On Earth a man died, and in Hell a fresh new demon plummeted to the ground. He landed with a dull thud, kicking up a cloud of red dust. This was nothing special. Dozens were raining from the Pentagram every few minutes lately. Desperation had sinners at each other’s throats and they were arriving in Hell in record numbers.
Very slowly, the sore and shaken creature sat up and squinted around at his new surroundings. The red sky and redder earth, the twisted buildings, the inhuman things that were bustling around, ignoring him.
The large billboard that said, “Welcome to Hell.”
Some appendage on his behind twitched up and suddenly his body was flooded with fright. He dove for safety just as a purple model T screamed down on him. He pressed his back against the nearest wall as it blew by, a harsh voice calling out, “Ha! You missed!”
As he watched, panting, the car swerved further down the road and crushed a small goat... person... creature beneath it’s wheels.
Hideous laughter chased the vehicle out of sight, and no one so much as looked at the twisted, mangled lump that was was smeared on the sidewalk.
Was it... still breathing? Morbidly curious, he moved closer to get a better look.
Oh yes. It was twitching and gasping in agony. Suddenly, one arm snapped back together and started clawing at the ground, pulling the rest of the broken flesh into an alley and out of sight.
He blinked several times, his eyes wide as they could go. “Well that was troubling.” He tried to say. But the only sound that met his ears was the hiss and whistle of an untuned radio.
He realized that the staticky drone had been there the whole time. Whenever he moved, it shifted, like he was waving a radio antenna around.
Other creatures (Demons?) were noticing the noise as well. They were staring at him. Was... was it coming from him? Also, was he naked?!
No... no he was wearing fur? Definitely not what he had on a few minutes ago.
And the ropes were gone! He checked his wrists. Even the gouges and blood he had caused in his struggles were missing. Also, his hands were black and clawed.
He stared at them in fascination and horror.
It got stranger.
Halfway up his forearms, the black switched to plush red fur that ended at his elbows. The skin on his biceps were exposed, but... it was so pale. Like ash or bone.
He scrambled to the nearest window and shuddered at the thing that stared back. It had red on red eyes with slitted pupils and it wore his face, but with the same bleached bone skin and sharp yellow fangs in place of his pearly whites.
There was a tiny red X he noticed on his brow, right where the bullet...
Don’t think about that!
His once dark hair was still black at the edges, but the majority of it was red, and... were those ears sticking up at the top? And also antlers?
He gingerly touched them.
Ears and antlers. Yes indeedy.
The rest of him was just as upsetting. He really didn’t have a fur vest on, as he initially thought. Nope, the fur was attached. It covered everything except his face, neck, biceps, and... strangely his midriff. He had been transformed into some sort of beast?
His shoulders, chest, and back were the same red and black as his hair, and he checked over his shoulder at the quivering thing he kept sensing back there.
It looked almost like a white-tailed deer’s tail, only black where it should have been white. It was currently raised in alarm and showing off his back door to the neighbourhood. The back door was also furry and black, but still.
He glared at the tail and slowly it curled down to cover his dignity.
Satisfied, he gave his audience of gawkers a prim smile and turned around to finish the assessment of his reflection.
He wasn’t as bothered by his nakedness as he should have been, and maybe that was because his privates were thankfully still private. The fluffy red fur started up again around his waist and covered that area entirely. In fact, he was pretty sure he was tucked in the way an animal would be.
Thank God for small miracles.
Ugh... why did his head hurt all of a sudden?
He shook that off and looked down at his legs. More red, switching to black just below the knees, and... dress shoes?
Placing one hand on the building for balance, he picked up on if his feet in the other and scrunched himself up to examine it. Hooves... deer hooves with little red pads on the bottom and dewclaws forming the heel. He pressed on one of the pads with his thumb and cringed at the alien sensation.
“You’re handling this better than most, newcomer.”
He dropped his foot and straightened up like a spring, his smile only growing bigger in his embarrassment.
“And you should be. You got damn lucky you know.” There was a hulking green reptile in a tux leering at him from just outside his personal space. “Most demon’s don’t land down here looking so fine. What say you come with me and we can get acquainted with your new form.”
The lizard was actually drooling as it... no he started to advance.
The deer demon’s tail was back up as he raised his his hands and backed away. “No! No thank you!” He tried to say. Again, the only sound he made was some distortion in the static he was emanating.
There was another demon - a more traditional looking one with horns and wings - advancing from behind as well. What were they even thinking? Sure, times were hard, but you couldn’t just force yourself on someone in the middle of a busy street! Besides, they were male! How would that even work?!
The demony demon grabbed his arms anyways.
