CODEX Part 4: Among the Living

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Hell Hasn't Forgiven

Mornings were never Zoe's favourites but ever since the nightmares have levelled up to complete terrors, they became dreadful. The whole time to the police station, she hid her sore eyes behind sunglasses, but once inside the building, the officers could easily sense something was bothering her.

"You look like you binge-watched Supernatural. All 14 seasons." Detective Roberts commented from his seat behind his desk. He was rummaging like a cow on his strawberry gum and it annoyed Zoe, who's been having migraines the whole week.

"It's been seven days since the incidents. Did nothing happen? No news, no leads and nothing out of the ordinary in the autopsy?" She asked changing the subject.

"That's why I called you in today. We'll visit the morgue but before that, I want to show you something," he said and turned his laptop towards her. He pressed play and Zoe's migraine just got worse.

Hello fellow investigators! It's Ghostly Eyes, back to work on my latest subject. I know I informed you all about the suicide of Fred Malcolm, a French literature major that one day decided life was too boring and he should just throw himself into the neant. A lot of you have commented about his last words and now that I'm standing here, at the scene of the crime, I do understand what you mean. It feels weird. Mediums came but they couldn't see anything. That's because there's nothing to see, it's empty. However, I feel the trace of something evil. Look! My hands are trembling!

Zoe looked up at the detective but he didn't seem bothered by what he had already seen. Twice. Her eyes moved back on the video and she sighed as if she was tired already.

Anyway, I know many of you want to discuss his last message. I have it written here, wait just a moment. He fumbled and grabbed a piece of paper from his backpack. Right. Do you see me? This is for you. This is for Lucifer's legacy on Earth. This is for the inheritor. Many have asked me what that means and to be honest, I don't know.

Zoe's eyes widened as she looked into his eyes. He was lying.

"He knows," she mumbled to herself.

What I know is that on the same day, another man had taken his life, or at least that's what the police said. Professor Fauggerdy, a specialist in the history of the occult and symbolism was the unfortunate victim. I say victim because I conducted a few interviews and students of the history department admitted their professor was a good man, a positive man who did not look like he wanted to die. I'll keep you all posted about both deaths and if I find proof of the paranormal being involved I'll try my best to capture it on camera.

The video ended and Zoe pushed the laptop towards its owner.

"So what now? Do paranormal lovers think it has something to do with ghosts? Because one was definitely a suicide and the other was impossible for a ghost." Zoe explained, doing what she was best at: avoiding.

"His name is Caleb Miller, 28 years old, a respectable journalist until one year ago when he had a change of heart and decided to start a blog about paranormal investigators and how they are all shit. His words, not mine." He explained, handing his file to Zoe. "No criminal record, nothing suspicious, clean as spring. Quite disappointing if you ask me."

"So then what's the reason you're showing this to me?" she asked placing the file aside.

"He's been pestering us to let him know details about Fauggerdy's case. He believes it is murder as well, one that was deliberately done while outside an innocent kid fell to his death." Roberts added blowing a bubble.

"And how do you know all these details?"

"I spoke to him. He came yesterday around noon. He said that if he finds any new information he'll make sure we know it first. How nice of him, right?"

Roberts sounded like a nonchalant friend that lived in a world with no worries but Zoe had gotten to know him after all these months working together and she knew he was worried.

"I'll talk to him, then. But first, I want to know Fauggerdy's official cause of death."

