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The Wardens: The First Hints of Darkness

By Jerred Fournier All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Mystery

Blurb

The line between the normal and the mystical Imagine monsters do not live under your bed. Instead, they walk the streets next to you. Some eat at the same restaurant as you. Some are your waitress who serves you food with a smile. The only thing that separates you from that part of the world is your disbelief and a bit of magic. Who protects those who are unaware of those monsters? Who enforces the rules that a society would need to survive? Enter the Wardens. Sworn defenders of the rules that protect the mundane from the supernatural. Both cops and sometimes executioners, they ensure that the peace is kept. Meet two of the newest Wardens. Alexandria Sara, also known as Alex. A college woman who is studying to master mechanical engineering. Thrown into the world that wants her dead. Why does she take up the mantle of a Warden? Meet Nick, a former soldier of fortune, now he fights for a cause much bigger than himself. Fighting his whole life against things that breath, has a pulse and can be killed. How will he handle fighting things that break all of those rules? What mysteries will be unveiled behind all of their cases? What insidious plot threatens everything we know?

Chapter 1: The First Hunt for Mr. Widemouth

In the Millennia of Human history there have been many amazing cities. Each time they stretched the imagination of what mortals can achieve. You go back far enough, you encounter cities that now live in infamy. The truth of their story is different. New York is the modern city that pushes the imagination. Of not only what the mortal world can achieve, but also what the Supernatural world can achieve.

It is the world capital of relations between mortals and the supernaturals. In the city that never sleeps lives every type of creature that normal people would call monsters. With every crossroad, a Demon or a Devil can show up to make a deal. In any club or bar you can even encounter a pack of Werewolves or a group of Vampires and you would never even know it.

This city with lights that are forever on, has its darkness in it’s hidden the world. It is not unique in this but as the capital, it is the place where what the Veil is both at it’s thickest and thinnest. The Veil protects those who are unaware of what could hunt them as that is the law. As with any government that has, it’s laws it requires people to enforce those rules.

Enter the Wardens; enforcers of the laws and experts at killing, if necessary, Supernaturals. It is not a job one works from nine to five, it is a life that one must accept. It’s a life, not only must a Warden always prepare to defend themselves, but they will most likely die on the job. Few members live past the six-month mark. Once they make that benchmark their life expectancy skyrockets.

In a somewhat darker part of New York, there are a series of warehouses. Warehouses that needed to condemned is one of the two newest members of the Wardens. His name is Nick and the other newest member of the Wardens is his partner Alexandria or Alex as she prefers. He finds himself in this dark and dilapidated part of the city hunting a monster.

Details of this monster are not well known for this man. All he knows is that it has taken children and he is sure that it has a physical body; bullets will work on it. He also has a lead from his partner that it uses a specific warehouse to rest and eat. On his headset is the voice of his partner and her caring voice is warning him of the problem with his plan.

“Nick you do not know the origins of this creature, you do not know if your bullets cannot hurt it.” Her voice flooded with concern for this man she knew little of. It also had the annoyance like a mother arguing with her child.

“Bullets made of blessed Iron,” his voice near emotionless. Most of his mind dedicated to the task at hand. “I am also carrying a backup shotgun with rock salt in case it is any form of a ghost or vengeful spirit.” In his mind blessed iron would wound or kill, any chaotic demon or bloodthirsty vampire. If it was a mage who bent on mayhem they would still do their job as bullets.

Nick’s weapon loadout might have been a burden to some. Not for him, with his lean and muscular build he not only could carry it but moved. His main firearm being an old service pistol. Model M1911, which fires powerful .45 calibers roun. A few magazines carried on his belt. His shotgun had been sawn off for easy carry, with a holster for it on his back for quick access.

Before he had become a Warden he had trained in guns and could kill just about any mortal creature that he met. That did change when the Veil ripped from his eyes when he met the first creature that his weapons could not kill.

“I am telling you, Nick, you need to come back here to the library and help me research on how to kill this creature.” Her tone annoyed him, although he understood was because she cared about his welfare. She also knew this and was not offended when he hung up. Her only concern is that those might have been the last words they exchanged.

