CODEX Part 4: Among the Living

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Hell Hasn't Forgotten

Mepalham knew he had to keep a close eye on Zoe, especially after such a showy suicide. Seeing her so scared, trembling from every bone, the demon wondered just when she will take action instead of freezing in front of death.

But Zoe was not scared of death but of what people were going to say, about how much the words spoken out loud were going to resonate and what might happen with the inheritor being called out.

The brunette turned around, ready to return to her building. She rushed past Mepalham, pushing him in the process, and didn’t stop until she entered the hall of her department. Besides occultism, the faculty of history had the historical writing department in which students were learning about ideograms and phonograms. They had joint professors and lectures at times, an example being professor Fauggerdy.

“Have you heard? Someone called the police and they’re on their way here right as we speak!”

Zoe was worried. Rumors about the suicide seemed to have zoomed quicker than expected. The halls in the building were large and the number of students was massive. While most were talking about the recent event, she noticed someone passing the crowd, with a blank expression and books in hand as if nothing bad had happened.


Zoe was confused about the reason she could see the ghost of a boy that should have moved on. Curious, the brunette followed the boy towards the occultism classroom, Fauggerdy’s to be exact. Before entering, Zoe had to take a moment and fully grasp what she was doing. She had been keen on ignoring everything paranormal and now she was standing outside a sticky situation.

Stefan was not inside and neither was the professor. Zoe walked to Fauggerdy’s desk and peeked at the papers sprawled all over the surface. Most of them were about lectures, minimized for the students. Looking around, she noticed the projection screen was pulled down and the projector was turned on yet there was nothing on it, nothing relevant.

“Pull it up,”

Zoe turned towards the student desks and saw Stefan there, at the top of the stairs, looking at her. With trembling hands, the brunette pulled the screen up and gasped at the gruesome sight. Professor Fauggerdy was crucified on the whiteboard, the nails plunged in every spot as described in the Bible. He looked clean compared to other sights she had seen but nonetheless peculiar.

The homicide team arrived approximately fifteen minutes later. The sight drew attention off the suicide for some reason. A huge crowd formed in front of the classroom, with Zoe being the only person inside.

“Wow, quite a surprise, isn’t it Lestrade?” Roberts asked as soon as he stepped in. The forensic team followed in and worked in getting the corpse down without affecting the evidence.

Just as usually, the detective took a lollipop from the pocket of his jacket and slowly unwrapped it before putting it in his mouth and sucking on it while thinking.

“Is this the work of a psychopath?” Asked the detective, planting himself in front of the crucifixion spot.

Zoe jolted as Stefan’s ghost moved right behind her. He didn’t seem to mean any harm but it was suspicious how he wasn’t even surprised that his former professor was murdered.

“I’m not sure. It could be anyone, from the janitor to a complete stranger.”

“What about a student?” Roberts asked, his eyes moving on the crowd outside, “They seem eager to see how a dead body looks like. Occultism is full of oddities, no offence Lestrade.” He added, turning towards the woman.

“You have no idea,” she mumbled, feeling Stefan’s cold breath on the back of her neck. “If I’m not needed, I’d like to retreat.” She added feeling a chill go down her back from the close proximity of the ghost.

Roberts sucked particularly harder on the lollipop, his cheeks swelling as his eyes widened in a characteristically weird way. He was a strange human being, one that Zoe had never met before and yet that was probably the main reason she liked working with him.

“You can go. I’ll wrap this up and call you later when I get some evidence.” He replied.

Zoe nodded and walked towards the door. She was one step outside when she heard the detective scream at her, “Keep your phone on this time around, Lestrade!” Zoe chuckled to herself and hurried out of the building.

“Stop following me. Go into the light or something.” She mumbled, hiding her mouth by feigning a cough.

“He killed me. They killed me, the brotherhood.”

Zoe stopped on the stairs that gave out into the courtyard as if she heard a blasphemy. Stefan raised an eyebrow and watched his former classmate swallow anxiously while her chin tensed and body seemed to twitch inadvertently.

“You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?”

“No.” she answered shortly, her eyes filling up with tears in the corners. She tried not to react at all but the Holy Brotherhood was one problem she never had to face and she truly didn’t want to. “Leave, Stefan. Go into the light.”

“There is no light for those like me, Zoe. I dug too deep and now I don’t know where to go,” he answered and grabbed her hand. It was an immense surprise for the ghost when he found that he could touch her and she could feel his presence as more than just spiritual. “Before they killed me they asked about one particular name.”

“Don’t. Please, don’t drag me back into that world.” she pleaded, one tear falling down her cheek. It must have looked incredibly odd from an outsider’s point of view: a woman was crying on the stairs that led to the department of history and occultism.

“Marcus.” The ghost continued staring at his former colleague as he grasped her hand tightly.

Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion and she turned to the ghost. Unfortunately, at the same time, a bright blink of light surprised her and she immediately remembered how she met Ezekiel.

