Darkness Savage

By: Rachel A. Marks
ONE

Aidan

Game on, Demon Dork.

The words appeared several minutes ago as burn marks on the pink paper. A taunt from my sister, Ava. I can’t seem to stop seeing the message. Even as I’m led from the clothing store and as the paramedic looks over my wounds—wounds that are already beginning to heal. Even as I scan the other side of the yellow crime-scene tape the police are putting up, wondering where Kara and Raul went.

I can only see the words that appeared along the bottom of the note my sister gave me, the note in my back pocket now smudged with my bloody fingerprints.

Game on, Demon Dork.

Ava, what have you done? That poor woman . . .

My vision clouds with the memory of the death, blood spraying across the innocent woman’s face in a red mist as the talon emerged from her chest, the crab-like demon scuttling up her back, perching on her head.

The cops have been questioning people who were in the store when the demon attacked. They’ve got a cluster of witnesses sitting at the tables outside the coffee shop, across the courtyard of the outdoor mall. Kara and Raul must’ve slipped from the scene first thing and hid as the crazy aftermath unfolded. That’s good—they need to keep off the radar.

There’s a cop standing just to my left, beside the ambulance, his presence chafing my raw nerves. He’s waiting for the female paramedic to finish cleaning the deep gouges and cuts on my forearm, and then, he’s assured me, he’ll have a lot of questions.

Questions I can’t answer.

I should’ve run when I saw the police moving in, but there was so much chaos, and they arrived so suddenly, gathering all the witnesses and looking at me, at my bleeding wounds. Then I heard the store employee talking about the surveillance video, so I was glad I hadn’t run. Runners look suspicious. And I have a feeling that I’m about to be suspect number one as it is.

For now I’m sitting on the back of the ambulance, surrounded by people I’ll have to figure out how to lie to.

“You’ll need stitches,” the paramedic says. She looks over to the cop. “He needs to get checked out in the ER. Whatever that animal was, it bit him or something. The wounds are likely to get infected.”

It wasn’t a bite, I almost say. Scratches—or gouges, I guess. But it doesn’t matter because I can feel my body healing. In about twenty minutes there won’t be anything to stitch. If I show up at the ER with only scars, the doctors will just have questions I can’t answer.

“I’m fine,” I say. “I don’t need stitches.”

The paramedic shakes her head at me as she finishes bandaging my arm. Her blonde hair is pulled back in a tight bun, making her delicate features seem more severe than they are. She has a glittering gold mark on her soul, on the side of her neck, just under her jaw: it tells me she’s been saved by an angel before. I wonder if she knows.

“Can I have a second?” the cop asks her.

She finishes taping the bandage and rises to her feet, pulling off her blue plastic gloves. “You need to get that checked out by a doctor.”

“I’ll be fine,” I say again.

“We’ll see what your parents think about that,” she says before she walks away.

My insides cringe. Shit, they’ll have to call Sid to come and get me. And the guy is so sick. He hasn’t been able to stray very far from his shed the last few days—since Ava’s return. Whatever his time traveling has done to him, it seems to be getting worse every minute. Eric insists that there’s nothing we can do to stop Sid’s deterioration, but I can’t give up yet.

The cop steps forward. “So, it appears that you got the best view of what happened.”

I look him over, his dark-blue uniform, his belt full of weapons; the leather squeaks when he moves. I don’t deal with cops. I usually just hide from them.

When I stay silent he adds, “I’m Officer Matson. What’s your name?”

“Aidan.”

“Do you have ID, Aidan?”

I nod, pull my license out, and hand it to him. My fake license that Sid got me. I guess this’ll be a good test to see if it works.

I swallow and try to hide my nerves, focusing on the officer.

He’s the same height as me, about five eight, and his dark hair is slicked back in a clean, tight cut. His eyes dart from my ID picture to my face, then stop to study intently the marking on my unbandaged left arm.

“So, Mr. O’Fallan, what did you see happen?” he asks.

I saw a demon kill a woman. “There was some kind of weird animal—maybe a dog?” I give him my best confused look and let my nerves out a little to help my voice shake. “It attacked the lady, killed her. I’ve never seen anything like it.” I swallow hard as I recall the woman getting impaled in the chest in front of a pants display. No, I’ve definitely never seen anything like that. “Then the thing came at me, jumped right on me when everyone was running out the door.” I lift my bandaged right arm.

“Then what happened?”

Then I stabbed it with my dagger, and my power turned it to ash. Because that’s totally normal.

I hid the dagger in the waist of my pants, so it’s not like they caught me with it, but I’m sure they’ll see that I fought the demon—animal—in the surveillance feed. And as much as I don’t want to mention the blade, the story has to fit. “I, uh, stabbed it. And it ran off.” My pulse picks up as I wait for his reaction.

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