“So tell me, did you come all this way to interrogate me? Why not take me to the station if I am a suspect?” Mehrdir asked staring at Roberts with so much intensity that he believed he held some type of authority over the human. However, detective Roberts was one odd man as well.
“Did I say you are a suspect? No, I’m here because I want answers and you don’t look like a person who would come nicely to the precinct and willingly help.”
“I am even surprised you think I am a person.” Mehrdir said with a chuckle but Roberts rolled his eyes at him, already acknowledging that Mehrdir had a smartass personality. “You are right, every murder scene is symbolic. They use the crucifixion as a motif, a theme that for them represents revival. That has always been the purpose of the Pact, to become immortal and take revenge on close ones that betrayed them.”
“And why are they killing these people?” The detective asked leaning on his knees.
Mehrdir on the other hand, leaned back looking like this discussion was as common for him as any subject at dinner.
“They started with old members who might have said or done something against the cult. Then, they moved on to the younger generation who is easy to persuade into rebelling. These last six victims were simply random. They were indeed killed for show.”
“What will they do next? Is there a way for us to contact them?” Roberts asked just as Zoe entered the living room.
“They just called me.” She announced with a poker face.
“What?!” Roberts exclaimed as he jumped on his feet.
“They want me to go to them. They already got Caleb and they know I won’t abandon him. The address...it’s the Bloody Rose.” She explained to which the detective frowned in confusion. But Mehrdir was aware of what that meant.
“You know what they want and you know that you can’t give it to them. Nobody can.” The demon said approaching Zoe.
“Wait, wait, what is Bloody Rose? A bar or what?” The detective asked since he was the only one who didn’t know.
“There are certain houses that have been cursed by witches in the past. They often appear as haunted locations but they are not haunted, they have energy within themselves and can open portals to Hell.” Mehrdir explained since Zoe was still very tense and was gripping the phone tightly.
“Bloody Rose is the one cursed house that needs a sacrifice in order manifest. That’s why they killed six teenagers. That sacrifice was mighty enough to call unto the Bloody Rose. It has a direct connection to Hell and it can become very dangerous if they use all that blood inside the house.” Zoe continued the explanation.
Although it all sounded silly and supernatural, the way in which Zoe and Mehrdir explained and the seriousness in their expressions made Roberts second think everything.
“Hell...? It’s all about Hell?” He asked not quite believing what this case turned out to be. “Is that what they want?”
“No. They want me.” She said looking at Roberts with guilt. “They want me in order to bring upon the end of the world.”
“And how would you even do that?” Asked the detective sarcastically.
Mehrdir bit his lip as he glanced at Zoe.
“I caused war in Hell so I guess I can easily cause war here too. I just...have to lose my humanity. If that happens, I won’t even recognize you. I will kill everyone.” She said looking straight into Roberts’ eyes. The detective was surprised because those beautiful blue eyes turned completely black for a moment.
“This is...unexpected. Do not even think I’ll let you go there alone, Lestrade.”
Mehrdir chuckled darkly as he saw the detective truly scold Zoe, not understanding the circumstances at all.
“If anyone needs any type of protection, it’s the rest of the world not Zoe.” He said with a cocky expression. “Run along detective and let the work in experienced hands.”
Roberts raised an eyebrow expecting Zoe to say something but she didn’t. She looked down at her feet, as if she was guilty for creating this mess; which she wasn’t.
“We’ll see about that.” Roberts said and walked out, having a plan already made in his head. After all, Zoe did have a phone with GPS and he could track her movement.
Mehrdir waved happy that one sugar depraved man was out of the house. He didn’t expect Zoe to grab him by the collar of his shirt with angry black eyes.
“What?” He asked nonchalantly.
“You will enter the house first and tell them about all the lies you spread before you killed yourself.”
“It’s in the past. They don’t even know who I am anymore.”
“They didn’t kill so many people just because they want to end the world and we both know it. They made a show out of it because they are expecting you to reveal yourself. Stefan told me that they have been searching for Marcus. You are and will always be their leader because it has always been your cult.”
Mehrdir glared at Zoe and pushed her hard against the wall.
“I am dead. When they will find out that I am a demon and not some immortal celestial being they will lose their mind.” He said through gritted teeth.
“Is it really about that? Or is it about your inability to, for once, take responsibility of your past actions?” She asked still very calm considering how he had his hand wrapped around her neck.
“Don’t force my hand, Zoe.”
“Or what? You will kill me? You will abandon me?”
Mehrdir looked so much like a dragon at that point, ready to breathe fire. But staring into her eyes was like a black hole, she was absorbing you and changing your form as she wished. It was such a power that could break anyone; a power that Lucifer himself has been grooming in her. She could finally look into his eyes and not cower in fear at her reflection because now she has accepted herself.
