The sun finally disappeared, casting darkness across the city. What lurked in the dark is what’s dangerous. Those who believe that never leave after it becomes dark. Even though it was four thirty, there wasn’t any sun out. A moving bill board said “Shop at Macy's for the Holidays. We have the best deals at forty to sixty percent off! Clothes and accessories for women, children, everybody!”
It showed pictures of adults and children in the latest fashions. If only others could afford prices like that all year. The other passengers never even glanced at the teen. They wouldn’t bother. A homeless man on a street corner held a sign reading ‘Will work any job for food or money’. Julian clenched his knuckles so tightly they turned white. The homeless hit a nerve with him. Growing up on the streets for seven year, he knew how hard and terrifying it was. Not knowing if you get enough food, find enough shelter during storms or winter, and not getting in trouble with gangs.
When not going escaping to church, he tried giving what ever spare change he has at the time he found at the hospital to them. He often visited St. Ann’s, the homeless shelter he was born in, from time to time.
It wasn’t that he was the good of a person; Julian just hates seeing people suffer. The bus stopped again, picking more passengers. Julian’s breathe hitched. Those faces. Distorted faces with burnt off pieces of flesh, ugly grey skin, horns curling their heads. Demons. They found him again. But, of course, nobody saw them. Julian averted their black eyed gaze, their sharp, pointed teeth flashing him. He rocked back and forth, gripping and un-gripping the black of his hair.
They aren’t real. They aren’t real. Those three words were repeated in his mind over and over. That didn’t make them go away. By this time, the other passengers gave him strange looks, whispering to each other. What was wrong with this boy? Is he retarded or something? Julian muttered phrases from the bible, and hoped that that would make them go away. When he looked back, they were still there.
Why him? “Excuse me sir? Is something the matter?” an elderly woman asked. She carried a cat’s crate on her lap. “Do you have a headache? I have some aspirin in my purse.”
Julian shook his head. “I’m OK miss. Just tired,” he lied through his teeth. “Christmas you know? It gets stressful.”
She chuckled. “I know. It’s hard finding the perfect gift for people. My granddaughter wanted a tabby cat for Christmas.” There was a jerk. The bus pulled up to the bus stop closest to church. Julian practically flew off, catching himself using the bus stop side. The doors closed, allowing nobody else off. He breathed a sigh of relief. They won’t follow him now. Shoppers pushed him away, not even looking up from their phones or I-pods to apologize. Technology has gotten everybody now a day.
Even little kids had cell phones. Growing up poor, he really never had electronics before James took them in. Hundreds of little snowflakes dotted his brown hair. It was a two mile walk to church. A very fat boy bullied a skinny kid in glasses. Another kid join, this one looked tough. Nobody bothered helping. A street vendor stepped in. The very fat boy stole a glance ay Julian, who learned at a young age to stay out of trouble, and kept plodding towards a bodega.
The tough looking kid yelled out but he didn’t listen. An icy wind buffeted Julian. Sky scrapers and high rises bent in the strong wind. More billboards offered huge one time sales. Wait till New Years. He really hated those yearly sales. Their prices were just as high as they always were. Those who made good money could afford the expensive places.
Dark clouds rolled over head, threaten another storm. Julian forced open a gas station door and stumbled inside. Two customers gave him weird sideways glances. Julian isn’t well favored in the city. He avoided their gaze, and desperately tried untangling his hair.
He’d wait until the storm passed over. Church is a quarter mile away, but better be safe than sorry heading out in this storm. And it was freezing. Julian’s hands and exposed patches of skin became red as tomatoes. Almost frost bitten. They slowly became numb.
The store manager, Henry, a large beefy man, tapped Julian’s shoulder. “Jewels, costumers aren’t so…well, welcoming of you in here.” The teenager blinked and shrugged, long delicate fingers tugging at the last snarl.
