Minutes later Duke made his way up the stairwell of the century old building where he first met Grigori. He promised himself that he would not be carried down these steps again.
The floor where it had all begun was under reconstruction. Exposed pipes, sheet rock, paints, chemicals, and piled lumber made this place just as dangerous as the reams of old documents which blazed that previous devils night. Soft steps forward through the maze of materials Duke stayed ready for anything.
Laura’s blonde hair on the floor is what first caught his eye. Then he watched the back of the dark horn headed figure rising above her. As Duke dropped out of sight the figure moved to the stairwell taking advantage of the night.
It was Duke’s turn to watch. This was not a devil or demon, just an impatient young man pacing in the darkness waiting for prey.
Sirens sounded in the distance catching the attention of the faux demon. He stepped to the widow. This was Dukes opportunity to call for back up. The green glow of his cell phone and speed dial to 911 was cloaked by the red flashing lights and engine roar. Duke whispered the location and code for the call, and set the device down.
He crept behind the piles to get a view of Laura. She was out cold and tied down. The boys were not there. Where were they if not here? Duke had knocked a can to the floor by mistake. The clash caught the attention of his target.
“Duke – you sneaky devil” he hissed “how long have you been creeping about?”
The fireman knew he still sat in the darkness; this was only a bait to draw him in to the open.
Grigori returned to the shadows for safety “I think I have something you want. She is so pretty and soft. She smells so good and calls your name.”
“He’s just taunting you” his disciplined mind repeated “trying to draw you out.”
A moan came from Laura. At least she was alive.
Another group of sirens sounded in the distance; but sounded slightly different than the last. Duke knew these were Detroit PD.
“Busy night for your friend’s, fireman” Grigori sounded only a few feet away now.
The words “fireman” chilled Duke as he remembered the first time he heard the devils tongue utter it. His hand wrapped tightly around the handle of his cane now poised like a sword.
“Don’t you wish you were with them?” Grigori was right next to Duke but still didn’t see him.
Duke stood as the devil stepped past him and swung his cane across the back of his neck breaking it in two. Grigori fell flat to the concrete floor. Duke turned and went as fast as his bad leg would carry him to his wife’s side.
Untying her hands he kissed her cheek and gently whispered “where are the boys?”
“They are at my sisters for the weekend” she rubbed her head.
He helped her to her feet. The two began to make their way to the stairwell for a quick escape. Ten feet from the top step Duke took a hit from behind bringing both he and Laura to their knees.
“You owe me your life fireman” Grigori stepped from the shadows, “or one favor. You made a promise fireman – one favor. We both know you are a man of your word.”
Laura could hear voices from the stairwell. She continued to crawl for safety.
“What is it you want from me? What is the favor?” Duke knew his leg was in bad shape again.
“I want what everyone wants - to be the daddy, and then return to heaven”
Duke picked up a cut pipe “Come closer I’ll help you get to heaven.”
“That will be just fine,” Grigori gave his slanted smile, “Laura has already helped me with the first part.”
Duke turned to Laura. When their eyes met her sad look revealed it to be true.
A sharp pain sliced through Duke’s shoulder. His cheek hit the cement floor and sent waves of pain through his head. Grigori had tried to spear him with a three in pipe.
Hovering over his immobilized prey Grigori grabbed a hold of Dukes good leg to drag him across the floor. Stopping at a window that spanned from the floor to the ceiling, he dropped the leg and picked up a brick. Glass from the broken window landed on the debris from the work site that had piled over the alley floor for weeks.
Grigori tied one end of a fifty foot roll of rope to Dukes good leg. The other end of the rope went to the steel rafters. He pulled the rope until it was taught and Duke dangled from the rafter.
“Well Mr. Fireman, what are you going to” Grigori stopped with a ringing thud across his neck. As his knees gave way from his weight he slumped forward silently falling out the window. At the same time the rope slipped from his hands. Duke fell on his head. His legs flopped down and he began a slow slide following Grigori.
Laura dropped the pipe she had used on Grigori, the same he attempted to drive through Duke, and dove for the fluttering tail of rope. Life began to move slowly. No mater how hard she tried to be faster, it didn’t seem to be fast enough. The tips of her fingers felt the rough strands and slivers pierce. She fought the instinct to let go and grabbed tight. His weight pulled her off the ground nearly to the ceiling.
Two of Detroit’s finest had watched the last few seconds as they sprinted up the top two steps. They covered ground fast. One man jumped for the rope as the other grabbed her waist and pulled down.
Duke was resting easy that next morning in the hospital. His bad leg was now worse. His good leg was set in place and had prospects. Laura sat by his side. He had survived the several story dangle after the concussion off of the concert floor. Grigori had not.
In the following months he would walk again, but not very well. Duke was promoted to Chief that year, right after Laura had the baby. It was a little devil, always getting into things.