As the brilliant white light faded from his vision, Glyph found himself once again standing behind the bar in the nightclub that he had left only twenty-three hours before. Letting out a large sigh, he glanced around and began to take in his surroundings.
Immediately his sight was drawn to the spot where he had shot the girl, his hostage. There was a large blast pattern of blood on the wall where she had been. He had killed her; he was sure he had, but the sight of it made his stomach queasy.
The thought of Oathtet being run through the middle crossed his mind as he stared at all the taped out lines indicating where dead bodies had been found. Tiny red flags were everywhere, most likely marking bullets or shell casings.
Glyph looked toward the kitchen door, where he had tossed a grenade into a crowd of people who were trying to escape.
He walked out from behind the bar, and had taken only a few steps, when a voice shouted out from the corner. “Mr. Young!”
Glyph spun and looked into the corner of the room. There sat Bogg at a table, his pistol already trained on Glyph.
“Wasn’t sure if I’d see you again.” Bogg said, shifting slightly in his chair.
“What is it, Bogg?” Glyph asked, quickly trying to cover his surprise at seeing the Detective. “I really don’t have time for this.”
“You don’t have time?” Bogg asked. “Where you off to in such a rush? Going to another club? Gonna kill a few hundred more people?”
“Fuck off!” Glyph yelled.
Bogg smiled slightly, and flexed the fingers holding the gun. “You know with that vanishing thing you pulled you should probably be in show business, not so much the killing business.”
“What do you want Bogg? Just get on with it already.” Glyph said. Bogg was starting to wear on his nerves.
“What do I want? What do I want?” Bogg said staring piercingly at Glyph. “I want to see you pay for what you did to that girl.” He said indicating the wall behind the bar. “To all these people.” He continued. “And what you did to me.”
“You?” Glyph replied. “What did I do to you?”
“Well, let’s see. After that little disappearing act you pulled, I had to explain to my superiors exactly how you got away. What do you think they thought about that?” Bogg asked.
Glyph tried to stifle a laugh, but couldn’t.
“Yeah, yeah that’s funny, isn’t it. That’s funny.” Bogg rubbed his forehead back and forth. “You know a lot of them think I’m crazy now. I almost got suspended, but I got a few contacts, a couple of people who owe me favors. I managed to keep my job.” Bogg scratched his head. “So here I am, Glyph. At this point I don’t really care whether you rot in prison, get the death penalty, or end up with this bullet in your head. I just don’t care.” Bogg paused, glaring at Glyph over his gun-sight.
“I went back and read your file again today. It would appear that claims of your vanishing into nothingness were not exaggerated. Seems you might rank right up there with Uri Geller, trying to pass off your smoke and mirror parlor tricks as the real deal.” Bogg continued.
“Look Bogg, you saw me disappear; you just saw me reappear. What the hell do you think is going on in my life right now? Cause I can assure you it’s nothing compared to what’s really going on!” Glyph yelled, feeling his anger and frustration burning in the pit of his stomach. “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll put down the gun and let me walk on out of here. I’ll be out of your life, and you’ll never have to see me again.”
“You see Glyph, I just can’t do that.”
“Then what are you gonna do? You going to kill me, Bogg? Is that it? You want me dead; you want the blood of my death on your hands? You really want to know what it’s like killing people?”
Detective Bogg laughed and shook his head. “I’ve killed people before.”
“Yeah, but this is different.”
“This is different? How do you think this is different? You killed over a hundred people last night Glyph, what’s the difference if I kill you now and rid the country of a mass murderer. One less in the world, certainly won’t bother my conscience any.” Bogg replied.
“Bogg, this is bigger than you’ll ever know. You don’t really want to get involved, and if there was a way to prove to you that I’m telling the truth I would. I don’t know what it would take to convince you, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to leave now.”
Bogg stood up violently from his seat, sending his chair skidding across the room. “You’re not going anywhere!” He said, waving his gun at Glyph. “Now put down that sword and get your ass over here!”
