Kicking Trejo in the balls was a serious mistake for a number of reasons. One, Trejo is the biggest fucker I’ve ever seen in my life. Without question. Two, Trejo isn’t actually a man, so a kick to the family jewels doesn’t really have the same effect I’d have hoped. Of course, standing there sheepishly realizing all of this instead of running for my life is an even bigger mistake. Trejo’s fist, the size of your Easter ham, smacks me across the parking lot. Getting hit hurt, but not near as much as landing on my back in the middle of somebody’s piece of shit Trans Am. As glass showers all around me and I start to cough blood, Trejo utters a string of swear words so fast I can hardly tell what he’s saying.
“That’s my car you asshole!” Trejo says. Of course it is. All seven foot tall hell spawn drive dilapidated 80’s shit-mobiles. How foolish of me to land on his car. I try to pull myself up out of the smashed front end, thankful that he hasn’t broken my sarcasm, yet. He’s on me before I’m even fully upright with his sausage fingers wrapping around my neck. With a quick jerk I’m lifted clear of the wreckage of his precious Trans Am, dangling several feet from the ground. “What the fuck man? Why the fuck did you do that?” Trejo says through gritted teeth. I’m beginning to wonder the same. In my head I know why. It’s my job to hunt creatures, demons, and spirits. Well, job isn’t entirely accurate, since I don’t get paid. It’s more of a genetic heritage, like I’m the real world version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That’s the TV version, not that awful movie. Of course I’m Buffy minus the breasts, super powers, and support cast of zany friends. Really, I’m more like the Librarian, I just don’t have the cool accent either. Anyway, my internal dialogue must be dragging along because Trejo is shaking me again. “Why did you attack me?” He repeats. His fingers are wrapped so tight that the oxygen is slowing down to my brain, so all I can muster is:
“I’m…Buffy?” Not really one of my high points in my monster fighting career, but it does the trick, as Trejo starts laughing and drops me. Air. Choking back air. The ground is hot. And sharp. All I can feel is the pain where I’ve dropped into a heap on the black top. Petroleum stink fills my lungs as I’m gasping for more. My heart is racing and I’m pretty sure adrenaline is the only thing keeping me conscious. It’s all I can do to roll onto my back and get my nose out of the fucking pavement. A boot catches me across the jaw and before my head even bounces off the black top I’m out cold.
The heat is ferocious and the humidity only makes it stick to you. My bike has a full tank of gas but I only have ten more dollars to my name. I should be scanning Craigslist for odd jobs to pick up more cash, as I’ve spent the last four nights under a bridge and it would be real pick me up to sleep in a nice cool motel room tonight. Hell, it’d be nice to sleep in a shitty motel room tonight, as long as it’s cool. The only problem is, I just can’t muster the motivation to stare at the tiny screen on my prepaid smart phone, scrolling through want ads. Instead, I roll up my sleeping bag and go for a ride.
At seventy miles per hour on the open road the temperature is almost bearable. After an hour or so the desire for a big meal outweighs the more distant need of sleeping somewhere comfortable. I pull into a roadside diner and order up chicken fried steak with all the fixings. The waitress won’t get much of a tip, but I appease my guilt by telling myself that it will be my very last cent.
I’m mopping up the last of the cream gravy when I nearly choke on the piece of Texas toast I’m gnawing. The biggest fucking demon I’ve ever seen has just walked out of the kitchen and is casually chatting with my waitress. She’s all smiles, flirting and running her hand through her hair while this giant beast is looming over her. His patch work skin ripples as muscles twitch beneath the surface. His pose is calm, even friendly, but I can see the mark of a predator in his eyes. He’s smiling like a hyena over a fresh kill. I panic.
I duck out before he can see me, or I hope so. Leaning against the back wall of the diner I catch my breath. I need to do something about this guy. There are shouts and I hear footsteps coming from the other side of the diner. Shit, I forgot to pay my tab.
My bike tires squeal as I accelerate out of the parking lot, back onto the interstate. I need to be the one doing the hunting, not the one being hunted over a stupid ten dollar meal ticket. I decide to come back later, after the excitement has died down.
I check back in several times over the next week or so, never seeing my waitress again. My heart sinks when I work up the nerve to ask about her and am told, “That bitch? She just disappeared a couple of days ago. I got called in to cover for her in the middle of my day off.” Turn over is common in the food service industry. Waiters quit all the time, but as I ask around it seems that everyone is new here. Everyone, except Trejo, the line cook. The giant fucking line cook.
