A star less night covered the city.
Below hundreds of people scuttled through the neon drenched streets, rain pounding hard on their heads as they weaved in and out of each other’s way, all of them too busy getting home from work or trying to catch the last of the shops as they closed for the night, to notice a lone figure standing high above them, watching and waiting on the roof tops of the towering buildings.
Dante tightened the clasps of the sheave containing his sword, Rebellion, strapped to his back then fastened the buttons of his long red leather coat. The rain did not bother him, nor would it hurt his trusted fire arms, the twin hand guns Ebony and Ivory, he just really hated getting wet, and his shoulder length silver hair was already plastering itself to his face in the wind. He strolled across the roof top from one end to another, leaping effortlessly to an air conditioning unit and staring out into the night,
“Same shit different night.”
Dante closed his eyes and focused his unique hearing, trying to separate sounds from each other, listening for anything that may give away his prey’s location. First he blocked out the sound of the traffic, honing in on the sounds of foot falls in the rain, then he shifted aside the noise of the people below, searching out the signs of panicked or heavier foot falls, he wasn't having any luck.
Opening his eyes and standing up right, Dante sighed heavily then turned on the hells of his knee high boots, the wind taking the tails of his jacket and billowing them out behind him,
“Sometimes I think I'm in the wrong line of work”
Dante smiled, “Then again”.
An Hour Earlier
Maggie Rose sat at her desk shifting through old stories she had written over the years. She had been reporter forThe Globe for five years, ever since leaving college. Maggie had always done well and was seen as one of the best young reporters on the paper, lately however, she had found herself in a slump, ever since one of her best sources had 'dropped the ball' on some info regarding an organised crime racket involving several high ranking police officers. Maggie had nearly been arrested and her source had been found a week later, dead.
Since then no one seemed interested in putting work her way, in fear that the same thing may happen to them, Maggie found herself covering shop openings and famous babies appearing in public for the first time, not exactly what she had spent years studying for. Her editor had tried to reassure her,
“Maggie all reporters go through these slumps and any who haven’t had at least one run in with the police aren’t worth the paper they write on.”
She knew he was trying to help, but somehow she knew this was the end of her career, before it had even really started and she had no idea what else to do with her life, maybe if she moved somewhere else, no that was pointless, someone would be sure to contact The Globe to find out exactly why she left, then that would be that and she’d be back on ugly celeb babies in no time.
“Arrrggghhhh!” she tossed a heap of papers into the air in frustration,
“Wow, easy tiger” Maggie turned to find her cameraman and best friend standing behind her, dodging loose papers,
“One of those days, huh champ?”
“Yeah, you could say that, and stop calling me that” she sighed back at him, flopping over her desk, “Oh Danny, why did I even bother going to college, five years and my career has already hit rock bottom.”
“Awww, honey” Danny leaned over her and whispered in her ear, “What you need is a new direction.”
Maggie sat up and brushed a long strand of brown hair away from her thin pretty face, “I’m listening?”
Danny unzipped his black leather jacket and pulled out a thin brown folder with a police case file stamp on it, “Check it out” he grinned at her.
Maggie opened the file then dropped it onto her desk in disgust, “What the hell is that?” she asked wide eyed and staring down at a Polaroid photo clipped to the report,
“It was a student, a girl named Terri Domico, she was studying physics at the local college when she disappeared two days ago, she was twenty-one and brilliant, apparently.”
Maggie picked up the photo again, it showed a crimson red, bloody mass spread out on a street Maggie could just make out ripped material mixed into the fleshy mess. It looked like the poor girl had been put through a food blender.
“What happened to her?” Maggie was actually finding it difficult to look away from the image now,
“Not a clue, no one knows, according to the report, if you actually feel like reading it, the pathologist and medical examiner were mystified as to what caused this, but also the time of death.”
“You said she only went missing two days ago?” Maggie looked up at Danny, the wide smile on his face giving way the fact he had been looking forward to that bit,
“She did, but the examiner’s report says she has been dead for days, that, and there is no other way to put this, some bits died before other bits, basically...”
