Second attempt with better formatting

                                                                Preface   

Victor was drained. He had spent the last week trudging through trap house after trap house, with nothing but junkies and miscreants to show for his troubles. God was testing him he realized. Still, he loathed these types of places. But if that was what it took to rid the world of these filthy demons that’s what he would do. This trap house felt different though. He could almost smell the demon he was sure was inside. It was promising. He hadn’t noticed any other junkies lying around outside or in the halls and corridors as he slipped inside the abandoned structure. He had nearly always encountered half-dead junkies in other locations he had entered. Still, that was the only thing of note in this structure. Sure, some of the rooms had squatters in them, but squatters weren’t what he was looking for.

Victor zeroed in on the sudden clank of an empty food can. He quickly hugged a wall and peered around the corner just in time to see the can spin off into a corner. A blond haired boy, who looked to be about nine years old, flitted through a door.

Bingo – a lookout. Junkies didn’t bother with things like lookouts. So, they knew he was coming. Victor didn’t care. He neared the door the boy had entered and listened outside, trying to discern what several excited voices were murmuring about within. He supposed it didn’t really matter.

Victor took a flashbang from his belt, pulled the pin, kicked the door open, and lobbed it into the room.
Just as the flashbang went off, a slug struck Victor’s vest high and to the left, spinning him back into the hallway. It felt like a truck had slammed into his chest. He grunted, ignoring the pain, and turned his body so he could see into the door.

The young lookout rushed out of the room.

Good, Victor thought. The pain nearly took his breath as he lifted his weapon high enough to empty an entire clip into the smoky room. The repeated light thump of silenced reports were muted in comparison to the bright zipping and cracking sounds the slugs made as they shredded the interior. The clip ran empty, and Victor watched as the smoke cleared, finally seeing three bodies lying in a heap in the floor.

He continued to lie on the hallway floor, watching the smoke swirl out of the room for several minutes. His breaths came in pained careful gasps. But he couldn’t lay there long; the filthy carpet smelled like stale piss. He carefully snapped a new clip into his rifle and slapped the bolt back.

He was clearly slipping; he had been hit. He could hear his trainer’s voice echoing through his mind. Never get complacent. One of those demons will be wearing your skin around if you let your guard down.

The thought made Victor’s skin crawl.

He stood with great difficulty and entered the apartment. The three bodies lay bloodied and motionless on the floor in a heap. It was a male and two females. None of them had a stitch of clothes on. Disgusting. He swabbed and tested some blood from each body, dropping each into vial before shaking it. Always has to be the last one, he thought as he dropped the final blood sample into a vial.

He stared at it curiously. Nothing. Shit. They were all human. Damn it. He had never made a mistake, ever. He was good at his job, but this would definitely mar his perfect record. He sat down on the threadbare couch and took a deep breath. He exhaled it in a gush, wincing in pain. What had he missed? Had he just killed three junkies for no reason? The thought made him sick. Junkies were still innocents.

He closed his eyes and prayed. “God help me; I’m doing your work.”

Just like always, his prayers were answered. He leapt to his feet with a pained grunt. He checked the right pinky finger of the first female; nothing, then the other female; still nothing, then the finger of the male; there it was. He smiled and pulled the invisible ring free of dead man’s finger.

A gold ring with Loaki symbols tumbled into the palm of his hand. “Yep, always the last one.” The male was a Couche. Still, this created a new problem: where was his demon? He banged his forehead with the heel of his hand. “You idiot. It was the boy,” he whispered.

Victor stood and eased into the hallway, his rifle at the ready, moving carefully. He would be patient. He crouched down behind an old ragged chair that had been tossed onto its top. He would let the demon believe he had taken the bait. Let it believe that he thought that he had killed junkies.

Victor reached down and turned his radio off. “Base, no joy. I killed three junkies, but there’s no loaki on site,” he said loudly. He filled his voice with irritation when he spoke. Victor then thumped his boots against the wooden floor, lightening the sound as he was walking down the hall. He then crouched, hiding around the corner in a nearby stairwell. He took another pained breath and watched the hallway.

Several minutes passed before the boy stepped out of a nearby apartment. He hurried toward the room where the bodies were, clearly having no idea Victor was there.

Victor waited; he allowed the boy to go into the room so there could be no escape. He slowly inched his way toward the open door, like a lion approaching its prey.

Victor entered the room.

The boy was crouched beside the male sobbing when Victor’s large frame filled the door behind him. He tossed the ring onto the floor beside the child.

The boy spun and looked into Victor’s eyes with an expression of absolute loathing. “Why? What have we done to you?” he asked. “We saved you.”

Victor shrugged. “You’re filthy demons that possess people’s souls and wear the skins of the dead. He didn’t try to hide the absolute disgust he felt for this thing. “In the name of God, I send you back to hell from where you came.” He squeezed the trigger of his assault rifle, emptying the clip, leaving a pulpy red mess where the boy’s head had been.

The remainder of the boy’s small body collapsed to the floor with the others’ with a wet thud.

Victor swabbed some of the tissue and blood from the boy and dropped it into the vial. This time it turned a very vivid teal blue color. Victor smiled.

He turned his radio back on and said, “Base confirmed kills. One Loaki demon, one Couche, and two sympathizers.”

“Excellent job as always, Agent Steele. The scrub team has been dispatched to your GPS transponder location, ETA two minutes. Secure the site until they arrive,” a voice said from his radio.

“Affirmative, Base.” Victor stood over the demon’s body that wore a young boys skin. It had undoubtedly killed him to get it. He spat on the demon’s corpse and sat down on the couch.

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