August 27, 2012
Jack’s fingers clutched around the throwing knife he still had in his fist. His lips formed into a snarl as he watched the possessed body, of what had one been the rancher known as Ed, pressed one of Jack’s own knives against Carrie’s pulsing jugular vein.
She was still bound and gagged, but her eyes pleaded with an intensity that made Jack want to snap the Ravor’s neck, but he knew killing these Xemmoni would only mean they would possess and kill another victim, but there had to be a way for him to take them out and save what was left of Carrie and her family.
Blank eyes stared at him from over a slack jawed expression. The Ravor’s possession had caused Ed’s skin to hang in loose folds. The figure said a bizarre tangle of syllables toward his partner, who Jack hoped remained unconscious. Luckily, the second Razor didn’t stir.
He was just contemplating whether or not he could somehow hit the Ravor with his dagger without either killing Carrie or killing it, when the hollow voice of the Ravor said, “Drop the knife Stalwart. You know it will not do you any good.”
He was about to comply, when Carrie must had managed to push back with her feet. The top of the chair hit the Xemmoni in the chest and it stumbled back a pace. That was all the opening Jack needed. He took a large step forward throwing his knife as he came. The blade sunk deep into the Ravor’s weapon arm and it dropped the knife it had been holding.
But Jack didn’t stop there. His booted foot took the Ravor in the center of his chest and sent him flying back into the staircase. The bottom step tripped it up and the Xemmoni fell onto its back.
“Goodnight,” Jack said, with a twisted grin, and brought the heel of his boot down on the thing’s forehead. Once again, it lost consciousness.
After checking on the other unconscious Ravor, he tied them up with torn curtains that he quickly sliced into strips with his war dagger. All the while, Carrie was trying to scream at him through her gag. When he finally finished binding their wrists and ankles, he hurried to her side and began to set her free.
As soon as he gag was removed. She yelled, “What the hell is going on. What’s the matter with my husband? Where is my brother?”
It broke his heart to have to tell her the truth and he focused on her bonds as he said, “I’m afraid they’re both dead.”
“What are you talking about? My husband is right there.”
“I know this doesn’t even come close to making sense, but they have each been possessed by foul…Demons. When these creatures possess you, the soul of the host dies. Even if the body still lives, what was your husband is dead.”
Tears welled up n her eyes. “I’ve been seeing things that seem impossible, but nothing could be as impossible as that. How could such things be?”
Her husband’s voice sounded from the other side of the sofa. Much of its hollowed nature was concealed. “It is impossible, honey. I think this freak has drugged us. He murdered Hank and wants to do who knows what to you and the kids.”
“John…” Her was voice uncertain.
“Carrie, don’t listen. It’s a trick! Think about all you’ve just seen. What he’s saying doesn’t make sense.”
“You’ve been drugged too. Of course nothing makes sense. Set me free, before he hurts the kids.”
Jack had been freeing their daughter and was on the far side of the table when Carrie reached down and snatched up the fallen knife and began to run toward her bound husband.
“Carrie no!” He yelled. He started after her, but with his wounds and her head start he doubted he could make it in time.
August 20, 2012
Jack had already dived to the side as he heard the crack of the rifle. He tried to catch himself with his one good hand. This not only send waves of agony through his broken arm, but he also lost hold of his axe and it went sliding across the hard wood floor.
If I kill him, he will just possess Carrie or one of the kids. I can’t let that happen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t soften him up a little. A throwing knife was in his hand before a roll took him to the far side of the thick sofa. A bullet passed through the couch and missed his head by inches.
He readied the knife and threw it at the rancher’s leg. It stuck in one of the wooden rail supports. He cursed as he drew another and more shots headed his way, but he laid himself prone, right next to the sofa and so far they had missed finding a home in his flesh.
If I haven’t used all my Ki on this damn arm, I might be able to use Mold Nature or something, but it looks like it’s just me, a table full of prone hostages, and two immortal pukes.
“Why delay the inevitable, Stalwart? I have plenty of ammunition. Allow me to put you down like the dog of Yig you are.”
Jack moaned, like he’d been hit. But the sound was also used to cover his movement. The creature, that was once John, had reached the bottom of the stairs and as he began to limp toward Jack, the Stalwart moved his body so that his boots were braced against the side of the sofa.
The hollowed voice sounded again. “If you think I’m coming to put you out of your misery, you are very mistaken. You have already cost me two bodies and I enjoyed the bear.”
Jack pushed out with all the strength of his legs. The sofa slid across the floor and crashed into John. The thing didn’t so much as scream, even when the sound of its snapping leg echoed through the room. John’s already injured calf buckled and the thing went down in a tangle of limbs.
Jack’s body followed the sofa. The Ravor tried to get the gun back into play, but Jack leapt over the sofa and came down with both feet on the rifle, effectively pinning the man beneath it. A second later the hilt of his knife smacked the Ravor in the forehead, again and again, until it lost consciousness.
There was a muffled cry or alarm. Jack turned in time to see the Ravor in Ed’s body pull Carrie head back by her hair and press a steak knife against her throat. “You can’t win, Stalwart. We are eternal.”
August 13, 2012
By the time Jack made it back to the ranch he was using his axe as a cane to help him through the accumulating snow. He had almost lost his way more than once, but his wilderness skills saw him through. He had strapped him broken arm to his chest. It still hurt like hell, but his mystical healing had been able to reduce it to a dull throbbing pain instead of a blinding agony.