On his wrist was a electromagnetic detector. Something she had made for him so that he could look at it while holding his gun in the firing position. He did not understand how, but he did understand the why, it would allow him to detect the creature. Spirits and a few other creatures exist on the same plane as us. They exist on a different frequency. So we generally cannot interact with them unless they want too. They do have a field of energy that surrounds them and is detectable as they shift planes.

Weapon at the ready that showed off his years of experience with guns, he moved towards the build. Checking every corner, and every possible opening as he made his way to the warehouse. The limited light around him helped him see but did cast long shadows that may interfere with this hunt.

In the City of New York, Alex sits in the library of University of Eldritch. Continuing her research into what may be taking the children. Being a student at the school allows her access at any hour, being an engineer made her a permanent fixture. Only now she is finding sections of books that she never knew existed before. It was here that she found the first book that told her to look for the energy readings.

The problem with the books is the conflicting information. Some of the ancient first editions conflicted with their later accounts. Books whose authors come from different experiences have completely different information at times. She was a student of science and she preferred to read something more grounded in facts. All these books seemed to constructed about theories. They all built on others theories without first proving one thing or another. It was all giving her a headache.

Another part of science research she missed is the ability to do an internet search of the topic. So instead she sat next to a stack of books. Some she had to dust off before reading. The print was sometimes varied between pages or even paragraphs. This is not to mention the many handwritten notes on the sides of the pages. Where they contributions or just more muddled ideas.

She had been reading for more than five hours and her headache only seemed to get worse and worse. With her communication with Nick cut off then nothing she found at this moment mattered. So a break became required. She decided surfing a few social media feeds might unwind her nerves. This investigation had them twisted. Good timing too as a new friend named Empirehacker seemed to want to talk with her.

At the warehouse Nick had finally reached the rusted through the door that was the main entrance. The other ones were massive doors meant to accept large trucks. Opening those would draw way too much attention. The door was heavier than it should be. The rusted hinges made far more noise than he wanted, but nothing stirred when he finally entered.

The inside was pitch black, and that meant he had to turn on a light that was on the back of his hand. It was a red light and that did two things, the first is help him see without ruining his night vision. The other was, unfortunately, it made the warehouse even more sinister looking. It did reveal crates, both stacked and collapsed, with some barrels in a similar state.

Nick was careful on his approach. Doing his best to make sure there were no openings for something to sneak on him. This task would have been easier if he had a more combat proficient partner. Instead, he got a bookworm that refused to go here with him. When he got done with this task he was going to have to see about getting a new partner.

There was one light on in the building. Which was not impossible considering the building had power. This was something that should not be in an abandoned building. It is possible that the light was nothing more than a diversion from what he was hunting. So he kept his eyes on the shadows anyway. Although he doubted what he was fighting would have a gun. He still moved from cover to cover as well, something of an old habit.

As he got closer to the light he discovered that there were two sources and the room was something of an office. One light was yellow in nature. This was something that you would see from an old bulb and the other was something like a white light. Before moving to look in, he paused his approach to figure out what the other source might be. The only thing he could place it as is an old black and white TV screen.

Whatever was inside was what he was hunting, his energy scanner was picking something up. It was his digital reader, and the numbers it was giving off was the same as at the homes of the missing children. Moving he was able to make his approach while avoiding hitting any of the barrels or other debris on the ground. Slowing his breathing he made the final approach to the door.

The door to the office was gone or had rotted off long ago. So as he placed himself to the left side of the empty frame he got a good look into the office. Sitting on the desk was a creature that looked like it had stepped out of a black and white children’s tv. Except it looked a lot more creepy. He could not describe this way, as he was not into pop culture, but it looked like an evil, black and white Furby.

“Hello,” the creature took a drink from a martini glass, seemed to just appear in his hand. It matched the creatures colors and now that Nick looked so did the desk, all black and white. As the creature greeted him he took note of the fangs that lined his mouth. “Why don’t you, come sit down Nick.”

