Contributed to by Breanna Toutloff
Leopold was into his second year of being a police officer and doing his nightly patrols in his car. He’d just drive around a few neighborhoods then go home. Each officer in his department had a route they’d take after their shift ended. Tonight screaming caught his attention from a house that was fairly secluded, she didn’t have a neighbor for at least a few miles which made the screaming alarm him even more. He slammed on breaks, jumped out of his car and ran up to the womans door, pounding loudly and yelling that he was a police officer and the name of his department. A woman soon came to the door wearing nothing but a towel, her face terrified and he could tell she was exhausted. She looked as exhausted as his parents had when he was a young child and they had dealt with that terrible demon.
“are you okay mam?” he asked, not able to see any wounds on her exposed skin “I’m fine…I’m sorry to have scared you officer” her voice was so fragile, like she was fighting not to cry. He worried someone might be in there with her, making her tell him everything was okay because it obviously wasn’t. “mam, could I please come in anyway and check out your home?”
“Thank you…really…I’m glad good men like you work on our police force but there’s nothing here. I’m just crazy and I tried something I shouldn’t”
“maybe I could wait for you to get dressed and then you could talk to me about it? My shift is over, this is just part of my end of shift route” He couldn’t just leave, not with her looking like that. He was far too acquainted with what true terror felt like and he could see it clearly on her face. She seemed to consider it a few moments before saying “okay…I’ll be right back” she shut the door so he went back to his car to make sure he had shut it off. It was off so he went back, waiting patiently on the porch for her to return.
When she came back she was in a pair of jeans and a tshirt. Her hair was still down but it looked like she had now brushed it out. She was gorgeous but that wasn’t the lingering thought on his mind right now. Worry over her was still consuming him. “thank you for coming in” she said as they sat down. “it’s my job”
“Not really” she argued and he shrugged “I became an officer to protect people so I consider this my job. What happened?”
it’s a long story”
“I’m off work and I have nothing else to do, really” he reached out and took her hand, hoping it wasn’t too forward “I want to help you if I can. I don’t want to hear anything about you being crazy, what happened?” she sighed deeply but seemed to take some comfort from the fact he was holding her hand so he kept it, only planning to let go if she pulled away. “well, when I was a teenager I went to this lake with my friends on a dare. I lived in another state at the time. People didn’t go there because of all the horrible stories about demons, murders and ghosts but we were teens and thrill seekers so we went…We stayed a few days, laughing at the people that were too scared to go. One of the nights we were there, my last night I couldn’t sleep and went for a swim by myself…this is where the me being crazy comes in…I swear…a demon actually came to me in the water…I had some sort of mental break they say or maybe I was drunk and hallucinated at first which lead to my mental break because we had been drinking while we were there but it wanted me to be it’s mate it said and when I wouldn’t it got angry and attacked me.”
She choked up a little as she continued “I think he tried to drown me but I somehow got away…maybe because none of it was real but I got away enough to get my fathers gun. I had taken it without his permission but I ended up glad I did. I shot at it and it vanished. It just vanished…the shot woke my friends and here I am today….it comes back anytime I’m in the water. I’ve never been able to go swimming again or even take a bath because he always comes for me…I’m…my parents got me on anti psychotics but it still happens every single time…I was hoping I could finally take a bath without a mental break but….” she started crying, humiliated after telling the story and so incredibly emotionally exhausted from living like this. She just didn’t want to be crazy any longer and she hated that was apparently too much to ask.
Leopold stared at her in surprise. Hearing another person going through what he did as a child was shocking, especially since she had it worse. She had been dealing with this since she was a teenager and his demon was dealt with after just a few months. He knew she had to be an incredibly strong person to even still be sane if she had been dealing with a malicious demon this long. He didn’t realize he had been staring until she withdrew her hand. “Please, I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just,” he chose his words carefully. “I believe you.” He didn’t know what else to say. He wasn’t yet ready to delve back into his past, he wasn’t sure how. It wasn’t something he had gone around telling people.
