Some had all the luck, Devin Lucassen thought as he spied the couple in the university bar.

It was the girl that caught his attention. Or rather, if he was totally honest with himself, it was her boobs that caught his attention. They were very large and emphasised by a plain white sweater that was about a size too small. The fabric was stretched taut by her firm curves. Her silky platinum-blonde hair was cut to her shoulder and had plenty of body. She wasn’t a blonde bimbo. Devin could tell that from her eyes. They were dark and smouldered with intelligence. It shouldn’t be a surprise really. She wouldn’t be here, at university, if she was an airhead thicko.

His gaze kept involuntarily dropping to her chest. It was hard. Her bust was extremely eye-catching and he was a male near the end of his teens with all the hormones that went with it. He still felt guilty about it. He hoped she hadn’t noticed. It wouldn’t make a good first impression.

Not that it mattered. She wasn’t alone. Girls like her never were. What surprised Devin was how ordinary her boyfriend looked.

And he was her boyfriend. Devin had seen them kissing openly in the bar on more than one occasion during the evening.

The boyfriend was very unexceptional. He was about an inch shorter than her and slight of frame. Spectacles covered a pair of close-set eyes. He had the pale look of someone who spent too much time indoors playing videogames.

Not that Devin could talk. He was your typical metalhead with greasy long hair. His was a student demographic not exactly renowned for its pulling power with the ladies.

Fair play to the bloke, Devin thought. He must have something else going for him. Gives the rest of us hope.

Not that Devin had much hope at the moment. He supped a pint of Guinness alone amongst a throng of chattering students. They all seemed to know each other. Devin didn’t know how this was. This was Fresher’s Week. Supposedly they were all first year students away from home for the first time. So why did Devin feel like he’d shown up a week late?

He knew why. He sucked at social interaction. Always had. He was clueless when it came to starting a conversation. He needed an excuse—something to talk about. That’s why he’d shown up in his leather jacket and Slipknot T-shirt. Sure, it might drive some away like a fetid cloud of BO, but if they were that bothered about his music tastes, Devin wasn’t interested in getting to know them better.

It seemed fine in theory. Now Devin was starting to think all his clever ‘strategy’ had achieved was to set him up as the Johnny No-mates of the hall. Metal couldn’t be that uncool. Surely there had to be some other metalheads around. Or even a hot goth chick. Hell, at this point Devin would settle for someone into Black Veil Brides or Bring Me The Horizon.

Nope, the bar was wall-to-wall trendies and hipsters. Devin hoped it got better once he started going to lectures and meeting people on his course, otherwise his university experience was going to be very long and very lonely.

Speaking of hipsters, there was one over in the corner that appeared to be wearing a Slayer T-shirt.

He didn’t look like a typical Slayer fan. Or that hipsterish, to be fair. The student was skinny and had blond hair stuck in anime-style spikes. The white earphones of an iPod were in his ears and he stood with the detachment of someone that didn’t give a shit about anything. Or was projecting an attitude of not giving a shit about anything as a defensive shield. Not that Devin could talk, given he was currently dressed in a biker jacket and a T-shirt with a burning clown skull on the front. The blond dude wasn’t drinking, or rather, wasn’t drinking drinking. He had a bottle of water in his hand and was supping from it with a straw.

“Top band that,” Devin said as he walked past the blond kid on the way to the bar for another pint.

The blond kid took his earphones out. “Sorry?” he asked.

“Just remarking on the T-shirt,” Devin said. “Not many—” he looked around the bar. “Okay, absolutely nobody wearing metal T-shirts here tonight. I was starting to think I might be the only metal fan in the whole hall.”

And might still be. Devin had heard some hipsters liked to wear metal T-shirts despite not listening to the music. It was an ironic statement or some shit like that. Devin had a little sympathy for hipsters. As a metalhead he knew what it was like to have the mainstream media shit all over his subculture, and the hipsters were a common target nowadays. His sympathy dried up for the ones that engaged in this kind of douchebaggery—especially when they did it as a way of identifying targets to sneer at and take the piss out of.

Not this one.

The blond kid looked down at his T-shirt. “My favourite band,” he said as if it was a guilty pleasure. “I love their music. What about you.”

“They’re legends,” Devin said. “One of the original thrash titans.”

“Which album is your favourite,” the blond kid asked.

“I don’t have them all,” Devin said. “Reign in Blood I guess. But that’s the one everyone says. ‘Raining Blood’ is such a monster of a closer.”

