The Sunday Witch Hunters ep 13: Borrowed Time
Welcome back to the Sunday Witch Hunters! First thing this morning I did a dramatic reading of this episode for the benefit of the dogs. They thought it was very exciting (it was very dramatic.) For some reason, they barked whenever Lily had a line. Fans, maybe?
You know sometimes on WordPress you get spammy comments. Sometimes they’re selling you something, other times the words are so disjointed that the comment must have been written by a bot. I recently had one on SWH episode 12 that went something like, “Hi! I love your website and your topic of interest! But I noticed that you have very many words and not many images!”
Well, I thought. No shit, Sherlock. It’s a story for adults. Not a story for spam bots.
I felt bad about it anyway, so I made this.
If you haven’t read Witch Hunters, read it here! If you have read Witch Hunters, let’s get to it!
The Sunday Witch Hunters
Episode 13: Borrowed Time
“Lily. Lily. Lily, get up!”
The black cuttlefish raised its tentacles and slammed them again into Knox’s still form, flicking them up again dripping blood stained black in the midnight.
Joe cowered over Lily, eyes dancing between the cuttlefish and the encroaching demon horde. His hands clenched sporadically on the electromagnetic cannon. His lungs blew up and collapsed like an explosion in stutter motion.
Lily moaned. Joe rolled the cannon from his lap and pulled her into his arms. He wiped at the dirt and leaves on her cheek but and her hand fluttered over his.
“What happened?” she moaned.
“Nothing,” said Joe, and then decided it was a poor time to lie. Lily’s hand stayed on his. Joe laughed breathlessly in the face of death. “You were hit by a demon. There are a bunch more of them headed this way. And er. The Chief is probably de– alive. I mean he doesn’t look like he’ll be stamping date cards any time soon.”
“No one uses them any more anyway,” Lily struggled to sit on her own. Two little humans under a clutch of dark trees on the side of a nightmare. She fumbled for the cannon lying forlorn on the dry eucalypt leaves and trained it uncertainly on the demons ebbing up the hillside. The demons, it seemed, were becoming familiar with the cannon, and those in the front ranks pulled up short. But there were a hundred clawing, horror-faced aspects of the night, there were a thousand, and those in the back row flowed around those in the front, until those unknowing what the cannon would do to them were marching at the fore.
Lily fired into the horde. Demons peeled away in burst of brown blood and smoking flesh.
“Drake! To me!”
A voice immediately behind Joe spat, “What.”
Joe jumped. Drake shimmied out of the thin cold air, pale and semi-transparent and looking every bit a ghost. He watched the oncoming horde sourly. He watched Lily sourly. His entire countenance was so sour that he seemed on the verge of flipping inside-out.
“Wipe that look off your face!” Lily snarled. The cannon covered nicely for her shaking arms. “We need your help. Possess the Chief. Walk him out of here for us. We’ll hold this lot off until help arrives.”
Joe patted his pockets. “Do you want me to make a call for help?”
Lily blinked at him. She seemed about to ask him to repeat himself. “You mean you haven’t already? What were you doing when the Chief and I were unconscious? Did you think you were going to carry us both out of here?”
Yeah. In body-bags. In about a week, when it was safe to come back.
Joe said, meekly, “You weren’t out for long enough for me to call anyone. I’m sorry. Who do I call?”
Lily shoved the EM cannon into his arms. “Presley. I’ll call. You keep firing. Aim for the outliers – careful! There’s one!” she reached around him and pulled the trigger, exploding a demon lurching towards them on two strong-man arms and the withered legs of an infant. “Drake!”
Drake pouted. “I won’t do it. You can’t make me.”
Lily flicked through her phone. “I can make you. Don’t make me make you.”
Drake stuck out his chin. Joe fought the urge to turn the cannon on him. There were demons crawling over the hill like ants on a sandwich and Drake was going to stand there and pout? To hell with it. Joe did turn the cannon on him.
“Possess him!” he shrieked, moving the cannon between Drake and Knox. “Now!”
Drake flinched. Joe bared his teeth in what was supposed to be a reassuring smile. The shinigami passed a glance to Lily before retreating to the cuttlefish hulking over Knox.
Joe fired wildly on the cuttlefish. “I’ll cover for you, Drake!”
Lily raised her eyebrows. She had the phone pressed to her ear. “Are you feeling all right, Joe?”
“Fine,” said Joe, turning on the demon horde. He emptied thunder into their seething ranks, carving deep groves in godless bodies, blowing channels through the ranks. Hell, this wasn’t so bad. Hell, he could do this all night.
He turned back and witnessed in snatches Drake sulking over to Knox and crouching beside him. Drake poked a finger into Knox’s face. The shinigami dissolved into smoke. A few wispy curls and gone. A moment later, Knox twitched.
“Lord Satan, it’s a madhouse in here,” he groaned, sitting up unsteadily. “I told you the guy was outta his mind. Wow, it’s like he… Wow. Ugh. What the hell is that?”
