My sleep was interrupted by the sound of the phone. Not even fully awake, I was already moving my hand towards the source to pick it up and answer.
"Yes?" I grumbled the words while looking at the bright red colors of my clock, it was quarter past three.
"We've got a cleanup to do." answered the voice from the other side, I recognized it was Philippe.
"It's three in the morning!" I complained. "My shift ended six hours ago, can't you handle it on your own?"
"No can do, some werewolves went nuts in a bar." he explained at the other side of the line. "They were already taken care of, but the goddamn place looks like a vampire waterpark."
"Fine… prepare the portal; I'll be there in ten minutes." I sat down with a groan, all too tired to actually move. "But I'll be having half your pay for tonight's job."
"Deal, just make sure you hurry." Philippe hung the phone, and I streamed out a very long line of curses before actually standing up and heading for the bathroom.
No more than ten minutes later, I was already dressed up and ready.
Taking a cup of freshly made coffee on my right hand, I stood in front of a full length mirror at the entrance of my flat. After a second or two, I waved my hand an inch away from its cold surface, and the reflection was replaced by the image of a small alleyway with stone walls.
Sighing one last time, I placed the now empty cup on the table next to me, and stepped through the mirror, feeling as water washed across my body, and then the coldness of the night air as I was no longer inside my flat.
"Bout freaking time!" Philippe complained from somewhere on my right.
"I'm lending you a hand, so don't complain." I snapped back while turning towards him.
The man was almost five feet in height, with short black hair and dead pale skin; he wore a striped shirt, along with black pants and a small cane on his right arm and a Charlie Chaplin kind of hat on top; and, in human standards, he looked to be around his late thirties.
"I see you chose fancy." I simply commented as we walked down the alley. "Any good nightmares lately?"
"Nothing really inspired." he replied, obviously not in a very good mood. "It's mostly the usual, you know, falling down from a high place or just being chased by a shadow."
"What about that girl you like to visit so much?" I wondered out loud, making his mood worsen a bit.
"Her grandmother came to visit from the old continent." he looked a lot more frustrated than what I had expected. "She's one of those superstitious nut-job old ladies; she put crosses and all over the place and when she learnt about the girls sleep apnea, she began hanging horse shoes too."
"Must be tough being an alp." I patted him on the back a couple of times as we walked out of the alley, I could feel a rather ominous feeling coming from the bar across the street. "Anything else I should know before I start?"
"Well…" he scratched the back of his head, and I turned around to look at him, it was never good news when he did that. "There's a survivor."
"A survivor?" I raised an eyebrow as my mind raced through the possible scenarios. "You being this nervous could only mean…" my eyes widened and I halted in my tracks. "Aw hell no!"
"Please!" Philippe begged as I was already turning around and heading back to the alley. "You know I can't do anything."
"I won't kill a human." I dryly cut his words.
"You can't just walk away." he insisted. "C'mon, Mike, the council would kill me if I let the human escape…"
"No is no!" I stomped my foot against the ground, making small red sparks come out. "You know how much I'm against that, I won't do it."
"What if there was another way?" he almost whispered the words, which made me halt once more. "A way to avoid this whole problem and keep the human alive?"
"Talk." it was an order more than a question.
"We'll hide her." he said. "Convince her that taking our side is the best option, and then, when we get a werewolf case or the like, we can fake the report she was infected… or something."
"You know how hard that would be!?" the words nearly came out like a scream, I could feel the air around me heating up, and I immediately took a deep breath, losing my cool would be bad. "The last werewolf case we had was months ago!" I stared at his soured expression, and chose to insist. "Besides, we could be inspected, and if the human's found, we'd get executed there and then!"
"They'll destroy my hat." he spoke the words in a low tone, but I heard it loud and clear. "The last screw-up put me on the red zone, boss-man told me that one more and I'd get my hat shredded."
I looked at his saddened expression for a moment, and then let out a very loud sigh. "Fine…" I stared at him with seriousness. "But you'll owe me, big."
"No prob, no prob." he smiled broadly all of a sudden. "She's asleep right now inside the bar, I forced her into a loop dream." rubbing his hands together, he began walking towards the place and I followed. "Now let's get this over with before Office sends someone to see what's taking us so long."
"Get her out and I'll clean the place." I instructed as my hands began to glow a faint red, I was literally warming up.
It took Philippe just a minute; he turned to mist, vanished into thin air, and appeared moment's latter coming out of the bar with the human woman in his arms.
I didn't take the time to look at her since I had more important things in mind at the moment.
"Take her to my place, I'll be there in a minute." I grumbled as he passed by, without even turning around to look at him.
Once I was certain he was no longer around the area, I released the energy I had been holding back, causing flames to form around my hands, which slowly spread up my arms until they were engulfed entirely.
Walking closer to the bar, I cast forth several blood-spells before the fire on my hands began to expand. It took a minute or two until the flames had reached the size of a person, but by then the earlier spell had conglomerated all the blood inside the place into independent bodies that would look very much like the original owners.
"Here goes nothing…" I murmured while letting go of the fire, allowing it to silently cross through the window and into the bar's kitchen, detonating itself as it reached a gas pipe.
The entire place was reduced to flaming rubble by the time I had reached the other sidewalk; at this point, I was sure things would go like they would usually go. A neighbor would call 911, and then the firefighters would get there, turn off the flames, and then start piling up corpses that were mostly if not completely burnt to the point they were no longer recognizable.
