Chapter 14 – The Monday
Monday morning. Salvador had indeed spent the entirety of the weekend at Lalia’s house. Admittedly it hadn’t been as awful as he would have expected given he was sharing a small space with a demon at the same time. At night he crept out of Lalia’s room and slept in the guest room. True to her spell though her family didn’t seem to sense his presence at all. Even though people passed by the guest room no one bothered to step inside. Ethan remained in Lalia’s room in canine form, sleeping on the floor. Salvador didn’t fight him on it. He’d come to the conclusion that, regardless of what he thought the demon’s intentions might be…the other was a useful ally at this moment.
In fact the demon didn’t seem to be that bad at all, though he wasn’t about to admit that out loud. On Saturday Lalia excused herself to her room under the guise of homework. They did some homework, as the pair of them were still students after all, but beyond that they spent time preparing. Salvador helped encourage her to improve her spells. Think on things specifically. Feeling the magic as it came up through the earth and from the air. Channel it through her body to specific points. He didn’t know a great deal about her magic but he knew enough to help her work with it.
It was amazing how fast she seemed to gain it back. They had a few more healing sessions, mending his arm completely and the rest of his ribs. He would have done some of it himself but her recovery time seemed much faster. It was amazing how, with just closed eyes and a focused expression, she could bring feeling back into his limbs.
On Sunday she went out with her parents, leaving him and Ethan alone. He took that opportunity to call his parents.
“It’s not a good idea,” Ethan said, “The demon might be watching.”
“Even if he is they might be worried…” Salvador pushed back, to be honest he was worried as well. Picking up his own phone he flipped it open and dialed the number of his home. When it was picked up he felt his heart lodge inside of his throat. “H-hello?” he asked.
“Conejito? Is that you?” his mother’s frantic voice came on to the other line. She had always called him ‘little bunny’, an affectionate nickname that stemmed from his days as a child rushing about. Never staying on task. “¡Gracias a dios! Do you know how worried we have been about you?”
“Sorry mama,” Salvador said, sinking down to sit on the bed. There was an overwhelming sense of relief at hearing her voice. “I’m fine. I’m sorry I didn’t call. I’ll…explain later.”
“I divined yesterday morning when you weren’t home,” his mother said, “You were surrounded by evil energy my son.”
“I can’t bring it home with me,” Salvador nodded, grateful he had a magical parent who would at least be able to understand a little of it. “I’m safe though. But…don’t let anyone in the house…okay? Friend or stranger. No one.”
“I understand querido,” his mother said, “I’ve been feeling something on the air. I salted the door this morning. Keep the evil at bay.”
This brought a smile to Salvador’s face. “I’ll be home Monday afternoon, promise,” he said. “Love you.” Snapping his phone shut he looked to Ethan. The hell hound was once again sitting on the floor, a place he seemed most comfortable. He looked better after the past few days of regular meals. He was still frighteningly thin and the paleness was explained by his demonic nature. He was clean though and the smile he wore now was odd…almost affectionate. “What?” Salvador asked irritably. He didn’t really appreciate being listened to.
“You’ve got a smart mom,” Ethan said. Of course, with the sharp hearing it was obvious he’d heard both sides of the conversation. “Salt will still work on a demon of that level.”
“I’m tempted to go grab a salt shaker and use it on you,” Salvador tossed back at home.
Ethan shrugged nonchalantly, “Lalia will be angry you made a mess.”
This was true. Lalia was a true surprise to Salvador. She’d always been a soft and quiet girl at school. Now that he was getting to know her he was finding himself pleasantly surprised by her true self that she never showed at school. Opinionated and determined, uncertain with her new fate and there was a fear lingering beneath the surface, but she was pushing through with a smile. She seemed ready for this first challenge and that was admirable. Though her angry at their bickering was perhaps the strongest emotion she showed. It made sense. As an only child she likely hadn’t experienced much fighting in this happy household.
They tried to keep fighting to a minimum when she was around but the pair of them couldn’t seem to stop picking small fights with one another. A little offhand comment about how the ate his food, the way the other sat, hand writing or perhaps just the smallest of movements. It was driving Lalia insane and Salvador could tell. She’d be glad when Monday came around. When this was all over.
He made sure she didn’t heal him completely by the time Monday arrive. All the major injuries were gone but he wanted the surface bruises to remain. It would help with his plan. He hoped.
Monday morning he left before Lalia was even awake. He was trying to make it out before she noticed so he left while the sun was still a distant presence on the horizon. He had just finished closing the door quietly. He turned and was immediately faced with Ethan, standing right behind him with arms folded. “Geez!” he exclaimed in a voice that was just about a whisper, his heart leaping into his throat. He stumbled back a step, placing a hand to his chest. “How the heck did you get there?”
“Jumped out a window,” Ethan shrugged casually. “Where are you going?”
“I thought you could have been Jacob, don’t scare me like that,” Salvador responded, avoiding the question.
Ethan looked back over his shoulder, “I haven’t felt any demonic presence nearby. You’re clear.” His glassy grey eyes turned back to Salvador. “Where are you going?”