“Absolutely, like I said, so much is possible in this world. If the pills aren’t helping it has to be real”
“It’s nice to have someone believe me and not just think they need to up my dosage of crazy pills”
“well, I’m willing to stay here as long as you need to feel safe enough to rest”
“Then let me at least make you dinner. Have you eaten anything?” She didn’t imagine he had since he only just got off work. “I’m starving”
“let me pour you a drink first, lemonade, water or sweet tea?”
“Lemonade, please” she walked over to a nearby cabinet and pulled out a light blue glass, filling it with lemonade then handing it to him “any allergies?”
“anything you just dont like?”
“I’m not picky at all, really” she began cooking and he drank his lemonade. When he finished the glass he asked “would you mind if I looked around?”
“go ahead, you can go anywhere” He checked her home for any signs of the demon so he would know what kind it was. He had learned a lot from Faline and victor since they had kept in touch over the years and he wanted to help her in any way he can before he had the chance to contact them. It might take them a bit to arrive and he didn’t want this poor woman defenseless until then. She said it only bothered her in the water which was odd. He hoped something that peculiar would help them deduce what sort of thing it was quickly.
When he couldn’t find anything he returned to the kitchen, making friendly conversation until she finished preparing the food. She soon plated it and sat down with him, hoping this incredibly kind officer would enjoy it. He didn’t have to stop, cop or not he could have just driven home. He could have also turned away when she insisted she was fine instead of staying to hear her story but he obviously had a kind heart and she wanted to do what she could to thank him for bringing her comfort.
He was surprised at the meal she had chosen, lasagna. They didn’t know eahcother at all but somehow she had randomly prepared his favorite meal. She began talking and he just listened happily as he enjoyed her meal. There was something homey about her, somthing that made him feel like he could sit here listening to her voice forever.
“Would it be alright to ask why you believe me?” Theta said as they ate. “I’m not trying to be rude or anything, it’s just you’re the first.”
“Well, I was in a similar situation when I was a boy. I was terrified, my parents didn’t believe me at first, but once they realized it wasn’t all part of my imagination, they asked for help. Not the therapist type, but people who deal with monsters. They saved my family.”
“Do you think they would save me too?”
He reached over, taking her hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze. “I know they would, they’re good people. Trust me okay?”
Theta felt a blush creeping up her neck. “O…okay.”
They continued to make small talk as they ate and once they finished, he washed the dishes for her, not wanting to give the demon any type of in. He knew he was only human, but he wouldn’t let it get to her without a fight. He noticed she looked terrified as he dried and put away their plates and he knew that feeling all to well. He remembered the look on the demon’s face that had tried so desperately to possess his father, how it delighted in the suffering of its victims. He knew she felt isolated, cornered. “So, where would you like me?”
“Want me to sit on the couch while you get to bed or in your room or the hall maybe?”
“You’re really going to stay? Don’t you have a family to go home to?”
“I’m not married or dating or anything, I live by myself”
“still, you’d really stay here with me?”
“I’ll stay until this demon is taken care of. I remember all too well how you feel right now. You’re not alone and I wont have you feeling that way for even a second. You look so tired, I can tell you sleep as little as I did. I want you to get some real rest tonight” She gave an emotional sigh “thank you”
“Now where would you like me?”
“would it be weird to ask you to sit in my room with me while I lay down. When I’m asleep you can sleep in the guest room nearest mine”
“That doesn’t sound weird to me at all”
“If you want, after I’m sleeping you can wash your uniform.”
“Thank you.” He gestured for her to lead the way then followed her to her room. He noticed that she glanced around fearfully when they entered, as if the thing might suddenly manifest before them and he gave her a reassuring smile as he took another look around the room. Even if it had only been appearing in water, the least he could do was help ease her fear. “Is it alright if I sit on your bed?”
“Yeah.” She climbed under the covers and he sat down on the other side, leaning his back against the headboard. “Are you comfortable?” She asked.
“Yes, thank you. Just try and get some rest, I promise that thing won’t get you. It’ll have to come through me.” He reached over and gently stroked her head, hoping he wasn’t overstepping. His mother soothed him the same way when he was a boy and it always helped. “Close your eyes and relax, everything’s going to be alright. I’ll message the people who helped me in the morning and give them all the information you gave me. You’ll be free of this thing, I promise.”
