attributes they possessed were to ensure that these types of fatalities did not occur. “This region is part of our jurisdiction and our duty was to not allow these creatures to cross the portal causing deaths!” He was furious. “When the other congregations learn of this disaster, we will surely be held accountable by not complying with the requirements!”
“Hey, calm down! We will find her ... It may not be so hard to find an orphan wandering around town. She doesn’t have anywhere to go, and it’s likely that she does not have enough money to leave Alcantes,” Lana tried to calm the regent.
“I hope you’re right. I do not want to be discouraged. From now on, what happens to this girl will be entirely our responsibility!” He clapped, calling everyone’s attention. “Let’s try to fix this mess. All hands, guys!” Mark ordered.