“I already lost my sword once, I’m not putting it down again.”
Bogg cocked the hammer on his pistol and began to advance on his position. Glyph pointed the sword in Bogg’s direction and slowly backed away toward the front door.
Suddenly a blinding burst of red light filled the interior of the building, forcing Bogg and Glyph to shield their eyes. Wind from nowhere whipped around them, knocking over tables and chairs. As it dissipated, they both turned to look in the direction of the bar.
There stood Srokus, larger than life. Bogg screamed and began to unload his gun into the enormous beast, continuously firing. Glyph instinctually activated the sword, which came to life, much to his surprise, and blazed a brilliant white color.
“Run!” Glyph shouted, but Bogg stood there frozen, except for his finger steadily pulling on the trigger of his revolver, even though it was empty. An audible click, click, click, filled the room as he tried to burst off more rounds into the horrible creature.
Glyph tackled Bogg to the floor as Srokus’s bladed hand swung at him, missing by mere inches.
“You will be mine, Great One!” Srokus bellowed at Glyph, as he backhanded the bar, shattering it into splinters.
Bogg locked eyes with Glyph for a split second before they both rolled away in opposite directions and back to their feet.
“Run!” Glyph screamed again, but Bogg, who didn’t wait for the second warning, was already headed toward the front door.
Bogg slammed the door open so hard the top hinge broke loose, and in one leap took the steps down to the street, with Glyph right behind him. They could hear Srokus crashing through tables and chairs as his seventeen-foot tall body gained momentum in pursuit.
Bursting through the police tape, they ran down the road. Glyph saw Bogg flip open the cylinder of his gun, emptying spent shells onto the ground as he ran, then reloaded from a speed loader on his belt. “We got to get the fuck out of here!” Glyph shouted.
Bogg skidded to a stop next to a parked car, “you think?” he said as he fumbled with some keys in his pocket. Bogg looked back at the bar and hesitated as if he was beginning to doubt what he had seen, when suddenly Srokus’s giant ram-like horns came bursting through the plate glass window on the front of the nightclub. As Bogg unlocked the car, Srokus came rolling out into the road. Bogg opened the door and jumped into the driver’s seat and started the car. He glanced over at Glyph, who was standing in the middle of the street with a glowing white sword in his hand, staring down Srokus.
Glyph looked over at Bogg and smiled. “It’s okay, you really don’t want to get involved.” He said and waved at Bogg dismissively.
“Get in!” Bog yelled at him. “Now!”
“Well, if you insist.” Glyph said, shrugging his shoulders.
Glyph leapt into the back seat as Bogg slammed the gas to the floor, the squealing tires filling the air with smoke. Looking out the back window, Glyph could see Srokus give chase in a blind rage.
“Faster.” Glyph said.
“I’m going as fucking fast as I can fucking go, God damn it! And what the fuck is that thing?” Bogg screamed in hysterics.
Glyph laughed somewhat maniacally and said, “Welcome to my world.”
“Fuck that!” Bogg said and flipped on the lights and sirens of his unmarked police car.
As Bogg continued to rant and rave, a thought occurred to Glyph. ‘If I can use my sword, perhaps I can use my magic too’. He didn’t have long to think about it, before Srokus launched a fireball at them. Glyph placed his hands to the glass of the back window, and called forth a shield as white energy surrounded the back of the car. The fireball exploded on impact, the force pushing the car into a wild fishtail.
“What the fuck was that?” Bogg yelled, slowing enough to regain control of the car.
“Fireball.” Glyph said calmly.
“What’s that white thing?”
“That would be the energy shield I made that just kept us from becoming toast.”
Sweat poured off Bogg’s bald head.
“Let’s hope he doesn’t start throwing lightning bolts.” Glyph added.
“Can’t you do something? You got to stop that thing!”
“Who me?” Glyph said. “I’m just a magician; you know the type, just passing off parlor tricks like some Houdini wannabe. What can I do?”
A small crest in the street lifted Glyph off his seat momentarily. Srokus sent another fireball into the car as it pushed back past seventy miles per hour.
