Chapter 9: Inner Demons

Chapter 9: Inner Demons

A Chapter by Cameron Lockhart

In a desperate move, the twins join forces with the Afterlife Task Force, but Balthazar manages to hold his own against them all, especially with his religion on his side.


Things were looking bleak in the town square of Hitsville, Montana. Most of the residents were holed up in their houses to avoid the rush and those who were responsible for said rush were on the ropes. Pygmy Hippo and Queen Cobra looked well enough to fight again as they stared over at Balthazar; having the attention turned away from them had given them ample recovery time. Todd struggled to stand up, eyeing the amount of damage the nearby fence had taken upon colliding with it. Eli and Second sat up, both winded inside their ash-covered impact craters. Robyn managed to get to her feet, but couldn't stop trembling, still shaken up from the beating she'd received. None of them were aching or injured, but even in the afterlife, it was still possible for one to get stunned or knocked out if hit hard enough.

As Mike Jr. and Josephine watched with caution from behind the fountain, Balthazar stood over Ike's fallen body, watching with an unamused look as he slowly sat up.

"Any last words, you sitcom has-been?" he asked, gritting his teeth.

"Yeah…" Ike groaned, kicking himself upright. "I'm gonna pull an Amy Winehouse on you."

"Hmm? What does that even mean? And who even is- oomph!" Balthazar was caught off guard as Ike tackled him, making them both roll along the ground for a bit. He quickly leaped off of him before he could jab his knee into his gut, backflipping into a fighting stance.

"What I meant by that is, I'm gonna do the very thing she does in response to people who criticize her!"


With that, another fight was on. Ike lunged at Balthazar again, preparing to grapple him, but the latter parried his hits, teleporting away before he could be subjected to an elbow drop. Reappearing just centimeters behind him, he managed to trip Ike with a leg sweep, but he recovered from this by landing in a handstand and front-flipping back to his feet. Whipping around, he countered with a jab to the gut, making him slide back on his feet. Balthazar tried to teleport again, but Ike managed to catch him off guard with a tackle just as he popped up behind him.

"Okay, looks like he's got him occupied for now," Josephine noted, still squatting behind the fountain with her twin.

"So what's the plan now?" Mike Jr. asked.

"Well, so long as that task force is up and about, Mom's plans are halted. If we could just stir up a little chaos, we can derail it once and for all."

"And how do we do that, exactly?"

"Well, what do we do best?" Josephine smirked.

"O-Oh yeah, right. Gotcha." Mike Jr. winked.

With that, he dashed over towards a slightly shaky Queen Cobra and performed a sliding tackle into her shins, knocking her onto her stomach, though she was quick to kick herself upright again.

"What are you doing, boy?!" she shrieked.

"Oh, just some good old-fashioned mutiny," Mike Jr. said in a cheeky tone, hands tucked behind his head.

"As a killer for hire, I take fulfilling my contracts extremely seriously. I cannot allow your impudence to sabotage the operation."

Queen Cobra readied her dual kanabos, twirling them around in a threatening manner. She swung one of them at Mike Jr., who smugly blocked it with his biceps, not needing to worry about the spiked clubs breaking his skin. He backflipped away from another strike as they continued their fight. At the same time, Josephine was sizing up Pygmy Hippo, trying to figure out how to go about fighting him. She knew attacking his limbs would be fruitless, given his armor, but since this was the afterlife, attacking his exposed skin wouldn't do much good either. Nearby, Todd watched her with piqued curiosity, while Second had his eyes on Ike and Balthazar's fight.

"Say, Second. You thinking what I'm thinking?" Todd asked.

"Yep. Yo, guys! Beatings or not, we've gotta step it up!" Second cried out to the rest of his team.

