Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2261606-Part-3-Exodus
Rated: 18+ · Serial · Dark · #2261606
Feeling like a freak on a leash
Warm misery trickled down my cheeks, soaking into the pillow.

I never should have doubted you. At every waking moment you were always there for me, greeting grumpy mornings with a steaming mug and concocting fiendish plans for my amusement. When I skinned my knee, you helped me up and dried my tears. At the playground, you were the one who pushed me on the swings and tugged me higher than the other kids.

At the darkest times in my life there was a dim light shining around you. Why didn't I see it? Even after I was blinded by rage, some part of me was unable to refuse that cheeky grin and willingly followed you into the underworld. If only I never agreed to go. What good did that do, being cursed with this abominable knowledge? We could have lived our remaining time together even if this world was ending.

I'd have bravely stared into the face of certain oblivion if you were there to hold my hand and tell the universe to screw itself.

Vern, you lovable fool. Why did you bring us back to Hell? You must have know things would go badly for you. But still you chose to walk that treacherous path with me, one last time.

I miss you. I yearn for your presence with every ounce of this doomed body. Your cries still echo in my ears. Your blood still rests on my skin, the only proof that my dearest companion ever existed. What am I to do now? Who will be there to guide me through this uncertain future? My heart bleeds for you, Vern. Lilith struck a fatal blow to us both. Now I'm slowly dying in this empty room, wasting away till the day of judgement.

A sound faded in through the abyss. My phone, buzzing somewhere near the endless pit where I wallowed.

I turned a listless head towards the floor where my device was flashing.

Five missed texts from August. I'd completely forgotten he had been waiting for me at the park all this time. Probably thought I flaked and stood him up. Staring at the screen, I wondered if he was better off thinking I didn't care about him. Just as well things ended up this way. If I dragged August into this mess and he ended up like Vern...

The phone buzzed again.

I'm worried about you. Can we talk?

I put the damp pillow over my head and groaned into it. Just forget about me. Leave me to my fate and walk away while you still have time.

Maybe it was the thought of his hazel eyes searching mine, the way he always put me at ease, the thought of being in August's arms as the world thundered and roared around us. I could really use a friend right now. Preferably one that didn't mind me using his shoulder as a sponge.

My hand reached out, almost of its own volition. Before I scarcely knew what was happening, my thumb unlocked the screen and began typing a reply.

Sorry for not showing... It's a long story. I really really need to see you ASAP.

No prob. Where at?

My nails tapped on the glass as I considered my options.

I'll head over to you. What's your address?

A minute later, his location data popped up. It wasn't far to his place - a ten minute walk at most. Maybe if Mom was feeling generous she'd let me borrow the car.

Rubbing my face, I checked my reflection with the camera. I looked terrible. My mascara had run, shadowed eyes were bloodshot and puffy, snarled hair was greasy, and I was still covered in Vern's essence. I half resembled a demon, minus the horns.

If August saw me now he'd probably slam the door in my face and never talk to me again. I was actually betting on that outcome, no matter how dazzling I looked. Sitting up, I gathered my long tresses with a sigh. Time for a speed primp.

Though I definitely needed one, I skipped the shower. Didn't make sense to waste time under the hot water if I was racing the clock. Tossing my hair up into a quick ponytail, I discarded my sulfurous clothes and ransacked my wardrobe for a new outfit. Something cute but not too dressy. Crippling indecision overtook my fashion sense. What if it wasn't good enough? Should I wear something a little sexier? Form fitting or low-cut?

Realizing this was going nowhere fast, I opted for a flowery halter top and some skinny jeans. A thin jacket brought the whole ensemble together.

I made a face, sniffing myself. God, I reeked. The shower would have definitely washed off that unholy stench. Too late now, I sighed. Some choice deodorant, skin lotion and carefully applied perfume helped drown out most of the rotten egg odor. I hoped he wouldn't notice.

