“Are you Jack or are you real?” the beast said. It was sitting on the edge of Job’s bed, its head low, its claws biting deep on the side of the mattress.
I was not aware. It was a Tuesday and I had been drinking. Regina and Bekah had gone home to sit by their phones, and I had been drinking and calling all night. I had shuffled through the usual suspects, Shadow, Guardian, Pain. We had seen Adam and even talked to Assassin that night, but by the time this thing had crawled up out of the foundation, they were all wasted. This thing was immune. This thing was not human.
“Well shit, man, I’m not Jack,” Job had said. He leaned on the door and pulled a cigarette. Flick of a zippo brought fire, and the beast pulled back in fear. “Been at work all night, but I know you have been, too. Who did you see tonight?”
“Alone, you, me,” it said.
“Don’t know you, do I?” Job said.
Growl. It was low and slow, a warning or promise, a sign of terror to come or of pain.
Job laughed. “Yeah, that is not necessary. Come on, let’s get a drink.” He turned and walked away. With caution, the beast followed.
Job looked around the room, seeing empty bottles and half-eaten food, and he grinned. “You guys have been at it hard, huh?”
“Just got here.”
“I see. How much have you drank tonight?”
“True. What about you? How drunk are you?”
“No drunk. Has no effect. For the weak,” the beast said.
“And those of us just off of work,” Job said. He saluted with a bottle of Gentleman Jack and poured. “What do I call you?”
“Do you want to put some clothes on?” Job asked.
A grunt was his only response.
Job shrugged. “I’m headed outside. Nice night, want to come?”
Teth nodded. When he hit the open air, he loosed a shuddering howl that soared through the night to echo on the city around him. He reached up faster than lightning and snatched a moth out of the air. The beast popped it in his mouth.
“OK,” Job said. They walked to the steps and Job looked at Teth. “So, who are you? They are gonna ask.”
“Broke free tonight.”
“Free of what?”
“The earth. Broke free from the earth, the ground in the wasteland. I broke it and crawled loose. I have been here before.” He looked up at the sky. “But I don’t recognize the stars.”
Job took a drag off his cigarette and nodded. “OK.” He pulled his pack and lit another off of his. He handed it to Teth.
Teth took it in his hand like a weapon and sniffed it. He pulled back in sudden fear. “Fire.” He snapped.
“Yes, indeed. We have mastered fire.”
“No one can master fire. Fire by its nature has no master,” Teth said. “Like Shadow. And me.”
“You know Shadow?”
Teth nodded. “He makes me laugh. Wild as the sea, just as dangerous.”
“Teth, what do you do?” Job asked. “What are you about?”
“Life, survival. Force and balance. Protection. Destruction. Innocence. I came here to protect innocence.”
“Adam?” Job said.
“Yes, but before. Eons ago. When time was new, I broke free from the crust of the world and was given purpose. This is the body that I found this life. This is where I was needed.”
“You’re talking about other lifetimes. You’re talking about old soul kind of stuff,” Job said.
Teth nodded. “Some of us came from long ago. Some are new. You are old. You are my Ceff. I would know you anywhere.”
“We will get back to that,” Job said. “What do you want now that you are out?”
“Survival. Food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex.”
“So, you are base needs kind of stuff?”
“Cool. Why do you look stronger than Jesse?” Job asked. “Your muscles are more defined. Your body hair is standing on edge, and you are comfortable in your boxers and nothing else. I have never seen Jesse out of his shirt.”
“Too much clothing, too much binding man down. How can we run when we need to run? How can we eat, sleep, or even walk wearing all of those clothes? Have to come off. This,” he pulled at his boxers, “Even this is too much.”
“Why have you not taken it off? Don’t get me wrong, I want you to keep it on, but why haven’t you taken it off?”
“Adam might wake up,” Teth said. “Too much for him.”
“I see,” Job said. “What did Regina say when she talked to you?”
Teth shook his head.
“You didn’t talk to her?”
Teth put his fists together as if holding something with both hands and he snapped them, breaking it.
“You want to break her?”
“I feel ya partner. I’m not a fan,” Job said. “When was the last time you were out?”
“Tree?” Job said. “I don’t know what that means.”
“Tree in water, boy drowning. I broke tree,” Teth said. “Must protect the young. Must protect the weak.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about, but it sounds like a good time. When will I see you again?”
Teth reached out fast and snatched another moth out of the air.
Job coughed. “Please don’t.” He laughed. “Just for me, please, let the moth go.”
Teth wiped it on the stairs. “Better alive anyway.”
The beast had been awakened. It was a leader in its own right. A being of instinct. We would learn that it was fearless with the exception of fire. It was immune to cold. It was immune to liquor. It could not be reasoned with, it could not be stopped. It spoke in ways we didn’t understand and about things that we could not imagine.
It was old. Very old. And it knew wrath. It would turn that wrath on the woman we loved.
It had raged before. And it could again at any time. It was the most dangerous thing we had at our disposal, the most violent, most destructive, and most peaceful creature any of us had ever known.
It was Teth, and it had crawled free.