Saturday, June 27, 2015

He Entered a Place that Not Many Knew Of

Victor woke up to the sound of whispers. He couldn’t understand a word they were saying because it was Latin; old Latin, to be specific. He could make up some words like ‘man’ or ‘accident’ but he wasn’t good at Latin or Italian.

Once he started to move and groan, the voices stopped. He opened his eyes only to close them back a few moments later. He heard someone say something and the curtains closed. He tried again and successfully opened his eyes. His vision was still a little blurry but he could make out who was around him. On his left were two men, dressed very fancy, with matching black hair and black eyes. On his right was a petite woman who seemed in between ages.

“You shouldn’t move too much or your head will hurt.” Her French accent was really heavy. He could barely understand what she said. He shifted and leaned his head against the wall. He was in a bed and the others were staring at him like he was a ghost.

“Where am I?” His voice was hoarse. The petite woman handed him a glass of water and he gulped it down in one go. “How did I get here?”

“He asks a lot of questions, doesn’t he?” One of the men said to the other. He got a light punch in the shoulder as response.

“You’ve been in an accident. You’re lucky they found you or else you would be dead.” Victor frowned. Not because he barely made out what she said but because he couldn’t remember a thing.

“An accident?” She nodded. “Who found me?” She turned towards the two boys.

“We only carried you here. The one who found you was Mistress.” The second boy nodded.

“She took care of your head wound.” Their accents sounded very different from what he imagined. One thing he knew for sure: none were Italian.  “You were lucky. She doesn’t do good deeds for anybody.” Their blue eyes were scary. The intensity they were holding in their gazes was overwhelming. He couldn’t help but feel intimidated. Of course, that didn’t mean he admitted it.

“Well, thank you then.” The men raised an eyebrow and chuckled bemusedly. He turned to look questioningly at the French woman. “For how long have I been here?”

“A year.” The woman responded softly.

His eyes widened and he got out of bed fast. He looked down only to see he was wearing unfamiliar clothes. They were comfortable and seemed very expensive. Now, that he was taking a closer look at his surroundings, everything was expensive. His eyes stopped on a painting. He walked in front of it and gasped.

“That’s a Michelangelo.” He whispered in bewilderment. He turned towards the strangers quickly and looked at the bed. It was located close to the windows and had a wood table right across. The room didn’t have a TV but it had a gramophone. He walked towards the bed and touched the sheets. They were natural fabric, very soft too. He knew how expensive and old fashioned it was. “Where am I?”

“The Moonflower Hotel.” They said in sync. That was both strange and entrancing.

Themselves, as human beings, looked and acted very strange. He didn’t know them but he was getting the feeling that he didn’t want to know more about them. The woman left quickly after she smiled softly at him. The men didn’t.

“What’s wrong?” The taller one walked closer and stared at him with a blank face.

“My name is Abel and that’s my brother, Kain. We are in charge of rooms and accommodation here, at the hotel. If you ever need something, we will come to you.” He cracked a charming smile and walked out, his brother following close.

Once he was left all alone in the room, he sighed. He looked for his back or something that he supposedly had with him before the accident. He couldn’t find anything; not even his clothes. He spent another two hours standing and inspecting his room. It was magnificent down to the smallest detail. He couldn’t believe he had never seen that hotel before.

But of course, as any other human, he got bored. He had nothing to entertain himself with therefore, he ventured outside. The halls were so long and complicated; just like a labyrinth. There weren’t many rooms but of course, he could imagine why that was.

“One room must cost a fortune and the material invested in it must be even more” He mumbled and as he touched the wall.

He didn’t know for how long he wandered around but he entered yet another corridor. It was simple and had more rooms. At the end of it, he found an empty space where only a white piano was standing proudly in the middle.

“I see you went for a look.” He flinched when he suddenly heard the French accent. He smiled at the woman and nodded. “My name is Pauline. I’ve been part of the staff here for a very long time.” He nodded. “Very long time, Mr. Abbot.” She repeated. He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. She brushed the last comment as if it didn’t mean anything and smiled at him before she left.

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Victor trailed his fingers along the white keys. He smiled softly when he pressed on a few and the sound resonated in the whole hotel.

