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This is the first story in my anthology, Jack the Demon Hunter. If you like these stories, and would like to read more stories like them, watch for a new Jack story around the beginning of December, and another in spring. A list of places you can order the book follows the free sample.
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Chasing A Menter
(Copyright 2013, Pedar Bloom. All rights reserved. Note: the ebook has conventional line-indent formatting--not block paragraph formatting as on this page).
Braking his R nineT Beamer, Jack slid up to the roof's edge of the old office building and looked down several stories to the milling pedestrians in the street below. He glanced back up to the next building across the intersecting street on his left. It was too far to jump.
"I got nothing. What do you got?"
His bike switched on its left directional. Jack looked at the building again. "You sure? I don't get anything."
He scanned the rooftops, but there was no sign of the menter he'd been chasing. They usually left a trail he could follow if he centered himself, as in prayer. He could feel it in the air if they had crossed the path in front of him. It was almost as if their very passing had damaged that location in time and space as they moved through it. Sometimes he could sense their approach from a city block away, and farther if the environment was clear.
He didn't mind hunting solo, but it was easier in a team. Rob, his handler, told him he needed more solo work to improve his skill, so this month had been mostly solo hunts of small-time menters; those new to working with demons, or else menters who somehow got cut off from their primary overlords. Small fish.
Still, this fish was proving difficult. He needed faith to catch it. He pulled the book out of his jacket pocket and flipped to a page stained with his own sweat, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” He felt a slight change in his attitude.
He flipped farther, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” Not seen. The menter was hiding in the cityscape ahead, unseen, undetected. Jack needed to see evidence of his unseen enemy.
He flipped back to the Gospels and read, “the disciples asked Jesus, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?' Jesus answered, 'Because you have little faith. If you have faith as small as a mustard seed and say to this mountain, move from here to there, it will move.'"
Say to this mountain.... Jack felt a grain of hope. He'd just read hope meant substance. Substance was evidence of something. He reached out with his faith, checking for any sign of the menter. Ahead, to his right on a building across the street, he could see heat waves rising from the roof, distorting the view behind them. He sensed a presence. Say to this mountain, that was it, he needed to speak, to command. “Show yourself.”
The heat waves distorted further, then suddenly the menter's outline became visible. Jack pressed his blaster down in its holster to be sure it was secure, started his motorcycle and patted her on the tank, “This time I think we got him!”
He let out the clutch, and began racing along the edge of the roof looking for somewhere to cross. He could see the menter running on the roof top across the street, apparently looking for a place to hide.
Menters may serve demons, but they were as human as Jack, so there must have been a way for the mentor to have crossed. Then Jack saw electric lines running to the other building and a pathway in shining light across them. He knew that was his route.
Straight over the edge of the building heading down its side toward the illuminated path, he gave extra throttle and jumped the bike off the side of the building and onto the bundle of wires. Jack bounced when he landed and nearly lost control, but used faith as his principal faculty of perception, overriding all sensation to the contrary. He stayed upright.
Jack had crossed just halfway to the other building when he saw the menter's head appear over the edge. A menter not hiding, but making a stand? That wasn't good. Menters never made a stand... if they were alone.
Then, rising behind the menter was the reason for his confidence – a fire demon.
Jack gunned the engine. Since he could not go back, forward was his only alternative. The fire demon stood to full height, towering over the shoulders of the menter, and slapped his hands together, spraying concentrated fire on the wires that were Jack's road. It disintegrated in front of him.
Jack focused his attention on a window two stories down and shifted his balance hoping he had enough momentum. He would not be able to hit it cleanly, but if he gunned the engine and continued to shift his weight he might get close enough to bounce through the window frame. He ducked his head down behind the bike's cafe-faring and smashed through the window, separating from his bike as he did.
His bike bounced off the floor and embedded itself in the wall.
He landed on a mattress breaking one half of the bed to the floor. The mattress helped absorb his momentum, as did breaking through the window frame and part of the exterior wall. He felt for broken bones, found none, but still felt pretty beat up. He pulled off his helmet and got up to check his bike. It was a mess. He peeled off his gloves and threw them down on the bed.
Jack looked around. He was in some kind of old hotel or apartment building.
No one came running to check on the noise he'd made crashing through the window. Judging from that and the accumulation of dust on the furniture, he assumed the top floors must not be used. Either that, or people were afraid and hiding.
Jack grabbed the handle bars and worked them back and forth until the wheel was loose enough to pull it out of the wall. “Sorry.” The bike was out cold. There wasn't much to say.
He rolled the bike to the bed and placed it on the mattress. “You rest. I'll be back.”
Then the assault hit him. The combined force of the menter and fire demon rolled over Jack in waves and he staggered back as though he'd been punched. He realized there was a third entity, a minor demon, a depressive of some sort. He hadn't counted on this. This was supposed to be a solo hunt, an easy training mission.
He could sense their motion together across the roof above him as a peculiar anxiety and the fracturing of the space through which they crossed as the breaking of fragile glass. Where could the menter have picked up these two demons? The building shook when the fire demon blew in the door to the roof. He felt the fury of the fire demon being projected by the menter and tried to concentrate on what to do next, but his focus washed away as the waves of fear and despair from the depressive poured over him.
