CODEX Part 4: Among the Living

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Source of Evil

“That was deep, Lestrade,” Detective Roberts started, finding his subordinate in his office, looking at nothing in particular. “But he confessed and told us exactly where his son’s body is. We might give you a badge and make you a detective in the near future.”

Roberts joked but Zoe didn’t respond and definitely didn’t laugh.

“Can I leave for an hour or so? I need to visit someone.” She said as she finally looked at him.

It surprised the detective but he was sure they could survive with Lestrade for an hour or two. He nodded and she left quicker than expected.

As soon as she left the building, the memories flooded her mind, her whole being really. It was so easy back then, so much better than she ever expected to feel and live. It finished too soon and too abruptly.

While walking down towards her new apartment, Zoe felt empty. Seeing a man chained down by a demon reminded her that she was also chained down by her actions. She saved herself, she saved humanity from becoming a collateral damage between Lucifer and Beelzebub but did it worth it? She lost everything she ever treasured in a blink.

“I promise I will always be your best friend, even if you become a demon and go to Hell. Commander or not, I will be your best friend.”

Those words echoed in her mind, his smiling face as vivid as always. Ezekiel was the one person she missed the most and making him her legacy, she only tightened their bond to the point part of her soul left with him.

That smiling face of a boy that seemed to enjoy hanging out with demons more comfortable than human interaction was imprinted in her cornea. Whenever she’d close her eyes, she’d see him and his stupidly childish smile that made her happier than her own family. And in return, she brought his demise.

“NO!” She cried in that small and dirty cell.

Zoe was all alone, no; she left Ezekiel all alone.

“No! NO, NO, NO!” She cried, rolling on her chest in both spiritual and emotional pain.

She whimpered and grabbed her chest in pain. The smallest connection she had to her human side, the smallest piece that kept her from giving in completely, that was fighting the serpent and the vanity inside her soul; that piece was gone.

One hand was gripping her heart while the other reached out towards the door.

“Ezekiel,” She mumbled. “Ezekiel. EZEKIEL!” She screamed over and over again.

“Excuse me, Miss! Are you alright? Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

Zoe opened her eyes, not even remembering when she closed them, and looked up at an elderly lady. The woman was looking down at her with worry which made Zoe realize that she was crouched on her knees with her bag lying next to her legs.

“I-I’m sorry. I’m fine, thank you for your concern.” She said and smiled apologetically while getting up.

“I’m sure whoever this Ezekiel was, he was very important to you. I’m sure he’s leading a better life with the angels,” The woman encouraged Zoe before she patted her head softly and left.

Zoe’s eyes widened unaware that she made such a scene and even shouted Ezekiel’s name out loud. It felt like she was interiorizing her pain but it wasn’t so. She didn’t even realize where she was until she heard the church bell ring loudly nearby. Zoe sighed, standing right in front of a cemetery. On the other side was the church and no matter how big and welcoming it was for most people, it felt like she was being rejected.

“Heaven has given up on me,” She mumbled, repeating the words that she heard from the leftover.

The church bell rung again, louder this time as if it was an approving sign that she was right and she had no place in Heaven or even in the church. Her place was in Hell, as the inheritor of Lucifer and Princess of the Vanity Domain.

Moving on, she realized the only place she could enter and not feel threatened was the cemetery. There was someone there, a few actually, listening to the priest’s sermon for the deceased. She watched as he finished and gave the body to the earth while the soul left for a better place. It was such an irony how the only difference between a demon and a human was the body, the flesh that Jesus sacrificed for God’s creation.

Thinking back about what Professor Fauggerdy said before, she couldn’t come up with a better answer than she already had. Circumstances led her life and now that she was getting a grip on her loose reins, all these outer factors were pointing her towards nothingness.

“I can’t find happiness in anything and anyone. I feel my heart beating and I wonder why I am alive and that person died. He deserved to live more than anyone else.”

She didn’t lie when she told detective Roberts that she has to meet someone. Zoe has been going to the counselor for exactly a year, the same time she started to work with Roberts and the rest at the precinct. She was so damaged that she felt she should rely on someone else, someone who wouldn’t get personally involved: a therapist.

Doctor Elena Saunders has been there through her mood swings and most importantly, she could prescribe painkillers and sleeping pills which Zoe was in serious need.

“Zoe, you have been speaking only about this certain person and how precious he was. You feel guilt bust most of all, you feel sorrow and self hatred. I told you before, you need to understand that it wasn’t your fault. People die every day. It’s no one’s fault.” Doctor Saunders said softly, knowing how Zoe could get very agitated.

“It’s not just his loss. The nightmares won’t stop. I see those red eyes even when I’m awake. I see the hatred everywhere and live knowing that those eyes are punishing me from beyond.” She added, still seeing the anger on Lucifer’s face when he fell in the abyss.

