When John Constantine arrived at the small block of flats, he expected to hear the usual mayhem that accompanied possessions. Actually, many things that usually happened in such cases weren’t happening. For one, John couldn’t park his new car (a 1980’s Ford Falcon) right in front of the flats. Another car was already there – a ramshackle thing, even older than his set of wheels.
The door already stood open. No frightened residents met him there or on the stairs up to the flat he was looking for. Constantine felt a small pang of disappointment, but he quickly shoved it aside. He was looking for the person who had placed the call to the church – an old man who seemed to have dealings with the shadier side of the Roman Catholic Church before.
A terrified woman came tearing down the stairs, crying hysterically. John grabbed hold of her arm and spun her around to face him. He demanded, "Which flat?”
She blurted out a number and wriggled out of his grip, continuing her mad surge downstairs. Constantine muttered, “Now that’s more like it.”
He despised anything out of the ordinary. Well, ordinary for something like him anyway. He was still fairly irritable from his parting words with Angela one month previously. She had seemed to think they had something going. John had been very taken aback by this and had had to bear Angela calling him a “confused, stubborn, stupid, non-committal bastard”.
When he reached the flat, he found the door unlocked. He settled for a dramatic entrance by kicking in the door. The scene inside was quite different to what he expected.
An old man, clearly the one who had placed the call, was sitting almost calmly in a chair, eyes glued to the bed. On the bed, there was an old woman who could easily be the wife. She was tossing about violently, but duct tape over her lips kept her quiet. Standing over her was an attractive young woman with gold coloured hair, eyes raised to the heavens.
“You’re late,” the old man noted.
Constantine cleared his throat. “Traffic.”
“Too bad,” the young woman told him in a strange accent, her smoky blue eyes lowering to his. “I got here first. I took the back streets. Now you can jump back into your car and face the traffic again.”
John Constantine did not like being told what to do. He was also trying to place her accent. He frowned. “I don’t think you understand. My services are required here. I’m – ”
She snorted. “I know who you are. John Constantine. I’m Jennika Prules and my services arrived here first. I’m just about done.”
John had never heard of her. He knew plenty of other people in the demon fighting business, but recognition escaped him. He glanced at her hands. She held neither Holy water nor a crucifix. She didn’t even have a bag with her. The old woman began to toss even more violently. The duct tape blew off her mouth and a string of curses in an inhuman voice let loose.
“You’ll need my help,” warned John. “I didn’t forget to bring Holy water.”
Despite the situation, Jennika burst out laughing. The old woman even stopped writhing and stared at her. Jennika wiped her eyes. “Don’t talk, just watch.”
Still grinning to herself, she held her hands, palm down, over the woman. She closed her eyes and said something under her breath. Constantine inched closer so he could hear what she was saying. He expected some Latin. Instead, it was plain, colloquial English.
“God, I need some help,” Jennika muttered. “I know you’re terribly busy and you call the shots around here. This woman, your child, is in dire straits.”
John couldn’t help but feel a little scornful. She was chatting casually like she would to some friend. And heck, she was doing it without a priest and without doing it in Latin. He opened his mouth to say something, but shut it. He wanted to see her work. If she screwed it up, he’d show her how it really worked.
Jennika’s eyes snapped open. A strange shimmering appeared beneath her hands. The old woman was now writhing too fast to focus on for too long. She shouted, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I cast you out!”
Nothing happened. John snorted, about to interject. Jennika shouted the same thing again several times. She topped abruptly and waved her hands like some phoney magician. A smoky cloud burst from the old woman’s body and shook.
“Go to Hell!” Jennika cried and blasted the demon out of the plain of existence.
Afterwards, she chuckled. She then assisted the old woman, helping her up. Jennika accepted the hug of gratitude. She held out a card with her details on it. “If you ever have any more trouble, give me a ring. I’m here faster than anyone else.”
“God bless,” the old woman whispered.
Jennika smiled and left the flat without another word. Constantine quickly followed her, completely stunned by what he had witnessed. He demanded, “How did you do that?”
“I’m a psychic, just like you,” she answered neutrally. “I happen to use my powers.”
She kept her brisk pace, almost determined to shake him off. When she reached the front door, she slammed it behind her. Annoyed, John quickly followed her out and stepped in front of her. He said curiously, “You didn’t use Holy water, or even a crucifix for that matter.”
Jennika had stopped trying to avoid him. She rolled her eyes. “I’m Protestant, alright? Anglican to be exact. I don’t need that to get my job done. Not that I’m having a go at you,” she added not unkindly. “Your way works just as well too. Probably a little more reliable than mine anyway.”