And just like that, an all-out brawl between the two factions heated up once more. While Ike and Balthazar remained focused on each other, everyone else swapped opponents and scampered around the town square, making the scene look rather confusing and jumbled as more dust was kicked up. Katherine tried to process what she was viewing, squinting at the chaos from halfway up the manor's front staircase, but to no avail. But one thing did pique her interest soon enough; taking a blow from Pygmy Hippo, Todd was sent flying by, his reincarnation device unknowingly knocked out of his shorts pocket in the process. Cautiously stepping down towards it, Katherine picked it up and examined it in her petite hand, before a demonic smirk etched itself onto her face.

Back on the ground, Mike Jr. was tag-teamed with Eli and Robyn as they faced off against Queen Cobra. The latter attempted to spin around like a cyclone with each of her kanabos pointed outward, but Eli tossed a rock at her ankles, tripping her onto her face. Robyn zipped over and hopped off the ground, landing an elbow drop to her back, before lifting her up and performing a suplex. The force of the move was enough to make her bounce upon impact, leaving her open to a flip kick. Robyn then leapt after her dazed target and brought her fists together, slamming her gut hard enough to send her plummeting back to the ground. Queen Cobra bounced again, but this time was intercepted by Mike Jr., who caught her with a football tackle and rammed her into a wall. He then grabbed her arms and swung her over his head to slam her into the ground, resulting in an impact crater around her seemingly unconscious body. However, right before Eli could fire off his reincarnation device, she knocked him onto his stomach with a leg sweep. Everyone else got ready to continue the fight, but Queen Cobra was still a bit winded from the beating she decided to retreat, leaping and parkouring out of the town square, much to the confusion of her opponents.

Not too far away, Josephine was engaged in some evenly-matched close combat with Pygmy Hippo. The latter performed a downward swipe with his claws, leaving a few tears in the front of the former's top, much to her chagrin.

"You've been getting on my nerves ever since I first laid eyes on you, but now you've really struck a nerve!" she roared with trembling fists.

While she was occupied, Second flipped over her head and attempted to nail Pygmy Hippo's head with a dive kick, but he prepared to knock him back with a sound wave from his helmet's antenna. But he wasn't prepared for Todd to pop up behind him and destroy it with his baseball bat, allowing him to take the hit. Lying on the ground, he launched all eight of his claw missiles into the air as he kicked himself back up, but was unable to defend against Josephine's trademark move: pouncing onto his torso and crawling all over his body at a blinding pace. Quick as a cheetah, she yanked out his exposed wires, disconnecting his armor pieces, and spin-kicked him in the cheek to make him keel over. Finally, Second showed up from behind and shattered his helmet with a swift karate chop, splitting it open with a satisfying hiss.

"Ugh, what happened?" Pygmy Hippo asked in a weary voice, now without autotune. "Last thing I remember, I was talking to Katherine, and then-"

"Yeah, yeah, cool story. But you've gotta go now!" Todd didn't hesitate to zap him out of existence with his reincarnation device.

Unbeknownst to anyone, one of the eight missiles that Pygmy Hippo had fired off was continuing its flight around the town square, now in a more aimless fashion due to the absence of the armor that controlled it. It happened to fly above Ike and Balthazar, still fighting for their afterlives on the ground. The latter teleported behind the former and roundhouse kicked him in the back, but it didn't quite make him fall down. Reappearing in front of him, he hit Ike with two jabs and then clapped his palms over the sides of his face, stunning him for a spell before a powerful headbutt sent him reeling into a nearby house.

Amidst all the scuffling, Balthazar was unaware that his necklace had slipped out of his jacket and was now sticking out behind him as it caught the breeze. At the same time, the missile made its descent and ended up destroying the pentagram in a tiny, unceremonious explosion. Balthazar put on a rare, fearful look as he examined the one remaining shard on his chain, but couldn't dawdle for long as he felt a huge tremor shake the plaza. All of a sudden, countless cracks appeared throughout the ground, each one glowing with scarlet energy, quickly traveling towards Balthazar. As traumatic memories came back to him, he cartwheeled to the side moments before it erupted, but was quickly subjected to a second burning geyser of the energy. In seconds, he was unconscious, levitating off the ground as the darkened cracks released a slew of demonic shadows, before closing up and returning the ground to normal. Each shadow seeped into his body before he started to tremble, letting loose an inhuman shout.