“But you said it before, your punishment is that person’s death. These eyes are only in your mind to satisfy your need of punishment. You want it, Zoe. It’s your way of making yourself remember that you’re guilty and that you should atone of your sins by being haunted of these eyes.”

The doctor was right and Zoe knew that, she was also a psychologist after all. She knew she was coming up with different ways of punishing herself for what happened in London but she was sure Lucifer’s anger was real. Even from nothingness, he could scare her.

“I think that this strange way of damaging yourself may also be because you don’t let yourself begin a new life. You say you came to New York to explore all these possibilities, you found a job and you moved into a great apartment but you’re not starting this new life. You’re continuously dragging the past into the present. You have to let it go once and for all.”

Zoe stared at her therapist for a few minutes before looking down at her hands. Ever since she arrived in New York, she’s been hiding her marks, thinking that she could imagine they weren’t there. Acceptance was still out of reach for her.

“I can’t let it go. I’ve suffered for so long and there are so many people that are suffering because of me. It’s not just the dead but also the living. Many families have lost their children because of-“

“Circumstances have led these children to leave this world. You didn’t.” Doctor Saunders interfered before her patient would just go back where they started from. It was a continuous cycle with Zoe and she wanted to help her make progress not stagnate.

“Circumstances,” Zoe chuckled darkly, making herself remember just how many people Abaddon killed using her body, “I wonder,”

Zoe left with the same amount of guilt as when she came and it was overflowing. Even doctor Saunders looked tired after their session and it was only an hour. Just as always, Zoe had to go back to the precinct and so she had to pass by the church once again. This time, she saw something different yet not necessarily peculiar: a family was entering the church but their young daughter didn’t look comfortable.

Curiosity has always led Zoe into very unfortunate situations but she couldn’t help herself. She followed the family inside and instantly felt unwanted in there. It was such an intense feeling, as if she was entering a world that she’s been banned from for her whole life; as if she was violating a restraining order. She could only hope police won’t come because she really didn’t need a priest to kick her out.

Going against the flow was easier than she expected but still very uncomfortable. Zoe sat a few rows behind the family and watched the mother speaking to the priest. The father was standing with his daughter, holding her hand tightly as if that would make her feel safe. If churches were supposed to be safe then they weren’t doing a good job at it; some priests were despicable human creatures. The one in front of her was just as bad as a normal human with a trail of sins following wherever they go.

The mother turned towards her husband and signed him to come and follow the priest, forcing the girl along. Even from her seat, she could see what was wrong with the child.

“A Whisperer,” Zoe mumbled, remembering everything she learned while on her retreat with the older inheritor.

Whisperers are like bugs but not exactly. They usually come in forms of ugly and nauseous forms, most often taking the form of bugs that people avoid. In many cases, they are used by demons to enter into people’s bodies and expose the secrets and desires hidden deep in the subconscious. In films they are seen as larvae that enter through the nostrils or ears, rarely different holes. Unfortunately, the Whisperers do just that; they whisper into your subconscious when you are asleep and slowly crush your defense against evil. In most cases, at adults usually, they can go as far as to disrupt the individual’s notion of bad and good, resulting in murders and association to weird cults.

That Whisperer was somewhere deep in that girl’s subconscious already, Zoe could feel it but she also knew how hard it was for a human to get rid of it.

“That child won’t survive an exorcism.”

Zoe froze. She hasn’t heard that voice in a year and she wasn’t sure she wanted his voice to be the first reconnecting her to the world she left.

“Scratch that. An exorcism won’t work and I’m pretty sure they need a signed paper or something from the Vatican. Even exorcisms need approval.” He continued in the same monotone voice she always had.

Zoe remained silent. She didn’t want to show him that she could still see him or that she was interested in whatever he was saying. Instead of leaving, he appeared right next to her and waved innocently.

“It’s been a while, hasn’t it? If you want to know, everyone’s known where you are. We’ve been stalking you in pairs.” He said as if it was nothing important.

For some reason, she expected that to happen. They could do a lot from down in Hell and she knew Beelzebub wouldn’t let her run around freely.

“Zoe, I don’t think you understand the gravity of this situation.” He added, his tone sounding slightly different than usual, “Only a demon can take out the Whisperer. Guess who’s a demon~” He sung.

“You are.” She mumbled coldly.

“No. You are.” Gakhas pointed at her with a content smirk. His different colored eyes seemed to make her feel even worse with the way they seemed to know what she was thinking.

Unfortunately, Zoe couldn’t deny the truth, not after living with the serpent shifting every night on her back.

“You’re actually much more. 2 in 1, like coffee.” He added, using his fingers to get his point across. He swayed his two raised finger so close to her face that he almost poker one eye out, moment she decided to get up and help the girl.

Walking towards the front of the church felt humiliating, mostly because Gakhas was standing there expectantly. Zoe sighed and stopped in front of the candles lit at the feet of the statue of Jesus.

“Excuse me, can I help you?”