How could he fight this power? He knew he couldn't fight it on his own. He struggled to stay standing. Feeling like he weighed a thousand pounds, the feelings projected by the menter continued to increase. Why did he ever get into this when he was clearly no match for entities like these? They would trap him in the room, the menter and depressive would toy with his mind and torment him before the fire demon burned him to ashes.
He had to escape; run if he could. Abandon his bike and run on foot. That would be his only chance. Jack felt lost in his growing confusion. Just a minute ago he was in control, the menter fleeing from him. Now he was about to be destroyed. He tried to move his legs, but they felt stuck to the floor.
Out in the hallway he heard the elevator engage and leave for the roof. They were coming.
Jack's mind raced. He fell to the floor propped against the end of the broken bed, feeling more weary than he could ever recall. It was no use, they were too strong for him. He might as well give up. There was no way out now, he was going to lose. Better to just give in and die, leave the struggle. Then it would be over quickly and he wouldn't have to go on trying. He'd finally have peace.
In fact, he didn't even need to wait...
He had a blaster at his hip. He didn't need to struggle against the waves of despair. He could be the one to choose. He could leave by his own hand and cheat them out of their victory. He didn't have to suffer their torment or give in to the pain of destruction. He felt his anger rise. Why couldn't he decide the terms of his own death, the means, the time?
He heard the elevator stop two floors above him on the roof. The elevator door was just down the hall from this room. They would be here any minute.
The demons and mentor descended. He could feel the weight of their joined power build as they drew nearer. Their power felt like an anchor pulling him down. He felt disoriented as though he was being watched, and like they were behind him, all around him numbing him with hopelessness. The perception of them was a grime that couldn't be washed off, like the filth of garbage that needs to be disposed. Sweat broke out and his head pounded as he tried to fight back. Of course, he didn't deserve existence. That was why God had abandoned him to this; it was His just punishment.
Jack wanted to call out for help, but didn't dare. What if he called and God didn't answer? To call out to God for help, and be rejected would be worse than not knowing whether he'd truly been abandoned. This last shred of hope was all he had left, and he couldn't bear to part with it by testing it. After all, Jack had followed the path of light he'd been shown, wasn't it God who'd led him to this very end?
The elevator disengaged and he heard its door opening. The tables had turned so quickly that it was too much to comprehend. His eyelids grew heavy with the weight of disillusionment. He could feel the sweet bands of sleep reaching up to pull him down below the threshold of thought. They seemed to say, 'give in. Surrender to not knowing, not feeling, not caring, not being...'
Finally at this lowest point, he tried to call out, but he could not make a sound. His mouth seemed glued shut and his limbs as frozen. He couldn't move a muscle. He tried to speak, he tried to move his jaw, but he was powerless. He gave a final maximum effort, but all he could hear come out of himself was a dull, muted groan through lips he could not budge. Too late, too late.
He heard purposeful footfalls from down the hall and sensed the careless pride in their approach. They were coming in for the kill slowly and savoring each moment.
In a far off corner of the world, a little child knelt in a grotto. She wasn't sure how to pray but she loved God. She knew she wanted to pray and felt there was a reason she should pray now. Even though she wasn't quite sure of the reason she just said “Please, God,” and it was enough. Then she smiled and got up to pick dandelions.
From across the world, it hit Jack like a thunderbolt.
He began to wake up and felt as though he might be able to move his mouth. He tried to call out, “Jesh...Yesh...”
Out in the hallway a troubling feeling began to take the place of the waves of hopelessness and despair, and Jack could feel the unity of his enemies' purpose waiver.
He tried to rise, but still couldn't get his legs to work. From the hallway he could feel anxiety beginning to mix within the confederacy of his enemies. Their pace quickened, but the power they had projected only a moment before had lessened. They were losing their hold on him and they knew it.
Jack tried to lift his blaster towards the door. It felt too heavy. Then he felt power lifting him up. Someone new was praying.
In Cleveland, a grandmother arrived for her hour of adoration, crossed herself and entered the chapel.
Jack tried again to call out and found he could open his mouth, “Jesuh...” his effort terminated in a strangling cough.
In Florida a group of kids got together after school, “what should we pray about today?”
“I don't know, let's just start and see what happens.”
One of them began, “Heavenly Father, we pray for all those in need of your help...”
Jack grew stronger and more resolute by the moment. He could sense the malevolence on the other side of the door and raised his blaster. Then he noticed the power-pack was missing. He looked around the floor but didn't see it. He looked at the rubble but realized there was too much debris to search in time. He had another in the tool kit on his bike, which was still lying on the broken bed. He reached around and was able to touch it, but could not get it open.
Jack tried to push higher onto the bed to better reach the kit, but every movement was like running in tar. Each effort felt like he could only go half as far as the last.
He tried to call out once again, and this time he spoke clearly, “Jesus.”
