Join Alex as he discovers his demonic powers and battles the supernatural
My name’s Alex. I used to think I was normal. I have a job, an apartment, good friends. I have a sister I adore, and the most beautiful woman in the world happens to be my best friend.
I see ghosts. So what, right? It’s on television all the time. All kinds of people see ghosts.
But seeing ghosts turns into seeing demons. Seeing demons turns into walking through walls. It only keeps getting better. It just so happens I’m half demon, the only one of my kind.
I met a woman and made a new friend, Victoria. She is a four-hundred-year-old vampire, and she needs my help.
It turns out vampires are popping up everywhere. Some kind of new breed, more animal than vampire. They feed on anything, and can’t be reasoned with.
Can a half demon do anything to stop them?
“Alex, you’re not really human.”
The words still haunt me in my sleep. Whenever I start to think I’ve got a hold on everything, on the wild direction my life has taken, I end up doing something creepy. Creepy enough to actually make me stop in my tracks and go “What the hell?”
I look back now over the first twenty-three years of my life and kick myself constantly for not taking some kind of action earlier. I mean, I knew I was different. I just didn’t know how different. But I guess I can’t get too mad at myself. Who the hell was I going to talk to? What could I have done?
It all started when I was in kindergarten. I shudder when I think back to my grade school years. Five years old. Undersized. Quiet to the point of not being noticed by anyone, except for the kids whose attention you didn’t want.
I don’t remember my father. He left when I was four, apparently not very happy that my mother got pregnant a second time. My little sister Alicia was six months old when he left. My mother had no time for us at all. Funny thing is I don’t blame her a bit. My first year of school she became a single parent with two kids, trying to put herself through law school, and put food on the table all at the same time. The earliest memories I have is of coming home, doing homework while my mother did hers, and taking turns giving Alicia a bottle. I could change a diaper before I could write cursive.
I wouldn’t trade any of it.
It was recess time near the end of the school year. Everyone from kindergarten up to fifth grade ran around like maniacs on the playground. Me, I sat in a far corner in the shade and scribbled in a coloring book. I didn’t have any friends. My early-life quietness mixed with a dash of low self-confidence meant people didn’t exactly flock to get to know me. It was a hot day, but I was always a big fan of the heat. I was minding my own business when I heard some raised voices coming toward me.
“Would you just leave me alone?”
That was followed by some laughter and a familiar voice that I hated.
“Aw, you scared? You afraid of the fire?”
I looked up to see a black girl that I’d seen before. A step behind her was Tommy Barnes, a fourth-grader whose main hobby was torturing kids smaller than he was, which included me. A few steps behind him were Tommy’s gang, his little group of followers whose main hobbies were laughing at whatever Tommy did.
The black girl I finally recognized as Cindy Marshall. She sat on the other side of class from me. Nice girl, everyone seemed to like her enough. But for whatever reason Tommy decided that this was her day. Cindy backed away while Tommy shoved a lighter he’d found in her face. Eventually he had her pinned against the wall not too far from me. I tried my best to ignore them. I’m ashamed to admit that I was glad Tommy was leaving me alone for a change.
“Oh come on, it’s just a little fire.” Tommy thrust his hand out again.
“Stop it!” Cindy said. Tears fell down her face.
I focused back down to my coloring. I was in the middle of a portrait of my little sister that I had every intention of hanging on the fridge. The scary part is that I actually managed to ignore the scene just a few yards away from me, at least until I heard Cindy scream.
I didn’t catch what happened, but it didn’t take a genius to put it together. I looked up to see Cindy crouched against the wall, cradling her hand. Tommy and his goons actually had a look of shock on their faces. It looked like Tommy had hurt Cindy, probably got the lighter too close. Cindy raised her hand up to defend herself and got it burned.
Tommy’s remorse didn’t last long. I saw his face go from concerned to a stupid smile when he realized his buddies were watching him.
“Oh come on, you little girl. I didn’t hurt you.”
He moved in with the lighter again.
I’m not sure why I stood up. Guilt from doing nothing before? A sudden surge of bravery? Stupidity? Tommy would pull my pants down in front of everyone in school, push me down, whack me with a dodge ball as hard as he could. And I was going to confront him.
“Tommy.” My voice cracked a little. “Leave her alone.”
He looked both amused and annoyed.
“Well, look at this. Little Alex Teague. How’s your dad? Oh I forgot. You don’t have one.”