Glancing at my phone, I swore blue fire. These ministrations were taking longer than I'd like. Guess I was using minimal makeup today. Wiping my raccoon eyes away, I applied some cover up on the dark circles and a quick eyeliner. My phone dinged.

Still coming?

I responded, feeling guilty.

Had to get presentable first. Leaving now.

Time was running out. Lilith promised to send a replacement demon and I didn't want to stick around for his debut. After tossing on fresh clothes, I took one last look in the mirror. Then I sprinted down the stairs and scrambled into the living room.

My mom was sitting on the couch, sipping mint tea as the newscaster narrated over a video montage of disturbing clips. People screaming, waving handmade signs, shoving each other, tempers rising to a frenzy, fist fights breaking out while the anchor droned on.

"...violent riots have been rising in response to the government order, which oversaw the shutdown of areas with high infection rates."

Mom tutted, shaking her head at the furious mod. "Things only seem to be getting worse these days," Her messy bun turned. A kindly face peeked out behind the tangled knot of hair. "Going someplace, Bell?"

I glanced at the screen and nodded. "Yeah, just going to see a friend. Shouldn't be too long, we're probably going to grab coffee or something."

"That's nice. Be sure to say hello for me, will you?" The broadcast topic shifted to the discovery of a strange sinkhole. My mother blew on her warm mug and returned her attention to the current display of breaking news.

"Before you go, I was wondering what you wanted to do for your birthday? Any plans?"

I paused before the front entrance, hand resting on the knob. My birthday. Wasn't it next week? How could that have slipped my mind? Well, considering recent events I suppose I could be forgiven for not worrying over a stupid party.

"Nothing planned. Probably the usual dinner and cake? I'm not feeling anything fancy this year." Forcing a smile at the back of her head, I closed my fingers around the door handle. "I'm kinda in a rush, so text me if you want to figure stuff out today."

"What flavor cake?"

"Doesn't matter... Surprise me. I gotta run."

"I was thinking a nice cherry one to celebrate you popping yours."

I froze. My body whirled to face the living room. Mom still slurping the warm drink, wholly absorbed by the news channel.

"What did you say?"

"Stop being such a square, find a hot guy and throw that ass back on him already. You should have given it away long ago."

Her head gradually spun around, an unusual steely glint hardening that gentle gaze. Soft lips parted, revealing a split tongue. It flicked over her chin, lapping at the air as it stretched towards me. Gradually, the forked appendage lengthened and grew until a malachite snake emerged from the cavity, coiling around her pale neck. Mom blinked drowsily, emotions draining away. She stared blankly, unblinking eyes boring a hole in my chest.

I shrank against the door. My eyes widened with dismay, mouth opening and closing as I tried to find lost words. "M-mom?"

The reptile glared, ruby orbs glittering maliciously. “The powers that be have set events in motion. You cannot stop it now. Refusing us will only draw out the pitiful suffering of everyone you love.”

The possessed woman rose. I could hear her faintly gurgling around the animal lodged in her throat. Licking my mom's face, the demon goaded her onward. She staggered towards me, limbs jerking unnaturally as if controlled by unseen strings. The snake exposed long fangs with a seething hiss.

“Now give Mama a kisssss...”

Rushing forward, my mother ran unsteadily as the snake coiled beneath her chin. I screamed, flinging open the door. Hands lunged for me. The serpent opened its jaws and sprang.

Slamming the door, I leaned against it and let out a shaky sigh. Behind the frosted glass, the demon thrashed about madly as my mother beat against the wooden frame. I hugged myself and retreated from the irate creature. Better leave before it figures out how to unlock the latch.

White feathers drifted over the porch. One brushed against my sneaker, getting caught in the laces. I picked it up and squinted at it. Where did these come from? Did someone rip open a pillow?

More tumbled on the evening wind, streaked with gilded splotches.

I followed the source. Venturing around the exterior of the house, I turned the corner and gasped. My hand opened. The feather drifted out and spiraled down to the cool grass.

