“What the hell was that?” Jones squeaked. He looked around as if he saw a ghost.
All of us were on edge, knowing full well that there shouldn’t be another female in the vicinity but us. We all wondered if it was one of the girls, but that wasn’t possible. It didn’t sound like them at all.
“Jessica. Crystal. Do you copy.” Marcus radios in.
“We copy. What is it?” Crystal answered.
“Is Jessica with you?”
“I’m here.” Jessica stated with a firm voice.
“Did you guys scream?”
“No. We didn’t.” replied Crystal. “Is something the matter?”
Marcus was quiet for a moment. “Did one of you guys scream?”
“No Marcus, we’re not damsel’s in distress. Seriously, I’m sure we can take care of ourselves.”
“Just making sure.” Marcus replied.
“It’s not them, then who?” Jones asked worriedly.
We all knew that this wasn’t normal, especially something that sounded way too close for comfort. Was something actually getting killed? I wasn’t sure, but I hoped that wasn’t the case. I was debating on running towards the sound to help whoever it was, but I didn’t quite know where the scream even sounded off.
“Timothy. Kathy. Do you copy.” Marcus radioed in the other two, not listening to Jones worry.
“Copy.” said Timothy. “What’s up?”
“I’m here.” said Kathy in a child’s voice. I swear, she sounds like a child in the radio, making her sound even a lot younger than hearing her in front of me.
“Did anyone of you guys hear anything weird a moment ago?”
“Nope.” Timothy replied. “All I’m seeing is heavy activity in one of the rooms, but no more. Nothing unusual so far.”
“Nothing on my end as well,” Kathy replied, “though I have been having a bit of unusual static. It’s not a big problem, so its should be alright.”
“Keep your eyes and ears about, if you see or hear anything strange. Radio it in and watch each other’s back.”
“Roger.” All four of them replied back.
“I don’t like this.” Jones replied. “We hear someone screaming and it’s not one of the girls, I swear someone’s getting killed right now!”
“Calm down.” said Simon with a sigh. He shook his head at Jones for being overly paranoid. “It could be just a wild animal.”
“Highly doubt it. No animal sounds like a woman! Especially one that sounds blood curdling scream that makes you want to stay away from this place!” Jones threw up his hands, exaggerating everything.
“That’s exactly what they’re trying to do. Keep us away.” Marcus grunted. “The first that demons do is to use scare tactics to keep us away.”
“A good reason too,” said Jones. “That’s a high tail sign that we need to stay away from this hell hole.”
I had to agree with Jones on some aspect of his comment. Going into trouble wasn’t something that people would normally would down. Any sane person would run the other way for safety, but because of what we were and our mission, we had to go through the trouble of hunting them down like wild animals.
Honestly, I have no clue how Marcus isn’t scared out of his wits at times like these. I don’t know now, but I definitely need to learn from him. He was someone I looked up to on a lot of things, and he was my personal goal that I wanted to become. Everyday, little-by-little, I had been working out and conditioning my body. Three months of intense workout had cut away the useless fat that I had been storing away for most of my life. Thinking back to just when I realized how I had changed was surprising for me. Whether it was due to extensive training or my status as an Ouroboros, one day I just got out of bed and looked in the mirror to a six pack.. I was so shocked seeing it on someone like me that I thought I was dreaming.
Now, I had the slight pronounced shoulders, and my arms were a bit larger as well. That wasn’t all; My calf muscles and thighs had grown as well, which I was quite proud off. The power I put behind the kicks were three times more potent than before, making me very pleased.
My steps had become a lot lighter as I was getting a better feel of my body. Confidence was one thing I was gaining fast. Who knew that an diligent work out would boost one’s mentality and confidence? But, best of all was the meditation. I had learned a lot about myself through those quiet times, especially how to control my stress level.
Shaking my head out of my own thoughts, I focused back in on the conversation. I missed a handful of their comments, but I wasn’t completely lost.
“Don’t worry too much.” Jessica stated. She had a gun loaded in her hand, as she looked off into the distance. “You’re not the one that’s going to have the worst end of the stick where we’re going. It’ll be me.”
“She’s right you know.” James pointed towards her and nodded with what she had said. “They’re possibly going to go after her more than you, if what Simon had said is true. If you want more action, I suggest you to stay near her, because that’s where all the fun is going to be at.”
