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20TH CENTURY NECROMANCER by J. Vandersteen 1998.

 

He was the best assassin that had ever lived. So they said. He had a heart of stone and a body of steel. So they said. Still, this man loved her like no man had ever loved her before.

And she loved him. She loved him more than life itself. She loved his hoarse voice. His strong, athletic body. His long, black hair. She loved the black leather and silver crucifix he wore, which were the reasons he had gotten the nickname Johnny Gothic. She didn’t love the work he did, however. She didn’t love the mob hitman Johnny Gothic.

He had made a promise to her, however. Starting today, on all hallow’s eve he had promised her his days as an assassin were over. Now she was waiting for him to arrive. She wore a white flimsy dress that accented her shapely body. She had lit the candles, poured the wine and put on soft music. They would celebrate his promise tonight. They would eat, talk, dance and make love all night.

Then she heard footsteps in the hallway. She smiled. That would be him. She already shivered in anticipation of his touch. Finally she could embrace him once again. She straightened her dress, getting up from her chair. Then she checked her makeup in the mirror. She wanted to look perfect for him.

Then the door swung open. The man who entered wasn’t Johnny, however. It was a tall man with steel-blue eyes and a bald head. He was dressed in an expensive gray suit. He was armed. She screamed when the man fired his gun. The bullets pierced her skin, leaving splashes of blood on her white dress, like paint on a surrealistic painting. As she fell down on the floor the last thing she breathed was Johnny’s name.

***

 

Johnny walked through the hallway to her apartment. With him he carried a silver ring and a bouquet of roses. He would ask her to marry him tonight. Tonight he would start a new life. A life without violence. A life with the woman he loved. He knew the mob wouldn’t be happy about his decision. They had already threatened him. They didn’t want their best hitman to leave. Nothing or no one would be able to change his mind though. This day was the first day of a new life.

At first, he couldn’t find the strength to move when he opened the door. He couldn’t even scream. Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw in that appartment on 22nd street at 0:05 AM. On the floor he found the most precious thing in his world was bathing in her own blood. Cold, pale dead. Nothing would be all right for Johnny Gothic ever again.

He held her dead body in his arms for hours. He kept caressing her pale face, crying, praying for God to bring her back to life again. But no miracle happened.

***

Drinking himself into a stupor in a dark and seedy bar in Manhattan, his thought betrayed how much Johnny had changed since he knew Maria. In the past his only thoughts would have been to avenge Maria’s death. The old Johnny would have tracked down the killer and would have shot him like a dog. The new Johnny could only think of how he could get her back. He couldn’t live without her. She had become as much a part of him as his heart, his soul, his eyes, his mouth, his breath. He was no longer complete. He had to get her back, or he would die himself.

Then he thought of Alexander. He had met the man in the same bar he was in now. Alexander was always bragging about his knowledge of the occult. Johnny always had possessed an interest in the occult. It probably came from his constant confrontations with death and the dark side of man. That’s why he’d always listened to Alexander’s weird stories and drunken ramblings. He’d never really believed the stories of demon summonings, curses and necromancy though.

But – imagine! Imagine his stories were true. What if Alexander truly was a practitioner of the black arts. What if he really was some kind of 20th century necromancer? What if he could bring Maria back from the dead? He had to believe. He had to try.

***

The room was small, cold and dark. The only light came from a lit candle. The only furnishing consisted of chair, a desk and a lot of bookcases. Someone was sitting at the desk, his head lying on pile of opened books, snoring loudly.

Johnny walked into the room. The door had been locked, but Johnny hadn’t ever had any use for keys.

"Alexander," he said in his hoarse voice. "Wake up."

Suddenly the man was awake. "Johnny? What the fuck are you doing here in the middle of the night?!"

"I need your skills, your knowledge, Alexander. This is the night you get to prove to me your stories were true. Tonight, I want you to raise the dead."

***

Alexander drew a circle on the floor with white chalk. In the circle he drew a pentagram. At each corner of the pentagram he placed a candle. In each candle he dropped a piece of hair. Then he took a book from his bookcase. It was old and musty. Tome of Darkness it said on the cover, inscribed in gold. He opened the book, flipping through its yellowed pages. Then, when he’d found what he’d been looking for, he started to chant in a strange language. "Repeat these words after me," he told Johnny. Johnny did what was told him.

