Friday, June 5, 2015

2. Naive, Stupid and Slightly Smarter than the Rest

On the way home, Zoe was very careful to her surroundings. The new apartment wasn’t in a good place, such an environment where old women would bake pies and children would play. It was somewhere in between districts, in a back alley. The apartment building seemed to be mysterious and mostly empty.Besides a suspicious woman and her boyfriend living above, and two women living below, she had the entire floor to herself.
She placed her hands in her pockets and walked faster. It was dark outside and the whispers of dead people were making the atmosphere really tense and creepy. She was ready to go around the corner and get home when she felt a strong need to stop and glance to the side. Her eyes widened when she saw a small person writing something on the wall. She walked closer and realized it was a kid.
“Hey, kid. That’s not nice. Your parents will-“ Her breathing became heavier and she noticed how cold it had gotten. She could actually see her breath in the air. Her eyes snapped to the kid before realizing that he had disappeared.
Children ghosts were the scariest. They were evil even if they weren’t intending to. They just liked to play too much.
She glanced over her shoulder when she felt someone tagging on her shirt. The kid looked distorted. His face was all messed up and she was pretty sure he died in a car crash. His left elbow was turned back and so was his right knee. The blood was dripping from one side of his head and his face looked squished.
“Can you take me to mommy?” Her eyes hardened.
That question was used a lot in scary movies. However, real children ghosts did want to genuinely see their mothers. But something told her that the mother of this kid wasn’t alive.
“You’re right.”
Zoe jumped in surprise and fear. Mehrdir appeared out of nowhere and pushed the child away. Afterwards, he checked her condition. She wasn’t even scared.
“I told you. Demons of different levels are getting here through the hole. Now, do you believe me?”
She was ready to give a negative answer but the kid ghost launched at her. Thankfully, Mehrdir pushed her aside and casted the lower demon back to Hell.
“Oh.” She was speechless.
Mehrdir raised an eyebrow and stared at her like she was the dumbest person in the world.
“Oh? Is that all?” From his tone, Zoe could sense how annoyed he was. “What about thank you almighty Mehrdir. Even though I am a greed demon, I helped you.” He continued.
“Why are you protecting me, anyway? I wasn’t in danger until you came and pushed him away harshly.” She commented.
Zoe didn’t seem to have any reaction to his words. Moreover, she was not even greatful.
Mehrdir blinked in astonishment. He couldn’t even find words to describe how much she pissed him off.
“Are you for real? Are you even human? What happened to the kind and innocent trait that humans usually have?” He asked.
“Died a few centuries ago. Maybe it wasn’t even there. How do demons label humans? We’re not all the same.” She grabbed her bags and started to make her way home. The alley was deserted so she didn’t really have to keep her voice down.
“The same way humans label demons: naive, stupid and slightly smarter than the rest.” She stared at him blankly. He couldn’t really understand what was going through her head until he saw her eyes glistening in the dark. “You are forbidden to use this in your work.” He pointed a threatening finger at her. She started to laugh loudly for a few seconds before she stopped abruptly and turned her body to him.
“No.” She responded quickly before she smiled cutely and entered the building.
Mehrdir sighed and rubbed his head. His eyes changed to completely black for a moment. That human Zoe was really annoying. Why was he the one in charge of her, anyway? Why wasn’t Eneizar doing the small bodyguard work? He had his own special way with humans.

While the demon kid went back to his place, the words he had written remained on the wall. Not many people were able to understand the meaning behind those words. But some people are lucky enough, or maybe stupid enough, to venture into details.
“You are pride.” He hummed and tilted his head to the side.
He rubbed his chin and thought deeply about that sentence. It sounded stupid at first but he was sure there was something more to it. The letters were written by shaking hands from what he could remark. It was probably an old person. Or maybe a kid. It did look like that.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He took a picture of the wall and left. He had enough time to think about it later.

The next morning was literarily Hell for Zoe. She worked the whole night and drew until her hand became sore. The editor was going to come somewhere in the afternoon so she took a nap for a few hours. She didn’t get to rest, though. Someone was banging on the wall. The sound was coming from next door.
“Probably someone moved there.” Her eyes widened when she realized what she said. She wasn’t alone on the floor anymore. She was going to have normal neighbors.
Zoe got up and ran into the hall. She stumbled around, hitting her leg a few times while she was getting dressed. She didn’t expect the doorbell to ring, she was still in her pajama pants and her shirt was inside out. She sighed and tried to make herself look presentable before she cracked the door open.
“Good morning!” She tried to put up an innocent act.
On the other side of the door was a man that looked too happy for the safety of humanity. Next to him was another guy that looked like he wanted to be anywhere but in front of her room.
“We just moved next door. I’m Mark and this is my roommate, Luke.” The smiling guy looked like a dinosaur. His smile was really wide and bright. His happiness was blinding. She had to narrow her eyes when she looked at him.
Zoe’s eyes moved slowly on the other guy. He seemed fine. He was tall and good looking but he looked like he had something better to do.
“Mark and Luke. I got it. Are you students?”
He nodded enthusiastically.
“We’re Art students. This building is really close to our University and the rent is really cheap.”
She was dumbfounded. He really didn’t see anything wrong with that building. Well, she was not in place to judge. She was the wrong thing in that building.
“Welcome to the neighborhood!” Her smile was no match to Mark’s.

She had no choice but invite them in. The living room was slightly cleaner than her room. Thankfully, she just redecorated the kitchen and bathroom. They were crystal clean.
“So you two paint?” They nodded. “I do too. But I’m not originally from London. I’m from Essex.” Zoe started.
“Then where is your workshop?” Luke seemed genuinely interested. Or at least, she hoped so.
“My room. But it’s better if you don’t enter.” The men blushed and nodded. “But I’m not very good at it. I mean, I only draw what comes to my mind.”
“What are you working on right now?” Mark asked.
She hummed and wandered if she should tell them or not. Luke got up and saved her from responding.
“Where is the bathroom?” The taller boy asked. She pointed at the end of the hall. When she turned around, Dongwoo was still waiting for her response. She sighed.
“Well, I draw stories of people that do things...” She trailed. Mark’s eyes were shining. She felt like shivering under his gaze. Thankfully, she got saved by Luke’s screams.
“When I looked into the mirror, I swear I saw someone else! And he winked at me!” Luke sounded really scared.
His friend ran into the bathroom to check the mirror. Zoe sighed.
“Well, it was just a matter of time, wasn’t it?” She mumbled and hit an imaginary stone before walking into the bathroom.
Mark was being funny by jumping in front and aside the mirror. His reflection was the only thing he could see in the mirror.
“Nothing happens. Maybe you imagined it.” Luke stared incredulously at his roommate. He just called him crazy in a subtle way.
Zoe bit her lip and watched with pity.
“It’s the light.” The two boys turned to her. “When you move fast in front of the mirror, the reflection gets a little dispersed; like an illusion. It was probably you blinking. But the image only caught one of your eyes so it looked like someone winked at you when it was you all along.” Somehow, her messy explanation seemed very logical to the guys. Luke was feeling much better about himself; that was obvious.
“Yeah. That was it.” He smiled thankful.
“Maybe you should go home and stay in bed for a while. It might happen again in your own mirror.” She was fooling them with a smile on her face.
Luke and Mark were really nice guys. They left and promised they will come and visit again. Zoe closed the door behind and sighed. When she turned around, she faced someone new.
“You’re Zoe Lestrade, aren’t you? I need your help.”
She could already feel more pressure fall on her shoulders.

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