“Basically someone kept her alive while they did this to her” Maggie finished,
Maggie stood up and shoved the report and photo back into its file and put her coat on, Danny zipping up his jacket and looking very excited,
“How did you get this?” Maggie asked,
“Let’s just say not all your sources have given up on you” he grinned and Maggie knew that was all she would get from him.
Twenty minutes later and the two of them were driving along the dark city streets in Danny’s van towards the place where Terri’s remains had been found, it was not a nice neighbourhood and according to Danny, they would have to leave the main street and walk most of the way.
“Why a dark alley, why couldn’t she have turned up somewhere well lit and populated by people other than crack addicts” Maggie asked,
“Is that rhetorical?” Danny asked, Maggie just shrugged,
“What the hell was she doing so far from the campus anyway?” Maggie asked,
“According to the report, you know you can actually read it yourself if you want, she was studying strange electro-magnetic forces, or something, a statement from a friend says she had become obsessed with them. Her dorm mate said she had spent hours awake on her laptop, studying weather reports and looking for these anomalies, then two nights ago, she got real excited about something then just got up, dressed and ran out the door without even saying goodbye.”
“And that was the last time she was seen alive?”
“How did they identify her so quickly?”
“A name tag on a piece of the material mixed up in her remains.”
“Oh god, that’s horrible. Who would do something like this?”
“I don’t know Mags, you and me, we seen our fair share of weird and sick, but this is something different, I mean it just feels different, don’t you think?”
Maggie did feel strange, it was true, whatever had been done to this girl had been done slowly and methodically, someone had not only known exactly how to drag out what was probably the most painful death Maggie had even heard of, but they had actually been able to stomach doing it. Whoever had killed poor little Terri Domico, Maggie hoped she never had to meet them.
“Ok, we’re gonna have to walk from here” Danny said as he parked his van alongside the curb, at the lip of a very long and very dark alley,
“Again I ask, bright lights and lots of people, just once?”
Danny giggled at her then pulled out a small flashlight from his pocket, pointing the beam of light into the murky depths ahead, he looked back at Maggie smiling, “Ready fearless reporter?”
“Not really” Maggie walked quickly to his side and linked an arm through his, Danny could feel her trembling and it had nothing to do with the rain,
“Look, we go in, take a few snap shots and poke about a bit, then we’ll go back to yours, get take out and compile a list of people to talk to tomorrow, okay?”
“Works for me” Maggie replied, and they walked slowly into the alley.
The buildings on either side of them towered hundreds of feet into the air, creating a very claustrophobic environment and stank of rotten garbage and human filth. Maggie couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that there was no way out other than the way they had just come and the other end, somewhere a head, in the dark.
“Nearly there now” Danny said after several minutes of trudging through the waste spread over the alley floor,
“Thank god, I think I’m gonna throw up” Maggie forced,
“Yeah, this is the spot” Danny said comparing the photo and notes on the case report, “They found her here, that’s weird, why isn’t there any police tape or crime scene signs?”
“Maybe they figured the rain would wash anything they hadn’t already found away?” Maggie replied, she pulled away from Danny and, cupping her hand over her mouth, began examining the area Danny’s flashlight was illuminating,
“Poor kid” Danny started, “what a fucking horrible place to die, knee high in filth and shit, no one deserves that, no one”,
“I agree, this isn’t a place for people anymore, it’s a place for vermin and filth”
“Now that ain’t a very nice way to talk about our home, now is it boys?”
Maggie and Danny both jumped and spun round, Maggie nearly losing her footing in surprise, standing behind them were three men, two of them rather small and skinny, the third, the one who had spoken was twice their size. They stared at Maggie with insane, withdrawn and bloodshot eyes, crooked and rotten teeth on display as the grinned menacingly at her.