She was expecting him to disappear and never see him again until circumstances forced him to return. But he didn’t. He seemed to try and calm himself before he took a step back.
“Alright, be it. I’ll follow along.”
Zoe was pleasingly surprised and it showed on her face. For some reason Mehrdir almost felt proud of himself.
“What will you even do once you get there? Kill them all?” He asked still not happy with how weak he felt.
“I’ll let the monster free. That’s why I need you to take Caleb and lock me inside the house. We can’t have hell holes appear everywhere just because they want to become immortal.” She said in such a serious tone that even the greed demon felt a shiver down his spine.
She spent the rest of the day front of the windows, looking at the town and especially at the sun as its light slowly dimmed to the point the sky became a feast of colors and eventually, completely dark. She sighed and grabbed her phone. She had to call for an Uber to get her to the exact location.
The Bloody Rose had a mind of its own, a character that was influenced by the hatred of witches for the people that hunted them and killed a majority of them in cold blood. Sacrifices were done in order to give it life and strength so that nobody could ever destroy it. It would often appear in places where the rate of death was large so it only made sense for it to be in Long Island, not quite in New York but very close. When the car stopped at the right address, the driver had to roll down the window and gape at the gloomy sight.
“Are you sure this is it? It’s an abandoned creepy house.” He said glancing at Zoe.
But she already got out and smiled at him.
“Thank you.” She said and turned to the horrible sight. The driver left as soon as possible and she remained all alone.
The way to the front door felt even worse than the time when she walked to Lucifer’s mansion. There were no corpses or demons on the lawn and it was incredibly silent. But she knew they were inside and they were watching so she couldn’t show any weaknesses. However, her heart was beating really fast and her hands were sweaty. The end of the story could be death for everyone or it could be death for her.
The house could also easily identify Zoe because the front door opened without having the woman touch it. She took two or three steps inside when she heard the front door close behind her. She would have continued down the hall but she felt a sudden breeze on her face and something small pierced the skin of her neck. She only had time to take the little arrow out before she fell unconscious.
Zoe opened her eyes groggily and groaned at the dizziness in her head. She realized she was in a different room, a dining hall with no furniture except whatever she was on. As she stood up, she realized she had been put on an old red sofa that smelled of chloroform. She had her hands and feet tied in chains that, looking closer, had holy marks so breaking them was impossible. The room was dark and had no windows. It smelled of dust and she could feel something was wrong.
“Nice to finally meet you, whoever you are.” She said loudly, hoping that the leader will step into the candlelight.
Indeed, the cult members started to appear one by one from the shadows of the room. Caleb was among them, his mouth covered with tape and his feet and hands tied tightly with rope. They all wore capes and masks so Zoe couldn’t see them or identify them in an investigation. Thinking about it, it didn’t even matter because she knew deep inside that they were all going to die.
The leader finally entered the dining hall dressed in the same clothing. It was the slim figure that gave Zoe a feeling that she could be a woman.
“Aren’t you going to introduce yourself? You already know me, after all.” Zoe continued in a clear, loud voice as she was placed right in the middle of the room while everyone else was around her but a meter or two away. “You have me here so what next?”
The leader made a sign for one of the members and they handed her a living creature with a black bag over his head. The leader grabbed onto it harshly and forced it in front of her, on his knees. Zoe frowned when she heard a moan of pain and her eyes widened in shock when the leader uncovered his victim.
“It’s a child,” Zoe mumbled not believing her eyes. “What are you doing?”
The answer came immediately. The leader took a knife from another member and pulled the little girl by her hair before slitting her throat.
Zoe was speechless. She couldn’t believe how vile they were, to the point they sacrificed a child with such ease. The girl was probably twelve or around that age. It was a torturous death. They all watched as the leader squeezed her blood out onto the floor. Then, Zoe realized that the house had different marks carved into the floor and they were surrounding her. It was a summoning ritual that she had never seen or heard before.
“I call upon you, Beelzebub / I call upon you Lord of the Flies / I call upon Hell / Open up and swallow us inside.” The leader started and then the rest of the members continued to repeat it like a mantra.
Zoe couldn’t help but laugh. The monster was not happy with this sudden turn of events and felt amused.
“You think he will answer you? You think this is how you open up Hell?” Zoe asked between loud fits of laughter.
“He will answer. You are here, aren’t you? The Gates may be closed but the portal will open with our sacrifice.”
“And what’s this immense sacrifice? Me?” Zoe asked with a raised eyebrow.
The leader pointed at Caleb and the members pushed him forward before dragging him at Zoe’s feet. Although he was in a very nasty situation and could potentially die for nothing, Caleb was still very optimistic about his chances. It was right there, in his eyes as he looked at Zoe: he trusted her. Those puppy brown eyes reminded her of Ezekiel and at that moment, Zoe knew she was ready to bring hell to Earth just to save this human.