Zoe only turned her head but the priest was not the same. The family members were trying to encourage each other and most importantly, encourage the victim. The priest saw how Zoe’s attention shifted and sighed.

“Poor parents. Their daughter is surrounded by the Devil’s slaves and-“

“Will they exorcise her?”

The priest’s breath hitched, that problem being an issue even for them as members of the church. He tried to touch her softly on the arm, just so he could guide her to sit down and have a conversation but a light breeze blew the candles. The priest stopped and glanced at the girl over his shoulder.

“It’s not that girl’s fault. She didn’t blow the candles and she’s not possessed by evil.”

“The Devil’s ways-“

“The Devil’s not around anymore. She made sure of it,” Gakhas whispered into the priest’s ear, making him shudder.

Since there was no way Zoe could get closer to the victim, Gakhas turned to the front doors and slammed them shut, scaring everyone inside the church.

“So invigorating,” He mumbled before he disappeared.

Fortunately, with the new found strange happenings, both priests went to the doors to elucidate the mystery of their sudden movement. That led an open path to the girl and Zoe really wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. She needed to leave the church or else Lucifer’s eyes won’t be the only things haunting her at night.

“Hello,” She started once she sat next to the girl, “I’m Zoe. What’s your name?” She asked as nicely as she could possibly struggle.

“Lauren.” The girl answered, not looking at Zoe but only her fidgeting hands.

“Nice to meet you Lauren. I couldn’t help but see that your parents are very worried about you.”

“I know,” She answered curtly, seemingly unaffected. “They’ve been for a while now. They say I’m different.”

“Are you?” Zoe asked, leaning in a bit.

The girl, who was roughly at the beginning of her teenage years, maybe 13 at most, nodded and for the first time, looked up at Zoe.

“I’ve been having strange dreams lately. Not nightmares, like my parents say, but dreams.” She explained, glancing at her parents when she mentioned them.

“I know. I have dreams like those too. They’re not bad but they influence me once I wake up and I find myself wanting- no, needing to do things. Not good things but things that I wouldn’t normally do.” Zoe explained, knowing well that was exactly what the Whisperers would do.

Lauren’s eyes widened before she fully turned to Zoe with new-found hope.

“Exactly. That’s exactly how I feel. It’s overwhelming and I find myself blacking out during the day and after I wake up, I realize I did something really bad.”

“You’re not possessed, Lauren. IF you were, you’d be far worse by now.” Zoe started, smiling softly at the girl before getting rid of the cloth covering her palm.

“What’s that?” Lauren asked, her eyes locked on the endless knot.

Lauren wasn’t the only one shocked by the sudden uncover. Lauren’s mother rushed over as soon as she saw Zoe take the cloth off.

“It’s a tattoo.” Zoe lied, seeing the fear in the mother’s eyes. “Now, I’d like if you could give me your hand and look into my eyes.”

Hearing that strange request, Lauren’s mother scoffed and pulled her daughter closer to her and further from Zoe.

“You don’t touch my daughter. What’s with that request? Are you from a cult? You think you can help by using some tricks?” The woman was exaggerating and Zoe was not good at dealing with people like her.

“I can help your daughter. I can take the evil from her and she’ll regain control over her subconscious.” Zoe tried the friendly way but the mother only tightened her grip on her daughter, “Those priests can only pray but they will never be able to touch evil. Priests are, in the end, humans. Lauren will never be able to control her special needs and eventually, she will be the one turning for help to a cult.”

It might have been the tone or the fact that she was losing her patience and looked quite intimidating but Lauren squirmed out of her mother’s grasp and grabbed Zoe’s hand tightly.

“Make me better, please.” She whispered, looking into Zoe’s eyes just as she requested before.

As soon as Zoe touched her, her eyes darkened to the point they became black and the same yellow substance crawled from the corners of her eyes towards the center into a circle. Unlike before, there looked like thin branches of red were spreading from the yellow bulb, which was scary.

But it was too late for anyone to interfere. The serpent shifted down her side and eventually rose on her breast and up her shoulder, creeping down her arm and slipping into Lauren’s hand. It didn’t move from there but it did look as if it started to suck out life energy from her body. Lauren’s eyes widened as she saw in her mind everything she has done for the last months and realized what the source of it was. It was a long and red larva and it was being sucked into the snake on her hand. It struggled a lot and even whispered things but Zoe’s eyes wouldn’t let Lauren think of anything but their strange colors. It was mesmerizing yet at the same time chilling. The girl didn’t even realize when it was done until Zoe’s eyes returned to normal and the serpent retreated on her back.

“Here. The source of your evil.”

Zoe opened her palm and indeed, there was a dead larva. Lauren’s mother gasped and grabbed her chest in fear. She sat down next to her daughter and looked at Zoe with tears in her eyes.

“Thank you.” She said, sounding as genuine as a human could sound.

Zoe’s sign brightened and the larva burned to ashes. She just saved a life from going down the wrong and sinful path and it didn’t feel fulfilling at all.

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