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The Knight of Innocence

By Julius A.M. Brown

Chapter 1

My back hit the glass door, and I had to dive to my left when a couch came soaring at me. I managed to barely get out of the way of the second piece of furniture to be flung at me tonight. The glass doors behind me exploded outward, and somehow I knew I was going to be blamed for it. It wasn’t my fault this school decided to have an office with glass walls. Who the heck builds a high school with glass walls? No one! One ticked off student with a rock and that’s the budget for the year. I rolled twice and then settled into a crouching position.

Two hours ago I was sitting in my favorite bar and grill with a burger on the way. That’s when the news came over the television above the bar. Now, all the other patrons were pissed when the pay-per-view fight was interrupted by local news of the recent vandalism of a local high school, but I on the other hand was downright irate. I paid for the burger that I’d never get to eat and drove over to the high school in question. What do I find? A fully dressed yet still half-naked girl cowering in a corner with her strapping young boyfriend shoved into a trash can. Then of course there was the minotaur with lust in his eyes staring at the girl. Why couldn’t it just be vandals that were vandalizing a high school?

The minotaur that had just thrown the couch at me bellowed in anger so loud that the remaining glass shook. “I heard you the first time,” I said as I stood and leveled my sword before me. It was four feet long from the tip of the blade to the pommel with a cruciform cross guard. If you looked at the blade closely, you could see an inscription. “See this sword? Yell all you want. Either give me the girl and leave or I will have to kill you. Any other options went out the door with the couch.”

The minotaur stomped his left foot and scraped it back across the ground. His chest muscles pulsed under the ripped-up football jersey he was wearing. He snorted and yelled in a surprisingly wheezy voice, “She’s mine!” That’s when he lowered his horns and charged me.

“No, no, no,” I yelled. I started to jump out of the way, but the bastard leapt forward into a diving tackle. He hit me square in the chest. It was a miracle that his horns were too wide to impale me. The air was blasted from my body as we exploded through the glass wall out into the night. We passed the landing of the main office and were in free fall over the almost two dozen stairs that led to the parking lot. My brain told me I was going to die if I didn’t do something. My gut told me that my brain was right. I wrapped my arms around the minotaur’s neck and arched my back with everything I could muster. I flipped him over me and turned as much as I could.

The ground came flying at us. When we crashed the minotaur was under me, and I smacked against his head and chest. I bounced off him and kept flying backward. My head smacked against asphalt as my momentum sent me tumbling across the parking lot. The passenger door of a red Dodge Charger crunched in as I crashed into it. I didn’t want to get up after that. There are some things that seem pointless, but there was a girl at the top of the stairs scared out of her mind, and her boyfriend was probably hurt. I climbed to my feet as the minotaur came stomping toward me. My sword had landed between us.

I grunted and charged toward the monster. The minotaur roared and charged me. He ran over my sword and closed on me so fast that I wondered if he had even felt that fall. His head dipped down so he could gore me, but I jumped. Using his head as a springboard to clear the rest of his body, I dropped into a forward roll across the ground. The asphalt ripped through my jeans as I skidded on my knees across the parking lot. Blood trailed from both of my legs, but I had my sword again. The monster turned on me in an instant. He threw a punch, and I had to scramble to my feet to get out of the way. His fist added a new pothole to the parking lot.

At 6’2” and about 230 pounds I’m a big guy, but let’s face it, I’m human. I was the underdog here. The minotaur was ten feet tall and weighed six or seven hundred pounds of solid muscle. I wasn’t trading blows with him, but I wasn’t backing down either. “Come at me, you walking barbecue plate,” I yelled. He did, and I couldn’t have been happier when he reared back for a punch that would knock me clear out of the school district. I dove forward beneath his swing. I rolled back up to my feet and spun around with my sword slashing across. The blade of my sword cut through the muscle of his leg with ease. He went down with a howl of pain. When he hit the ground the parking lot shook, and I almost lost my balance. I leapt at his back with the intent of stabbing him through the heart, but just as I did the minotaur rolled over. He caught me in two powerful hands and started to squeeze me as if he was trying to get the last bit of toothpaste out of me.

