The Monster Hunters
The Heavy Metal Exorcism
SOLDIER FIELD IS PROUD TO PRESENT
TONIGHT FOR ONE SHOW ONLY
“Honestly, I expected something, I don’t know, clever,” Dr. Griffin Wells, the teams scout and forensics expert, turned to the others on the sidewalk, “they went with Beezle’s Band. It’s like they want us to know they’re from hell.”
Lieutenant Sarah Parker of the Chicago PD looked at him, “what were you expecting, Idle Hands?”
Wells thought about it for a second, “No, it’s probably taken.”
“If we’re done with the music critique,” asked Douglas Wulf, close-quarters fighter and wilderness survival expert, as he stood in the back of the truck loading magazines with green rings painted on them into his pistols. He then turned, faced out the back of the truck, and handed extra magazines to Wells and Rabbi Adam Stein, expert in religious studies and heavy weapons operator.
Adam took the rounds and went back to performing the last few steps of the ritual cleansing of his gear. Once he had finished he placed the purple linen sash, called a tallit, over his shoulders. He removed the Star of David from inside his blue turtle neck and let it dangle down the front of his chest, outside his armor. It was an old star, heavy and black, made from iron over two hundred years ago. He then took a large, and very old copy of the Torah from a special drawer lined with white felt in one of the cabinets, just inside the rear door. He placed the Torah carefully in a satchel with several glass vials filled with water. After he was finished he slung the satchel over his shoulder and secured it with a magazine.
Sarah looked at the three assembled before her, “where’s the rest of the team?”
“We’ve left messages for Albert,” said Adam, “hopefully he’ll join us before too long but we can’t wait.” He glanced over at the setting sun, “we may have waited too long as it is. Once the sun sets they’ll be more powerful.”
“What about Blake?”
Adam pulled a micro headset out and handed it to Sarah who placed it in her ear. Then he held his hand up with three fingers extended. “How many fingers Blake?”
Blake Lagoona, the newest recruit trained in aquatic operations and a gifted sniper, was mute so the team had come up with a unique way of communicating and after a short pause they heard three clicks over the radio.
Adam smiled, “good to hear from you,” then to Sarah, “that’s the other reason we were late, we had to drop him off. He’s over at One Museum Park so he could get up high enough to cover us.”
“Okay,” Sarah said, “sounds like we’re ready to head in.”
Wells turned to face her, “you’re adorable.”
“I’m not letting you guys go in alone. I’m going with you.”
Wulf looked down at her for a moment, “Ok.” he turned back into the truck and started rummaging through some of the lockers.
Adam turned to the back of the truck, “Wulf, you can’t be serious?”
“We’re down a man, we have extra vests, and a spare helmet. There’s a spare beanbag gun, and we have plenty of ammo. This is quicker than arguing, plus she’s just going to follow us in and this way she’ll have support, and equipment. What kind of gun do you use?”
It took Sarah a moment to realize the last comment was directed at her. “Glock 22 and I have my own vest.”
Wulf dropped out of the back of the truck with an arm load of gear, “and I’m sure it’s excellent protection against mobsters, bikers, and muggers.”
“Oh my,” said Wells.
Wulf held up one of their vests showing her the back which was inscribed with a series of glowing white runes. “The runes on this will protect you from far more than bullets.”
Sarah removed her police issue vest and put on the teams. She secured her holster on over the new vest and adjusted the straps, then she hung a police issue baton from her belt. She quickly checked each piece of equipment to make sure she could draw her weapons smoothly.
“Speaking of bullets.” He handed her three magazines of ammo for her Glock with the green lines on them. “Demons are pretty solid, you’ll need these. They’re Teflon and should punch a hole in their hides.”
Sarah took the magazines, “Teflon bullets are illegal.” She ejected her own magazine and placed the new magazine in the gun making sure to chamber a round.
“Since we’re shooting demons not cops, I think you can give us a pass.” With a final movement he handed her a beanbag shotgun, “The first several people we’ll face will be mind controlled thralls, so we use these.”