Meanwhile, outside the house, two black Range Rovers parked just across the street. Some of them were getting ready for a long and eventful night but one person in particular was smiling in excitement.
“Let’s wait. Nothing is better than a grand entrance.”
The house was itself feeling doubtful. It was aware of the monster that lied in Zoe and it seemed to anticipate her actions. But the cult members had their own plan and everything was going marvelously at this point. Blood filled every marking and they started to chant in Latin.
Et exitio ortum,
Ut absorbeat ignis,
Orbis terrarum, quae relicta nobis.
Et ego invocabo inferos,
Et ego invocabo novum principium,
Et ad finem quod dividerent.
Zoe had enough time now to let her eyes wander over each and every cult member. It was difficult to say exactly who they were in their everyday life but the monster inside found it fun.
“This is bad, isn’t it?” Caleb mumbled, feeling his limbs grow numb. “I feel like they’re taking away my energy.” He added with a sigh.
Indeed, the markings were sucking out his life force in order to open up the portal. Zoe did something rather rude but it proved useful: she kicked Caleb so hard that he slid outside the sight of the ritual. They would have pushed him back if it wasn’t for the sudden appearance of a dark brooding demon.
“Stop it.” He said in an authoritarian voice. “What are you even doing?”
It sounded like he had a change of personality now that he arrived at the house. The members seemed to have seen Lucifer himself as Mehrdir approached the leader. It was like a sudden visit to his past and he wasn’t that happy with the way his life ended. The cult itself was a bitter memory for him.
The leader gasped and stepped even closer to the demon. She took her mask off and put down her cloak, showing her face. Mehrdir’s eyes widened when he recognized those green eyes and that long brown hair.
“Suzanne?” He asked completely unprepared for such a revelation. “But you’re dead! You should be!”
“I’m immortal, just like you. I’m just borrowing time using witchcraft but it helped me all these years. Marcus, darling!”
Suzanne wrapped her arms around Mehrdir’s neck and brought him into a passionate kiss. He was so surprised that he couldn’t even react. However, this affectionate moment was happening in front of the possessive eyes of a very jealous Zoe. Caleb moved his eyes from the two old lovers to the woman that was still as a rock yet her facial expression and the way she was gripping her fists were clues to how annoyed she was. Those blue eyes of the inheritor turned black several times, showing that Zoe was still more or less trying to control herself and not commit mass murder.
Suzanne let go of Mehrdir in the end but she was still caressing his face with adoration. The demon didn’t need to look at Zoe to know she was angry because his right palm was already bleeding as a result.
“You look the same. I have been waiting so long for this moment and now we are finally reunited. I have been preparing this moment for you.” She said pointing at the wall behind Zoe.
The commander turned to take a look too and rolled her eyes at the huge painting of none other than a long haired, distinguished cultist named Marcus Tilney.
But For Mehrdir, it was a piece of his life. He remained with his eyes blocked on the painting and he couldn’t quite grasp what was happening. He has been a demon for two centuries and he has seen horrible stuff and yet nothing was worse than seeing his face.
“Suzanne, I’m not immortal. The ritual never worked. I made a deal with Satan and once my favor was fulfilled, I needed to give my soul to him. I’m dead.” Mehrdir admitted, to which Suzanne only laughed off.
“Don’t be silly, my love. You look exactly like in that painting, minus your hair. I can see it in your eyes. You are the same man that I fell in love with; the same man who grabbed my hand and took me out of that rat hole where I was about to die. You are my savior. “She said and moved to kiss him again but the huge painting suddenly crashed and the frame broke.
Everyone was surprised except Caleb who had his eyes set on Zoe. He tried to get as far as possible from her and more or less crawled next to a wall. The others were drawn by the arrival of their long lost hero but Caleb could see Hell opening up through Zoe. He jumped in fear when she started to laugh like a maniac.
“Forgive me for breaking this sickening moment. You really don’t know anything, do you? Maybe you should see it, then. I will fulfill the desire to open the portal and feel the disappointment of your dear savior.”
As soon as she said that, she got on her knees and cut her palm with her own nails. She reached for one of the markings and poured a few drops of her blood into it. That was enough, and not only for the Bloody Rose, but for Zoe herself. The house seemed to have understood the message and all doors opened loudly as a slight tremor shook the house. They could all hear the wind, the fire and the moans of sinners. The portal has opened and the cult’s desire was now becoming reality.
Since the house was connected to Hell and Zoe’s blood was enough to bring it all above, Mehrdir was forced to renounce his shell. Suzanne was shocked by how the image of the handsome dark haired man fell apart right in front of her. He was a demon so he was by definition a reflection of a grotesque creature born out of greed. His eyes were black and the sockets looked burned, he had little to no hair and he was actually very thin, almost a skeleton if not for the patches of skin that have endured his adventures. He was not ugly however, but he was a monster through and through.
