CODEX Part 4: Among the Living

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When Chaos Comes

Zoe woke up in an empty blank space. She expected to wake up at home or in a bed preferably but she was standing on her feet and was dressed in white pajamas. She believed to be in the Purgatory until she heard a familiar groan. She turned around very slowly and saw a cage. There was no need to move closer because she already knew what was inside.

“She’s not happy behind bars, is she?”

Zoe froze as the voice that begun this whole fiasco morphed into matter. There was literally black goo that rose into the shape of Beelzebub and he looked as demonic as he did when Zoe had last seen him. He wasn’t hiding his true appearance anymore, there was no need to.

“You’ve been running for too long, Zoe. And I let you do as you wished for a majority of the time. But not anymore.” Beelzebub spoke as he approached her slowly, his eyes piercing through her.

“Why the change of heart?” She asked trying to sound braver than she felt.

“Because the balance is broken. Although you hate it, that creature is you. You need to accept it and combined, you will finally be complete.”

Zoe turned to look at the being that seemed to be in a constant state of anger.

“Why would I ever want to accept it? It’s a monster created by Lucifer. It was born during the war, out of helplessness. I couldn’t deal with all the sorrow and hatred I was feeling so I let it all consume me.”

“Do you know what is worse than fear, Zoe? Not being afraid. Humans always say that they are brave in front of death, and yet when they are sick they turn their eyes towards the sky and pray to be saved. It’s normal to fear the unknown.”

“We both know people will die if I accept it. It’s not about me, but about the collateral damage. Back in London-”

“Back in London your body was being possessed by Abaddon. There was not even a tiny piece of soul that belonged to you.” Beelzebub interrupted her. “Have you really not understood what your destiny is?” He asked as he stepped closer to her.

“At first I was your commander and now I also have a serpent shifting down my back and whispering in my ears. So no. Please enlighten me.” She replied with sarcasm. It was annoying to have him speak so comfortably about events that scarred her for life.

“Those marks are just for branding, they don’t matter. When I chose you, I did it out of punishment for your grand-mother who succeeded in avoiding her responsibility. It was payback for even thinking that she could escape. There is no way to erase the mark unless I decide to do so. But the mark itself has no power, it’s simply just to annoy the church.” Beelzebub explained as he grabbed her hand, turned her palm up and traced a line right in the middle. Zoe watched in shock as the endless knot started to disappear.

“Is that it? Have you been manipulating me all this time?” She asked looking at his bee eyes with growing anger. She felt betrayed more than anything.

“Have I? From what I see, you are the manipulator. You have always been very good at controlling the people around you. A new day, a new mask. That’s why you are so scared of Lucifer; he forces you to see yourself as you truly are.” Beelzebub didn’t have to spell it for Zoe to understand he was speaking of the caged creature.

“Why are you telling me this? What’s going on?”

“When chaos comes, you have to embrace it. Out of chaos and death appears light and the beauty of being alive. You will never feel complete unless you accept that you have been created to represent both Heaven and Hell. Nobody is purely evil and there is no such thing as a holy human. Everything will become clear once you accept that you are formed from both good and bad. You are a complex human being. I just broadened your sight by giving you these eyes.” He said caressing her temples softly.

“That’s not answering my question.” She said pushing his hands away. “What is truly coming?”

“The church wants you dead and the cult wants you to give them false hope. But Zoe, once you know exactly who you are, you will be able to show them the truth. You will feel it in your veins, in every cell of your being, and they will see it; the power.” As he spoke his eyes which are normally of an autumn orange color, took a different and more human form. Zoe watched in amazement as two blue orbs appeared and he finally seemed to express emotions. “No matter how far you go, you cannot escape yourself. That’s who you have been running from, right? It was never Lucifer or the guilt of a decision that wasn’t yours.”

Zoe sighed and glanced at the cage. The creature was looking at Zoe with the same expression of confusion. As she approached the monster, she noticed that it didn’t actually look as wild as she expected. Standing there, face to face, they both blinked and tilted their heads in the same way. One was raw, led by extreme negative feelings while the other was more calculate. In the end, Zoe admitted that Beelzebub was right. She was afraid of what would happen if the world were to see her, the real her who was filled with resentment and regrets.

“So much time I have been hiding you, hoping you will some day just disappear. But you just grew stronger.” She muttered as she grasped the bars. Surprisingly, the creature covered her hands with his and they stood there, looking at each other, until one short sound was heard: the door was unlocked.

When the cage opened, Zoe’s eyes opened scaring poor Caleb who just entered her bedroom to check on her.

“Are you alright?” He asked but didn’t step closer. Instead, he watched as she rose on her bottom and seemed to go through some type of inner struggle. “Do you recognize me?” Caleb asked just in case she was still not herself.

