Night Demons Part 4 of 6

in story •  last month

Knife.jpg

When fighting the forces of darkness, it pays to have bright powers on your side.

At dawn, I dress in bright, clean and comfortable clothing. I ring my singing bowl and clear out the remaining negativity. Light three sticks of incense and place them in a brazier on my work table.

Lower my head and clasp my hands.

“Gods and buddhas and angels and friendly spirits, I am under attack by an evil spirit. Grant me the strength to protect myself, my friends, and my clients. Please enjoy this offering of incense, and come to my aid when I call on you.”

I was raised a Buddhist, was exposed to Christianity in school, and studied world religions throughout my childhood. My faith is more eclectic and universal than most people, but I received no complaints so far. None from the only ones who matter.

I spend an hour training. Empty hand, knife, flashlight. Footwork and strikes and cuts and kicks and grappling, taken from Pekiti Tirsia Kali. I maneuver around my bed and furniture, adapting my moves to take advantage of the surfaces around me. I finish with breathwork and wash up with cold water and salt.

For breakfast I boil four eggs. As I wait, I repair my wards and pile on my shields. This time, I throw on a cloak of shadowy energy over my shield, rendering me effectively invisible to hostile entities. Then I fire up Google Earth and zoom to Clarke Quay. Astral tracking was a two-way street. The creature might have found me by following my energies, but I could do the same to it.

I think of the demonic assault, replaying it in my head. I skip through the opening sequence and pause at the moment the creature unmasked itself. I study its aura. Deep brown shot through with filthy blacks, red sparks dancing through it. I knew what it truly looked like. I could find it.

With my second sight, I scan the area, using the digital map as an anchor for my psychic senses. In my mind’s eye, I see streams of energy rushing down roads, solid blocks that indicated long-established buildings, pillars where high-energy events occurred, blank spaces where no one lived or worked. They come in a rush of colours and textures: smooth royal purples, deep wet blues, springy reds, prickly browns.

Brown. Similar to the demon’s energy. I redouble my efforts, slowing down and zooming in. A huge brown cloud blooms over a building. Brown with black, with sparks of red. The demon.

I look up the address. A nightclub called Blackout. Figures. Pubs and bars and clubs were the feasting grounds of negs. Lots of easy prey, plenty of opportunities to jump on to a fresh target. Small wonder the demon had chosen it as a base of operations.

After breakfast I tend to more mundane affairs. Life won’t wait just because you have a feud with an unclean spirit. I finish up my freelance work—an article about the benefits of enterprise planning software—and send it off. I hit the crypto markets, sell some Litecoin, place a couple of limit orders on Bitcoin, and buy a bit of Dash. I plan my next blog post on Steemit. I arrange a couple of appointments—in-person tarot readings, easy yet rewarding—and answer some queries.

With work done, I can get back to my real job. On Blackout’s website, I study the photos, note the dress code, and prepare my clothing. Long-sleeved white shirt, smart pants, thick-soled shoes. I clean my earplugs, slip them into my breast pocket, and prep the rest of my gear. Finally, I message Eleanor and tell her what I plan to do.

Good luck, she says.

She wasn’t a fighter. Never would be one. But at least she had my back.

Dinner is light. Chicken and assorted vegetables wrapped in lettuce. Nutritious, but not so rich that it would slow me down. I spend an hour meditating, waiting for the night life to really get underway. Then, I hit the street.

Taking the train to Clarke Quay, I emerge at Hong Lim Park. This is the site of Singapore’s famous Speakers’ Corner, which is probably why there is a police post nearby and the Attorney-General’s Chambers are right across the street.

I head in the opposite direction, towards the Singapore River. Here, at South Bridge Road, I see the surviving fragments of Singapore’s past. Shophouses and low-rise office buildings flank the road, rebuilt with modern materials while retaining their old-time designs. The daytime businesses are closed, and the night-time companies are coming to life. Hostesses in skimpy clothing and high heels linger outside lounges and discos and bars, smoking and chatting with patrons and passers-by. Every time a door opens I hear frenetic music blast forth. A tiny 7-Eleven stands near the bus stop, the sole bridge between the day and night worlds.

My kit digs uncomfortably into my flesh. My tongue registers hard bitter curves. Annoying, but I’ll have to live with it. Can’t go empty-handed against a demon.

Down the street, I cut into Circular Road. Now the night world hits me with full force. Old-school rock and roll, slow and melodic, plays from a nearby eatery. It is packed with young adults, chatting loudly to be heard over the background noise. I seek temporary relief at the building across the road, closed for the night, but it lasts only until I reach the Indian-themed pub next door. Past that was a cake decoration store, painted an incongruous pink, utterly out of place here.

Sticking to the narrow sidewalk, I keep walking. I pass by the Quarters Hostel and sidestep around a couple of tourists emerging from the front door. Then I weave my way around the patrons and staff of more pubs.

The further I go down the road, the narrower the street becomes. Furniture spills out into the sidewalk, forcing me to squeeze past narrow walkways to chance walking the road. The denizens of the night form static knots and slow-moving clumps. A river of cars roll down the one-way street, narrowly avoiding the vehicles parked alongside the road. Lights flash and music blares, but I only have eyes and ears for traffic and warning signs. There was so much motion, so much sound, so much everything I have to shut down and focus.

