I’m in a minivan being driven by a werewolf. I’m seated between an ex-priest who says he doesn’t count since he never finished training, and a demon in a glamor. Riding shotgun is a trembling vampire and behind me there’s an elf girl muttering about bullets. I fucking hate Tuesdays.
My name is Sandy Mulligan, I kill monsters for a living, and I’m currently regretting every life choice I have ever made. Now you’re probably about to ask a lot of questions, and trust me, I am too. But I’ll just answer a few right off the bat. Okay? Okay.
First up, no, this is not our minivan. Second up, the reason why I, a monster hunter, am working with monsters. That reason being is that I’m a massive fucking hypocrite, bite me. Third thing, yes we’re being chased, thank you for asking!
“Monty, you missed that cat about a half mile back, wanna turn around and try again?”
“Fuck off, I’m doing my best here! Whoever we took this hunk of junk from needed to replace the tires months ago!”
I’m about to ask how Monty can tell that the tires need to be replaced when Ozzie’s hand is in front of my face with a wrapped peppermint resting in the palm of it.
“Want one? This purse is full of ‘em!”
Oh my gods, we stole an old lady’s minivan. This is definitely being added to my tally of sins.
“No, I don’t want a mint, and stop going through the purse!”
“Aww, but there’s an envelope of cash in here, and I’m really tired of being broke.”
At this point I snatch away the purse and stuff it under my seat. Maybe I’ll find a way to give it back to whoever it belongs to. Who am I kidding? I won’t. But at least Ozzie won’t go through it some more. Demons are so damn nosy.
Monty and Joseph are still arguing, I think that’s how they keep from freaking out. Delilah hasn’t said a word and Amy is still muttering, but now it has changed to spells. If we add a witch to this mess, I’m gonna lose it. I twist around in my seat to see if the dark ominous cloud of death that was chasing us is still on our asses, but I don’t see it. The fading sunlight isn’t helping.
“Hey, guys, I don’t see the cloud of death anymore, should that be more worrying?” I ask my crew of slightly terrifying but mostly irritating not-quite-friends.
“I’m gonna go with good, because we’re almost out of gas,” Monty replies from his spot in the driver’s seat. I can see that his knuckles have gone almost white from gripping the steering wheel way too hard. I don’t blame him for being tense. We watched that nightmare cloud literally melt the flesh from peoples’ bones. We have no idea where it came from and it has been chasing us, so it doesn’t obey the wind. Clearly dark magic. Gross.
“There’s a small town nearby, probably has a gas station and all the normal small town shit,” Joseph says while looking up from his phone. He looks like shit, dirt all over his clothes, dark circles under his eyes. Not to mention the leaves in his black hair. With the whole mess topped off with his lightning-like scars across his face, neck, and left shoulder, he looks insane. I don’t look any better. Ozzie looks pretty good though, but I’m choosing to blame that on his glamor. I’m sure underneath it his crimson skin and swirly black tattoos are filthy from scrambling through the woods to safety.
“Better be within twenty miles, or we’re royally fucked,” Monty mutters as Delilah gingerly pats the minivan’s dashboard encouragingly. She’s taking the whole watching people melt thing the hardest so far. Second is Amy, although her reaction is the same as always. Find a way to kill whatever’s after us. Unfortunately clouds can’t be killed.
I started this year off alone. I just went from job to job in my pickup truck and called it a night whenever I came across a motel that didn’t have a bedbug problem.
Then I ran into Monty, who I guess I do consider a friend. I was hunting a unicorn, those things are evil, so don’t start lecturing me. The fucker gored a mailman with its horn. Monty was also after the sparkly death horse, although in his case he was just after its mane. He wanted to use the hair for a bracelet. Unicorn hair bracelets are extremely powerful good luck charms, and boy did Monty need that luck.
We teamed up to hunt the unicorn down, his sense of smell was perfect to track it and my crossbow allowed us to kill it from a mostly safe distance. Thank the gods I hit it in the eye.
Monty still has the bracelet, even though it’s long out of luck. I still have the dust from the unicorn’s horn in a jar in my bag, the shit is dead useful.
The demon on my left is now loudly crunching on the fistful of peppermints he had taken from the purse before I confiscated it. I don’t think he knows that he isn’t supposed to chew them, I also don’t want to argue with him over it so I just let him munch away. Ozzie being in this world and not Hell is kind of my fault. According to my roulette wheel of a moral compass, that means I’m responsible for him. I summoned him by accident, I was after a different demon but ended up grabbing Ozzie. Which has turned out alright, made the job I was on at the time a nightmare, but otherwise Ozzie is alright to have around.
I turn my attention to Joseph, he’s no longer arguing with Monty. He’s now pointedly staring out the window, probably avoiding making eye contact with me. He’s upset, but I know it’s not from the back and forth between him and Monty just now. He always takes innocent people dying hard, and a good handful of people were in the park when we all got out of the woods.
I was in the woods looking for a vampire that had been taking people from town and draining their blood in the woods.
Everyone else was there because I was there. Instead of finding the rogue vampire, we found a small black cloud just hovering in-between the trees. It smelled like rot and sulfur. I was probably the last to smell it, now that I can sit and think about it. The death cloud then, at an impossible speed, started zooming towards us. Thankfully we all had the common sense to run for our lives the moment it moved. I found out very quickly that I do not like being chased by clouds. Crashing through the woods was brutal and we were all quickly covered in scrapes and cuts from bushes and tree bark. The smell of the rot and sulfur was overwhelming for the first, five? Ten? I don’t know how many minutes, I just knew we had to run faster.
It was both a blessing and a curse when we ran out of the woods into the grassy field of Daisy Park. Blessing was we were no longer being slashed open by thorns or tripping over tree roots. Curse was that there were joggers and dog walkers everywhere.
It wasn’t pretty and I’m going to regret looking back every day for the rest of my life. The sights, the smells and the fucking sounds are permanently burned into my brain. I miss when I was just clearing out vampire nests and hunting unicorns.
“Are we stopping to sleep in town? If not, we need to drive in shifts and only two of us have driver’s licenses,” Monty says, his voice light and calm. It’s a lie, his posture, his tone of voice. But I won’t call him out on it, he’s just trying to stay the calm rational one. I’m worried that one day he’ll crack and lose his shit. The laid back ones don’t last as long as you’d think.
“I don’t see the cloud, someone roll down a window and see if any of us can smell it,” Amy demands from her spot in the very back seat. She doesn’t have windows that roll down and one of us in the middle row will have to move our seat in order to free her when we do eventually stop.
Ozzie reluctantly rolls down his window, barely two inches, and gives a tentative sniff. Both Monty and Delilah follow suit. I just sit there, willing my sense of smell to be stronger.
“Nothing,” Ozzie declares with a large grin.
Joseph exhales a long sigh next to me when both Monty and Delilah agree. The three super sniffers can’t detect a thing. Which means the cloud is long gone. Hopefully forever, but I won’t hold my breath.