Kate Sawyer opened her eyes slowly. Her head was pounding as if someone was dancing the Irish jig in the back of her skull. She knew that this wasn’t from the vodka she was throwing back at the bar earlier. No. Her headache came from being hurled across a room by a psychopath in an ugly Hawaiian print shirt.
She was staring at the legs of the table in the interrogation room from her vantage point on the floor. Kate moved to sit up straighter and pain shot through the back of her head and right arm. She felt her arm and didn’t feel anything broken, just bruised. She touched her head and saw a little blood on her fingertips. Kate’s head throbbed but she knew it wasn’t anything serious. She slowly inched her way up the wall to stand. Her head was still swimming a bit but she knew she had to figure out what had happened.
As she came to her feet, everything began to come back into focus. The officer that had entered the room lay near the now open door. Kate could make out a pair of feet outside the doorway to the hall. Her gaze scanned the room and stopped on the broken mirror separating the interrogation room from the observation room. The shards of glass still in the frame were partially covered with blood. Kate moved closer and looked into the next room and gasped.
Renee was lying on the floor in the observation room with her eyes open and a small bit of blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. Her head was tilted at an odd angle to her body. Kate knocked some of the glass out of her way and climbed into the room. She knelt down next to her partner and placed two fingers on what she now saw was Renee’s twisted neck. There was no pulse. Kate rocked back on her heels and sat completely on the floor with tears forming in her eyes. She sat there for a few seconds before moving to close Renee’s eyes. Kate just stared at her partner for a few seconds before she heard the shooting and yelling. She took her small .380 out of her ankle holster and stood up, striding towards the doorway.
Kate stopped at the door and poked her head carefully around the edge. The hallway was clear in both directions except for three bodies. One body lay near the door of the interrogation room and she recognized the face as Detective Butler. The bodies nearest her position belonged to Lieutenant Payne and a young officer who had recently been assigned to the precinct. They all had their weapons out but the twisted and bloodied conditions their bodies were in suggested that the firepower wasn’t enough to stop the beast that was Jack Hobbes. Kate walked over to Detective Butler’s body and removed his Glock 19 from his outstretched hand. She closed his and the other officers’ eyelids and began to walk towards the sounds of commotion.
She edged towards the entryway into the detectives’ area. As Kate turned the corner, she felt a bullet whiz by her face and quickly moved back into the hallway to a crouched position.
“Cease fire!” she heard someone shout and the room became quiet.
She carefully poked her head around the door to see where the shot came from and was stunned at what she saw.
Bodies lay across desks, broken and on the floor, bleeding. The lights were out and only the emergency reserves were on. The only other illumination came from the random still functioning desk lamp and the flashlights of the about ten or twelve officers on the other side of the room. They had their guns aim towards her position.
Their weapons were pointed in her direction because the man known as Jack Hobbes currently held Detective Patrelli in one hand by the throat nearby. The short man was trying to break the grip around his neck from the smiling fiend but could not. His face was turning purple and tears began to well up in his eyes.
Kate had no love for the man but Patrelli was a fellow cop and a detective. She slowly moved out into the room around a desk to see if she could somehow figure out a way to make Hobbes release Patrelli but by the time she got to the other side of the desk Jack had thrown the detective across the room to the far wall. The loud crack as he slammed into the wall told Kate that Detective Patrelli wouldn’t be getting up again anytime soon, if ever. She moved forward to try to get around Hobbes while still staying low to the ground. Jack Hobbes began to laugh at the officers.
“Come on,” he said, beckoning an onslaught with his hands.
The cops on the other side of the room opened fire and Kate moved even closer to the ground. From her position on the floor she saw that although the bullets were hitting their marks, they were only pushing Jack back but not stopping him. After about twenty seconds of shooting the officers stopped. Jack had his head down and was looking at his torso riddled with bullets. He slowly raised his head and smiled his gruesome grin.
“Goodnight, officers,” he said and then covered the distance towards the other side of the room faster than humanly possible.