Once, a Thai hostess makes the mistake of tugging at my sleeve. My hand flies to hers and peels it off. She gasps, withdrawing. I wag my finger and her and slide through the night.

Finally—finally—I reach my destination. A small shophouse with ‘BLACKOUT’ in thin bold white words plastered across an all-black signboard. There is a small queue outside, with a heavyset bouncer at the door. Donning my earplugs, I join the queue.

When it’s my turn, the bouncer says, “Show me your IC please.”

Great thing about Flare Audio’s earplugs, they cut out unwanted sound while leaving you the ability to hear conversations around you. All the same, I read his lips to verify what I hear.

I show the bouncer my identity card. He nods and pats me down. I endure the feel of foreign flesh against me, flaring my shield so his energies slide off.

His hands stop at my waist.

“What’s this?” he demands.

“My flashlight.”

“Show me.”

Slowly and carefully, I withdraw it from my waistband. It’s a Nitecore MT2A. In the low light it’s hard to tell it’s a mil-grade light.

He nods and carries down. He moves down my legs and ankles, and stands up.

“Okay, boss. You can come in,” he says.

I stow the flashlight and pay the cover charge. Fifteen dollars. He hands me a ticket and I enter the club.

Light and sound assault me. Iridescent lasers slash across my eyes. Ever-changing spotlights slide across the walls and floors, barely illuminating the dark. A synthesized techno beat screams through the crowded room, so loud my earplugs barely reduce it to tolerable levels. People dance all around me, flinging their arms and shaking their bodies to the beat. I keep my hands close to my chest, ready to ward off dancers who get too close.

Underneath the mad, frenetic energy, something lurks in a lower realm. Something brown and dark and predatory.

The target.

The ticket entitles me to a free drink at the bar. Browsing the menu, I select a cranberry juice. I’m not here to party. I’m here to work. The fruit juice is ice cold when it arrives, and goes down as a shock of white. Good. I need to clear my head.

I lumber to the upper floor, staying well clear of the dancers. Keeping to the walls, I scan the crowds, looking for something, anything out of place. Someone lingering too long in a corner and watching the crowd, someone moving aggressively on a vulnerable person and sucking in energy, someone slipping drugs into an unattended drink, male or female, doesn’t matter.

No signs of predators here. Nobody takes any interest in me either. With drink in hand, stuffy clothes and a guardedly neutral expression, nobody will.

I finish my drink and head down the ground floor toilet. In the cubicle, I do my business, then pop off my left shoe and pull out my knife. I’d been walking on my Benchmade Griptilian for the whole evening, and it dug uncomfortably into my sole with every step.

At least that unpleasantness was over now. Sitting on the toilet bowl, I slowly and silently open the blade and close my eyes.

In my second sight, I assess the dark mass I’d seen. Reshazak, or a significant fraction of it. Long, thick ropes of negative energy anchor it to the world. Through these anchors, it feeds off the energy of everyone here and assesses patrons as prey. Unfortunately for it, my cloak is still intact.

I reach out with my mind. Gather the ropes into a thick, squirming bundle before me.

Cut.

Energy rushes through the air. Something howls in my head, cutting through the deafening music. Malevolence radiates from the dark mass, and now I feel the full weight of its attention.

‘This place is MINE!’

‘Not any more,’ I reply.

I imagine the creature floating before me, a writhing, seething mass of naked evil. I cut the image, and through the image I transmit the space-ripping force of cold steel.

‘How dare you!’ it screams. ‘You will pay for this! I will eat your soul! I will feed on everyone you—’

I cut again.

‘Shut up.’

I cut and cut and cut, dividing it into ever-smaller pieces. It grows tentacles and lashes out at me, but most of them slide off my shield. I cut off those that don’t and continue slashing away at the being. It continues screaming, promising to exact vengeance over a thousand lifetimes, eternal torture in its domain, utter annihilation.

I’d heard it all before. I didn’t care. Make war on me and pay the price.

One last thrust. Light flashes through the world. For a moment, there’s a brief sense of dislocation. Then Reshazak is gone.

I close the blade, put it away and leave. Once outside the nightclub, I stow my earbuds and yawn. It’s been a long, long night. I have no idea how normies can stand so much noise and touching, and really, I don’t care. They can keep to their world, and I’ll stay in mine. Just like it’s always been.

Heading down the street, I dodge a few more passers-by, scanning the world like I always do. I breathe through my fatigue, forcing myself to stay alert. The night isn’t over yet. Not until I’m home.

Belatedly I realize I’m going the wrong way. Doesn’t matter, I can always turn around, and anyway the Raffles Place MRT station is nearby. I keep going anyway, keeping an eye for—

‘Look left,’ Lupin urges.

I do. Out the corner of my eye, a gangly Chinese man rounds a bend. By the amber street light I see long, thick, unkempt hair and a rounded back. A huge black cloud of negative energy looms over him. Reshazak’s energy.

His eyes lock on my face.

Threat.

--

Cheah Git San Red.jpg

Previous parts: 1, 2, 3

For a different take on gods and demons, check out my Dragon Award nominated novel NO GODS, ONLY DAIMONS.

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