“Why in the world would I do that?!” Jones exasperatedly stated, looking at James funny. “I’ll stay far away from her, thank you very much.”
“Enough, let’s get going.” Marcus cuts in with his hand held up in front of Jones. “Get this mission quickly over with, we can go home and not think about demons anymore.”
“Can’t I just stay with the others back at the van?” Jones asked, his muscles tightening up as he held his gun.
“No. We’re going to need your talent.”
Jones sighed as his shoulder slumped forward. I felt a little bad for him, but I knew we weren’t going out of this anytime soon. Plus, to live in this day and age with the Seventh Sanctum, we had to do our job: destroy the demons cleanly and move on. Still, killing demons wasn’t a simple job, mostly because of how unearthly strong they were.
“We’re splitting up now. Simon, I’ll see you on the west side in thirty minutes. Be there.” Marcus directed.
“I’m on it.” Simon nodded, he motioned James and Jessica to follow him. They trudged behind him as they splitted away from us, leaving only the three of us behind.
Jones stared after the three as they disappeared into the bushes. Then his gaze wandered all around us, wondering if we were going to get attacked. Paranoia wasn’t something that was easily controlled, especially when we were in enemy territory.
“Let’s move.” Marcus worded, he pushed forward with his gun in front of him. He pulled out more parts from his suit, and he somehow changed it up into a rifle. I was quite amazed how quickly and meticulously his hand shifted the modular pieces, until he had what he wanted.
We walked behind Marcus in a triangle formation, keeping quiet but cautious steps towards the abandoned mansion. The closer we got, the quieter the surroundings became. I swore I could hear Jones breathing across from me, in which case, it is entirely too quiet around here. This atmosphere is practically made for keeping a person on edge.
The air felt stale and tense, as if I could almost cut it with my blade. We continued forward, a slight fog rolling in and covering the ground as we continued to watch our surroundings like hawks.
Eventually, we came upon the wooden stairs that stayed mysteriously intact for centuries. The moment Marcus stepped on the board, it creaked, announcing our presence. Scowling to himself, Marcus stopped his tracks, shifted his weight and began moving forward. The creaking stopped, but he wasn’t happy at the small blunder that he had made.
Jones wasn’t any better, his steps weren’t light and every time he stepped, the creaking sound just got louder. Every few steps, he would swear under his breath for his foul luck and quickly got up the stairs to get away from it.
I on the other hand took a bit of time to get up, shifting my weight slowly from one part of my foot to the next. There wasn’t a single sound, but the slow movement took a good portion of my time. Marcus and Jones were already in the doorway, leaving me behind. I had to quickly move forward to catch up to them, so I wouldn’t get left behind.
“You think they’re in here?” Jones whispered, his head twitching from side-to-side looking for the so called demons.
I shrugged, not answering him, but instead, slowly searched around me. We were inside a half broken hallway. It was as if the whole house was broken cleanly in half. On my right side, broken doors were on hinges, shattered windows, shelves, bent lamps, half fallen chandeliers, and even the walls with gaping holes was present. While on my left side, it was just the complete opposite.
It look like someone had frozen time and kept the place unusually clean, making me wonder if someone was actually still living there. The whole place was neatly swept up, with not a speck of dust.
Not only that, it looked like we stepped through time with the antiques still kept cleanly in place. We passed the front door to the left as we made our way over. Upon entering, they were couches kept neatly in place with a bear rug underneath it. It’s giant gaping mouth with glazed eyes stared in our direction. They were even quite a few family pictures hanging off the wall in the living room, and even a nice set of mug and cup was placed in front of the sofa as if someone was sitting there a moment ago.
“I swear this place is creepy.” Jones voiced his opinion. “How in the world did they keep this place so perfectly intact?” He swept his arm in front of him.
“I don’t know, but it’s really weird.” I replied, looking around to see a fireplace across from the sofa.
When I went past it, the logs burst into flames as it caught on fire. I stumbled backwards in surprise from it suddenly coming to life. “What in the world?!” I unconsciously yelped out loud, pointing my swords at the fireplace.
“Quiet.” Hissed Marcus, giving me a glare. “You’re going to compromise our position if you don’t be careful.”