"How much longer are you going to stare at that mirror?" Gakhas asked when really he came to escape work.
Mehrdir sighed and waved his hand, the mirror transforming into an ugly painting.
"She's doing well, you know. She has a proper job, proper establishment, still no friends but that's just usual for her." Gakhas added, having already talked to her face to face.
Mehrdir walked into the main hall of Lucifer's mansion and stared at the hole in the middle of it. After the war quieted down, nobody bothered to clean up. Outside was even worse, bodies still lying around with limbs broken or decapitated. But that was not what Mehrdir was worried about.
"What if The Holy Brotherhood finds her? What if another cult finds her? What if-"
"What if you shut the fuck up already? You are annoying." Gakhas interrupted feeling like he might kill himself all over again. "If you miss her so much, which is very embarrassing since you are a demon, you should just stalk her. In person."
Mehrdir rolled his eyes and walked up to the former vanity throne. He really did miss Zoe, she was his mate after all and that was not going to change for as long as he was a demon. But the disappointment he felt when she departed for the USA had a bigger impact than he expected.
Gakhas watched from down below as the former greed demon, one of Mammon's best was swallowed by human emotions. It was sickening and out of reflex, Gakhas checked his mark. Thankfully, it was still Belphegor's. Zoe had already influenced a lot of demons into bestowing their loyalty to her without much work so yes, Gakhas was scared.
"Do you still love her?" The slot demon asked out of nowhere.
Mehrdir's answer was immediate, "I do."
"Shameless as always," Gakhas muttered shaking his head in a disapproving manner. "Have you seen Eneizar?" He changed the subject.
"No, not since the war ended. He must be around, playing with humans or something." Mehrdir replied knowing that the pride demon was strong enough to take care of himself.
"Firstly, the war did not end, it was only interrupted. And secondly, if you would actually perk your ears you would hear that Eneizar has disappeared for a long time now and he cannot be traced in Hell or in the human world. He's vanished." Gakhas emphasized seeing how Mehrdir was acting like a teenage girl.
Drumming her fingers along the metallic table, Zoe walked around the corpse of the young Fred Malcolm. She couldn't quite form an idea about him since she had never seen him around campus and his lifeless body wasn't impressive. From the tip of his head to the bottom of his feet, Fred was an innocent victim whose death had no real purpose except maybe scaring her.
"We have two cases here: one is definitely a suicide although from what I noticed, he tried to soften the fall by placing his hands in front of him." Doctor Chang explained, also showing how exactly he placed his arms.
"Second thoughts maybe? He might have realized the gravity of what he was doing and wanted to magically fly back on the window sill." Roberts commented as he grabbed a new gum from his pocket. He seemed a lot happier once he tasted it.
"Maybe. But it was definitely a suicide. Every witness saw him getting up there and throwing himself willingly, including myself." Zoe stated looking up into his dark eyes. Doctor Chang nodded and moved over the other body in the room.
"Gregorio Fauggerdy is a different case. He most definitely did not hang himself on the board nor did he crucify himself. I found drugs in his system, such a high dosage that I find it impressive that he could still teach." Chang grabbed the file and gave it to Zoe, although the detective was more than ready to receive it. Roberts opened his mouth but decided against saying something.
"Antidepressants, mostly. He has a lot of cut marks on his hands, especially on his palm, and just like his student, Fauggerdy has a particular mark on his back. The difference is that Fauggerdy's around 30 years old." As the doctor explained, she rolled the corpse on his front with the help of the detective. "I did some research and it seems this represents purity and Christianity."
"Of course it does," mumbled Zoe, closing the file and placing it on Fred's covered body. "Can I see Stefan's body again?"
"Sure. I already deposited him in the freezer but you can have a look. It's the third door from the top," Chang threw in the air, her hands busy with rolling Fauggerdy on his back. "I believed you to be stronger, Hubba Bubba." She added, addressing Roberts who only blinked innocently in response.
Zoe walked to the freezer in the back of the morgue and pulled the table out. Doctor Chang and the detective were busy talking to each other which let Zoe freely mumble to herself.
"Why do you have the mark of the Holy Brotherhood on your back, Stefan?" Zoe whispered in his ear.
"I only have half of it, the poisonous one." Was the answer that came from the other side of his corpse. Zoe looked up from his head to his ghost. "They gave me opium in the hope that it will open my eyes to the darkness around me. Of course, it didn't work." He added rolling his eyes at his naivety.
"What about Fauggerdy? Was he your mentor?" she asked, peeking at the two colleagues to check if they heard her. Thankfully, they were busy bickering with each other.
"Fauggerdy recruited me and a few others with the explanation that the evil has gotten its wings and came to the living world." He said seriously before he started to chuckle, "Thinking back on it, I was such an idiot. It sounded like a line from a Luciferian show."
"Who killed Fauggerdy?"
Stefan stared at his lifeless body, sighed heavily and looked down at his ghostly figure. He visibly had a lot on his mind but Zoe was a patient person. Unfortunately, Stefan did not give the answer she was waiting for.
"I don't know and honestly, I don't care. He had it coming." answered the ghost before he vanished.
"Are you ready, Lestrade? You've been chatting with this dead fellow for a while now." Zoe's eyes widened in surprise at the sudden appearance of Roberts behind her. "You have another chat waiting for you at the precinct, remember?"
She actually forgot about it for a moment.