The creature conjured a chair in front of it, but that was not the concern of Nick, it was that it knew his name. Not taking any chances he opened fire into the little monsters. The effects were immediate as it launched backward into the wall. Falling behind the desk. There were a few whimpered moans, before silence, the creature is dead. Nick began his leave, only stopping when he heard a slow clap behind him.

At the library, the words across the screen had Alex startled. Her friend Empirehacker had sent her a bunch of documents. They seemed to be about the creature they were hunting. Case files of children missing going back to the 1930’s, all them between the ages of five and ten. All them talking about an invisible friend that would play games with them. Most of them even had the name of the creature in their, claiming the friend’s name was Mr. Widemouth.

Also sent to her were Warden documents about other Wardens who tried Nick’s approach. They were never heard from again. The only thing clear in her current readings from the notes is that all the methods Nick was going to try would fail. Now she had a name, and now she knew that she could use the internet to further her search. Empirehacker gave her a few forums to check out. Whoever that guy was she owed him a drink, at least for this.

For what felt like the hundredth time as she researched she hit the redial button on her phone. She was trying to reach her partner. It would immediately go to voicemail, either his phone was broke or he was in a place with no signal. She didn’t know the man, but his life depended on her reaching him and he could use her help right now.

“My name, is Mr. Widemouth,” his voice now that it was more than one word was borderline screechy. “And that was, very rude of you.” Another odd tick in his speech pattern paused in random places, almost as if he is forcing the words out. “I offer you, a chair and, you shoot me.”

“What did you do to the children?” The voice was coming from all the speakers, and it had occurred to him hiding was pointless right now. He needed to keep the creature talking until he could figure out his next move.

“They were delicious, at least the ones that I sampled.” There was a smacking sound as if he was remembering the taste. “The rest went home for me to enjoy later.”

“What do you want?” He kept his weapon raised, but not pointed at any specific target, there was none.

“I want… to play a game.” He manifested himself in front of Nick, not hiding behind anything. He just sat on top of a barrel. Nick held fire as the monster did not seem affected by the bullets. “Just so you know, the salt that you have, in that shotgun, will also not work.”

That had been Nick’s next move, salt at least slows down anything that is unholy. That could only mean that if the salt will not work on him, then he is not unholy. What the hell, was the only thing that he had going through his mind.

“Feel free, to look out, the front door.” He motioned to the old rusty door that the Warden had entered through. Not taking chances he made his move. Keeping his eyes on the little monster, who at that moment had a more evil grin than normal. “I am not, going to hurt you now. That would, ruin the game.”

The little creature never even moved from its seat. Instead observed as Nick reached to the door. The evil grin also never leaving its face, it just seemed to be waiting. Like there was a punchline that seemed to be coming. The answer to that question would have destroyed the mind of a normal person.

Outside the door was nothing but stars. There was no ground, no sky, and no other buildings. Just a dark emptiness that seemed to stretch on to infinity, only broken by the stars. What monster could do this? Teleport us elsewhere or create an illusion so completely.

“We are, playing a game.” He spoke up finally, “and, when we play, I control the board.” Resigned to his fate, Nick could only face the thing that may kill him.

Standing resolved to fight he asked, “What is the game?”

“Hide, and Seek.”

Alex’s luck at the library was better than her partners. Now with the knowledge that there are websites that had the information she was looking for. She could query it quicker than she could search ancient tomes. There was still conflicting information. She had to resist falling into reading about creatures that were not about this case. That would be for another time. The creature was old but did not seem to be active until recently.

For over Seventy years stories of the creature appearing in a home. Then abducting the children. Fitting in the previous police reports the age cap is usually around 10. They also spoke about playing games with this Mr. Widemouth. What was new was reports from possible survivors.

In these stories, the kids spoke about being unattended by their parents. Not having any friends nearby. The earliest reports the kids found themselves listening to the radio. The later ones the void was filled with television. First, he would talk with them only, playing word games or singing with them. This period was longer during the time of radio. It became quicker when television became common.

