The Judge of Souls
I'm standing on my back porch, a cold wind blowing through my thick black hair. I don't really know why I'm standing outside, I guess I suddenly got the urge to get some air.
As I stare off into my empty yard, I start to look back on my life so far. I lived a fairly normal life with fairly normal parents. I was an only child so I was guaranteed to get all of my parents' attention whenever I wanted it. I never really had any long-term friends that I can think of, and I still don't have any. I consider myself a loner, so I'm perfectly happy being alone for long periods of time. I'd be lying if I said I didn't ever get lonely, though.
Come to think of it, my life wasn't so bad. I was about the closest to true happiness that one might get. At least until both of my parents died, that is. They were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver who was in the wrong lane hitting us head-on. I was the only survivor of the crash. Most people would call it lucky that I survived, but I completely disagree. I think it would've been better had I died in that accident.
The reason I say that is because my life has only gone downhill from that point onward. I lost all my motivation to keep moving forward and shut myself indoors for a whole year. Days would go by where I wouldn't eat anything, only doing the bare minimum to keep myself alive. I'm not sure if I did it for some kind of self-mutilation, but it was agonizing.
Even now that I've gotten over that whole phase, I'm only surviving off of the money they left me. They had a pretty hefty amount saved up for their retirement funds, so I have enough to survive a few years without having to work. However, that's another problem. Think about it. I don't have a job, I'm not in college, I don't have any friends and I hardly ever leave my house. That's right, I'm a full-blown NEET.
I let out a sigh. The world is scary. I don't want to leave the safety of my home. I don't want to become a corporate slave for the rest of my life. I'm lost...
"Maybe I should just die." I mutter under my breath.
"That's right..." An eerie voice whispers into my ear.
I sharply inhale before turning around, only to be met with a sharp pain in my chest. As I look at the creature's face, it smiles at me with razor-like teeth. It's horrifying, to say the least. I feel something warm running down my stomach, and I look down to see a massive blade lodged inside my body.
"You're right, you should just die..."
The monster lets out a wicked laugh before quickly retracting the blade back into its hand. I fall to the floor, struggling to breathe as my blood splatters across the wooden decking.
Shit... Is this really how I die? I feel like I'm going to pass out, and it seems like I'm losing blood quickly... Fuck, I can't... Breathe...
It doesn't take long for me to lose consciousness. He probably pierced one of my lungs. But... Why am I still able to think? Shouldn't I be dead right about now?
I open my eyes, only to find myself in a place that I've never seen before. It's a long hallway with a single door at the end. I turn my head to look behind me, but there's just a mysterious dark void on this end. I begin walking down the strange hall while observing the walls around me. I notice that there are a number of famous paintings hanging up. Some of them I immediately recognize. Caravaggio's "The Entombment of Christ," Van Gogh's "Sorrowing Old Man at Eternity's Gate," and Kramskoy's "Inconsolable Grief."
It seems like all of the artwork has something to do with death. How fitting. I took an art class in high school, so I know quite a bit about famous artworks. Setting that aside, I finally reach the end of the hallway. A set of antique wooden doors stand before me. I hesitate for a moment before reaching my hand out to grasp the handle, pushing it as the doors slowly creak open.
Inside is a small room that appears to be some kind of office, with a man sitting at a desk right in the middle. The man has a pale complexion with white hair and pinkish-colored eyes. An albino, maybe?
"Ah, Mr. Irwin!" Says the man before glancing at a silver watch on his wrist. "A few minutes late, but no matter. Come sit." He motions toward a chair on the opposite side of his desk.
Slightly stunned, I quietly oblige and take a seat.
The man picks up a stack of papers from in front of him and starts flipping through them, muttering different names as he goes. "Iris, Iron, Iruma... What strange names these humans have... Ah, there it is! Irwin!"
He picks a paper from the stack and sets it down in front of him before throwing the others to the side. Instead of falling to the floor, the papers seemingly vanished into thin air.
"Cayden James Irwin, nickname CJ, age 19, no living relatives, blood type AB-... That's a pretty rare type, you know?" The man says with a mischievous smile.
"So I've been told... Um, who are you?"
The man laughs. "Goodness, I nearly forgot to introduce myself!" He stands up and leans into a bow. "My name is Cato, guardian of Purgatory and supreme judge of souls. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
I blankly stare at him. "Right... Are you gonna explain what's going on or..?"
Cato plops back into his chair and puts his hands together. "Very well. You are currently dead, and this is the dimension that connects your world to Purgatory, or as you humans call it, 'Hell.'"
I open my mouth to say something, but Cato holds his finger in the air. "Before you say anything, I have an offer to make you." He leans back in his chair. "I will revive you as a demon, but you will have to do some... work... for me."
I raise an eyebrow. "Work? What's that supposed to mean?"
"Very recently, the seal that prevents the demons in Hell from crossing over onto Earth was temporarily broken." Cato crosses his arms. "This caused a small legion of demons to find their way out, and they are now wreaking havoc wherever they please. This is obviously a huge issue for the balance between life and death."
"And what exactly does this have to do with me?" I say in a harsh tone.
"You were killed by one of these very demons, no? Perhaps you'd like... Revenge?"
"No thanks." I say. "If anything, I'm grateful to that demon for putting me out of my misery."
Cato sighs. "Alright, I didn't want to have to play this card, but..." Cato stands up from his desk. "Either you get revived and hunt down all the demons, or I sentence you to eternal suffering in purgatory."
I go silent for a moment so as to not lose my cool. "Okay, I'll bite. Let's say I revive and manage to find one of these demons. What then?"
Cato smirks. "Kill them, of course."