“I’m leaving once the storm ends. It looks like a bad one,” he said. And then he shivered, a cold breeze raking through his body. Then started rubbing a small bruise forming on his small chin. It must have happened after hitting the bus stop. It hurt like hell. “Do you have any ice packs? This hurts.” He poked the purplish bruise, but later regretted it. Pain shot up his small jaw.
Henry reluctantly handed Julian an ice pack. “Just stay back.”
Just stay back.
Everybody said that. Stay out of the way, we’re working. I’m sure most kids hear that. There was a binging sort of sound. Somebody must be at the pump and needed to be filled. Even squinting, the thick layer of snow blowing made it impossible for anybody to see. Hail started thudding to the ground. The windows rattled rapidly, snow pounding against the door.
He walked back and forth rows, examining goods, picked them up, and then set them down, a never ending cycle.
Warmth slowly washed over him. The church bells could be heard ringing. Very pleasant bells. They rang five times. Hopefully this storm will pass.
Though Father Joseph never minded what time people showed. Father kept the church open late. Julian fixed his jacket, eying a bar of Hersey’s Chocolates.
James only allowed chocolate on Halloween.
A sudden loud bang, bang followed by shortly by police sirens was normal. The others in the store didn’t even look up. You can get murdered and nobody would help. Great times living in the city. A small gust of wind blew through the store. Somebody else entered. Whoever it was, they weren’t happy. They spoke in harsh whispers with great rapidity.
Two customers and Henry had strange expressions painted on their faces, so the new customers must have been speaking in a different language, but to Julian, they made sense.
“Azazel will be mad. We lost him again,” one hissed. “His powers make it so we can’t find him.”
“Don’t forget. THEY are trying to locate him too.” He nervously glanced at him. For the past ten years, he what he said were demons. People with burnt off pieces of flesh, horns sticking out of their heads, black eyes, sharp teeth and bone poking through their flesh. They freaked him out.
For some reason, they appeared more frequently. The doctors believe his mind is getting worse.
Heart racing and eyes wide with fear, Julian’s head ever so slowly turned. Two demons. And they started towards him. One was a woman and the other a man. They made it so he couldn’t leave. The woman bared her teeth.
“And just which one are you?”
Julian kept muttering, “They’re not real. They’re not real,” while scratching his head. The female demon leaned in close. Hot breath tickled his neck.
“We’re as real as you are.” The man came behind Julian and grabbed a fist full of hair. “We need to speak with you.” Julian struggled and clawed furiously, twisting. He screamed, then kicked the male demons knee and sprinted. By now everybody was staring at him. Another person took a hold of him.
There was more yelling. He could barely distinguish what they were saying.
“Julian! Julian!” Henry was yelling. He had to be the one holding him. “Nobody is hurting you! Stop fighting!” Large hands clasped his small wrists. He had to get away or the demons would surly kill them all. “Please stop this. I’m taking you back to Mary Elizabeth’s right now!” Julian managed to escape his grasp.
“No!” he screamed. “They’re just follow me there! They find me everywhere!” He gave one final shove and was off. The storm, barely over, violently attacked him. Hail, wind and snow blasted at him. Stores were closed because of the bad weather, shut off to any unfortunate traveler caught. What’s worse was that every sidewalk was covered in a thick layer of ice and wet snow, which made it hard for escaping.
In a matter of minutes, the storm and dark clouds disappeared. A bright low moon hung, surrounded by countless shining stars. Club signs glowed. Smoke rose from restaurants as their lights turned on. One again, the city became alive again. Seven thirty. I was in there for two and a half hours?
Night owls few their coops, waiting in lines for clubs. Christmas trees sat in various store windows and corners strung with colorful lights. Julian stopped dead, and doubled over, winded. Running a full mile avoiding people and taxis hoping to run you over to get where ever they were heading was difficult. He realized if he kept running for another five miles, he’d be in Queens. He stared at the sky as he walked, ignoring the working girls strutting their stuff in thirty degree weather.
Night time was his favorite because of the constellations. They were fun to study. He knew almost all of them.
