Exercise the Demons part 19

It was storming by the time Kelly got to Clifford’s apartment complex, great sheets of rain coming down to the point of being near-blinding. She pulled up and put the car into park, a peal of thunder echoing through the air as soon as she did with a timing so perfect, she wondered if it wasn’t some kind of side effect of whatever Sariel had done.

The whole building thrummed with energy, some kind of force that Kelly could feel all the way out in the car. She shivered at the sensation, a goose walking over her grave. It felt like an empty church late at night, and just as Kelly was trying to put her finger on what about it was so disturbing, her train of thought was interrupted by a shotgun slug putting a hole in her window.

Either the shooter couldn’t aim well, or Kelly had the devil’s own luck. The blast shattered the window and the slug as well as the shards of glass missed her head by a narrow margin.

She ducked down behind the dashboard, heart pounding. Kelly had expected some kind of crazy angel powers or flaming swords or, well, literally anything then a twelve gague. “Begone, demon!” a decidedly human voice shouted from the balcony above, and another shot rang out. This one punched through the hood of her car and the engine, still running from coming to a stop earlier, died.

A small part of Kelly took absurd annoyance at the loss of her car. She only needed it every couple of weeks, but it was still her car!

She pushed her way out of the car before the shooter could reload, diving towards the doorway. She got a brief flash of who was shooting and tripped in surprise, grabbing herself out of the puddle and scurring the rest of the way to the door.

It was Mabel, the kind grandmotherly woman from the end of Clifford’s hall. She had made Clifford chocolate chip cookies when he moved in! She couldn’t harm a fly, let alone Kelly.

Granted, last time Kelly had seen her, Kelly hadn’t been a demon, and Mabel’s eyes hadn’t been glowing with some kind of golden light. Kelly managed to duck into the door just as a second shot from the elderly woman hit the concrete she had just been occupying. “The demon has breached the peremiter!” Mabel shouted.

Kelly realized she had no weapon, no plan, and didn’t even know what demonic powers she currently possessed. If it was possession, she didn’t like her chances on trying to leap into the body of someone glowing with that holy light.

Taking a deep breath as footsteps began to pound in the hallways, Kelly reached to draw a hellfire sword out of the air. Instead of a sword of hellfire, what came out into her hands was a pitchfork, woven of some kind of black iron and with a skull design sitting at the point where the prongs joined. Remember, Kelly, none of these people are in control of themselves. Or are they? Shit, this kind of stupid rush is exactly what Sariel wanted.

The elevator was approaching the lobby. Kelly threw the pitchfork into the door, where its prongs did an excellent job of holding the door shut once they were buried in the thin metal. Footsteps were already coming down the stairs, so Kelly dashed into the hallway where at least she could meet her attackers with more freedom to move.

As she ran, she shed her human form. Shoes were ripped apart by hooves, the claws popped out of her fingers, and a pair of horns she was certain hadn’t been there before sprouted from a brow.

Time to contemplate this development was limited. In the hallway was a horde of apartment dwellers with glowing eyes, armed with whatever was the most dangerous weapon they could find in their homes. Most of them weilded a terrifying variety of kitchen implements, cleavers and knives. An overweight man with a shirt that said “NANI?” was handing out Katanas to people who ran past, and in the back Kelly could see a couple of people with guns that at least weren’t trying to shoot through the mass of bodies.

It was like a zombie horde, but moving with purpose and intellect and eyes that shone like holy lamps, all converging on Kelly.

“Sariel! Face me yourself, coward!” she shouted, knowing that soon the horde would be upon her.

That at least got the horde to stop, coming to a halt in a single motion. Behind her the group from the stairs removed the pitchfork from the elevator, and it clattered to the ground.

I do face you, demon.” The voice came from every throat that was facing her, as perfectly in unison as if they had rehearsed it.

“Let go of these people. Possession’s more our trick, isn’t it?”

“They have let me in, so that they might receive rewards everlasting once I am done with their flesh.”

“Oh.” Kelly blinked at that, trying to figure how a giant mass of eyes and wings convinced everyone in this building to let him possess them as a group, especially if it meant they would die afterwards, but it had to wait. She’d bought herself time, but she was surrounded now. “Well…give me back my brother, and no one needs to get hurt.”

Every single person, in the same moment, threw their heads back in laughter, each individual laugh timed together, then snapped their heads back forwards. “You are an abomination, a monster, a twisting of God’s plan. You will be cleansed from this world, and with these servants of God I will be able to do so.”

“And just to be clear, once you leave, these people are all dead?”

“Yes,” the dozen of voices said, “Their bodies will break, and they will be welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

No point negotiating. He wasn’t interested. No point trying to reason, he was beyond that. Nothing to do but fight her way through and try to find her brother.

Kelly held out her hand to draw another pitchfork. Instead, the existing one lifted of the ground and flew into her grasp. She focused on it, and this time managed to wreath it in hellfire. You only get one chance at this, Kelly. Don’t screw it up.

She held the pitchfork straight out, directly at the mass of former humanity looking at her.

“Groovy,” she said, her face twisting into a half-mad grin.

Sariel shouted in rage with dozens of mouths, and Kelly screamed with a single voice.

She charged as the horde began to close in.

Chaos. That was Kelly’s biggest takeaway from the frantic melee she entered, lashing out with the flat and handle of the pitchfork like it was an axe. Every time she struck one member of the horde, the entire thing reeled back as if she had struck them all. If she managed to hit multiple, the effect was more pronounced.

At one point she got a bit deeper into the surge by leaping higher than she knew was possible, having to bend over to not smash her horns against the ceiling. She landed on a couple members of the mass as she did, driving them to the ground, and with a sweep of the pitchfork she was able to create a circle for herself.

For a moment. The problem was, every time the horde surged in, she found herself victim of at least a couple cuts and scratches. Already she was bleeding from her arms, her legs, one cut along her side, and there were still the gunmen in the back to worry about.

One of the people armed with a katana courtesy of Mr. Nani in the back managed to break through. Kelly caugh the blade in the prongs of the pitchfork and twisted. It seemed the owner cared more about aestetics than practicality, and the blade snapped from the hilt and went falling to the ground.

That momentary victory was earned at the cost of a butcher cleaver being buried into her thigh by one member of the mass, and Kelly howled in pain. She managed to hit its weilder in the face with the butt of the pitchfork, and heard a satsifying crunch of bone as his nose broke under her blow. Every single hand there went flying towards their faces for a moment, giving her enough of an opening to bowl through them with her horns down, knocking people out of the way to get her closer to the guns.

She managed to disarm one of them before they had fully recovered, but their were more of them, and more of them were armed, and Kelly realized she was overwhelmed.

“Your brother will accept me. You will be removed. The Kingdom is Nigh!” they shouted, and one of them brought a baseball bat down on her skull, sendings stars flittering across her vision. This is it. This is how I die, Kelly thought dully as she fell to one knee. She’d be another body among what would likely be considered a mass suicide.

Then the window at the end of the hall tore open, shards of glass flying in and cutting into the mob of humanity that was pressing down on her. Kelly looked up and saw Shannon there, one hand extended. “Move!” she shouted, and it was the sweetest word Kelly had ever heard.

With a surge of strength she didn’t know she had, Kelly leapt out the window and towards Shannon. Her friend gestured again, and the wind that had blown the glass in surged again, a solid wall of air that pushed its way into the building and sent the screaming mass that was Sariel tumbling down. “Clifford,” Kelly managed to gasp.

“He’s fine! Come on, my car. We have to go!”

A gunshot punctuated Shannon’s point, and Kelly limped towards Shannon’s car before they were both murdered by an angelic host.

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