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I didn’t expect this to be what happened when I died.  I was raised to believe we’d be reunited with lost loved ones, living in paradise, but I see the worst of the world every night, and fight against it.  When I was young, I had what some would call an idilic life, parents who loved me, family who supported me in my goals, and a life that so many all over the world would give up everything for.  As I grew, I learned that wasn’t the case for everyone.  I made friends who went to bed hungry, who didn’t have both parents, and sadly, those who had “parents” who abused them in one way or another.  For some it’s just words, and I did my best to help them realize words are just words, but then I met Michelle.  Her step father did things to her that should never be done to a child, that’s when I felt rage for the first time.  I begged her, daily, to talk to someone who could help her, but she was scared.  In our sophomore year, it got so bad, I went to our Principal without telling her, and she was removed from her home.  It wasn’t until our twenty year reunion that she finally talked to me again.

She was married, and expecting a child, and happy.  I told her, for what felt like the thousandth time, I would do it again in a heartbeat, before both of us started crying.  She finally smiled and said she was still working on accepting that her past was in her past, with her husband and mom, but it was hard.  I hugged her, and smiled when she didn’t flinch like I remembered, and said I would be ready to talk when she was.  We talked to other friends, and had a great night, agreeing to meet for lunch where I would finally meet her husband.  From there, I learned that both she and Robert had grown up in abusive homes, and were committed to stamping out that for as many children as possible.  Lauren grew up happy, loved, and as I left her graduation party, my wife and son in tow, it happened.  Michelle’s step father was finally out of prison, and showed up, drunk.  Amanda and James ran for cover as I saw red and charged.  Only one shot was fired, but it was enough, and I died.

I woke up here, it wasn’t heaven or hell, but a waiting room, so I waited, until a tall figure entered.  I didn’t flinch, but being met by a 10 foot tall mixture of a bear, lion and wolf is intimidating to say anything at all.  The creature introduced itself as Dagon, then I flinched, I knew that name.  A raspy chuckle escaped, then Dagon assured me I wasn’t in hell, and everything I ever though about the afterlife was so far off the mark as to be laughable.  I was told that when we die, we’re either assigned reincarnation, or the job of a Monster.  Years ago, eons perhaps, this was a way to reward the truly amazing pranksters for their life of humor, before it was perverted by Abadon, who still shrieks at his confinement.  For millennia, Abadon worked to terrorize children, until Dagon finally imprisoned him.  Now we fight for the children, and thus begins my story, the story of how I met Christine, a 4 year old who knew more terror than I saw in 10 years as a combat medic.

Dagon paused as he stared at me, giving me the feeling of an 18 year old sitting in the recruiter’s office, as I waited to hear if I was accepted to serve my country.  “I feel as though I need to explain our purpose, and you need to explain yourself.  Where should we start?”  he asked.  Naturally, I felt I wanted to know more, but also that I needed to give reasons as to why I was a good choice.  “If I may, I would give you my story first, if that’s OK?”  He nodded, so I started.  I told of my childhood, growing up in a happy home, if a modest one.  My parents had started a business, but one that didn’t make it, so we ended up moving rather often.  I made friends easily, but was bullied a bit, even if I frustrated my bullies by never letting them get to me.  “Why did you take that approach?”  he asked.  My Father embodied the turn the other cheek attitude.  He would take abuse and smile, but only so far, to the end that I rarely ever saw him truly angry.

“Rarely, you say?”  Dagon asked, obviously curious.  “My Father wasn’t a pushover,” I explained, “but also wasn’t quick to anger.”  One day, however, he saw a neighbor slap his wife so hard she fell and hit her head on the brick wall surrounding their home.  Dad just walked over, picked her up and sent her to my Mom, then grabbed the man by the collar, but I couldn’t hear what he said.  The man turned white, went inside and we didn’t see that side of him again.  It’s what instilled in me the “there’s a time to act” attitude.  “But why medicine?”  Dagon asked again.