"Do you know how to play?" He raised his head and looked into a pair of beautiful green eyes. He couldn't express how beautiful the woman was. Her face was empty of any make up yet it looked flawless. "Oh, pardon me. Did I interrupt you?" She seemed genuinely embarrassed. She turned around and got ready to leave when he stopped her.

"No! No." He coughed his shame away and walked to her. "Are you part of the staff here?" She shook her head.

"No. I am only a guest." He could feel the corner if his lips rising no matter how hard he wanted not to.

"I'm Victor Abbot. Nice to meet you, Miss-" Her eyes widened and she took a step back when he grabbed her hand and kissed it.

"Amelia. Amelia Costelli."

"You're Italian." She nodded.

"You sound surprised" He chuckled and grabbed a hand through his hair.

"I met some people from the staff. They're not from around here." Amelia's eyes got a mischievous glint and a wide smile spread on her face.

"Oh, Mr. Abbot. You have no idea." Victor stared at her with amusement. She seemed like fun. He was glad he met her, actually. "Would you like to accompany me to dinner?"

"Sure."

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"Have you stayed here for long?" He asked as he followed her down the stairs.

"Not exactly. I come and go as I see fit." He nodded and kept that in mind.

"Do you live in Rome?" She glanced at him over her shoulder with a little smirk.

"Why? You want to visit me?" He laughed and ignored her question. "Actually, I live in Sicilia. I come here to rest and forget of everything at home. This place has a certain comfort to it." She looked happy while saying that. Victor liked her smile. It was soft and brightened her whole face. "Are you a guest?"

"I guess. I don't remember well what happened or how I got here. I just woke up here."

"What room are you in?" He narrowed his eyes at her playfully and got closer to her.

"Why? Do you want to pay me a visit at night?" She blushed and hid it with her hair.

"N-no." He laughed loudly and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. That definitely surprised her but she didn't protest.

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When they got downstairs, Victor realized just how big the hotel was. It had only three floors but they were very big. Down the stairs, the walls were a lighter shade than the one in the corridors. They were simple and didn't have anything on them. Except the last one. There was a huge mirror on it. Victor stopped and looked into it. He was dressed in a satin robe and he had a bandage wrapped around his head. He had scars on the legs and face. He touched the biggest one on his cheek and flinched. It was still fresh, somehow. His head hurt suddenly and he could feel scared. It was almost like he saw death with his eyes. He probably did.

"Mr. Abbot?" Behind him was Kain. He was dressed in his normal clothes and was staring at him with that blank face of his.

"Where did she go?" He asked after he realized Amelia was gone. Kain raised an eyebrow. "I was with a lady" He clarified.

"Dinner will be served soon." He said and left. Simple like that. Victor sighed and descended the stairs.

His eyes widened when he faced the most amazing sight of his life. The furniture was antique yet it looked like it was done yesterday; the carpet had a mosaic model and the column that was separating the front hall from the restaurant was a masterpiece. The light was dim but it was enough to create atmosphere. Everything was very unique.

As he walked in the hall, he met the receptionist. A young man who didn't seem to be very talkative. However, his eyes were emanating more pureness than the brothers. Something about him was scary but he couldn't point out what.

Once he got into the restaurant, he noticed how many people were there. He was astonished.

"You can't enter like that" He jumped in surprise when he heard the receptionist address him.

"I don't know where my clothes are." The boy blinked twice before he pointed at a back door.

"There is a uniform. You can dress inside." Victor nodded and entered the room.

After he dressed, he smiled thankfully at the receptionist whom was in his own world.

The noise inside the restaurant was refreshing. The hotel had great echo but it was also a little creepy. That was the problem with old hotels. They were giving that paranoid mood that someone could be watching you through the walls.

He got through the crowd and sat somewhere at the bar. He saw a woman smiling at him and couldn't help but chuckle. He still got the game, even after a year of convalescence.

He waved at her and she blushed. It was nice to have the power of seduction without doing much. He was a blessed man.

Victor's smirk fell when he felt a hand touching his shoulder quite firmly. He turned his head in order to meet the stranger.

"You're not from around here, are you?" He had a deep husky voice that complimented well his handsome face. He looked like one of those perfect human beings who would make you feel common and laugh into your face. At least, that was the first impression Victor got.

"No. No, I'm not." The Adonis in front of him cracked a small smile and sat down. He asked for two drinks and placed one in front of Victor.