Bogg glanced back at Glyph; his eyes were wild. “Fuck that! If you can do something, do it!”
Glyph smiled as the fireball hit the shield sending the car slewing sideways. Bogg barely maintained control, as he slowed down again.
Spinning in his seat, Glyph lifted his arms quickly toward the roof of the car. In an instant the paved street cracked away from the ground behind the speeding vehicle, and rose up like a giant wave behind the car. Macadam, curbs and parked cars tumbled from the rising roadway onto sidewalks, and into the buildings lining the street. As the wave grew, he launched it at Srokus, who was starting to fall behind as Bogg topped a hundred miles per hour.
As the wave hit Srokus it launched him into the air several hundred feet, tossing him like a rag doll off into the night.
The pavement then came crashing down behind them everywhere, crushing several people standing outside a bus station.
Bogg started to slow down immediately. “Where’d it go?”
“Keep going, head out of the city.”
“What? It’s gone right?” Bogg asked pensively, though he didn’t take his foot from the gas.
“What’re you talking about?”
“Well, I didn’t kill him, I just tossed him away.”
“Why the fuck didn’t you kill him?”
“It’s kind of hard to kill a demon from the back seat of a speeding car, Bogg.” Glyph replied, then added “But, you know, it’s really comforting that you’ve decided to listen to me now.”
Bogg glared back at him for a moment.
“A nice change of pace from your hyped-up diatribes of how I’m some kind of delusional, psychopathic, mass murderer.”
Bogg cut his lights and siren and merged off Greenwood Ave., and onto the Trenton freeway headed west towards Pennsylvania. He was breathing heavily and sweating profusely. “You may not be delusional, but you’re still a murderer.”
Glyph glanced down at his watch; only twenty-two minutes; he groaned. It was going to be another long hour. Glyph knew from experience that demons could track the King’s Sword on Earth. It would only be a matter of time before Srokus found them. He didn’t have to wait long; at the next overpass, Srokus came leaping up onto the roadway in front of them.
“Shit!” Bogg screamed and cut the wheel, side-swiping the Jersey wall. Sparks lit up the night as the car scraped along the cement barrier at high speed. Srokus swung and missed the car with his sword, while Bogg tried to swerve back onto the road. Srokus spun and unleashed a blinding arc of electricity as the car sped past. Glyph pulled up the blazing white shield around the back of the car. This time Bogg lost control as the bolt of energy contacted the shield and exploded. The car spun out as they crossed the overpass, and slid several hundred feet down the road until it came to a stop in the middle of the highway.
“Get out! Get out now!” Glyph yelled as he wrenched open the back passenger side door. Bogg didn’t argue; popping the door open, he rolled out onto the road just as Srokus’s sword split the car lengthwise down the middle.
“Run!” Glyph said to Bogg, as he ignited the King’s Sword and moved toward Srokus. Another lightning bolt flew from Srokus’s hand; Glyph deftly caught it with the energy from the sword. With his free hand he took control of a passing minivan, and rammed it into the demon’s calf. The van crumpled like a tin can, killing the family inside, but it caught Srokus off guard and made him stumble and yelp as if he had just been stung by a hornet.
Glyph latched his mind to the wrecked minivan and propelled it quickly upwards in an arc toward Srokus’s head. As Srokus turned his attention back to Glyph the crushed hunk of metal, now dripping blood and gasoline, slammed into the side of the demon’s head. As Srokus howled, Glyph snatched a sports car from the opposite lane and launched it into the creature as well, connecting with its left knee. The car hit sideways and flattened in a second, human blood sprayed out through the crumpled window like a broken water balloon.
Traffic had stopped in both lanes now to see what was going on. It was past midnight, but cars still backed up at the sight of a giant demon in a wizard’s duel with a guy wielding a glowing white sword.