The blond kid nodded in agreement. “A lovely track.” His eyes took on a far-off look, as if he was looking back over happy memories. “I’ve always had a soft spot for God Hates Us All. You heard that one?”

Devin shook his head. “I’m still getting into the classic old-school era thrash… Sepultura and the like.”

He made a mental note to check out the album the other student had mentioned.

“So many good bands and albums back then,” the blond kid said. “I don’t see so many good albums around nowadays.”

Odd, Devin thought. The other student looked way too young for the ‘good ole days’ routine, especially for albums that were recorded before either of them were born.

“Nah. There’s still plenty of ace stuff,” Devin said. “The music press doesn’t report on it because they’re up their own bums. You can still find it if you look for it. Here, listen to this.”

Devin dug his music player out of his pocket. They switched the headphones over and Devin selected a track. The blond kid listened to it and nodded approvingly.

“Dark with an undercurrent of violence,” he said. “Like a buzz saw cutting through a sternum. I like it. Who is it?”

“Whitechapel,” Devin said. “I know deathcore gets a bad rap, but they’re damn good.”

The blond kid shrugged. “It was the same for nu-metal.”

He took his earphones out.

“Thanks for that. I’ll check them out.”

The blond guy offered his own iPod. Devin saw it was one of the old models, made before Apple started combining everything into one device.

“Give this a listen,” he said. “Five Pointe O. Heard of them.”

“No,” Devin answered.

He listened to the track. It sounded like a Molotov cocktail going off in his skull. Sweet.

“They only put out the one album,” the blond guy said. “A shame.”

Devin passed him back his iPod. “I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is to find someone here into decent music. I thought I was going to spend my first year in halls hearing nothing but Adele and Mumford and Sons.” Devin offered his hand. “I’m Devin.”

“Carny.” The blond guy with better taste in music than his appearance suggested introduced himself.

Weird name, Devin thought. Not that he could talk. His grandparents were Dutch. Growing up in Wolverhampton with the surname Lucassen had attracted a fair bit of ribbing.

“I’m not at the university, though,” Carny added. “I’m just here to check up on some folks.”

Ah, Devin thought. Adele and Mumford and Sons it was then… for a whole damn year.

Carny saw his downcast expression. “There’s a heavy metal music society, RockSoc, which meets up every Wednesday night in the main university bar. A friendly bunch if I remember right. You should have no problem fitting in.”

That wasn’t so bad. Devin would give it a look. It had to be better than here, where he felt like a fish out of water.

“Good talking to you and thanks for the music recommendation,” Carny said.

He drifted off, presumably to find his friends. Devin retreated back to his corner with a pint of Guinness.

Devin spotted the blonde girl again. She was seriously hot. Devin normally wasn’t into the preppy look—raven-haired goth chicks in spikes and leather were more his type—but he could see the benefits of a figure-hugging sweater when she had a figure like that. Totally out of his league, though.

Or maybe not.

He could swear she’d just given him a coy glance over her shoulder.

Nah. That was the booze coupled with a bit of wishful thinking. Hot blonde girls didn’t look in his direction unless it was to point and laugh.

Fair’s fair. He and his mates back home used to do the same to all the normies when they got drunk and stupid.

The bar started to wind down around eleven. Devin doubted he’d be spending many nights here. It wasn’t his scene at all. Maybe he’d check out the city centre tomorrow night… see what that was about.

His gaze followed the hot blonde girl as she walked out. She gave him another coy glance over her shoulder at the exit, like she wanted him to follow her. That one was harder to put down to shonky eyesight and booze. Maybe she had a thing for bad boys.

Not that Devin was much of a bad boy. Strip off the leathers and clip his long hair and there was a dull straight-A student underneath.

He watched her leave.

She had a boyfriend. Devin didn’t subscribe to the stone-age view of a man ‘owning’ his girlfriend, but he considered it bad form to get involved before the girl had terminated the previous relationship.

And it was probably all wistful imaginings anyway. If looks were rock bands, hers played arenas while his thrashed away in grotty little pubs.

He drained the last of his Guinness and headed outside for a smoke. The September air was chilly and damp. The other students were heading back to their rooms. Devin went to the corner of the building and lit up.

