“This’s insane, you know. You’re insane.”
“C’mon, Amber. When you run with a necromancer, you travel in style.”
“You call this style?” Amber said, trying to sound cool and merely annoyed instead of freaked.
Through the quiet streets of the sleepy town it walked, casting shadows on the roofs and blotting out the moon. It stood three stories tall, over many of the stores and residences they passed by. Thump. Thump.
“Arrgh! Will you get off!” the daemon said, ripping the zombie’s arms off and tearing it open with a kick from its’ spiked legs. “There.” He spat on the wiggling remains, his comrades finishing up with theirs as well. “Sheesh, how many of these things are we going to run into this night? This is ridiculous!”
“And they taste terrible.” the daemon that was a giant mouth said, trying to scrape the taste off on its teeth.
“You could just grow arms, you know.” the third daemon, a muscular cyclops, pointed out. The spiked one huffed in frustration when a shadow fell over him. He turned and looked up. And up.
There it was, a giant zombie, thirty feet tall with a horrible green ephemeral glow in its’ eye sockets, glancing down at them. Looking closer, the daemons saw it was actually comprised of many different corpses, fused together in a nightmarish vision. Skulls, spines, ribs and other bones were clearly visible beneath its grey, stretched skin. Scott grinned madly from the right shoulder while Amber was clinging as best she could from the left.
“Hi there.” Scott said. The daemons shrieked and tried to bolt. “Get ‘em!” he commanded. The giant snatched up the cyclops and squeezed it ‘til it popped like a tick full of blood in one hand, and smashed the mouth flat with its other meaty fist. His companions dead, the final daemon made a break for it, but the massive corpse’s long strides easily caught up with him and the giant foot came down. The last daemon was no more.
“Eww.” Amber grimaced.
“Believe me, it’s better this way.” Scott said as they resumed their trek forward. “Fun as this may be,”
“You call being up this high fun!?” Amber said, and he sighed.
“As this may be,” he continued, “We’re just spinning our wheels here. We gotta find the source, Hastazemus, or all this is a waste of time.”
“But the zombies, and the giant we’re on are protecting the town, right?” Amber said. Scott shook his head.
“Yeah I guess, but it’s moot if he just opens up another hole and lets more through. We can’t keep this up forever. I feel more of my zombies going poof. They’ve weeded out the weaker ones, now only the stronger daemons are left. Our forces may not tire, but damage can slow them down and weaken them.” he said, scanning the area for the main daemon.
“Look, over there. Something’s going on.” Amber pointed down a side street, and Scott turned the giant.
“Heads up!” A muscular woman dressed in furs hefted up a writhing black amoeba and tossed it into the air.
“Got it!” Leo jumped up and sliced it in two, flame flashing around his blade. “Was that the last of them?”
“It better be, I’m getting tired of not being able to hurt ‘em.” Eva grumbled, crossing her arms in annoyance.
“Hey, it’ll be okay.” Leo soothed. “I would give you a sword too, but it’s beyond me. We’ve worked out a good system, right?”
“I guess.” she pouted. Thump. Thump. They looked over to see the approaching titanic zombie. “Whoa!”
“Get behind me!” Leo said, stepping forth with his sword held high, ready to attack.
“Whoa, hold on there!” The zombie came to a stop. Leo glanced up at the figures on the shoulders.
“Leo?” They stared at each other, both too surprised to say anything.
“One question. Are you on their side or not?” Leo said at last, determinedly.
“Not. Definitely not.”
“Ahh. Soooo…you’re the one responsible for all the zombies running around, I’m guessing?”
“Yeah?” Scott answered, a puzzled look on his face.
“So I guess that means you’re the necromancer I was told to seek out.”
“I’m the only one around, so yup.”
“I sort of chopped up a few undead on the way here, didn’t know they were yours. Sorry about that.”
“’S alright. No prob, I would’ve made the same mistake in your position.” Scott shifted uncomfortably and turned helplessly to Amber. She shrugged.
“So, do you two...know each other?” Eva said, finding her voice at last.