Glyph tossed a pickup truck next, followed by a BMW, its headlights making a strobe effect as Srokus swatted it out of the air. Running forward, Glyph created stairs before him, raising them out of the road a step at a time. As he got within striking distance, Srokus let off a blast of red-tinged energy that emanated out like a dome. Glyph was tossed violently backwards through the air; the steps he had made were blasted away. All vehicles within a hundred feet were blown back into a pile; people who had been getting out of their cars were pulped by the cyclonic foray.
Glyph’s shield muted most of the flying object impacts, and he managed to cushion his landing with a blast of wind and energy. Turning, he stared back at Srokus, who was recovering quickly from his wounds. They started to charge at each other from across the median strip of the highway when Glyph heard shots ring out.
Bogg had leapt out of a ditch near Srokus and started to unload another cylinder of ammunition at the demon. Glyph cringed at the sight, but Srokus was only gunning for Glyph and paid Bogg no attention as he stormed past.
Glyph slid to a stop. Drawing forth a magical wind, he focused and raised a tornado between himself and the demon. Srokus waved his hand and the whole twister ignited like a column of swirling fire and collapsed into nothingness as the creature ran through the dissipating flames unscathed.
“Who the hell are you?” Glyph heard someone ask over his shoulder. Glyph spun around to see a guy about his own age approaching from a pile of wrecked cars behind him. He quickly ran the bystander through the middle with the king’s sword, dropping the man to the ground. ‘Srokus would have killed him trying to get to me anyway’, he thought, and made his way to the guardrail.
A fireball whizzed by Glyph’s head, and he leapt into a forward roll. Glyph slid around to face Srokus, placed one hand on the ground, and pulled up a 30-foot wall of stone in front of the demon. There was a loud crash as the demon plowed into the wall. A small crack appeared in the rock as it began to shake; pieces of the wall began to fracture and fall.
Glyph jumped up and ran down the road; he had to find a way to kill this thing.
“Glyph! Glyph!” He heard someone yell close by. It was Bogg, driving up behind him across the grass median. Glyph signaled him over with the glowing sword. He thought about asking where Bogg had gotten the wheels, but decided against it.
“Need a ride?” Bogg asked, flipping open the passenger side door. Glyph jumped in just as the wall collapsed, and cast a glance back to see Srokus scattering chunks of rock on his way towards them. Bogg punched the gas and they tore away from the scene at high speeds.
“Keep heading toward the Pennsylvania line, but stop on the bridge. I have an idea.” Glyph said, as he mentally shut off the power flowing into his sword and brought it in the window. Glyph closed his eyes and set off a series of blinding flashing lights behind them, trying to mask their retreat.
“That’s only a few more miles, are you sure?” Bogg said.
“Uh, pretty sure, yeah.”
Bogg shot him a look. “This happen often?”
“On Earth, no. On Degruthras, yes.”
“Yep. Beautiful place. Sand, rock, two suns, fiery rain, and an enslaved indigenous population that look just like medieval gargoyles. I can’t wait to get back.” Glyph said sarcastically.
“Really? Gargoyles you say?” Bogg replied, as if going along with Glyph’s story.
“Uh-huh, right now I’m helping them to overthrow their demon oppressors and win back their planet, and their freedom. It sure beats being locked up in prison.”
Bogg shook his head. “Where do you come up with this stuff?” He asked Glyph seriously.
“Where do you think I go twenty-three hours a day, Bogg? Candyland?”
Before Bogg could answer, the highway turned 45 degrees to the left and they headed out onto the bridge that crossed the Delaware River, the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. About half way out, Glyph told Bogg to drop him off.
Bogg slowed the car to a stop. “I ain’t going nowhere. I have a vested interest here, and I’m not about to let you disappear on me again.” Bogg said
Glyph checked his watch as he stepped from the vehicle; there was only twelve minutes left. “Get away from this bridge, if you want to live.” As he spoke the words, Srokus came barreling around the bend of the highway and pounded out onto the bridge toward Glyph. Reaching out his hands Glyph turned his palms upward. “Go now!”
