The night my team stormed the home of Keith and Alicia Keller, I made the sign of the cross. I prayed for a reason to not go through with my mission. Alicia was a wendigo, but she was also my friend.
And Keith, I knew he was her handler. Someone or something hired him to keep her, to use her or her unborn child as a weapon.
I knew my teammates wanted vengeance. So, I needed to get to her first. Luckily we had a plan. Sitting in the back of a stolen U-haul van Q’s sky blue hair glowed by the light of her hand-made laptop.
“Do you think they’re armed?” I asked as I tucked my hair into a black hoodie.
“Not according to what I’m finding,” she replied, staying focused on the laptop.
Tony was sitting in the corner with his robotic legs pulled to his chest. “He has dogs, at least he did, when my mom and I lived there.” The teen looked innocent as ever when talking about his abusive bastard of a father.
“I don’t see any,” Q said, quickly clicking through multiple windows.
“What did they look like?” I asked Tony. Since Tony was Keith’s biological son I would assume any dogs that he owned would be family pets. “Did they have names?”
Tony paused, his eyes appearing distant. “Come to think of it, no, they didn’t. They were just super vicious black rottweilers that only answered to him.”
That fit with my assumptions; Keith was working for a paranormal entity. And that person or group would have kept him well protected. There was little doubt, that we were about to walk into a trap. “Can you find where Alicia is?”
“In bed with her husband,” Q replied. There was a moment of silence before Q looked up at me. “Are you suggesting we just go in, and grab them?”
“Tony’s fast and I have my weapons. We’ll grab them take them to the van to questioning.”
Now it was time for the grand entrance. I went with Tony to the backyard while Q cut power to the house. I knew this would not be a difficult process since the twenty-acre estate resided deep in rural Wisconsin farmland. Q would keep an eye on us from the van and call my phone in the event of an emergency (not the greatest plan but it would have to do.)
I glanced at Tony who was wearing only a black t-shirt. It worried me that he apparently didn’t care about covering his face. If I learned anything from crime TV, that usually meant that an individual was planning on leaving no witnesses. “You good, Tony?”
“Yup,” he replied, playing with a taser in one hand and what appeared to be a massive kitchen knife in the other. “When our powers combine…” he said with a chuckle, before giving me a preview. Somehow he (or more likely his engineering professor mother) created a knife that attached to a taser to create a massive ‘electric sword’ that looked like something out of a videogame.
“Out of curiosity, what’s your stance on abortion?”
“I’m pro-life,” he said with a smirk as he switched the weapon to it’s less violent setting. “Except when the baby is the spawn of all that is shit.”
“I heard you,” I replied, as we climbed the fence that separated the backyard from the main house. The fact that I wasn’t electrocuted on contact proved that Q had been successful in cutting the power. Looking up at the full moon, I said one last prayer, ‘Dear God, it’s me, your friendly neighborhood demon hunter. I’ve been doing you favors for a while now, so I’m hoping you can do me a solid. I’m not looking for anything major- just enough of a distraction to keep Alicia safe.”
God answered my prayers.
I could hear screaming from the bedroom. A male voice was cursing the lack of light, while a female voice was writing in pain.
“Tony, can you kick down the backdoor?”
“You don’t have to ask me twice,” Tony’s robotic leg karate kicked the door off its hinges, sending it flying.
The first floor of the home was illuminated by the moonlight coming in from the many picture windows. I didn’t even have to turn on my key-chain flashlight.
The male voice was cursing while heading straight for us. “Who the fuck are you?”
I ignored him for the time being and ran straight for the bedroom.
Alicia was sitting on the floor in a pool of glowing neon green blood. “Leo? Is that you?” she asked, in a daze.
“It’s me. Are you ok? Did he hurt you?”
Alicia’s eyes rolled back in her head as she smiled. “The baby is coming.”
I was about to reply when I felt Keith’s large meaty hand grab my neck. “Who the fuck are you freaks!”
Keith fell to the ground with a thump.
Tony had apparently used restraint, and only struck his father in the back. “Freaks? Wow, I see some things never change, Dad.”
My first priority was to keep Alicia safe, even if that meant abandoning the plan and staying in the house. I had never witnessed a Wendigo give birth. I didn’t even know if Alicia was destined to survive this or if her powers would be needed to give life to the baby. “Tony, get Q in here, we’re going to need her help or at least her internet connection. I’ll handle your dad.”
I had a pocket full of metallic zip ties that I used to fix my truck. They were not your run of the mill plastic. In fact, they were closer to stainless steel (and heatproof to well over 1000 degrees.) Let’s just say, the material was a gift from an individual who was NOT the person I had been praying to. I looked around, noticing a gas heating pipe along the wall. I secured him by both wrists, as he started to awaken.
