"Ring me when you get home. Let me know you're safe" Jenna demanded
Chloe rolled her eyes and hugged her friend
"I'll be fine" she insisted.
Chloe and Jenna had been friends since high school and Jenna's paranoia had always amused her, this time though, she was a little nervous. It had just turned ten thirty, the sun had set and the few streetlights in the area were glowing dully amongst the darkness of the night. Not long ago, Chloe wouldn't have worried about walking back from Jenna's house after hours. It used to be safe, but lately that had changed. People had been attacked, one girl had been killed and rumour had it that a large gang of youths hanging around the streets were to blame for the crimes.
Chloe lived about an hour’s walk from Jenna's place. She would normally get a taxi home but having just recently lost her job, money was tight so the taxi had become a luxury she just couldn't afford. She was mentally kicking herself now for not leaving Jenna's house earlier.
"Are you sure you'll be ok? You can stay here tonight if you want" Jenna offered
They broke out of the hug.
"Thanks Jen but honestly, I'll be perfectly fine. You're such a worry wart!" Chloe laughed even though she was trying to convince herself more than her friend.
Jenna nodded "I'll see you tomorrow then. Still ring me though"
"I will, I will" Chloe replied. She waved to Jenna and walked away from the house, after a few steps she heard her friend's door click shut.
She put her head down and planted her hands in her pockets, shuddering more from anxiety than cold. She considered running home but talked herself out of it.
'There's only me out here' she thought to herself 'nothing to be scared of, it's safe'
Her footsteps were loud and deliberate on the pavement; she tried to stride with confidence.
Each time she made it to one of the pockets of light from the streetlamps; she breathed a sigh of relief. As though somehow the faint yellow glow ensured her safety. It didn't of course; it just brought a false sense of security and small comfort.
Thirty minutes later, Chloe had relaxed into the walk. She was actually enjoying it and had decided that she was glad for the exercise. She used to be a good runner, she even won awards in school for it, but it had been so long since she'd run or walked anywhere that she could already feel the strain and tension in her thigh muscles. She vowed to join a gym as soon as she found a new job.
Her recently discovered calm was shattered however, when she rounded a corner and almost walked right into a complete stranger.
The shock made her body jolt, as though electricity had passed through her system.
"Sorry" She gasped "I didn't see you"
The stranger nodded and continued on his way. He was tall and wearing a long black coat, his hair fell down to his neck, it was dark, possibly brown but it looked closer to black in the darkness. Chloe suddenly heard a sigh. She glanced behind herself to see the man snap his fingers in frustration, as though he had forgotten something. He changed direction and began walking behind Chloe.
Immediately she felt safer. Now she was not alone in the darkness. As some of the fear vanished, Chloe realised she was tired and she fell into a pace that she was more comfortable with, waiting for the man to pass her, but he didn't. He had been walking faster than her, she was sure of that. He had slowed down when she did. She listened hard for his footsteps and guessed from the sound that he couldn't be more than five feet behind her. She glanced back at the stranger. He was smiling but it wasn't friendly, it was a smile that made her uncomfortable. He began to mutter something that Chloe couldn't hear. She tried to ignore him and sped up once more but he quickened his tread too and his muttering grew louder, now she could hear.
"Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run" he almost growled
Fear stabbed through Chloe causing a pins and needles sensation to crawl over her skin.
Every part of her wanted to follow his advice, to run as quickly as she could away from him. She decided to do just that. Chloe shot into a full sprint and to her horror, he gave chase
"Here comes the hunter with his gun, gun, gun" he shouted, a disturbing laugh colouring his tone.
Chloe let out a sob, she wasn't crying, she was too scared to cry but it was like an involuntary sound. She tore down the street as fast as she could, her legs screamed in protest, the muscles aching. Her breath came in fierce, painful gasps that hurt her throat and she could feel her heart hammering in her chest. Chloe's entire body had moved into panic mode, adrenaline flooded her system, feeding her muscles, making them work harder than she could normally. She stumbled but caught herself and continued to run. She didn't want to look back, didn't want to know how close he was but she couldn't stop herself. He was almost on top of her, the same sickening smile on his face. Chloe yelped and tried to run faster but she was already going as fast as she could.
In one swift motion he reached out, wrapped his fingers into the hair on the back of her head and stopped running, dragging Chloe to a halt.