Kate picked up her head and saw Jack Hobbes wade into the assembled groups of police with glee. His cackling laugh was heard over the sound of random shots and the snapping of bones. Kate rose to her feet and strode towards him with her gun out. She fired three shots into Hobbes’ back as he lifted a young female officer off her feet by her collar. He stumbled and dropped the female cop next to another officer with two broken legs. The female officer slowly began to move away while coughing. Jack turned and looked at Kate in surprise before his smile returned.
“Well well, Katie,” he said. “You are tough to kill. Like a cockroach. I’ll be with you in a second. Just have to finish some business up here.”
Jack turned away and pushed his foot against the neck of the cop with the broken legs until he felt the snap of his neck. Then Jack grabbed the scrambling female officer by the back of her neck with his right hand. He raised her in front of him like a shield and moved his left hand under her chin so she was looking directly at Kate. The young officer had tears streaming down her face.
“Let her go,” Kate said.
“Look at her, Katie,” said Jack. He caressed the young officer’s face with the back of his right hand. “So young, so full of potential. She could become like you one day. A great detective. A tough chick. A drunk loser who can’t have a successful relationship. She has so many options at this exact moment in time. To be like you or to not be like you. The future is wide open to her.”
Kate raised her gun to point towards Jack’s face.
“What do you want, you sick bastard?” she asked.
“Katie,” Jack smiled. “It’s simple really. I just want you to admit what you are and that you have no control over the situation. I mean, you are only human. You can’t stop what’s coming.”
“I can stop you,” she said.
“You are a loser, Sawyer,” said Jack. He pulls the young officer closer to him as he begins to walk to his right.
“Where to begin?” said Jack, looking up to the ceiling as if he was thinking. “For starters, you and your stupid partner couldn’t capture me. Then, when I allowed myself to get captured, it took you forever to get to the root of what I am. Let’s see. Oh, yes. I broke out of my bonds and murdered everyone in this precinct except you and this lovely young thing. Not to mention that you are a fuck-up in your general life and that one is without any help from me.”
Kate backed away in the opposite direction as Jack circled with the female officer. Kate’s grip didn’t falter and she kept the gun aimed at Hobbes.
“What else?” asked Jack, still moving around the room. “Your partner and best friend is dead and you couldn’t save the dumb cow. You have a relationship with another person but are too screwed up to admit your feelings. You are a boozehound in a shitty little apartment living a shitty little existence. Katie, really, you should be begging me to end your life. It’s a crap existence, truly.
“And now,” he continued. “Here we are. You, standing with your gun all alone. Helpless and powerless. Me, holding this piece of meat, who could end up like you if I decide to let her go. I’m unstoppable, Kate. I just want you to admit that. If you do, I’ll let her go and maybe you, too. What do you say?”
Jack stopped moving and stood directly in front of Kate. He kissed the crying officer on the cheek and winked at Kate.
“Fine,” Kate said, her voice heavy with defeat. She put the gun to her side. “You win. I’m a fuck-up and you are unstoppable. Happy?”
“Quite, Kate,” said Jack. “It gives me so much joy when someone embraces the reality of their situation. My masters will be pleased by this little tale of fun.
“By the way,” continued Jack. “I lied.”
He took his right hand and twisted the female officer’s head nearly upside down. He threw her to his side as Kate lifted her gun back up. She was able to fire two shots before Jack grabbed her arm up to the ceiling. He twisted his wrist and Kate heard the snap as her right forearm was cracked in half. She screamed in pain and dropped her Glock. Jack laughed. He grabbed her by the throat while still holding her broken arm and slammed her on her back across a nearby desk. Kate grunted in pain. Jack moved his face close to hers and stopped laughing but kept smiling.
“Now, Katie,” he said. “You know you can’t trust demons. What were you thinking? Besides, I haven’t found my Spirit of Justice yet and since that tasty little morsel I just broke wasn’t it, I’m guessing it’s you.”
Jack pulled back and appraised Kate. He eyed her like a starving man about to eat for the first time in weeks.