Sarah’s phone rang and she pulled it from her pocket, looked at the screen. “Good it’s my contact in the stadium.”
Adam spun on her, “you’ve got a man in the stadium?”
“He’s in the control booth he can’t hear them.” She answered the phone with a crisp, “Parker.” She spoke quickly and quietly to the person on the other end and after a brief conversation she got a relieved look on her face. She turned to the team, “I think we’re okay guys. Ernie says the stadium’s being bathed in a Heavenly white light. So, this might not be what we thought.”
Wulf cursed grabbed Sarah’s phone and took off for Soldier Field at a dead run. Adam screamed, “let’s get in there!” Then he and Wells turned, weapons in hand and took off just behind Wulf. Sarah paused only the barest flicker of a second before running after them while securing the loaner helmet into place, all the while trying to figure out exactly what was wrong.
Sarah caught up as they were passing through the front doors by the ticket counter. “I don’t understand. What’s the big deal?”
“Once your done get out.” Wulf hung up the phone and handed it back to Sarah. “White light was the Devils greatest trick.”
The team approached the first set of doors and fell into an easy pattern of covering each other as they went. “White light,” Adam began, “is evil. Most people think it’s Godly, but that’s the trick of it. White is cold, frozen, lifeless, empty it‘s the color of death. Red is the color of God and good. It’s love, lust, passion; it’s alive, vibrant.”
“But the Bible…”
“The Bible says Hell is the absence of God’s love. In hell you burn but are never consumed, only cold does that. The Devil convinced humanity that white light is the color of God, Heaven, and purity. It’s the greatest lie he ever told.”
* * *
As they exited the locker room and approached the field they heard the sound of the band, but the crowd was frighteningly quiet. Wulf raised a hand to stop the group and looked back at Sarah, “we have a lot of rules that keep us alive and we don’t have time to go through them all. The one you must know, Rule Number One: we never split up. If you can’t see at least two other people, you’re out of position and you’re going to die. If you see something that needs handling, you let the team know and we all handle it. Splitting up is a death sentence. We clear?”
“Good, once we go out there, we’re gonna face some thralls, until we get closer to the stage. At which point, Blake will step in and take out the sound system. He’ll also cover us if necessary. Adam’s gonna exorcise the band, and the three of us will keep everything off of him. The roadies are going to be particularly nasty, since they’ve been exposed to the band the longest. Once the demons are pushed out of the band they’ll manifest and it’ll be up to us to take ‘em out. That’s when we go to the real weapons. On the plus side, your friend Ernie is actually gonna be real helpful once we hit the field.
“Everybody ready?” Once everyone had indicated they were ready, “Wells, call it when it’s clear.”
Wells hugged the wall to the end of the tunnel then looked out waiting for a long moment. Sarah could feel her heart pounding as she always did in these situations. She heard Adam mumble, “Blake, we’re going in. Two clicks.” and then the radio clicked twice in her ear.
Wells held up a hand with three fingers out stretched and everyone in the hall tensed. He slowly counted down, dropping one finger at every heartbeat. Two. One. Wells stepped forward into the light of the field and cried, “hike!”
They moved out onto the field, coming out near the end zone. The stadium was filled to capacity and several hundred people stood quietly on the field swaying gently even though the loud music forcing it’s way off the stage was of an extreme tempo. The entire stadium was in fact bathed in what Sarah would have called a beautiful white light just twenty minutes ago. Beezle’s Band was set up in the far end-zone; a massive stage surrounded by huge speakers was built up against the goal posts. All through the stadium signs of the band had taken over even most of the stadiums Bears logos had been covered by hanging banners of the various band members.
The team moved forward quickly, keeping their beanbag guns constantly tracking the nearby crowd in case something happened.
