Matt Hawkins wiped the rain from his eyes and not for the first time cursed his parentage. He’d deliberately not gone into the family business; he’d stayed in school and went to university specifically so he could lead a normal life. But then he should have known that being the son of Caleb Hawkins meant having a normal life was impossible.

The day had started like any other. Up at seven, showered and fed by eight, and sat in his car on the M25 waiting for whatever the snarl up of the day was to clear by eight-thirty. To cap it all it was raining, must be Wednesday. To add to his woes his driver-side wiper had a chunk missing meaning he had to endure the sorrowful squeal as it passed over the windscreen. He made it into the office by nine-twenty, by eleven most of the office had died horribly, and he was standing in the rain wishing his DNA was pulled from a different gene pool.

The Ursus was an impossible creature, part bear part lizard and all kinds of nasty. It towered over Hawkins by a good six feet, but strangely he felt no fear as its golden eyes glared at him from above its foot long snout packed with razor sharp teeth. He was well aware of what those horrible teeth could do; he’d seen the three sisters who worked in accounts tore apart by them less than four minutes ago. The admin head had fared little better, except his end had been quick thanks to the beast taking his head off rather than gutting him.

He felt someway responsible for their deaths; if he hadn’t worked here then they might have all gone on with their simple lives, and never had to face the truth that what they saw as reality was only a sideshow to the real world. But then if he had worked somewhere else it would have been a different set of people suffering the same fate.

The email that had popped up in his inbox just after ten-forty five looked innocuous enough. It came through the spam filters without being pulled and the attachment passed the firewall. But as soon as he opened it and clicked on the attachment he knew something was wrong, when his insides began to churn and he felt reality shift around him he guessed he was fucked. He’d seen some strange ways to call creatures across the gulf, or summon demons from the darkest places. But emailing one in an attachment must win the Noble Prize for best hexing, if there was such a prize.

Why anyone would target him he couldn’t think, he wasn’t part of what his family did so he’d never pissed anyone off that had that sort of power. But his family did, he supposed he should have thought about that before making it is goal to blend in with normal society. They made it their business to piss things off. And as the Ursus solidified in the air in front of him, he guessed someone had decided to take out their anger against the rest of the Hawkins clan and go for the softer target of a non-operation member.

He stood his ground, despite his insistence on not being part of the family business, he was still part of the family and so – like his siblings – had undergone years of training from a young age at their father’s and uncles hands. He’d learned all about Ursus during one particularly hot summer when he was eight. He’d even enjoyed a little jaunt to Kansas with his Uncle Peter; just so he could see how the Shawnee dealt with the problem. And the first thing he’d been taught – before the Kansas trip – was don’t run, running was a sure fire way to get the beasts attention that would result in a bloody death. That little fact had escaped him for the first few seconds after the beast had materialized. Like everyone else he panicked and headed for the exits, unlike most of them he didn’t head for the lift and then stand and wait for it to arrive. He headed for the roof along with several others, it wasn’t until he got there he realized there was no way off except the way he’d got on.

The beast hadn’t bothered with them at first, it attacked those trying for the lift and as he’d climbed the stairs to the roof their screams, mixed with the beasts growls, followed him. As they all ran out into the rain the roof shook under them, a couple lost their balance as a tear appeared in the roof, the beast’s massive clawed paw burst through, pulling a section of roof down. Mike from marketing fell through, no-one waited to see what happened and scattered towards the edges. In seconds the Ursus climbed through the hole it had made and stood roaring at the sky. It was around this time Hawkins remembered his training and stopped running around like a loon. The beast made short work of the rest of the staff, and as the bodies stacked up around him he wondered how he was going to get out of this. Then it came to him, the email.

When you’re summoning you have to leave the path open from where you have summoned from, if not whatever you have summoned is thrown back. He hadn’t closed the email, or its attachment. As the realization hit him Michelle from wages charged out of the stairwell, took one look at the disemboweled bodies scattered across the roof, then registered the beast, screamed and ran back towards the door. The Ursus was on her in a second, she barely had time to scream and her insides were being washed towards the guttering with half a dozen others.

Hawkins took a deep breath; the beast was distracted but was blocking the way down. Then he looked at the hole in the roof it had climbed through, stepping close he looked down, a ten feet drop onto the floor below. He considered his options, stand here until the Ursus ran out of snacks and decided to try anything else left standing, or jump down and end this. He jumped, he’d jumped from higher as a kid, not all the training had been about fighting and killing the un-natural; there was a lot of training involving running for your life.

He hit the floor and rolled, steadying himself at a crouch he looked up through the hole, the beast was still busy with Michelle and so he ran over to his work station. Sure enough the attachment and email were still open; grabbing the mouse he clicked and closed the attachment. Above the beast roared and there was a splintering of wood as it crashed back down through the hole. Without looking round Hawkins clicked and double deleted the email, the roar behind him stopped in mid cycle, he looked round and was alone in a devastated office. He began to laugh, but stopped when the sirens began to arrive and he realized he was the only one alive in a building of dead and mutilated, the phrase Oh fuck came to mind and he was pretty sure the Police wouldn’t buy his story.

All Rights Reserved © Philip Norris July 2012

Advertisements