This demon was, if anything, a creature of habit. He thought he was being clever and original, but he always did the same thing over and over again.
So why was it so hard for her to catch him?
Because you're getting old, said the quavering old voice in her head. She was ninety years old this year. She should have retired and handed her jurisdiction off to someone more physically capable twenty – even thirty – years ago, but she had always enjoyed the hunt, enjoyed the physical and mental challenges it presented. Demons knew her name, and knew to stay clear of her, and the past few years had been rather quiet, until Koch came along.
He had high-tailed it to the warehouse, just as she expected, and now he was standing on the catwalk, both the man and the demon leering with absolute joy. He fully expected to win today.
“Why, Lucille,” Koch cried from his position above them. The demon's voice that forced its way through was nearly a screech that wrapped itself around the rich baritone of the man he now inhabited. “Back for more I see. Let's see if we can get you into a wheelchair this time.”
Lucille said nothing. She pushed the walker in front of her as she made her way to the metal stairway. Jeff followed her, not offering to lend a hand. Good, he was behaving. When they reached the base of the stairs, she slid her large purse off of her shoulder, propping it on the frame of the walker. She reached inside and pulled out her baselard. The ancient blade had a dull sheen to it, and the handle fit into her hand perfectly.
“Are you really going to use that?” Jeff's voice was a mixture of admiration and concern.
“Nothing else has worked.”
“But you have to get so close.”
“Shut up and take this,” Lucille pushed the walker towards him. The young man moved it aside as she placed one foot on the first step. Slowly, and not with out some pain, she pulled herself up, gripping the railing with one hand and the long knife in the other. She took the next step, and paused to catch her breath. “Are you coming?” she asked Jeff.
“Uh, yeah.” He didn't make a move. She was on the second step, there was nowhere for him to go.
She took the next step, then the next. Huffing and puffing, groaning at the pain in her hip, counting all the ways she was going to make Koch pay for pushing her down the steps of the city library. After what seemed like forever she heard and felt Jeff on the steps behind her. Halfway up she paused again, and closed her eyes against the black spots that were beginning to appear.
“Should I carry you?” Jeff asked softly.
“I wouldn't let you carry me in my coffin,” Lucille snapped as Koch laughed. She readjusted her grip on the baselard and the railing, and continued her journey. Finally she was on the catwalk, where she paused again to breathe and push the pain away. This was worse than the time she had been hit by a car while hunting. That had been a good forty-five years ago. She didn't heal like she used to.
“Are you ready?” Koch said. He was only twenty feet away. The demon was barely hiding now, pushing through his vessel in a way that made the two visages meld together in a disturbing way. “Back down the stairs or over the railing?”
“You,” Lucille said turning to Jeff. “Go on up there.”
“What then?” He asked. She knew he was eager to jump in for the kill himself, but he wasn't going to get the satisfaction.
“Shake his damn hand, I don't care! Just get on up there.”
Jeff took a few steps and stopped, giving her a look like he thought he was being tricked into something. She waved him forward, irritated. Why couldn't he just do as he was told?
He turned away and straightening his shoulders he strode towards the demon, pulling a small bronze mirror from his back pocket. Lucille rolled her eyes; of course a hunter on probation for enforcement violations would be perfectly prepared and willing to violate more rules.
“Demon!” the younger hunter cried. He sounded pompous and self important. “I command you to see your true self!” He brandished the mirror at Koch.
“It won't work,” Lucille sighed. She took a few steps forward as Jeff continued.
“Look Demon! See the foul rot. See the gates of Hell in your eyes!” He was now within striking distance. Koch was staring at the polished surface of the mirror. What demons ever saw in their reflections no one knew, but it had long been established that it would push some of them out of their vessels. Lucille crept up behind Jeff as he pressed closer to her quarry. “Look!”
“Oh, I'm lookin'” Koch sneered. Then he slapped the mirror away with a movement so quick it Lucille barely registered it. The piece of bronze flew into the air, over the railing. Before it even clattered to the floor below, the demon had Jeff's head between both hands, pulling him close, breathing in deeply.
Like a warm breathe on a cold day, the soul rose out of Jeff's open mouth.
Steeling herself, Lucille darted forward with a speed she didn't think she was capable of anymore. The baselard slipped between Jeff and Koch, then between the ribs of the vessel. Koch screamed and broke away from Jeff who dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes.
“You bitch!” Koch screamed. The demon was livid with rage. The man he inhabited twisted in pain. “You bitch! I'll kill you!”
“I'm done playing games,” Lucille muttered, as Koch rushed towards her. The baselard darted forward again, and as he twisted to avoid the blade, the demon fell against the railing. In a split second he was off balance, tipping over the edge. The shout that followed sounded fully human.
Lucille turned away but couldn't avoid hearing the sound of meat and bone hitting concrete.
She leaned against the railing, breathing heavily. She wanted to rest, but knew there was no time for it.
“You were going to let it eat my soul,” Jeff's weak voice was incredulous.
“Shut up,” Lucille said. “Quit lying around and help me down the stairs. We still have to clean up.” Yes, she thought. Clean up, then maybe I might start thinking about retirement.