Salvador sighed and held up his clothes, “I can’t go to school in the same clothes from Friday,” he argued, “Plus they’ve got blood on them. I’m going to go to the department store and grab something new.”
“At…6 in the morning,” Ethan responded skeptically, arching an eyebrow.
“And I’m going to just…go for a walk,” Salvador pushed back, “I’m not going home. I’m not going to face him. I just…I’ve been stuck inside the past two days and I need some air. I’ll be fine. You stay with Lalia, keep her safe. I’m just going to go buy a new sweater. Okay?”
“We left your coat in the gym,” Ethan sighed, “And your backpack.”
“I’ve got incantations to keep me warm,” Salvador rolled his eyes. “Stop acting like my mother. I’ll be fine. Why are you so concerned about me anyway?”
“We’re allies now,” Ethan pointed out, “It would be really bothersome if you were to get yourself killed.”
“I won’t,” Salvador said, “You have my word.”
“You can’t make promises out of your control,” Ethan said, stepping closer to Salvador which made him instinctively step backward. He hated how the other was taller than him, even though it was only a couple of inches.
“Fine,” Salvador growled in irritation, “I promise I’m not going out to seek trouble. I’m just going to get a new sweater. Then I’ll see Lalia at school. Does that work?”
Ethan rolled his eyes but stepped back again and this time stepped to the side to allow Salvador to move past him, “No funny business,” he warned, “Otherwise I’m definitely going to desecrate your corpse. Put you in a bunch of humiliating poses.” The humor of a demon was really not something Salvador understood but he nodded. With that said he stepped past the other in silence and went on his way.
As expected nothing was open at 6 in the morning. He was thankful his wallet had been in his back pocket instead of in his backpack otherwise he wouldn’t have had his bus pass nor any money. He finally managed to catch a bus to a department store with early hours and at seven that morning he was able to get himself a new sweater. He tossed the old one in the trash. No use in attempting to salvage it and his mother would panic if she saw the blood stains. He then headed to school early to get his other things. As expected his backpack and coat were in the administration office. He got a bit of a admonishing from the school for leaving all his things behind and acting irresponsibly. The gym had been left in disarray. They noted the bruising on the corner of his mouth and asked if there had been a fight. He admitted that indeed there had been and hence why he had run. They tried to press a bit more and he showed the bruising on his arm but wouldn’t name the person he fought with. Told them it was fine, it had been dealt with, he was sorry for leaving a mess.
He made his way to his first class, popping his things in his locker. He was there before anyone else and he selected a seat. As time passed and the 8:10 start time approached the class filled with people. He had finished homework at Lalia’s but was working on transferring it to the right books that he had left at the school.
“So you did decide to come.”
There it was. This time he could feel it. The demonic sensation was there, suppressed to such an extent that it was only a whisper on the wind. No wonder he didn’t feel it, it was almost completely disguised. The only reason he felt it now was that he was waiting for it. Jacob was in this class with him and he heard the other sit in the seat next to him.
“I have no reason not to,” he said, not facing the other as he finished his work.
“You healed up nice,” Jacob responded, perching his elbow on the table and resting his chin in his hand. “Did you do it yourself or did you have help? I wanted to hang out this weekend but you never went home. Who were you spending your time with?” Then it happened. The other released the latch that held his presence at bay and from him a torrent of demonic energy was released. It was purposeful and nauseating. It turned the stomach and it was likely everyone in the classroom would feel the effect of it. It was shockingly different from Ethan. Ethan had the presence of a demon. He didn’t disguise it but he equally didn’t force it into the surrounding areas. This was a calculated spell to force the evil magic into the room. It was something that Salvador had never felt before.
A few people seated around them grimaced, one girl lifted her hand to her head. Salvador felt sick to his stomach.
“We can talk about it after school,” he said, lifting his head and looking to Jacob and his smug grin. “I’m not telling you here.” He kept his own face as calm as possible.
“I could kill everyone in this room right now,” Jacob cooed warmly in a hushed voice. It was barely audible but the threat was there. “But…that would be messy.” The demonic presence faded once more but this time he didn’t hide it. He let his demonic self be open to the classroom. “After school it is. I’m looking forward to it.”
School progressed as normal and though he spotted Lalia over the course of the day she kept her distance. Quite right too. That was something he had been adamant on. If Jacob figured out what she was in the middle of school there was no doubt in his mind the other would unleash everything inside of himself without a care for making a scene. It wouldn’t matter if he got his hands on her. The power she could lend to a demon, alive or dead, would be ridiculous. He’d likely stop at nothing, no matter how many lives were strewn through the halls. It was best to keep a distance. He hoped he could get things sorted after school without her assistance but…that simply may not be the case.
He was grateful that Lalia heeded his warnings and remained distant from him. He swore that after this was done the distance would close and they could freely be friends.