She wanted to say something but choked on the emotion of finally having someone who not only believed her but cared and wanted to be there for her. She came from a wealthy family so she always had everything she wanted but it rang true money didn’t buy happiness because she hadn’t felt happiness since she was a teenager, not until now and this man didn’t seem to want anything in return for his kindness. Sleep found her easily with him at her side but he sat there for about an hour to be sure she’d stay asleep before he stripped down to his boxers so he could wash his clothes. It felt a little awkward to be in a womans house this close to being naked but she had given him permission and he didn’t want to go in dirty tomorrow and have the people he worked with make jokes about where he must have been last night.
The officers he worked with noticed everything but thats also what made his precinct so good. He threw in some of her stuff with his uniform. He felt it was only right and he guessed even doing laundry must be stressful for her. He couldn’t image having to fear water for so many years. Leopold realized he didn’t want to sleep until his clothes were at least in the dryer so he went ahead and sent a long message to Faline since she seemed to check her messages more.
He didn’t think she would mind him watching TV, so he sat down in the living room and switched it on, choosing something at random, but keeping the volume low enough that he could hear her or anything creeping through the house. Once his clothes were finished, he switched of the TV, tossed them in the dryer then went and checked on her. She was sound asleep when he peeked into her room and he left her door completely open in case anything happened. He did the same with the guest room door the climbed into bed and set an alarm. His alarm woke him the next morning and he quickly shut it off, not wanting to wake Theta. She was exhausted and needed as much rest as possible. He headed out of his room, checking in on her as he passed, relieved to see her still sleeping.
Comforted that she was alright he went for his uniform, putting it on then grabbing everything else he needed. Once his gun, flashlight and all else was in its place he made breakfast burritos, one for himself and one to put in the fridge for her. The final thing he did before leaving for work was write her a note to find. He wanted to say goodbye but he reminded himself of how little she must have been sleeping until now. He felt it would be selfish to wake her only to leave her alone since he truly didn’t have a valid excuse to call out of work. Leopold finally checked his messages once he was sitting in the car “damn” he hadn’t received anything from Faline or Victor about his messages.
He was hoping they would see it right away and come to her rescue. When Theta woke she noticed right away her door was open “Leopold?” she called but no answer came. She got up and changed into a sun dress before leaving her room to check the guest room which was also open. He wasn’t there and there was no noise elsewhere in the house. She frowned, realizing he must be at work. She swallowed down the sadness that filled her and went to the kitchen since she had to go to her own job today as well. Theta checked the time, finding she still had a little over an hour before work.
The note caught her eye and she lifted it as surprise rushed through her. It brought a smile back to her face, his thoughtfulness knew no bounds and it puzzled her how he wasn’t married. There had to be a million normal, attractive women fawning over a man this handsome and kind. She blushed at her own thoughts and set the note down to find the breakfast burrito he mentioned.
“You look like you have a lot on your mind this morning?” One the officer sitting next to Leopold said.
“I do.” Leopold replied.
Leopold was proud that he managed not to blush. “Sort of.” He glanced around. “If you say anything I might have to tie you up in the shooting range.”
The officer chuckled. “Alright, you win. I won’t tease.”
Leopold just rolled his eyes, but soon straightened up when a young, crying woman was guided in by a female officer. “Leo, can you take this one?” He was asked and he nodded as he stood and held out his hand for the woman to shake. She didn’t shake and he didn’t push. She looked terrified and kept glancing around the room.
“Ma’am, would you like me to get a female officer?” He asked gently.
“No, it’s fine.” She sat down and he followed suit, pulling open the top drawer of his desk and lifting out a piece of paper used for filing police reports.
Theta felt a little better when she was at work, helping animals. Today she was working on a very large, incredibly good natured draft horse. She gently stroked it’s back between inserting needles and talked gently to it. “Such a good horse.” She said the owner who stood anxiously by. Owners with older animals were always the most nervous, but Theta guessed that the mare had a lot of life left in her.
