Spells & Ashes (The Dark Files #1) - Kim Richardson

1

The demon was fast. Damn fast.

It had dragged me all through the streets of Upper East Side Manhattan, snaking through the backwoods of Central Park to finally arrive in Hell’s Kitchen.

Groaning, I forced my legs to keep working, my lungs starving for air as I tried to ignore the cramp pinching at my side.

I didn’t get paid enough for this crap.

This would be my tenth exorcism this month. No, I’m not talking about heads spinning while spewing out fountains of pea soup. That’s Hollywood. This is real life, and demonic possession is very real.

It happened when a demon hitched a ride inside a person’s body, making them do obscene things and act out of character, all the while sucking on their life force until they eventually dropped dead.

There had been a sudden influx of demons the past two weeks in New York City. Rumors had it that an unusually large Rift—a tear in the Veil, the dividing line between humans and the Netherworld demons—had opened, and thousands of demons had escaped through it.

It had been a busy month for the City of New York in terms of demon parasites, but that didn’t mean the city was free of other demons. Hell no. There were a lot of creepier crawlers and things far worse than your average body-snatching demon bastards. Still, tonight I was graced with the presence of yet another demon.

There was no way in hell a fourteen-year-old human girl could run that fast for so long without having to stop and catch her breath. The demon inside her was running her down, pushing her body to an extreme no human could endure. It had stolen her body and now ran it like a puppet on strings, feeding on her life force. If I didn’t get to her soon, the girl’s body would collapse, and she would die, leaving the demon to consume her soul and then human-hop into another poor bastard. Typically possessions happened when humans were stupid enough to play at summoning demons in exchange for the usual crap—money, fame, sex. Still, I couldn’t let her die.

Unlike demons or other half-breeds blessed with supernatural speed and endurance, I had to rely on my bursts of sweet adrenaline and my profound hatred for body-snatching demons to fuel my legs. I was fit, but I wasn’t an athlete. My mortal body could only endure so much, and if I didn’t banish the demon soon, I was going to drop dead of exhaustion.

I’d been hired by the dark witch court to keep tabs on the Veil, mostly on hunting and banishing whatever demon or supernatural baddy came through. The pay wasn’t great, but it took care of the bills and helped me keep my family home, which was all I needed.

Demons were always tampering with the Veil. They’d pierce it and manage to cross over to our world to feast on a few human souls. Days like the solstice or full moons, when the Veil was at its thinnest, resulted in a larger outpour of demons.

That’s where I came in.

I’d blast them back to the Netherworld. Fire usually did the trick. A couple of fireballs later, and the demons were back in their world, leaving the mortal world a little safer.

I hated nothing more than a body-snatching demon. Okay, maybe two body-snatching demons. The fact remained; I loathed them. There was something utterly disturbing about being trapped in your own body while someone else piloted it around, and you couldn’t do a damn thing about it. I wouldn’t stand for it. I would rip that demon out of her, through her throat