The end of the school day came about and people left quickly. There were a few clubs that ran in the afternoon but despite that the school seemed to empty very fast. He had to admit he’d noted quite a few people expressing how ill they felt throughout the day. He could only blame Jacob and the way he seemed to fill the rooms and halls with a nauseating foul smoke that couldn’t be seen by many. It was filling every nook and cranny of the school and seemed to enter a room before Jacob and stay there long after he left. It made discerning where the demon was at any given moment completely impossible. It made sense that people were eager to leave school today.
He lingered at his locker but packed his bag eventually and closed it. He turned to walk towards the stairs when he felt the arm drape itself over his shoulder and the foul odor that had filled his nose all day grew even stronger as the arm drew him tightly towards Jacob. It had been impossible for most of the day to tell where the other was and he almost gagged when the sulfuric scent grew even stronger as the other touched him. The arm was tight around his shoulders. It looked like a friend casually leaning on another but the grip was far from friendly.
“Not planning on leaving right?” Jacob asked playfully, threateningly, as he drew the angel in.
“Outside,” Salvador said, trying to disguise a cough. He moved a step forward, hoping the other would follow with him.
“Too many eyes outside,” Jacob shook his head with a grin. He tugged Salvador back into his body, leaning on his shoulder. “Just wait. Everyone will leave soon.”
“You’ve been making people sick all day…” Salvador concluded.
“What?” Jacob asked in mock concern, “You mean you want people to stick around? Extra casualties? I’m doing you a favor by removing them. A big favor.” His arm shifted, looping closer to Salvador’s neck and coming to grip in a chokehold. Not tight enough to actually choke him but a warning. “Say ‘thank you’.” Salvador did not respond and the arm tightened into a proper choking grip this time. “Come on, we’re friends. Friends thank each other…”
“Thanks…” Salvador grimaced. He wanted to grab at the arm that held him but he kept his hand where it was, gripping the strap of his backpack that was still across his shoulder. At his show of gratitude the arm weakened from around his throat. It didn’t leave though.
“So are you going to give me some answers now?” Jacob asked, voice louder now as the hallway had become eerily empty at this point. “Who does the dog belong to? Who healed you? Why are you here angel?”
Salvador took a breath, subtly shifting his hand on his backpack strap, opening his palm flat and perpendicular to his chest. “Heaven punishes the wicked.” He said this quickly, knowing he wouldn’t have much time. As anticipated the demon instinctively tried to choke him again but he lifted his other hand to grab the arm and a flash of white light erupted where the hand met the demon’s skin. There was a growl of pain and Salvador dove forward, using that instant to get out of Jacob’s grip. Taking one step forward he swiveled, still keeping his flat palm in a prayer position in front of his chest as he stretched his open hand towards the demon’s face. “Heaven’s light!” A flash of light exploded from his palm, sending an impact wave towards Jacob. The demon lifted his arms to shield his face from the light as he was pushed a few feet back. The force also sent Salvador tumbling to the ground. He rolled with it, stopping in a kneeling position. He reached into his bag, grasping for the holy items he’d spent his free time making in class.
He didn’t get far before he felt the connection. He felt the demon’s kick before he saw it, the creature moved forward with speed, spinning and stretching out a foot that connected with Salvador’s face before he could finish grasping at his things. The impact of the kick took him by surprise and sent him sprawling towards the lockers, ears ringing. He would have thought the light would take the other out for more than a few seconds. He should have said more than two words.
Dazed but not out he lifted a hand toward the other again, opening his mouth to speak. “Heaven-” He didn’t get a change to finish as Jacob’s hands found their way to his throat. One hand took hold and lifted him. The grip was stronger than a human would be capable of, the strength in the demon’s arms lifted him from the floor. With a growl the other brought him forward before slamming him back into the lockers. The impact dented the metal behind his back and did more to further stun Salvador. His vision went black for a moment and when it slowly came back he was faced with a rather horrifying sight combined with a tight grip around his throat with a singular hand.
Jacob’s face had changed. The face of the normal high school boy was still present but ripped and torn in places as though it were a paper mask. It fell away in gashes showing a deep blood red beneath and sinewy looking skin. The eyes were completely red without iris or white, the pupil a wild and large circle in the middle of them. His teeth were no longer the gently curved rectangles of normal human teeth but sharp like those of a sharp. The skin of his hands was also covered in tears, ripping away the human skin like tissue paper and revealing not just the freakishly red skin but also black claws that now dug their way into Salvador’s throat.
“Not nice Saly…” he growled, his voice rippling. “I was asking a very nice question…” His grip tightened, completely closing off Salvador’s windpipe. He couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t speak. His hands grappled at the singular arm that held him up and pinned to the locker. Without words he couldn’t give a spell, couldn’t protect himself. This human body was far more fragile than he wanted it to be. “Maybe I should just knock you out and take you home…” Jacob growled, “Have you wake up without a tongue and we can start figuring things out.” Salvador’s vision was tunneling, growing dark around the edges. He attempted a gasp for air but that only allowed the grip to tighten.
This was it.
Please…let her have realized…
“I’d…really rather you not…do that.”