CODEX Part 4: Among the Living

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The Lair of a Fake

When detective Roberts entered the precinct, he was in a state of meditation. He was still groggy, still not in the mood for work or people and especially not in the mood for working with people.

“Morning, Goldylocks!” He said and waved at the young officer who quickly rose and ran after his boss.

“Um-so, someone came by an hour or so ago and left a present for-” Rory couldn’t finish his sentence because Roberts opened the door to his office and a vase of dark red roses welcomed the two men.

“What’s this?” Asked the detective turning to Goldberg.

“The present for Miss Lestrade. I took the liberty of getting a vase and placing them on the desk. It brightens the room, doesn’t it?”

Roberts blinked in astonishment. He was speechless so without even thinking of a reply, he stepped in his office and closed the door in Rory’ face. He walked to his desk and sat down, his eyes never leaving the flowers.

“I need a strawberry lollipop,” he mumbled before he opened the lowest drawer, where he had all his spares. Once he put it in his mouth, the corners of his eyes curled as his whole expression lifted. “So much better.”


By the time Zoe arrived at the precinct, she was already feeling very paranoid. Dreaming of Lucifer was not the best way of starting a day, especially when his voice was resonating in the dark as if he was really communicating with her from the Abyss. She was one second away from entering the building when someone grabbed her hand and spun her around.

“I found something,” Caleb Miller started with a satisfied expression. “I found a pub and you have to see it in order to believe it.”

“I do know what a pub is, I’ve been in one before.” She mumbled feeling like there wasn’t enough energy in her body to shove him away.

“Not in one where people have sex,” he whispered, his eyes widening so much that they looked like they were about to pop out.

“That’s called a brothel or a strip club. I never had a reason to enter one nor the desire to try it out. Are they even open? It’s barely 11 o’clock.” She continued finally squirming out of his grasp.

“You don’t understand, it’s important for the case. There’s something paranormal happening there. The pub’s called LUST. How crazy is that?!”

In all sincerity, Zoe was not impressed. There were worse names out there.


The pub that both impressed and scared Caleb was all the way in Bronx and they were in Manhattan. The whole way there felt as if she was being dragged into a sect by an incredibly devoted cult member, which wasn’t that far fetched. Caleb was dressed in black latex pants and an over-sized shirt with a leopard print on it. Luckily it was covered by a leather jacket which really gave him a balance between crazy rich boy and serious journalist with flair.

On the other side, Zoe was dressed in a long cream skirt and a white tank top. Her jacket was just a normal one that looked more like a blazer. Their styles did not match, and neither did their personalities, and yet Zoe couldn’t escape Caleb.

The subway ride was probably the worst. Many people meant many ghosts and demons and dark fairies and they were speaking at once which had Zoe close her eyes just so that she could focus on herself.

Caleb noticed her shifting around and kept her as close as possible, going as far as grabbing her hand. But Caleb was not strong enough to calm her down.

“How can the princess feel safe without her knight?”

Zoe opened her eyes and gasped as she clearly heard Lucifer’s voice. It wasn’t a dream, she was wide awake and yet she heard him. Unconsciously, she grasped Caleb’s hand drawing his attention.

“Is a ghost bothering you? They are very chatty this time of the day, especially in the subway.” He whispered knowing she was already shaken up without having humans stare at them as if they were creeps.

“I’m fine.”

But she wasn’t. The one thing that could make her feel alright was not there.

Once they arrived in a back alley with no lights or security cameras around, Zoe sighed heavily. It already looked suspicious and she hasn’t even entered yet.

“Look at the door, they have something on it. Is it a demon sign?” Caleb asked pointing at the glued paper. It really was just that, something drawn on a piece of paper and then hung on the door.

“Let’s just get this over with and go back to what matters.” She said with a sarcastic smile.

The first impression when she entered was that it really smelled like sex. Every step further inside made her feel like she intruded into somebody’s sex lair. They sat at the bar and a very cute bartender joined them.

“First time at LUST?” He asked with a grin.

“Sure,” Was Zoe’s short answer. “I want water, please. I still have to return to work.”

The bartender chuckled and turned to Caleb.

“And for the attractive gentleman?”

Caleb seemed too joyful with that assessment. Zoe rolled her eyes and spoke before he could.

