Hell Has Changed
Thankfully, once Zoe left the church, she didn’t meet anyone. No strange creature with different colored eyes was waiting for her at the entrance and nothing relatively dark was nearby. If anything, the only detail that made her feel different was the mist.
Her phone rung right when she stopped down the last stair.
“We need you in, Lestrade. We’ve got a case.” Roberts’ voice was serious compared to the tone he used before but she could still hear him munch on his lollipop.
Zoe hung up and sighed before she returned to work. Suspiciously, during the way to the precinct she didn’t feel or see anything strange. Out of reflex, she looked closer at the people passing her but none seemed to care about anything but themselves.
As soon as she walked through the front doors, she was immediately pulled aside by a newbie, officer fresh from the bench of the Police Academy. His name: Rory Goldberg but everyone calls him Goldenlocks because of his blond hair.
“Lestrade, this case, maybe you shouldn’t get involved. I mean, we don’t need a profiler when we we get cases of suicide.” Rory whispered, glancing at the doors leading to the morgue.
“Even if it looks like suicide it may be not. There are many ways to make it seem like the victim killed himself when in truth, the culprit did it. It’s also a way of hiding guilt and blame on the victim for his death and the culprit’s intent.” She explained calmly.
Rory knew she was right but that wasn’t important at the moment. Unfortunately, Roberts walked out those grey metal doors leading to the morgue and spotted Zoe immediately. He also noticed Rory, worriedly whispering something that she seemed not to care about.
“Goldenlocks! I’d appreciate if you could let my profiler come and take a look at the victim.”
“But sir-“ The detective shushed him by holding up his hand.
“I’m sure your intentions are good but Lestrade is a tough woman.”
That only increased her curiosity. As soon as Roberts nudged her, she followed him without a question. In the end, what could be so important? Who was on the metal bed, torn into pieces for the sake of information?
Those questions had one answer and it wasn’t what Zoe expected. Her eyes widened when she saw the familiar face but nothing else really happened.
Roberts let her walk closer to the corpse and even uncovered his face for her. From the side, he couldn’t help but feel content that she wasn’t the type to overreact. Ever since he met her for the first time, he could see she had no empathy for those in pains or for the dead.
“Stefan Rowland. 24 years old. Died of asphyxiation.”
Zoe’s eyes moved on his neck but he didn’t have any marks. The detective had an answer for that.
“He was found covered in a corpse bag with blood surrounding him. Not his, that’s for sure.”
“There’s more,” The forensic specialist, doctor Carla Chang, added, “I found pieces of flesh under his nails and a lot of other strange stuff like cut marks on his legs and arms covered with foundation, a strange cut on his back that was done especially to leave a deep scar and the insides are torn apart.”She said before pulling over a table with Stefan’s insides, “A person’s body can act differently to a lot of things. It looks as if he ate something sharp that scratched his throat and even caused internal bleeding. His kidneys are in a bad condition and his lungs- pitch black and rotten.”
“So he was a heavy smoker?” Roberts asked staring at the pale corpse.
“No. It looks like he injected something or swallowed some kind of poison that acted that way throughout his body.” Dr Chang added, glancing at the corpse from time to time.
Zoe looked at the heart on the table, partially cut and partially looking like someone pumped a lot of black substance into it, before she turned to the body. Stefan was an enthusiastic guy when it came to occultism but he never spoke about his life outside university before.
“Could it have been an initiation of some sorts?” Zoe asked the doctor who in return shrugged.
“Maybe. But what kind of cult would damage their members so deeply?”
Zoe didn’t know. Humans are complex beings and they are extremely good at hiding their true intentions. Zoe has always been bad with humans.
“You said he has a scar on his back. Can I see it?” Zoe asked, curious if that could help in any way.
Dr Chang nodded but when she tried to move him on his side, only enough to show bits of his back, she couldn’t. Zoe raised an eyebrow watching the detective help the doctor yet not even together they couldn’t move the corpse.
“Do you think there’s something inside him that makes him so heavy?” Roberts asked, as confused as everyone else.
“I am sure I checked everything but if there’s something else, I’ll have to check again.” She said, staring confusedly at the body. She easily turned him around when she did the autopsy so how could a dead and empty body become so heavy in such a short time?
As soon as Zoe walked out, she went straight into the bathroom. It was cramped and even worse, not very clean, but she could use it in that state. The brunette splashed some water on her face before she looked up at the mirror.
“What’s on his back?” She asked.
“Blunt as usual, aren’t you? Why don’t you go home for today. You must be tired after killing that Whisperer.” Gakhas answered, appearing before her into the mirror. His eyes were staring at her with the same blankness as she remembered.
“Stefan was interested in occultism because he loved the idea that there’s something more to this world than what he can see. If he were to make a pact, I would have felt it.”
Gakhas sighed seeing the repercussions of having a well-taught commander. She definitely studied like a nerd when she had an interest.
“He didn’t. You are not good with humans, Zoe. Humans lie and hide and they do it all for their own gain. Selfish little bastards, that’s what they are. This Stefan was no different.” The demon hissed, his eyes narrowing at her.
“Is that what you have learned while spending time around me? Is that what Ezekiel taught you when he sacrificed for others?” She asked, seemingly calm but Gakhas could see her eyes darkening slightly around the corners.
The short demon scoffed and vanished, letting her see the small change in her eyes. Zoe leaned against the sink and forced herself to calm down. She was in a place full of police men- human police men- and she wanted to go home without any incidents.
Unfortunately, as soon as she left the bathroom, Rory found her again and pulled her aside. He was ready to apologize for the death of her acquaintance when she stopped him.
“The victim is nothing but that, a victim. I don’t need to be comforted. You should do that to his parents when they will come for him.” She cut it short before she went straight into Roberts’ office.