As they approached the twenty yard line, the stadium sound system, which apparently the band wasn’t using as part of the concert, kicked on. As they passed the thirty a new song began to fight against Maggot Mother, the bands newest hit. The forty yard line and the new song slowly began to grow in volume competing with the bands own music. Forty-five, the new song tickled the back of Sarah’s mind and she could almost identify it over Maggot Mother.
Sarah noticed that some of the nearby crowd was getting agitated, and as they passed the fifty yard line several audience members were beginning to look at them. The song on the PA reached a pitch comparable to the band as the first member of the audience turned to attack them and that’s when Sarah recognized the music. Ode to Joy caught up to Maggot Mother as a large man with a blue Mohawk turned and screamed at the team while charging forward. Wulf’s shotgun barked and the beanbag struck Mohawk in the face flipping him over backwards. Mohawk hung in the air for a long moment, the stadium paused as if holding it’s breath and then he slammed into the ground and the world exploded in rage.
Several members of the crowd let out a bestial, primal howl and started running towards the team. A gangly shirtless boy, no older than fifteen angled directly for Sarah, she planted her feet instinctively and put a bag in the boys stomach. The boy’s slight frame pulled up short and he gasped for breath as he staggered backwards. A woman pushed past him and charged the team; Wells gun fired past Sarah’s head catching the woman in the chest and knocking her backwards into the boy.
They pressed on, firing their shotguns at any one who got too close. They became a deadly dance of chaos and response. As they approached the forty more and more crowd began to move in on them; people were stepping on the fallen to reach the team. Some stumbled and in that moment of unexpected gravity a beanbag would catch them in the chest or gut and push them backwards.
At the thirty several more audience members. More than they could take individually started coming, Sarah had to aim her shots to put fallen targets in the way of approaching new ones. Still, the screaming crowd came on.
When they reached the twenty she saw Adam’s gun click empty, so he threw it forward, smashing an attacker in the face. Then as more approached, he raised his huge foot and kicked one of the crowd in the chest shoving him backward and knocking him to the ground. He picked up one man in his massive hands and hurled him into the crowd.
Wells had started using his gun as a club and was braining people who got to close. Sarah fired her last round as a huge man with a beer gut broke through the crowd and charged. Sadly the shot only staggered him and after taking a step backwards. Beergut shook his head and finished his approach.
Sarah dropped the now-empty shotgun and pulled the baton from her belt loop. Holding it with a practiced grip, she changed her stance to give her a lower center of gravity and swung the stick up between Beergut’s legs knocking the momentum out of him and dropping him to his knees.
As the crowd began to overwhelm them and push them towards one another Adam called out, “I’m making a path, follow me.” With that he dropped his shoulder like a line backer and hurtled forward toward the end zone and the stage. Protecting the satchel the whole way – as if it were the football that would win the big game – he pushed through the crowd. With every step he knocked people out of his way; some got pushed to the side and some fell backwards landing on the ground where Adam promptly stepped on them.
The team fell in behind him racing to keep ahead of a crowd closing like the red sea after Moses lowered his arms. Something, someone clipped Sarah and she started to lose her balance. Wulf reached out with inhuman speed and half-steadied/half-drug her the rest of the way. The whole time angry shouts and faces lunged at her from the crowd.
Suddenly, they tumbled forward onto grass, the crowd behind them pushing up to the ten yard line but not past it. One man, who’d gotten caught in front of Adam, was now scrambling back over the line to be with the rest of the crowd. “Live weapons hot,” Wulf called out. Everyone started drawing their principal guns; Wells pausing only long enough to turn and hurl the Beanbag shotgun into the crowd, hitting a man in the front row in the face, splitting his nose open.
Adam drew the Torah from inside his satchel and opened to an old book mark in one smooth motion with the same sense of purpose Sarah used when pumping a shotgun. He started reading from the book in Hebrew, holding his Star of David out in front of him. Though she’d never been particularly religious, his words filled her with calm. His deep voice intoning words written thousands of years ago seemed to echo off the walls even louder than the music.
Sarah gripping her Glock called to Wulf, “what about the crowd?”