“So, Buffy, what’s a girl like you doing here?” He’s laughing and standing over me as I come too. I’d love to say he’s being overconfident, that this is just the edge I need, but to be honest he can squish me like a bug. My arms are dead weights at my side. My breath is ragged and I begin to wonder if he cracked a rib or two when he tossed me.
I lean my head back and try to muster a smile, figuring a smile is really fucking creepy coming from a dude that’s all bloody. Trejo doesn’t seem impressed. “I know what you are Trejo.” That’s fucking deep right? That’s a summer release blockbuster caliber one liner.
“A line cook?” Trejo seems honestly confused. To be fair, there hasn’t been an active demon hunter in this region for almost a hundred years. He may not even know that the treaty has been broken, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a demon. Part of my genetic heritage is the ability to see these things for what they are. Everyone else sees the world’s biggest Native American, but I see the massive fangs and inhuman features that betray his demonic ancestry. Of course I’m fibbing a bit, I don’t really know what he is. There is no on the job training or manual for the work I’m doing, or if there was it stopped being passed down when the truce was signed. Either way, most of my ‘arcane’ knowledge is largely guess work based on research I do on my smart phone after I spot some crazy looking monster on the street. I could make a joke about how there’s an app for that, but as it turns out, there really isn’t. I had cross referenced man eating giants and Native American myth and came up with the same result a few times, so I decided to try my bluff.
“Anaye.” I whisper the word, for dramatic effect and this time it works. He steps back a bit surprised, but then the scariest grin I’ve ever seen spreads across his scarred and twisted face. His black little eyes narrow and he inhales through his nose, sniffing me. Then he tilts his head back laughing. Score one for the crackpot internet research teams.
“Hunter.” He says. It’s not a question, he knows now that he’s bothered to think about it. I nod in response anyway. “You have come ill prepared to face one such as I.” His entire manner shifts, moments ago he was a lumbering oaf, playing the part of a big dumb human, but now every movement is precise. He’s a near immortal killer of men, but from what I’ve read he doesn’t really have any super powers beyond strength and speed. Not that that isn’t enough, really. I hope that line about being ill prepared is just ego talking, and not some supernatural ace up his sleeve. “The truce then?” He asks as he stalks around me in a circle, his steps patient and predatory.
“Excellent. And who drew first blood?”
“Me.” It was true. I had broken the century long truce between man and Othos, the Baron of this region. A pair of demons had tried to trick me into assassinating Othos to break the truce. I figured it out in time, but they’d stolen my memory and eaten my dog, so I killed the pair of them. Turns out they were related to Othos, which meant I’d unwittingly broken the treaty anyway.
“Impressive.” He pauses. “How long ago?”
“Awhile ago. Friend me on Facebook and I’ll be sure to keep you up to date.”
“You are not amusing, hunter.” He looks around with eyes wide. “It has been so long since I killed openly.” He shivers. “This is truly exciting news, you make me very happy this night.”
“Killed openly?” I say. I know he’s been killing, that’s why I’m here. I can feel it, but I want to hear the confirmation from him.
“A demon has to eat. The treaty provided that there would be no open violence between man and demon, but it can not be expected that I would slowly starve to death for Othos’ pathetic peace treaty.”
“Delicious. A few weeks in this greasy shit hole is like a slow marinade.” He grins again. I slowly move to a crouch, testing to see how much attention he is paying me. He doesn’t flinch, either because he doesn’t notice or simply isn’t afraid of me. My back is killing me, so I try to straighten up, and he still isn’t paying any attention to me. My heart starts racing. This may be my chance, I think to myself. My right hand inches behind my back toward the hand cannon that I keep tucked in my belt. Its weight is a comfort to me, as I wrap my hands around the handle to pull it free. I’d never cared for guns before I held this one, but the moment I laid my hands on this master piece it was damn near erotic. I pull the gun and level it at his face. It is fucking majestic. A high caliber beast, with a shine on it like you would not believe. Elaborate scroll work covers every inch of the metal body of the antique revolver and the walnut grips are lacquered like glass. I pull back the hammer and it sounds like I’m knocking on the gates of hell. I can feel warmth pulsing from the gun and straight up my arm, it wants to fire and put an end to this monster. I’m not positive, but Samuel L. Jackson might have envied my pose at this moment.
