Short story: Demon Hunter

17 April 2015

6a00d8341bf67c53ef0148c80f2a13970c-500wiSome of you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet around here lately.

Mostly that’s due to me being bed-bound for a week back in March with a bad back. And mind you, when I say ‘a bad back’ I don’t mean that it was aching a little like as though I’d been lifting heavy weights. No, this was a whole new level of badness. I’m talking not being able to stand bad. I’m talking stabbing pains all across my lumbar region bad. I’m talking shuffling around like an old man everywhere bad… Yeah, it wasn’t much fun. Then my mother was over for Easter, which erased another week and all the rest of my free time has been eaten up by the new house, which I’m pleased to say now has paint on its walls and wood on its floors and a garden that is almost entirely weed free.

But never let it be said I’m one to idly lie by because I was able to get a new short story finished during this time and sent off to an anthology for submission. Which is nice.

Click here to read a sample of Demon Hunter (PDF)

Which anthology, I hear you ask? This one. It’s all about hunting monsters of the big and scary variety. Think Godzilla stalked by Elmer Fudd and you’ll be somewhere along the right lines.

Shhh! Be vewwy, vewwy quiet. I'm hunting monsters!

Shhh! Be vewwy, vewwy quiet. I’m hunting monsters!

My own entry for this anthology is a rather strange tail about an exorcist from the Catholic church who roams the galaxy looking for demons to kill. Except that this demon is a giant ball of corrupted flesh and this priest uses science and bullets to kill its prey rather than prayers and holy water.

It’s a silly concept, I know. But it’s nice to let yourself go once in a while and just write whatever nonsense comes into your head. And like with a lot of my stuff these days, the idea for this story is an old one. I’ve mentioned before that Warhammer was a big inspiration for me during my formative writing years. It helped me develop my world building skills. For all the hackery of the 40k universe (and the double hackery of its gameplay) Warhammer has some of the most detailed and interesting fluff of any fictional shared universe I’ve come across. There are some really interesting concepts in the 40k universe and lots of them ripe for exploring further in other media.

The 40k universe: damn does it do super sillyness with style

The 40k universe: damn does it do super silliness with style

One of the most intriguing ideas from this universe is the idea of the ‘warp space’. It’s how the humans in the Warhammer universe travel from planet to planet. The ‘warp’ is basically another dimension which (to oversimplify things) is literally the physical amalgamation of all the combined thoughts of every sentient life form in the universe. Traveling through the warp is extremely dangerous. Not only are there frequent storms that tear ships apart and scatter them across space and time at a whim, but it’s also home to the deamons who are creatures literally born out of our darker thoughts. Most humans go mad trying to navigate their way through it. Many others become possessed by the deamons who live there. But everyone agrees the benefits of being able to travel across the universe so quickly far outweigh the few negatives and occasional mass infestations that might occur along the way.

Like Nurgle here

Some awesome 40k art taken from http://warhammer40k.wikia.com/wiki/Nurgle

This concept was one I basically stole hook, line and sinker for my story Demon Hunter, although, in my defense, I did try to make my demon a little more science-y and less all-out evil. My descriptions of the demon were inspired by China Mieville’s short story Familiar in which a tiny magical creature slowly grows into a monster by assimilating into itself the everyday things it stumbles across. I remember finding the story creepy as all hell when I read it about 10 years ago and something about the imagery has stuck with me ever since.

Anyway I hope you like it. It’s a silly story and far from my best work but sometimes it’s nice to let yourself indulge in your wilder fantasies now and again.

Oh and one last note on the priest’s name: Father Asakite. It comes from a very old joke I used to share with my best friend. He once told me that if he ever became famous he would change his name to Asakite. That way, whenever someone saw him in the street they would say “Hi Asakite!”. There was also Denseek (“Hi Denseek!”) and Hosilver (“Hi Hosilver!”) but they were never as funny for some reason.

Anyway, as always feedback is welcomed.