A memory flashes in my head, no not the bad ones that I so desperately wish to forget. Rather, this one is one one of the very few peaceful memories I find hard to come by.
I remember gazing out the window through the swollen eyes of my thirteen year old self, giddy with excitement as my finger subcounsiously bunched up the ends of my plaid skirt. The windows of the Mercedes car my father had bought that week was rolled down, allowing the crisp Sunday morning air slap wildly at my face.
I remember the car skidding to a stop and my mother rushing over to my side to help me out, smiling gently at me as her nimble fingers worked to quickly brush back my wild strands of hair.
I also remember sitting at the very front of the church, my smile never fading as I listened to the preacher's powerful voice booming loudly from the speakers.
I remember his words that Sunday before the service was dismissed.
— “Only those who have sinned without repentance till the day our Lord comes will be banished to hell.”
Now gazing at the masked figured before me, I can't help but scowl, my brows furrowing as I look at him whilst trying to find maybe a crack in his facade.
I purse my lips when I'm unsuccessful, the preacher's words echoing in my head repeatedly.
My words are but a broken whisper, the clogs in my head are turning. Trying to find the missing piece in my memories that have failed me once more. I can't remember anything from the previous night, everything after the thunderstorm is a messy blur of colors and fog. My head begins to hurt, starting out as a small bang in my head.
“I'm in hell." I whisper incredulously, my eyes bouncing from the concrete floor to the pillars of the vast hall, and then back to the hooded figures who all have their gazes on me. Everything is real. My skin crawls from the attention as fear courses through my veins along with the blood pumping into my organs until I can't help but stumble back from the overload of emotions.
I— as in, Seren Caruso is in hell. Looking at his stoic posture and lack or mirth, it's easy to tell that he's not one to joke around.
A strong squeeze on my shoulder blade has a shrill scream ripping from my lips as I attempt to jerk away from the ugly creature who I forgot was behind me in the first place.
But before I can escape his hold, he firmly places another hand on my other arm and tugs me back in front of him, barely acknowledging my efforts to wiggle my way out as he keeps his eyes locked in front of him. The horse like creature neither moves an inch nor makes a noise of protest at my actions.
"I'm glad you're beginning to understand things a bit more, although I would suggest you tone down the screaming a bit. Keep that for when you're sent down the pit." His words successfully draw my attention back to him.
"But I'm not supposed to be here. I thought hell was for sinners?" I snap, voice laced with disbelief and frustration.
My brows are furrowed, semi pissed and yet fearful of what this place and these people hold for me. I can't help but wonder if I am dead.
His next words are smug, "and who said you haven't sinned?"
He doesn't stop there, no. His lips keep moving, his gaze unwavering from mine as he recites several instances from the top of his head.
"October 2, 1986 you stole two gumdrops from your stepmother's purse, even after she directly warned you not to touch them. Christmas Eve 1990, you broke the star for the Christmas tree and lied about it, blatantly blamed it on poor Heidi. September 18, 1990, failed to do homework and lied that you were sick with a terrible life-threatening disease. On the same date, you lied to your teacher again after you were caught-"
"Okay okay, I get it. I was a very rebellious child."
Obviously not agreeing with the statement, he carried on. "Valentine's day 1998, you committed fornication with a male human of no relation binding the both of you," I laugh at the term used.
"You know you could've just said I fucked someone."
He only hums.
I watch as he glides around, movement fluid like flowing water and he finally takes a seat on the throne, his arms leisurely hanging off the ledge of the arm rest.
Moments pass with the hooded figures looking at me, I meet their stares head on. Until finally he breaks the silence. "Do you know what you did that warranted your presence here?"
He clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth, leaning back in his chair. “You've disrupted the natural order of the cosmos. There's a reason why your particular village was ordered to remain indoors during the blue moon especially at that hour, and by violating that one law you've somehow managed to throw the entire universe into a state of confusion."
"I did what?" My mouth is wide agape.
He continues, "for the next few years, humans will experience a series of unfortunate events that will have them questioning a lot of theories about the world they think they know. Such as a change in the climate of their realm, an unexplainable chain of sightings and occurrences. Humans who haven't given up their spirits aren't usually allowed to pass through the borders of the underworld but yet here you are."
He gestured to my unhurt frame in mock jest, "—alive and thriving."
Does that mean I didn't die? Thank holy fuck!
"How did I get here?" I ask.
He heaves a heavy sigh then replies in a bored tone. "You were sucked into one of our many ancient portals during the time frame in which you were caught in the storm."
"So... Can I be sent back through one of the portals then?" I drawl out uncertainly, yet a glimmer of hope sparks.