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The Eidolon

Issue 1

By Marty ResPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 14 min read
Top Story - May 2024

The rain pattered on the sidewalk in a steady drizzle, pooling below the curb. The veiled mist of night obscured the way ahead, only being pierced by the high beams of the occasional passing car.

While his vision was hindered, Lucas unmasked his surroundings with his ears. He heard two distinct pitches of aggressive yowling and the sound of many tiny footfalls on the other side of the street: Two stray cats fighting in the dark. He heard strong, electrical humming behind him: The streetlamp he had passed a quarter mile ago, glowing dangerously brighter with every circuit cycle.

And just below all the cacophony, was a suffocated wisp of air. Like the afterthought of a hush that faded just as fast as it was spoken. Yet Lucas heard it well enough. Pretending he was unaware, he kept walking forward, slowing into a strut, hands diving into the pockets of his jacket.

His left ear found the next wisp along the crumbling rock wall separating the street from the residential area. It was thirteen yards behind him. He knelt in the lamplight, flicking some mud off his boot. The scuff hadn’t even hit the sidewalk before he picked up the last movement, this time a sharp whip crack, lunging towards him.

Lucas rolled forward onto the street and turned to face the noise just as quickly as he had heard it. The speed at which the thing closed the distance caused every raindrop falling between them to catch to its body and careen forward in a silhouette of watery momentum, briefly giving away both shape and position. With no hesitation, Lucas pulled the copper knife from his right pocket. Muscle memory took over, and with a smooth throw, the blade cleanly buried itself into the creature.

An ethereal scream overtook his ears and filled the air all around him as his attacker became visible. Its lanky, white body staggering back in pain from the knife in its abdomen, the mistwraith’s eyes found him again. Pools of midnight from sunken eyes staring daggers into his soul. He only dared to return the gaze for a millisecond before sprinting down the way he came, back towards the humming. The screams of the mistwraith soon were replaced with raspy, feral panting, as it began chasing after him. Lucas gave himself four seconds before it caught up to him.

Running down the lane, he listened for the humming of the defective lamp and found it had grown louder. Upon seeing the bulb pulsing like a bright beacon in the distance, he devised his convenient escape.

Three seconds.

Unable to turn around, he heard the raindrops finding something just inches from the back of his neck. The creature was reaching out a boney, clawed hand, trying to grab him.

Two seconds.

His spine chilled as he reached the base of the lamp, just missing a swipe from the mistwraith’s talon. Despite the slick sidewalk, he found enough traction for one good jump.

One second.

He perched himself on top of the lamp; the metal was vibrating as the light cast a brilliant flash. The last thing Lucas saw was his lanky attacker lunging up into the sky after him.

Gotcha.

The bulb burst as the lamp finally surged, releasing all the circuit’s energy in the blink of an eye, before the dark of the night once again prevailed. Lucas looked down apprehensively, and couldn’t help but smile when he saw, surrounded in a sea of glass stars, the corpse of the mistwraith sprawled out on the side of the road. He took a few moments before jumping down from the lamp. The knife, now an electrified molten slag, shone like a red-hot sun in its midsection, surrounded by a web of electric burns. The abyssal eyes of the creature now melted sludge spilling onto the concrete.

Time was of the essence; he didn’t need a random passerby happening upon the body, or him for that matter. Lucas reached into his mind and spoke to the voice in his head.

“Sword”

A fire ignited from the six-pointed star tattooed in his right palm. Growing despite the rain, it took the shape of a meter long sword. It was as light as air until it stopped growing and the metal solidified in his grasp. The refined blade finished in a curved tip, the sharp side ending in a finely serrated edge. Grasping the hilt with both hands, Lucas brought the weapon over his head, trained on the neck of his victim. And as the blade ignited with a crimson flaming aura, he brought it down, severing the head from the body in one clean strike. The scent of cauterized flesh overtook the smell of the rain. The sword retreated back into his hand as Lucas reached down for the head, and stuffed it into the vacuum compartment of the backpack he was wearing.