Bogg started to pull away. Glyph pulled up his shield, and raised his arms upward. The two steel I-beams that made up the arch of the bridge suddenly tore loose, and hung in the still air. Glyph made fists with both hands, and finger indents, each a foot wide appeared in the end of each beam. He dropped into a fighting stance, and as Glyph moved his arms, the steel beams moved effortlessly through the air in the same motion. Wielding the steel with his mind, he began to pummel Srokus as he came within striking distance. Srokus deflected the first blow with his sword, but the second connected with his forearm. Glyph jumped to the side and landed another hit to the ribs.
Srokus grabbed an attacking I-beam and wrenched it from Glyph’s control, flinging it off the side of the bridge. Glyph quickly lunged forward swinging the remaining beam past the demon in a downward arc to the back of Srokus’s calf, sweeping the leg and throwing Srokus to the ground.
Flipping over in mid-air, Srokus landed on his stomach, looked up at Glyph and snarled. Placing his claw-like fingers to the pavement, he chanted “Veritos!”
Glyph immediately felt off-balance and stumbled against an abandoned car; the I-beam dropped to the ground. He tried to remain standing, but couldn’t. Srokus was doing something; he had to fight it. Taking a few steps backward from the car, Glyph felt himself falling over.
Srokus was already on his feet and making his way toward Glyph.
Glyph dropped to the ground, and could see a blurry car careening its way at him from the opposite direction. ‘Bogg no doubt,’ he thought, ‘getting himself killed.’ Rolling over, he stared back at Srokus. The double vision he was experiencing made it look as if there were three demons walking slowly, coming closer. Glyph vomited what little he had in his stomach. ‘Must fight it. Got to concentrate.’
Bogg zoomed by a few inches from his head, and skidded the car to a halt about fifteen feet away. He realized too late that he was now too close to Srokus, and leapt from the vehicle, as Srokus swatted it over the guard rail and into the river below. Bogg made for Glyph, and grabbing him under the arms, began to pull him away.
Srokus watched the scene as if he were looking at ants that didn’t know their fate was already sealed. He began to chuckle and picked his way carefully around another set of cars
“Glyph! Snap out of it! Glyph!” Bogg kept yelling, and after pulling Glyph about twenty feet realized the futility of it all.
‘Think!’ Glyph screamed at himself as Bogg dragged him across the road around another car, he could barely maintain his grip on the sword. ‘Some kind of mental perception…vertigo…going to die…no, my perception, Srokus’s control…block the control…’
“You will die a painful death, Great One!” Srokus shouted, now towering over them.
Bogg dropped Glyph to the pavement and lifted his gun, aiming it at Srokus’s head. “Make a move and die, mother fucker!” Bogg shouted, moving between Glyph and the demon.
Srokus considered Bogg for a moment, staring at him he waved his hand, creating a faint, red-tinged shield of energy.
Bogg unleashed every round he had in the pistol in a matter of seconds. All the bullets stopped about half way to their mark, and dropped to the ground. Bogg’s eyes went wide, knowing his hand had been dealt, aces and eights.
Srokus stabbed Bogg in the gut with the point of his sword and lifted him into the air. Bogg was forced to grab onto the sword with his hands to avoid sliding down the blade. Bogg screamed in agony as the edge sliced his hands to the bone as his weight pushed the point deeper into his abdomen. Srokus flicked Bogg onto the hood of a car, the action causing his blade to rip through Bogg’s side, leaving a stream of bloody intestine trailing behind him.
Laughing, Srokus turned his attention back to Glyph.
Glyph was shuffling along a line of cars headed east that were now stopped. People were abandoning their vehicles and fleeing back the way they had come. Anyone who got in his way he hacked down. He wasn’t quite sure what he had done, but he felt a hell of a lot better now. He was still a bit dizzy, and before he got too far, Srokus was upon him.
Glyph rolled onto the hood of the car next to him, narrowly avoiding the downward strike from Srokus’s sword hand. Reversing his roll he sliced through Srokus’s sword as the demon lifted it up off the ground. Srokus wailed with rage and swatted Glyph into the air. Summoning the wind, Glyph steadied himself in the air, and then quickly propelled his body away from the demon. He was surprised at how much ground he could cover this way, and touched down near the west end of the bridge. His head was clearing quickly now.