It fell beside the lifeless body of an angel, her majestic form laying mangled against the plastic siding. The wings were shredded, nearly plucked clean. Fang marks punctured the divine corpse's neck and hands, venom oozing from the raised lesions. Her throat was completely torn open. Golden fluid drenched the area. The metallic blood dribbled off the outer wall and soaked into the lawn, looking as though someone flung melted jewelry over the heavenly carcass.

Did this guardian belong to my mother? It must have. She put up a fight against the snake demon, judging by the numerous bites. But what ripped open her neck? I shuddered, wondering just what the forces of darkness were capable of.

Before I could process this new discovery, mystifying sounds filtered through my thoughts.

I glanced behind me. A dusky sky stretched over the busy street, glowing lampposts cutting through murky lighting. Shadows whizzed in the air. Shapes of all different sizes flew about, crying out and clashing against each other. One opened a pair of shining wings against the dark horizon. It was the unmistakable outline of an angel.

Seraphim and devilkin engaged in a bloody war as the clueless passerby below mosied along brightly lit sidewalks.

A malignant spirit roared triumphantly. Somewhere in the distance, mournful bells tolled. A divine guardian plummeted to the ground, showering cars and people in a cascade of gleaming yellow gore. Unwitting strangers stepped over the broken corpse and played on their phones.

The archdemon swooped down and sunk wicked talons into a middle aged man unlocking his car. He dropped the keys and stiffened, jaw hanging open. Pulling the man closer, the hulking creature stuck his barbed tongue down the man's throat. Undulating rapidly, the hellish entity seemed to shrink, as if the man was sucking the demon into himself like a vacuum cleaner. After the scaly tail slithered down his gullet, the gentleman seemed nothing more than a blank slate.

He blinked and wiped a slimy mouth. Then the possessed man got in his car and drove by my house, flashing a lecherous leer in passing.

I observed hundreds in the heavens, each fighting over a single immortal soul. Was this what the serpent meant? The events that couldn't be stopped? Feeling nothing but dread, I began racing down the street towards August's house. Was his soul in danger too? Would I be too late to help?

A chubby baby head with hairy spider legs squealed as it jumped out of an alleyway. I sprang aside, knocking over trash cans. The abomination giggled and gave chase. Sticky web shot out from its mouth, narrowly missing my legs.

I hopped over a fence. There was a whooshing sound from the sky. I ducked as a pair of six winged seraphim dove down and plucked the squirming imp away. They flew in opposite directions, tearing the creature apart.

There was no chance to catch my breath.

I pushed on, forcing my limbs into action, struggling against the urge to find a safe hiding spot and waiting for all this to blow over. Vern wouldn't want me to be a coward. He'd be out here busting skulls and taking wings. I wished he was. Probably would've had a blast with this chaos. And I wouldn't feel quite so vulnerable under his watchful eye.

A toad with human arms clambered up the side of a building, yellow eyes rolling as the amphibian tracked the winged messengers clashing above. It spat a gob of viscous phlegm, catching an angel in mid flight. The holy being wailed, tumbling into the malicious embrace of a succubus who had squirming centipedes for hair. She bent over her prey, writhing insects feeding on the prize.

I skipped over a massive slug oozing goo. A celestial sword jutted from the dying devil, mortal wound gifted by an heavenly opponent. Pulling the weapon free, I made a face. The blade was covered in foul sludge, which I wiped off on a nearby tree.

Footsteps pattered behind me. Whirling, I held the weapon out against the unknown threat.

Three little children gazed with unblinking eyes, charcoal sockets watching my movements. They grinned and revealed rows of jagged fangs. "Want to play soccer?" A girl asked innocently. Her brother chimed in, his voice raspy and hoarse. "You can be the ball. Give us your head."

Gritting my teeth, I held my ground as the ominous trio advanced.

An armored archangel drifted to the ground behind them, holding an ivory spear aloft. "Spawn of Satan," He commanded. "Your quarrel is with me."