Taking the alley from which I had come from before, I found the broken mirror out of which I had come from, and into which I'd have to go to return to my place.
Philippe was in the living-room, next to a human woman who was slowly waking up from her forcefully induced sleep; now that I had the time, I took a closer look at her.
I doubted she was any older than thirty, and her light brown hair that was cut and combed in a pixie kind of manner didn't help to make her seem any more mature; her eyes were a dark green, and her skin could only tell me she had been on someplace sunny on a far past.
Aside from that, her build was rather thin, but it was easy to see it wasn't due to the lack of muscle, rather, I guessed she probably went to the gym on a regular basis.
"Give her the entire *Hell and Heaven* explanation before you talk about what happened." I warned Philippe as I went to my room. "She can sleep on your place or the couch, but I ain't gonna babysit her till I've had my ten hours of sleep."
Without even getting the chance to listen to her name, I was already back in my bed falling asleep before anyone had the chance to ask me for more favors.
And then, I slept.
I woke sooner than what I had wanted; like five hours sooner, around ten in the morning.
Scrubbing my eyes until I was certain I could see the light coming from the open window, something that bothered me enough to have waked me up.
Yawning, I stretched out while slowly making my way into a standing position, and then headed to the bathroom.
After having my face washed and my teeth brushed, I headed for the kitchen, though I was forced to go through the living-room, which gave me enough time to clear my thoughts on what I'd be doing before my working shift. Most of it involved me eating and sleeping some more.
"For a kidnaper, I see you sleep very well." the woman's voice was rather stingy, but I ignored it as I headed for the one thing that could put me in a good enough mood to endure this; coffee. "Hey!"
"Not yet." I simply stated while warming the pot with the touch of my hands as a dim red glow emanated from them. "So unless you want me to shake your hand, I suggest you wait."
"When the pale guy told me you were a demon I thought it was figurative." she mumbled as she stared at the dark liquid boiling just an inch away from my skin. "Can you turn yourself into flames like the human Torch?"
"I could turn this entire building into a torch if you want." I snarled while drinking straight from the pot. "…or… I could instantly toast you into nothing more than a little pile of ashes…"
"Ok, ok, no more jokes." she hurried to say as she sat back down on the couch. "Any chances I can eat something?"
"You can go buy yourself something on the supermarket." I commented while drinking some more. "It's just a couple blocks south of here, I think they have something you might like."
"What about your food?" she asked.
"I eat human souls, blood, coffee and takeout pizza." I finished the pot and placed it on the counter. "And I haven't had any of the first two in quite a while…" my eyes flashed a devilish red as I allowed some of my true nature escape. "…you could help me get rid of that itch I've been having."
"Coffee and pizza?" I could see the chill that ran down her spine as she averted her eyes from mine.
"It manages to put me in a good mood, and I feel satiated enough that I don't have to rip off the head of the nearest bypassing human and eat their still warm flesh and blood."
"Ever thought about getting something more… diverse?" she suggested.
"I've tried, but my pay really doesn't let me get much diversity." I commented while lying on the couch she had just emptied. "But I'm not complaining much; once I save up enough money, I'll pay myself a nice assistant and I'll get to move to a less messy job."
"Exactly how does it work?" she asked, the fear in her eyes was lesser by the second, and her curiosity was increasing in its place. "I mean, do you work for some guy named Lucifer and he gives you points for being… well, a demon?"
"That's for the demon's that chose to remain in hell." was my answer. "Those of us who chose to leave had either the choice to pick a job among humans, or to work for the organization that makes sure they don't go all Inquisition on us all over again."
"Aren't there humans who know the truth?" I had seen her question coming a mile away; I figured Philippe had saved himself the trouble of any actually useful explanation.
"There are two kind of *normal* humans that know the truth." I began explaining. "The first got their memory erased, so they don't really remember anything." I paused for a second as the thought crossed my mind. "The second is part of an organization that calls itself *Kronos* and they use what little power and technology they have to hunt and kill whatever *nonhuman* they can get their hands on."
"Wait, what about me?" another question that was easy to anticipate. "Why didn't you just hocus pocus my memories and be done with me?"
"Because the piece of flesh you call a brain has been exposed to magic for a period of time long enough for it to develop immunity against memory wipe spells." I forced the words out like I had said them many times before. "Usually, when we find people with a condition like your own, we kill on sight before they get the chance to know what hit them." I could smell the fear from her spike, it was almost addicting. "Lucky you, an Alp cannot kill a human, and I chose to stop killing humans a long while ago."
"So what's the plan?" the third question I had already been expecting. "All Chaplin told me was I'd stay with you for a while till you fixed things."
"That damn son-of-a…!" I translated the rest of the insult into devil, something that a human would be unable to speak even if they spent the rest of their lives trying; then I sighed and relaxed a bit. "The plan is we turn you into a half-breed." I raised my hand in sign for her to stop before she could open her mouth. "A half-breed is someone born human but got turned into a nonhuman; a werewolf or a vampire would be a good example of that."
"Let me guess, it's either that or I get myself killed." she grumbled the words as she looked at me. "What do you have in mind?"
"Whatever comes first." I lay on the couch, stretching a bit as I relaxed. "Then I'll get rid of you, and hopefully my life will continue on without me getting executed."