Leopold was on his lunch break when Faline and Victor entered the station. He came out of the breakroom quickly, leaving his half eaten sub behind. “I know you’re probably surprised Leo but when I got your message we just left and I forgot my phone to respond. His has been broken so we didn’t have a way to tell you we were coming”
“Don’t even worry about it, I dont want to talk to you here though” he looked at his watch “I still have most of my lunch break left. Lets go on a walk” They walked out of the station and on to the side walk, heading nowhere in particular “what’s up Leo”
“I gave you all the information I had in the message”
“Can we go to her home now?”
“I dont know if shes there and I know that doesnt matter to you two but I dont want to scare her. I mean, shes a human and would come home to a demon and angel in her house when she already has one unwelcome demon. She knows you’re coming but I’d rather her invite you in”
“what would you like us to do in the meantime Leo?”
“just wrack your brains for what this could be”
“I already have some ideas, we were talking about it on the way here”
“yeah, a lot of different beings prefer water”
“wouldn’t it be one that cant be without water though since it only attacks her in water”
“You forget that a lot of demons love mind games. They get off more on the torture than anything else. He has her terrified anytime there’s water near her and water is such a constant in life. I mean truly it might not be a water being at all but we’re starting there”
He sighed. “I didn’t even get her number or I’d text her and tell her you’re here. All I was thinking of was protecting her.”
“She must be beautiful.” Faline replied and he blushed. “So she is.”
“Yeah, but that’s not why I’m helping her. I just know how it feels and she deserves to feel safe.” He rubbed the back of his neck.
“Have you called your parents?” Victor asked.
“No, I know I should, but I just wanted to get everything set up before I did. I know they’ll worry.”
“Just be sure to let them know.” Victor patted his shoulder. “And don’t worry about the fact you like her, I know this is a crisis situation, but we can’t help the way we feel.”
“Thank you. So what do you think might be causing all this?”
“One of the ones we’re concerned the most about is the bukavac, a six legged monster with horns about the size of a dog that jumps on people and strangles them, and then there is the vedmak, a male witch. They can be both good and evil and have the power to shapeshift into animals and objects.”
“there’s a lot of really bad things out there. I do wish we could go now. You’re a cop, can’t you find more about her?”
“Thats not really legal since she’s not a part of any real case and once again, I don’t want to freak her out”
“what about Facebook? Search her on there and get in contact” He guessed that wouldn’t be weird so he pulled up Facebook on his phone and searched her name. Even if you just had a first name Facebook seemed to always know who you’re talking about. He was still surprised when he recognized her in a profile picture. He sent the request, hoping he would get to talk to her before his shift ended so they could go over sooner. Theta didn’t check her phone while she was working but when she left the elderly horse she finally looked at her notifications, her heart stuttering when she saw his friend request. She accepted and he saw it right away since he had been checking his phone every few seconds.
He began writing to her, letting her know the people that helped him were here. He made sure she knew what each of them were before he asked if they could come over without him. She was driving now so wouldn’t be able to respond until she arrived at her next appointment. “she at least has the message in her inbox now” he said to Faline. Leo’s boss had told him they could stick around as long as they didn’t interfere with work. “If she’ll be too scared of me tell her Victor can come before and I’ll wait to come with you. It wont hurt my feelings”
“do you think I should add that now?”
“Yes, I don’t want her uncomfortable.”
He quickly added what Faline had said, but also reassured Theta that she wasn’t dangerous like the one tormenting her and would everything in her power to help stop it. “Alright, hopefully she’ll message me back soon.”
“I hope so. How have you been?” Faline said. “Anymore monsters?”
“None until now, but I haven’t seen any, not that I know of. I mean I’ve probably passes plenty of demons that look like normal people, but nothing like what was haunting our home when I was a kid. My parents are doing well too. They’re both proud of my job, they said I was born for it, especially after what happened.”
“Just know that once you realize creatures like us are out there, you’ll probably see more and more. If at anytime you feel like you can’t handle it, be sure to call us. We know you’re capable, but we never want to have to tell your parents you were hurt.” Victor said. “You’re like a nephew to us.”
“I know, thanks guys, I promise to call every time.”