Zoe stared at him as she got out of bed and walked towards him with newfound determination in her eyes. Caleb wasn’t sure what, but something was definitely different.

“I’m not going to kill you if that’s what you mean.” She finally spoke. “But people will continue to die if we don’t meet this cult.”

Caleb needed a moment to register what she said and how she sounded. Her voice was calm and she looked so self-assured of everything. Even as he watched her go into the bathroom to take a shower, Caleb just couldn’t pinpoint what had happened while she was asleep.

“Did you have some sort of awakening? Because you were going all insane just a few hours ago.”

“Sure. Let’s call it that.” She replied before she closed the door behind her.

All by herself, she undressed and turned on the water. She closed her eyes as the water fell over her back and she remembered Beelzebub’s words. The marks are just branding, they have no power. Then whatever stung her and created discomfort was under the skin or in her mind. She had to recognize that she did feel a lot better and more energetic now.

When she was done, she stepped outside the bathtub and look at herself in the mirror. Every detail of her appearance was the same, the change was not in how she looked but in how she felt.


When Roberts was called in for a multiple homicide, he never thought that he will witness a sight of such a sinister level. He had his usual morning strawberry lollipop in his mouth and he was walking in a way that made him look more like a journalist than a detective. He was in general a very laid back person and most cases just flied past him, having no fear of horror and grotesque. But when Roberts entered that house, from the front door he knew that whatever has happened reached a level far above and beyond his understanding. He saw the trail of blood on the floor that led to each and every room. There were words and symbols written on the walls and it seemed to go back to several serial killers from the 19th century.

“It’s even worse inside the rooms, sir.” A police officer commented from the side. “We had men who had to leave the scene because it was too much to bear.”

Roberts took a long glance around and sighed heavily.

“How many dead bodies?” He asked.

“Six, sir. All teenagers.”

“And which one looks the worst?” Roberts asked putting his gloves on.

The officer frowned at the memory but nevertheless, he led the detective to a room upstairs. Although there was blood everywhere and the detective had to be careful where he walked so as not to disturb the evidence, Roberts walked slowly into the room that smelled of blood and lilies. It was impossible not to notice the two corpses, it seemed to be organized in such a way as if it were a work of grotesque art. Roberts approached the bed and noticed that the body was that of a teenage boy, with his hands outstretched but his palms raised. He was cut from the neck to the pelvis as if someone had tried to do an autopsy on him and the wound was so deep that whoever killed him stuffed lilies inside, perhaps to reduce the pungent smell of death. His mouth was open but his eyes were closed. Above the bed, on the back wall, was the second body of a girl. As far as the detective could see, she was placed in that crucifix position while she was still alive. Her brown hair fell down her face, covering her expression of fear and terror that remained even after her death. Above the head were drawn two demon horns and below were drawn two wings as if she would soon fly or maybe already was flying since her feet did not touch the floor or at least the bed. The most terrifying detail was the way in which her body was placed: it had a large cut in the area of ​​the uterus, and very deep from what could be seen, and her blood dropped in such a way that it fell into the boy’s open mouth. It could have been a traumatic image, if Roberts hadn’t seen murder scenes in the last month that looked similar to this.

“The others are not better but this one is the most disturbing scene that I had ever seen.” The officer mumbled, trying his hardest not to look at the two bodies. “Who would do such a thing to these kids?”

“A cult...” Roberts said thinking back on the man who first mentioned this hypothesis. “He knew quite a lot for someone who’s not involved.”

Zoe was drinking her morning coffee in front of the window, having a clear view over the city. She could feel that many people have died; actually, she could feel every living being that passed away in the last few hours and it would have been overwhelming if not for this newfound ignorance.

“How do you feel?” Mehrdir asked approaching her from behind.

Zoe looked at his reflection in the glass window and remembered just how many times she wished he was there, behind her, grabbing her hand and picking her up every time she fell. But now that he came to her rescue, she realized that it didn’t matter anymore. Maybe Beelzebub was right, she only needed to accept herself in order to feel like she was enough; there was no need for a savior.

“What does the cult really want from me?” She asked instead, placing her own existential troubles in the back of her mind. “The truth would be nice.”

“They have this wicked idea that a Prince of Hell can give them immortality. Or at least that was the belief in the past. The Pact never killed innocent people when I was-” he stopped realizing what he was saying.

“When you were what? Alive?” She continued turning to him with a cold stare. “What else have you done while being alive except creating a cult based on satanic rituals and witchcraft?”

Mehrdir froze as he took a closer look at her. She was still Zoe that he knew but those eyes of hers and the way she stood there made him almost take a step back in embarrassment.

“What really happened last night?” He asked with a frown.