Danny was shaking from head to toe, he knew what they were going to do, why they were staring at Maggie so hungrily, and it was going to be up to him to stop them.
“Look guys” his words felt foolish the moment they escaped his lips, “We don’t want trouble, okay, we’re reporters, for The Globe, we’ll give you our cash then you let us go, okay?”
“We don’t really want cash right now, thanks” the big one was still watching Maggie, his hand had disappeared inside his trousers, Maggie turned way in disgust and Danny wished she’d do a better job of hiding it.
“Boys, why don’t you see how much cash, mister reporter, has while I get to know the lady a bit better”
Maggie froze, her eyes went wide and lips trembled, she opened her mouth as if to scream, but nothing came out. Danny took a brave step forwards, towards the big man, but the other two skinny little wretches moved for him, much faster than their drug wasted bodies looked capable of, they seized his arms and held him fast,
“Easy there, hero, you know, there’s a reason most heroes are dead” he laughed, even through the rain, Danny could smell the foulness of the big ones breath,
“I swear to god, if you so much as touch her I’ll...”
The big one marched straight for Maggie, grabbed her by the forearm and pulled her towards him, then smashed one huge fist into her mouth, sending Maggie flying backwards into the filth,
“You’ll do what?” he spat back at Danny.
Danny opened his mouth in rage to answer back, scream at him, but stopped, he just stood there, mouth open staring behind their huge assailant.
Maggie sat up, she could taste blood flooding into her mouth, she thought her nose might be broken, spitting blood to the ground and trying to wipe the slime from the floor from her face, Maggie sat up and looked back towards their attackers, her mouth fell open.
The two men holding Danny suddenly let go, their white, sickly looking faces turned green and they back themselves right up against the opposite wall.
“What the fuck is wrong with you two? What the hell is everyone lookin’ at?” the big one turned around, then jumped back, away from the wall as he saw it too, a perfectly round, black hole.
Danny’s photographer instincts took him and he grabbed the camera in his inside pocket, he flicked it on and started snapping shots of the perfect, round black spot, about three feet wide which had just appeared in mid air. Maggie tried to get to her feet, but the attackers had not finished yet, the big one went to make a move for her while the other two, obviously deciding Danny was trying to take pictures of them, rushed for his camera.
“WHAT IS THAT THING?” the big one shouted at Maggie, releasing his hold on her throat so she could speak,
“I....do....don’t...kn...kno...know” she croaked, he roared at her then threw her back to the ground, turning to face the hole, the attacker moved cautiously towards it. He lifted one huge hand and extended a finger towards the opening, as he pushed on it, the unseen surface rippled like water,
“This is to fucked up, man” he leaned in a little closer, his nose almost touching the surface, and grinned at his own ugly reflection, suddenly, the others watched as his huge form lurched towards the hole, shook violently for a moment, then fell backwards to the ground, his entire face had been ripped off, he was dead.
The two skinny men screamed and fell backwards to the ground behind Danny, they scrambled backwards to the far wall, clutching each other and unable to take their bloodshot eyes off the corpse of their dead friend.
Maggie scrambled to her knees and Danny rushed to her, pulling her close to him as he too looked back towards the hole, then, something began to happen to the surface, it was rippling faster and faster, and then it convulsed and two very large, dark objects were literally spat out, on to the ground.
Maggie, Danny and the two attackers watched the objects, which were slowing pulsating on the ground, as they watched, Maggie realised that the balls were organic, they had thin, yellow veins covering their entire mass, the rest was a dark black and grey blob, moving up and down like a heartbeat, whatever they were, they were breathing.
Then the masses shift violently and the sickening sound of ripping flesh filled the alley, it was so loud that the two attackers across from Danny and Maggie had clasped their hands over their ears and were screaming madly. Danny pulled Maggie closer to him unsure of what it was he was trying to protect her from.
The masses were changing form, through the rips in their flesh they could now see limbs pushing their way through, and from what could only be assumed was the top of these creatures, heads were forcing their way through a membrane of skin.