“I am so fucking tired of this shit!” Glyph said, and turned to face the demon. “Painful death my ass.” Closing his eyes, he began to focus his will. Two columns of water rose up from the river and towered over the bridge.
Sweat poured off him as he concentrated on holding the swirling water spouts in place. His arms trembled and shook with the effort; a white aura surrounded his arms. Then with a bone-chilling scream, Glyph quickly brought his hands together with a thunderous clap that nearly burst the eardrums of anyone within a half mile. Instantly, the two columns of water formed into giant fists, and slammed into Srokus simultaneously as he traversed the bridge toward Glyph.
Srokus’s shield collapsed in upon itself; the demon’s form was blotted out by the deluge of water pouring onto him. An eerie howl erupted from the steam and smoke. Hot water and ash sprayed all over the bridge. Glyph kept his eye on the water as it splashed back to the ground, and the river started to resume its normal course as he dropped to his knees panting and gasping for breath.
Glyph lifted his eyes and saw the pile of blackened, smoking flesh some distance away. He used the King’s Sword to help push himself back to his feet, and wasted no time making for Srokus’s body. The sword blazed a radiant white as he stood there staring at the aftermath of the demon’s acid bath.
“I still win.” Srokus gasped between lips that now looked like fried chicken skin.
“I don’t think so.” Glyph stated walking around to get a better look at the Demon’s face.
“During the battle in Okrune…” It wheezed. “Cruix summoned me into her inner chambers.” It coughed out some black liquid, then smiled, cracking the flesh of his burnt face open.
Glyph could feel the blood draining from his body, and a chill passed over him.
“I raped your woman! She handles demon cock well.”
With one swing Glyph split Srokus’s head down the middle, then he howled and carved the demon’s carcass up like a Christmas ham.
Stumbling away from the scene, Glyph wasn’t sure if he was even alive. His body felt numb except for an aching hatred burning in the pit of his gut. Bits of gore plastered his body, and black demon blood soaked his clothes. Tears of rage dripped from his face as he deactivated the sword and sheathed it.
‘It couldn’t be true’ he thought, dwelling on the demon’s last words. ‘It mustn’t.’ A lit cigarette appeared in his shaking hand and he took a deep drag.
As his head began to clear, Glyph thought about Bogg, and went to search for him. He could see the detective laid spread-eagled on the hood of the car he had landed on, his back and head encased in the shattered frame of its windshield. Both of Boggs’ hands were holding his intestines close to the gaping, blood-gushing gash across his abdomen. Glyph moved in close and checked to see if he was still breathing.
‘Damn it!’ Glyph thought as he stood beside Bogg checking his wound. Bogg’s eyes flickered opened and stared at Glyph, he was barely breathing. “That flood … I shit myself.” He tried to speak again, but a strange gurgling sound came out instead, along with a stream of blood.
“Now you’ve gone and done it.” Glyph said, trying to visualize what he would have to do to save Bogg’s life. “You were finally starting to understand, and now you’re laying here with your guts in your hands.” Glyph’s hands began to glow white as he pushed the aura in towards Bogg’s innards. “I don’t have time to break in another jackass.” Glyph said concentrating, and tried to push Bogg’s intestines back into his body.
The wind suddenly picked up, and Glyph knew what was about to happen. Bogg’s eyes stared at him, pleading.
“Fuck!” Glyph shouted.
‘He’s as good as dead if I leave him here.’ Glyph thought.
“Hold on tight,” Glyph whispered to Bogg, and lifted his bloody, eviscerated form closer to him. Wrapping his arms around the detective, Glyph wondered briefly if the white fire would consume Bogg as it had Srokus’s hand, when he heard the familiar rush, and within seconds the air was gone. He smiled at the thought, and stole one last glance at Bogg’s terrified face before the darkness closed in around them.