“Water. Two waters would be fabulous.”

Caleb opened his mouth but one glance at Zoe and he knew there was no fight. He tried to say a word or two but found himself unable against those blue eyes of hers.

“This looks like a normal pub. The smell is horrible but I don’t see anyone having sex.” She commented leaning towards Caleb.

“Not yet. For all we know, they could be hiding from us.”

“They who?”

“The lust demons,” Caleb whispered glancing suspiciously at the bartender. He only glanced back and winked to which Caleb grabbed Zoe’s wrist. “See? He’s eyeing me. He wants to eat me later.”

Zoe placed her available, and marked, hand over Caleb’s and patted it softly.

“I’m pretty sure he would like to eat you now. Both ways.”

It took Caleb a minuted to realize what Zoe was implying and his blush was the rosiest she had ever seen.

“Here’s your water. Hope you’ll enjoy it... and the rest,”

Caleb was ready to drink it in one shot but Zoe stopped him. She smelled it first before she threw it at the head of the bartender. He caught it easily and chuckled darkly.

“You’re not hiding yourself properly, are you? Hygiene is important when you work as a human. This glass stinks of sperm.”

Caleb sniffed before he gagged at the way the water looked. Definitely unwashed.

“Why wash it when it will only be dirtied again?” The bartender asked leaning towards them. He was right in front of Caleb whose eyes widened at the pretty and seemingly perfect man standing so close. “Wouldn’t you like to have some fun? All that work and stress can shorten your life, you know?”

“What would a low class demon even know?” Zoe asked pushing his face away from Caleb.

He did not like to be called low class because he snarled in the most beastly way at her. His pupils disappeared in the back of his head and his tongue forked in two.

“You aren’t even a lust demon. How did you escape Satan?” She asked calmly although she really wanted to run on the inside. She said several times that she was done with Hell and yet here she was. “You know what, never mind. I don’t care, this is not my problem. Let’s go, Caleb.”

“But-”

She was already half way to the front door when she heard Caleb gasp.

“Bye, bye then. I will treat your friend nicely.” The demon slurred as he walked and sat behind Caleb. “Oh my, I do like them young and fresh. And I’ll keep your blood to paint the basement later on. I’m sure it’s a bright, bright red colour.”

Zoe couldn’t figure if the demon was taunting her or just informing Caleb of what was about to happen. That wasn’t important. What did matter was how easy it was to rile up the monster inside her. She could feel guilt eating her heart out and as result, the snake shifted. Her eyes were already yellow, she could feel all that pent up anger boiling like a volcano ready to erupt.

“Show your true colours, Zoe. Show them my creation.”

There it was again, Lucifer’s annoying voice. In one blink she was back in her seat with her fingers tightly wrapped around the bartender’s neck.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if I could swallow your whole pitiful entity in one shot? I bey I can do it, you’re here just because someone rose you from Hell. Otherwise, poor little you would be food anyway. For big, real demons. Like me.”

Caleb was speechless. He moved aside and watched with his mouth agape how Zoe became...something else. Her face was contorted, he could see her chin bones because her skin suddenly vanished. The hand holding the demon was bleeding and those eyes...Caleb was mesmerized. They were yellow but had one dot in the middle that was black. It looked like it had little strings reaching out into the pupil. It was weird and beautiful.

“What’s going on here? Gale?”

Zoe calmed down in an instant. It was as if nothing was wrong in the first place, it was incredibly fast. Caleb had to rub his eyes in order to remind himself that he did see what he saw.

“Oh, new clients! Did Gale scare you?”

It was a woman in her early twenties and she looked out of place with pig tails and dressed in a short checkered dress.

“Sorry, he always does that. He gets bored up here.” She continued with a smile.

“He was rough, we could say that, could we? Right.” Caleb said glancing between Zoe and the pig tails girl. “It’s fine. Anyway, I heard there is a lady here who does tarot reading...that’s why we came, to be honest.”

Zoe wished she could have been informed about that. She glared at Caleb but the young man ignored her.

“I also heard that she owns this place. And the mark-”

“How did you find this place?” The girl asked getting serious. “People get freaked out when they see the mark.”