***

In the hallway were two armed men. Their faces were hardened, a look of determination in their eyes. They checked their guns and counted back from 10.

"10…9…8…7…"

***

In the pentagram a circle of light started to appear. It became bigger and bigger, it started to look like a window. Then a long, sinewy, rusty-colored arm came out of the window of light. It pushed against the top of the window, making it even bigger. Then, when it had decided the window was big enough, it stepped through it.

It was twice the size of a man. Its rusty-brown skin was blistered. Its head looked like that of a goat, mixed with that of an alligators . Its eyes burned, its long black tongue lolling out of its maw. Then it spoke. Its voice sounded like an engine. Loud, powerful, roaring.

"Who has called forth Bezekial?!"

"I did," Johnny said and stepped forward. Alexander pulled him back a little. "Stay out of the circle. He can’t harm you, as long as you stay out of the circle."

***

"…6…5..4.."

***

"I want you to bring back the person I love," Johnny told the demon.

"Do not speak that word in my face again," Bezekial growled. "So, what if I bring back this… person. What do I get in return?"

"Everything you…"

***

"…3…2…ONE!"

***

The door was blown from its hinges as the two armed men entered the room, their guns firing in all directions. Johnny recognized them immediately, they used to be his colleagues, ice-cold assassins like him. Drawing his nine millimeter he jumped for cover, as a hail of bullets filled the room.

Bezekial roared, aroused by this display of violence.

Alexander ran away, backwards, looking for cover. He went the wrong way. Johnny yelled at him to stop, but the necromancer couldn’t hear him over the noise of the blazing guns. Alexander stepped into the circle. When he realized his mistake he turned around and looked in the eyes of the demon. The demon smiled with its alligator-like fangs. Then it grabbed Alexander’s head and ripped it from its body, the spine still attached to it. He threw it against the wall behind him, the head exploding against the concrete wall like overripe fruit.

"And now… Death walks the earth…" The monster hissed, stepping from the circle Alexander had broken.

"What the fuck is that thing?!" The assassins yelled, as Bezekial started to move towards them, slowly, menacing. They emptied their guns on it, having lost all interest in Johnny, their original target. Their bullets could not harm the demon, though. It cornered them against the wall and ripped them apart. Their screams were even louder then their gunfire had been. The ceiling, the floor, the walls became red with blood.

Then the demon turned around to face Johnny. Johnny aimed his Beretta at it, although he knew it would be of no use. The demon spoke again. "Thank you for bringing me to this world, mortal. Still, now it is time for you to die…"

"I’m not afraid to die. Without my love there is no reason for me to live, anyway."

"I told you not to use that word!" The demon screamed in agony and ran towards Johnny, blind with rage.

Johnny ducked and rolled between his legs. As he got on his feet again, he thought of the Celtic fairy tales his Irish mother had told him. There was something that made many of the evil monsters in those stories vulnerable.

Gritting his teeth Johnny took the silver ring he’d intended to give to Maria… and shoved it in the demon’s ass.

The beast screamed, the sound of a thousand seagulls. The pure silver, the aura of love it surrounded, it all burned in its body. It turned around, its face contorted in pain it tried to tell Johnny something, but it couldn’t find the strength.

"Go back to hell, motherfucker!" Johnny told the demon and put a bullet in its head. This time, the bullet did have its desired effect. The demon was blown to pieces, showering Johnny with black blood and gore.

***

It took him a few minutes to recover from the shock of the things he’d seen, but then his mind worked like that of a ruthless assassin once again. The cops would arrive soon, so he had to get out of there. But he wouldn’t go without a few souvenirs. He grabbed a bag and started to fill it with Alexander’s books and magic trinkets. This time his plan hadn’t worked, but he’d also learned something. If a demon like Bezekial existed, nothing was impossible. There should be other ways to bring Maria back from the dead. Johnny swore he would try every way he’d be able to find it, even if he had to travel to hell and back for it.

 

THE BEGINNING

 

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