“Sorry.” I spoke. We all faced the fireplace that suddenly caught on fire. I had to wonder if there were some kind of automatic starter on it somewhere, but then I realized this as an old house. There were nothing like that here and it made me realize that it burst into flames by itself. Something that magically turns on by itself wasn’t normal, and the thought of demons being near our vicinity made me grip my sword even tighter.
The others found it strange, but mostly Jones who stuttered unable to form words. He pointed at the fireplace a couple of times with his gun and looked back at me in complete disbelief. I understood him fully; he was telling me that it wasn’t him at all..
“Let’s move.” Marcus motioned us forward, when he felt that the fireplace wouldn’t suddenly summon a demon. He slowly motioned forward around the sofa and headed towards the next adjoining room.
“I swear. I didn’t do it.” Jones whispered with his eyes big.
“I know.” I replied, Jones wasn’t the type to play tricks on a serious mission like this. I would’ve suspected Timothy hands down, but he wasn’t here with us nor does he have fire magic.
I pushed past the couch and went towards the same doorway as Marcus. Upon entering, it was quite dark. Marcus and Jones beamed their flashlight down the long winding hallway for us to see. So far, not a single door was seen to the left or the right. Instead, there were bunch of family portraits hanging up on the wall. A wide range of portraits were there, from the children to the adults.
The ones closer to us looked to be around the time of the civil war days, making me wonder how old this house was, but then again, my only thought was maybe it was just a family portrait of their olden days. When we walked on further in, they were pictures changed into different time periods, making me feel like I was walking through history. It was a weird feeling walking through the hallway, it made me feel completely out of place. Even more, as we walked throughout the corridor, I couldn’t shake the feeling of eyes on me as I walked past the portraits.
Jones shuddered, “I dislike old family portraits.”
“You and me both.” I replied, “it feels like they’re staring into your souls.”
“That was what I was exactly thinking, and I don’t like it.” Jones stopped to stare at the picture on his left. It looked to be of a general during World War II. He had on his classical navy uniform, and he was standing up straight, looking at the viewers. The most memorable part of the painting wasn’t the clothes but his eyes. They were unusually sharp, almost as if they were alive. “This guy looks like his looks can kill.” He tapped the picture on the wall a couple of times.
Suddenly, the picture groaned, and the ground under Jones opened up, swallowing him whole.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” Jones screamed as he fell through the opened trap, disappearing from sight as the floor quickly closed back over him.
“Jones!” I yelled, reaching down to grab him, but missed. Something like that was too sudden and unexpected, to the point where I wasn’t even thinking whether it was possible to happen in this house. “Jones!” I went on my knees, pounding on the ground to see if it would open up, but it didn’t budge at all.
“What the hell happened?!” Marcus came over when he heard me yell. “You just announced everyone we’re here!”
“Jones is gone!” I cried out in alarm, tapping at the walls and getting up to feel around the painting that he just touched. “He fell into a trap.”
“I don’t know.” I replied, this time I felt around the painting itself, looking for any clues. “He was just standing here and looking at the picture, and he suddenly fell through. I’m not sure what he touched but it activated the trap.”
“Shit.” Marcus cursed. “That means there is more in this house.” He raised up his radio. “Simon. Are you there?”
“Yea?” Simon replied back. “Is something wrong?”
“We got traps in this house. Don’t touch anything carelessly.”
“Did someone happened?”
“Yea, Jones is gone.”
“You serious?” Simon sighed at the thought more traps.
“Timothy. Locate Jones.”
“Give me a moment.” Timothy radioed back. “I’ll be able to pinpoint his location in…5…4…3..2…here we go. He’s down at the basement floor.”
“Any Demons?” asked Marcus.
The line went silent for a moment, not answering Marcus. We waited a couple more seconds, but so far no answer, making all of us wonder if there was something bad.
“You’re not going to like this,” said Timothy.
I held in my breath, knowing full well that I was right. Something like this always meant something bad was going to happen, and right now my luck for opening up the trap door wasn’t happening. My guess was that it was an one time activation.
“How many are there?” said Marcus.
“It’s infested with demons and right now, he’s in the middle of it. But, luckily there is a wall around him. If he steps out, he’s screwed.”