“Why does it matter? Will it make a difference in your answer? Will you not use big words and beat around the bush, trying to confuse me?” She asked with a raised eyebrow. Mehrdir glared at her and against the tension that was radiating off of his mate, he walked and grabbed her face.

What he wanted to check in such a brutal way were her orbs. Anyone human could see their reflection into the orbs of each other, and Mehrdir could see his shell. However, this time around, once he took a look into her blue eyes, he gasped and almost fled.

“What did Lucifer do to you?” He asked still having a tight grasp on her cheeks.

“Are you scared of what you see now? Do I make you uncomfortable? After all, I am what the whole Hell wants me to be: responsible.” She said as she held onto his wrists. “Why didn’t you tell me before about your cult, Marcus?”

Her voice was calm and she didn’t seem to be annoyed anymore. Whatever psychological plan she was using, it was affecting Mehrdir more than she expected.

“If it is them, they want immortality. Princes of Hell will not give it to them, they won’t even answer to them during rituals. So then, the next best thing is you. That’s your privilege; they believe that having these marks make you immortal.” He answered as if he was enchanted.

He could have said more if it wasn’t for the sudden knock on the door. He let her go and open the door and when she was a safe distance away, he sighed as he felt his chest vibrating. His hands were shaking and he couldn’t believe that someone who tried so hard to stay human was now tempted by the darkness of Hell.

When Zoe opened the door, she honestly expected to see Caleb who probably discovered some other cult in New York. However, the face behind the door proved to be of her boss.

“Well hello there, Lestrade. Didn’t bother coming down to work, hm?” He asked in a joking manner as he invited himself in. “And didn’t I tell you to go and spend a few days some place else?” As he spoke, he went straight into the living room and noticed that the whole apartment was clean except the bloody mark on the floor. To top it off, the man he wanted to talk to was standing over it as it if meant nothing. “So you are indeed here. Why don’t we have a chat?”

Mehrdir turned to the detective with curiosity but from the way Roberts was examining him, it was quite clear that the Pact has killed again.

With the detective in one corner and Mehrdir in the other, Zoe wanted nothing but to have both of them leave. That was not going to happen, obviously, so the least she could do was offer Roberts a coffee. Even Mehrdir was surprised when he saw the human add more than three teaspoons of sugar into his little cup.

“I guess there is a reason for your sudden visit?” Mehrdir started since he could see how the detective was stalling.

“Ah, right. There is something I want to discuss with you. What was your name again?”

Mehrdir raised an eyebrow and crossed one leg over the other. Zoe rolled her eyes at his action and chose to not get involved yet.

“I don’t remember your name either, it’s fine.”

Detective Roberts chuckled and leaned back as if he was visiting one of his friends.

“Last night, six innocent kids died for no apparent reason. Moreover, whoever did it, whoever killed in cold blood six kids, made a work of art out of the scenes. Six innocent-”

“I got it, detective, I’m neither stupid nor deaf. What is it that you want from me? Tears?” Mehrdir replied narrowing his eyes at the detective.

“In the last months there were several murder scenes that could traumatize even the most experienced forensic specialist. All of them had the victims crucified, with their heads looking down and blood dripping over whatever objects they placed at the time. There is something symbolic in how they kill, almost like they make a work of art out of it. But the most recent one is just...different.”

Roberts took something out from the inner pocket of his coat and handed it to the demon. Mehrdir’s eyes widened in surprise and possibly anger as he grasped the photo tightly. If he could, he would have ripped it apart, Roberts could see that much. This odd man could offer the detective a legit lead in this case.

Meanwhile, Zoe’s phone rang. She retreated into her bedroom when she saw that it was a call from an unknown number. After she sat down on her bed, she took a deep breath in and answered.

“Um, remember how you told me not to dig very deep into active cults around the city and be careful? Well, too late.” Came Caleb’s voice. It didn’t sound like he was scared, if anything he seemed to rather enjoy the danger he was in.

“Where did they take you?” Zoe asked keeping her calm. She was also focused on the background noise that could offer her some type of clue as to who was there with him.

“They said they will send you a message with the location. I can’t really tell anyway, it’s really a maze in here.”

“What do they want? Immortality?”

Loud laughter followed her questions. Somebody took the phone from Caleb and responded.

“You’re not wrong, commander. However, what we desire more than anything is not for us to live forever but for the world to experience the same pain that we struggled with our entire life. There is no greater fear than the one of a torturous ending.” The woman spoke and hung up.

Zoe stood there in silence with many thoughts running through her mind. One of them was the memory of her discussion with Lucifer.

They are so young and fresh. So easy to convince that the only way for them to become immortal and gain revenge on society is through my inheritor.

The sudden vibration of her phone worried Zoe even more. The cult sent her only two words: Bloody Rose.

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