“Disappointed, aren’t you?” Came a guttural voice from the red couch.
Suzanne turned to Zoe and narrowed her eyes at the transformation of a human into a creature that was between a serpent and a bee. Zoe’s eyes were completely black but she did have the little yellow globe that seemed to dilate every so often as if it was pulsing; her face became longer and sharper, especially her chin and a chunk of her left cheek fell off and you could see inside her mouth; her hair became curly and lost its color and the rest of her body, well that was the most interesting part of her transformation: her fingers grew longer and her nails looked like Beelzebub’s claws She seemed to have also grown taller and she looked so much like a snake in the way she stood there.
“It doesn’t matter. Our purpose was to open Hell and bring upon the end of an era. Only the ones who will give themselves into pain will be able to survive.” Suzanne said glaring at Zoe’s demonic appearance. “And I will take your privilege, commander. I will take all your power.”
Zoe chuckled and put her hands forward.
Right after she dared Suzanne, the rest of the members raised their hands and they started to mumble something. Whatever it was, it made the marks on her chains lit up and burn her. Some of the members had the courage to walk to Zoe and connect other longer chains around her neck and waist so that three or four cultists were spread around with a tight grasp on her. Zoe took pleasure in scaring them when they approached her, laughing at how some of them lost their masks in their struggle to keep her controlled.
From Caleb’s point of view, it was cruel. Zoe was the main attraction in a circus, that was the image he could compare this savage action. Mehrdir tried to reach Zoe but Suzanne used a binding spell in order to have him restrained on the ground. It was quite strong but he could manage to break free if it wasn’t for the sudden tremor of the house. This time, it wasn’t Hell.
The front door of the house was blown open and Zoe looked up with a teeth smile that made her look like a psychopath.
“I guess the competition has arrived,” Zoe said and chuckled as she swayed from side to side in excitement.
As expected, an army of people dressed in black and red uniforms barged in every single room, including the dining hall. They were not priests of the old customs, coming with holy water and crosses. No, they were young men trained in utmost secrecy to eliminate demonic beings with the help of the divinity.
They were very organized and entered without a lot of noise.
Zoe watched with amusement as the Brotherhood seized the cult members but not before a bit of a struggle. The last to enter was the only person dressed as a priest. He stopped in front of Suzanne and tilted his head to the side with a sarcastic smile.
“Thank you for your inconvenience. I will take it from here.”
“Who are you ?! How did you even find this house ?!” Suzanne was enraged.
“Aw, don’t misunderstand, witch. I’m not here to create alliances but to dispose of this-” He stopped as he looked at Zoe. “Oh my, you got her angry. And you also opened the portal. Do you even understand what’s happening right now in the world?” He asked Suzanne with a scolding look. “Once the portal opens, little hell holes appear all around the world. Demons are making their way up as we speak, some are already among humans. Tsk.” He clicked his tongue and seemed incredibly disappointed.
“I don’t care. I’m not letting you destroy my life’s work.” Suzanne said and grabbed the same knife that she used to kill the little girl in the beginning. It wasn’t fast enough because one of the Brotherhood soldiers shot her straight through her forehead.
The cult members were surprised to see that she dropped dead.
“But she is immortal! She is-”
The poor cultists didn’t know how to react. But the priest shrugged and took something from his robes. It was a cross and incense.
“Kill the sinners.” He ordered and it became a mess.
While some members were smart enough to fight the soldiers, some just died instantly. Bullets were flying everywhere, blood was being spilled left and right and yet none touched Zoe.
With Suzanne dead, Mehrdir got up and tried to protect Caleb who was still tied up and needed to hide himself from being a collateral victim.
“Keep your head down. Keep yourself as close to the ground as possible and stay behind me.” Mehrdir said as soon as he reached the human.
Caleb watched as the demon cut the rope and freed him.
“You’re really ugly, you know.” The journalist said without a second thought.
Mehrdir threw him an annoyed look before he flinched, as a bullet just grazed his arm. It burned him pretty badly.
“It smells of sulfur.” Caleb said looking at the wound. “They probably have silver bullets dripped in holy water.”
Mehrdir shook his head at Caleb’s commentary.
“You really watch too many shows.”
“Who’s that man? Who are these guys?” Caleb asked as he jumped away, avoiding a corpse that fell right where he was.
“The Holy Brotherhood. They want to kill Zoe.” Mehrdir explained before one of the soldiers came onto him.
They had silver daggers and they were aiming for cutting his head off. Mehrdir had the advantage of being inside the Bloody Rose so his strength was just like in Hell, which was good for Caleb. The human knew he was well guarded.