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Demon by My Side

By:Victoria Davies

Chapter One

Black blood stained her fingers.

Darcy watched the drops slide down the silver blade and then spatter the corpse at her feet.

Humans bled red, demons bled a dark toxic green. But only one creature bled black and their presence in her world should be impossible.

“You can’t be a spirit,” she whispered to the misshapen creature she’d hunted across town. It had been stalking the girl who huddled in the alleyway behind her.

She watched, stunned, as more black oozed from the body to stain the dirty snow beneath it. There was no mistaking what she was seeing.

Something that shouldn’t ever happen outside of a Halloween night.

“What is that thing?” the girl demanded, her voice high-pitched with panic. “Who are you?”

Darcy glanced back at the youth she’d rescued. A teenager, dressed for a club and not the winter chill. Had she been patrolling a different area, this girl would have been one more dead human she’d failed to save. A footnote on the local news, destined to be forgotten after the next celebrity scandal hit. No one would know, of course, that it hadn’t been wild animals that had ripped her to shreds but a creature out of myth and nightmares.

“Stand up,” Darcy snapped.

The girl surged to her feet, responding to the command in Darcy’s voice. She wobbled slightly on her too-high heels. Darcy eyed them in disgust. January was no time to be experimenting with heels and ice.

“Go home. Tell anyone about what you’ve seen and you won’t like the consequences. Clear?”

The girl nodded, her eyes wide and shell-shocked.

“Get out of here.”

Darcy turned back to the body at her feet as the teen stumbled from the alley. “Now, what do I do about you?” she asked the corpse.

Crouching, she examined her kill. The body was small, perhaps four feet. But despite its size, the black claws curling from each hand were more than capable of shredding flesh in seconds. Pointed teeth too big to fit inside the small mouth poked through chapped gray lips. A hooked nose added to the sinister appearance and lanky black hair hung in clumps around the frightening face. She’d seen beings like this before but never at this time of year. It went against all the rules she lived her life by.

She cleaned her blade on the creature’s tattered shirt before sheathing it. Grabbing her cell, she speed dialed the first person in her contact list.

“Blake,” a deep voice answered.

“Problem,” Darcy replied, not bothering to greet him properly. Her stepfather would forgive the poor manners. “I just killed a spirit. Tell me that’s impossible.”

The silence on the phone rang more loudly than words.

“Hell,” he said at last.

“Spirits can’t cross into our world on any night other than Halloween. It’s the first rule hunters learn.”

“Looks like the rules are changing. This isn’t the only report I’ve had of a hunter coming across a spirit who shouldn’t be able to enter our world.”

Fear crawled along her spine. Darcy belonged to a very elite group of humans scattered around the globe whose job was to protect humanity from things that went bump in the night. Or rather, from beings who slithered from the Netherworld to invade the world of humans.

“Only demons can cross over at will,” she tried to argue. Two kingdoms made up the Netherworld, ruled by two immortal kings. The demon realm was bound by much looser magic. As living beings, they could cross between their world and the human one with effort. But the spirits, beings without life, were bound to their nightmarish realm for all but one night a year. On Halloween, all hell broke loose. Hunters locked themselves indoors, protected by magic and silver, in hopes of surviving the night. When both spirits and demons walked the streets, her people had no chance.

“Are you telling me both Netherworld kingdoms have access to our world?” she demanded.

“I don’t know much more than you, Darcy. I’m piecing together what I can from the stories I hear. You know better than anyone how hunters like to exaggerate. I hoped it was nothing more than a few inflated tales.”

“I’m looking down at a spirit I just sliced and diced. No inflation there.”

“Then we have a serious problem. They are breaking into our world.”

Something that should never, ever happen. Left unchecked, the spirits and demons would take over. Humanity’s days as the top of the food chain would be numbered.

“Get home,” Blake said. “I’ll see what I can find out.”

The line went dead. Her stepfather shared her phone manners. Snapping the cell shut, Darcy scanned the snowy alley for a place to dispose of the body. The shadowed Dumpster in the corner looked like her best bet. Sighing, she bent to grab the spirit’s legs. Worst part of the job, she thought as she began dragging the bloody body back into the alley’s gloom.