Heart of the Demon - By Cynthia Garner


Zombies got a bad rap these days. At least that’s what the drunk one kept telling Finn Evnissyen as he sat at the bar nursing his beer.

“I mean, come on. Do I look like I’m rotting?” The guy held out one arm and turned it so Finn could see the underside. The action also sent a waft of ammonia covered up by too much cologne.

That hint of ammonia told Finn this guy had become a zombie within hours of death instead of days. Yeah, if he’d been dead longer he wouldn’t be so pretty and he’d be much more odoriferous.

The zombie flexed his arm again. “Nope,” he muttered, answering his own question. “Skin’s as clear as a baby’s bottom.”

Finn didn’t give a rat’s ass about the zombie’s skin or baby bottoms. “Uh-huh,” Finn grunted as he swiveled around on his stool to look out over the crowd. It was just after three in the afternoon on a hot, humid Sunday, and the bar already had a healthy clientele made up of various preternaturals and humans. Finn brought his glass to his lips and sipped while he checked out the other drinkers.

A couple of blue-collar type humans sat at a back booth with pretzels and beers, their eyes glued to the large TV screen hanging on one wall. It looked like a preseason game of the Arizona Cardinals playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at the home stadium. Damn. He should’ve bought tickets, since it was so close. It’d be better than sitting here watching it on TV with a zombie yammering in his ear.

There was a lone drinker at the end of the bar that caught Finn’s eye. Finn leaned around zombie guy for a better look. The loner hunched over his drink, obviously not wanting Finn to get a good look at him. Finn understood the need to be alone with a drink, but he was curious to know what kind of pret was sharing the bar with him. Doing his job as well as he did meant he’d made a few enemies. Hell, more than a few. So using extra precaution was necessary to make sure the guy trying to hide behind his drink wasn’t a demon with a grudge.

Finn took a few sniffs of air and grimaced at the sickly sweet smell emanating from the man next to him, a man who was still going on about zombies getting negative press.

“Really, man.” The zombie lifted his drink. “Just because we happen to like brains…and intestines—”

“Mack!” Finn held up his hand to signal the bartender. Enough was enough. He slammed his glass onto the bar and scowled. He’d come here for a drink or three, not to strike up conversation with some random smelly dude. Since this guy wouldn’t shut up, it was time to go. He slapped a few bills down on the bar and pushed off his stool.

“You gotta go?” The whiny zombie looked like he was about to cry. “We were only gettin’ started.”

“Yeah, well, somebody’s disturbing my quiet.” Finn shot the guy a look and headed toward the front of the bar, taking a route that brought him behind the lone drinker. He didn’t recognize the dude, and sensed no aggression coming from him. Just another guy trying to drown his sorrows.

As Finn pushed open the door, he slipped his sunglasses over his eyes. The sultry air of a late August afternoon in Scottsdale, Arizona, slapped him in the face. God, it was so hot it felt like he’d stepped into an oven.

“Highway to Hell” began playing on his phone. He dragged it out of his pocket and answered with a terse, “What’s up, Dad?”

“I need to see you. Now.” As always, Lucifer Demonicus got right to the point. “My office.”

“I’m a little busy.” He wasn’t, but dear old dad didn’t need to know that.

“My office. Ten minutes.”

Finn realized his father had disconnected the call. “Damn it.” He shoved his phone back into his pocket. He could blow off his dad, but if he did he had no doubt that the old devil would find him, or send some of his goons. “Damn it,” he muttered again, and threw a leg over the seat of his motorcycle, wincing when heat from leather warmed by the sun seeped through his jeans.

One day he’d be free from his father’s power. He was tired of Lucifer dictating his every move. As soon as he could find something to use as leverage, he’d be out from beneath the king of demons’