You gotta love how cruel kids can be.
“You’re not scared of fire, are you?”
He shoved the lighter in my face far closer than he did with Cindy. I was right next to her as I put a hand in front of my face. I actually felt something massaging my arm, and it made me laugh.
“That tickles!” I called out, and lashed out with my other hand. I knocked the lighter away. It fell into the grass not too far away.
Tommy and his buddies were surprised. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know until later in life that he held the lighter right to my arm, and my reaction was to laugh.
“Oh you think that’s funny?” he said. “Let’s see how funny you think it is when I rub your face in the wall.”
He grabbed me by the shirt and forced me against the brick wall. It didn’t take much for him to lift me into the air. I saw a pair of girl-hands reach in and grab Tommy’s arms.
“Leave him alone!” Cindy said.
My princess in shining armor.
“What is going on over here?” Miss Treadwell, the recess monitor, said. What a bang-up job she was doing. I can’t be too mad at her. She had a hundred kids or so to watch, and she’d just got done breaking up a fight on the other side of the playground.
Tommy quickly dropped me to the ground. Cindy helped me up. Miss Treadwell didn’t know the whole story, but she knew enough to grab Tommy by his arm. She gave all of us, Tommy’s buddies and Cindy and me, a stern look.
“Everyone come with me.”
I groaned, knowing quite well the rest of the day was going to be bad.
I wasn’t wrong. I sat in an empty office for three hours. Every now and then the secretary would pop her head in to let me know my mother was still on the way. I was scared, and I don’t really know why. I knew I didn’t do anything wrong. But all these crazy ideas went through my head. Like my mom busting into the room and yelling at me, or Tommy waiting outside to smack me around a little more.
Somewhere near the end of hour three Miss Jenkins, the school nurse, joined me inside the room. All the young boys who were old enough to have crushes had one on her. A twenty-something nurse, very hot, with a nice smile. I guess she was good at being a nurse too.
“Well, what happened to you today, Alex?” she asked.
I shrugged. I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted Mom to come get me so I could run home and hide.
“Let’s have a look at you.” She pulled up a seat and sat across from me.
“Is Cindy okay?”
She gave me a curious look. I guess she was surprised that I was worried about her. She gave me a quick once-over, moving my head around, checking for bruises.
“Yeah, she’s fine. Her parents are on the way. She’s a little shaken up. That Tommy, I hope his parents bust his ass.”
My jaw dropped. She noticed.
“You said…a bad word.”
She smiled and turned a light shade of red.
“Sorry. I just don’t like seeing that. Picking on kids smaller than they are.”
“You mean me.”
She didn’t say anything, but that’s exactly what she meant.
Never again, I told myself. This will never happen again.
“Oh my God.” Miss Jenkins grabbed my right arm and studied my forearm under the wrist. “Doesn’t this hurt?”
“Does what hurt?”
“I’ll go get the burn kit. I’ll be right back.”
She left the office. She was gone maybe a minute or so before I realized what she’d said.
I twisted and turned my arm to see what she was talking about. I didn’t see anything at all, just a fleshy arm. I guessed maybe she saw something I didn’t. What did a burned arm look like, anyway?
The door to the office opened. I thought it was Miss Jenkins, but it was Mom. I was relieved and terrified at the same time. She still wore her dress from where she worked as a receptionist at the law firm. In her arm she carried my little sister Alicia in the car seat. She set it down and rushed out to hug me. Finally, after three hours of waiting my stress went away.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t get here earlier. I left when school called, but then the babysitter said she couldn’t stay, so I had to get your sister.”
It was funny. Mom was just as stressed out as I was. I thought she’d be mad at me.
“It’s okay, Mom.”
“The principal told me what happened. Are you okay?”
Now I was embarrassed. Tommy really didn’t do anything to me besides tickle my arm. Not exactly life threatening.
“Yeah Mom. I’m fine.”
She sat in the chair Miss Jenkins was just at and held her head in her hands. The day was catching up to her. I’m glad I was too young to really know what she went through, or else I’d feel bad all the time. Answering the phone for a hundred pissed off lawyers’ clients, trying to study during her breaks, then receiving a call that your pathetic son was the victim of a bully at school. Mom was a strong woman.
“You ready to go home?” she said with a small smile.
I smiled back and nodded.
Miss Jenkins came back in the room. She carried a burn kit under her arm.
“Oh. Mrs. Teague?”