Clicking their tongues in irritation, the black-eyed children turned away to face their new adversary. "Run along, lady. We'll catch up later," The boy snickered. He didn't have to tell me twice.

I fled towards August's house, desperately praying he was still under the protection of his divine guardian.

Eyes blinked from a fleshy blob perched atop a streetlamp. Dozens of retinas met my gaze, squinting at the quivering sword I clenched. It pulsed silently. Veins throbbing, watching me back into the alley nearby. The amorphous fiend shifted slightly and formed limbs which began stretching downward as it seeped around the metal pole.

"Fuck. That." I shuddered, spinning away from the revolting creature. My feet quickened, pulling me down the dim pathway, frantically flying over potholes and debris in my need to escape from this hellscape. Was there was nowhere I could go?

Someone, please take me away from this. Where are you Vern? Why did you leave me just when I needed you most?

I wiped away the growing sorrow, despair spilling out over my hasty makeup. So much for looking presentable.

My phone showed that August was only a few streets away, a mere few thousand feet between me and uncertain sanctuary. That is, if I can even reach him. My legs felt weak. Too heavy to move, too exhausted to make the perilous journey. My heart weighed on me as well. Loss wrenched at my chest, a gaping hole threatening to consume everything.

Stumbling through the alley, I rubbed my face and grit my teeth as flames flickered, light waving over the shadows at the end of the gloomy passageway.

"Come on then," I snarled. "What more do want from me?"

The molten being raised its arms and beckoned. I lifted the shining blade.

Trash drifted over the alleyway, crumbled newspapers tumbling between the incandescent creature and me.

I clenched my weapon, standing firm against the glowing foe. It took a heavy step forward. The ground shook with the impact, concrete bubbling and melting away from its blistering feet. Swallowing anxiously, I bared my teeth defiantly. My puffy eyes darted around, searching for an escape route, a distraction, something I could use against this igneous beast. I took a tentative step back, wanting to keep the gap between us.

A scorching hand lifted, dripping liquid fire. It swiped at the empty air. My eyes widened, jolting my body out of the way.

Blazing fluid splashed on the ground beside me, red-hot embers splattering on the dumpster I stood before a split second ago. I flinched as tiny flecks sizzled on my skin. The metal container caved on itself, noxious smoke billowing forth while garbage and steel slowly disintegrated beneath the sweltering substance.

The entity rumbled. Was it gloating? Angry? It was impossible to see any features beneath that blinding inferno. The atmosphere wavered as my adversary moved closer. Raising both arms in the air, the lambent monster prepared another deadly barrage.

Wet slithering grew from the shadows. I didn't dare turn my head away to see what it was, fearing the distraction would rustle in me becoming a charred corpse. A meaty tendril crept into the corner of my vision. The blob was nearly upon me.

I was caught, pinned between two unthinkable threats. Another fleshy arm protruded on my right, eyes opening, lopsided teeth grinning. The phosphorescent being swung its flaming limbs.

Left with no other option, I closed my eyes and dove forward.

Rolling beneath the searing spray, I felt the heat singe my neck and back as it passed over me. A few drops fell onto my clothes, setting them ablaze. I tumbled on the ground, beating at the devouring flames as a ear-piercing squeal assaulted my hearing.

Whatever that horrid blobby thing was, it definitely didn't appreciate a scalding shower. Flailing countless appendages, it flopped around, crackling and popping while an unholy stench of roasted gristle flooded the alleyway. Greasy fumes combined with the smoking dumpster, clouding the dim alley.

Scrambling to my feet, I danced away from the molten brute and sprinted towards the salvation of flickering streetlights.

A wave of conflagration cascaded before me. I screeched to a halt, nearly falling into knee-high flames as they erupted before the exit.

I looked back to witness the glowing entity vomit another yellow magma stream, clipping my sword. The weapon dissolved instantly. Liquid metal ran down the blade, nearly spilling over my hands. I tossed it aside, backing away as the inferno rose even higher.