For a second, silence fell. Out in the hallway it was completely still, and the waves of sorrow and hopelessness stopped. The menter could no longer focus the combined power of the demons and Jack sensed the menter's ability diminished by half.
Jack searched his heart and found a grain of faith, small as a mustard seed, but there. He started to softly sing, “There is power, power, wonder-working power, in the blood of the Lamb...”
Out in the hall the menter tried to refocus the demons who refused to enter the room while the song continued.
Jack started to rise and retrieved the power pack. He sang louder... “There is power, power, wonder- working power, in the precious blood of the Lamb...” he replaced the power-pack on his blaster in a few quick motions and began to sing with joy. He sang to the room, to the power pack, to the wrecked bike and to the whole listening universe. “Would you be free from your burden of sin? There is power in the blood, power in the blood!” All of the feeling of heaviness and lack of mobility had left him with only minor pressure as the menter tried to reapply his force. “Would you o'er evil the victory win? There is wonderful power in the blood!”
In the midst of their attack the demons and menter completely lost their hold on Jack. The depressive bolted first, back down the hall to the elevator. Then the fire demon realizing the shift in power had gone to Jack, began to retreat, and the menter having lost all support turned to run after them. Jack strode to the door of the room, just as he heard the elevator 'bing', and the doors start to open down the hall.
He could have let them go, but they would attack someone else, or return later with seven others more wicked than themselves. He was a Demon Hunter, and it was his job to stop them.
Jack ended his song and spoke, “Now it is their turn to run.”
Jack heard the elevator door close. The elevator sounded as though it was going down. He looked out the smashed window, where the remainder of the severed wires still hung down from the roof, running half way down the building. Jack holstered his blaster securely and put on his helmet and gloves.
He knew this would take faith, and that would take hearing, and hearing came from the Word of God.
Jack started with one of his favorites, “Blessed are they who walk not in the wisdom of the ungodly...”
He stepped to the sill of the smashed-in window and looked at the hanging bundle of wires and could see his pathway down the side of the building shining to lead him on, “nor behave after the fashion of sinners...” he leaped for the wires catching them in both hands, and slid down the wall using the wires as a rope, “nor sit in the chair of the mockers.”
He was still more than two floors above the pavement, but it was the fastest way down.
“Their delight is in the teaching of the Lord,” Jack started running back and forth across the face of the building making the hanging wires work like a pendulum, “and on his teaching they meditate day and night.”
He calculated the highest point of the swing and where he would need to jump off of the wall aiming for a canvas awning two floors down, “They shall be like trees planted near rivers of water...”
At the top of the arc he made his best jump towards the awning.
“...that bring forth fruit at harvest.”
Jack landed square on the awning and it held, just barely, “Their leaves won't wither...” he could feel the canvas starting to rip through and grabbed the loose end where it started to give, “...and all they do prospers.”
He held onto the loose end of the awning as it tore lowering him a few feet above ground and he dropped the rest of the way landing in a crouch.
“The wicked share a different end.”
Jack stood and walked into the lobby past an opened-mouthed attendant and several surprised residents. He pushed the button to make sure the elevator would stop before it passed that floor. “They are like dust the wind drives from the face of the earth.” He took a few steps from the elevator doors, turned and took aim at their center. He watched the indicator needle showing the elevator getting ready to stop.
The doors opened and his enemies started to rush into the lobby before they realized he was there. “Therefore the wicked shall not rise from their judgment.” Jack got off two crisp shots at the depressive who'd been the first to get off the elevator and it went up in a cloud of smoke.
“Nor sinners in the courts of the just.” Jack took aim at the fire demon who was trying to squeeze back into the doorway of the elevator.
“Wait, wait,” it snarled, “who are you? What right have you to hunt us? Have you come to torment us before our time?”
“No.” Jack assured him, “I checked, it's definitely your time,” and hit it with a shot square in the chest, knocking it to the floor. It tried to rise but was tangled with the menter.
“For the Lord knows the way of the just,” Jack took aim again as it tried to rise, “but the way of the wicked perishes.” He hit it with three successive blasts and it evaporated screeching in flame and smoke.
The menter stood up speechless and quaking, not knowing whether to run or supplicate. Jack switched the blaster to stun and knocked him down with a single shot. He walked over to him and checked his vital signs; alive. He fitted a thought restricting band to his head and bound his arms and legs with adhesive spray from his belt pack.
He picked up the attendant's desk phone smiling at him, “Hello,” and then called back to St. Joan's central office. “Hi. Jack. Got one for pickup at...” Jack turned to the attendant who was still standing there with his mouth open, “...what hotel is this?”
“Ah, it's the Handover, sir.”
“Pick up at the Handover. One menter, sprayed and hatted, and ready to go.”
Jack turned to the attendant and nodded indicating the menter out cold on the floor. “He'll be okay. I gotta go upstairs and check on my bike.”
On the elevator Jack waited for the doors to close. He let out a big sigh, lifted his eyes and said, “Hey, thanks. Really. A lot. Now, about my bike...”
I hope you liked the story. There are eight more stories, some longer or shorter, some more or less serious.
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