Extending his limbs like a starfish, he opened his bioluminescent carnation pink eyes, his whole frame surrounded by a foggy black aura as he slowly and eerily floated to the ground. Almost everyone in the vicinity looked on in terror at his transformation, while Katherine couldn't help but cackle as she rubbed her hands together.

"Welp, I guess that's another side-effect of being a Satanist in the afterlife," Josephine observed.

"And another setback you didn't account for?" Mike Jr. sneered.

"Don't f*****g remind me."

Without warning, Balthazar flew along the ground with his arms and fists spread out behind him, his legs cloaking themselves in blood-red flames, before swiveling around and preparing to nail Mike Jr. with a devastating dropkick. Although he managed to dodge by leaping high into the air, the kick instead hit Robyn and sent her reeling into a nearby rose hedge.

"Pfft, he's damn lucky these thorns can't break my skin…" she droned.

Narrowing his eyes, Balthazar dashed after everyone else and attempted to hit them, whiffing each and every time. They attempted to gang up on him as the fight moved into the center of the plaza, but fortunately, Katherine was prepared. Taking a deep breath, she raised her stolen staff to the sky as its tip glowed mint green, some sparkles of the same color appearing inside Balthazar's aura just as he summoned the strength to knock all of his opponents away a few feet. With his eyes now glowing completely white, he teleported high into the air and dove down flaming fists first, hitting the ground with a shockwave that scattered everyone throughout the town, with the side effects of setting various buildings on fire and darkening the skies with all the smoke.

Possessed and strengthened by his demons, and once again under Katherine's control, Balthazar dashed and teleported around the town square in an attempt to take out his group of opponents once more. He sparred with Ike for a bit, swerving around his attempt at a hook and knocking him away with a flaming uppercut. Eli slid in for a leg sweep, which was hopped over, and unprepared for when Balthazar grabbed his shoulders and kneed him away. Todd's yo-yo bolos were useless against the flames his opponent coated his limbs with, and while he was stupefied at the sight of it, he found himself kicked away, only to be caught by Robyn and placed safely on the ground. The latter charged in with a flurry of jabs, but fell flat on her face after Balthazar warped behind her and ax-kicked her in the back. Second managed to catch him off guard by pouncing onto his shoulders and knocking him down, jabbing at his face for a bit before he was stunned with a headbutt and a flaming knee to the gut sent him reeling high into the air. Even the twins, who knew his fighting style better far better than the others, didn't have much luck fighting him solo.

After knocking the group down for the umpteenth time, Balthazar let out an eerie cackle, accompanied by a complete lack of body language or even a departure from his stoic facial expression.

"Your efforts are futile, you pathetic cockroaches! No task force in the posthumous universe will be able to stop the plans of its destined ruler, Katherine Augustus Seymour! Ah hahahahaha!" he gloated in an equally emotionless voice.

With everyone stunned and winded throughout the plaza, Mike Jr. and Josephine looked at each other with concern, wondering if their attempt at sabotage was doomed. At the very least, such a setback did prove that they weren't cut out to be villains. But whereas Mike Jr. appeared primed to give up, albeit with some slight reluctance, Josephine couldn't help but stare at Balthazar's possessed body with a quizzical look, rubbing her chin all the while.

© 2022 Cameron Lockhart

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Added on September 20, 2022
Last Updated on September 20, 2022
Tags: antihero, afterlife, action, humor, family, drama, comedy, redemption


Cameron Lockhart
Cameron Lockhart

Charleston, SC

I've loved writing ever since I could properly hold a pencil, and I currently strive to become a published author someday. In 2021, I earned a BA in Creative Writing; I primarily focused on prose and .. more..