But the person behind the camera was not a puppy-eyed British man but an American whose face expressed only incertitude. He was quite tall with a sharp chin and elongated eyes; he looked nothing like a pup and from what she could note at a first glance, he was not as curious as Ezekiel once was.

“Who’s Marcus?” he asked with innocence although his eyes were anything but. It took Zoe a few seconds to register what he asked and where he was actually looking.

“You can see me?” Stefan asked, not ready for such a discovery.

“Of course I can! Are you a ghost too?” he asked Zoe, “Your eyes are beautiful. They remind me of autumn leaves and-”

Zoe stopped him from talking further with one slap over the face. He was definitely human and it hurt him because he moaned and rubbed his sore cheek with a judging stare. Instead of apologizing, Zoe rushed out of there, away from both troublesome men. She left Britain with a reason and she didn’t want to get back into ghostly adventures. The cost was far bigger this time around and she couldn’t risk placing Ezekiel’s memory in danger.

"What just happened?" the American man asked the ghost. It was quite peculiar to see a person talk to empty space but not even one passer-by questioned his sanity.
"Who are you?" asked Stefan, still not believing that someone so normal looking could see him.
"Who are you?" asked the American in return, leaning in to get all the details. "You died recently, didn't you? Are you the guy that jumped off the department of literature's building?"
Stefan needed a few minutes to shake off this strangeness that came with being seen by humans he did not know. Zoe was a completely different thing because he had heard about her as soon as he fell over the veil and died but whoever was standing right in front of him was unexpected.
"Aren't you here for professor Faugerdy's murder?"
The American's eyes widened and he grabbed Stefan's hand and shook it fervently. He obviously came for a different reason and somehow fate opened up a new opportunity to him.
"Thank you very much for this information. I guess I'll see you around!" he exclaimed and rushed inside the building. Stefan stood back watching with an expression of doubt and surprise mixed with curiosity. Just who was that guy?

As soon as Zoe arrived home, she locked the front door and hurried into the kitchen to grab a marker. It was unlike her to use signs against demons and ghosts but she did it anyway. Having a person see a ghost and act so nonchalantly about it, having a suicide happen right before her eyes and worst of all, having the Holy Brotherhood mention some guy called Marcus was enough to push her towards the edge.
"You forgot about me," Mepalham added, seeing how frantic she looked. "I entered once you did so I guess we're locked together in here," he added smiling sarcastically.
"Who's Marcus? Is he another child of a prince? Why do they all have to come to me?!" she looked like she was about to have a breakdown and her inner demon was not even trying to come out.
"There aren't any others but you and our dearly departed Jasper. Obviously, we only have you now, both commander and inheritor and princess of the Vanity Domain, all hail Zoe!"
Mepalham laughed by himself but Zoe only stared at him with scepticism.
"I'd ask more about that boy you met today. He can see ghosts and I'm certain he can see me too. You should investigate that little problem and leave Marcus to me and the rest. That is demon problem and you don't want to get involved in Hell's business now, do you?"
"If I could, I would sew your mouth shut," she answered seeing how Mepalham was growing too friendly with her.
"I might actually enjoy that." The demon retorted.
Mepalham did not seem offended or mad, he quite liked riling her up. It was so much closer to how he remembered her in Hell, as the bloodthirsty monster that had the audacity to confront Mammon in his own castle.
"Don't worry, Zoe, Hell hasn't forgotten about you." Were the demon's last words before he walked through the window as if it was a portal.
That night was awful. Having two deaths so close to each other triggered memories deeply covered in Zoe's mind. She started to remember familiar faces smiling happily before becoming sacrifices of an egocentric maniacal creature. She woke up several times in fear of those red eyes that tried to kill her.
Meanwhile, a boy was having the time of his life, at least in his vision. He was walking home at what might have been three in the morning and he was smiling while watching what he had just caught on tape. He rewound that moment twice already and he still couldn't believe how lucky he got. Right there, amidst the crowd looking at the fallen body, was a woman who was trembling in anger more than fear (at least from his point of view) and next to her was standing something else. It was not human but it looked like he had tried his best to form an average shell.
As soon as he arrived home, he took a shower, changed and got in bed. He waited for a few minutes before he started to talk to himself.
"That's most definitely a demon. Isn't it? Is it? I do hope something bigger is going on than two weird suicides."
There was a moment of complete silence. One police car was heard in the distance driving through the neighborhood but when that noise passed, someone answered. He appeared out of nowhere on the free side of the bed, his dark wide eyes glimmering with amusement and expectation.
"The inheritor's been called out. She has no choice but to move along with the tide now." He said, his expression lightening up. His ghostly appearance did not seem to frighten the human but then again, they did meet a few more times before. "Oh, Caleb, entertainment is on its way."
At that same moment, Zoe woke up in sweat and tremors. Those eyes...they were watching from the shadows, waiting patiently for the moment to strike back.

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