Demon Hunter #3
Ruby faces her biggest challenge yet when she's sent on an indefinite case with three other Hunters.
Settled in with her role as a Hunter, Ruby embraces the newest request from Sheila in a small country town. Things heat up as communication breaks down and she finds herself dealing with far more than demons.
Ruby's days are tied in with the community centre, but as she battles with the challenges that face her, leading to horror she could never have imagined, she also finds herself looking for more answers to questions that shouldn't have arisen.
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I crept down the concrete steps, toes peeping over the edge of each riser. Tub of salt in my right hand. Torch in my left. The beam lit the bottom of the stairwell, and I saw rubbish piled up amid sludge. I took a deep breath after I reached the bottom and straightened. My body was on high alert, the hackles on the back of my neck standing to attention.
I had received a message on my TAT. Something was going down near St. Helen’s. I was the closest, so I responded. Others were on their way, but right now I was taking the lead. The sun still hadn’t appeared despite the time, and I grumbled about being forced out of bed after such a lovely night. But it was my job.
I pressed my ear to the door and held my breath. No sound was coming from the other side, but that didn’t mean anything. Demons are usually silent. I rapped on the metallic door and the sound echoed. Grimacing, I wondered if my presence had been detected. I waited, counting down the seconds. No answer. I gripped the handle and pushed. The door swung open, and I stepped across the threshold. My torch beam barely scattered the darkness inside. I took a deep breath. Looking up the stairs behind me, I glimpsed the streetlight, which cast a yellow glow. I thought about waiting for someone else to arrive, but if there really was a mother and child in danger, I couldn’t afford to wait.
So I pressed on. I swung the light around the room. It illuminated an old sofa, a chair lying on its side, and a TV that had fallen forward on the floor. A doorway at the back of the living room led further into the flat. I tiptoed towards it, senses alert as I prowled through the house.
What had happened here?
“Hello?” I shouted. “I’ve been sent by The Agency. I’m here to—”
Something barrelled into me. I stumbled backwards, my calves hitting the chair sprawled on the floor, and I fell across it. Pain flared in my hip, but I ignored the ache as I sat up and swung the torch. I was face-to-face with a woman, her expression contorted, mouth wide and eyes red.
“It’s in there,” she whispered, looking back towards the doorway.
She lifted herself from the floor and picked up the toddler, whose eyes were wide.
“It’s okay,” I said. “You get out of here.”
She fled towards the stairs, leaving me alone in the darkness.
Once my heart slowed, I took a deep breath and pressed on. I came to the second doorway and realised I was in a hallway. Three doors led from the passage. I proceeded with caution, sweeping each room as I went. First, the bedroom. Then the kitchen. Nothing, except the destruction left behind by whatever had been here. That left the bathroom. Why does it always have to be in there? I took a deep breath and marched towards the final door. It was pushed shut. Only one way to do this—quickly. I kicked the door in, then streamed the torch beam around the small room. The light hit the Cursed and the demon began to dissipate as it scrabbled at the tiles. For good measure I threw salt towards it, and within seconds the demon was gone.
My shoulders sagged. The woman and her child were safe. I moved back through the flat. The darkness had softened, and as I travelled up the concrete steps, I felt relieved that the place was empty.
“You got it?” The woman’s eyes were wild. She cradled the child to her chest, chugging up and down in an attempt to soothe.
“It’s gone.” I nodded. “You can go back in.”
She shook her head. “Not tonight. I’m going to stay with my sister. But thank you.”
“Just doing my job.”
“Ruby,” a deep, harsh voice said.
I turned around to find Luka standing there.
“You went in alone?”
“I know I shouldn’t—”
“If you’ve learned anything in the past few months, it should be that you never work alone.”
“I know, I was just here, and I thought I’d take a look.”
He crossed his arms. “That was a stupid thing.”
I dropped my head.
He was right. Rushing into a case alone, guns blazing, was a disaster waiting to happen. That was how my dad had been killed.
“But you did well.” Luka said.
“Yeah. Now come on, I’ll drop you off. And if Sheila asks anything about it, we went in together.”
If we had to tell a white lie to stay on her good side, I was more than willing.