When she replied Theta said “If you trust her then I trust her. I’m just so grateful for yours and their help. There is a spare key to my house buried in the Marigolds by the porch. Don’t worry about my flowers, I’ll replant them. I felt safer burying them for emergencies than just simply placing a spare key under something. I’ll be home in about two hours unless I get another appointment before I’m finished with this one”
“we’ll leave then but first take a picture of us and send it to her. Who knows what abilities this thing has and I don’t want her trusting just anybody since she knows strangers are coming” Leopold was glad Faline was as experienced as she was. He wouldn’t have thought of it somehow catching wind a stranger was coming and try to approach her when it knew she would trust him.” Victor stepped closer to his wife and allowed Leopold to quickly snap a picture and send it to Theta so she’d know who to expect in her home. “thank you” Leopold said one more time before they left him. He wanted to leave work but his station was already short on cops so nobody took a day off unless they absolutely had to.
Theta was relieved that Leopold’s friends had come to help her. She was a little nervous to meet them, but she was grateful and would find a way to thank Leopold for going to such lengths for her. “Is it still his back that’s bothering him?” Theta asked once she was done running her hands over the large mastiff.
“And his hips.” The owner of the dog said as he gently stroked the dog’s head.
“Poor guy, we’ll see what we can do.”
“He always feels much better after you leave. I hate that he’s so young, yet he’s having all these issues.”
“Well he seems happy, but if it gets too bad, make sure you take him in to see his vet.”
Leopold couldn’t keep himself from constantly glancing at the clock and willing time to go faster. He loved his job and was very dedicated to it, but he needed to be there for Theta. He hid his worry well and worked hard taking statements and patrolling and taking calls with his partner. When he had another free moment, he called his parents and explained what was going on. They were both worried, his mother especially, but they understood his need to help and asked that he be careful.
Theta didn’t receive any other appointments before that one was over so she didn’t plan to take another today. If someone called she would just see them tomorrow or whenever else would work for them. She wanted to go home and figure this out with Leopolds friends. At a stop light she looked at the picture again, feeling they looked incredibly nice. She was surprised how remarkably normal they looked and wondered how she hadn’t met others before or maybe she had and they just didn’t share that she might truly not be crazy. In either case a demon and angel were waiting at her house and she truly didn’t believe this was a mental break.
When she arrived Theta almost wondered if they had come because her marigolds didn’t look disturbed but when she went to her front door it was unlocked “Hello?” she called into her household nervously. The man came up to her “Hey”
“How’d you get in?”
“They key under the flowers. My wife was careful even though you told us not to worry. Your garden is beautiful”
“Oh, thank you” The woman from the picture now stood in front of her “It’s nice to meet you Theta”
“It’s nice to meet you two as well, have you found anything?”
“it turns out our greatest concerns were what this case is. It smells like a bukavac. Its probably why you thought it was drowning you back then. It was probably just trying to strangle you, it’s this demons preferred method of killing”
“I already pulled up pictures on your computer if you want to see”
“Okay” they went to her desktop and Theta flipped through the pictures Faline pulled up for her “Yeah, I think this is how he looked originally that night….Like I said….we had been drinking a lot”
“so you were doing normal teenager things. Don’;t sound so embarrassed. You’re obviously not an alcoholic. We see no sign of that or other bad habits around here besides your doctor prescribed pills…you don’t need those Theta”
“I will still have to take them…my family check when they check on me”
“we can help you talk to your parents when this is all over okay? I’m sure they will listen”
“Okay, thank you. I hope this makes them feel better…I always see so much pain in their faces when they look at me…its been there ever since I met this thing…it breaks their heart to think I’m crazy”
“You’ll never have to worry about anyone seeing you that way again, especially now that you have Leo.”
“Yeah, he’s been very sweet.” She blushed when she noticed Faline smiling. “Um, s…so what do we do then?”
“Faline and I would like to make sure we can contain the beast. We’ll have to bless your home and put up wards so it can’t escape. Then we’ll set a trap.” Victor explained.
“What kind of trap?”
Faline placed a hand on her shoulder. “We’ll have to lure it out with water.”
Theta swallowed. “Oh.”
“But we’ll wait until Leo’s here.” Victor added. “He’ll watch over you while we kill the thing.”