The front door hung open and a triangle of drifting snow had painted the floor ivory. He hesitated, but then slowly pushed the door open with the head of his axe. That decision may have saved his life, for a foot wide hole was blown through the door at head level and only eight inches before his face. As it was, splinters and a few stray balls of buckshot peppered his face and caused him to retreat with a curse.
The hollowed voice of the man that was once Ed floated out to him. “Do you think you can beat us? If so, you are a fool. We have been culling your species for hundreds of your human years. My partner has already told me what you have done.” He heard the sounds of footsteps approaching. “We are immortal, Jack. You can’t win.”
“Yeah, we’ll see,” he said under his breath as he backed up another yard.
The steps drew closer. He waited. Just as the Ravor reached the door, Jack kicked it open with all his strength. The Xemmoni grunted as it was thrown off balance. Before he could recover, Jack swung his axe one handed and cracked the hammer end against the side of its skull. He crumpled like wet paper.
The creature that now possessed Ed’s body had shaved itself bald and the man’s flesh had begun to turn a sickly grey. Jack kicked the shotgun out of its limp fingers and it slid over the flood until it smacked into the wood stove with a loud bang.
“Damn, it’s good to fight something that you don’t have to hack for a half an hour to lay low.” He stepped over the unconscious body. “And you called me a fool. I understand your abilities far too well, but with strengths there are also weaknesses and yours is that when you body hop so often, you don’t have time to increase the power of the body you’re in leaving you as vulnerable as any man.”
“Is that so?” the thing moaned, while reaching up and crawling at his legs like some misguided zombie. A boot to the chin took care of its feeble resistance and Jack pushed him far enough inside that he could shut the door.
As soon as the door shut behind him, he heard the muffled cries of Carrie and her children. They had all been gagged and bound to the kitchen chairs.
“Damn,” he said, approaching her. He drew a deep breath and then let it out. “I know you are going to hate me for this and I doubt you can understand what’s happening here, but there are two…Demons that can possess whoever they like. So for all of our safety, I’m going to have to leave you tied up for now at least until I can think of something to do.”
He rubbed his temples. “It might be safe to have you and the kids drive off to town, but even if you could get through this snow, I’d bet my next paycheck, if I had one coming, that they have already trashed your rides…But they might have left one for their use—you never know. First things first though, I need to tie this bastard up.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” another hollowed voice echoed through the house. Despite his wounded leg, the thing that was once the rancher John stood at the top of the stairs with a hunting rifle pointed at him.
August 6, 2012
Even as the rifle moved toward him, Jack was leaping to the side. His body’s impact into the deep snow sent waves of agony ripping through his broken arm. Things might have been over for him if the rifle hadn’t clicked dry. He remembered that Hank had been firing full out at the bear, so this wasn’t surprising. He just wished he knew what the hell was going on.
The limp faced Hank stared at the gun for a moment and then shifted his grip. Raising the weapon like an axe-man about to chop wood, he moved slowly toward Jack. Each footstep was deliberate, like a child learning to walk.
“I see you are no ordinary man, Mr. Primus. I smell the stench of Stalwart on you.” The voice felt as cold as the snow that surrounded him. Even though it still came from Hank’s body, it was distant and lifeless.
Jack got his feet under him, but stayed low, feigning that he remained on his knees in the deep snow. “What have you done with Hank?”
“You son of a bitch!”
Both his axe and war-dagger still jutted out from the dead bear. He had a few throwing knives. From the sounds of things, Hank’s gone, or at least what was once Hank is. I’ve seem enough insanity to guess that this is some kind of possession Xemmoni that is floating from body to body—killing as it goes. So if I kill Hank’s body, it will just possess something else, or even worse try to possess me!
After flowing the last ebbs of his Ki into his broken arm, Jack prepared his body. His arm still throbbed in pain, but he had taken the edge off, but this also left him without anything to fall back on. Hank was gone. Who knew what might be happening at the ranch. Most likely he was injured, nearly weaponless, and on his own.
What was once Hank came in to crash the rifle over his head. That was when Jack lunched himself up into a standing position while putting everything he had into the meanest right hook of his life. The heard Hank’s jaw bone snap and the man went flying off his feet to land on his back like he was trying to make a snow angel. Jack wasn’t sure if the thing had lost consciousness, but he didn’t wait around to see. He punched into his face again and again, despite how much pain this sent through his broken arm.
Standing back up, caused him to waver on his feet. Who knows, maybe there’s still a way to get the real Hank back. I doubt it, but I shouldn’t kill him anyway until I know for sure.
Jack dragged Hank’s body to a tree and secured his wrists together with the man’s shoelaces. He arranged it so they were lashed behind his back with the tree between them. After removing the man’s belt, he also tightened it around the tree and then slipped it over his neck. “That should hold you for a while. I’ll be back for you if you don’t freeze to death…” Jack stared down at the body of the man that had been so decent and honest. “Why am I always the one that lives, when all the good people I meet get killed?”
The eyes flicked open. The hollow voice sounded worse than before. No normal person would try to speak with a broken jaw, but such things as pain appeared to be ignored by these things.
“That will soon no longer be a worry, Stalwart. We Ravors work in teams of two. Have you forgotten about the one you knew as Ed? After he finishes off the ranch, he will come back for me and then we will take our time with you. Stalwart Baal is too sweet to just sip up at once. We’ll want to make it linger.”
Jack kicked the Xemmoni in the face and then, after grabbing his weapons out of the bear, he began his long walk back to the ranch.