“Holy shit, Danny, what are they?” Danny just shook his head, to confused, scared and excited to respond verbally.
The creatures rolled about for a few more seconds before they pushed themselves up on what were now clearly forearms and back legs, they turned back and forth, examining the humans in the alley. They looked like dogs, but had no fur, their ears were on the sides on the side of their heads, not the top, and looked almost human, and their eye’s neither Danny nor Maggie could stop looking at their eyes, they were brilliant balls of bright white light, spinning madly in their sockets. Danny estimated they were at least four feet high and twelve feet long, much bigger than any dog.
The creatures barred their teeth and growled softly at the two attackers up against the wall, their long snouts sniffed at the men, then, in one quick movement, they leaped forwards at the men who screamed as the teeth ripped into their bodies.
Maggie screamed as she and Danny watched the dogs rip and tear at the men, who were still screaming despite the amount of blood they had already lost, the animals had buried their snouts in the men’s stomachs and were feasting on the warm meat inside.
Danny wanted to be sick, not because he felt pity for the men dying before him, but because he knew it was about to be him and Maggie.
The two dogs tossed the remains of their meals across the alley they turned and licked blood from each other’s hides before turning the attention towards Maggie and Danny, the two pushed themselves as far back against the wall as they could, knowing it would be no use, for a moment, Danny looked further down the alley, how fast were these things, could he get himself and Maggie to the other end before they caught them, but his answer came all too soon, the lead animal bent low on his forelegs then leaped towards Danny.
The picture was perfectly still for a single moment, the rain held fast in the air, the wind stopped blowing, the creatures jaws were inches from Danny’s face and then it rang out, the sound that filled the frozen void. The moment ended and instead of wide jaws colliding with Danny’s head, the top of the creatures head exploded and it fell straight to the ground, bleeding onto Danny’s lap, dead.
Before Danny could say anything, he, Maggie and the second dog creature stopped and listened, something was being carried on the wind, it was getting stronger and stronger, a kind of whistling sound, Danny tried to place it, where had he heard it before, then it hit him, a bomb, being dropped.
They all looked up at once as, from the darkness above, hundreds of feet away, a tiny red blur fell from the building top, it unfolded as it fell the distance towards the alley, and as it reached the end of its journey, Dante had completely unfolded himself and landed hard on his feet, the Ebony and Ivory in hand, he looked up, a piercing sapphire blue eye twinkled through a lock of matted silver hair.
The creature turned towards Dante and roared into the darkness, it bent low, like a prowling cat, then, lurched forwards, charging the alley at lightning speed before leaping into the air.
Dante spun 180 degrees, in a flash, holstering the hand guns to both legs he reached back the drew the Rebellion sword, thrusting the blade into the air for a fraction of a moment as the creature flew over, then spinning back on his heels, Dante spun the blade in his hand, then sheaved it, flicking his hair out of his face as he stood.
The dog creature landed on all four feet behind Dante, spun around to face its prey again, then its stomach opened and its insides fell out, the creature’s vicious head dropped, then it fell to the ground and lay still.
Dante watched the two people sitting on the dirty alley floor, hugging each other, trembling and watching him in awe. Walking over to them, Dante bent down low and looked them both in the eyes, “So, I’m guessing neither one of you ever saw anything like this before?”
Maggie and Danny, mouths still hanging open, shook their heads slowly,
“No, didn’t think so” Dante sighed then took another look at the two dead creatures, “Hell hounds, you know the kids say they’ll take care of them and feed them and walk them” he stood up, then fished in for something inside his jacket pocket, finally pulling out a small, black business card, he flung it at Maggie and whispered, “If you do see anymore, give me a bell, gorgeous” and in two swift and effortless jumps, Dante had scaled the buildings on either side of them and was gone.
Maggie and Danny just stared up at the roof tops they could not see through the dark, then Maggie turned the card over and read the red, neon like writing on the back, three words and a phone number,
Devil May Cry