She cried out, feeling some of the hair tear from her scalp
"Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run" He laughed
"Please" Chloe begged. Her fingers clawed at his hand, desperately trying to free herself from his grip.
"Don't give the hunter his fun, fun, fun" He whispered
Chloe screamed so loud it hurt. She wriggled and kicked but he was so strong it seemed to have no effect. He didn't tell her to be quiet; he didn't seem to care if anyone heard. He was calm and he remained that way even when he produced a knife from his coat. He held the blade up in his free hand where Chloe could see it.
"HELP, SOMEONE HELP!" She half bellowed, half screamed
But no one was coming, no one would help.
The moonlight danced on the knife's blade and then in a motion so fast it was hardly visible, the man slammed the blade into her stomach.
There wasn't as much pain as she thought there would be. Shock was controlling her keeping the worst of the pain at bay. She reached down to where the blade pierced her skin and felt the hot, wet blood trickling over her fingers. The stranger looked Chloe in the eyes, watching the life fade from her.
"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil" He smiled
Then he dropped her lifeless body, wiped his blade on his coat and walked away into the darkness of the night.
Michael Layford crouched beside Chloe's body. The police had already arrived and a crime scene investigation team were still examining the area. The medical examiner, Anabella Rose, a pretty woman with cropped dark hair and a slim figure was still checking the corpse.
"Find anything?" Michael asked
Anabella looked at him startled "Jeez, detective! I didn't see you there" she gasped
Michael tilted his head to one side "You're a little jumpy for a woman who works with the dead" he observed
Anabella rolled her eyes "This one's got me spooked" She admitted "Doesn't make any sense"
She pointed to the bloody stab wound in Chloe's stomach "This is the only place she was stabbed, the attacker didn't hit anything in her that would cause a quick death but the victim died almost instantly. It should have taken her a while to bleed out."
Michael knew why the girl had died so quickly, but it wasn't information that he was willing to share with just anyone, still, he needed to know how much information the medical examiner could get from the body so he pressed her further.
"What's your theory?"
Anabella shrugged "Not got much of one at the minute, a fast acting toxin or poison on the blade perhaps? We won't know until the post mortem is done though."
Michael nodded "You'll let me know what you find?"
"Sure" Anabella replied
Michael looked away from Chloe's body. In the distance, a few officers were trying to get rid of several onlookers, Michael had always wondered what it was about crime scenes and dead bodies that seemed to draw the general public and turn them into hoards of transfixed, gawking busybodies. Ironic that a scene of death attracted so much life.
Beside him, Anabella Rose turned Chloe's head.
"Damn flies" She sighed when several of the winged bugs flew out from beneath the corpse
Michael smiled at the flies, if he wasn't one hundred per cent sure about who had killed Chloe before, he was now.
"Her attacker grabbed her from behind, looks like he ripped out some hair in the process" Anabella noted
Michael stood up and ran his fingers through his hair, the sun was making him sweat and he yearned for a cold shower. He decided he had seen all he needed to.
"I'll let you know about the post mortem" Anabella called after him as he walked away.
Michael climbed into his car, a sleek black Porsche Cayman S and started the engine.
A few minutes later he was pulling up outside the home of one Jenna Atkins, the victim's best friend and the last known person to have seen Chloe before her murder.
He climbed out of the car, strolled up to Jenna's front door and knocked on it.
Jenna didn't take long to greet him. Her eyes were puffy and red, her grieving process already well underway.
"I'm Detective Michael Layford" He smiled "I'm investigating Chloe's murder and wondered if I could speak to you?"
Jenna nodded and stepped aside, granting him access.
They sat in the lounge, a large room with beige walls and bland furniture.
"I still can't believe she's gone." Jenna sniffed
"Do you know if Chloe had any enemies? Anyone who would want to hurt her?" Michael asked
"No, she's a good person. She's liked" Jenna replied
"You're sure. There isn't anyone? It's rare a person goes through life without someone taking a disliking to them" Michael pushed
Jenna looked at him for a moment in disbelief, then she repeated firmly "She's liked. She's made mistakes in the past but nothing that anyone would want kill her for"
"The mind of a killer is a strange thing" Michael insisted "People kill because of all sorts of things. Don't try to make sense of it"
Jenna said nothing
"So, still no enemies?" Michael asked
"How many times? No. No enemies"
Michael nodded. At first he had been under the impression that Chloe had no enemies too, but he never had to do much digging in deaths like these to uncover the truth. It had taken less time than he expected in Chloe's case, he had already gotten most of the story before he even saw the body.
