The Demon Hunter

By: Jennifer Martucci & Christopher Martucci

Rise of the Hunter(Book 1)

Chapter 1

If I’d have known today was the day I was going to die, I never would have left the house, never would’ve left my bed. But in this world, we have no idea what waits around the corner, what’s going to happen next, so I didn’t have a chance to avoid my fate.

Bread, milk, cereal. Bread, milk, cereal. I recite the three things my mom asked me to get at the market on the corner over and over again. You’d think they’d be easy to remember, but lists like hers tend to fly out of my head when I’d rather be where I was five minutes ago: camped out on the living room couch playing video games and eating Cheetos. I groaned when she handed me a twenty dollar bill and told me not to come back with candy or more salty crap as she called it. She smiled and winked and I felt like a jerk for groaning in the first place. She’s a night nurse and picks up shifts anytime one becomes available. She’s always tired and she’s thinner than she should be, but always manages to make sure I’m fed and have clean clothes. For those reasons and too many more to list, if she asks me to do something I do it. Period. This trip to the corner market is no different.

Stuffing one hand in my pocket, I reach for a piece of gum. As I bring it out, the twenty falls on the floor. I sigh and wish my mother had sent my sister, Kiera, instead of me. I kneel and scoop it up, standing just as the elevator doors open.

“Daniel! Hello, dear!” A stubby body waddles toward me. Mrs. Alder, wearing orange lipstick that’s smeared on her two front teeth, smiles at me. “So nice to see you.” I hold the door for her, and hold my breath, as she squeezes past me into the tiny metal rectangle that passes for an elevator in our apartment building.

“Hey Mrs. A,” I mumble, glancing at her before I concentrate on my shoes.

Advancing a single step, Mrs. Alder’s foul breath mingles with her flowery perfume. Both make me feel a little sick so I slide back a few steps until I feel my back touch the far wall of the elevator. “Can you press number five, dear?” For a minute, I don’t know whether to be overjoyed that she’s not riding to the lobby with me or disappointed that I have to go up two floors with her. It’s a push I suppose considering we are on the third floor. I nod and oblige by depressing the number five. “I’m going upstairs to see Grace. You know Grace, right? Grace Kellerman?” She doesn’t wait for me to say a word or nod, but continues. “Her husband died, four, no maybe, five years ago. Or was it six? Let me think.” She brings a liver-spotted finger to her lips and taps it there. Her cloudy blue eyes light up after a long moment and her finger moves away from her mouth with an orange blotch on its tip; then she claps her hands together. “Seven! Marty died seven years ago.” She smiles proudly, and I can’t help but feel one side of my mouth lift as well.

When the elevator reaches the fifth floor and the door begrudgingly opens, Mrs. Alder shuffles out, leaving behind the vague stench of her perfume and her breath in her wake. Sighing and shaking my head, I close my eyes briefly once the door closes. I open them and resume my chant in my head bread, milk, cereal until the elevator stops and I step out. The vague smell of cigarette smoke and about fifteen different foods cooking mixes with the stuffy mildew smell unique to apartment buildings. All greet me immediately. All are familiar. All are what I’ve come to recognize as the scent of home. It may not be the substance of home and garden magazines but it’s fine by me. Home doesn’t have to be filled with frou-frou junk and look like a museum. It has to be filled with the people you love and who love you.

I smile to myself and think of my mom in her light blue scrubs plugging in a scented oil diffuser and saying, “Okay. That’s all the Martha Stewart I have in me,” before I force myself to remember the list again. Bread, milk, cereal, and M&Ms maybe?

My mind wanders around speculation about my favorite zombie show on television and my favorite video game as I walk along the crowded city street. The area is commercial. Cars and trucks continually drive by, an interesting blend of music thumping and horns blaring accompany the whoosh of air as they pass.

Also By Jennifer Martucci & Christopher Martucci

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