He noticed the blonde girl was standing at the other end of the narrow alley that separated the hall bar and the main admin building. Fuck, she was ridiculously hot, Devin thought. The moonlight picked her out and lent her an ethereal glow of beauty. She reminded Devin of the vampiric temptresses in old Hammer horror films.

Nothing good ever happened to the poor sods lured in by the temptresses of those old films, Devin thought wryly. He took a puff on his cigarette, letting the warm smoke ward off the clammy night air.

Something crashed into his side and shoved him into the alley.

Devin recovered from the shock to find himself looking at the pinched face of the blonde’s boyfriend. Rage burned in close-set piggy eyes.

“What are you doing staring at my bird!” he said. He punctuated his words with a jab of his finger to Devin’s chest.

Uh oh. Now this was a scenario Devin was all-too-familiar with. It was one he thought he’d left behind on his home streets of Wolverhampton, certainly not something he expected to encounter on the supposedly more genteel environs of a university halls of residence.

“Don’t deny it,” Piggy-eyes said, getting in more solid jabs with his forefinger. “I saw you. Drooling all over her like she was a prime steak.”

This was messed up. Okay, fine, so he might have drooled over her a little. Girls as stunningly attractive as that turned heads.

This wasn’t about that, though. Devin knew how these things went. Piggy-eyes was looking for an excuse to fight. If Devin denied he’d been looking, Piggy-eyes would take it as a slight on his girlfriend’s appearance instead. Whatever gave him justification.

“Sorry man,” Devin said. “I didn’t realise I was being that obvious. She’s a good-looking woman. You’re very lucky. You’re both lucky to have each other.”

The blonde girl came over. “I’m not his,” she said, giving Devin a look indicating that she could be his.

Great. The last thing he needed was the girlfriend stirring the pot.

“Whaaa, babe!” The boyfriend turned to his girlfriend. “You like this long-haired piece of shit!”

“I’m sorry, babe. It’s a female thing,” the blonde said. “Watching men fight over us is such a turn on.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Devin said. “I’m not interested in getting into a fight here.”

The blonde’s face twisted up in a sour expression.

“You should have thought about that before you decided to creep on my girl all night.” Piggy-eyes jabbed Devin in the chest for emphasis.

The blonde turned on him as well. “He is a creep,” she said. “He’s been making me feel uncomfortable all night with his creepy stare.”

“See, you made this beautiful girl feel uncomfortable. Creep!”

“Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise I was doing it. I didn’t mean to spoil your night, but look, we’re at university now. We should be above this small town shit.”

Devin had a horrible feeling ‘small town shit’ was unavoidable. He suspected Piggy-eyes had set this up in advance with his girlfriend to give him a flimsy excuse to punch some long-haired freak’s face in. Devin didn’t know why. He didn’t need to know why. Some people were assholes. That was reason enough.

“I think he needs to be taught a lesson, don’t you, babe.”

The blonde’s face lit up with an animalistic lust for violence.

“Yes babe, teach him,” she said.

Piggy-eyes jabbed Devin in the chest again. Hard.

Right. Fuck this, Devin thought.

Devin had been practising Jiu-Jitsu since he was eleven years old. When he was younger it was because he wanted to be badass like the classic legends of martial arts movies. He wanted it to be so nobody would mess with him. As he grew older and wiser he realised being accomplished in a martial art wasn’t a guarantee of being able to defend himself. And even when it was, if you hit someone hard enough to put them in hospital, you were the one likely to get into shit with the law. They didn’t really care ‘who started it’. No, the best self-defence was to defuse the situation before it came to blows.

Of course, there were those situations where conflict was inevitable. If it was inevitable, then the best thing a person could do was to get the first hit in and hopefully stop the fight before too much damage was done.

Devin knocked Piggy-eyes arm aside and punched him in the face.

…and then it went horribly wrong.

Piggy-eyes was not physically daunting. He was short and scrawny. Devin expected Piggy-eyes to have some wiry strength. Aggressive streaks of nothing invariably did.

This was more than that.

Hitting Piggy-eyes was like hitting a heavily-muscled pro wrestler. He sold Devin’s punch like a pro wrestler in a squash match as well. Then he pushed Devin up the wall like The Undertaker. Except Mark Calaway, the wrestler that became The Undertaker in the ring, was human and Devin was starting to realise the thing in front of him was not.

Piggy-eyes mouth widened and sprouted pointed tusks. His eyes turned shark-black. This transformation didn’t faze his girlfriend. Why would it, she wasn’t human either. Her burning red eyes gave that away.