Trejo just laughs at me, like the pecker that he is. “What kind of toy is this?” Before I can blink the gun is skittering across the pavement. Trejo’s teeth sink into my shoulder and he lifts me off the ground as he arches his back and shakes me. I’m probably screaming like a little girl, but I really can’t feel or perceive anything other than the white hot pain where his teeth are gripping bone. I reach up and jab at his eyes with my thumbs. I’m not sure if I connect or if there’s just so much blood that he looses his grip. Either way I fly out of his jaws and kiss pavement for the second time tonight. I’m embarrassed as hell, in pain, and most likely bleeding to death. I lift my head and scan for my gun. I can’t see it, but it’s calling to me. I start to drag myself towards it, the black top scratching at me through my shirt. Trejo is behind me laughing and probably licking the blood off his face or some other ridiculously cliche evil thing. Fuck. He kicks me and I roll, but I can still feel the gun drawing closer. I keep with the roll, willing my self to keep moving. One more flailing grasp and my hand connects with the gun’s handle. Warmth and comfort spreads from the grip all the way up my arm. I roll and target him.
“That will not work on me.” He says with a sneer.
I know that he’s wrong, the gun is telling me so as it begs for me to fire. This gun was supposedly crafted from the steel of Excalibur, yeah, King Arthur’s fucking sword. At least, the gun told me that. In a dream. I’ve never had a conversation with another gun, so it’s hard to gauge if this one’s a liar. Yes, I realize I might be bat shit crazy. I let the hammer drop and faster than you can perceive it gun powder ignites, rocketing a steel jacketed slug of lead down the rifled barrel that is also inscribed with all kinds of runes and gibberish that I can only vaguely see when I’m cleaning the gun. I don’t know what those runes say, but I load the gun with standard ammunition and something entirely different comes out the business end. Just like that Trejo’s head disappears like meat confetti. His body slumps to the ground, a black smoldering stump left where his neck was.
I limp over to my motorcycle as I slide the cannon back into my belt. I use my t-shirt to mop the sweat and blood from my brow before I dig into the saddle bags hanging from the side of the Vincent Black Shadow. Fully restored, this bike would be another one of those pieces of hardware that can inspire an erection. I keep meaning to do more work on it, and maybe in my past life I would have gotten around to it. I still don’t have my memory back but this was registered in my name at a time before the demon brothers A and B came knocking on my door. It’s my only real link to who I was. Well, that and my addictions. I find the hard edge of the tiny cardboard box in the bottom of the saddle bag. I pull it free and begin tearing the cellophane wrapper off the pack of cigarettes. Apparently nicotine addiction is more powerful than the complete erasure of your memory. My hands are a little shaky, so it takes a few strikes of the lighter before I’m inhaling bliss. I pull hard and the hot smoke burns its way down my throat and fills my lungs. I hold onto it for a few heart beats then blow it out through my nose before repeating. I start to feel more human as the ritual calms my nerves. I turn to look back at the headless corpse of Trejo and let out a heavy sigh. Another difference between my work and that of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is that the corpses I make don’t vanish in a tidy puff of dust. Least, not as yet. Three hundred pounds of demon meat has to be disposed of before anyone else stumbles upon it. Well, I assume that’s one of the rules anyway. Most of my ideas about what a demon hunter is supposed to do are formulated off all the shitty movies I’ve been watching since I got this job. Like I said, there is no official manual and it isn’t in the yellow pages, so, I just try to do my best. Its almost 3 AM, so I have a few hours before sun up and five or so until this shitty little road side restaurant opens. My eyes flick between the body and the greasy diner. A bit of arson may be in order.
I pat my pockets, filled to the brim with the liberated contents of Trejo’s wallet and the restaurant’s cash register. I haven’t been doing this long enough to feel no shame in the petty theft, but an empty stomach has a loud voice. I smile as the vision of an air conditioned hotel room flashes before my eyes. I haven’t won the war. Hell, I don’t even know what the war is, but tonight is mine. I’m still breathing and there is one less demon on the streets. As I straddle my bike and light another menthol I take a mental picture of what a badass I must look like, covered in blood, gunning the throttle as I ride away from the huge belching flames. Yeah, eat your heart out Buffy.