When he would make his first appearance it was out of the radio or television. Later appearances did not need the electronics, he would just fade into existence. The few accounts that have him targeting adults is ones that interfered with his games. The few cases are when a parent, older child or a Warden became involved.

The games at first were common games, they played Hide and Seek or something along those lines. They only changed the nature of how they played, from harmless to sadistic. The game of catch went from using a ball to using knives. The survivors stopped at that point. With minor injury or because they were too timid to play the games.

Sometimes an arm or a leg of the children that went missing was found, but never a whole body. An older Warden suggested the possibility that they were being abducted. That might lead to a clue to what kind of creature he is. Though no one had finished the thought on what he is. He was expelled around twenty years ago, how not included in the notes, nor by whom. Now it became a matter of cross referencing what creatures had that kind of traits.

Nick wished he was in the same situation as Alex. Her only problem being that she had to chase away men hitting on her. Attractive women not common in that library. He was creeping through the near total darkness away from where he last saw the creature as Mr. Widemouth. Who had given him one close call so far, instead of attacking him though he seemed to walk away whistling.

The darkness has given him one important advantage. It was quick to reveal that the monster glowed in the dark. It was reminiscent of someone leaving an old on. This gave him plenty of warning when the creature was coming.

“I can, hear you.” His voice boomed through speakers that Nick was not sure was there before. This brought any forward movement to a halt. As Nick surveyed where the mischievous creature might be. The pistol was useless, but more out of habit he kept it drawn and pointed.

He had been rounding a corner which led to another forbidding hallway when that speaker went off. Instead of moving forward it seemed to be a better strategy to circle back. That idea was cast aside as Nick almost walked into a wall that was behind him, it had not been there before. Looking back to the path that he was going to travel it was another wall. He was no longer in a hallway but in a room that seemed like a closet.

Mr. Widemouth never told him the rules, but changing the world around them seemed to be a part of it. Nick hide behind some boxes. Started to list the abilities that this monster seemed to have so he can figure out how to survive this. Beyond the environment changing, it has also shown teleportation. Where it was, had nothing to do with where it might end up.

The speaker trick was also new to him but was not unexpected. Everything about this creature screamed something from an old television show. Other than talk through them what else could it do with electronics. Was his electronics safe, or was it something he had to attune to. Maybe something that was part of the building as need?

Sitting there was not going to answer any of his questions, so instead he had to move. The darkness still engulfed the area. Only trained reflexes and his limited night vision let him move. This was feeling like a dungeon. Each step was taken as careful as possible. Not only due to the abyss around him but because of the now metal floor beneath him.

It was rusted and hollow. Each step in his boots led to the possibility of breaking through, or a sudden clang if his foot hit wrong. Feeling along the wall was also a risk, although made of brick there was every so often rusted pipes. If his hand hit one too hard he could alert the monster to his position, if it did not already know where he was. It always seemed a step ahead of him.

The walkway he had been going down had no turns for what seemed like forever. Nick started to think it was going to go on like that forever. This was until he reached something of a crossroads of hallways. Which way to go was something hard to decide, as the pathways keep changing anyway.

Nick started to slip into something of a dark train of thought. What was the point of continuing this ‘game’? Mr. Widemouth could change the world around him, and even teleport. What is to say that didn’t already know where he was. Giving up was not in the cards but, how would this creature respond to someone not willing to play his game.

An explosion of steam forced Nick to move. The sudden uproar and intense heat from the ruptured pipe made him chose a direction. Using the loud noise as cover he was able to move. Keeping his feet low he was able to avoid several obstacles that might have tripped him. Them being low allowed him use his steel toes as an alert for trip hazards. There was still lingering doubts about his choice and if he should even continue the game. It was pushed back in the fight or flight instinct.

It was pointless to mention the impossibility of this hallway, as it stretched on for over a 100 yards. This was much longer than the whole warehouse had been from the outside. He was now far enough away that his footsteps were no longer concealed by the steam. This forced him to move back into the silent steps that were more time consuming. His life before this had prepared him for this, but it was never fun always being on edge as you move.