"Welcome to the Moonflower Hotel, guest." Victor nodded a little uncertain.

"My name is Victor Abbot." He stuck his hand out. The man glanced between his hand and his face. He starred to laugh before he wrapped his arm around Victor's neck.

"Don't need for formalities. I'm sure we are the same age." Victor was surprised by his new acquaintance. "Evan McAllister. I come here from time to time." That sounded strangely familiar. 

"How did you find this hotel? Not many do." He added before he took a sip from his scotch.

"I didn't. I was brought here under some certain circumstances." Evan raised an eyebrow and leaned towards Victor.

"So then, the hotel found you, huh?" Victor nodded and grabbed his own glass of alcohol.

"But most guests aren't from around here. Not even the staff." Evan glanced at the crowd over his shoulder.

"Yeah. We're in Italy but most of them are foreigners. Well, that's good for us. They speak English." Victor chuckled and nodded.

"You're Irish, aren't you?" Evan nodded.

"I am, indeed. And from what I can hear, you have a certain Manchester accent." Victor looked at him bemusedly.

"Yes. That's correct." Evan laughed loudly and patted the younger man.

"Take care around here, Victor. You never know in what room you may wake up in the morning." The younger man raised an eyebrow in amusement. Evan winked and waved at a woman from the far corner. "Oh, I think I know what room I will end up sleeping in." Victor chuckled before the older man left.

"Mr. Abbot," Victor's attention moved on the small woman whom disappeared earlier on. "I lost you on the way." She stated innocently.

"Mrs. Costelli. I'm sorry. I was amazed by the mirror at the top of the first pair of stairs. It was really unique made." She chuckled and took the available seat next to him. "It's very crowded."

"Yes. At this hour especially. After dinner, some guests leave so we always gather here to say goodbye." Victor took a long look around and sighed.

"So everyone knows each other?" Amelia nodded.

"Of course. Most of them are important people all around the world. This is a place of opportunities." Victor glanced at her and smiled. She did too when she noticed. "What?"

"You're beautiful, Amelia." Her eyes widened and her cheeks got on fire. He chuckled and took a sip of his drink. She hit his arm playfully and covered her cheeks.

"That's not funny." He only continued to laugh.

The room got quiet when Kain entered and rang the bell.

"Madames et monsieurs, dinner is ready! Please take your seats." After the announcement, Kain left and the guests walked to their seats. Victor was a little confused where to go.

"Youcancomeandsitwithme, if you want to." She asked so fast that Victor wasn't sure if he understood correctly. "Come sit with me." She said at a normal pace. He nodded and followed her to a small round table near the window.

That was probably the first time he got the chance to see what was outside. His eyes widened when he saw snow.

"It's winter!" He mumbled in shock. Amelia heard without really eavesdropping.

"It's almost Christmas." Victor's eyes widened and without realizing it, he stood up. That grabbed attention. He was the only man who raised so hastily. Once he saw the strong stares, he bowed his head as apology and sat down. "Are you alright?" Amelia asked worried.

"Yes. Just, it's December. The last time I remember, it was the mid of July." Amelia understood and didn't pry. She didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable.

Dinner was a true feast at the Moonflower Hotel. All kinds of meat and vegetables; expensive dishes and even more expensive wine. That was definitely the second most delicious food he ate in his life. The first was his mother's cooking. Nothing could beat that.

It took exactly two hours before the restaurant became empty. It felt like everyone was eating in sync because they finished at the same time. They laughed and drunk wine, they talked and even asked for this and that but at 9 o'clock sharp, everyone raised and walked out of the restaurant. Only he remained, with Amelia. In the crowd of people, he noticed Evan. He did too because he winked at him and wrapped his arm around a girl. Victor chuckled and shook his head disapprovingly.

"I have to go back now. But I will see you tomorrow." She said softly. Victor caressed her hair kindly and nodded. She bit her bottom lip and thought how to say goodnight. In the end, she kissed his cheek and left quickly. Victor was taken aback that was such a childish and pure action. He couldn't help but laugh softly and touched the spot she kissed.

He was feeling wonderful. That kind of joy was special and it made him realize he's been around older women for too long. He needed something refreshing; something young.