He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a photograph of a lean, dark haired man.
"Do you recognise this person?" He asked, showing Jenna the photo
She looked at it quickly and sighed "This is Richard Malone. He wouldn't hurt Chloe"
"What makes you so sure?"
Jenna handed the photo back. "He's her boss. They get on well" She explained
"They were a couple" Jenna admitted
"And what about this woman" Michael said, producing another photo from his pocket, this time of a tall woman with black hair.
Jenna glanced at the photo and then glared at Michael but she didn't say anything
"Am I to understand by your silence that you don't recognise the woman in the photo?"
Still Jenna didn't speak
"Not to worry" Michael continued in an upbeat tone of voice "I can tell you who she is. This lady is Elsie Malone. Mr Malone's wife of nearly ten years. Now, Jenna, I'll ask you again, do you think Chloe had any enemies?"
"Fine. Richard is a rat but Elsie doesn't know about the two of them, I suppose though, if she had found out, she wouldn't have been Chloe's BFF." Jenna snapped "Happy now?"
Michael nodded "Thrilled, thank you"
"I don't like your tone detective" Jenna spat
Michael shrugged "Fortunately for me, that doesn't really matter" he said
"I'll be filing a complaint" Jenna informed him
Michael picked up the photographs and returned them to his pocket. Then he got to his feet and looked at Jenna "Feel free." he smiled "Though I don't recommend it. You see Jenna, I know what you are, what Chloe was, and if you were to upset me I could always send Chloe's enemy here before we get rid of it"
Jenna's skin quickly turned a sickly ashen colour "You think that's what this was? An order?" She spluttered
"I know it was." Michael nodded
"And you're on their side I take it?" Jenna frowned
"Actually, no. I'm not, but I'm not on your side either. I'm on our side. It's my job to send you all back where you came from"
Jenna's pupils grew larger and larger until her eyes were as black as night "I'm not going back" she growled
"You don't have much choice." Michael chuckled "You don't belong here. There are rules that allow you to stay but Chloe broke those rules and if you knew about it, which, let's be honest, you did, then you broke the rules too. For God's sake, you can put your eyes back right now though, a party trick like that doesn't scare me and I'm not here to collect just yet. Luckily for you Chloe's killer is a bigger threat to us than you are, but once that's sorted, I'll come and help you move back home... if you're still alive that is"
"I'll run" Jenna threatened
"Knock yourself out. I'll still find you" Michael replied "Or something worse than me will. Anyway, pleasure meeting you. See you soon"
Jenna snarled, her mouth opened that little bit too wide and her teeth suddenly stretched into long pointed fangs, He nails grew quickly into claws and she stared straight at the detective.
"Don't be ridiculous" Michael sighed, he turned and walked out of the house back to his car.
It was only when he was driving away that he thought about Jenna.
"Fuckin' Demons" He sighed
Michael pulled his car onto the driveway outside his house and silenced the engine. Night had fallen. He sat in the darkness for a short time, thinking about Jenna. He had been in this line of work for seven years now, and with each case he had to wonder how the public could be so oblivious to the creatures that lived amongst them. Demons were a pain in the ass. They had been granted permission to stay with the humans if they managed to escape hell, Michael didn't know why or by whom and that wasn't information that the government were prepared to share with him. He was no more than a foot soldier to them.
What he did know was that back in the sixties, the human world had seen an influx of demons, possibly a mass break out, and someone, somewhere, had agreed that they could stay providing they didn't cause any trouble. This was an agreement that the detective found laughable, asking demons not to cause trouble is like asking a lion not to eat meat! It's natural instinct to them; it's what they do best. Some of them do try, he had to admit that. He thought it was likely that Chloe had tried to behave, but deep down she was still a horrible, destructive creature and no matter how hard she tried, clearly the opportunity for a little home wrecking had just been all too tempting. She had paid for her sin with her life and this time there would be no coming back. Chloe's soul would be sent to the deepest, darkest pits of hell and locked up so thoroughly that Lucifer himself couldn't pull her out if he wanted to.