“I can’t really say,” I said, “but I saw what violence brings, and I don’t like it.  I wanted to help people, to take away their pain.”  I continued with how I’d been on ride along programs with the local Police Departments, and how I was a Fire Explorer in my high school years, and loved the feeling of pulling people from bad situations, so I chose to heal where I could.  Dagon gave that smile that I know should strike terror into the strongest of men, but somehow, it emboldened me, so I continued.  I told of going to Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, and so many other places where death is a day to day part of life, and doing all I could to help those in need.  He nodded as I smiled when telling the tale of helping a young boy who twisted his ankle while playing soccer, nodded as I told of having to amputate an arm after an attack, and sat through so many other stories.  Then he asked that question, “Why did you go to your Principal about Michelle?”  and to be honest, I had to think about it.  I was a seventeen year old kid, but still, I had to.  I told him about seeing how her makeup was covering bruises, how she flinched at every form of physical contact, and how no one would say a word, then he sat back and said it was his turn.

“We formed as a group eons ago.”  Dagon began.  He told about a time before sentient beings even existed, when the “monsters” would prod what life there was into action of any kind.  Then mankind showed up, and they realized they could have some fun.  “Loki is a myth, but based on us.”  He said, grinning.  “But is there a Creator?”  I asked, unable to stop myself.  “Yes, but not as you understand it.”  He replied.  Life, be it human, animal, or “monster,” was created, but only those who transcend all forms ever meat the Creator, and so far, none have sent any message back.  Rising, he beckoned me to follow, continuing our discussion as we walked, and he showed me around “the lounge” the “monsters” used when not working, and of course, showing me Abadon’s cell, and lobbing a few token rocks at the gate.  “We began,” he started, “as a group of pranksters.”  He told of spurring animals into chasing nonexistent things, prodding men by moving objects, and other simple things.  But, when Abadon rose, everything changed.

“We must strike fear into the hearts of every child, so they will not only fear us, but spread our glorious tales!”  He would roar to the crowd of “monsters.”  From that point, the “monsters,” a heretofore ambiguous group, would be thought of as demons.  It was Abadon’s reign that spurred the belief in a lake of fire as the picture of hell.  What isn’t known is that there are enough “monsters” or “demons” to assign one to every living person at any given time, but that was never done.  Much like any job, some took time off, others didn’t want “full time” so Abadon just assigned those he had to do what he wanted.  Then, came his fall, and it would change the world.


It was just after midnight, Rachel asleep from the pills Jason gave her, Roberta shaking as Mark entered the room.  As he entered, though, he saw something truly horrible, a shadow loomed over Roberta, causing him to freeze, giving Dagon his chance.  Taking control of Jason, he moved forward.  “Abadon,” he growled, “your time is over!”  The shadow recoiled, not having sensed so much power in another being in it’s memory, before becoming solid, it’s head bumping the ceiling.    Being from another plane, the fight only scared the child, but as Dagon gained the upper hand, Roberta smiled, before drifting off the sleep.  Naturally, Jason died in the fight, having transcended dimensions, but the goal was achieved, with Abadon in his cell and his rabid followers banished with him.  Dagon stood before what remained of the “Monster Corps” and proclaimed that they would return to the old ways.  For centuries, the world had returned to pranking of children, and Dagon was happy with his life as supervisor and happy to assign new “monsters” to their charge, until Charlotte.

Never, in his eons of existence, had one child gone through so many.  As he looked at his list, he realized, every single one was assigned, and refused to return, leaving him only one recourse, he would take on this task.  As the sun set, he phased into being under her bed, ready to barely touch her arm, remove a bit of homework, or some other prank, until he heard it.  He looked over at the ghoul under her sister’s crib, causing minor whimpers and cries, then he knew, this was no ordinary assignment.

“I WANTED MY DINNER HOT WHEN I GOT HOME!”  A male voice shouted, before a meaty slap could be heard, followed by a whimper of pain.  Dagon knew, this would be different, and he could not shy away.  The fight went on for almost ten minutes before heavy footsteps could be heard.  As the last stair was mounted, Charlotte slid next to him, “I’m not scared of you, monster, I’m scared of him.”  She curled into a ball and sobbed so silently that he knew this was the time to act.  As Frank reached under the bed, Dagon thrust his own arm into the man’s hand, only to be yanked out, before uncurling into his full, fifteen foot tall form.  Frank blanched, soiled himself, then collapsed before he was grabbed by the throat.  “You think you know pain, fear?”  Dagon growled so low that Charlotte couldn’t hear him.  “You will know the tortures that none have ever known.”  Frank lost all control at that moment, passing out from the fear, and was thrown from the room.  Charlotte crept out, slowly, scared still, and asked, “is he gone?”  