When he got in the hall, he walked straight to the receptionist. The young man was talking to someone but he saw Victor. He only shook his head once before he ignored him completely.

"Does that mean I can keep them?" He wondered out loud. He couldn't quite understand the receptionist.

He shrugged and walked up to his room. As he was ascending the stairs to the fifth floor, he heard the soft sound of a piano. He remembered the one on the third floor and walked towards it. He didn't venture too close, though. He closed his eyes and leaned against the wall. The playing was magnificent. It was so clear and with the right amount of emotion.

When the song ended, he opened his eyes. He noticed the painting across and walked in front of it. The details were impressive and the facial expression, which was anger, was portrayed very well. He tilted his head to the side and smiled. He was in a place of art and he had all the time in the world to discover it fully.

All the time in the world. 

2. How They Ran

It was almost midnight and they were driving towards Edinburgh . There wasn't a specific reason for that. It was the first thing that came to mind. Besides, Edinburgh was pretty far from Birmingham and if something bad were to happen, they could escape easily.

"We can't go home and we can't contact our families. If we use cards, they will track us down. Besides, the police will look for us too since we worked there tonight" She sighed and leaned her head against the window.

"What are we going to do?" He took a peek at her. She looked completely drained. The stress was backfiring.

"We can only use the cash we have on us" He stopped the car at a gas stop and turned to her.

"How much do you have?" She asked. He grabbed his bag that he randomly threw in the back and got his wallet. "Wow. Quite a few, huh?" He rolled his eyes.

"Your turn" She threw her wallet at him. Luckily, she was a person who used to keep the wallet at her all the time. His eyes widened when he found only one bill. "At least it's 100 dollars" She only threw a glance at him before she turned to look on the window.

"It's fake" He raised an eyebrow. "I keep it in case I get robbed" He didn't believe her.

He inspected it closely and realized she was right. She was unfortunately right.

"Are you serious? Why would someone even think of that?" She shrugged.

Evan rubbed his face and tried to understand how she could be so, so...He didn't even have a word for it.

"At least you have enough money for gas" He smiled ironically at her.

"Of course. Because I work three jobs only to make money for gas" She noticed his sarcasm and didn't like it.

He got out of the car before she could say something. Gas stops usually had CCTV so he had to move quickly. He bought a 2,5l bottle of water and a few packs of chips. He paid for them and for the gas. Evan was still holding on his precious money. The cashier took his money hard. He felt a stab in his heart when the cashier snatched it from his hand.

When he returned to Abby, he found her leaning against the window with a grim expression. He threw the bottle and packs on her lap and went to fill the car. She took a pack of chips and inspected it closely. She rolled down the window and turned her head to him.

"I don't like spicy things! This has spicy sauce!" Evan could barely care about her preferences. He ignored her but she wasn't giving up easily. "It's your entire fault if we'll have to stop so I can use the bathroom!" He didn't care.

She pouted and narrowed her eyes at him before she rolled the window back up. She grabbed her phone and realized she had only half of the battery full.

"Alright. Let's go" He entered the car and turned on the engine. It was a good car and the sound made Evan smile.

"So you like cars?"

"That doesn't concern you" She scoffed.

"We're stuck together for indefinite time. I think I deserve to know some things about you" He glanced at her from the corner of his eye for exactly a second.

"I live in Birmingham and my university is in Birmingham" She grew curious.

"What university? What major?"

"University of Birmingham. IT." She snorted before she started to laugh. "What?"

"You don't look like an IT specialist" He rolled his eyes. "You look more like the guy in sports who doesn't do very well at school" If that wasn't offending, he didn't know what was. "Do you want to know what I am majoring in?"

"No" She pouted. He was no fun at all.

"Don't you want to know anything about me? It might be useful in the future"

"No" Her excitement was hit with every cold response. He raised an eyebrow when he saw her turning on the music player and connecting her phone to it. "What are you doing?"

"Creating good atmosphere" He grunted. He was sure she was the type to listen a lot of shitty music.

The atmosphere definitely didn't become good. It was far from good. She was jamming to every song on her phone. At first it was Beyonce's Crazy in Love. She was dancing weirdly on the passenger seat.

Next was Justin Timberlake's Tunnel Vision. She was getting ahead of herself. Her hands were moving wildly and she almost hit him in the face.