Truth be told, Michael didn't care about Chloe. He cared about what had killed her. There was only one creature besides humans that hunted demons and it was always trouble when one of them showed up. He had only ever encountered one, in June of two thousand and nine, when he was working a case in which a demon called Sophie had been murdered. It had been a particularly gruesome death but then, Sophie was a particularly gruesome demon. She had delighted in causing suffering and pain. Every sin she committed had been born from her selfish personality, but she was also stupid. She failed to cover her tracks and pissed off so many people that when her killer came looking for her, even her own kind pointed him to her with little or no persuasion. He killed Sophie within twenty four hours of his arrival in the human world. His last act was to scatter her body parts on the pier. This was his warning to the rest of the demons, a clear indication of what would happen to them if they didn't play ball. It was then that Michael discovered demons couldn't tolerate water. Until that time, everyone had believed that only holy water was effective against demons, of course it is effective but mostly just because it's water. The blessing only makes it slightly more acidic to them. The giveaway was that no matter how hated one of them is, when they die in this world, the rest collect the body and bury it. With Sophie, they couldn't.
Michael closed his eyes remembering the incident with startling clarity.
He had arrived at the pier at six a.m. and knew there were demons standing amongst the onlookers that huddled together, watching the scene play out before them. The police had already set up tents around the body parts to shield them from the crowd. He flashed his badge at the officer standing guard and ducked under the police tape.
When he stepped inside the first tent. He was surprised by what he saw. A woman, in jeans and a leather jacket, leaning over the severed head of Sophie.
"Should you be in here?" He asked
The woman turned her face to him and he recognised her immediately as Avery Silver. She was known to the government as a 'lone wolf'. Avery had, for whatever reason, started hunting demons years ago. The government had tried to recruit her when some of their agents encountered her during an investigation, but she had declined their offer. Now and then, she would appear on crime scenes if she thought a demon was involved, fake I.D in hand and a look of steely determination on her face.
Michael's employers tolerated her since she occasionally helped their agents with investigations.
"Hey" she greeted the detective
"Sorry, didn't recognise you at first" Michael replied "Good colour" he added, nodding to her hair.
Avery constantly changed her hair colour, her latest creation, purple and white.
"Thanks" She smiled
"So, why are you checking out a demon corpse?" the detective quizzed "You kill them, I don't usually see you looking at the ones that are already dead"
"The death isn't right; this thing wasn't killed by a human"
Michael frowned "Another demon then?" he asked
Avery shook her head "No, I don't think so. The body was hacked up with a special kind of blade."
"You know, not-from-the-human-world special"
"Do we have the blade?"
"No. The attacker must still have it"
"Then what makes you think it's special?"
She bent down and pointed to the neck of the demon
"See where it's cut? No blood flow."
"I'm not surprised, thing's been dead for ages!" Michael stated
"Yeah, and the cut has been there for ages too. There should be some blood. Plus, look at the skin, right around the edge of the slice. Doesn't something seem off to you?"
The detective leant in closer and examined the skin. Avery was right, something was off about it. There was a faint shine to it and it appeared stretched.
"It looks like a burn"
"Got there in the end eh Sherlock?" Avery sighed, she rummaged in her pocket until she found what she was looking for, and then she produced a cigarette and lit it quickly
"You know you're not supposed to smoke in here right?"
"I'm not supposed to be in here at all, may as well add a smoke to the charge" she shrugged "Besides, it's only a demon"
Michael shook his head but didn't comment
"So you think the blade was heated up before it was used?" he eventually said
"Nope. I think the blade burns demons; I think it's toxic to them"
"Like holy water?"
Avery nodded "Like water in general. Didn't you notice the freaks in the crowd back there?"
"Yeah, I did wonder why they hadn't moved the body.... parts"
"They can't come on the pier. Too afraid. Water burns them like acid burns us"
"I thought only holy water worked"
"You thought wrong. Holy water is stronger, that's all."
"How did you find out?"
"One of the demons I was hunting trailed me home. It attacked me and I threw a glass of water in its face, I was hoping it would give me time to get a gun or something. Turns out I didn't need a gun, damn thing started melting, screamed the place down."
Avery took a final draw from her cigarette "Yeah" she smiled
The detective and the woman stepped out of the tent.
"So who do you think the killer is?" Michael asked
She shrugged again "I think it's someone we need to stop before this gets worse"
She flicked the cigarette over the side of the pier
"Hang on, a demon killer strolls into town and you want to stop it?"