“You die now human, just like every other stupid little monster hunter.”

“I’m not a monster hunter,” I wheezed. My ribs were straining. I had one last chance, so I drew my sword back and plunged it straight down at the minotaur’s throat. There was a sound of steel scraping against stone as I buried my blade to its hilt in the monster’s throat. Blood gurgled from his mouth, and his eyes bulged just as the life drained from them. His grip loosened, and I fell onto his chest. I just lay there for a moment coughing and gasping for air.

When I rolled off the minotaur onto the ground, something terrifying surged through my body. There was no pain, but I felt a piece of my life fade away. In the back of my mind, I could feel something akin to the loss of a distant cousin or a friend of a friend. It just felt wrong, like tearing a page from a thick novel. I closed my eyes as I felt my soul shake and quiver. The number thirteen was burned into my mind. I got up and wrenched my sword free of the monster’s throat.

I was going to go up and rescue the girl, but she and her boyfriend were walking down the stairs. They looked a little banged up, but they weren’t hurt. I waved them over. “You guys okay?”

The girl nodded, but the guy looked past me. His eyes filled with anger, and he shoved me. “You messed up my car, shithead.”

I looked down at where he had touched me. This guy was my height and a bit more muscular than I was. I was used to that. I wasn’t used to being shoved by people that I had just saved. “I’m sorry, what?” I asked.

He got right in my face and yelled, “You dented my car.”

“Yeah, with my head after I dented the ground the same way.” I touched the back of my head and showed him my bloody hand to illustrate my point.

“I just got that car. You had better be able to pay for it.”

“So you have nothing to say about the minotaur? The huge monster that attacked you? The one I just saved you from?”

“What do you want, a medal? The fucking cops would have done that but without messing up my car. In fact, let’s call them. You had better have insurance.”

As he fished out his phone, I turned and walked over to his brand-new car. I took my sword and poked through one of his tires. He screamed. I walked around to the other three and repeated the process. Then I smashed through the driver’s window and popped the hood. I stuck the blade of my sword through the GPS screen while I was leaning in. The young man ran over to voice his opinion once again. This time he punched me. He had a good strong punch. I hit him with an uppercut that lifted him into the air, and when he hit the ground, I put a size-fourteen work boot into his gut. Then I opened his hood and slashed every tube and wire I could see.

I took his cell phone and ground it into the parking lot. I turned to the young lady with my most polite and sincere smile. “Want to call your parents for a ride?”

She nodded.

While she called her parents, I went over to the minotaur’s body. It was already breaking down into the basic elements of the mortal world. Bone to earth, blood to water, and flesh to grass. Mixed in with it all was a clear odorless gel. Some people call it slime, but those of us in the know call it ectoplasm, the byproduct of existing in a world that is not your own. It was shifting back to the world from which it came, our sister world, the Second Earth. In minutes, all evidence that monsters exist in the world would be gone. I said a prayer over the body and returned to the girl.

“What was that thing?” she asked me.

“Do you really want to know?” She nodded slowly. I looked her in the eye and said, “It was a creature called a minotaur. It had a mother and dad like you. It was a monster, and it had a soul.”

She looked at me with a skeptical expression. “A monster? Monsters aren’t real.”

“Monsters are as real as you and I. Are you religious?” I asked. She nodded. “Well tonight you met a monster. One day, hopefully a long way off, you will meet an angel. They’re real too.”

She smiled at that. A little light in the darkness is good. “Well what about you? What are you?”

I sighed and said humbly, “I’m a knight.” I took her phone and ground it into the asphalt the same way I had done her boyfriends. Climbing into my old beat up Dodge Prospector, I turned the ignition. My truck creaked and clanked before it turned over. The cab rattled for a moment, and then I pulled out of the parking lot into the street. I drove through the streets of Baltimore, Maryland in the moonlight, thinking about that girl and her boyfriend. I thought about what must be going through both of their heads. It’s hard when you first find out.