“I have to admit, dear,” he said, still scanning her body. “You certainly would not have been my guess for the Spirit. But I guess that’s why I’m a low level demon. You are certainly pretty enough though. I might ask my masters to allow you to be reanimated so we can have some fun for eternity. How does that sound?”
Kate turned her head as Jack moved his face closer to her. He almost touched her lips and then pulled away at the last second, chuckling.
“Like I would want you, you whore,” Jack said. “I’m as far above you as you are above an ant. But I may have some fun with your corpse later.”
He released his grip on her broken arm and closed his hand into a fist. He reached back to deliver the killing blow. Kate looked to the side and then up at Jack’s cruel face.
“Wait! Wait!” she screamed. “Can I have one final request?”
Jack looked down and smiled. He lowered his hand.
“It doesn’t matter if I kill you now or in another minute,” he said. “Besides, you are fun and I’m so enjoying our time together so, ask away. What do you want, Katie? Do you want me to ravage you while you are still breathing, is that it?”
“No,” Kate said, breathing heavily. “I just want to ask one more question.”
“Fine,” Jack sighed. “I guess you can’t always be entertaining. Ask.”
Kate drew in a deep breath as Jack released his grip around her neck. He stood back and stared at Kate. Kate just took a few seconds to regain her breath and look at Jack again. His shirt was stained with his blood and the blood of the slain officers around him. His feverish eyes seemed to be gaining a supernatural glow and his smile was still as horrid as ever. Kate hoped that her question would give her the answer she wanted.
“You say I’m a loser, Jack,” she began. “I would say that everyone loses sometimes, even you. I mean there had to be a time when even the great Jack Hobbes didn’t win in all your lifetimes.”
“Where are you going with this, Sawyer?” asked Jack, the smile sliding from his face.
“I’m just thinking,” Kate continued. “If you never lost, then why did it take you so long to complete your master’s tasks? Stands to reason that someone had to beat you once, right?”
Jack Hobbes stared at Kate Sawyer with unveiled hate in his eyes.
“Come on, Jackers,” Kate said, smiling. “I mean, you can tell me. You’ve already won and I can’t do anything to you anyway. So, how’d they do it? How’d they beat the great and powerful Jack Hobbes?”
Hobbes looked at Kate for a long moment before he began to chuckle.
“Good point, Katie,” he said. “Since you are about to die I’ll grant you your dying request. I’ll share my dirty little secret with you.”
Jack leaned in close so that his mouth was by Katie’s left ear.
“It was on the steppes of Russia,” he said. “Such a long time ago but I remember it clearly. I remember everything clearly.
“They cornered me and hurt me really bad. I’m almost invulnerable but they threw everything at me so that my healing ability was working in overdrive. Then, someone drove a spike in my brain. Little known fact, the brain is tough to heal. It takes about half a minute and I’m pretty much out of it while the old magic is working. Didn’t kill me though.”
Jack chuckles a bit.
“You are going to love this one, Kate,” he said. “Here’s the thing. My skull and brain are reassembling. Just knitting themselves back and a boy, who was at most twelve, notices and grabs his grandfather’s sleeve. He is yelling in his guttural human language and pointing at me. His grandfather turns and there is a saber in his hand. This mongrel… this old bastard lifts this dirty thing with his filthy hands and lops off the head of the body that I’m in.”
Jack pulls back from Kate and snaps his fingers.
“Poof,” Jack continues. “And just like that I’m thrown back into limbo to wait to hunt for another luckless soul to give me their body. I have to tell you- that day sucked. But today, well, today is much better.”
Kate smiles up at Jack and he looks at her with a quizzical look on her face.
“You liked that story, Katie?” he asked. “Did it feel you with hope? I hope it did and that’s why you are smiling because it’ll just make it sweeter when I rip that hope from you, silly girl.”
Kate just laughed.
“I’m smiling,” she said, between gasps. “Because my boyfriend is about to blow your brains out.”
“Huh?” Jack said, turning his head to the side.
It was too late. Detective Eric Williams pumped two shots into the side of Jack Hobbes’ head. When he fell to the ground, Williams shot him another two times, once in the chest and another in the head again. He then turned to Kate who was pushing herself up into a sitting position while still cradling her broken arm.
