The Clock and the Moon
It was pitch black in the room. Although it was New York, the city that never sleeps, Zoe couldn’t even hear a car honking or a buzzing light from an advertisement panel. There were many sources of noise around the building and yet her apartment was in total silence.
Zoe was in bed, sleeping. She had work to do and a boy who could see ghosts was not enough to pull her astray. She chose to ignore the paranormal when she moved all the way to America. Temptation was everywhere, at each living person she could see two ghosts and most of them were wandering with no purpose.
“You can give them purpose, Zoe. You can push them all into Hell just like you pushed me into the Abyss!”
Zoe’s eyes widened at the voice. She jolted and looked all around herself but she was alone. The shadows forming on the ground where only of trees and the pattern on her curtains. She got back in bed and pulled the covers all the way up to her nose, afraid of what she was going to dream if she went back to sleep.
“I think the pills are not strong enough,” Zoe told her therapist the next day during their early meeting.
“Did you have a nightmare?”
That was the beginning of a long day, Dr Saunders could feel it. The session started with the one subject Zoe hated and feared.
“Those red eyes, they haunt me even when I’m awake. They’re always there, always watching my every move. He is waiting, plotting his revenge.” Zoe said fidgeting on the couch. Her mouth went dry only at the mention of him so she took the plastic cup and drank half of the water in it.
“I heard you speak before of these eyes, haven’t I? What is so scary about them?” Dr Saunders asked, her pen and notebook ready.
“When you look into them, you lose sight of reality. They are beautiful, mesmerizing and they show you who you truly are.” Zoe explained looking ahead as if she was in a trance.
“And what do you see?”
Zoe sighed and looked down at the table. She didn’t have to look into his eyes in order to see her true self; she could do it by looking into a mirror. The monster was there, dormant for now, but not gone. Never gone.
The therapist watched Zoe caress her cheek softly before she almost looked like she wanted to scratch herself.
“I see hatred. I see his desire to use me in order accomplish his grand plans. I pushed him into the darkness so I am afraid he will push me into it too.” She finally gave an answer.
“Then why don’t you protect yourself? Use a shield.”
“My shield...is gone.” Zoe said, those blue eyes growing so sad.
“Then find another one. What’s stopping you?”
Zoe looked up confused.
“Another one? It’s not that easy.”
“Maybe it is. Maybe you should let yourself have another shield.”
The therapist meant well but Zoe was sure she couldn’t drag another innocent soul into her darkness. Too many people died because of her.
On the other side of the city, one former journalist entered the Central Library of New York, searching for answers. He went straight to the dusty corner, the one about religion. He could have stayed there for the whole day and nothing helpful would ever appear.
“Can I ask what you are searching for, sir?” The little plump librarian asked him.
Caleb ignored her at first but seeing how he had five books spread in front of him and nothing about the commander, he decided to accept her help.
“I heard there are stories about demons having children. I’d like to see some of them, particularly about the Commander.” He spoke about the subject with such ease, as if normal people, especially Christians, wouldn’t feel appalled by his curiosities.
The librarian stared at him for a while before she pushed her glasses up her nose and sighed.
“There is always one of you coming here looking for that,” she sounded used to it.
“Did more people come for this book?”
“It’s a fairy-tale book, one less known by the public written by one of the Grimm brothers.” She said and made a sign for him to follow her.
Caleb’s eyes widened as he walked up to the children corner. The librarian pointed at a dusty book that sat mysteriously on the tallest shelf so that people weren’t even aware of it.
“The Moon and the Clock. Every young man and woman that touched it during my stay here has vanished three days after reading it.”
Caleb’s interest only intensified, his dark black eyes gleaming with excitement. The librarian shook her head and left swiftly, not wanting to witness his downfall.
Caleb was a tall and lanky man but he still needed the lather in order to reach the book. He patted it softly and smiled as he caressed the handmade cover. It really was very old so he took care to handle it safely.
Once he sat down, he made himself comfortable and read it out loud.
Once upon a time, in a village at the edge of the woods, there lived a woman. Helga was her name, her smile was as radiant as the moon, her eyes always gleaming in the darkness like two stars. But no matter how many suitors tried to steal her heart, none succeeded. What Helga loved the most were roses. She had a garden full of red roses where she spent most of her days. One day, she grabbed a rose by its thorns and cut herself. She moved quickly to wash it away in the pond that run behind her house. When she dipped her hand in the cold water, something grabbed her. Afraid, Helga leaned back and watched as a man surfaced and walked on water towards her.
“Your beauty is renown even in the land not of this world,” he said grabbing her hand. “I couldn’t help come and see you for myself.”
“Who are you?” She asked.
The man laughed and covered his eyes with her hand. Once uncovered, she looked into the eyes of autumn itself.
“They call me many names, Beelzebub is one of them.”