“Shit.” Marcus cursed. “Show me the fastest way to get down to the basement now! Simon, I’ll meet you downstairs and we’ll sweep up this house as quickly as possible after we pull Jones out of the shit hole.”
“Roger that.” Simon replied.
“Give me a moment, I’ll send you the map through the watch,” said Timothy.
We waited for a couple of seconds, and a ding could be heard on both mine and Marcus as a small hologram map of the building was shown in front of us. I noticed that we were directly over the basement, but getting there was the problem. We had to pass through the kitchen, the dining room, and a couple more other rooms before we even reach the entrance to the basement. After that they were a couple of rooms that was static, making it a bit difficult to tell.
“Thanks. This should do.” Marcus radioed in. Then, he motioned me with his head to follow.
I nodded, walking close behind him as I watched our backs for any possible attacks.
We eventually got of out this long, straight hallway and came upon the kitchen. Even the kitchen was nicely kept clean, I got the feeling that it was a bit renovated because of the more modern day looking kitchen then the olden days. There was an island table with pots and pans hanging overhead, clean knives on the sides, and even a nice large metal refrigerator that look brand new. Even the marble floor was nicely swept, making me wonder even more if someone was actually living here, and why.
Suddenly, a clicking sound could be heard on the right as I whipped my head towards it. The stove flicked on as the eye caught on fire, startling both of us. My eyes became big as I stared, then to my right, I saw the knives slipping out of its case and floating in the air.
“No way.” I mouthed dumbstruck. For something this crazy to happen, I had to quickly snap myself out of stupor as I barely dodged from getting impaled through my eyes. Right now, I still didn’t have a damn helmet to protect my face, making this that much more dangerous. Plus, whatever was controlling the knives knew.
“Watch out!” Marcus came over and punched a knife out of the air from behind.
I was pushed forward, just in time as Marcus came barreling over. Catching myself, I swung the sword in a weird angle as I cut down another knife that came towards my chest. Three more flew towards me, my hand quickly moved in a zigzag motion, cutting down the other three onto the floor.
“Nice~ You gotten better.” Marcus glanced over at me pleased.
I felt a bit of myself glow in pride by his comment, especially because he wasn’t the type to say such things. “Thanks.”
“Pay attention, there is possibly going to be more. These bastards of a demon like to play to scare us, and we can’t let these simple tricks frighten us away.” Marcus growled, looking around his shoulder for any more possible floating knives.
“How do you do it?” I asked.
“Do what?” Marcus stopped to turn towards me, not sure what I was asking about.
“Stay level headed and calm? Aren’t you afraid of these demons?” Because I sure was, it wasn’t simple to push aside the screaming adrenaline rush and my instincts telling me to get out of here as fast as I can.
“What are you talking about? I get afraid too, you know.”
I was shocked when I heard him say that. I thought he would’ve started with a bit of an arrogant tone and say that he wasn’t and that was the way he just was. Not something like this.
“Of course.” Marcus snorted. “Fear is your best friend or your worst enemy. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to push yourself to the limit, and without it, you’d become too lax and forget what danger feels like. Becoming too used to the situation is not always to your benefit, having a bit of fear helps you survive.”
I thought over what he had said as we moved through the kitchen with our weapons drawn.
“Plus, Demon’s aren’t humans. They do things that doesn’t make sense. It’s the unknown that we fear. Once we bring that demon out into the light, it becomes less scary.”
“For example.” Marcus slammed his hand against the wall, and a loud squeal could be heard as an invisible creature appeared out of thin air. It was an ugly looking, deformed frog that had giant boils coming out of its back and eyes. “If you pay attention to your surroundings, you can find the clues to what you are looking for. This bugger likes to climb up high walls and scare the daylights out of anybody using its telekinetic power. Their body would slightly distort, giving you a chance to find them.”
I stared wide eyed, staring at the frog demon in shock. The thought of Marcus finding it in this dark room was impressive. It was this sort of thing that showed he was seriously a pro.
“Like I said, pay attention to everything. Especially when you’re in your fearful state, your adrenaline will help you pick up a lot of these information, allowing you to process more than you normally can.”
I nodded, and followed behind him as I watched how Marcus took care of the other demons that he found.