Oh god, the voices again.
Michael, you mustn’t act so hastily. Demons are growing in numbers. They can’t find him. His powers make it so. If we can’t get to him, the demons will sooner or later. They already located what part of the world he is in. Should we just sit here and do nothing will demons are winning?
The voices continued. They became frantic. But they’re just voices. Figments of a crazy teenagers imagination. Nothing more. Doctors had answers to everything. Loud music blasted in the night, sending chills down Julian’s spine.
A dark skinned elderly man ranted and flung flyers. Handed a flyer, Julian stopped at a corner and read it.
Hear Gods message this Sunday. Don’t Miss IT!
“Yeah, because I don’t hear it already,” he said, grinning slightly. Then pursed his full lips. Ice crunched underneath his feet. He wished this year mom would visit. It’s been six years since the last time and that was the day she dropped her only son at a Psychiatric Center.
A sudden black, menacing force knocked Julian back. Another caught him from behind. Ugly, black fingers gnarled in his black hair while another set swept golden locks. A hand roughly stroked Julian’s cheek. Flash had burnt off to show charred bone. Just then, the street light flashed on. This wasn’t the same male demon as earlier. This one’s face was still burning off, huge chunks of flesh plopped with a sickening splat despite snow catching it. One arm was bent the other way and a shoulder blade was showing. His lower lip was missing, so was his nose. Two horns sat in a tight spiral on his head.
Julian gagged on the horrid smell. Black eyes gazed down at him.
“What beauty. Exotic beauty is rare among your kind,” The demon replied. Sharp nails were dragged from his forehead to his chin. “This will be fun. We’re searching for somebody. We like-” he tore Julian’s wrap around rose earring off with his teeth, “-torturing people.”
“I’m not an angel! Angels and demons aren’t real! You’re in my head!” Julian screamed and started trashing. Nails pierced his skin. Blood trickled and stained his ratted jeans. Confusion hit him like a million bricks. If this was just another illusion, why is this pain so real? Tires squealed as a truck rounded the corner. The captors weren’t fazed.
Fear coursed through his veins. The decayed hand travel until resting on the slight swell of his hips and the demon waved a white feather. There was a strange flapping sound. “Come on little angel. We don’t bite. Not that much anyway.” Laughter spread among the demons.
“And I don’t kick that much either,” Julian said. “At least get some cologne. My eyes are burning and I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He yelped because the demon yanked his hair.
“We know you are an angel. You’re wings say it all. Lilith will be pleased we finally got one of you.”
Julian kneed him. “I’m a crazy kid from New Yawk. Just go back in my head.”
Julian elbowed one and felt the hands loosened. He kicked one in the shin, and bolted. He cared nothing about if they followed. If he got to church, the demons can’t enter. Demonic creatures can’t enter holy grounds or they will die. Footsteps chased him. Oh crap. They sounded a couple seconds behind. Wait yes! Halfway to church. Moonlight shone on the bell tower. Something grabbed the torn jacket. He let it slip off. The cold air nipping at his newly exposed arms. As he glanced back, he tripped on a large patch of ice.
He tried balancing himself. Another shot of pain rushed up his leg. The church gates appeared.
Julian forced them open. Wind whipped and howled across the church grounds. Trees swayed creepily every time the wind passed.
“Father Joseph! Are you still here?” Julian yelled, limping. A tall older man helped him inside.
“Julian, what’s wrong? Why are you covered in blood?” He asked, and help him into a pew. “Did a gang do this to you?”
Julian gasped in pain and surprise. So that wasn’t fake after all. But why didn’t the gang notice the demons. “You could say that. Something really weird is going on…No I don’t need to lie down. It doesn’t hurt that much.”
Father Joseph shook his head. “Julian, I’m calling Dr. Truman, just stay here.” The father disappeared. The teenager limped over to a statue of Michael, using one hand to steady himself on the pews. Kneeling down, he fiddled with gold cross, closing his eyes and prayed.