Lily pressed the phone to her breast. “Is there anything about me in there?”
“Uh huh. He calls you the crazy bitch.”
Lily roared, “He does not!”
Drake watched her with Knox’s eyes, his smile cruel and foreign. There was nothing to distinguish the possessed Knox from the regular one. Nothing, except that every movement, every word was wrong and weird, and Joe was forced to stop looking at him, so deep was his sense that something was amiss. “No? You wouldn’t know what this guy thinks. I can’t understand any of it. Nice body, though,” he stood too quickly, ignoring the blood that slopped down his front as he flexed his new limbs. “Maybe I’ll stay in here. Been a while since I had a body.”
Lily held her nose in the air. She seemed to have forgotten about calling for help. “You can only stay if you let me play with you.”
Contemptuous disgust was the look given to Lily by Drake. He strutted around the black cuttlefish, popping Knox’s dislocated shoulder into place as casually as other men crack their knuckles.
“Now show me these demons,” Drake sneered. “Daddy’s got a body and he’s in a mood to kill some fools with it.”
Joe with the cannon, Lily armed with her lightning sword and Drake dishing out massacre to all who crossed him, the three Witch Hunters went to war. Drake laughed a rolling, wicked laugh as he tore demons limb from limb, kicked and gouged and snapped necks with his bare hands. There was a languidness to his movements which Knox never had, but the violence, let alone the weirdness of it all chilled Joe to the marrow. Drake peeled demons apart and crushed their faces under his palms.. The cuttlefish couldn’t seem to touch him. He gripped the tentacles it slapped at him and twisted them off in a squeak of rubbery flesh. He walked carelessly into the writhing mass of semi-severed tentacles, reaching over them to punch out the round squid eye. His arm buried to the bicep in brains, and he wrenched the demonic heart into the cold air and crushed it to pulp between his fingers.
The cuttlefish burst to ash around him, and Drake laughed, and licked the blood from his hands and danced after the scattered remains of the demonic horde.
Joe stayed aside. He stayed out of Drake’s way. The shinigami had been right, after all; he was nothing but meat out here. He shivered under the thin cover of a eucalypt, watching the blaze of movement that was Drake, the bursts of light that were Lily.
And then, as the last demon toppled, everything fell to pieces.
“How good was that?” Drake called to Lily, striding through a haze of ash.
Lily smiled at him for a moment. Her expression froze. She took two stiff steps towards him.
Drake didn’t lose his smug grin. “What? What is it?”
“Y- your eyes,” she stammered, reaching for Drake’s borrowed face, holding up the humming lightning sword for light. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”
“I’m looking at you, that’s what’s wrong,” Drake joked. He swatted Lily’s hands away, and brushed his own over Knox’s face. Joe hurried from under his tree, and immediately turned away again. Blood as black as ink in the stuttering light streamed from Knox’s eyes. Drake saw it smeared on his fingers and flinched away from it.
“The hell is this!” he cried. As Joe and Lily watched on helplessly, liquid black welled at Knox’s ears and nose and mouth, welled, and then flooded from him. Drake coughed, and dark blood splashed over his shirt. Lily cringed against Joe, stricken. Drake’s oozing eyes widened in surprise. He slumped to the ground over the ash of the last dead demon.
“It’s a curse,” Lily’s voice was barely above a whisper, “his blood is cursed, Drake! You have to get out of there!”
Drake grunted, trying and failing to rise to all fours. “Can’t. I’m trying. It’s like this madman has a trap rigged for this.”
“You have to!” Lily dropped to her knees beside him. She took him by the shoulders. She shook him, and he fell bonelessly against her. “You idiot, Drake, you jackass! Just get out of there or you’ll both be killed!” She snapped at Joe, who flinched. “You! Where’s the EM cannon?”
“I- over there.” He’d left the cannon under the tree. He ran to get it.
Lily shouted after him, “Turn it to mid output. We’ll blast Drake out!”
Joe threw Lily a wild look over his shoulder. “Are you sure you want to do that? The Chief is already hurt. The shock could-”
“The shock could what? Make things any worse?” Lily demanded, and Joe was lost for an answer. “Get the cannon and shoot him already!”
Despite himself, Joe brought the cannon to where Lily held Drake cradled against her. Joe’s arms ached with constantly hefting the cannon, as light as it was. He breathed heavily in the still air. Or maybe it was more than fatigue. That old stab of fear took a long time to leave, no time to return. He levelled the cannon at Drake, bracing it against his shoulder to support its weight with trembling arms.
Lily propped Drake up as best she could. He slumped over his knees. Lily ducked out of the way, though not far out. She nodded to Joe to pull the trigger.
The cannon was already buzzing with power on its middle setting. Joe pulled the trigger. The recoil blew him off his feet. Thunder snarled at Drake, missing him by a hand’s width. The tree to his right shuddered violently, electricity crawling through its branches. Knox’s outline blurred. Apparently near enough was good enough to shake Drake free.
