The occult shop on Tamm Ave. was tucked back two blocks from the bustling foot traffic of the Loop. The sign above the door read “Omens”. It was the kind of place a person could find voodoo doll kits, books on demonology and eye of newt, pickled or dehydrated. The novelty aspect of the shop kept a steady stream of college students flowing in and out. It was no surprise when the doorbell chimed.
“Hello,” the shopkeeper called over his shoulder. The elderly man was rearranging grotesque figurines adorning the shelf behind the register.
“How can I help you?” he asked as he turned toward the stranger at the door. A slight shiver ran up his spine. He could feel the perpetual smile fade from his face.
The stranger was tall and thin, well dressed and wearing a dark overcoat. He had a neatly manicured goatee that managed to distract from the faint scar on the left side of his face. There was no expression in the stranger’s eyes, just a pale emptiness. The shopkeeper had never seen the man standing before him but he knew his presence did not bode well.
“I’m looking for the proprietor of this establishment,” the stranger said in a gravelly voice.
“That would be me, Victor Flagg at your service.”
“I’ve been searching for you for a long time.”
Victor began to laugh. It reeked of fear and nervous energy. He was very conscious of that fact as the hollow sound reached his ears.
“Now why would you be looking for me. You’re not going to sue me, are you? I’m just an old man living out his twilight years.”
“Is that so, Seamus?”
Panic swept through the old man. Long buried memories flooded back to him of his war ravaged homeland. Brothers and sons maimed and massacred, wives and daughters subjected to unspeakable atrocities. An anger welled inside him. He glared ferociously at the stranger.
“How do you know that name?” Victor spit through his clenched teeth.
“You’re a 600-year-old necromancer. You committed…”
“I WAS PROTECTING MY KIN!!” Victor bellowed as the fear and rage became too much to contain. “If I hadn’t raised an army of my fallen clansman we would have been decimated by the MacLarens. My blood would have vanished because of those murderous, conniving sons of whores.”
Victor could hear his long lost brogue permeating his words. They injected a passion and fire into his voice that had been lost with his American accent. He stared at the stranger and tried to ready his weary body for whatever battle lay before him but the stranger remained passive, unmoved by the outburst.
Finally the man spoke in his gravelly voice, “However noble your intentions may have been, you used the magics of the First Born. That is an unforgivable trespass.”
“Are you an angel?” Victor asked in a slightly trembling voice.
“Don’t flatter yourself. They don’t like to get their wings dirty.”
The old man’s eyes widened in understanding. The realization of the stranger’s identity punched him in the gut. He could feel his heart race, practically exploding from his chest.
“Venator infernus. The Hellhunter.”
The stranger gave a half smile.
“If you like. I’ve been known by many names. I prefer William.”
“So be it, William. What happens to me now?”
“You’ll stand trial before the Tribunal for your crimes. They will decide the fate of your soul.”
Defeated, Victor hung his head and spoke at the floor.
“My charity, my goodwill, will they outweigh the necromancy?”
“I cannot say. The will of angels and demons isn’t something that can be foretold.”
Victor reflected on that statement and contemplated his fate. He saw his wife, his children and their children. Tears formed in his eyes. Whatever destiny lay before him, his blood would live on. No panel of flying cherubs and fork tongued devils could ever take that away from him.
Victor steeled his nerves and leveled his eyes at the stranger.
Bryan N. Zimmer is a musicians and writer in his spare time. He is the creator of the short lived webcomic “Kirby Miller:Serial Killer”. He currently lives in Houston, TX with his wife and daughter.