“Holy shit,” Caleb mumbled.
From that day on, Beelzebub came every day, rising from the water, from the dirt or even from within air. Helga was entranced by him but the other villagers were horrified. A demon, they called him. A great lord of demons that rose from Hell in order to find himself a bride. So one day, Helga asked him.
“Are you a bad man? Are you who they call The Lord of the Flies?”
“I am if you want me to be. I can be your best dream or your worst nightmare.” He answered her.
Helga held his hand in hers and smiled. Those blue eyes that always shone with purity held such discrepancy to the dead yellow eyes of the one she loved.
“Will you come to me until the end of my days? Or will you forget about me once my existence ends?”
Beelzebub caressed her beautiful face with a sad smile.
“I’m afraid my time on this land is very short.” Helga looked down and a tear slipped down her cheek. “I know why you want me to stay. I know what changes are happening inside your body.”
Helga started crying.
“This will be a hated child, a hunted child...the villagers...”
Beelzebub grabbed her hand and placed something small in her palm. It was a pocket watch made of silver with an intricate pattern on the lid that seemed to have no beginning or end composed of thorns. Inside, in the middle of the screen was a rose made of white gold. The dial shone in the sunlight and then Helga noticed that although the watch functioned, the minute hand never stopped when the time was sharp, it was either forward or backward by a minute.
“If anything bad ever happens, force the minute hand on the right time. I will come immediately.”
Thankfully, Helga gave birth to her daughter on a full moon with the help of only one lady from the village. The little girl looked and acted normal so nothing happened for a long time. The child grew to be as beautiful as her mother and she had many friends. But one day, the village children pushed her on the ground in fear.
“Your eyes!” They screamed. “Your eyes are yellow!”
Although Helga forgot, or maybe never considered Beelzebub to be a demon, the villagers did not. The girl was still just a child, 10 years alive and many believed her father to be someone from another village. But once she awoke her second nature, the villagers panicked. The church men came to take her that night.
“Give us the little devil!” They screamed and barged inside the house.
“My daughter is not evil!” Helga cried hugging her daughter.
“Give it to us! We shall burn the witch!”
“She is not evil! She is not evil!” Helga screamed and begged but it was in vain.
Remembering the pocket watch, she pulled it out from under her bed and forced the minute hand on the time: it was 9:00 PM sharp. Flames engulfed the house and flies surrounded it. Nobody knows what happened inside, they only remember the red haired man holding his daughter tightly as he walked over the dead bodies of the priests. Helga died that night. What Beelzebub didn’t tell her was that once used, the pocket watch will steal her life as sacrifice. Demons do not give anything for free and they do not react well when their possessions are endangered.
“This...is not what I imagined it to be like...” Caleb mumbled rubbing his forehead.
“Well, the times were different.” Mepalham appeared and commented over his shoulder. “So, what did you learn from this story?”
“That you don’t mess with Beelzebub?”
“Of course you don’t. What else?”
“He had a daughter with a woman he more or less killed. He didn’t tell her of what will happen the moment she uses that pocket watch. And this final sentence, it sounds so much like a warning.”
“That pocket watch is the alert button in case of emergencies for the commander. Beelzebub never protected Helga, he protected his child. And so, we come to the year 2020.” Mepalham explained as he sat on the table in front of the young man.
Caleb blinked, the dots still not connecting in his mind.
“So Zoe is the daughter of Beelzebub reincarnated-”
“No, actually, he randomly picks who will be born with the mark. He found Zoe to be particularly interesting. She awoke her gift when she was 10, just like the original. Grimm only wrote about what he had heard, he was never there to witness it. How could he, though? It happened long before he was born. But he was a weird human and dug deep in order to find traces of the commander.”
“So Zoe is dangerous. Elijah already warned me against becoming her new best friend and yet here I am, following your instructions.”
Caleb was really interesting and witty. Mepalham quite liked him compared to other humans around Zoe, he was a lot more proactive and open.
“Take that book with you and read it. There are more stories you should know about. Sometimes the enemies are not the ones that have blood on their hands.” The demon said and smiled sarcastically.
“Are you done, sir?” The librarian asked coming to check on the boy. “Were you talking to someone? I heard voices.” She asked checking the perimeter. Mepalham was already gone.
“Just talking to myself. Anyway, I’d like to borrow this,” He replied closing the book and waving it lightly in front of the librarian.
The woman sighed but then again, she knew some way or another the book will find its way back in a few days.
Caleb walked out into the world with new found entertainment. He couldn't believe what he had in his hand, moreover how dark the fairy-tales were. He was a Disney kid, he loved Barbie movies even if he was a boy and he was an overly positive and optimistic man. Therefore, when he passed a woman with a huge tattoo on her arm -she was wearing revealing clothes even if it was chilly outside- that said Asmodeus in red, he couldn't help but follow her.