He heard the rolling of tires down the road. Slow rotations. A commercial truck probably. Lucas quickly placed his hand on the mistwraith’s chest. A tingle ran through his arm as his veins lit up with crimson light. Like a fuel injector, the heat flowed down into his palm, igniting the corpse’s flesh despite the downpour around him. Lucas hadn’t gotten used to the feeling of the flames on his hands yet. A pulsing wave of fire slowly burned away at the fallen creature, while his hand remained untouched. It was surreal, and unnatural. Within a minute, the mistwraith was reduced to a cloud of embers carried off by the wind.

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Lucas managed to catch a ride on the oncoming truck. Years on the road made him well practiced in the art of hitchhiking. It was a five-hour drive and some walking back to the Budget Inn in Tucumcari.

With discrete, reflexive glances over his shoulder, he made his way to the door of the safe room he rented a week prior. He felt some relief to see the doors and windows intact. The voice in his head spoke up, sounding offended by his doubt.

“I told you, the shielding spell crafted with the love in your heart will remain as unbreachable as your own will until your death.”

“At this rate, I’ll be pouring my heart out to every motel door in the country.”

“Someone needing to stay at every motel in the country is not ready to pour his heart into much else, young one.”

Lucas couldn’t argue with the demon’s logic, no matter how much it stung. Such was usually the case with most talks with the five-thousand-year-old spirit.

“Now, dismiss the protections. As if you were slowly relaxing a tense muscle. And take care not to burn the entrance down.”

Nodding, Lucas placed his hand on the door and with a deep breath, began unwinding the spell. Slowly, the fiery hexagons on the door and windows became visible again, burning just above their surfaces. They shone brightly one last time, before burning out. After the dispelling was done, Lucas fished the burner from his back pocket. Hitting the OK button on the flip phone, he heard the various locks and sensors he’d installed disarming. Looking back one last time, he entered the room.

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It took a close to an hour to get the drone ready; kit bashed together from an old toolbox, the motors of an RC car, an amplified radio transmitter, an old microphone, and a Go-Pro. Once securing the backpack with the mistwraith’s head inside the toolbox, Lucas had driven it nearly halfway across town to the rendezvous point his buyer had set up: the empty parking lot of a local Denny’s. The Go-Pro’s feed, along with the cameras from all the intersections around the Denny’s, were linked to the monitors he had set up on the room’s worn-out desk.

Lucas’s anxiety was on the verge of spiking when the cars pulled into the parking lot at 4:30am, thirty minutes late. Four black Ford Tauruses with reflective license plates. Two parked by the entrance to the lot, while the other pair surrounded the drone. Seven men exited the cars, keeping their distance from the drone. They all dressed in different plain clothes, but each of them had a sidearm on their person. Despite the picture quality, Lucas spotted the identical tattoo they had on their forearms: a three-eyed viper coiled around a globe, the symbol of the Coalition of Occult Investigation.

Audio crackled through the speakers as one of the men came within the drone’s microphone range. Lucas didn’t recognize him from his previous exchanges with the COI. The new guy acknowledged the camera with a slight nod, cautiously inspected the drone for a couple of minutes before speaking up.

“The thing looks clean, boss. Checking package now. Everyone stand back, just in case our friend left us a little surprise instead.”

Lucas smirked at the thought of what “surprises” the new guy was thinking of. And that the man’s reaction to them would make for a hilarious screenshot. Instead, there was only the expected reaction of disgust when he retrieved the backpack and inspected the head inside.

“Package secure sir.” said the man in between gags. Screenshot worthy reaction after all.

Upon hearing that, an eighth man stepped out of the car on the right; a middle-aged man in a brown trucker jacket who Lucas recognized immediately. Laughing out of audio range, Jubal Crow put his hand on the shoulder of the new guy, who was trying to keep his stomach from spilling out onto the asphalt. Zipping up the bag and motioning for another member of the entourage to take it and the new guy back to the cars, Jubal then approached the drone to the point where Lucas could see his clouded eyes.

“Thought it would be a nice night for Centino’s first training op. The kid’s been harpin about getting field work for weeks. He’ll be less enthused for it now, I’m sure.”

The blind man giggled like a toddler before continuing.