She side stepped him and continued towards her car, keys coming out of her pocket. Constantine turned and shouted after her, “Where you from anyway? England?”
He figured her accent was hoity-toity enough. Jennika burst out laughing. She had to lean on her car for support.
“Heck, no!” She unlocked the driver door. “Sydney, Australia. Ah, you Americans. Always think that since we don’t say ‘G’day’ or ‘mate’ heaps we must be English. And for crying out loud, I didn’t ride a kangaroo to school. I mean, I don’t even live near any. See you around, Mr Constantine.”
She was about to slide in. John called out, “Wait! Can I buy you a drink?”
Jennika hesitated, lips pursed. After a moment, she shrugged. “You’d better be buying. You got a place in mind?”
Jennika Prules tried not to let her distaste show. The bar was gaudy and flashy, not her scene at all. She wanted someone to turn that horrendously loud music down. Her smoky blue eyes must have betrayed her, though. John smirked. “That bad, huh?”
“I think this place had me at the bouncer with the cards,” Jennika confessed. “I hate that kind of psychic power use. It’s waste.”
She so far had refused to order anything. Constantine couldn’t quite blame her – the surrounding patrons could put a person off eating and drinking. She grumbled to herself, “Half-breeds. Always trying to be cool.”
John nodded in agreement. “They make our work hell – no pun intended.”
“I’ve lost a few friends to them,” Jennika said quietly. “I came to America to get over my depression. Hah, me depressed, can you believe it?”
She grinned her wicked grin. Constantine studied her thoughtfully for a moment. “Everyone gets depressed at some time in their life. Hell, I can sympathise. Life is so damn pointless, what with that asshole glancing down from the top of the hill, smiting the ants.”
Jennika glared at him. “Don’t you dare say that! Not in front of me. It’s Satan’s doing that you think that. Don’t listen to him. You’re better than that.”
“You have no idea,” John told her venomously.
She snorted derisively, shaking her head. “Clearly, you don’t either. Just because I’m young, doesn’t mean I don’t know anything.”
“How old are you?”
“I turn twenty next May.”
“You’re not even twenty?” exclaimed Constantine, bemused. “Every newbie I know clings to their Bible and their crucifix.”
Jennika glanced nervously at a half-breed demon, sidling a little too close for comfort. She scowled at her nervousness and turned away. “I’m not a newbie. I’ve been doing this since I was fifteen. Since the minister at my church took me aside and asked if I’d seen…weird…stuff in my life. I remember when he took me along to the first exorcism I’d ever seen. I was confused – he wasn’t using Holy water and everything else from the movies.”
“I didn’t know Protestants did it differently,” John told her truthfully. “It’s a lot more efficient.”
“But a lot more unreliable,” Jennika interjected, grinning at some memory.
“Care to elaborate?”
She chuckled mirthlessly this time. “Oh, had a few demons that were adamant that they had a good home. Bad side affects and what not.”
“It must be very helpful not to go rooting for crucifixes all the time.”
“Well, God made me a psychic.” Jennika shrugged. “He gave me this ability. If I refuse that part of me, I might not survive an unarmed battle in some murky alley with a half-breed sometime.”
John nodded in understanding. He had been in caught in situations like that a few times himself. He asked tentatively, “Is it hard to learn?”
Jennika shook her head. “It’s a cinch. I bet you’d find it easy. You already channel yourself through crucifixes anyway.”
“I thought that was the power of God.”
“It is,” Jennika told him. “Your ability activates it, though.”
“I wish I’d known this earlier,” Constantine muttered.
She waved a hand dismissively. “Doesn’t matter. You can use this knowledge now. Just practise. It’s merely focusing your mind, like you do when you sense something near you. Still take your kit with you, though – in case things get out of hand.”
She glanced at her watch and sighed. John looked at it also, noting the time as what he would call early. He asked, “You got somewhere to be?”
“Hm, friend’s place,” Jennika answered absently. “She’ll be peeved if I don’t turn up on time.”
John Constantine felt sorry to see her go. He shifted. “It was nice meeting you.”
Jennika smiled. “You too. Here’s my business card – call me up sometime. I’m going back to Sydney in six months. Make sure you call me before then. Oh, John, I suppose you’re sick of hearing this, but God loves you. He has a purpose for you. You don’t need some angel to relay messages. You can just talk to Him by yourself. Anywhere. Goodbye.”
John watched her go. He sighed and ordered something strong. He needed it after this strange encounter, although it wouldn’t be too bad to catch up with Jennika Prules later.