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Chapter Twelve: Another Victim

The petite young woman was the last to leave the bar. Closing time was 2:30 in the morning, but Jackie, the owner, had gone home early and she was left to close up alone. There had only been one customer during the final forty five minutes before quitting time, but as Jackie always said, one customer isn't no customer and so she patiently waited until the man finished his last beer, waved an unsteady goodnight and stumbled out the door.

She wished she didn't have to work at all, especially so late in her pregnancy. But her husband's business had run into trouble and without her paycheck it was certain they wouldn't have enough to keep the wolf from the door. So, five nights a week, she left her two children in the care of a babysitter until her husband came home, while she tended bar at Jackie's "The Office" tavern.

As she mopped the table tops and then swept the floor, she mentally ran through her shopping list. Before she went home tonight - or this morning rather - she planned to swing by Walmart and pick up a few groceries. She knew it would be easier if her husband helped with the shopping, but she preferred to do it herself. That way she could make sure the grocery budget wasn't used up on beer and beef jerky.

The back entrance to the bar opened into an alleyway and the young woman wondered "for the hundredth time" why there were no lights on that side of the building. The only back door light on the whole block was situated at the rear entrance to the Child Protective Services, two doors down. She unintentionally kicked an empty beer can as she crossed the parking lot and she jumped as the can skittered away in the dark. She had nearly dropped her purse when startled by the sound of the rattling can, so she stopped to hitch the heavy bag into position on her shoulder before continuing. Something moved in her peripheral vision and she quickly turned to see what was there. Nothing. She stared into the darkness for a few moments and then turned and started on her way again, moving more quickly now. All at once, she heard the sound of footfalls moving quickly up behind her. She turned suddenly and yelled "Who's there!?" Nothing. Again.

Thoroughly frightened now, the young woman's breath came in sharp gasps as she backed away from the building, her car behind her. She was loath to turn her back on - on whatever it was that was out there, in the darkness, following her.

Then she heard a strange sigh. It was like a woman cooing over a baby. She turned the direction of the sound and was horrified to see a tall gangling figure standing in the darkness several yards away. She immediately turned and ran toward her car. Her keys were in her handbag and she had the presence of mind to chide herself for not having them out and ready before she left the bar. She thrust her hand into the purse and grasped the keys as she arrived at her car but before she could pull them out, she felt a cold rough hand wrap tight around her throat. She dropped the bag and pulled at the dry scaly hand but was unable to break the grip of the fiend. Again she heard the sigh - the last thing she ever heard - when the creature plunged a ragged claw into the back of her head. The talon burst through her forehead and shattered the glass of the car window. Then the demon wrenched its hand free of the woman and reached around to her belly. With a swift sweeping movement, the monster tore her open and the baby in her womb fell to the dirty pavement. Then, as if discarding a piece of trash, the demon pitched the young woman's quivering body to the ground beside her son.

Chapter One: Slaughter In The Churchyard
Chapter Two: The Guardians
Chapter Three: The Detective
Chapter Four: Checking Out The Church
Chapter Five: Lunch With Connie
Chapter Six: Back To The Scene Of The Slaughter
Chapter Seven: Suspects In View
Chapter Eight: An Unbelievable Story
Chapter Nine: The Suspects Disappear
Chapter Ten: A Plan Of Action
Chapter Eleven: Lily's Help
Chapter Twelve: Another Victim
Chapter Thirteen: The Briefing
Chapter Fourteen: Attack On A Guardian
Chapter Fifteen: The Fury Of The Fiend

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