When facing monsters, one reason is often as good as another to hunters. Not quite investigators, hunters have a more specific focus…they are killers, not investigators. A SWAT team, as opposed to a detective.
Greg Mitchell‘s Arbigast Group is one such team. Led by the mulish, irascible Jon Arbigast, the group battles beasts and bogies with bullets, blades and bombs from the mountains of Haiti to the dark corners of small town America. And, in the wake of the last post by Jim Beard, Greg has stopped by to share the origins of his pack of hardened devil smashers…
It was while fighting in the Vietnam War that Jon Arbigast first realized the thin line between man and monster. There were many beasts in the jungle—some carrying guns, others more of a supernatural sort. A young Arbigast took many lives in those dark days and learned about the Evil that stalked the world. After his tour in Vietnam ended, Arbigast took up a new war. This one against the fabled things lurking in the dark, or “spooks”, as he calls them.
Now a middle-aged man, Jon has found allies in his war against the supernatural in the Arbigast Group, a hand-picked team of fellow monster bashers. To be invited to the Group is an honor among those who hunt the creatures of the night, as Arbigast only selects men and women that he trusts explicitly—and, for Jon Arbigast, trust is a hard thing to come by.
He’s a recluse of a man. A non-man, who seems to vanish from the world until his services are called on again. Outside of the hunt, he has no family, no real friends, and no permanent home. Rather, he drifts from one seedy apartment to the next, all over the country, blowing the majority of his hard-won bounty on booze, painkillers, and ammo. He’s said before that the only time he feels alive—that he has any real place in the world—is when he’s going toe to toe with a hellborn creature like a ghoul, lycanthrope, or a Rawhead—as he did in Haiti while helping a fellow hunter.
Arbigast doesn’t hunt monsters for justice or vengeance. He’d say that he does it solely for profit, but on the rare occasion when he’s honest with himself, he’d admit that he hunts because he knows nothing else. He’s constantly amazed that he’s lived to his late fifties while men half his age and twice as good have met grizzly ends. It’s a sobering realization that only fuels his self-loathing and doubt, as he worries that, without a creature to kill, he would simply cease to exist. In that way, he’s become a vampire—feeding on death in order to sustain his own life.
At one time, Arbigast was married and had a son, but his marriage was almost certainly doomed from the start. Notoriously selfish, Arbigast pushed away the woman who loved him, and under circumstances rarely spoken about, he lost both his wife and boy to the grim reaper’s blade.
He keeps the shades drawn on his windows, refusing sunlight’s intrusion into his world. He favors the solitude of darkness. But when he hunts, Jon comes alive. He laughs, he tells stories, he holds his team close. He gives of himself and he never asks anything more from his Group than what he’s willing to offer in return. He is trustworthy and uncommonly generous and surprisingly fatherly. On the forgotten battlefields of backwoods America, struggling through blood and mud against untold horrors beyond human understanding, Jon Arbigast is a man at peace and at home with himself and his circumstances, rallying his troops to avenge the innocence of the victims he encounters. He fights so that others need not, and he will never quit. While he’s convinced he’s bound for hell, he’s merely made plans to continue his devil-hunting crusade in the afterlife until either the Devil is dead or has kicked him out.
While Arbigast excels at quick thinking and bull-headed bravado, he has very little knowledge of the supernatural beasts he encounters. He knows nothing of mystical talismans or spells or world religions, but relies on his various shady connections to bring him up to speed as the need requires. He has but one drive—to shoot dead every preternatural menace he encounters. And if bullets won’t work, then he resorts to fire. If fire doesn’t work, he has one last trick up his sleeve: The Good Book Special—a hand-crafted round with scriptures from the Christian Bible etched into the shells. They’ve never let him down yet, though he’s rarely had cause to use them. The origin of the bullets is a mystery to him, though he’s heard stories they were first crafted by a devil smasher during the Civil War. When it comes to killing monsters, Arbigast knows what works—he doesn’t need to know why.
While the Group’s roster is regularly rotating, a constant at Arbigast’s side for over a decade has been Rashonda Spencer. Cool and professional, with a killer aim and a hand in the occult practices, Spencer is Arbigast’s rock. She keeps him humble, keeps him human, loving him as a friend through his long, pity-fueled drunken binges. She cleans him up and finds work for them when Jon is so consumed by emptiness that he can barely bring himself to wake up in the mornings. She is always ready with a smile or a left hook to the jaw—whichever he needs most—and Arbigast values her above all others, even himself. The fact that he respects her so much explains why he’s yet to make a move on her, realizing that entering into a romantic relationship with a self-deprecating slob would be the worst mistake of Rashonda Spencer’s life. Yet, he is there for her, and she is there for him, and they have quietly stood by each other’s side through every battle.
Among hunter circles, Jon is a feared killer, but considered fair and honest. He believes a man is only as good as the promises he keeps and that simple acts of goodness are more valuable than fancy speeches. He’s a relic of a time when taciturn gunslingers rode into town, saved a pretty girl from a slobbering monster, and then rode off, the sun at their backs. It’s an old story, but one that resonates with Arbigast, and one that he is determined to live as long as he draws breath.
To date, only two of Arbigast’s battles have been documented. “Flesh and Blood”, appearing in The Midnight Diner Vol. 3, sees Arbigast making good on a promise to an old friend that involves chasing a pig-man in Haiti. The book is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Diner-Vol-3/dp/0982783221/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358380721&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Midnight+Diner
In the e-novella “Lengthening Shadows”, the Arbigast Group heads to haunted Greensboro to tangle with the dreaded bogle-king known as “the Strange Man” featured in The Coming Evil Trilogy. “Lengthening Shadows” can be purchased on Amazon and Smashwords.
To read more about the inspirations behind the Arbigast Group’s creation, visit http://thecomingevil.blogspot.com/2013/01/lengthening-shadows-commentary.html