A car drove past them and the driver told Abby to turn the music down. It was annoying. She flipped him off with a wide smile. The driver swore before he hit the acceleration.

"Did you just flip him?" She chuckled. He shook his head but smiled nonetheless. "You're crazy" She winked at him cutely.

The happy songs passed quickly and he found out that she had better tastes in ballads. Her behavior changed too. She was tired after she messed around for almost two hours.

"What are you thinking about?" He was really curious. She looked like she just got dumped and wasn't even looking at him.

"Nothing. I just want to feel like the principle sad character in a sad music video. Now shut up and drive. I'm feeling the mood here" He raised an eyebrow but didn't dare ask anything else. She was a weird girl.

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The rest of the way was normal. As normal that was with Abby in the car. The spicy chips really had an effect on her and Evan had to stop the car in the middle of nowhere.

"You have nowhere to go here" She blinked.

"Turn around" He was ruffling his hair when he stopped and stared at her in confusion.

"What?"

"Turn around" He did. He didn't know exactly what to expect but when he heard her sigh in relief he knew he didn't want to know.

A few minutes later she walked next to him happily.

"What now?" She smiled and took a deep breath of fresh air.

"I really like it here. It's peaceful and silent" Right when she said that, a big car honked really loudly.

"Shut up and get in the car" He was already walking towards the car but she was in the same spot.

"You have to become one with the nature!" She yelled after him. A bird flew over her head and shitted on her shoulder. She froze. "Maybe not"

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"What's that on your shoulder?" She just entered the car add they got back on the road when he asked that. She chuckled nervously.

"Nature?" He chuckled. "It smells" She scrunched her nose in disgust. In Evan's point of view, she got exactly what she deserved.

"Did you become one with the nature enough?" She nodded eagerly. He shook his head bemusedly and threw a hankie at her. She bowed slightly in gratitude.

"Do you think the police already called our families?" After that bird shitted on her shoulder, she calmed down. She realized that the Universe wasn't on her side that day.

"I don't know. But it's still too early to talk about it. It's morning and we've been on the road the whole night" She nodded. It was really unfortunate that they got involved with bad people.

"Isn't it weird? We didn't go looking for trouble. The trouble came to us" She started to chuckle and play with her phone. She jumped in surprise when it started to vibrate and ring. She dropped it somewhere at Evan's feet.

"Wait!" She bent after her precious phone. It was still ringing and he was still driving. Since it was morning and they entered Edinburgh, the street wasn't empty like before.

He drove past a big car with a woman driving. Next to her was a teenage guy. From his point of view, her head was over his lap and he was caressing her hair. It looked bad and pornographic.

However, the reality was far different. She was leaning over his lap but she was only trying to reach her phone. He wasn't caressing her hair, he was hitting her head.

"Get off! Get off!" She grunted. Only a little bit towards left and that was it. She grabbed her phone and smiled. She completely forgot the position they were in and pulled back quickly. She hit him in the nose pretty hard.

"Ah sorry. I forgot your head was there. Here let me help you" She pushed his head back. His eyes widened and he tried to keep looking where he was driving.

"What are you doing?! I'm driving here!" She pinched his nose and he squirmed. He heard honks all around him and pushed her hands away. "Are you crazy? We're not alone on the street!!" She bit her lip and leaned back in her seat like a good girl. She turned her head towards the window.

"I only wanted to help" She mumbled. He glared at her quickly before he turned back to look in front.

"Don't do that again. Stupid woman" She pouted and leaned her head against the window.

