[WIP] Devil's Tattoo

The crunch of bone was a soft noise, muted by flesh and blood.

It carried weight, though. It meant something. It was a sound loud not for it’s volume but it’s implications. The crack that rang through the air wasn’t jarring for the fact it was deafeningly loud. No- in the middle of the fight it was hardly audible at all, lost under the sounds of roaring and breaking glass. It was a startling, terrible noise because he knew what it meant.

His leg was broken. He couldn’t run anymore.

The pain came in a rush a second after the realization, and he screamed. The creature approached as he wailed open-mouthed to the ceiling, not that anyone was still alive to hear. It loomed, all at once shapeless and unreal, yet all too physical. Its weight crushed him easily underfoot, grinding his calf to nothing as it rocked foward, looming over him with what was less a jaw and more just an opening. A abyssal maw where ichor oozed and teeth by the hundreds seemed to almost rotate in horrific rows.

He kept screaming, crying, pleading.

The creature laughed. A sound that echoed, sounding more and more like-


His phone’s alarm clock screeched incessantly.

Waking to it put him in an immediate state of irritation. But it did, if nothing else, wake him.

Bleary grey eyes stared at the ceiling. He squinted through the morning light, fighting the pain of being almost-blinded by it.

After a few lethargic moments, he sat up.

A hand ran through his hair, down his face. He needed a shave, a haircut.

A decent night’s sleep.

He didn’t have dramatic nightmares like that very often.

Truth be told, he normally slept fairly well. Solid, dreamless.

It was only an issue of finding time to sleep, that he had.

Hard to rest when there was so much work to be done.

Today, the Society had a new job posted for him.

The details were in an email, the reminder of it on his text log.

The secondary reminder delivered over social media, the bluebird logo flashing as he opened the app. The message was from the Society mascot. What looked to anyone casually as no more than a cute mascot reminding people subscribed to their website service to attend meetings, pick up the latest merchandise, and all other kinds of forgettable advertisement code for jobs.

Pick up a package, deliver it. Go to a new location, talk to a new contact.

It was all at once remarkably modern, and old as dirt.

Some things never changed.

This job was one of them.

Groaning as he pushed himself up and out of bed, one generic hunter in a world full of them moved to the cheap hotel bathroom. He showered, white-blonde hair plastering to his face under the lukewarm water. He shook off the terrible sleep, brushed his teeth, and slapped his hair back with both hands until it stayed, out of his face.

He drug his feet through the motions, but did them all the same.

Boxers, t-shirt, under the arm gun holster, gun, jeans, boots, bootsleeve knife, jacket.

Once dressed, he double-checked his bag. Everything was there, what little he bothered to carry around. Spare clothes, an extra knife and gun, cases of ammunition both pre-carved with religious symbols and those without. Various materials, tools, herbs and handheld travel books and notebooks filled with scriptures, names, incantations. A slew of things from top to bottom, largely meant for demons, though he had the generic bases of vampirism and black witchcraft covered too.

Once his duffel bag was settled over his shoulder, he gave the room one last look over.

Everything was set. His keys were in his pocket, wallet and phone in the other.

All clear. Time to get to work.

He closed up, turned the key back over to the front desk, and kept his head in his phone on the way to the parking lot. His bike was sitting right where he’d left it, in plain view of his room for the sake of paranoid safety and fast getaway. It was a good night, when he was able to casually walk over, slide his helmet on, and turn the engine over at a leisurely pace. He didn’t have to book it at a moment’s notice often, but every time he had before it was never fun.

Letting the bike idle briefly, he gave one last check both to his phone and his bag fastened on the back. Once it was all secure and the routine precautions were over, he pulled out of the parking lot and hit the road.

Today, the job was two towns northeast.

Simple clean out, so far as he could tell. Details were waiting with a contact at a gas station.

(The Society worked in all places, and his pay grade was not the nice sort with penthouse views and champagne-heavy parties. Still, the location for this one felt minorly insulting.)

He drove to it all the same, an hour and a half drive to get to the sleepy little cabin resort tucked away in Fuckallnowhere, Tennessee. True to the directions, there was a gas station on the way to the place, just down the street from the first signs of civilization around the rolling hills and towering trees. He pulled in slow, cut the engine at a pump. Made no sense to get out there and not fill up during the check in.

He got it all settled, gas pumping, filled. The place was so old it didn’t take cards outside, though. He tried not to feel disgruntled about it, capping the gas tank closed before moving to head inside. Peeling off his helmet along the way, he wasn’t surprised to find two guys inside. One, the clerk at the counter. Another, some Joe Dirt looking stranger, chewing tobacco and chattering about nothing. Sports teams, bass fishing- it didn’t matter. He wasn’t there for any of that.

He went to the back cooler, staring at the poorly stocked lines of tea, water, soda, beer. Mostly beer. Unsurprisingly, after a few minutes of staring, Joe Dirt came over and stood beside him, feigning interest in the drinks.

“You ever tried that there Dew before?” The man pointed, some offbrand of a variety flavor drink.

He had no interest in it. Grunted a little, unsure if the man was a stranger or the contact until he lowered his voice, spoke again still with the thick southern accent.

“Cabin 3A’s supposedly got a poltergeist issue real bad. Clear it out, money’ll be wired.”

He moved by, opening the cooler, plucking up the brightly labeled bottle.

“Me myself, I can’t get enough of it.” He laughed, none too quietly, and went back to the counter.

Giving it a few minutes, he moved to pick a standard bottle of water out, grabbing a pack of gum on the way to the counter. He paid in cash for everything. Left no name, no trail. Tossed the receipt in the trash outside and got back on his bike. The water went in his bag. Gum in his pocket, after he took a piece out. Chewing, squinting at the afternoon sun, he shoved his helmet back on. Took off again, coasting down the winding backwoods roads to head further into the sprawled woodsy resort, looking for cabin 3A.