Ignorance Is Bliss. I have said it, you have said it, and just about every person in the civilized world has said it. That’s why it is literally the worst curse ever placed upon humanity. Ignorance keeps us from seeing the world as it really is. Ignorance keeps us from learning the lessons our ancestors taught us. Ignorance keeps people from trusting what they know deep down in the core of their being. Ignorance has us make fun of, shun, imprison, and utterly disavow anyone that tells us the truth.

The truth is that we are not alone. The truth is that most people only see half of the world around them, if that much. The truth is that magic exists. The truth is that the bible is missing a lot of information. The truth is that everyone is right about their religion and wrong at the same time. The truth is darkness. The truth is scary. The truth is anger. The truth is painful. The truth may get you killed.

If you still want to know the truth, then I will give you what I know. First off, do not forget what you already think you know. Now take everything you have ever dismissed as childish, myth, fantasy, or blasphemy. It’s all true! Not right but true. It is all connected. The Bible, the Quran, Scientology, the occult, Dungeons and Dragons, yesterday’s crossword puzzle, Disney, Walmart, Atlantis, dinosaurs, the Loch Ness monster, and yes the fortunes inside of fortune cookies. Every bit of information that we have as a whole is connected to the truth. It has all been distorted, changed, and watered down so that people can be happy. So that we can be ignorant.

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn’t. We did it to ourselves. Have you ever heard a rumor at your job about you? I bet it had an ounce of truth to it and ten gallons of fiction, right? Ever see that anywhere else? Like when you played telephone in kindergarten? You would think growing up would stop the confusion, but it just made it more vicious, right? The longer you are exposed to the curse the worse it is. But don’t worry. It’s easy to overcome. Just take your head out of your butt. You aren’t always right! You aren’t the smartest person in the room!

We are all children, and will be until we grow up and stop acting like we are the only intelligent beings on this planet. Monsters exist. Fairies exist. Vampires and werewolves exist. They are living right here with us, but most of us will never know it. Why? Because Ignorance Is Bliss. Everyone has heard the creek of a door and thought it was the wind. Everyone has seen a scary shadow on the wall and thought it was a coat rack. Everyone has smelled something rancid and thought it was just something their kid spilled. But it’s not the wind; it’s a goblin sneaking into your house. It isn’t a coat rack but a satyr stealing your beer. It’s not a spill that you smell but a troll about to eat your family. Monsters are real. They always have been.

How do I know all of this? I am a Knight of the Crucifixion, the first true order of knights. You have heard of Jesus and the twelve Apostles. Well some things were purposefully left out of their tales. One hidden bit of knowledge was that Jesus gave each of his twelve followers a sword that represented an aspect of humanity. The swords didn’t grant them special abilities or powers, but the swords did grant them a chance to fight back against beings that would harm any of God’s children. The Apostles became the Knights of the First Order of Christ. When a knight retired or died, their sword was passed on to a person that represented the aspect that it was meant to defend. The knights that came after the original twelve were forever known as the Knights of the Crucifixion. I don’t know who decides if someone is worthy of a sword, but they aren’t human. They are probably angels, and I am guessing they take their orders from their boss.

Four years ago, I begged God for a chance to stop something horrible from happening. He gave me that chance by giving me a sword. Now I am a Knight of the Crucifixion and a member of The Church. The Church is a secret organization that has existed for thousands of years. It is not controlled by any particular religious faith or government, but it has its connections to just about everything. Its mission is to maintain the balance of power between humanity and the other beings of the world, to protect the entire world from supernatural evil, and not to pay me. Seriously, I just found out I was supposed to be paid for this, and I haven’t seen a check in four years.

