Chapter 1.4: The Meaning of Dire Consequences

“Hey, that guy doesn’t know that he’s gonna trap us if he sets fire to this café!” Allen yelled, as I ran towards the glass doors.

I crashed through the glass doors, jumping so as to avoid landing or tripping over the screaming, burning man on the ground, and rolled out onto the path in front of the doors. Allen hopped out a second after me, grabbing the guy and pulling him out onto the wet roadside off the path, but that just made the man scream even louder.

The aura of a cold darkness was just down the road, and there were people screaming along the way the man must have come from. I turned and gave chase after the aura, sprinting.

I managed to catch up to the creature that had caused the victim to burn: a skinny human-like creature with wings attached to its back, seething steam under the drizzling rain. It carried a human-sized doll with dark hair, also soaking wet.

Er – a doll? Or a human? I couldn’t tell, because whichever-it-was was hanging pretty still.

The demon hissed like a wild snake at me, steam flowing out of its nose.

“A Level-5 demon, is it?” I grumbled, pulling a neck knife out of my pocket. It morphed into a slender sword of silver the shape of a cross tipped with the hilt and handle tipped with spikes. I lunged at the demon and slashed through it easily. The doll was dropped to the ground, and the demon collapsed, screeching before it dispersed into a black dust.

I frowned at the demon carcass; why did all it do was scream? It’s a demon. It’s what’s left of a regretful human, a human soul and memories after death. Why couldn’t it speak?

The doll sat up. “I shouldn’t have tried to confront him,” it sighed.

I yelped in surprise. “Y-you were alive? A human?”

“You sound as if I shouldn’t be alive,” said the girl, and turned to me. Then she looked startled, seeing me. “You are . . . that new transfer student?”

I blinked at her, startled as she was. I recognized her: one of my classmates, Salome Wright. Her presence in the classroom was so small that any one of those classmates of ours would forget she even existed, even at roll call. If I wasn’t creating characters for a novel based on each and every one of my classmates, I’d have missed her.

Salome turned and started to walk off. “Please keep the fact that I was almost a victim of a demon secret. It would be bad if anyone knew.”

“Huh?” I asked, but she was already running away.

After she disappeared around a corner, I turned and ran back to the café, where a crowd had gathered.

I pushed through and found that the man was still burning. The expression on Allen’s face was grim, as were the expressions on Natalie and Basil.

“It was a type of fire from the Netherworld,” said Basil, turning to me when I appeared.

“You couldn’t save him?” I guessed, looking at the now dead body. “But he was screaming just a while ago, like he was just attacked. He shouldn’t have died yet.”

“Yeah, but more like the fire ate at him from the inside, and then burst out of him,” said Natalie. “He didn’t even notice. At this point, he’s just coal for fire.”

I squinted at the corpse’s face to try to see him.

“You know who he is, Ellis,” said Allen with a frown. “It’s your science-period teacher, Mr. Higgins. You know, the guy I coincidentally invited here earlier.”

I nodded, recognizing a hint of the face. I stepped back.

Boy is it hard to be a demon hunter, especially when your target, a demon hiding her form, is playing around with victims while you’re at work, acting cockily.

The End

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