“You’re tying me to a fucking pipe?” Keith said with a laugh. “You don’t think I’m willing to destroy my house to kill you?”
“We cut the power.”
“If I rip this pipe out, that won’t matter.”
“You’re welcome to try,” I knew the zip ties would hold. But I couldn’t help but think, ‘Was that his plan B?’ I took a seat on a kitchen chair, waiting for Tony to return. “So, what’s the deal? You some kind of martyr? Blow up the whole house, destroy any evidence…”
“What evidence? What the fuck are you talking about?” He leaned his head back as if excepting his fate. “Evidence of what I did to my green-card wife and disabled freak of a son. What are you some kind of hit-man? I’m surprised that bitch would send you and Tony. You’re both going to rot in prison for a long time.”
“I’m not here for Maria. Although if even half of what she said you did to her is true- you absolutely deserve to burn in hell. But as for me, I’m here for Alicia.”
“You her pimp?” Keith asked with a smirk.
I shrugged. “I see you know about her past.”
“As a party girl slut? Or… What do the kids say- Thot? I only recently found out what that word means.”
“From the twenty-year-olds who work in your factory?”
“They were the impressed A-F when I walked in with that hottie on my arm. Getting Alicia knocked up was the best thing that could have happened.”
“For you?” I took a deep breath to resist the urge to end him before getting the needed information.
“For both of us. I get a second chance at a raising a normal kid with a hot trophy wife. And Alicia, if she behaves, she’ll have a roof over her head and a decent source of income.”
“If she doesn’t?”
“I’ll take her to court and use her colorful past to get full custody of my kid. I mean, if it’s not a fucked up freak like my son.”
“If it is a freak, she can keep it?”
“No, I’m sure the people at the hospital will want it. Maybe dissect it like a fetal pig.”
“Fucking sicko.” I punched Keith in the face so hard his head slammed against the pipe.
He was still laughing as I turned my attention to Alicia. “How are you doing?”
Alicia turned to me, our green eyes meeting. “I-I’m…”
“Are you in pain? We can’t go to the hospital, but Q will be here soon. she’ll know what to do.”
“Leo,” she said in a whisper as she reached for my hand. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Q rushed to Alicia’s side, somehow arriving faster than Tony. “Oh, God. This bad.”
“Bad?” I asked. “How bad?”
Q gripped her head as if trying to focus. “Alicia is half wendigo, half human. And the part of her that is wendigo is coming out of her vagina.” Q had her laptop under one arm and quickly opened it to start typing.
“Um, what?” I asked, grabbing her hand. “What is happening and what are you looking up?”
“The baby wants her powers, so we need to find a way to give it a sacrifice.” Q’s eyes darted in Keith’s direction. “Now, I know of a few dark-web places that might have some suggestions…”
“On how to perform a human sacrifice?”
Tony came into the room and took a seat. He was holding a beer. “Yup,” he said as he opened the can. “It’s going to be awesome.”
Q was quickly clicking, scrolling and scanning. By the light of her laptop, I could see her eyes darting over rows and rows of text. “Ok, I think I got it. Tony, use your taser on your dad until he’s unconscious but still alive, and then I’ll need to borrow your knife.”
Alicia squeeze my hand. “Leo, I don’t think that’s going to work,” she said in a whisper as if trying not to offend Q and Tony. “Keith is cruel but he’s not powerful. My baby craves true evil by means of real power.” She lifted her head, dropping her voice even lower.
I leaned in closer. “What was that?”
Alicia pressed her lips to my ear. “You must summon my father.”
Every brain cell was screaming, ‘No!’ But my heart knew it was the only way; sometimes you just gotta kiss a demon’s ass and hope everything works out. However, in order to do that, I would need to put a stop to Q’s plan.
Time seemed to move in slow motion as I stood up. Tony was about to turn on his taser and approach his father when I tackled him to the ground. I easily overpowered Tony, made a grab for Tony’s taser-knife. And in one swift motion, I placed my hand on top of Alicia’s and stabbed through the back of my own limb. I could feel an energy ripple through my body. This was not the first time I intentionally brought myself to the brink of death but it was never a pleasant feeling.
“I, Leonardo Riveria, demon hunter, an agent of the Lord, peacekeeper of mankind: I seek the creature who shares this blood.” The spell only worked on undead souls who had not passed on, and since my parents were long gone (as was Alicia’s mother) the only soul that left was Alicia’s Wendigo father. The room shook, windows shattered the last thing I heard before everything went silent was Q’s scream.