My name is Michael White. I won’t tell you my whole name because that can get you killed. I am the owner and sole employee of White Knight Construction. I am a part-time private investigator. I am the grandson of a Paladin. I am a Knight of the Crucifixion. When you have a problem that seems too big for you, when you think the police can’t help you, when the shadows are surrounding you, or when you hear something go bump in the night, just ask for help. I will be there.

If you don’t believe me that’s fine. But on the off chance that I am right, if you have ever seen something dart away in the corner of your vision, if you have ever felt a presence that you couldn’t find, or if you have ever heard something go bump in the night then keep reading. You might learn something.

Chapter 2

I got home and took a shower. My water heater works whenever it feels like it, so the warm water became ice-cold the moment I stepped under the showerhead. The anxiousness of battle washed away along with the sweat and blood. The warm water came back just as my teeth started to chatter. When I got out of the shower, I looked at myself in the mirror. Like I said, I am 6’2 and 230 pounds of evil-ass-kicking-awesomeness. My body has a runner’s build of lean flat muscles that I got from getting my butt kicked by my grandpa while he taught me the business. I’m an American of the black variety with light skin. For simplicity, I keep my hair cut bald on the sides with a fade on the top. The only jewelry I have are a small stud earring in my left ear and a gold chain that holds a crucifix around my neck.

There are runic tattoos on my back, neck, arms, legs, chest, and stomach. The ones on my back run across my shoulders, down my spine, and around several random spots that I think are chi points. In my short life I have managed to get a few fading scars on my chest, face, legs, and stomach. On my left shoulder, there are five puncture wounds in the shape of a clawed hand. It shows no signs of fading. I don’t have six-pack abs, but I keep trying to get them. Oh well. Maybe 200 sit-ups a day isn’t enough.

I grabbed some shorts and went to bed. It felt like I had just closed my eyes when my alarm went off. Morning was here already, and I felt like crap. Today was supposed to be a big day for me. I did my usual 200 push-ups, 200 sit-ups, and 200 squats. No matter how much I do, I never really look like I am in shape.

Once I was done working out, I went into my kitchen pantry. I opened it and looked around at enough boxes of allergy medicine to last anyone else a lifetime. I would go through them in a couple of days. On the floor was a clear storage bin; inside were the protein bars that my best friend, Aaron, made me keep. They were made from a bunch of plants that don’t sound like grapes or watermelons and a bunch of chemicals that supposedly are healthier for you than the nutrients in grapes or watermelons. They smelled like fresh cow pie and tasted like a cow ate a cow pie then crapped it out again. I ate one, and having survived that attempt at suicide, I reminded myself that the life of a knight was supposed to be filled with peril.

Finally, I got dressed in a pair of jeans, a gray tee shirt, and a cheap pair of sneakers. It was the nicest stuff I had to wear since I don’t spend much on everyday clothing. I clipped my gun and survival knife on my belt and pulled my shirt down to cover them. Then I grabbed my jean jacket, keys, and my sword before heading to the door.

My phone rang just as I was leaving. I looked at the screen and didn’t know if I should be happy, sad, or terrified. The screen showed me a picture of an old man flipping me off as I tried to take his picture. I answered, “White Knight Construction, Michael White speaking.”

A hard voice edged in mirth came back to me, “So, you finally came up with a name?”

“I figured I would go with what I know. My name is White, I’m a knight, and I do construction,” I said. “What can I do for you, padre?”

“It sounds good kid. The news this morning had some idiot talking about how some guy with a sword hacked up his car. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?” he asked. There was a hint of laughter in the voice of Gregory Greyshadow. He was a catholic priest and one of the hardest men I had ever met. I had known him for a little over a year now and had come to love most of our conversations.

“Nope. All I did was save some dumb kid and his girlfriend from a minotaur and then got yelled at by the dumb kid. I don’t remember hacking up a car,” I said.

“Good. Did you see anything else last night?” he asked me. His tone had changed. The mirth that lined his voice had vanished.

“No. What’s going on?” I asked.