“Kind of. He’s a sophomore at my high school. We’ve spoken once or twice, but we’re not that close I’m afraid.” Leo explained.
“Scott, what’s Mr. Hottie McHeartthrob doing here? Is he part of the plan?” Amber said, leaning around the skull. Leo squinted up at her.
“Mcwhat? A-Amber? Amber Harris? Is that you? Why are you all glowing?” Leo called up. Amber froze, then slowly creaked to look down at him.
“You…can see me? You heard me?” She gasped and her hands flew to her mouth. “Oh god, you heard me!” She sank into the giant’s shoulder, only the top of her head peeking out, mortified.
“Yeah, you’ll have to forgive my associate; she’s grown used to being unperceived, I think.” Scott piped up on her behalf. “What I’m interested in is how you can see her. She’s an incorporeal ghost right now. Remember the third student memorial a few weeks back? Craven Falls Killer.”
“Oh dear. Yes, I remember. How unfortunate. So I suppose she’s with you because you’re a necromancer? You’ve recruited her?” he said. Scott nodded.
“Wait, I’m confused. There’s a girl here?” Eva said, sweeping the area with her eyes.
“Yes, dear. She’s a ghost, apparently. Which would explain the glow, and honestly does not even rank on the top five weirdest things I’ve seen tonight.” Leo said, a tad worried.
“And back to the matter at hand, how can you see her? You couldn’t before at school. And what’s with the fancy sword? Didn’t peg you for a renaissance faire reenactor sort of guy.” Scott said.
“Oh, this? I think the two are related. About an hour ago, this big fiery eye bequeathed it to me and told me to repel the daemons.” Leo said, shrugging.
“A big fiery eyeball gave you a flaming sword?” Scott asked, eyebrow raised.
“Yes. I know it sounds strange, but you’re riding around on a titanic zombie.” Leo said, rolling his shoulder. Even if the sword weighed next to nothing, all the slicing he’d been doing had been taxing.
“Touché.” Scott acknowledged.
“He…it…the eyeball said its’ name was Lagdinras, and he was a messenger of Zet-Mathaig, whoever that is.” As soon as he heard the name, Scott’s eyes went wide as saucers.
“W-W-What!? You…but…really?” he gasped, mouth flapping. He nearly lost his grip on the giant.
“Wow. I think this’s the first time I’ve ever seen you speechless.” Amber giggled, floating up to her normal position.
“You’re kidding, right Leo? Tell me you’re kidding.” he said, ignoring her.
“No, it all happened, there was fire everywhere and everything. Is it really that big a deal?” Leo asked. He wondered if he should be worried.
“Yes, it really is!” Scott exclaimed. “Leo, the great Z-Zet-Mathaig is one of the greatest and most elder of Elder Gods! He’s said to be older than time, protector of the universe, and said to be origin of the very concept of justice itself! You’re one of his Chosen Ones, destined to fight against evils that crawl in the shadows of every world! Not a big deal? This’s like…if you became King Arthur, the Red Ranger, and Superman all at once!” He flailed his hands wildly to make his point, and would have fallen off if the zombie hadn’t reached up a hand to steady him. Leo blinked.
“Gosh. I never knew it was such an honor. I never thought I was anything special, really.” he said, smiling mildly and blushing. Scott stared at him, then put his head in his hand, wincing.
“Not a big deal, nothing special, huh…I guess that humility helps with the choosing…” he muttered, lost in a tangent.
“So, Leo!” Amber said brightly. “We’re all on Team Go Humans here, would you like to join us? The daemons that are left are all the stronger ones, but we have to go get the boss one, a daemon called Hastazemus, to put a stop to all this.”
“I would be honored, Amber.” he said smiling cheerfully, making her ripped out heart flutter. “Do you know where this daemon is?”
“Unfortunately, no. Right now we’re making some noise to try and draw him out.” Scott said, recovering his composure. Leo put his fist to his chin, considering. His torn and half-open shirt flapped in the breeze, and his heaving muscles gleamed with manly sweat in the moonlight. Eva found herself drooling.
