The factory district was a ghost town, at least to the unexpecting eye. It felt worse to have no indications; paranoia was vibrant and alive as it burst and faded and burst again in his cerebellum. There was no telling himself he was imagining things because there was no evidence he’d imagined anything – which told him, of course, that he was surrounded with eyes on him from every angle.
Logic told him he should be cautious, that fear should be coursing through him as readily and in as much supply as the blood pumping through his veins. Instinct told him he hadn’t brought enough weapons or ammunition. Intuition told him none of it mattered because something had begun to change within him. Something pivotal and irreversible. He didn’t mind. A sense of surety had hung itself like a rallying flag from his ribs.
As much as he knew he should harbor some fear as to the outcome of his stupidity, he didn’t. He heard the words of the Architect on repeat, layered with the warning as a murmuring background crescendo, looping over and over, in his head. You will die in two years, eight months, eleven days, nineteen hours, forty-three minutes, and fifty-seven seconds. You will save lives.
The evening was nearly black with the moonless lightlessness of night. No shadows moved, no figures appeared in his peripheral vision or haunted the frames of shattered windows. Still, there was no comfort in the absence of such unsettling things; he knew effortlessly that their absence was a tell-tale sign that they were paying careful attention to his presence, observing his every move. At least if he could see a silhouette in the corner of his eye now and then he could guess at how many bodies occupied the area. Without any sightings, there could be dozens around every corner and he wouldn’t have a clue.
The woman’s words buzzed like static, clinging to his every thought. The factory district is a pool of shadows waiting to hunt you.
He supposed he’d never know how true the Architect’s words were if he didn’t test the theory, right?
Graeme found a place to park the TransAm where it was inconspicuous and checked his weapons. He found himself grateful that he’d gotten in so many fights in his life – he didn’t feel completely incompetent. To practice some semblance of caution, he doubled up on the knives and grabbed two extra magazines of ammunition for the Glock.
The last thing he grabbed had been a last minute thought on his way out of the condo: a pair of hand grenades. Just contemplating using them was both thrilling and terrifying; granted, he had no idea if or when they’d be needed but just feeling their weight in his hands was enough. Admittedly, he had a lot of unspent anger over the recent events in his life and the prospect of releasing some of it was a pleasant thought. It had been weeks since his last fist fight – one he was in, of course, not including the beatings he took with the Destoryer roaming around in his place.
An hour later, as if he’d been trained, Graeme scoped the outside of the building he’d chosen as a possible nest. The moonless night had grown darker as the evening melted into early morning. The sun would be inching up within a few more hours. He secured the silencer on the Glock as he navigated the door closed silently. Demons were stronger than average humans, though they did not have a great wealth of otherwise noteworthy advances. They could smell extremely well, but the use of vessels helped disguise Graeme’s specifically human scent. Had Gabriel been with him, they’d be able to smell her thirty yards away. He reminded himself to mention that later when she was pissed off at him for being so foolhardy while she was left vulnerable at the condo.
A terrifying thought occurred to him and he nearly turned himself around to go home – what if he’d been set up to believe that he should leave her unattented so they could break in and find her? The terror was so strong he barely fought it back. No one knew who Gabriel was except for Arroy; and Graeme had made plenty sure he wouldn’t be spilling any secrets any time soon. The strange prophet woman from the parking lot didn’t seem to know anything besides the jumbled bits she’d told him and there had been no references to Gabriel or angels or anything else connected to her. What comfort he got from this deduction was minimal but it was enough to re-instill his determination to continue on his own.