“Okay” she tried to sound confident despite the fact fear swelled in her heart. Faline and Victor had taken care of demons before, Leopold had even seen them do it once so she would do as they wanted and draw him out. Leopold skipped patrolling neighborhoods this evening and went as fast as the law would allow to her home, knocking loudly when he arrived. “It’s Leo” Faline said and Victor added “you should get it then Theta” she blushed again, there was something in the way they said that, the twinkle in their eyes every time Leo had come up while they waited. “Hey Leopold” He was relieved to see her safe “Hey Theta, do they have a plan yet”
“we sure do, come in” He sat down in the living room with them and they explained “so you think he will still attack with us here?”
“He’s a demon and therefore theres like a ninety nine percent chance he’s cocky. Demons don’t tend to know when to back down, he’ll come. We’ve already prepared the house, once he’s in there will be no getting out”
“when do you guys want me to try?”
“as soon as you think you can do it. We know how hard it must be” She swallowed down her fear “The sooner we’re done the better…” she stood and everyone else did the same “remember Leo, what we need you to do is protect Theta. Victor and I will fight it. The time for her bravery is getting in that tub, after that just hide her”
“I understand” Everything inside her wanted to run but she ignored it, remembering the quote her father seemed to favor. Courage is not the absence of fear, but to continue in spite of it. She undressed, feeling embarrassed with other men in her house but she felt it might seem off to the creature and warn it if she suddenly took a bath in a swim suit.
“Are you ready, Leo?” Faline asked softly.
“Yeah, I’ll pull her out as soon as it comes for her.” He already had a towel in his hands to cover her with. Faline and Victor waited on either side of the door and Leo stayed where Theta could see him. He knew this was hard and that she needed reassurance. The house was deathly quiet, the only sound the dripping of the water from the drain. Leopold could see Theta sitting there with her knees pulled up to her chest, a terrified look on her face as they waited.
“It’s coming.” Victor whispered.
The water around Theta exploded up and around her, causing her to scream. Leopold could see the thing perched on the side of the tub and scrambled toward her, Faline and Victor coming in behind him as he reached for Theta. The water soaked him as he pulled her out and he ignored the demon’s snarl as he pulled her out and against him, dragging her out of the bathroom. He wrapped the towel around her then lifted her and sat on her bed with her cradled in his lap. She was shaking and crying and he gently stroked her hair. “It’s okay, it can’t get us.”
She slung to Leopold, the fact that only a towel was between her naked body and him didn’t even cross her mind she was so scared. With every thud and screech she heard she clung tighter as he continued to try and comfort her. Suddenly everything stopped and Faline came to them “we’re going now, I’m taking him back to hell. You’re safe now Theta and I mean it, stop taking those pills. Its ridiculous you’ve been medicated all this time. I promise to come back and when I do invite your parents. If I haven’t come back and they give you a surprise visit Leo knows how to contact us”
“Thank you so much” Her voice was shakey, it wasn’t completely sinking in just yet she was going to be able to live a life where she didn’t have to fear water. “You must be cold Theta. Want to dry off and get dressed? I’ll start taking care of the mess that’s probably out there” She nodded and he set her down, she saw he was soaked “Oh, gosh, want to throw your clothes in my dryer again?” He smiled “could I take you to my place and change then come back with you? Though…that’s with me assuming you wont want to be alone over night quite yet” She gripped the towel around her “I mean….would it be an inconvenience to stay with me again…I still feel scared”
“I’d be happy to Theta” He left her alone to change then they went to his home for clothes. He grabbed a few extras after he changed just in case and he blushed when she noticed. “You’re really so sweet Leo”
“It took me awhile to know fully that demon was gone. I don’t want you to wake up scared and be alone” her heart beat a million miles per hour but she kissed him and he melted into it. He had certainly kissed a woman before but this was unlike any kiss he had ever shared. “thank you” she said again breathlessly. He gave her one more, brief kiss “you can thank me like that as much as you want” she gave a small whine of embarrassment and hugged him, hiding her face in his chest. He chuckled, holding her happily. He wasn’t sure if this meant they were dating or if it was just truly a way to show her appreciation but all that mattered to him right now was that she was in his arms and completely safe from the Bukavac.