Sweat trickled down my face. Was this how my story ended? Would someone recognize my ashes and deliver them to next of kin? I just wanted to see August one last time...

Horns blared. Twin headlights shone through the hungry blaze.

I hugged the wall as a blue sedan burst through the fire, engine whining in protest. Demons were swarming the car, they hung from the roof and doors, smashing on windows as they tried to get at the person within. I locked eyes with an angel grimacing in the passenger seat. One arm was wrapped protectively around the elderly driver and the other was frantically stabbing at the hellish assailants with an ornate dagger.

And then... the moment passed.

The fire elemental growled thunderously right before the car slammed into it. Sparks flew. Fiends wailed. Metal screeched.

I cowered as glass shards pelted my body, covering my face from the tiny razors. When the barrage stopped, I peered through my defenses.

Winged abominations lay scattered about, several still clinging to the crumpled vehicle and dazedly shaking their heads. The car motor sputtered and died. It had split in two, warped hood congealing around the flaming pillar buried in the engine block.

Inside the vehicle, the angel frantically struggled to free the driver.

Instinctively, I took a step forward to help the wounded passenger before I understood the enormity of that decision. The forces of hell were momentarily occupied. Wouldn’t this be the best chance to escape and save my own skin?

Glancing back at the rapidly diminishing flames, I swallowed painfully and gnawed on my lip. What would Vern do? Half imagining he was still here, I heard that familiar rasp in my mind.

You crazy, kid? Get outta dodge before they crack wise and take you as a prisoner of war. And that’s the BEST case scenario.

I ran my grimy fingers through tangled and singed hair, agonizing over the dilemma before my feet began to move. They took me through the fire, dancing over the burning pavement and fleeing the deadly gauntlet that nearly claimed my life.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, tears falling as I abandoned the accident. Loathing my selfish cowardice, I quickened my pace into an unsteady sprint. Was there nothing I could do to stop this? How many innocents would suffer because of me? All I was able to accomplish was burying guilt and fleeing the consequences, something I’d done countless times before.

Streetlights flickered ominously, blinking in uneven intervals. Flashes illuminated prone forms slumped against sidewalks, laying in the street, splayed across battle-torn lawns. My foot slid in a patch of blood, nearly losing my balance and crashing into a hulking figure feeding on an unrecognizable carcass. It paid no attention to me, slurping on the feast as golden ichor dripped from a putrid maw.

Gingerly, I crept around the beast and furtively searched my jacket pockets in search of my phone, praying that August was only a few houses away. Why had I chosen to wear skinny jeans? The coarse fabric chafed my thighs, unsuited to frantically racing away from proverbial and literal demons.

My cell had vanished. Fallen somewhere in the chaos. Retrieving it was unthinkable, but how was I to know which house belonged to my hazel eyed savior? Would he rescue me from this nightmare or would I be turned away at the door? I didn’t want to imagine that outcome.

I felt dizzy, legs seemingly light. Was I walking or floating over the ground? It wouldn’t be long before I collapsed, my feverish body giving up the fight, unable to carry on.

House numbers swam before me. I gazed at them dully, uncomprehending the strings of numbers. Not even a last name on the mailboxes, a tiny clue I could latch on to in my swelling despair. A crucifix hung on a white porch.

His house was like an infernal monastery. Statues and candles out the ass.

Hoping beyond hope, I staggered through the iron wrought gate and tripped up the stairs, spilling onto the wooden deck. Lush plants waved at me, flower pots framing the entrance. A virgin Mary smiled beatifically among the leaves of an Egyptian Fern.

I laughed hysterically. Relief washed over me, mixed with disbelief that I’d actually made it. Not only had I gone to Hell, but I somehow brought it back with me and still succeeded in reaching my destination. Vern would have been proud.