The monster pushed Devin further up the wall. The pressure on his chest was immense. The worst of it was the monster before him didn’t appear to be expending any effort. As if it was more than capable of pushing and pushing until Devin’s ribs splintered and his chest caved in. Devin was fucked and his shocked mind was still trying to comprehend how this could have come about.

“That was an unprovoked violent act, wouldn’t you say, babe,” Piggy-eyes the monster said.

“Oh yes, definitely,” the blonde girl with red eyes said. “A wrathful act for sure.”

Piggy-eyes the monster turned back to Devin and smiled. “That makes you mine, bitch.”

Devin said nothing. With the pressure on his chest he could barely breathe.

“Put the long-haired fellow down, now there’s a good chap.”

Devin turned his head and saw the silhouette of a slender young man standing at the end of the alleyway.

“Who dares,” Piggy-eyes growled.

Devin recognised both the voice and the silhouette as belonging to the metal fan he’d spoken to earlier. The pressure on his chest relented enough for him to shout out a warning.

“Get out of here, Carny! They’re not human.”

Devin was not the only one to recognise the slender man in the Slayer T-shirt. Surprisingly, Piggy-eyes seemed to know who he was as well. “Oh,” he said.

The pressure on Devin’s chest lessoned and Piggy-eyes lowered him enough for his toes to come back into contact with the floor again.

“My apologies, I did not see it was you, Carnivrillarofax. What is your interest in this human?”

“I spoke to him earlier,” Carny… Carnivrillarofax said. “He seems a nice enough fellow.”

Carny didn’t seem bothered by Piggy-eyes monstrous appearance. He casually walked up to them.

“Is that it?” Piggy-eyes said. “Just some random human you happened to strike up a conversation with?”

“Do I need anything else?” Carny said.

“This is my claim,” Piggy-eyes said.

Devin’s teeth rattled as the demon slammed him back against the wall.

“Is that a challenge, Cacodoughovorax?” Carny asked. His face took on a feral cast.

Devin realised the reason Carny hadn’t been bothered by their monstrous appearance was because he was another monster, just like them. More than that. The demon that had Devin pinned to the wall was afraid of him.

“No.” Cacodoughovorax shook his head and lowered Devin back to the floor.

“I heard stories about your technique,” Carny said. “And after seeing it first-hand for myself I can’t say that I approve. There should always be an element of freedom of choice, and engaging the services of a succubus…”

He glanced over at the blonde girl with the tight top and red eyes.

“…to goad the potential claim into fighting tips the scales too far in your favour. It’s not very sporting.”

“He hit me,” Cacodoughovorax said. “You saw. He used violence.”

“I saw. He didn’t want to fight and you backed him so far into a corner he saw no other option than to use violence to prevent further violence. Even succubi attempt to seduce their victims first before claiming them.”

Cacodoughovorax glowered but said nothing.

“It’s not a failure to let some slip through your fingers. It’s sorta the point, actually. And this…” he gestured to the pouting succubus. “You should be better than this. There’s no need to resort to these silly tricks. Just go into the city centre on a Friday night and you’ll find any number of stupid humans willing to break their fists on your chin.”

Carny spoke to the demon like a teacher giving a lesson to a pupil. And like most surly pupils, Cacodoughovorax didn’t appear to take the lesson too well. He walked away, taking the blonde with him, but was clearly still angry at being cheated of his prize.

That left Devin alone with Carny. This was a good thing?

“Are you okay?” Carny asked.

He still looked like a skinny student in a Slayer T-shirt. A skinny student in a Slayer T-shirt that had just scared off two demons.

“Um. Maybe,” Devin said. “They weren’t human, were they?”

“Nope,” Carny replied.

“You’re not human either.”


“This is fucked up,” Devin said.

“I wouldn’t think about it,” Carny said.

“That’s going to be hard,” Devin said. “Welcome to university. Oh, and by the way, scary demons are real and walk among us. How come no-one talks about this?”

“Because they’re smart enough to know not to go digging further. As should you. You don’t have the warlock spark. When those without talent try to enter this world it never ends well for them. If you’re lucky you’ll be thought to be insane and locked away.”

Carny conspicuously left off what would happen if Devin was unlucky.

“What if…” Devin struggled with the alien name, “…Cacodoughovorax comes back.”

He’d seen the demon’s face as he’d walked away. That motherfucker was seriously not happy with this.