“The compulsion that binds them to the band won’t let them get any closer. We don’t have to worry about the crowd; we do have to worry about them,” he nodded forward to both sides of the stage where two groups of huge men with discolored skin carrying various large tools approached slowly trying to gauge the teams ability.
“Are these people?”
Wulf watched them approach, “not anymore, the skins not right, they’ve been corrupted too far.”
Wells nodded his head to the left, “check out shades.” He was indicating a large man, slightly taller than Adam, two small horns protruded from his temples and a trickle of blood down the side of his face showed they were a recent addition. A large tattoo ran down his left arm showing different odd symbols. “That tat marks him, he joined willingly.”
“That’s a master’s mark,” said Wulf, “he probably summoned them. Wulf’s head quickly moved back and forth between the two groups slowly forming a circle around them. “Thirteen roadies. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we found the coven that summoned these bastards.”
One of the smaller roadies lunged forward, “good enough for me!” Wells yelled firing his sawed-off at the roadie, blowing a hole through his chest.
Suddenly, the field was bathed in sparks as one of the speakers exploded shaking the entire stage and the roadies swarmed the team. Sarah heard Wulf’s twin pistols firing off to her side as she opened up with her Glock. She fired with the kind of precision born of hours on the firing range. Two shots center mass, next target. By the time they reached her, she’d dropped three.
The first one to reach her hit her hard across the chest with a large chunk of piping. She fell backwards, even through the vest she stung with pain. He hit her again as she fell, she twisted her body to catch herself. Another speaker exploded as she hit the ground. She felt a thick heavy hand fall on her back. The place it touched grew warm, and she heard her attacker let out a scream of agony. As the hand jerked away she stood herself up and turned to see her attacker backing up, his hand on fire.
She pulled her weapon up, held in both hands and put two in his chest. He fell backwards; the fire spreading from his hand to his clothes and filling the air with an acrid smoke. She was momentarily blinded as another speaker exploded. She blinked twice and her sight came clear in time to watch one of the roadies grappling with Wells. Wells held the roadie at bay with one hand, the creature clawing at his arm, as he shoved his sawed-off into the beasts neck and fired. The creature’s body lurched backwards gripping Well’s wrist as his head shot up into the air, over the stage, and through the goalposts. “And the kick is good.” Wells, pumped his fist into the air, except Sarah noticed that his arm ended at his sleeve. His hand was gone. She was about to scream when she realized there was no blood.
Her attention was drawn by Wulf who was going toe-to-toe with Shades; now the last standing roadie. Wulf had dropped his pistols and was dancing around his opponent with his two knives flashing in his hands. Shades stood and swiped at Wulf with his bare hands, now ending in long lethal looking claws. The claws hit Wulf’s sleeve and sparks danced off the armor. As Wulf dodged around his foe he lashed out, cutting him across the chest and arms.
As Sarah watched looking for an opening where she could help, she noticed Shade’s wounds healing nearly as quickly as Wulf made them. She started to step forward when Wells stepped in her path. Wulf slashed across Shade’s stomach with both blades and then dropped down and rolled between his legs. As he passed under Shades, Wells fired both barrels on the sawed-off. A huge rent appeared across Shades back and he staggered forward.
Wulf jumped up and slammed both of his knives into Shade’s neck. Then, Wulf wrapped his legs around Shade’s midsection, shoving one of his feet into the hole in Shade’s back for leverage, Wulf twisted both knives. Shades let out a shriek of frustrated anger that faded to a soft gurgle as Wulf, using every last ounce of his strength to sever the tendons in his neck, and kept cutting until his head fell backwards and to one side. As Shades fell backwards, blood fountaining up from his neck, Wulf loosened his legs and landed standing up, straddling the dead body. With a final burst of noise and light the last speaker exploded. With the band’s playing barely audible from even eight yards away, Sarah could still hear Ode to Joy and Adam’s prayer echoing through the stadium.