Now the final obstacle lay above. The doorbell gleamed, beckoning to be pressed and summon help in the form of a messy haired boy. Gods, I couldn’t wait to see him.

Struggling to my feet, I leaned against the wall and caught my breath. I didn’t want to know how I looked. I didn’t care. August would think I was insane but I knew he’d at least hear me out before passing judgement.

Taking a deep breath, I reached out for the doorbell.

A hand shot out. My fingers were caught in a vise-like grip, squeezing painfully tight as a cold voice interrupted my fleeting bliss.

“Just what do YOU think you’re doing here?”

August’s flaxen haired guardian yanked me away from the door. Narrowing her sky-blue eyes, the angel looked me up and down with a sneer of disgust. I struggled feebly against her, unable to budge.

“Always the meddlesome type. You don’t know when to take a hint, huh?” The divine being shoved me away from the entrance. I fell into a painful heap, crying out softly. Crossing her arms, the seraph loomed above me like a holy sentinel.

I shied from her harsh gaze, unwilling to confront that righteous anger. Maybe she was right. If I dragged August into my world, what nasty outcome awaited him?

She leaned down, forcing me to look at her perfect features. “Where’s your little friend? Did he fill your head with empty lies and leave you to the mercy of his kin? Suits you right.”

Unable to rise to her spiteful tone, I hugged my knees and buried my face in them. “He’s dead.” I choked, feeling the lump in my throat return.

“How about that. Sounds like Heaven is ensuring the blemished receive their comeuppance at long last.” She straightened smugly. Folding her shimmering wings, the angel turned away and ran an eye over the remnants of anarchy playing out.

“It won’t be long now,” My tormentor sighed wistfully. “Soon I will be walking through the gates of Paradise with August as my side. He will be mine for all eternity, while you will enjoy bathing in Hellfire.”

She laughed musically, sweet notes mocking with their immaculate pitch. Then the guardian turned, an unpleasant grin twisting her face into a mask of cruel delight. Picking me up, she cocked her head and pretended to mull over my fate.

“Now then, what shall we do with you?”

Before I discovered the answer, the front door swung open. August barged out, flushed with fury. I blinked slowly, astonished at his outrage. It wasn’t like him.

“Put Bell down NOW, Laila!’ He barked. August was trembling, nostrils flaring as his chest heaved. Brown curls tumbled around that beet-red face, framing a temper I was never witness to.

Laila flinched guiltily. Licking her lips, she tightened her hold on my jacket. “Why should I? You don’t know the half of what she’s-”

“I didn’t ask you to explain yourself. I told you to put her down.” August tightened his jaw. “If you don’t, I’ll commit a mortal sin right now.”

She gasped, cerulean eyes widening. “You… you wouldn’t dare!”

“I’ll do it.” He grimaced. “You can visit me in Limbo with the other lost souls if you don’t do what I say.”

Snarling angrily, she dropped me to the porch. “Have it your way. But don’t expect me to sit by when she starts flapping her forked tongue.”

Glaring at me, the angel flapped her wings and took to the air. “This isn’t over, Jezebel.”

August watched her fly off, shedding a few glowing feathers which drifted over the deck. He turned back, anger fading into a look of concern.

“Are you okay? What happened? It looks like you had one heck of day.”

I laughed bitterly. “You don’t know the half of it.”

He gently helped me to my woozy footing, placing a steadying arm around my shoulders. “Let’s get you cleaned up first. Come on, I’ll get you something warm to drink too.”

“Got any whiskey? I could use a pick me up right about now,” I winced.

August chuckled softly. “I’ll make it a double.”

As I hobbled into the refuge of his home, I couldn’t help but wonder if this wasn’t my biggest challenge yet. Would he believe my story? Was I making a giant mistake coming here? And would I have the courage to tell him my true feelings?

The door swung close, shutting out the terrors outside and bringing me into a new realm of fearful uncertainties.
© Copyright 2021 Sire, Yer Craven (rig0rm0rtis at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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