With no sound, it felt like I was underwater. A series of shadows started to creep in from every visible window. I wanted so badly to move my hand but one hard tug assured me that was a no-go. I was to be pinned in place for the duration of this encounter. But that moment I realized Alicia was gone, as were Q, Tony, even Keith. It only wanted to speak to me (which was fair, since I was the one who made the call.)
The room went completely black, it was as if the shadows were blocking out the moon itself. Out the darkness, a glowing gold creature formed, piece by piece until what stood before me was a massive buck with golden antlers. It stood there, staring me down.
“Hi, I guess I start? I’m Leo. I’d shake your hand but as you can see I’m pinned to the floor. That, and you have no hands.”
“I know full well who you are.” The deep masculine voice seemed to echo all around me. “Why did you come here? Why did you f-k up my plans!”
I had heard spirits curse before but the way this creature said ‘fuck’ seemed garbled. It felt like the ‘modernness’ of the word was making him genuinely sick. “I want to know more of your plan. Maybe I can be of service.”
“My plans for my nation or for my daughter?”
“Both?” I asked with a comical innocence.
“May I ask you a question first?”
“Do you remember the faces of all those you’ve condemned to hell?”
I needed to choose my next words wisely. “Not all of them. Much like any job, people come and go.”
“Does your heartache?”
“Every once in a while.”
“For people like Jamie?”
The very word caused a lump in my throat. “You know about Jamie?” I took a few quick breaths, this made sense- Jamie was Lakota and this creature was an ancient spirit. Yeah, this all made total sense.
“I knew Jamie, as I know all of my people. We were once warriors, with culture and spirit. But little by little we fell. We gave into the agenda of our oppressors, clinging to what little of our homeland they allowed us to keep. And soon it was not even that. My people were meant to be grateful for ‘reservations’- the right to live and die away from proper society.” His voice rose to a roar, then back down to a calm whisper. “Jamie; you told him you loved him and that you would come back for him.”
“I know. I-,” my mind drifted to an internet article I had read. “There was a study that gave cocaine to mice. They would put one mouse in an empty box with drugs as the only available activity; eat, shot and get high. But the other mouse he was given options; activities, ways to stimulate his mind beyond drugs.”
“…opportunities,” the word echoed on the wind. We were on the same page.
“Jamie gave up because he was stuck on the reservation. I should have taken him with me when I had the chance.”
“Do you feel anger?”
Again, I knew there was a specific answer the creature was looking for. “I’m mad at myself and I always will be. But I’m more angry at society: the way this country has evolved to treat homeless, addicts and underprivileged minorities.”
“You sound like a politician.”
“I’m not. And you know that.” That was the truth, my truth. ” I’m not nearly as old as you are but I’ve seen some shit. Look, I would really appreciate it if you helped save Alicia and her baby, but if that wasn’t part of your divine plan…” The next sentence truly felt like a punch to the gut. “I will help you, And then I will get the hell out of Wisconsin and never bother you again.”
The creature cracked a smile. “Somehow I doubt that,” the voice seemed genuinely happy or at least hopeful. “But I will give you a chance.”
Just like that, I was slammed back into reality with a jolt. My hand was back to being pinned to Alicia’s, by mean of the taser-knife. But there was so blood, no pain, only strength. I slowly removed the knife, the electric blade cauterizing any open wounds. But as I did, I heard the very distinct sound of a newborn baby’s cry.
Laying at Alicia’s feet was a baby girl. While most newborns would be covered in blood, this little one appeared to be covered in glowing energy. Although the umbilical cord was still attached and looked fairly normal, I knew this was the work of the golden buck.
Tony and Q looked on in horror as I used the taser-knife to free Keith. I didn’t wait for Keith’s reaction. As long as he didn’t try to prevent me from taking my next step we would be fine.
I returned to Alicia’s side and cut the umbilical cord. The neon glow dulled ever so slightly so I instinctively removed my sweatshirt, wrapping the baby. The newborn coo-ed, opening her eyes. I gasped, resisting the urge to look at Tony. She had Tony’s dark brown eyes; the eyes he inherited from his Italian mother.
Would Keith notice? Would he even care? Other the fact that this is clearly Tony’s daughter, she was the beautiful, perfect child that Keith had always wanted. I placed the wrapped infant in Alicia’s arms. “She’s yours. No matter what comes next, you are her mother. And you will always be her mother.”
Alicia nodded. I knew she understood. She needed to protect this innocent baby. “Hello, Eve.”
“Her name is Eve?” Keith asked as he calmly sat next to Alicia.
“Yeah,” Alicia said with confidence. “It is.”