“Reload,” Wulf cried. Sarah moved to eject her magazine and slam a new one home then she turned to help Wells with his. He stood having just finished adjusting the glove on his left hand and beginning to load new shells into the sawed-off. If she didn’t know any better, she’d never be able to tell there wasn’t a hand there.
They finished loading their weapons and stepped forward, towards Adam, moving in-between him and the stage. They waited, listening to his prayer drone on and the band’s music began to falter. Small mistakes at first; a broken note, a missed change over, then the drummers sticks fell to the ground. The singer staggered, his arms going limp and the microphone slowly falling from his fingers.
Wulf flexed his shoulders to loosen them, “get ready.”
The guitarist was the last one to stop; the notes were off, his playing broken and tired. His pick tumbled from his fingers and he played on, blood beginning to cover his Gibson. Finally even that slowly halted, and he slid to his knees, the beloved guitar clutched to his chest. There was a long pause and Ode to Joy ended, and after a short pause, began looping back into existence.
Suddenly an explosion of white light caused the team to turn their heads and the forms of four demons bound up out of the band. Huge bat-like wings unfolded as they began to move toward the sky. A sudden jerk and one of the beasts hurled backward into the stages backdrop. Adam dropped to one knee dug into his satchel and screamed, “Fire!”
The three of them opened up with their weapons, by unspoken agreement they each aimed for the one they lined up with. Sarah was targeting a particularly grotesque fat demon that had appeared over the bass player. His long wings and thick claws glistened with some sort of bluish ooze. Every shot she fired hit it in the chest and as the last bullet left her gun she ejected the magazine with one hand while drawing up her final one with the other.
She slammed it home as the demon staggered on the stage near the bassist who and fallen unconscious to the floor. The demon tried to scream out, for a brief moment it locked eyes with her and she could see everything she could ever want: money, fame, love, her brother back, everything.
The demon reeled as a glass vial broke open on its chest. Sarah blinked paused the barest part of a second and then opened fire once again. She fired, every shot hitting her target in the chest. She fired until the gun was empty and kept on shooting, the slide pushed back, and the trigger wouldn’t squeeze anymore, and still she pulled on. Emotion coiled out of her and she screamed. Finally, in a fit of spent energy she took the gun and hurled it at the stage, pelting the dissolving body of the demon that had tried to use her brother’s death to woo her.
Suddenly Adam was there, he held her in his massive arms. “It’s going to be okay.” And she cried.
* * *
They stood outside the stadium near the tactical truck. They sat in the midst of a sea of police and rescue vehicles. Sarah looked around at people who she worked with on a regular basis. “What do we tell them?”
“We have a good friend in electronics, she’ll make the roadies look like terrorists with a nerve agent by this time tomorrow.” Adam sipped at some horrible coffee, “Don’t tell them the truth, those that believe you will never admit it, and those that don’t will banish you to the bowels of the weird case files. You’ll be a crack pot for the rest of your days.”
“How do you do it? Deal with all of this?
“We’ve dealt with the supernatural longer than I care to think about.”
Blake walked up carrying a Barrett .50 caliber rifle over his shoulder and stowed it in the back of the truck, pausing only long enough to wave at Sarah.
Wulf walked up, “let’s head out before they start asking too many questions about exactly who the hell we are.”
Adam stood emptied his cup and walked to the front patting Sarah on the shoulder.
“See you doll-face.” Wells started to pull himself up into the back of the truck.
Sarah looked at Wells, still in his tactical armor, helmet and all, even though Wulf and Adam had geared down. “Wells, I saw your hand in there.”
The team froze.
Wells slowly turned to face her, “look, it’s just that I…”
“It’s okay, I don’t care that you have a prosthetic. I don’t know what happened that made you want to hide yourself, but you don’t have to hide who you are from me. I don’t care how bad you think it is.”
Wells knelt down so their faces were level. Sarah met the eyes of her reflection in the visor. “I appreciate that. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll show you what’s behind this face mask.” He touched his forehead to hers and put his hand on the back of her head. Then, he silently stood and closed the door.