"Of course I do! Look around you detective. See the crowd? Most of those people are human and right now they think some crazy arse killer is on the loose, they're shit scared. The world is bad enough without the supernatural adding a whole new level of horror to it! Think about it, chopping the body up and spreading it where the demons can't retrieve it, whatever did this, it wanted to cause a scene. It won't just screw with demon's minds believe me. I know this is bad news, I can feel it. I mean why hasn't it destroyed the evidence?"
Michael had tried to reply to Avery but they never did manage to finish the conversation.
At that moment, all hell broke loose. A creature of some sort soared down past them and beneath the pier
"What was that!?" Michael called in alarm
Avery didn't get chance to respond as a series of loud cracking noises filled the air and the floor shook violently.
It was only a split second before the pier began to collapse, that Michael realised the cracking noises were actually the wooden supports beneath the pier being torn apart.
"RUN" Avery shouted
They had tried to run, they just weren't quick enough. As the pier fell apart beneath their feet, they plunged into the cold water below.
Michael's panic was instantaneous. The water engulfed him. He instinctively tried to draw breath and instead, pulled a large amount of the salty liquid into his lungs. His arms and legs flailed in vain.
Despite the time of year, the water was icy cold. Michael’s profession meant that he encountered all sorts of frightening scenarios, but this moment, trapped in the never-ending darkness of the water, was by far the most terrifying thing the detective had ever experienced. The waves had caused his body to spin at a sickening speed and a stray piece of the pier smashed into his side. Just when he was convinced that this water was to become his grave, a pair of hands reached out through the darkness and gripped his coat.
Suddenly he was moving, being pulled to the surface; he could see the sun, just barely, in the distance. Michael silently prayed that he could hold on just a few seconds longer. His lungs were protesting painfully at the denial of oxygen and his heartbeat thudded dully in his head.
“Breath! BREATH! BREATH Michael, God damn it!”
He followed orders and gulped at the air greedily. It felt good, slightly painful, but a good pain, a pain that said ‘you’re alive’
Michael’s eyes opened and examined the scene before him. The pier was gone; a crowd of people on the shore were pulling police officers out of the sea. Michael was still in the water. But his saviour was holding him tight around the chest, keeping his head above the danger. He looked down at the arm around him. It was slender and a thick leather cuff sat upon its wrist.
“Avery?” he spluttered
“Thank God” came the voice from behind him “I thought you were quitting the game early just then”
Never before had Michael been so happy to hear her voice. In that moment, he was grateful for Avery Silver and glad to know her. The foul mouthed, law breaking, chain smoking, demon hunter had saved him from certain death and he knew he would always have her back for it.
She sounded breathless and tired but still she pushed them back towards land.
Michael tried to help her, but his efforts only slowed her down.
Finally, his feet found a solid mass and he heaved himself up onto the beach, once they were out of the waves, Avery and the detective slumped onto the sand.
“Why can’t you swim?” Avery gasped “Seriously, it’s the twenty first century! Everyone can swim!”
“Never learnt” Michael panted “Never needed to”
“Idiot” Avery slapped him half-heartedly and rolled to her feet
Once on two legs, she extended her hand to him; Michael grabbed it and pulled himself upright.
“Thanks” He breathed “I think you just saved my life”
“Damn right I just saved your life!” Avery smiled “I think you owe me a drink, detective”
She reached into her pocket and pulled out her, now soggy and broken, cigarette packet.
“And a pack of smokes” she added, tossing the packet aside
“What happened?” Michael pondered aloud “Something hit the pier right? Something flew into it, I was certain”
“Yeah” Avery nodded, wringing her sodden hair out “I didn’t see what it was, too big to be a bird though I know that much. Maybe it was…” She trailed off, staring at something in the distance
“What? What’s wrong?” Michael asked
She lifted her hand, pointing at a rooftop in the distance
“What the hell… is that?!” she whispered
Michael followed her direction and drew a breath in shock when he saw what had Avery so stumped.
The figure of a man was standing on the rooftop. His arms firmly by his sides. In his hand, he was holding a blade of some sort. But more importantly and more surprisingly, his wings were spread behind him.
“Is that an… angel?” Avery breathed
“I don’t…” Michael began “do they even exist?”
“Michael, that’s an angel, that’s an honest to god, cocking angel!”
In a flash of light, the creature vanished.
Author Notes: I uploaded on here as I was hoping to get a little feedback on Run Rabbit Run. I have every intention of writing more of this and it is already up on my blog (http://stephliben.blogspot.co.uk/). If the feedback on here is positive then I will upload more as soon as it is written....