“I see. So how about this then: we’ll take the west half of the town while you take the east, eliminating as many daemons as we can. We simply split up to divide and conquer. We’ll work our way out, that’s sure to provoke some kind of reaction that we can track, at least. Whoever finds this Hastazemus first contacts the other, and avoids engagement until the others arrive unless necessary. Does that sound good to you?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Scott said, slightly miffed he didn’t come up with the plan. “How are we going to contact the other party?”
“I thought that was obvious.” Leo chuckled good-naturedly and pulled out his phone. “What is your number?”
“Er, uh, okay…” Scott hopped on the giant’s hand and it lowered him down, Amber drifting behind. He pulled out his phone and they added each other to their contacts. Amber looked over his shoulder and put her hand to her mouth, snickering.
“Call or send a text with the location if you find him. I’ll do the same.” Leo said, giving him a firm handshake.
“Uh, yeah. Will do.”
“Good. I’m glad you’re on our side, and I look forward to working with you. Good luck my friend! Come Evangeline, let the hunt begin!” He saluted Scott, and raced off into the night, Eva right behind him.
“See ya, kid!” she tossed back. Scott shook his head and took his place on the shoulder, the giant resuming the march. He turned to the still snickering Amber.
“Something funny?” he said dryly.
“Oh, nothing really. Just the fact the first non-family number you put in your phone was his. Looks like you’re on your way to being Mr. Popular yourself.” she said, smiling and giggling.
“Yeah, yeah.” he grumbled.
“I know girls who would kill you over that number.” she laughed. Scott grinned.
“Let ‘em try. I’m the master of death around here, and I say there’s only one that’s gotta go, and it’s not me! Forward! Zombies, to me! We march on! Let the hunt begin!”
The giant’s glowing eyes flared and it roared, stalking forward with an even fiercer determination.
Cross parked and stepped out of the car half a block away from the town square. She greeted the other men, spread out in a rough semicircle.
“Hey, Detective.” Tommy said, drawing his jacket closer to himself. The wind had turned colder and was picking up. “We were waiting for you.”
“Glad you did. What’s the situation?” she growled, inspecting her gun and making sure it was fully loaded.
“The whole town’s here, and I mean the whole town. I haven’t seen something like this in all the time I’ve lived here.” Pete said, adjusting his glasses. “I was going to come too, in fact, until you needed my help. Don’t know how they got them all here, either.”
“It’s a magical compulsion. The coven issued messages containing suggestions to come, and if there were no pressing matters the people showed up. Least, that’s how the kid explained it.” she said in a low voice, sliding the safety off. Tommy shook his head.
“I don’t get it, Maggie. Why do you listen to that kid so much? He knows about this magic stuff, but why give him so much reign and plan this?”
“Because I didn’t make detective by missing the obvious.” Cross snorted. “He knows this town, is determined to protect it, and is the best thing we got against these witches. First time I met him he’d snuck into the morgue looking for clues on the case. And despite his…quirks, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. I looked over everything he came up with, and his plan is solid. Besides, it’s the best chance we got with the time and resources we have. Do I like it? No. Can I work with it? Hell yes. That kid’s gonna be something someday. Just not a cop. He’d make a terrible cop.” she said, a small smile on her face. Tommy barked out a laugh and clapped her on the shoulder.
“High praise indeed. So how do we go in?”
“There should be four idols in the four corners, whatever that means. He said if we take ‘em out the whole thing goes kaput. So if you see anything freaky or magic-looking, smash it.”
“And the witches? There should be some of them here, too. I understand they’re young women, none over sixteen or seventeen.” Pete said with a frown. Cross’s face hardened.
“They’ve murdered at least seven innocent people, tried to feed hearts to a daemon and turn it loose on the town, brainwashed the mayor and the police force, and are trying to do the same to the rest of the town. Arrest ‘em if you can, but…do what you need to above all else.” The officers nodded.
“Alright, you heard the lady! We’re moving out! Hustle, hustle!” Tommy called, getting into position.
“Everyone locked and loaded?” She saw grins and thumbs up in the moonlight. “Good. Let’s roll!”