Chapter 22

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July 16th, 2017

8:55 AM

Apollo came to the front door and knocked four times before he realized no one was there. He sighed and fixed the mask the covered his mouth and nose. He knew he still looked like a terror, there was unfinished work on his face. He put his foot on the door, breaking it wouldn’t have mattered. But seeing an old lady to his rear, in the hallway staring at a masked man breaking into a house, he suddenly got the urge not to become a suspect in a crime.

He waved at her.

The doorknob turned. He immediately pushed the door open and went inside. It smelled like a dung heap, and looking around, he wondered what it was. The smell collected on one individual, Dion who stood next to the door.

“I forgot my key,” Apollo said.

“You look terrible,” Dion said. “I thought you said part of being a Vicar was not standing out?”

Apollo lifted his coat and showed him the bullet holes across his abdomen, where the blood had dried and where the scars protruded. The lead was still inside of him and moving around, sitting down, all actions seemed to push the bullets in his abdomen. They rubbed his ribcage, Apollo flinched.

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“As you can see. I’m really f****** hurt. Please tell me you killed it and that you’ve got the stone.” Apollo said. Dion lifted the red rock from his coat, he threw it, and Apollo ground it up in his hand. He lifted his mask. Dion grimaced at looking at his face, he didn’t blame him though

“You got hurt because of me,” Dion said. “But I didn’t ask you to help me either,”

He was surprised the words had come out, something moved him to say it, like a second soul inside of him.

“If I didn’t you would have gotten your head cut off.”

“I won’t apologize for what happened to you. You should have just acted like you always do, alone, calm. Collected. You had no right.” Dion said.

“I had no right to save you? Do you think I care about you?” Apollo shoveled the powder into his mouth. It tasted like candy, coating his tongue and fizzing, melting into him. “You’re church property. I was just protecting an investment. I understood the risk, and I thought that me getting injured was a better alternative to you getting your head cut off.”

“Well don’t evaluate anything next time. You’re not my mother. So stop with your patronizing.”

“Did I hurt your pride? Let me kiss your booboo, sweetheart.” Apollo said. His voice was high, and it made Dion reach over, with anger in his fists, to remind him that he too was a man. He was about to swing before the door opened.

“Another one.” Apollo rolled his eyes.

It was the Priest. He stormed in, leaned back into a chair and kicked his shoes off.

Apollo sighed. He put two fingers between his nose bridge and snapped it back into place. He sniffed twice, he heard a whistle.

“It never heals right,” Apollo said.

“Did you think I wouldn’t read the new?.” The Priest shouted. He held the paper in his hand and waved it like a town crier. Here ye, here ye. Dion tried grabbing it, but his hands were too slow, and the Priest slid the paper down the table to Apollo. He grabbed it and looked it over.

“They almost got a picture of my pretty face.” Apollo unfolded it. He felt the skin on his arms rejuvenate, the purple bruises receding to his even tone of brown. The philosophers stone was working.

“You destroyed a helicopter. You destroyed a couple thousand dollars in property damage. Roads will need to be rebuilt, fences will need to be re-stood.” The Priest nearly spat at every word. His dog face was drooping, and his eyes would not blink. “It’s anarchy out there, and you’re adding to it.”

“A couple thousand seems like a better number than last time,” Dion said. His head was low in reverence to the rabid holy man.

Apollo touched his stomach. The bullets were coming out and falling on the floor.

“We killed it,” Apollo said.

“I did.” Dion corrected.

“You’re right, I just got my face stabbed,” Apollo said. “The point is it’s dead. What’s the big deal?”

“You couldn’t have done it a little cleaner?” The Priest slapped the table.

“Nothing is ever clean with hellspawn. Maybe you should do it yourself if you want it done better. Assuming you have the balls to pick up the sword in the first place.” Apollo picked a bullet casing from the floor. It was still red with blood. He placed it, flat side down onto the table. The Priest shook the furniture, the bullet fell and rolled away.