“Appreciate your quick work on this. The lab coats have been getting on my ass about losing this thing outside of Denver. Now they have a new toy, and I can get good sleep. While I do that, I got another lead for you. There’s chatter in Louisiana of a UAB. Been tearin up everything man-made in the Atchafalaya Basin. Local law is callin it a rabid bear but the witnesses ain’t buyin that. As a favor to me, check it out will ya? I’ll wire your usual rate plus a lil extra if you accept. Let me know, I assume you still know where to find me. Til later my phantom friend, The Crow's out.”

Lucas turned to the packed duffels on the bed. He could drive to Amarillo, hop on a bus to Houston, and another to Lafayette. It would be at max be another two weeks of trouble for more than double the worth.

The demon spoke up in response to his thoughts.

“If I may, you have not trained in over two weeks. While your confrontation with the mistwraith ended in victory, such a creature should not have posed the danger that it did to you. Your reluctance to call on my power nearly cost you your head.”

“My head’s still here, isn’t it? Close calls happen in the field, Raze.”

“They do not need to be close when you could end the threat with a mere thought.”

“Listen, once I’ve followed up on this lead, I’ll be able to lie low for a couple of months. We can take the time to properly train then. Preferably somewhere where I don’t end up burning down another building.”

“You are justified in your fear, young one, but you will not be the only one to suffer from the negligence of the potential I have bequeathed you.”

“I know that, but I’ve kept many people safe with my own skill for years. Until I master what you’ve given me, I’d rather stick to what works.”

“And for each innocent you protect, there might be ten others you will be unable to aid due to your limitations.”

“Hey, you can’t guilt me into using what I never asked for-”

Lucas’s peripheral caught a bright flash on the monitor. He turned to check the feed but there was nothing amiss in the now empty parking lot. After toggling through all the cameras, he pulled up the drone’s recording to playback the footage. He scrolled towards the end of the video, around the fifty-minute mark.

The Crow returns to his car, which backs up and drives off-screen, the second car tailing his a few moments after. Yet just before the second car leaves the camera’s view, the taillights flash much brighter than they should have, before vanishing from one moment to the next. He felt his chest tighten as he rewound the playback, hitting F2 on his keyboard to go through each frame. As he followed the path of the second car, his blood ran cold when he found the flash. Only visible in a single frame, Lucas saw the entire rear of the car exploding outward.

Lucas’s leg was tapping the floor at the speed of light. He immediately checked the timestamp on the final frame of the recording.

4:17am

More than 40 minutes ago! The old Crow wasn’t late, the recording had been looping the first frame for thirty minutes at least.

His heart was already pounding faster than a jackhammer before the screeching siren at the door began sounding off, making him jump out of his seat. The proximity alarm gave him just enough time to reach for the go-bag under the desk before the door was blown apart. Anticipating the flash grenade that came through the door, Lucas rushed towards the smoking cavity and axe-kicked it in midair back outside. He turned his gaze as it went off, but as soon as he did, felt a sharp punch in the small of his back, throwing off his balance.

Shattered glass from the windows littered the carpet, and he felt the pieces rake into his face as he hit the floor. The stinging distracted him from noticing the second grenade that had been tossed into the room until he saw the air igniting next to him, and the ground fell out from under him.

The world went black, and all Lucas could hear for a time was a high-pitched ringing in his ears. A wave of anxiety washed over him as he tried to get moving and felt no other sensation. He was just a lost, formless cloud of thought. But just as he began floating away, an anchor passed through him, piercing through the ringing. A voice coming from within. Raze.

“Lucas! Lucas, heed my voice! Latch onto it!”

Lucas focused on the demon’s voice, and finding a comfort in it for the first time since becoming his host. He followed the warmth of the words.

“Good. Very good. Just latch on, find your wits. Find yourself.”

The darkness began clearing into a blurred haze. He felt his fingertips. The ache in his back. The bell in his ear giving way to the crumbling rubble and distant screams. The sense in his extremities soon crawled back up his limbs, and despite the soreness in them, they still moved.

“Now compose yourself. Stand up, warrior. Stand and be ready!”