13. Just Because I Don't Like It, Doesn't Mean It's Not Real

“I swear! I went in the classroom and there she was! My teacher was drawing our new colleague! You should have seen her face! It was priceless!”
Luke was the best at spilling secrets out but he knew good stories about everyone in their university.
Henry did sit next to Zoe but Ezekiel didn’t catch the other free seat next to her. That was how she ended up between Mark and Henry; on the other side, Alice did sit next to Ezekiel, whom after a beer or two, became very talkative. Andy was sitting close to Ezekiel and was pushing the beer cans out of his reach. It was a funny sight.
“So, are you ready for the real fun?” Zoe didn’t want to know what real fun meant in Gabe’s vocabulary. “Let’s have a contest! We’re all artists in the end!”
Mark and Henry started the dance competition and they were really good. One of them was more passionate than the other but the other had a better technique. They were a great pair. After a few beers, Henry got more courage and he danced sexily around Zoe. She blushed and covered her eyes with her hands while others were laughing loudly.
The one who started the singing contest was Ezekiel. Zoe remained dumbstruck when he started to sing. He had a soothing voice and she was going to use that later. Maybe she could go to sleep easier if someone was singing to her. However, Alice had quite a voice too. They started to sing together and Mark started to fool around. It was fun. They were laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
But the deadly moment came. It was inevitable.
“Let’s start the scary stories! I’ve been waiting for this the whole week!” Gabe chuckled at Luke's excitement.
“He actually prepared for it.” The older man told his friends. Luke narrowed his eyes at his friend.
“Anyway, I heard this story from my grandmother who actually met this person. So, it’s about this group of friends who went camping during the 1980’s. Two of them were involved into a romantic relationship. At some point, they went into the forest saying they were going to look for wood for the fire. That was bullshit, of course.” Luke started.It was not scary yet. “But while they were being busy by themselves, the guy who remained on the camp site became very aware of how creepy the forest looked at night. He started to feel paranoid and he swore he saw something in the distance. He went over to check it out.” The wind started to blow and everyone got closer to the fire. “It was nothing. But when he returned to the camp, he realized that the fire was extinguished. The wind began to blow much stronger than it would have been normal in that summer. He started to hear voices.” Luke was really good at telling stories. He was modifying his tone and was animating the whole atmosphere.
While he was telling his story, Zoe glanced at Ezekiel, who was completely drawn to Luke. She rolled her eyes; boys were always boys but when Luke mentioned the voices, she became anxious.  She was aware of how opportunistic their situation looked. It was the best time to wreak havoc and she was sure Eneizar and Iaosur were definitely around.
“The voices lured him in. They told him that his friends were going to die. They told him that Rubber Donni was the master of that forest.” Luke continued. Zoe frowned and glanced at Ezekiel again.
“Rubber Donni?” Henry asked, not believing a single part of the story.Luke shrugged.
“Hey, I swear I didn’t make it up. My grandmother assured me that it actually happened.” Zoe glanced at Henry and sighed.
“I have a better one but I will let you finish yours first.” Luke and Gabe glared at each other before the younger one continued his scary story.
“They said that he’s very elastic and can crush you into his hand. He got scared and went to look for his friends. But when he entered the forest, he heard a loud scream. It was the girl. He rushed there only to find her dead against a tree. His other friend was not there. He vanished.” Luke continued. Zoe rubbed her hands together, it wasn’t a good story but he was a good story teller. “He walked deeper into the forest and heard a scream. He turned quickly just in time to see his friend falling at his feet. He was dead and covered in blood. That was when he saw Rubber Donni. He saw his long face and scarily long limbs. They looked into each other’s eyes before he started to run. He got out of the forest but the car wasn’t working. Rubber Donni caught him and cut his right leg. Slash! Slash!” He was really trying to scare them. Well, Henry did look scared. So did Alice but for completely different reasons.
“And he survived.” Gabe added. Luke nodded. “Shouldn’t everyone die in order to be scary?” The older friend asked. Luke rolled his eyes and kicked the boy.
“Just tell us your story.”
Gabe’s eyes widened in excitement and leaned in.
“Right. I have one that’s not scary but it gives you the creeps.” Luke rolled his eyes and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I don’t know his name so I’m going to call him Guy. Well, Guy came here once for work. He really loved nature and he was a landscape photographer. He wanted pictures of this place so he entered the forest by day and found this little river coming from the mountain. It was beautiful and he snapped a few shots of it. When he got home, he developed the pictures and noticed something. In the corner of every picture of the river was a face. The face of a young guy. His eyes were black and dead. That much he could figure out.” Gabe started.
The story wasn’t scary yet Zoe felt herself shiver. She glanced at the forest and licked her lips. That story was different. It was plain but it was real.
“He went back to the river and inspected the place. He found a gravestone right where he saw the guy. Guy realized that it was a ghost. That’s what he originally thought. That was quite cool. He captured a ghost. He made three new pictures and developed them. The face didn’t appear anymore. He went there one night, because he realized he lost his phone. He looked for it for a while but couldn’t find it.”
Zoe flinched, the anxiety growing with every detail shared. She gulped and glanced at Henry who leaned closer and wrapped an arm around her waist. She didn’t know if it was for her safety or for his. She glanced at Ezekiel and saw him getting really close to Alice. Zoe rolled her eyes at his behavior. Who was the guy there? He wasn’t supposed to get scared. He already got possessed! What could be worse than that?
Her eyes wandered around the place. It was dark and the forest looked scary. She was slowly calming down when she heard someone chuckling in the distance.
“Did you hear that?”
She froze because everyone heard it, not only her. That wasn’t a good sign.
“Guy went to the river and heard his phone ringing. He found it in the water. It was weird because even if the phone was still working, it didn’t have any signal up here. We don’t either.” He clarified. She heard Henry gulp. He wasn’t the only one getting scared. Mark got closer to Zoe too. “He responded.” Gabe coughed and changed his voice a little. “I want your soul.” He said in a low and sore voice.  It kind of scared everyone moreover, the wind picked up and it almost pulled out the fire.
“What happened next?” Even Luke got over his annoyance and became interested. Gabriel shrugged.
“No one knows. That was the last day they heard about him. He vanished. The ghost killed him and stole his soul.” Gabe didn’t look scared at all. “Well, I want to go rest now. That’s how you say a scary story, Luke!” The two started to bicker again.
“Did you see anything?” Ezekiel walked to Zoe when Mark got up. She shook her head. “But there is something out there, isn’t it?” She nodded. Ezekiel sighed and ruffled his hair.
“Hey! Where are you going? Gabe!” Alice grabbed everyone’s attention. Gabe grabbed his phone and turned on the flashlight.
“Luke said that my story is not believable so I’m going to look for that river and take a picture of it.” Zoe got up quickly and ran to him.
“I want to come too.”
Ezekiel’s eyes widened. She was stupid.
“I’ll come too. Just let me take something from my bag.”
Zoe watched Ezekiel skeptically. She already knew what he wanted to bring along.
“I-I will come too!” Henry wanted to look all manly but everyone saw just how freaked out he was during the story. “Or maybe I’ll just stay here with Mark, Luke and Alice. But if we hear one of you screaming, we’ll come after you.”
That was a good save. That statement was directed only towards Zoe, though, Ezekiel scoffing in the back. She was the one who didn’t need advice. Even if there was a ghost, he was sure the demons wouldn’t let her die.