“Yes child, and he will never harm you again.”  Dagon tucked the duvet around her, kissing her on the forehead and smiling.  “Thank you monster, but is my Mommy OK?”  She asked.  “Oh child, I’m going to check on her now.  Sleep, and dream of the sun.  As he made his way downstairs, changing his appearance into that of a just a large man, making sure to sound as if he’d come in due to the noise, he noticed that Charlotte’s mother wasn’t breathing.  This could not stand, so he returned for Frank.  Holding him by the neck, he leaned in and said, look on her for the last time.  As Frank breathed his last breath, Angela woke with a gasp, only to fall as she tried to stand.  Dagon, calmed her, assuring her that she would be OK, and that Frank would never hurt her or her children, before calling 911 and vanishing.

“Why though?”  I asked.  “Why go through all that for one child when so many suffer all over the world?”  Dagon explained that with as many “monsters” as there are, all who suffer are protected.  His story was but the first, having happened in what I knew to be the late twentieth century only because it took that long to have one case that went through every “monster” available before he took the post himself.  He went on to explain that after his experience, he was granted an audience with The Creator, after which he was able to give each “monster” a gift, the ability to appear as they chose, and to have two appearances, one for a victim and one for an abuser, which was when I chose the visage of a Soldier for the victims, that that of “the devil himself” for abusers, and it has served me well in my time here.

At first, I was the new guy, assigned minor cases, scaring a parent who would shout at a child over nothing, scaring them into just calming down.  I moved up into scaring other bullies as the child entered school, once even stopping an abduction, which I was proud of, although it’s a very commonplace thing among my new peers.  Then the word came down, I was being moved into training, which both scared and elated me.  “Why training?”  I asked.  “I thought the program we have worked.”  Dagon took me aside and explained that the world had gone from merely bad to the worst extreme possible, so we were expecting high numbers of new recruits.  I taught them how to splint bones, stop bleeding, and so many other things for the victims.  Then, I realized, I needed to stop the cause for the need for that treatment, so I added where to break and cut, until I was promoted.

“You’re ready,” I told my apprentice, “just teach the newcomers as I showed you and you’ll be fine.  The victims are cared for and the abusers are taught the error of their ways.”  My apprentice gave a shaky smile, but nodded, so I went to Dagon for my first assignment, a young boy in rural California, not far from where I grew up.  By this time in my service, I’d gained many abilities.  Not only could I heal with a thought, but I could also reverse the injury onto the attacker, so as I phased into being under James’ bed, I made myself wait.  After almost an hour, I heard it, the doorknob turned, James whimpered, and heavy footsteps moved toward the bed.

“You little shit,” the voice slurred, “you told that bitch Principal I cut you!”  James cried out from a slap, but still I made myself wait, then the mattress turned red.  Uncurling from under the bed, it was amusing to see James’ face relax at seeing a Soldier and Aaron’s face pale at seeing Satan himself.  “You dare harm this innocent child?”  I hissed, before freezing Aaron in place and healing James before causing him to fall into a deep sleep.  “You have taken out your own frustration on this child long enough, now feel the wrath you deserve!”  Aaron’s eyes rolled in his head as I caused every injury to one weaker than him to be visited on him.  He lasted a full hour before his heart gave out, which impressed me.  I wondered if this is what the Ghost Rider felt in the comics I read a child felt as he gave those who needed justice just what they had coming, then I felt it.

“Come to me!”  I heard, then I was moving.  I looked back at James, sleeping soundly and Aaron’s body, which vanished, before I found myself in a room which could only be described as made of light.  “Why did you do that to Aaron?”  The voice asked.  I could only explain that using a weapon on a child was so far beyond anything I’d ever faced that could only return all the pain and suffering.  The voice then told me that I was right to do that to Aaron, that my purpose was to protect, but not one person at a time.  I listened as I was told how I was being promoted, how I was to be given power, then I learned the names I would be known as, Ares the God of War, and Michael the Archangel.  I was to bring war to those who needed to be brought down, but also to protect those in harm’s way, this is only the beginning to my story.
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