A Preview

This is the first chapter of my newest book.  The one I put 16,000 words on in 2 days.

It doesn’t have a title yet and this chapter hasn’t been edited.  Enjoy… Hopefully.  Note this work in progress is copyrighted Hadena James 2018

“Miss Burn?” A uniformed officer said to me. I didn’t meet his eyes. I was busy watching someone destroy the food court of the shopping center we were all standing in. Or rather, it used to be someone, was my thought as he picked up a table that was bolted to the floor and hurled it and the chunk of concrete at it’s base into an Arby’s. It took out the cash register and slammed into their shake machine before clattering noisily to the floor.
The police were ready to shoot him, not that it was going to do much good. He was already missing part of the flesh from his face. I’d been told he’d died in a car accident five days earlier and that part of his face had been peeled off by a steel I-beam when he compacted his SUV against the tail end of a flatbed tractor trailer.
Zombies were strong and fierce and didn’t feel physical pain. I’d dealt with them before, However, zombies are still people. Their soul is reintroduced to their dead body using magic and after a short orientation period, they tend to be rather gentle. Unfortunately, this guy wasn’t a traditional zombie. The spirit that inhabited him, wasn’t his, it wasn’t even human.
Which meant there were two problems facing the police at this moment, first the zombie in the food court, and second, a black magic practitioner had pulled a demon through the gate way, and put it into this poor guy’s dead body.
I was supposed to weaken the demon enough that it could be exorcised and sent back through the gate way. The local police had their own exorcist, a lovely woman who was a witch and had some psychic power.   Demons gain power from fear. The more chaos they create, the stronger they get. I was of angelic stock and my very presence was calming and gave everyone a warm fuzzy feeling. Without fear feeding the demon, he’d eventually run out of steam and the demonic zombie would slump to the ground, unable to throw any more tables or chase after anyone.
I was also the back-up for the witch, if she failed to send the demon back to The Stygian Plane, then I would do it. I often get asked why I don’t do it in the first place, I was stronger than the witch, especially when it came to the demonic and exorcisms, but I didn’t really have an answer. I guessed it had something to do with the police department paying the witch large sums of money to deal with things like this.
As long as I didn’t do the exorcism myself, they wouldn’t have to pay large sums of money to both of us. Well, I worked for the federal government, so my fee would go to them, and I would get paid only a small portion of it. Most police departments employed a witch or three, or had one as a consultant they could call as need be.
Which is why I worked for the federal government instead of a local law enforcement unit, I wasn’t a witch and there was rarely a need for a nephilim to be present at a police station. Watching the demonic zombie throw another table into another food vendor, I understood why my sister worked in customer service. Even with me here, the happy happy joy joy feelings weren’t strong enough and the demonic zombie wasn’t weakening. I touched the officer closest to me and watched a relaxed look pass over his face. Slowly, I went down the line touching all of them.
It was incredibly difficult to stay afraid after literally being touched by an angel. Or half angel in my case. Feeling his power start to slip, the demonic zombie rushed towards us. Gunshots began to ring out. The zombie’s head jerked to and fro as the bullets hit it. Usually shooting a zombie in the head, releases the spirit trapped inside the body. But I had never met a zombie animated by a demon.
Demons lived in another existence, a realm that was hard to exit to enter the world of humans. It was called The Stygian Plane, a dark place full of demons and other monsters. This zombie did not go down, regardless of the fact that he was missing a lot of his head. The body was still up and moving around. He was still trying to initiate fear in the police that stood around him. If he could get enough power, he could heal the dead body and make it serviceable to him again.
I had been in the mall when this all started. I was shopping for a dress to wear to my sister and her husband’s vow renewal ceremony, which was a ridiculous farce in my opinion that I didn’t want to attend, but our mom and dad would not be happy with me if I missed it.
The older cops all stood their ground, against the angry demonic zombie. A few of the younger cops though, their hands were starting to shake again. I considered calling my father and having him come down and help me keep everyone calm. He would have done it in a heart beat, but afterwards, he’d probably lecture me about practicing with my power more, and lecturing me on how if I had just tried, I could have done it without him. He was big on being independent and part of that was practicing my gifts, which I didn’t do. Police officers were usually steady as a rock and able to bite back their fears easily with me around.
So I didn’t call him, instead, I walked back over to the officer I saw whose hands were still shaking a little. I put my hand on his shoulder and leaned in to whisper to him. I reassured him that this was probably the worst magic he’d ever see and that if he could control his fear today, in this very moment, he would have a long and successful career.
His hands stopped shaking and the witch began to do her thing. A spell left her lips and I felt magic begin to gather. The zombie fell into a kneeling position, the demon’s magic not strong enough to continue to keep the dead muscles taut. The magic got stronger and I could see the wisps of it building in the witch’s energy. When she let it go, it swirled around the zombie, entered it, trying to separate the body from the spirit that inhabited it. There was a struggle that I doubted most of the cops could see, her magic flaring here and there as it clashed with the demon’s.
Then the zombie stood back up and the energy around demon swelled to three times what it had been. Shit. I suddenly realized that she had never gone up against a demon and she had just lost, probably due to her fear and a mistake that I hadn’t realized she had made.