Lily snarled, “Now, the God-handed gun! Aim for Drake!”
Joe hadn’t remembered he even had the silver revolver. But there it was, secured under his belt, right where Lily had left it. He sighted the spectre of Drake over the barrel, and fired. The silver cross on its thin wire hit Knox’s ribs and dragged Drake further free, one dark ghost tangled with another. But he was still stuck fast.
With a growl Lily grabbed the EM cannon from the dirt. She spun on her heel, braced the cannon against her shoulder, and shot Drake again. Knox was thrown lifelessly backward; the silver cross sunk through the spectre that was Drake and ripped him free. Cross and Drake both were slurped into the revolver.
Ping! went the pistol. A pink light lit up on the revolver’s barrel. A vial dropped into Joe’s hand.
Panting, he held up the vial up to Lily. “Will he be okay in there?”
“Yeah, leave him,” Lily sighed, dragging herself up. She leant heavily against the cannon. “I don’t think he and the Chief will want to see each other tonight.”
From his place on the dirt, Knox croaked, “Quite right, my dear. In fact, I don’t wish to ever see him again.”
Lily twisted towards him. “Nice of you to join us.” She stared at him for a long few seconds, frowning heavily. “Don’t do that again, okay? Are you all right? Here, I’ll help you up.”
Joe didn’t think anyone could possibly be okay after losing so much blood and then being shot twice. He wandered closer to survey the situation. Knox caught his eye. Haggard and grim and dripping dark blood, he painted on a smile.
“I’m fine, Joe, really. This sort of thing happens all the time.”
Whether or not that was a good thing, he left Joe to decide. He needed both Lily and Joe to help him back to the car, a journey in which they all limped and groaned, and then Joe had to make the drive back into Muraluna. His first stop was the university campus to drop Lily home. With her she took Drake in his rather pleasant vial form. Joe didn’t think he could have handled the drive back with Drake heckling him. Lily opened the back door as soon as she’d closed the passenger’s side and leant in to fuss over Knox.
“I’ll be fine,” Knox said, laid out like a sultan on the back seat. “I’ll see you on Sunday. Don’t be late. It’s an important meeting.”
Lily looked him up and down, and at last closed the door. She stopped by the driver’s side and gave Joe a distracted smile. “Thank you, Joe. You did well out there. I’ll see you on Sunday, too.”
That was all it took for Joe to forget about the horror and death and the violence, and look suddenly, hopelessly look forward to the weekend. He pulled out of the university grounds with a song in his heart and Knox bleeding steadily on the Mustang’s leather upholstery.
Against his better judgment, he drove Knox to his apartment, rather than the emergency ward. Knox lived on the top floor of a four storey block of units. He refused Joe’s help to climb the stairs, though he didn’t try to dissuade the boy from following him. It was a slow trip up. At the top of the stairs, face blanched of all colour, pretending not to be leaning against his front door for support, Knox asked for Joe’s phone.
“Are you calling an ambulence?” Joe wanted to know. “Because I can drive you to the hospital.”
“Not quite. We’ll need someone to go out in the morning and make sure the hive has been exterminated. Presley’s in charge of co-ordinating all that.” Knox made the call. “Yes. Yes,” he agreed dully after explaining the situation in its barest details, “Joe and Miss Buchanan got rid of the lot, I’d say. Yes. Yes. Yes, I know that. Get someone out there to check it tomorrow, will you? You’d better send O’Roarke in case there are any more. Yes. Very well. See you then.”
He handed the phone to Joe. It was sticky with half-dried blood. Joe faked a smile and pushed the phone into his pocket. He bravely resisted asking if Knox had any transmittable diseases.
“Thank you, Joe. You did marvellously out there tonight. But if you don’t mind leaving the celebrations until Sunday, I think I’ll go to bed now.”
Joe frowned. “Are you sure?”
“Well I usually stay up and watch Letterman, but I rather think I’ll skip it tonight.”
Joe narrowed his eyes. “I mean, are you sure you’re all right? You’re not going to bleed to death in there?”
“I’m fine,” Knox said for the twentieth time. Seeing Joe was as hesitant to accept this as the truth as the first time Knox had lied about it, he added, “I’ll call in sick for work tomorrow. Drop the car off to me in the afternoon, and if I’m not here, then you can check the morgue.”
“The car?” Joe was caught off guard. But of course, how else would he get home? It would be a good hour’s walk to his grandparents’ house, and in the middle of the wintery night.
Knox grinned. “Go home. Treat my car as if it was your first born child. I’ll see you on the morrow.”
He peeled himself off the door, waved to Joe and stole inside the dark apartment. Leaving Joe to wonder just what he had gotten himself into.
Just what has Joe gotten himself into? Oh dear …
Tomorrow is the small-screen debut of my Sayeh and Zia video review. I finished filming yesterday and oh my gosh, it is going to be … it’s going to be … this (link) in video review. Don’t miss it!