Black Heart – Chapter III Part II
by Steppen Sawicki
Harper was already there when he got to the synagogue, alongside Skinner and Phan, the daywatch team. The latter two were seated in a car across the street like they were working a stake-out, Harper talking to them through a window.
Phan – the Spotter – lit up when he saw Bryan. “Ivers, man of the hour. How ya doin’?”
“Leave him alone, Phan,” Skinner said. She stifled a yawn as Bryan reached the car and peered through the window opposite Harper. “I’ve had to deal with this all day. Why are Spotters always so damned cheerful?”
“They aren’t,” Bryan said. “It’s just comparison.”
“That right, Phan?” Skinner asked her carmate.
“Hey, it’s hard work propping up you guys’ attitudes,” Phan replied, putting sunglasses on over his eyes. They were all wearing sunglasses, despite the sun having already dipped behind the buildings around them. Still the fading daylight seemed too bright.
“But hey, Ivers.” Skinner turned back to Bryan. “You okay?”
Bryan tried not to huff at the question. “Fine,” he growled.
“Well that’s good,” Skinner said. “Me, I haven’t been awake in daylight for this long in years. It’s horrible.”
“That’s just the demons talking,” Bryan said.
“Whoever’s talking, it’s horrible.”
“I like it,” Phan said. “I miss working in daylight.”
Skinner rolled her eyes and looked up at Bryan as if for commiseration. “I’ve had this all night. I mean day. What are we even looking for here?”
“Our orders were basically ‘Don’t blink and be careful,’” Phan said. Bryan noticed he hadn’t really looked away from the synagogue except to greet him.
Bryan shifted on his feet. “It’s the first memory I can get from the…thing. It was here. And before that, it was somewhere else.”
Skinner was still peering up at him. “Thanks, man. That makes total sense and explains everything.”
“Look, I don’t know either. It’s a demon. You get easy answers from yours?”
“Alphas don’t give answers, remember?” Skinner threw her hands up and looked back across the street. The sun was below the horizon now, the pinks and baby blues fading from the sky to give way to blacks and grays.
Harper said nothing, as if now that Bryan was there she wasn’t required to converse. Like Bryan wanted to converse. But at least Skinner had left the topic alone and didn’t press. Because that was the sum of his knowledge; nothing else from the gamma had cropped up in his mind, and he still didn’t know where or what that dead empty place had been.
A car pulled up behind them, an Audi. Company car. Skinner checked them out in the rearview. “Hallelujah. Our relief is here.”
That’s when it happened. Bryan felt it only as a silent explosion, as if a bomb had gone off across the street, that sort of power. Then it was gone, and the synagogue still stood as if to defy the incident. Bryan blinked at it to make sure the building really was still there and not an exploded pile of rubble. But it was there.
“What the hell was that?” Skinner said.
“Did you guys see that?” Andrade shouted as she burst from the car that had just arrived.
“Yeah.” Phan exited his car too. “But…”
“What?” Skinner demanded. “What was it?”
Finally Harper spoke. “There was a sudden appearance of many demons in that one space. And then they were gone.”
“No,” Andrade said. “Not gone. They…”
“Exploded out,” Bryan finished.
“Like they rushed out from here.” Phan spun around, searching about him as if he could spot the demons. “Like they were pushed out.”
“It was like there was a wind as they went past,” Harper said quietly. “But there wasn’t.”
Everyone was out of the cars now with all sunglasses off. Skinner slapped her hands on the roof of her own car. “None of you make any sense,” she shouted.
“Everyone,” Bryan said, “stay here.” He started across the street. Harper followed him, and he turned around to tell her to stay before realizing she was supposed to follow him. That was her job. But Andrade was following too. He pointed at her and to the cars, but she shook her head.
“No, I’m going too,” she said.
“We have a Spotter already,” he replied.
“You have two Possessed as well.” When he squinted at that she added “And you might need an extra pair of eyes.”
Whatever. There was no time to argue.
Skinner and Phan had been there earlier to see the gate and doors unlocked, so all Bryan had to do now was walk in. As he approached, a dog barked in the distance and a car drove by in the street, reminders that he was still in the regular world, where life went on as usual.
He stopped at the door. “Anything in there?” he asked Harper and Andrade.
“Not that I can see,” Andrade answered. “But that doesn’t mean as much these days.”
He looked at the door, thinking. Then he took out his deck from his bag.
“That’s not necessary,” Harper said. “I can possess.”
“You can see already,” Bryan said. “I’m useless here unless I possess.”
“But none of us can see a gamma,” Andrade said.
He had taken out the wrong pack. Opening it and looking in, he saw only two cards lying in it, tooth indentations marking the corners. “Damn it,” he said, stuffing it into his bag and trying to fish out the full pack.
“We’re wasting time,” Harper said, suddenly and with venom, and opened the door. She marched through it as Bryan and Andrade shouted and ran after her.
“What the hell are you doing?” Bryan exclaimed as she stopped between the pews.
She turned around and held out her arms. “You can either waffle on outside about whether or not there’s a gamma inside, or you can just go in and find out. And wouldn’t you know it, nothing’s here.”
“And if there had been?” He looked up at the bimah, at the stars hanging from the ceiling. Nothing had changed from last night.
“If there had been, I’m as Possessed as you are.” She turned in a circle, taking in everything like he was.
“You think I – ”
He was cut off by Andrade touching his arm, which made him jerk. “No power plays, guys,” she said. “Is anything different from yesterday?”
“Nothing!” Bryan shouted at her. “It’s just as much a wreck as it was before!” He crossed his arms and stalked up the aisle.
Harper was to the side of the platform, inspecting. “It happened around here, towards the back.”