Chapter 36

Apollo

July 20th, 2017

1:30 AM

“You’re surprisingly calm,” Apollo said.

“Well, we’re working, aren’t we? And I’ve already messed up enough.” Dion came around the corner, barrels pointed to the hallway.

Apollo turned as well, finger pointed to his lips. They both stood on opposite walls, ears to the walls. They could hear breathing. The house was alive. They opened the first door and looked around the room so dense with darkness and mold that breathing felt difficult, it was the dusty wreckage of years.

“What’re we doing here?” Dion looked at the window. “The fire is rising.”

Apollo hushed him again. They both looked around the room and the curtains that wafted lazily, they hung by metal rings and dragged across the floor. Apollo watched the curtains, eyed them, and the contours they made. He came up to them, and they breathed out. A gasp. It was a quiet voice, like a mouse, an auxiliary creeping. He dragged the curtains out, and something flew out, towards the hallway. Apollo stepped on this things foot, which he now realized was a man. Which he now realized was one of the cultists.

“Look at what we found,” Apollo said.

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“Oh, you’re in trouble.” Dion rubbed his chin.

“Don’t you d-dare,” The cultist threw his hands to slap away Apollo’s foot. “I’m being watched over by the heavenly one! Don’t you touch me, heathens!”

“Who?” Apollo laughed.

“Astyanax. King of kings, he knows all and sees all. His form everywhere, he is the sun and the moon and the-”

“Whatever.” Apollo pressed down on the cultist’s leg. He whined. “So this guy is everywhere, huh?”

“Yes.” The man spat at Apollo’s shoes.

Apollo kicked him with it and rubbed it in his face. He dragged him out and towards Dion, threw him.

“I don’t see him. I don’t hear him. And I can’t feel him.” Apollo said. “And if he were here, he should have saved you a long time ago.”

The cultist looked at Apollo, wide-eyed.

“Buddy,” Apollo knelt over, his hand extended out towards the cultist. “I think you got conned.”

He punched the cultist square in the stomach. Air escaped his fat belly like a balloon.

“It’s time to get judged.” Dion kicked him swift across the face.

He was out, even his unconscious breaths were tepid.

They came out of the room and into another, a small study, that was half burned. And the other half was just about to burn. The stained books and sheets of wood began to kindle as they reared their heads inside.

They evacuated, Apollo lugged the cultist over his shoulder.

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They came to a corner whose dense smoke hid the figure of a running man. They could only see the dancing shadow.

They approached the figure, they approached another cultist with the cloth over his face and his eyes glossy with desperation.

This cultist was trying to turn a knob, with no help.

“Need help, buddy?” Apollo asked. The man turned. Apollo punched him square in the jaw, through the door. It was an emergency exit.

The man shook his head. He extended a knife out with a swift lick of his wrist.

“Oh come on,” Dion said. The cultist aimed for Dion this time stabbing the blade into his stomach.

And this cultist, this little-good-for-nothing, looked up. His eyes pale behind the white canvas garb.

Dion did not react. He did not so much as a blink to the knife drawing blood. He breathed out, and the stomach fell from his stomach, plopping onto the floor.

The cultist screamed then bit his lips and braced against a wall, knees bent.

“Say,” Apollo said. “Do you think he knows where the rest are?”

“That’s a great question. It really, really, is.”

They both looked down at the slunk man and his puckered-in face. His fat neck was collected inwards, and it kind of looked like he was frowning three separate times, all the way down to his chest.

A few minutes, a bit of running around and the Vicars were done. They counted four cultists. Three tied together in a rusted chain, the other bound like a hog and slung behind Dion’s chest.

Apollo held the chain binding the other three.

“This went better than usual,” Apollo said.

“We burned a house down.” Dion climbed upstairs to the final floor, and from there, the exit at the rooftop.

“Yeah,” Apollo nodded. “Those things happen.”

“I’m just glad we caught them.”

“I’m just glad we’ll have someone else to talk to when we get back.” Apollo grabbed one of their chins and rubbed it like a small child, an encouraging nudge. “I was getting tired of just listening to the Priest blabber on and on.”

“You’re not going to torture them, you hear me?” Dion said.

“No, no. I promise.” Apollo yanked on the chain. “It’ll just be a firm, very firm, interrogation.”

“Please, stop.” Dion shook his head.

“This could have been done sooner if you didn’t lose your cool the first few times we came up against their little monstrosities.”

“Well, I kept my cool today.”

“Only because I was here every step of the way. I doubt you would have done it yourself.”

“Why can’t you just appreciate the goods things for once?”

“I am. I appreciate the thought of never having to talk to you after today turns me on,” Apollo turned to him to smile. He never smiled. “Honest.”

“That’s assuming we even get anything out of them.” Dion walked up the stairs.

“Oh, trust me, they’ll talk.” Apollo stopped at the fire escape door. The rooftop waited in front of them.

“After you.” Apollo pointed the way. Dion rolled his eyes. He put one hand on the door. He pushed. The fire raged on below them.

But all the noise did not move them.

Because all either of them could feel or hear, was the vacuous silence. Like being shot out into space, cold, deep, dark, silent space.

A tower of flame burned on diligently next to them. It ate and ate in the quietness, the building grumbled with clatter and explosions as if being digested.

It sounded like brimstone, like hell.

It was. Because in front of them, what kept them quiet was a hell hound. No, not that in particular. It was what was next to the hell hound.

Sophie.

And in that burning heat, in the smog and smoke, in the warping fumes of the flames, they both stood still. Frozen.

Dion turned his head to the three chained cultists.

“Dion.” Apollo grabbed Dion’s shoulder.

But it was too late. All he saw was red.

And all Apollo saw, as his horizon lowered into darkness was the blue meteor bullet shot out. The bullets jumped building to building, eviscerating brick and steel. They stopped, finally, at a sign. A man holding a donut, and the sign exploded into a swarm of sparks. Like a migration of red jays had finally made their stop and scattered.

The cultists screamed behind Apollo as he fell to the floor. He had been struck, he knew that much at least. And he knew the heads of those good-for-nothings, lower-than-scum cultists were being popped. One by one.

It all burned away. The destruction was laid out in front of Apollo. After a while, his jaw didn’t even hurt anymore.He just laid on the floor, absorbing with red eyes, oncoming darkness.

He was unconscious and stayed that way until Dion was done with his maddened massacre.

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