“You at home?” Priest Greyshadow asked. I told him yes, and he told me to check the news. I didn’t have cable, internet, or a converter box for my TV. “Get a paper. It’s best if you see it for yourself. Call me back ASAP.”

We both hung up. I put my sword in my baseball bag and headed out. My apartment is on the ground level of an old building near the center of town. There are four units to my building, so I have two neighbors above me and one beside me. The neighbors rarely interact with me, and I don’t blame them. Most nights I come home covered in my own blood and with claw marks all over my truck. No sane person should want to deal with a neighbor like that.

The exception is Mrs. Faraday, who was always happy to see me. Mrs. Faraday lives next to me and is 87 years old. Her husband is even older than she is, but he lives in a home on the other side of town. She is a kind old lady with a few medical problems but nothing that has kept her from living alone. She never says much and just sits outside with her lawn ornaments. She has thirty or forty garden gnomes. She always waves just as she did today when she saw me running over to my truck.

“Michael, where are you running off to so early? Another job interview?” she asked.

“No ma’am. I am just off to run a few errands. Do you want me to mow your lawn this weekend?” I asked her.

She looked around at the shared lawn. The grass wasn’t tall, but I know she liked it trimmed so she could better appreciate her gnomes. The landlord would come out to cut the grass every two weeks, but it had rained right after his last visit, and he wasn’t due back for a while.

“Oh, if you wouldn’t mind. If my Peter was well he would take care of it,” she told me. “But your allergies, please take plenty of medicine before you do.”

I chuckled. “I will, I promise. Also, if you want to go see Mr. Faraday this weekend, I would be glad to take you,” I told her.

“That would be lovely. He loves when you tell him about your adventures,” she said as she clapped happily. I waved and drove off to the nearest gas station.

I bought a paper and sat in my truck to look through it. There was a lot going on in the city the next few days. Nothing major. The Orioles were away this weekend. There was an art exhibit opening today but a stone statue of a gladiator had gone missing from the exhibit hall, and as usual there was a lot of local government crap. I called up Priest Greyshadow and asked him what I was looking for.

“See that article about the dead guy found out by Bear Creek?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Guy was strangled. Cops say he was also covered in claw marks,” he said.

“Since when do animals strangle people?” I asked.

“Right, but it gets worse,” he said.

“How?” I asked.

“Get your ass over here first. It gets worse, but it gets a little more worse before that,” he told me. Priest Greyshadow didn’t give me a chance to argue and just hung up. I revved up my truck and hit the road.

Chapter 3

I rolled down to 409 Cathedral Street and into the parking lot of a large Catholic Church. Well, the word large doesn’t exactly cover it. This church takes up two city blocks. Its full name is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but it was better known as the Baltimore Basilica. The Cathedral is a monumental neoclassical style building whose main entrance is designed as a classical Greek portico with a double hex style pattern of columns. Behind the columns, you can see a pair of cylindrical towers rising to the sky. The church has existed since the early 1800s, and until recent years more priests were ordained there than at any other church in the U.S. That change may or may not have something to do with me showing up in town.

I walked up the front steps and into the entry hall. There were two people there. One was a deacon that immediately looked at me as if I was an intruder. The other was an older woman named Hillary who smiled at me from behind the visitor’s desk. I smiled, waved, and spoke very politely.

“Hi,” I said. “Is Priest Greyshadow in?”

Hillary started to nod and say something to me, but the deacon cut in. “He is, but why are you here?”

The deacon was an older man as pious as any other Sunday Christian…or Catholic in this case. Don’t misunderstand—not all the people in the world that follow Catholicism or Christianity are assholes, but a good number, just like with every other religion, exist. He was in his early forties, tall like me, broad shouldered, and black. I remembered his name was Darrel, and like most people, he did not like me. I have a winning personality, but sometimes people just don’t warm up to you.

“Well, Darrel,” I said.

“It’s Deacon—show some respect,” he said.

