Even demons have existential crises.

Bainer crouched on the second-story ledge of the courthouse looking rather gargoyle-like. Only the balls of his feet connected him to the building as he perched effortlessly with his arms crossed across his knees and his chin resting on his wrists. A strong breeze stirred the leather tails of his coat making a bat-like sound that pleased him. He had developed a flair for the dramatic during his afterlife.

He breathed the morning air deeply and smiled. He knew what was going to happen as surely as he knew when rain was about to start. It was a smell, a unique, dark, and lovely smell. It reminded him a little of the metallic tint of blood, a little of a rotting carcass in the woods, and a little of sweat, but it was not really any of those. It was the scent of impending violence. Like a tracking hound he had found his way here in time to watch the carnage. He drew in a steady stream of air, closed his eyes, and enjoyed being himself until a whining voice broke apart the mock-heroic mirror in his head.

“Bainer, I wanna go home now. I’m hungry,” The small boy next to him pouted. The boy sat on the ledge holding firmly onto a flagpole. He appeared no more than eight, but was dressed to emulate a teen. The sagging jeans and obscene tee-shirt fit like a costume on his small form.

Bainer glanced at the child with annoyance. “You are not hungry because you are dead. Now stop distracting me or I will throw you off this building – again” he replied in a low, even voice that held more threat than any angry outburst could.

The boy’s eyes grew wide and he held tighter to the flagpole.

Voices were rising below. The subtle rage and arrogance of the protesters, the fear and indignation of the police officers, the excitement of the gawkers and passers-by. Bainer wondered how this stupid child could miss eating with these emotions wafting around them.

Below them an expensive car pulled up to the curb at the bottom of the steps. Bainer leaned forward with anticipation. Two police officers wearing Kevlar vests approached the vehicle at a trot. They opened the car door and enveloped the emerging passenger in a third vest before turning him to the stairs. Before them, more officers parted a swarm of media. Protesters swelled forward. As the escorted man neared the top steps, Bainer defied gravity leaning far enough forward to look straight down onto the action.

As if on his cue, a woman emerged from the crowd, screamed some garbled obscenity and threw the liquid from her water bottle into the escorted man’s face. Chaos ensued as the man dropped to the ground emitting high-pitched screeches and clawing at his face. The officers that had been leading him forward fell as well, grabbing at their arms where the acid had splashed them. Bainer’s chuckle was drowned out by the chaos below as more officers flooded the scene and tackled the attacker.

The boy clung to the flagpole.


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