The pathway took a 90 degree left, forcing him to follow it. If the creature knew where he was, this would be the perfect time to ambush him. The only thing he got was the sound of distant laughter. There never was any hint of the unusual glow that surrounded it. That would be his only warning that something was coming. It might also destroy his night vision in the process.

After several twists and turns, a simple choice was presented to him. go up some old rusted steel stairs, or hide among what seemed to be some offices. With his peripheral used to see behind himself. He did his best not to look straight forward and instead kept his head turned. The glow he dreaded did not catch him off guard. It was at his Six and it forced a rapid choice. A mental coin flip decided that going up was his best choice.

Using the rickety handrails, he kept his footfalls light on the steps. This was an attempt to cut any clues on which way he went. Steps were as silent as possible, and breathing as shallow as possible. No possible clues to help that monster.

The top floor was much smaller than the bottom floor had been, it had to be fifty feet by fifty. Sectioned off by large stacks of crates into six columns. They were separated enough to allow movement between them, and around them. The best part though was that you could look down onto the floor below. This would give him a bird’s eye view of the movement.

The floor even looked into the offices and this dawned on Nick how lucky he had been. If he had hide below that rejected Muppet could have spied on him from up here, and the tables would have been turned. Not to mention the game would have come to an end, along with more than likely his life.

It wasn’t long before the furball come out of the door the Warden had just come from. It never even looked up the stairs, but that is not what completely changed the way this game seemed to be played. Two Mr. Widemouths walked passed each other. The demonic rabbit could duplicate itself in this game. There was nothing the human of the game could do about it. If Nick had been religious he might have started praying for salvation.

After what felt like years of scouring through databases. Alex felt she finally figured out what it was and it was not good. Everything that Nick had brought with himself was to fight something that was evil. This breed of creature neither holy or unholy, but more akin to nature. If her research was right there were several things that could hurt it and none of them were in his weapons chest. She had to try and get this information to him.

Taking a quick glance over her phone logs, she saw that she had, in fact, tried to call him over 100 times. Something else was strange about her phone but she didn’t have time to investigate it. Making the call was of grave importance.

The first ring went through, she had heard this one a million times. The second ring, something she had only heard once or twice. It was not until the third ring that she let out her breath only then realizing she had been holding it. A startled voice on the other end snapped her back to what she needed to do.

“Alex is that you?” Nick’s voice came through rather hushed, but it still carried the fear he must be going through.

“Yes it’s me,” she found herself matching his whisper.

“Prove it,” The fear was replaced with a more accusing voice. “What was the first thing you ever said to me when Kris introduced us.”

“I called you a knuckle dragger, who was only good at shooting things.” It dawned on her the real test. “And we were not introduced by a Kris, but by Jack.”

He gave an audible sigh of relief. Someone when she met him seemed cut of steel, now seemed like he was fraying from whatever was happening to him. “I know what he is and how you can beat him.”

A new voice came on the phone and she knew it would give her nightmares for more than one night. “Nuh uh, you cannot spoil, the fun.” It was the voice of Mr. Widemouth.

“Let my partner go,” she demanded through the phone. Hoping she sound tougher and braver than she felt.

“But, that would, ruin the game.” The odd pauses unsettled her, they reminded of something, but she could not place it.

“It has already been ruined,” she said it before she even knew what she meant. It took a second for her brain to catch up.

“What could you mean?” The high pitch voice came back through the phone.

“He got outside help, the game has been tampered with.” In her readings, the monster worshiped the games and hated them being tampered with. That is why and only why he would kill adults.

Her phone earpiece got hot, forcing her to pull it away from her ear. In time for the little monsters head to start coming out of the speaker. It turned somewhat disembodied to face her.

“You ruined a very fun game.” His speech no longer had the odd pauses but was still quite shrill. “I guess the next time we play, he’ll get to have a partner.” A shrill laughter was what he left her with as his head retreated back into the phone. When he was no longer there, the laughter disappeared and all that was left was the silence of the Library. Her phone melted from the creatures maliciousness.

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