“You alright?” Williams asked, moving closer.
“No time,” she said, in a hoarse whisper. “Go get the blade off the paper cutter in storage. We have to cut this bastard’s head off. NOW!”
Williams didn’t wait and ran to the closet. Kate slid down to the floor near the body of Jack Hobbes. She saw her gun and lifted it in her good left hand as she let the ruin that was her right arm sit in her lap. Hobbes’ head was already knitting itself back together when she put two more bullets into his face.
“Come on, Eric,” she said. “Come on.”
Eric Williams came back out with the machete like blade and knelt near Kate and the body. He looked at her and she just quickly nodded. He lifted the blade over his head and came down five times across the neck of Jack Hobbes with it. When his head finally separated from his body, Eric tossed the blade. He looked at Kate.
“Fine mess you made,” he said.
“Don’t start, Eric,” she said.
He reached out and brought her in close. She rested her head against his chest as she held her right arm.
“Katie,” Eric began. “How’d-“
“Shhh,” she said. “I’ll tell you everything later, Rick.”
“I called the 65th,” Eric said. “They should be here soon. What do we tell them?”
“The truth,” Kate said. “A psychotic prisoner got loose and we did our job. We stopped him before he could do more damage. Now, just shut up and hold me.”
They held each other tight as the sun rose and the dark night ended. There would be time for questions and answers later. She would mourn Renee and all the other officers that gave their lives to stop this demonic menace. She would get her life straight but for right now Kate just appreciated the dawn and being with one of the few people still living who didn’t think she was a total screw-up. This was what she was thinking as she passed out.
Kate Sawyer woke up with a headache and a low throbbing coming from her right arm which was now in a cast and sling. She was in an off-white room and it took her a few seconds to realize she was in a hospital. She looked around the room, pass the empty bed and her gaze fell on the man in the chair. Detective Eric Williams had saved her life last night and even now he kept watch over her. Sort of. He was asleep in an uncomfortable chair halfway between her and the door with a shoulder holster on. She smiled. He would always be there and she knew it.
As if he could sense her staring at him, Eric woke up. He smiled back at her.
“About time you got up, lazy,” he said, still smiling. “How do you feel?”
“Woozy,” she responded. She moved to sit up more in the bed but pain stopped her. “Ouch. Okay, won’t move for a minute. How long have I been out for?”
Eric rose from his chair and poured a glass of water.
“Two days,” he said, as he came to sit on the edge of her bed. “Doctors said you had a concussion. You need some stitches in the back of your head and the cast for your broken wing. You were pretty banged up.”
He helped her sit up and gave her some water to drink.
“Better banged up than dead,” she said, in a low voice.
Images of all those dead cops flashed into her head. Nick Butler. Detective Patrelli. The new girl that Hobbes killed in her front of her. Jesus. What was her name? She was just a kid. Then, Renee’s face appeared in her mind and she lost it.
“Oh, god,” she sobbed. “Renee.”
Eric put his arms around her. She cried into his shirt and he offered as much consoling as he could, knowing it wouldn’t stop the hurt of losing her best friend. He also knew she would appreciate it anyway.
As she regained her composure and moved away from Eric, Kate heard the doorknob turn. Eric whipped his head around and reached for his gun in his shoulder holster. He stood up with his hand still on the butt of his weapon and the door opened.
In walked an older, white man in a light gray business suit with a matching hat and a visitor tag on his chest. He had flowers in his hand and set them on the table near the empty bed. The man stood in front of her bed, removed his hat and just stared at Kate. The man had on glasses over his gray eyes and his hair was white as the arctic. He appeared in his fifties or sixties but Kate wasn’t sure. He carried himself with a careful grace that looked like it had been cultivated over the years. Eric just looked between the man and Kate waiting for someone to make a move.
“Who are you?” Kate asked. She was still appraising the man when he gave her a warm smile.
“My name is Holloway, Ms. Sawyer,” replied the man. He turned towards Eric and offered his hand. “Professor William Holloway. You must be Detective Williams. It’s my pleasure to meet you.”
