Chapter 10:



I walked through the doorway as Claire stepped to the side, out of the way. I immediately went up the stairs to my bedroom in order to change my clothes. There was a giant bloodstain on my pants from Scarlet’s tracking device and I had been in a fight, so I expected there to be more than a few holes in my jacket and shirt. Surprisingly, most of my clothes were in perfect shape. Even the bloodstain on my jeans was gone. I guess Scarlet really does have complete control over his blood. I took off my maroon hoodie and changed my shirt and jeans before donning a black coat and stepping back downstairs.

As I entered the living room, there was a noticeable tension in the atmosphere. Claire sat enthroned in an armchair with a smug expression draped across her face Opposite to her was Scarlet, who looked pale as a sheet. I could almost see him shaking with anxiety. What had my sister done to him that would warrant such a reaction?

“So, Ashton, what has Alex told you so far concerning Noe?” Claire asked.

“Not that much, all things considered. Most of what I know came from her directly,” I replied.

“Interesting. I take it my brother made a contract without your knowledge?” Claire turned to Scarlet.

“Y- Yes… We found out through street camera footage of their meeting. We use a double verification process to determine the nature of demonic incidents. If someone without experience with demons is shown the recording and sees something different from what we do, it means that further investigation is necessary. Noe couldn’t be seen by the test group until pointed out,” Scarlet explained.

“To my understanding, Noe wasn’t the cause of the mark on your hand, was she?” Claire said.

“On his hand?”

“Ashton, I don’t expect you to show it to us, especially after what happened last time you removed the bandage, but you can verify that it is there, correct?”

“Yes, I believe so. Last time I checked there was a mark that Noe identified as demonic in origin.”

“Hold on, you have a new demonic mark?” Scarlet looked surprised.

“Noe wanted to try to figure out how to remove it, but if she’s locked up that seems rather difficult,” I responded.

“Eden and I can try to figure out where it comes from, Noe has more information on the matter, correct?” Scarlet said.

“Yes, she knows something about it,” Claire interjected. “I helped her bandage it, so I was able to see it as well.”

“You told Noe about your involvement with the pentagram case, didn’t you?” Scarlet asked.

“She was asking too many questions, I figured it would shut her up.”

“Do demons know about that sort of thing? The stuff that humans are concerned about?” I asked.

“Well, yeah. Most demons are aware of what goes on in the material world, but the pentagram case especially is something a demon would have second or third-hand knowledge of. It was a demon that orchestrated all of it,” Scarlet said. “It might have been the most directly involved demons have been in the human world since the dawn of written history. Just before the killings started, there was a surge of demonic activity. Me, Eden, Blaise, and a few others all encountered demons within the years leading up to the first incident. Claire Phillips, your sister, was the witness to the first of the pentagram killings, a shooting at Pike Place Market on December 1st, 2022. Six people, including the perpetrator, died from a barrage of ricocheting bullets, each one landing a killing blow. The murder weapon disappeared before the police could arrive on the scene, and Claire was the only witness to have seen the weapon: a revolver wreathed in hellfire, a demonic weapon. This was the first of the pentagram killings, an impossible event that led to the deaths of 5 innocent bystanders.”

“So, Claire was able to see it because of a demonic pact, right?” I asked. It was worth bringing up, I felt.

“No. Claire hadn’t encountered any demons before that incident. Her ability to see demons seems to be unrelated, though it's possible she had a pact that she still doesn’t know about.”

“I can speak for myself,” Claire insisted. “Your ability to see Noe comes from your contract with her, correct?”

“Yeah,” I replied.

She continued. “But you were able to hear or see her in the first place to make that contract, which means you interacted with a demon without the need for a pact.”

“I never thought about it that way,” I added.

“Some people are simply more perceptive to spiritual entities like demons. There are plenty of stories about normal people seeing ghosts and the like, so it follows that one wouldn’t necessarily need a contract to encounter a demon.,” Claire explained.

“So that’s the angle you’re going for,” Scarlet remarked.

“Do you have any objections, Alex?” Noe cast a toying glare.

“N- No… Ma’am,” Scarlet’s anxious stuttering returned.

[ cut ]

Some time passed. Scarlet and Claire continued their banter, which mostly consisted of Claire psychologically tormenting him. I can see the two of them in a relationship in the future, surprisingly enough. It seems like they would have good chemistry. I decided to step away from the room and headed outside before receiving a text message on my phone.

>brooklynS: you wanna head down to pike’s and get some food? I’m starving

>ashtonP: sure, I guess

I had a bit of concern about going to the site of one of the killings from two years ago, but Brooklyn and I head over there all the time. There are bound to be tons of other people around, so it’s unlikely anything will go wrong. Then again, I was separated from Noe, which is unfortunate. Oh well, Brooklyn doesn’t carry any money on her so I’ll have to cover her food or she’ll be hungry.

[ cut ]

I walked for 30 minutes or so down the road to the market. It was one of the main attractions in Seattle, and Washington as a whole, right up there next to the Space Needle. The main trouble was going to be finding Brooklyn. Fortunately-

I felt a pair of arms wrap around my neck. Was I being mugged? No, they would be more efficient and forceful. A murder? Same thing, there’s no way this person is trying to hurt me. This had to be…

“Ash, I found you,” it was Brooklyn’s voice. I was relieved.

“What are you doing? Get off of me!” I tried to shake her off. “If I’m paying for your food, the least you could do is-“

I slipped out of her grasp and turned to face her. She was at my eye level. Everything looked the same, brown hair, polaroid camera hanging from her neck, blue eyes, but she was taller. At first, I suspected Scarlet, but he was still at home with Claire, and I doubt he would make a mistake like that imitating someone. I know, for a fact, that Brooklyn is shorter than I am. Why is she suddenly the same height as me?

“Is everything okay, Ash? I didn’t scare you, did I?”

“No, it’s fine,” I just have to shake the feeling that something is wrong. We’re both teenagers, it’s normal for her to have a growth spurt at her age. “Let’s go get some food.”

[ cut ]

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