Once they entered the forest, Gabe started to ramble and swear. He and Luke weren’t the best of friends but he didn’t expect to get so annoying during the trip. And they were sharing a tent, above everything!
“Do you even know where the river is supposed to be?” Ezekiel asked the older guy. Gabe glanced at his hand in response.
“Why did you bring books with you?” That shut Ezekiel up instantly.
Zoe waited for Gabe to get further away from them until she opened the subject again.
“You didn’t have to bring the books. The only demons around are the ones connected to me.” Ezekiel blinked.
“I got possessed by one of them. I’m not risking it.” She sighed heavily. It was so complicated.
“You still didn’t tell me where you found out the information about the commander.” Ezekiel gulped. He wasn’t sure if he should tell her and make her angry or keep it to himself and have a normal conversation. “Was it Andy?” He stopped. He couldn’t even look straight into her eyes. “Look Ezekiel, I’m not the commander.”
“Yes, you are. Andy said that everyone knows. They know how the commander looks and that’s you.”
“Mehrdir appeared after you called me. He told me that the commander has a sign on his arm. I don’t have it. He checked and I don’t have it. I am not the commander.” She took care to emphasize what was important. “Who do you believe? Me or a ghost?”
“The ghost.”
Well, he definitely responded fast. She scowled and resumed searching for the river.