“I like it,” Keith said as he touched the baby’s cheek. “And I love you.” Eve blinked her eyes, looking directly at Keith. That only made him happier. “You’re Daddy’s perfect little angel.”
Tony and Q were staring daggers at me, their breath heading with anger.
I was still holding the knife. They expected me to kill Keith and possibly Alicia as well. I could have done that; I could have taken the baby, give Eve to Tony and his University professor mother, that would have been the happy ending Tony deserved. But that wasn’t the deal I made. “Tony, Q, let’s get out of here.”
Tony finally stood up. “Oh fuck no!” He darted at me, making a grab for the weapon. But as soon as he got within a few feet of the baby he winced in pain.
“The baby wants us to leave,” I said. No one seemed to disagree with that point. “Please, Tony, I don’t want to hurt you.”
Tony cracked his knuckles. “A little late for that.” He ran at me full speed, hitting me with a barrage of punches. He managed to get the taser-knife but I had other weapons.
Not wanting to cause to much damage I reached for the taser I used when demon hunting. The frequency wouldn’t stun him but it would short out his robotic legs. I knew the shape, size, and location of my taser but instead, I somehow pulled out a pocket knife, striking him in the wrist.
Tony grabbed his arm in visible pain. “Fucking traitor!”
I was about to reply when something hit me in the head. The last thing I saw was Q standing over me. “We’ll go, but after what you pulled tonight, you’ll need to find a new crew. Sorry, Leo.”
I awoke in a strange bedroom. The bed was large and comfortable with blood-red blankets. This odd color choice extended to the walls and other decors; bones, candles, herbs, and shrines- this was the home of a witch.
“Yo, Vato! You’re awake!” What came in the door was a shirtless Hispanic man who appeared to be in his late teens or early twenties. He ran his fingers through his hair, brushing it from his eyes. “You were all kinds of fucked up last night.”
“Who are you?”
“Someone who knows better than to make deals with the devil.” The Hispanic man sat on the bed and started to examine my hands. “Although you know a little something about dancing with the devil, don’t you- demon hunter?” He pressed his hand to mine infusing bright white energy.
It felt amazing; the soothing experience of a deep tissue massage combined with the mind-opening calmness of smoking a high-quality blunt.
“You like that, Vato?” the young man said as he pressed his lips to my ear.
“Austin!” shouted a female voice from down the hall.
“Excuse me, my girl is calling.” Austin slid off the bed to meet the woman at the door.
The tall older woman had skin the color of ivory and long brown hair pulled back in a braid. In her hands was a cup of tea, overflowing with colorful steam, herbs, and flowers. She was the living embodiment of a modern witch.
And Austin seemed to be handing off her like a coat.
“Hello, Leo,” she said, handing me the tea. “My name is Elena Desilva, welcome to my home. You’re probably wondering how you got here. Long story short: you were dumped outside of the park down the street, just across from the elementary school.”
I knew exactly where she was referring to. At least I knew where I was, geographically. “And you just took me in out of the kindness of your heart?”
Austin replied instead. “That’s just what my baby girl does.” His arms were around the older woman’s waist, in a way that screamed TMI.
Elena sighed but did nothing to move out of her boyfriend’s embrace. “I think whoever chose to leave you at the park, meant for us to find you. You see Austin and I are white witches.”
“He’s a witch?”
Austin sat on the bed, pulling Elena on to his lap. “I’m a second generation. My late mother was a high priestess, she taught me everything I know. My powers drew me to Wisconsin where I got to know the hottest teacher at Beloit High.”
The front door slammed closed as another voice entered the house. “Mom, where are you?” A blonde teenage girl poked her head in the room. “Oh, hello. I’m Sunny. Elena’s daughter. No relation to the walking dildo that is Austin.”
Sunny looked nothing like her mother. I was tempted to ask if she was also a witch but she seemed to want to get to her own space as quickly as possible.
“I’m Leo,” I said with a smile.
She smiled back with a slight nod. Her blue eyes seemed to sparkle.
“Do you know Tony Keller?” I felt the need to ask her.
The room went quiet. Even Austin started to look serious. “Is that who beat the crap out of you?”
Elena looked genuinely sad. “That poor little boy.”
“Little boy?” For a moment I wondered if there had been a mistake after all ‘Tony Keller’ is a pretty common name.
“Tony’s the same age as Sunny,” Austin explained as he hugged Elena. “They grew up together.”
Sunny leaned against a wall, just outside the doorway. “He was my best friend. One day he just disappeared from my life. I know he’s into some bad shit,” her voice was breaking with sadness.
This had all been planned out by…. someone… either way, I had found my new crew.