John Sinclair - Demon Hunter
John Sinclair - Demon Hunter
All I remember is the running. The fear and the running. I'm no longer sure if it was a dream. But I don't think it was.
I remember the woods at night, their deep shadows. The voices.
My heart was pounding in my chest. My legs hurt. It felt as if my body was on fire.
I was running.
I was too scared to stop.
If I stopped, he would catch me ...
I looked over my shoulder, but in the darkness, I saw nothing but my own fear.
Then I heard the branches rustle.
He was coming ...
The dreams started after my father died. I wanted him to die, mind you. He was a hard man, and I hated him, or so I believed at the time. He was a war veteran. He believed in discipline. He believed in the belt. That's what I remember of him: His voice, the scent of tobacco and whiskey ... and the belt. The creaking of the leather in the moments before. I wanted him to die. God, I wanted it.
For a brief moment, I stopped running. My heartbeat had become a steady thumping in my head. My chest was about to explode.
I stopped for only a moment, but in that moment, I saw him ...
I remember that I screamed. Sometimes, at night, I still do. I scream.
I saw him and I started running again.
The tree branches hit my face as I ran. I could taste blood on my lips.
"Damn you, Johnny!"
My father's voice.
"Come here and take it like a man!"
I kept on running.
Then I fell, hard. I could hear something breaking, and I hoped it wasn't any part of me. Must have been a tree branch. Nothing else. I got up again. My ankle hurt. But I had to keep on running.
"Come here, Johnny, my boy!"
I ran and I ran until I finally collapsed.
I found myself in a clearing in the woods.
And that's where I first saw him.
The Gaunt Man.
He stood by the trees, their shadows nearly hiding him. The only thing that set him apart was the white glimmer of his teeth as he grinned at me.
"Johnny, my boy," he said. His voice was raspy and as old as the earth. Older even.
My heart was still pounding. I was gasping for air. My legs were weak. My body was sweating, and despite all that, I suddenly felt a cold chill surround me.
"Who are you?" I asked. I was ten at the time. So young. But still old enough to know.
"You know who I am," said the Gaunt Man. "I've been waiting for you, Johnny, my boy. We've all been waiting."
He wore a black suit and a bowler hat. His skin was white, like something long-dead. He moved like a snake. When he breathed, the trees hissed and rustled.
"What are you running from?" said the Gaunt Man.
I stared at him. My throat was suddenly dry. My voice sounded hoarse and raspy.
"From you," I said. "I'm running from you."
He grinned, and his sharp teeth were like razors. He came toward me. I was frozen with fear, like a rabbit staring at a snake.
"Well," he said, "it would appear I caught you, John Sinclair."
And then I screamed.
I still do that, you know.
I scream at night.
Middlesbury, Scotland. 11:51 p.m.
Shortly before midnight, Kinny Mitchell woke up in a sweat, gasping for air. His fingers were shaking. Outside, the rain was beating against his window.
A nightmare, he thought. Just a nightmare. The room was dark. He had been dreaming of the girl. Yes, that must be it. The girl.
Something about her was different. Something bothered him. He kept thinking of her body, lying next door. He rubbed his eyes. He could hear thunder in the distance. He always hated thunder, even as a child - a silly thing to be afraid of.
He sank back down on his bed and exhaled, staring into the darkness and the rain outside.
She was just seventeen. Seventeen! Maybe that's what it was. She was too young to die. Most of the people who came here were old an