Short Story
                                           The Death Hound
                                                              By Allen W. Yoakum


      Snow was thick on the ground from the first bitter snow storm of the season but the air was not as cold
as the beast Cole Stinger was hunting that night. His six foot athletic frame was covered in a leather
overcoat which hid six knives, a short sword, and any magical weaponry needed to kill the Death Hound.
Cole had started in the south end of Central Park walking in the bone chilling air, but he had been trained
well by his teachers to ignore the cold and think only of killing his prey.

      Cole had been hunting the half-wolf, half death-seeker monster for over a week. Finding out either in
the paper or seeing the aftermath firsthand how the beast had mutilated one of his victims. This was a
different order of Death Hound, one that was not quick to give into its raging hunger for flesh and the soul
energy of whomever was unlucky enough to cross its path in the still of the night.

      Stinger walked on the west side of the park using the shadow cast by the city lights to hide himself,
hoping that his prey would show itself soon. Before another victim had their throat slashed by razor sharp
teeth two inches long, with the power to rip off the head afterward. This is how the first four victims had
been found in alleys, in the park, and once in the sewer by public service workers.

      The police were clueless as to what was killing the victims, but Cole Stinger knew only too well what it
was. He was a demon hunter, an enforcer of House Ram Proelium or Battle Ram in Latin, the language
used officially by all the Houses. The House's area was New York City and its job was to keep the balance
between Darkness and Light. Which is exactly what Stinger was doing that night.

      Cole looked at his Omega watch, it read 12:43 in the morning. The Death Hound usually found a victim
by now but with the killings in the papers and all over the news, people were staying in at night and not just
because of the cold. Maybe it was finding prey hard to find.

      “Where is that hellish beast? I know he's near. I can smell the vile stink of its breath.” Cole's accent
was of a cross between English and Scottish with a smooth draw. Cole walked looking from beneath his
large rimmed leather hat with deep brown eyes that matched the black of his overcoat. His black Doc
Martin boots crunched the snow and leaves on the grass of the North Meadow making a muffled snapping
sound.

      Cole stood behind a tree listening to the silence of the park.  There were few cars on the streets,
everyone was asleep or staying inside because of fear in their hearts and the cold. Cole suspected it was
more fear than cold. Cole knew no such fear at that moment, all he wanted to do was kill his prey. He stood
there thinking of going farther north into the park and exiting when there was a scream and the barking
yelp of some great wolf.

      Stinger ran toward the sound which he knew was the beast. He pulled out his sword that was two feet
long with a sliver handle and gold guard made of dragon heads encrusted with jewels that glowed brighter
as he got closer to the young woman screaming and running toward him. With the glowing of the dragon's
eyes, the demon hunter knew he had found his prey.

      Cole saw a short woman of about twenty-one years old running in tight clothing that suggested she
sold herself for money. In the heels she wore, her sprint was less than effective against the speed of the six
foot tall Death Hound which was only ten feet behind the hooker.

      “Oh God! Oh Christ! Help! Help me!” yelled the prostitute as Cole closed in on the pair. They were
running through the trees untill the woman tripped on a branch and went head first into a snow bank. “Oh
God! Our Father who art in heaven....” the woman said the Lord's prayer without knowing she was doing it
as the grayish haired beast with the head of a cross between a wolf and human closed in on her.

      “Beast, why don't you attack someone who can fight back?” The Death Hound snapped its head
around with blue glowing eyes leering at Cole. The hooker just looked between Cole and the beast till Cole
yelled. “Leave, I will kill this creature!” Without thinking, the woman with dyed blond hair and baby blue
contacts jumped up and ran south as fast as her shoes would allow.

      “She was mine hunter. So be it, I'll eat your soul and flesh.” said the Death Hound with a raspy hiss to
its voice.

      “Not tonight you freakish monster, but you can try.” The Death Hound jumped up off the ground and
landed next to Cole's six foot frame. Before Cole could strike, a swipe of a clawed hand hit him in the
chest. He staggered back with the wind almost knocked out of him but managed to put a small slash on
the beast's left shoulder. Ruby red blood flowed from the wound onto the pure white snow turning it pink.
This did not affect the monster as Stinger hoped it would. Trying to put some distance between himself
and the Death Hound, Stinger back pedaled giving the beast another cut on its thick upper leg as he did
so.

      “You bastard!”

      “Come on demon.  Face your executioner.” Cole pulled out a throwing knife and hurled the weapon at
the monster's head. Cole missed the beast's eye socket, but he did get a slice to the side of the Death
Hound's head. A howl of pain ripped across the park causing three bums to run for shelter on the west
side of the park.

      “You die now!” The Death Hound still bleeding from its three cuts, raced forward and tackled Cole
before he could jump out of the way. They landed in the snow and the powerful jaws of the Death Hound
snapped at Stinger as he held him away from his head. Cole could feel his strength leave him as he fought
the powerful beast. Using one hand on its neck to choke the beast, he pulled out another knife from his
coat and stabbed the creature in the side of its body.

      Another howl of rage came from the monster rattling Cole's ear drums. Not able to hold the beast back
anymore, Stinger rolled to the left only to be caught on his right arm by the Death Hound's jaw. The
creature's teeth clamped down on him but the armor underneath kept his forearm from being ripped to
pieces. Still, he felt the pain in his arm and shoulder as the Death Hound tossed him around and into a
group of trees. Cole lost his sword in flight leaving him with only the knives and what magical items he had,
to fight the Death Hound.

      Cole almost passed out as the creature pulled out the knife and tossed it aside. With the last of his
strength, he pulled out a glass ball with amber liquid sloshing around in it. Shaking its head, the Death
Hound took two strides toward the wounded hunter.

      “Now I shall feast on a demon hunter this night!” The Death Hound moved in to snap off Stinger's head
with its huge jaws, but just as it was about to, Cole slammed the glass ball down its mouth and broke it.

      Stinger jumped out of the way and staggered back a bit as he watched the beast do nothing and then
start to convulse and flop into the snow, which that turning red from the blood oozing from its body. The
demon hunter went and picked up his sword about ten feet away and walked over to the beast which was
convulsing in agony.

      “Poison from the vex snake kills any creature of Darkness.” The Death Hound kept trying to get up, but
each time it did, another wave of muscle contractions would rip across it body causing bones to break and
blood to pour from the wounds. Finally the Death Hound stopped moving altogether surrounded by a pool
of its own blood that was turning an ugly brown. As Cole went and collected his weapons, the Death
Hound's body started to decay rapidly turning into a ball of slime covered with white flesh with red streaks
going through it.

      Walking with a slight limp, the demon hunter went back to what was left of his prey and took out a
glass tube with green powder in it. He sprinkled the powder on the remains of the Death Hound and within
seconds, all that was left was a pool of foul smelling blood and goop.

      Cole heard the police cars closing in, so he moved east through the North Meadow blending into the
landscape. As he neared Mt. Sinai Hospital, he saw a taxi sitting outside. The medallion light was on and
no one was inside, so with some pain he got into the cab.

      “Where ya off to buddy?”

      “70th and Broadway and if you hurry, I'll toss in a $100”

      “You got it pal! Why in such a hurry?  Leave some girl's place after a bit of.... you know what? Have a
good night's hunting?”

      “I did indeed have had a good hunt. Now drive.”
                                         
About Allen W. Yoakum

Allen W. Yoakum lives in
the Mid-West and writes
everything from horror to
simple poetry about life.  
He also paints and draws
and has published for the
Kindel.
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.