He searched around for some help, but the creatures nearby were either chuckling at him, or ignoring his situation and going about their business.
The one holding him said, “Gotta go easy on this ‘un Pomp. Levi’s boys might trade us a safe ‘ouse for ‘em if ‘es still in good condition.”
And that’s enough of that.
The deer snapped a leg back, stabbing his sharp dewclaws into his captor’s jewels. Thankfully that area was was just as vulnerable on a demon and he was promptly let go.
He socked the lizard in the eye and then bolted out of there faster than a bluenose at Mardi Gras.
In fact, he was surprised at how fast he could move. He had easily made a clean sneak, and it felt like he crossed half the city when he slowed down a few minutes later. He didn’t just have the appearance of a deer, but the grace and speed of one as well.
If only he wasn’t so thin and... delicate.
His heart (did he have a heart?) was drumming a panicked tattoo as it finally sank in that he was literally prey for the damned.
How fitting. Dante really had the right idea with the whole “Devine Comedy” thing. If the deer had been watching this happen to any other cannibal, he would have found it hilarious.
There weren’t as many demons in this area, but heads were already turning his way. Drawn by the static, no doubt. He couldn’t turn it off. He was like a bright red, noisy beacon calling the hungry sinners to himself.
He forced his tail back down and grinned wildly at them because these were literally the only armour he had. Might as well put those sharp teeth to use.
No one approached him this time.
He started walking; searching for somewhere safe to gather himself, but there was nothing but clip joints and gin mills as far as the eye could see. He’d probably get jumped even faster if he went in one of those.
A distant ringing caught his ear and he noticed a far off clock tower chiming out that it was 7 o’clock. Whether it was night or morning, he couldn’t tell. The sky wasn’t showing any signs of changing.
Underneath the clock were the words ‘Next Cleanse 3 Days.’
As far he could tell, the clock tower was at the centre of the city, so he turned his back to it and set his feet in the direction of away.
As he walked he tried to distract himself by putting the few puzzle pieces he had together.
First of all was his name. He couldn’t remember it.
He recalled everything else; his father’s estate, his mother’s hut in the bayou, his years of starvation, his big break, his cushy job at the radio station.
The dead gaze of a corpse as it watched him chop intestines into chitlins.
But his name kept slipping from his grasp.
Maybe it was because his father had gotten him baptized as a baby? His was a Christian name after all. It belonged to God. How could a demon have access to something that belong to God?
He giggled madly at the thought, making the sound of someone twisting the nob on a radio dial.
He could recall a name through; borrowed from some half remembered poem.
The avenger. The name he gave to his first victim as a poor attempt at a joke.
I suppose it’ll have to do.
Now if only he could talk, he could start introducing himself.
It took awhile, but the buildings eventually thinned into crumbling outskirts. There were still demons around though, crawling through the ruins and trash like vermin.
Before Alastor could get far enough out of the city to escape them he was forced to stop short by the end of the world.
The clean edge that curved in both directions looked like someone had neatly cut a huge circle of land out with a cookie cutter. Beyond it was a black, starry void. Curious, he crouched down and leaned forward to see if he could see how deep the ground went. He got the shock of his life (death?) when he plunged his face into painfully cold water.
He fell back and spluttered as ripples on the glassy water broke the illusion.
Sitting there, wet, cold, and miserable, with someone’s nearby laughter grating on him, he briefly thought of building a boat and taking his chances. However, as he watched his ripples spread across the silent, dark sea he spotted a great black tentacle slide out from the depths, only to slap down on the disturbed water.
Alastor’s breathing picked up again and his head swam with blood red static. He was trapped. He was scared.
And he was hungry...
Alastor blinked and shook himself. Where had that come from? And were those veves floating around his head?
Wonderful! Another thing to draw attention to himself! Just what he needed!
He sighed and stood up, dusting himself and wringing the last drops of water out of his ears.
He really was getting hungry. Could demons starve to death?
Could he kill and butcher one? If that mangled wretch that had crawled into the alley was any indication, the answer was no.
Perhaps he could cut off a limb?
...He had misgivings about that.
Alastor’s mother taught him to only ever kill if he needed to, and to always eat what he killed. Yes, she had been referring to hunting game and gigging frogs, but he’d taken the lesson to heart.
Every one of his victims absolutely had to die, and once they were dead he couldn’t be expected to let all that meat go to waste.
But the thought of eating part of something when the rest of it was still alive felt... wrong.
Well, he knew from experience that you could rationalize anything when you’re starving.
Good thing he wasn’t. Not yet.
With that thought, he decided that his first course of action was to find something to defend himself with, and his second course was to find something more ethical to eat before he got... desperate.