He stood, kneeling amidst the rubble in what he guessed was the motel basement level. While still blurry, Lucas saw the large hole above him that used to be the floor. And standing at its edge was a silhouette, the figure of a man looking down at him.

“You’ve obviously done some homework”, Lucas said through the hoarseness in his throat, “but if you’re another one of Lawrence’s hired boys, you obviously didn’t do enough.”

The figure, now more in focus, waited a minute before responding in a deep, synthesized voice.

“I am offended that that was your first guess. Did that fall give you a concussion? It’s an eight-foot drop!”

Lucas reached for the M9 strapped underneath the go-bag, but a metal coil wrapped around his wrist before he could reach it, and pulled. The force of the coil sent him flying into the basement roof, and crashing back onto the ground. He felt warm tears emerge from his forehead as he struggled back to his feet.

“Well, if the fall didn’t give you one, that definitely did.”

The man jumped down into the basement and began approaching him. Lucas saw him better now, despite the blood inching closer to his eyes. He was covered in slate colored armor over a black body glove. The metal coil retracted into one of the wrist launchers equipped on the armor. He couldn’t see his attacker’s face behind the plague doctor-esque helmet he wore, but the sword strapped to his back drew more attention anyway.

“Lucas, your opponent tries to weaken you. Retreat, we do not know his game.”

Ignoring the voice in his head, Lucas closed the distance between them, throwing a right hook at the masked man’s unarmored neck. His fist met the brick wall that was the man’s forearm. Lucas fired off three jabs with all the speed he could muster, each of them blocked just as his opponent threw a powerful jab back, which hit the bullet wound on his collar bone that Lucas hadn’t felt until now.

Pushing through the agonizing pain, he tried to sweep the attacker’s leg, but the man jumped just as he did. Lucas felt his nose splinter inside his skin as his hunter launched a knee into his face.

Falling on his back, he lost control of his breathing, hyperventilating while blood and bone began flowing down his throat. The figure stood over him, the callous bird mask gazing at him as he choked. Whoever was behind that mask had read him like an open book. Lucas tried to move but felt his body being rapidly weighed down as his own blood suffocated him.

“I’m surprised, really. The two-way transmitter on that drone was a rookie move. You know better than that. Guess the infamous Operative 6 lost his touch. Haha, time and trauma really do change people.”

The man unsheathed his sword and Lucas felt the icy steel touch his neck.

“See you in the next life, Lucas.”

He raised the sword; an elegantly forged blade with a VI engraved in its base, winding up for the killing blow. Lucas nearly welcomed it, the peace it offered, before that damned voice in his head resurfaced.

“You do not end like this, boy!”

Without him thinking it, Lucas’s arm shot up, as if to punch the sword. His eyes widened, expecting to feel the pain of the blade bisecting his arm. Instead, his veins lit up with a familiar infernal glow as a large fireball shot out from his fist. His would-be killer barely had time to react as the fire blasted him in the face and knocked him upwards and out of Lucas’s blood-soaked field of view.

The flames caught on his jacket too, spreading all over him within seconds. Yet, despite the pain littering his body in that moment, his skin still didn’t burn. In his last moments of consciousness, the warmth of the flames enveloped him, as if back in the embrace of family long dead. Then, everything faded to black.

HorrorthrillerShort StorySeriesSci Fi

About the Creator

Marty Res

We all live on borrowed time, which is what gives our lives meaning. To waste life would be a travesty.

I'm just a simple writer trying to make make my way through the world, and hope I can bring some enjoyment along the way.

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    Creative use of language & vocab

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  3. Excellent storytelling

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Comments (8)

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • You have an amazing writing style! I was hooked by the descriptions and flow of the first three paragraphs. The plot, the characters, and the world were immediately so immersive. Loved it! Congrats on the Top Story!

  • ROCK about a month ago

    I just began reading more in Chapters since I have sat in poetry and short fiction for years. This is an enticing read, will you write more? I just subscribed.

  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    Fascinating work!! Congrats on TS!

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago

    Congrats on your top story . It's brilliant .

  • Ken Mackabout a month ago

    Truly captivating!

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    Great story weaving fantasy and reality together

Marty ResWritten by Marty Res

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