“Ah. I’ll just put some ointment on Alex’s arm and wrap it up. Then he’s okay to leave.”
“Arm?” Mom looked at me. “What’s wrong with your arm?”
She grabbed both of them gently and looked them over. Then she stepped out of the way so Miss Jenkins could see.
Her mouth opened. It was a moment before she spoke. “There was a burn. Across half his forearm.”
“Are you sure?”
Mom’s tone kept Miss Jenkin’s quiet. She smiled and turned red once again.
“I, uh, must have been seeing things. You’re okay to leave, Alex.”
I didn’t need to be told twice. I grabbed Mom’s hand and was ready to go. I peeked in on my sister as Mom picked up her car-seat with her free hand. Alicia was sound asleep. I’m glad she slept through Mom having to rescue me at school. Mom was always telling me how I would have to take care of my sister when I got older. I didn’t want Alicia’s first memories to be Mom having to save me.
As we walked out the door we saw Cindy and her parents standing down the hall. I’d seen each of them after school. They took turns picking up Cindy. They were talking with Miss Treadwell, the lady who was responsible for all the kids during recess. I could tell Cindy’s father was fired up. He was about the size of a football player. He talked loudly and waved his hands in the air. Cindy’s mother, a much smaller woman, stood slightly behind him and in front of Cindy, almost like she was protecting her.
I could feel Mom slowing down as we neared them in the hallway. I groaned quietly. I just wanted to go home, not stand around while my Mom talked.
Cindy’s parents turned their attention from Miss Treadwell to Mom and me. Miss Treadwell took the chance to quietly escape. Smart woman.
He gave my Mom a quick smile, and then looked down at me.
“Are you Alex?”
His voice boomed through the hallway. I wanted to stand behind Mom and hide, like Cindy was doing with her mother.
“Yes,” I said. I sounded like a little mouse.
He reached his sledgehammer-like arm out and extended his hand. I shook it gingerly. My hand vanished in his fist.
“Thank you very much. Cindy told us all about what happened, how you stood up to that…boy, for her.”
I felt my face growing hot. I looked at him, then at Cindy, who was giving me a small smile from behind her mother.
“You’re welcome,” I said to both of them.
Cindy’s father laughed and focused on Mom.
“Hi. I’m Larry. This is my wife, Chandra.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Chandra said. She shook Mom’s hand and gave me a smile.
They started talking. About the incident, the teachers, the first year of our school lives, a little of everything. I could only listen for about a minute before my attention started to wander. My eyes fell on Cindy, who looked to be as bored as I was.
“Hi,” she said quietly.
I gave my sister a final look and walked over to Cindy.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah. Thank you for helping me. Tommy was being a jerk.”
“You get used to it.”
“We should play together from now on. If we do, Tommy and his stupid friends will leave us alone.”
I hesitated for a moment. Friends with a girl? I’d be made fun of every single day. No one would want to hang out with me.
So life wouldn’t be any different. I’d actually have one friend to play with. She would just happen to be a girl.
“Good idea,” I said.
“Okay. Tomorrow after lunch, meet me at the jungle gym. We’ll be friends.”
I smiled and nodded.
And that was the start of something great.
- Demonspawn is the only novel I’ve written, to date, in the first person. Alex Teague has popped up in other Damned and Cursed novels, but from a third person view.
- Demonspawn is the longest novel I’ve written so far.
- It was only planned to be a “one-off” novel, with no intention of a series or sequel. I left it open-ended just to show that Alex was starting the next phase of his life. However, I had no plans to show that next phase.
- I originally meant to make Alex a bit darker. He does, after all, control demons. But I ended up liking the idea of him fighting the influence of his demonic roots, becoming his own person. He controls the demons, they don’t control him. I did end up creating a darker character down the road with Jack Kursed.
- Most of my novels take place in or around Maryland. I purposely mis-name or exaggerate certain locations. I don’t know every nook and cranny of Baltimore, and don’t want people saying “his geography is completely wrong”. So I fictionalize the locations somewhat.
- Halfway through the novel, I thought about scrapping it and starting over, mainly due to Victoria’s character. I wanted to get behind her eyes, explore some scenes with the vampire who ultimately becomes the linchpin in the Damned and Cursed series. I decided not to, and for this novel, at least, Victoria remains in the shadows a bit.
- Favorite scenes: Church birth scene. Discovering wings for the first time.