It was definitely not a good day and it proved to be even worse when Zoe returned to the precinct and found a very content, very flashy dressed Caleb Miller waiting for them.
As soon as he caught sight of Zoe, he pulled his sunglasses lower on his nose and smiled boyishly.
"Hello, detective! I knew that if I came today I'll be lucky."
Zoe stared at him for a minute, trying hard to register the looks of this man and connect it to the video. She could see him speak to her but all she could hear was her own mind screaming at her to leave.
"I'll leave you to it, then," came the bemused encouragement from the real detective followed by a pat on the shoulder.
Zoe watched Roberts go and lock himself in his office before her eyes moved on the subject at hand. Caleb looked way too happy to meet her, a stranger that he had only bumped into a few days ago.
"Well, where do you want to conduct this interview Mr Miller?" She asked sounding as unpleasing as she felt.

Coincidentally, or not, Caleb led Zoe to a nearby Starbucks. The rush hour had just passed so they were two of the five people left to drink their coffees inside. One other man was talking on his phone on the other side of the store and the remaining two were the baristas working there. Zoe took the time to analyse all of them just in case an old friend might appear and make her look like a fool. Thankfully all of them were human, including the zealous ghost hunter standing in front of her.
"You seem super suspicious," Caleb started with a smile.
"It comes with the job. I am a profiler, remember? I analyse people and circumstances so that the detectives can find the culprit or the victim." She explained, her posture stiff as if she was in an interview for a future post.
"I know you think I am fake. But I did investigate the campus and I didn't see any ghost." He said, plunging deep into the subject that mattered.
"Of course you didn't-"
"With the exception of the one I saw you talking to." He interrupted quickly, his smile never leaving his face.
"You only saw what you wanted to see," Zoe added after a moment of silence. "It happens often to ghost lovers. Their eyes can't focus well in the dark and then imaginations does the rest."
"When I first saw you it was a bright day. No matter what you say, nothing can explain your eyes." Caleb said leaning towards her. "The colour of the autumn leaves, a reddish-orange that just got stuck in my head. You can't ask me to forget them."
"That's exactly what you should do. Forget everything, especially me."
Caleb chuckled finally seeing the real Zoe. She hissed at him like a real snake, with so much hatred and anger. Her eyes almost turned that beautiful colour but she controlled herself.
"Impossible. You are the most beautiful thing I had ever seen." He said yet not in a fanatic way. "You have seen Hell. How many people can say that? How many people can say they returned from Hell?"
She was ready to address those problems but he interrupted once more.
"How many people can say they defeated Lucifer?"
Zoe's eyes widened and for a second she felt the serpent move on her back.
"Who told you about me?" She asked in the scariest way. It was calm and yet so angry. Those blue eyes were staring at him with such power that he felt like he should cower in fear and ask for forgiveness.
"Does it matter? If I can see your eyes and that friendly ghost that informed me about your professor's death, doesn't that mean you should be worried?" He asked, those dark eyes deepening.
"Who are you?" Zoe asked, her grip on her coffee cup tightening to the point it looked like it was going to break. "Who told you about me?" She asked once more, this time letting her demon take over her voice.
Caleb's eyes fell over her right hand and he couldn't help but notice something crawling down her wrist. He swallowed nervously but at the same time, he was insanely happy.
"It was-" he didn't even have the time to complete his sentence because two ghosts -or at least that's how they looked from his point of view- appeared on each side of Zoe.
"Now, now, let's not annoy someone so easily annoyable." Said the one on her right.
"That is not even a word but point taken." Added the one on her left.
Caleb watched as they both placed one hand on her shoulders. One of them, the one with different coloured eyes, leaned in and whispered something in her ear. It seemed to be calming her down because whatever was on her wrist disappeared.
"Now, who are you and why can you see us?" The other one, with blue eyes, turned and asked Caleb.
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