“So, do you think he was part of some cult? Kids these days look for trouble everywhere and their curiosity is endless.”
“No. But it doesn’t matter because tomorrow morning, the whole campus will create their little opinions. If you’ll go ask around, I’m sure they’ll add details that don’t exist.” She explained, knowing how fast rumors spread.
When Zoe arrived home, she only had time to unlock the door before she was faced with complete and utter silence. She used everything she learned from Chris in order to have a normal life at home. It proved to be effective since nothing dared come close to her apartment building.
The brunette profiler sighed happily and closed the door behind her before placing her bag on the table in the kitchen and walking in front of the windows. Unlike the small apartment situated in a bad neighborhood, Roberts helped her buy a better apartment, rather large for a single person but still welcoming compared to others. She glanced at her bedroom for a moment before she looked down at her feet and sighed. It was silent. She could live just like any other woman her age but at the same time, it was-
Zoe’s eyes widened at the whisper. It was too close for comfort and it wasn’t anyone that felt familiar.
“Don’t have to be so tense, commander. Or should I call you inheritor now? Even better, Princess.”
He was enjoying himself way too much to be a demon that fought along her. One glance over her shoulder was enough to know who was inside her house, breaking the barrier when she entered.
“I’m sure you remember me. We had a lot of fun in Mammon’s treasure room.” He added, sensing from the way her mark twitched that she had a name to place on his face.
“Mepalham,” She mumbled, turning to face him, “Have you been watching me too?”
“Of course! We’ve been watching in pairs since Beelzebub instructed us not to use the mirrors often. He’s become very suspicious lately.” Mepalham explained, spinning around with his mouth wide open.
“Why is he suspicious? I haven’t done anything.” Zoe grumbled, deciding she should just go on with her daily life than get stuck in Mepalham’s dark presence.
The greed demon closed his mouth but raised his eyebrows, more like an expression than anything Gakhas could ever manage.
“Not you. Why would he when he knows every little thing you do,” The demon started, finding her funny for thinking so high of herself. “But of course we can’t speak about it. It’s strictly forbidden to speak about Hell’s business when we’re here.”
Zoe raised an eyebrow but shrugged the greed demon off quickly. He was a good liar and could easily make everything up just for his own entertainment.
“Then please leave me alone. It’s hard to get in but very easy to get out.” The brunette mumbled, walking towards the bathroom.
After such a complex series of events, Zoe wanted nothing else but to bath in silence and peace.
“But Zoe, aren’t you curious why Gakhas didn’t let you see your friend’s back?” Mepalham asked, appearing too close to her. He was slightly taller than Gakhas but still a few centimeters shorter than Zoe, “I can show you.”
“I don’t want to. I’ll find out on my own.”
That seemed to be enough because Mepalham left.
Having a bath has always been complicated back when she was in England. Fairies, ghosts and demons would barge in with the weirdest reasons but only once did Zoe really get scared: when Merhdir almost drowned her in what was an illusion done by a vanity demon. She could still feel that overpowering atmosphere but when she looked at the bathroom door and saw it closed and unmoving, she knew it was just a feeling and nothing more.
The brunette leaned on the sink and wiped the mirror enough to look at her appearance. Her face looked healthy and clean, she was thinner than last year but that was only because she had to keep down the costs for food. Her blue eyes were the same yet something was different; it was barely noticeable but she knew it was there.
She could feel him squirm inside her body, trying to release the power she had in Hell. In times like these, when she was alone and naked of any social influence, she could let it out. The change in her eyeballs, in her chin and just every feature of her face, everything was shifting. Those blue eyes became pitch black with an orange dot in the middle that was slightly rolling in its place. Her chin fell as parts of her facial skeleton begun to show. The demon looked back at her as if it wasn’t his fault that she moved on another continent.
As fast as the change occurred, it disappeared as if it never happened in the first place. Zoe sighed and wrapped a towel around her naked body before walking into her bedroom. She changed into her yellow silk pajamas and got in bed. Just like before, Zoe had to gulp down three sleeping pills for her to rest enough.
A sleek and tall creature was standing right outside her open bedroom, watching her with intense red eyes. It tilted its head as it saw her roll on her side and the creature snickered darkly. He swayed his clawed hand slowly, enough for the sheet to fall down to her waist. It didn’t seem to wake her up at all so the creature moved closer to its victim.
With the sleeping pills slowly losing their effect, Zoe felt more aware of the world around her. Just like before, when she could fake sleep and wait for whatever was around her to leave, she stood still as if nothing was wrong.
The creature tilted his head to the side even more, looking like he was ready to bend his body. He was very careful not to wake her up because really, he only wanted to observe. Zoe Lestrade was a name he heard so often amongst demons so he wanted to explore.
Zoe was waking up and first she heard a faint sound, as if something was crawling towards her bed. The tension rose when the creature got next to her.
The demon blinked its red eyes but didn’t move an inch afterwards. It was strange even for him to stand and just watch- no, admire. Zoe was a woman, a demon in a human shell and she could bleed, feel and die. She could die and that itself was extraordinary in its eyes.
He wasn’t very smart but he was drawn to her; he leaned in and caressed her face. If he wanted to, he could scratch her so badly that it would leave a mark but that would have serious consequences. If Leviathan were to know an unlisted demon got out, he’d apply severe punishment.
Unconsciously, the creature whispered something. It wasn’t for her to know but she was awake, to his misfortune.
“Hell has changed because of you,”
Zoe frowned. She groaned and rolled over so she could at least get a glimpse of what entered her home. The creature hissed loudly before silence filled the apartment once again. Zoe opened her eyes but he was already gone.
“For how meticulously he approached me, he definitely left in a hurry.” Zoe mumbled, knowing she won’t be able to go back to sleep.