Older guys are really protective of their titles. I let him have it. “Well, Deacon, he asked me to come over and have a chat. You know, red phone business and such,” I said with a smile. Darrel started to say something, but I leaned to the side and said to Hillary, “You can let Priest Greyshadow know I’m here.”

Hillary smiled and picked up the desk phone. The Deacon calmly shoved me back around to face him. I saw something in his eyes but diverted my gaze slightly. He was angry, but he hid it well. “Young man, do you think you can just walk in off the street and demand to see Priest Greyshadow?”

“It’s Sir, Deacon, not young man,” I said. “Mutual respect. Try it.”

“You do not belong here,” he said in a soft voice.

“It’s a church. Anyone that was created by God is welcome here,” I said. “In fact, I think I have proof of my divine creation right here.” I reached over my shoulder into my bag and pulled out my middle finger for him to admire.

His eyes went wide, and I saw rage flash over his features. “You don’t deserve what he gave you,” he said through clenched teeth.

“Well, I can’t argue with you there. But you have no right to judge me. That’s his job, read your bible,” I said.

Hillary spoke up, “Head on back, Michael. Father Greyshadow is waiting for you in his office.”

“Thank you, Miss Hillary,” I said.

Darrel and I exchanged glances. I walked past him into the church proper and marched back to the offices. The last office at the end of the long hall said in black letters ‘Priest Gregory Greyshadow.’ The door was cracked open. I knocked.

“Just get your ass in here, kid,” said a voice that was already exasperated with me. I wasn’t supposed to knock on his door. Priest Greyshadow hated it when I knocked so I did it every time I came to his office.

I walked in and found two men looking at me. The first was Priest Gregory Greyshadow. He was an older man, somewhere between sixty and a hundred. His head was bald, but he sported a devilish goatee of wizardly white hair. Priest Greyshadow was wearing his clergy blacks with his white collar. He was an average-sized man with a lean build. Scars could be seen on his head, face, forearms, and hands. His fists had been broken so many times in his youth that they were gnarled, large, and warped. I am sure they had broken even more jaws. He was sitting behind his desk with a cigarette, that he wasn’t supposed to have, burning in the ashtray.

Priest Greyshadow pointed at me and said, “This is him, Michael White. Michael, this is Detective Garrett Clay.” There were two chairs in front of Priest Greyshadow’s desk. In the chair on the right, the one I prefer to sit in, was a man wearing a cheap suit. When he turned to look at me, Priest Greyshadow pointed to my bag and shook his head.

“Hello Michael,” Detective Clay said as he stood up. He held out his hand to shake mine. We traded grips. He didn’t try to crush my hand, but he had an ironclad grip. He was a little taller than me and more muscular than I was. His blond hair was in a buzz cut so sharp that it could slice you open. He was a handsome guy with a confidant, calming smile. He was the kind of guy women would like, men wouldn’t trust, and that I had grown up in fear of.

“Hey,” I said. I caught his eyes flicker up and down for an instant. He was sizing me up. He let go of my hand and went to sit back down. “I’m sorry. Could I have that seat?” He looked at me for a moment as if I was a little strange, but he moved over to the left chair. I thanked him and sat down in my spot. I put my bag on the ground beside my right foot as far from this man as I could manage.

“Now like I was saying, Detective, I don’t do that kind of stuff anymore. Pretty much I just preach, tend to the flock, get drunk, rinse, and repeat,” said Priest Greyshadow.

“I understood that the first time, Father. I just want to know if you have any ideas about what happened,” the detective said. He tapped the manila folder that was closed on the desk.

Priest Greyshadow opened the folder and began going through the contents. They were crime scene photos. He picked up each one and took a long moment to examine it before setting it to the side, right where I could plainly see them while sitting back in my chair. The pictures were of either a very good horror movie or a gruesome crime scene. There were four or five bodies piled on each other in one picture. Some were ripped apart by the limbs and joints. One was simply split in two, and not the way you would think—there was a front and back picture.