“Get the demon’s name!” I shouted to her. The brand on my arm was brightly lit, shining bright enough that it could be seen even through the sleeve of the shirt I had on. Somehow I had missed that she hadn’t gotten his name, probably because I had spent thirty minutes trying to get everyone calm enough that the demon could be exorcized by a simple spell.
Demons were maddeningly strong, sometimes even powerful witches couldn’t exorcize them, it was worse if there was a source of fear near by, because it was constantly refueling the magic, for every bit he expended there was more to replace it, when terrified beings were near.
Instead of asking the demon for it’s name, she dropped to one knee and drew a piece of chalk from her pocket. A few heart beats later, she had a circle drawn around her, a circle she imagined the demon couldn’t cross, because most magic couldn’t. I didn’t tell her any different.
She faced the demon and demanded his name, her voice small and squeaky. That’s when I realized that she was too afraid to perform the magic needed to exorcize this demon. However, we needed more exorcists in the world and I didn’t want to undermine her confidence. I debated with myself how long it would take for her to compose herself enough to do the deed and was I willing to stand there and wait.
I didn’t have much patience, not really. And dealing with demons made me cranky in general. I didn’t tell people that the brand hurt when it was emitting light, it burned like hell fire, probably because that’s what had made it. The archangel Uriel had givenit to me after I had passed his course in exorcizing the demonic. It marked me as a certified exorcist. And while I technically worked for the government, as one of only twenty certified exorcists in the world, I was allowed to freelance as well.
Everyone that worked with police departments were supposed to take courses with Uriel. Most would not become certified exorcists, but he taught witches, vampires, werewolves, mortals, and even Nephilim how to deal with the demonic, even if they weren’t certified exorcistts by the end of it.
“Use a forceful voice and demand his name,” I whispered to her. She tried again and was only slightly less squeaky than she had been. “He can’t come near you as long as I am here.” This wasn’t exactly true. He could, but he wouldn’t. Demons didn’t like being forced to feel happy. Uriel believed it actually hurt them. Her voice was barely louder than a whisper as she demanded his name. He laughed at her. I shrugged.
“Watch me,” I told her. “Demon, I command you to tell me your name!” I shouted at the thing animating the zombie.
“Go to Hell, Angel, you have no command over me.”
“Demon, if you do not volunteer your name, I will take it by force,” I told him. All demons had their names imprinted on them. If I walked over and touched him, he wouldn’t have to say a word, and I’d still know his name.
“Azazel,” he croaked as I took a step towards him. I looked at the witch, she was trying to gather her magic back together. When this was over, I was going to give her Uriel’s card and remind her to take his courses in demonology. There were ways witches could force the name from demons too, I just didn’t know how they did it, because I wasn’t a witch.
As the wtich began her exorcism spell again, my cell phone rang. It was my boss. I sent it to voicemail with a text that read “dealing with demon, let me call you back.” It was one of the standard responses I had programed into the phone, since it seemed everyone on the planet felt the need to call when I was dealing with demons. Or perhaps, I dealt with demons too often. I wasn’t sure which.
A swirling red oblong doorway appeared in front of the demonic zombie. The body shuddered and then fell completely, the energy that moved around it disappearing. And with a small popping noise, the demon was gone, returned to the Stygian.
Several of the cops thanked me as they started to take pictures of the damage. I turned to the witch. She was cute, but young, probably not old enough to drink alcohol legally in a bar yet.
I dug out Uriel’s card and handed it to her. She flipped it over in her hands and stared at it. It had Uriel’s cell number as well as the number of his school and the address of it.
“You need demon training,” I told her. “Uriel has classes specifically tailored for witches.”
“This was my second one,” she told me, looking defiant.
“How’d you manage to get rid of the first?” I asked and the look disappeared. “With a little training, you will be able to better control your fear around them, learn to be forceful, and learn how to get their name even when they are being uncooperative.”
“But I got the information on the witch who called it, I was able to find and read their magic.”
“That’s good, but you still need training,” I reiterated. “Azazel is a lesser demon, not particularly strong. If it had been a stronger demon or more than one, he’d still be throwing tables around the food court.”
In my head, I added, or worse, because even Azazel could have killed someone and then his magic would have been even stronger and her little circle wouldn’t have done much, except trap her and her magic inside.
I redialed my boss’s phone number. He answered on the first ring, meaning his cell phone was in his hand.
“Aren’t you supposed to be off this weekend?” He asked instead of saying hello.
“I was shopping when a zombie entered the food court and began tearing things up.” I replied.
“Your text said you were dealing with a demon,” he countered.
“I was. A zombie animated by a demon.”
“You don’t see that very often.” Azrael said to me. “Can I call you in off your vacation?”
“Considering the reason for my vacation, yes, please.” I said.
“Good becuase I think I need the strongest exorcist I have to accompany a Fugative Recovery Team in Chicago.”
“Okay, why?” I asked.
“Do you remember checking out a murderer named Don Rabbling?” He said after a moment.
“Yeah, killed his entire family, claimed a demon made him do it. He was not possessed.” I answered.
“Maybe not at that moment, but this morning, he bent the bars on his cell in Joliet and escaped taking out a few steel doors along the way. I think it’s safe to say he’s possessed now.”
“Are we thinking he made a deal with demons after he was incarcerated?” I asked, dreading the response.
“Maybe, or maybe he was making a deal when he murdered his family, but since demons don’t work in our time frame, they were slow about possessing him.”
“That is not awesome.” I said dryly.
‘No, it’s not. I’ll call Raphael and explain.”
“Thanks,” I said and hung up.

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