“Where is Gabe, now?”
They’ve been going in circles and they didn’t find their new acquaintance.
“That’s because you started to talk about things that we shouldn’t talk in a forest!” She glared at him.
“Now it’s my fault? Why is everything my fault? Did I even invite you in my life!?” He pointed at her and pushed her slightly.
“You certainly invited me to this camp.” She bit her lower lip. That was right. “I told you this was a bad idea! You have demons and ghosts around you! What part of your life is even normal enough for you to go camping with people you just met?!” She was fuming. He could see just how angry she got. The problems were piling up and she was going to blow up.
“You don’t know how my life is! I have to obey some stupid rules and watch how people get into accidents and die! I see their souls getting out of their bodies and I can’t freaking do anything! It’s just like Iaosur said. I have the power to see the bad but I can’t fight against it. You don’t know how guilty I feel every time I see someone dying.” He took a step back. She was furious and needed to vent her anger. Unfortunately, he was the victim. “And the demons! Ha! Do you even understand just how hard it is to feel their presence? I get paranoid everywhere I go because I know there is someone watching me. And do you know why? Because they want me to remain clueless regarding dark magic. Because if I learn more then I know more and they don’t want that. That’s why they have always been around me and messed with my life. They save me because they need me.” She breathed heavily and closed her eyes.
Ezekiel watched her with pity. He understood everything after he talked to Terrance but hearing it from her, it was even worse. She knew what was going on but she preferred to act stupid and let the demons do whatever they wanted.
“Maybe it’s time for you to learn.” He mumbled quietly. She looked up at him.
“Maybe.”
Ezekiel was ready to say more but they heard someone screaming. Their heads turned to a certain place and they ran over. They found Gabe staring into nothingness.
“Gabe? Are you alright?”
Gabe didn’t move or respond. Ezekiel wanted to take a step closer when Zoe stopped him.
“There’s dark mist around you. You’re not Gabriel .”
The false Gabe glanced at the woman over his shoulder and chuckled darkly.
“I will devour your friend and you will watch him squirm until he dies.” He turned around slowly. His eyes were completely white and he looked pale. Ezekiel took a look around and realized something.
“This is the place from the story. The river and the gravestone.” He squinted a little in order to see the gravestone. It didn’t have any name on it. “There’s only one thing left,” He glanced at Gabe. “The phone.” The ghost started to laugh like a maniac.
“Do you really believe that story? Ha! This place doesn’t exist. It’s only my playground. I take it with me everywhere I go. Humans find it endearing when they see a gravestone. They all think that someone died in that place. How stupid.” Gabe’s white eyes moved on Zoe, staring at her curiously.
“What? Am I so interesting that even malefic ghosts check me out?”
Gabe laughed as he started to walk closer to her. Ezekiel opened his book at a certain page but he got thrown to the side by Gabe.
“Do you really think I’m a ghost, Zoe?” His voice was low but it wasn’t sore. It actually sounded very familiar. He tilted his head to the side and chuckled.
“No. You’re a demon. You have too much power for a ghost. Besides, you said it yourself. No one died here. This place doesn’t even exist.” He nodded and licked his lips. “Who are you and why are you here?”
“This is my playground. You just stumbled upon it. This young guy was ready to scare you all but I interfered.” She still didn’t get the answers she was looking for. “I’m quite honored to be in your presence, Commander.” She frowned. “Yes, the commander of numerous legions of Hell. Zoe Lestrade. Through some twisted way, your ancestor got connected to him and so, you got connected to Hell but you love it.” He smirked. It wasn’t evil. It was playful and content.
“I don’t love it and I’m not the commander. I don’t freaking have the freaking sign! Go ask Mehrdir!”
She was getting mad. Everyone was pressuring her with that idea but they didn’t have any proof.
“Oh, Mehrdir. That greed demon became your babysitter after the original one left. You did something and your guardian left you to rot. I guess that’s what demons do.” He sighed and leaned closer to her face. “But when he will come back to you, you will have to follow him to Hell. That’s when the dark side of the moon will face the Middle World and darkness will engulf humanity.” He chuckled bemusedly.
“Get out of here.” The demon raised an eyebrow. “Get lost.” Her tone was different. It sounded empty. She knew only one way to get the demon out of Gabe; she had to touch him. She was ready to do that but someone moved faster.
The demon got thrown against a tree. Her eyes widened when she saw Iaosur appear before him and grabbing him by the forehead. Gabe screamed loudly before silence engulfed the whole forest. The place disappeared with the demon.
“What did you do?” Iaosur turned to her and stared at her blankly.
“I sent him back where he belongs.” He raised an eyebrow and continued to stare at her. “Go back home quickly. I got you a present.”
Her eyes widened. He was an angst demon. What kind of surprise could he make? Blow her home up? Get her haters?