“But that’s Asmodeus’ mark, right? I read about it.” Caleb started seeing how the girl was watching him. “Asmodeus is the Prince of Lust, there are sacrifices done for him where people have sex and orgies and stuff...”

“Maybe,”

Zoe crossed her arms in front of her chest and scoffed.

“Have you even seen Asmodeus? Has he accepted this cult as his?” She asked knowing princes rarely show themselves.

“Felicia did. She is in constant connection with him. Come on, I’ll introduce you to her.”

“Isn’t that great?” Caleb whispered once they started to follow the pig tails girl.

“No. Asmodeus has been cut from the world of the living.”

“You can’t know that.”

“I do.” She commented but Caleb either didn’t hear or just chose not to believe her.

They walked into the basement, the place that ‘Gale’ wanted to paint with Caleb’s blood. That would have been an improvement seeing how old and dusty it looked. Curtains were everywhere separating rooms instead of walls. They heard gasps and grunts beyond some of them but they didn’t ask. At the end of this made up corridor was a lady. She had long red hair and looked younger than Zoe expected.

“Hello,” she was visibly confused since she literally asked the pig tails girl what was going on.

“They are fans of lord Asmodeus.”

Zoe couldn’t help scoff at the ‘lord’.

“Really...how much do they know to come into my lair? Asmodeus is not only about sex and desire,” she said sounding as if she actually knew him.

“Yes, it is. He’s full of bullshit.”

The lady raised an eyebrow and approached Zoe. She grabbed her hand, the unmarked one, and turned her palm up.

“Some would say that you need lot of courage to enter a cult and speak so rudely of its lord. But you don’t care. There is so much anger inside of you, so much hatred.”

“...”

“Don’t be afraid to show your true colours, child. The world needs more people who can accept who they are.”

“And you found that out by rubbing my palm and looking into my eyes?” She asked in the same rude tone.

Caleb swallowed nervously but didn’t interfere.

“The eyes are the mirror to one’s soul. And you also attacked one of my staff members.”

“Must have been a group effort then. You all pitched in with your energies in order to raise a demon from Hell. But do you know? He is not part of Asmodeus’ domain. You snatched him from Satan and that is one prince you do not steal from.”

The lady frowned and took a step back but Zoe grabbed her arm and kept her close.

“Do you even know who your precious lord is? A coward. When Lucifer fell into the Abyss, he locked himself in his dungeon. He has few demons of power left on his domain and his influence in the world of living is breaking.”

Caleb bit his lip as he saw more and more members come to witness this discussion.

“Do you want to see him? Do you want to call for him? Here, use my blood!” Zoe said and let go of the lady. However, she did push her hand to her face, ready to be cut. “If you are too weak, I can do it myself.”

“Alright, I think we overreacted enough!” Caleb jumped between the women and gave Zoe a look that she should just end this.

But Zoe’s eyes were set on the lady still.

“A coward! You are praying and respecting a prince that knows nothing about the world. He is selfish and will never answer you. This is the lair of a fake!” She finished but only because she noticed how she became the center of attention.

“How do you know?” The pig tails girl asked. “How can a human know what happens in Hell?”

“Because I’ve been there.” Zoe said, her eyes narrowing at the memory, “Hell is not what stories say. It’s not what you read in books and poetry. It doesn’t look like in paintings. Hell is where the worst, most hateful side of the human kind rules. Anger, I do have a lot of anger but that’s what makes me human. Demons don’t feel anything.” She said looking down at her marked hand.

“That’s enough. You better leave.” The lady said looking like she wanted to send Zoe to Hell right away if it was that bad.

Caleb didn’t have to be told twice. He almost ran out of there, dragging Zoe behind him. They were outside when Zoe felt like she was suffocating. It was so strange because she hadn’t had a panic attack in a very, very long time.

“Hey, hey, are you alright? Zoe? Zoe, can you hear me?”

She got into the fetus position and forced herself to breathe. It was harder to calm down as an adult, even if she was aware of what she was going through.

“In and out...slowly...” she mumbled to herself. “In...and out.”

“I’m here.”

That voice...she knew whose it was. She truly disliked him and his irresponsible nature but in that moment, the warmth that engulfed her was enough.

“Mehrdir,” she whispered feeling like she was going to cry.

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