“This was all in one warehouse?” Priest Gregory asked. The detective nodded. “Well, like I said, I don’t do P.I. work anymore. As of the Baskin case, I haven’t taken a case outside the interest of The Church. But Michael here, I taught him most of what I know. He could help you.”

The detective turned to me and asked, “You’re a P.I.?”

I shrugged. “The priest helped me get my license, but I have never taken a case,” I said. Priest Greyshadow thought that it would be good for me to get my private investigation license. It had been time-consuming, but it was good training. Plus, it gave me an excuse to be armed at all times.

“How long have you had the license?” he asked.

“A few months,” I said.

Detective Clay gathered the photos and closed the folder. “No offense, but I need someone that isn’t wet behind the ears,” Clay said.

“The kid’s good. He has a bad habit of solving problems,” said Greyshadow.

“It wasn’t his name in the department’s Rolodex, it was yours. I need experienced eyes,” Clay said. He stood up to leave.

“The bodies were all of young people, right? Some teenagers and some just a bit older?” I asked.

Clay stopped halfway to the door. “Yeah,” he said. “How did you know?”

“Some of the clothing on the females was pretty bright and flamboyant. Some had bunches of bracelets, and there was a pacifier on a necklace around one of their necks. They were at a rave,” I said. Detective Clay sat back down. “There were three different scenes in those photos. The time stamp shows them as days apart. I am guessing you found claw marks on some of the bodies. Puncture marks as well, like something bit them, but the bite doesn’t match any known animals?”

“Yeah, we were racking our brains over it. Father Greyshadow’s name came up as knowing about stuff like this,” he said. “Occult stuff, religious yahoos with god complexes.”

“Nope. Just monsters,” I said.

“Someone would have to be one to do this,” said Clay.

“No. Monsters as in real monsters did this. Things with claws and fangs,” I said.

Clay looked at me like I was an idiot. He stood up and walked to the door. “I knew your name before this case came up, Greyshadow. My father had mentioned you when I was growing up. Said you were a loose cannon and a nut job. This was a waste of time,” he said. He left and slammed the door closed.

“Just had to throw it out there, didn’t you?” asked Greyshadow.

“I don’t see the point in lying about it. Either he believes the truth or he doesn’t. His personal perceptions aren’t my problem. My problem is that people are dead, and the monster behind it is going to kill again,” I said.

“Kid, you need to get your shit together. We lie about this all the time. Since you came back from seeing your grandfather, you haven’t been yourself. I know Frank didn’t tell you to start running your mouth,” said Greyshadow.

“Nope, but keeping magical beings a secret has worked out so well for us. We live in a world of fairies, vampires, werewolves, and wizards. Doesn’t it bother you that less than a tenth of the world’s human population knows that?” I asked.

“Kid, it isn’t our job to tell the world. It’s our job to defend it,” said Greyshadow.

I couldn’t argue with him. Defending the world from the supernatural was our job. I was just sick and tired of keeping it a secret.

“It was the guy from a few months back. It’s his M.O. Throw a rave, gather young people, summon demons,” I said.

“What are you going to do?” Greyshadow asked.

“Go take a look at this murder at Bear Creek. They could be connected or not. But either way, if there is a monster killing people, I am going to find it and deal with it,” I said.

“Keep your phone on and keep your head straight. I know you want to get this asshole, but you dying doesn’t help. I’ll let Aaron know you might need him. You want to call in the wizard?” Greyshadow asked.

“Yeah. This was her case. She came to us for help, and with a wizard summoning demons to his beck and call, I’m going to need back up,” I said. I grabbed my bag and headed for the door.

“Michael, what’s so different about today that’s got you in such a get up and go mood?” he asked me.

“Kerri-Lynn is coming to see me,” I said.

This is an excerpt is from the novel The Knight of Innocence, published in Aug. of 2021.
Edited by Marie Ginga

Julius A.M. Brown is a lover of fiction with a degree in Criminal Justice. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, their son, and their dog. Find him on his website Julius Brown Books, on Twitter. and on Instagram.