Eric exchanged a quick glance at Kate who just shrugged her shoulders. He moved his hand from his gun and shook the old man’s hand.
“Okay, you know our names,” Kate replied. “And now we know yours. How did you get pass the security that I’m sure is outside my door?”
Holloway reached into his suit jacket pocket and pulled out a badge that had Neo-Human Investigation Agency written on it. Next to it was a badge that had the professor’s name, photo, the N.I.A. insignia and Covert Paranormal Investigation Task Forces underneath it.
“I’m the head of the Covert Paranormal Investigation Task Forces,” he said. “And, young lady, there are no doors that are locked to me.”
“What’s Covert Paranormal Investigation?” asked Eric.
“Good question, Eric,” said Holloway. “The Covert Paranormal Investigation Task Forces is a black-ops organization under the Neo-Human Investigation Agency which is all under the aegis of the U.N. We are tasked with finding out and containing things outside of the normal human realm. This includes everything from alien investigations to the occult to the supernatural.”
Kate wanted to laugh but saw that the man was dead serious. Besides, after what she had seen the other night, she was pretty open to believe in anything.
“So, this is about the precinct incident?” she asked.
“I already told the department what happened,” Eric began. “It was some psycho who-“
“’Who got loose and created mayhem,’” finished Holloway. “Yes, I read the report, Mr. Williams. Please don’t insult me by repeating that little work of fiction. We are all too intelligent for that.”
“So,” Kate said. “What happened?”
“For real?” asked Eric. “Are you going to give us some answers?”
Professor Holloway just smiled.
“I knew I was correct to pick you two,” he said, more to himself than to the detectives. “Despite what James might believe.”
Holloway looked at both of them. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card.
“I can give you all the answers you can handle,” he said. He gave Eric the card. “Come work for the Task Force.”
Eric looked at the card. He looked at Professor Holloway.
“We already got jobs,” Eric said.
“Work for you doing what?” Kate asked, not concealing the edge in her voice.
“Doing what you did the other night,” Holloway replied. “Saving the world from outside threats. You both handled yourselves well and think you would be a perfect fit.
“As far as your current job” he continued, looking at Eric. “I can handle that. Think of this as a promotion and opportunity to do some real good. Not to say that what you are doing now isn’t but the work I’m asking you to do can potentially do more good than stopping the local bad guys. Besides, I don’t think you can go back to your work knowing what you now know.”
Holloway backed away from the bed and returned his hat to his head.
“Think about my offer,” he said, moving towards the door. “There is much good we can accomplish together. I expect an answer in three days.”
Holloway left the room and the detectioves just looked at each other for a long minute.
“So,” Eric said, sitting on Kate’s bed again. “That was different.”
“Yeah,” Katie said in a soft voice. She was just staring at the wall.
“What do you think we should do, Katie?” Eric asked.
He looked at her and the corners of her mouths curled up at the corners.
“Fuck it,” she said. “We already took down a demon. What can’t we handle?”
Eric just looked at her for a few second more and then he returned her smile.
Outside Professor Holloway walked to a dark sedan. He opened the back door and slid into the seat next to another older gentleman. This man was wearing black pants and a black jacket over a purple shirt unbuttoned at the collar. Vibrant tattoos poked out of his sleeves near his hands and along his chest where the shirt was open. He had three long scars along his neck which appeared to be from claws or talons and his hair was jet black with a white streak on the left side. He turned to his colleague and appraised the smiling man.
“You could never hide your feelings, Will,” said the dark stranger. “I assumed they said yes, then.”
“Not yet, James,” replied Holloway. “But they will. The girl is tough as nails and looking to hit something and her boyfriend will follow her anywhere just to keep her safe. They’ll get on board.”
“I wasn’t too sure about this choice,” said James. “But I think we are going to need all the help we can get. We need more soldiers.”
James turned to look out the window at the darkening skies.
“A storm is coming, old friend,” he said. He turned his head and looked at his friend with emerald green eyes.
“God help mankind, if we can’t protect them.”