“I’m your boss. And don’t you forget it. When I tell you to do something, you do it.” He stood, rather dramatically, with both hands slamming down on the table and his body pacing back and forth and leaning against the wall.

They could barely look at him. Apollo, out of embarrassment for the act. Dion, out of fear.

“Are you getting closer to these freaks, at least?” The Priest said.

“Yeah. I have a name for a drug supplier that might have a connection to them.” Apollo said.

“You dragged me all night for a name?” Dion turned, a wide frown on his face.

“You seemed to have enjoyed yourself,” Apollo said.

“So you’re both causing trouble. And you – you especially,” He pointed to Dion. “You’re making moves around the town, and your partner doesn’t even know what’s going on?” The Priest rose and dropped his hands. “What the heck? Maybe you should act, you know, like more of a partner?”

“Another one who f****** says what the heck. Is that hard to curse?” Apollo stood and threw his coat to his bedside. It made a nice blanket for him to lay on. He closed his eyes and put two hands behind his head.

“Whoever is doing this mess is an amateur.” Apollo rolled to his side. “He’s not really summoning demons, more so, summoning the personifications of demons. Like…ah…spirit. A proxy for the real thing – which it’s not.”

“What do you mean personifications.”

“I mean to say, they’re like puppets. They’re empty, stupid vessels. Low-level creatures. They don’t really think and follow simple commands. They’re easy for people like us,”

“Is that why you almost got your head ripped off?” Dion asked.

Apollo coughed.

“The big bird we fought, for example. The bird was a rendition of Amon. Of course, it wasn’t actually Amon, more like the idea of Amon.” Apollo traced fingers into a sky, imagining the incantation that must have taken place. “Yesterday’s monstrosity took the shape of Bael, one of them at least. But it wasn’t anything close. I think whoever our little devil summoner is, is trying to shoot higher than what he can manage,”

“Why doesn’t he just conjure up the real things then?” The Priest asked.

“Because you can’t just conjure up princes and nobles and lords, they’re stuck in hell for a reason. Something that grand needs some godly power. That’s equivalent exchange. There’s a reason why it’s hell,” he said. “No one gets out. Ever.”

Only allowed on

“Listen, I’m glad for your demonology lecture. But this only affirms one thing: you need to do your job better.” The Priest went off.

“I’m putting the squeeze on them. It doesn’t matter why this person is doing it, who he’s doing it for, he’ll be f***** in a couple days.” Apollo yawned.

“You could speed it up if you got off your ass.” The Priest tapped on Dion. “Convince your partner to stop being lazy. Sloth is a sin, after all.”

“I couldn’t convince him to do anything,” Dion said. “He’s a dog, a filthy animal,”

“Part of catching a criminal is giving them room to make mistakes,” Apollo said. “So that’s what I’m going to do; be patient.”

The Priest nodded and rubbed his scalp. He looked around the room and the mess of clothes and papers scattered about with important, giant red circles over them. He looked at the map and the threads and pins that wrapped around the city, and it made his head spin. He felt anger for his powerlessness, his inability to understand and remembering last nights face only made his feelings worse. The idea that people were suffering, the idea that they bled and died underneath what he felt was his city made him yank his hair. In the end, he took a deep breath of air.

“Are we done? I’m going to sleep.” Apollo said.

“Well, I’m not,” Dion said. “Someone needs to keep the city safe,”

Apollo began to laugh. “Go ahead superman, just don’t cause any trouble.”

“Not any more than you would,” Dion said. The Priest exhausted his anger, it felt something underneath his flesh that just disappeared into the environment like heat or energy.

Why even be mad? He could not move these two stubborn people, they were stones, and he was too weak to push them onto the incline. He felt like some Egyptian slave, empress-less, just pushing and moving and getting crushed under the weight of the bricks. How could they not feel urgency? How could they not pity the weak?

He sighed. He scratched his head and the spot where his hair used to be somewhere in the back. He let the small gray hairs fall to the floor. They looked like broken cobwebs.

“Take some showers at least, you both smell terrible.” He said. And he was gone, getting ready for the new day.

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