Chapter Nineteen; Raising Hell
August 4, 2017 – On The Road
A happily ever after is what everyone wants. To find the person they love; to be young forever, and to have the best life they could ever imagine. Even if that means they have a crappy life at first: dead parents, no family, and a toxic childhood.
So, he could only dream. Dream of a better tomorrow that he knew would never come, because this fight would never end. Not in a thousand years, because he knew that the forces of Hell were much too strong. He was the only one that could bring justice to earth.
And as Jay Mauser looked outside of the rental car’s window, he could only imagine how horrible his life was.
He had no parents, his foster parents were abusive, his brother made many mistakes, and he let the woman he loved die.
Shannon hummed a lullaby she’d claimed was what the angel’s would sing for grief, and as he listened to the song, he felt like his throat was being choked with the tears he held inside for much too long.
Squeezing his eyes shut, the male decided to hide those feelings to the outside world. No one needed to see his suffering, nor must they hear it. Besides, it wasn’t like anyone wanted to listen to what he was upset about, although how clear it may be.
They could kill all those demons, but for what? Murder and justice… they were completely different things. It wasn’t justice to take a life.
It would just make them just like those demons, nothing better, and perhaps worse.
Yes, they had murdered demons; they had gone on this crusade to do just that… But now that he thought more about his conversation with Jude, it was ridiculous!
They couldn’t kill an army, they couldn’t kill Lucifer, and they wouldn’t escape the fate he was meant to endure.
Sarah died because of them, and now Jude could too… Jay shook his head. He couldn’t let that happen—he just couldn’t.
Jay had been cursed with these godforsaken keys that would be right on his shoulder for the rest of his little, worthless life. He wanted to scream to whatever god was up there taunting him and say: why me? Why must I be beheld by the grasp of a key that everyone wants to murder?
Despite what he wanted to scream into oblivion, there wasn’t anything there. Not in his mind, his mouth, his heart. Just… nothingness.
The tears that had welled his throat dispersed, and he just found himself staring at nothing. The world outside turned blurry, and his thoughts were scattered, repeating like a broken record of the single phrase: why me?
Why me why me why me why me…
And then there was something. A bright light in front of him, reaching out with an ancient hand that was withered and frail.
It called to him, whispering words that he couldn’t understand, and when his hand gently brushed against a single finger, he was screaming.
A flash of lightning struck inside him, and he felt the car jolt to an immediate stop. Help, he wanted to say, but his body ruptured, attacking him from the inside. It controlled him like there was a control system inside his brain, and he felt his body seize from the sudden, excruciating pain that inflicted his entire body.
Help help help help help…
No one could.
Another scream escaped his breath, and his eyes opened, and he let out a cough of panic as he looked over to his brother with plea. But he wasn’t there. They’d disappeared… what were—what were their names?
Again, another surge of electricity, and he let out a scream of a word he couldn’t hear beneath the sound of thunder.
Death clouded his mind with his horrific storm clouds, and as Jay grasped the handle of the car’s door, he flung it open, attempting to jump outside, but another hand grasped the collar of his shirt, not letting him free.
Let me go! It hurts too much… it hurts too much…
He tried to close his eyes and not think about whatever was controlling his body, but they opened once again to see the sun before him. Bright, unforgiving and horrifying… And he could have sworn it looked back, dead into his soul.
Worthless, he thought it said. Pathetic.
What was this—this pain? What manipulated his body? What wanted to hurt him?
He fought against it, scratching at his face, his head, his eyes… everything that wanted to hurt him. He ripped his hair out, he tore his clothes off, and without another cry of frustration or injury, it calmed.
It came to a complete stop.
Ba-pump, ba-pump, ba-pump… His heart beat ever so slowly, and he hadn’t realized he closed his eyes. And when he opened them, everything was back to normal, and he looked towards his brother whose mouth lay agape.
“What the hell was that?” he breathed, afraid.
Afraid… of him. Never in a lifetime would Jay of thought his older brother would have been afraid of… him.
“I-I… I don’t know,” Jay whispered, and without another word, he opened the car’s door and ran. He ran so far that when he looked behind his shoulder, no one was there. It was just an empty highway without a single vehicle in sight. Not a single person following him as he ran wherever his feet would take him.
One after the other they sprinted, never ending. Left and right, left and right, left and right… his heart pumped fast with adrenaline, and sweat began to bead atop his black brow.
Get away from here… away from this horrible place.
And as Jay Mauser kept on running, he came to a forced halt and let out a gasp of surprise. He looked to his side, and a man with a black Stetson held his arm out towards him, and before he could react, he closed his hand and Jay went flying.
He slid across the ground, letting out a cry as his skin peeled off on the paved road. Blood covered his arms with pebbles inches deep, but without a thought, he stood up on his feet.
But he wasn’t the one who got himself on his toes—it was the assassin of Hell who had been lifting him up, up into the sky. Higher than he’s ever been before.
This was a mistake… a horrible, horrible mistake.
But there wasn’t time for running. He was trapped.
Oh god, oh god… What had he done? Why did he run?
Higher and higher he went until the assassin held his hand firmly high, and with a grin that sent chills throughout his body, he dropped his hand.
Screaming with agony and terror, he was falling down, until he halted with a jolt that pushed the air out of his lungs. He gasped, and he felt himself drop down, down… and then a stop. Never ending, continuing as the assassin lifted him high and then dropped him, and then… repeat.
Repeat, repeat, repeat…
Up, up, down, down… halt.
Torture. Torture for what he’d done to humiliate the demon.
For not… killing him?—
And then the sound of a breaking car screeched in his ear, and when he looked bellow him, he stopped moving.
Then he was falling this time—for real.
The ground drew near, black and radiating. Murderous and horrid. It got closer and closer and closer, and his breath hitched. He was ready. Ready to be rid of the keys, the demons, the angels… Of everything that’d done him wrong.
So as he fell, he accepted his fate of death.
What do you say to Death? He remembered his conversation with Jude that one day. Not today.
It had to come one day, didn’t it? Death was always around the corner, ready to take your soul to where you belong, either upstairs or down in Hell.
Jay Mauser closed his blue eyes with a single tear dripping down his cheek as the wind slashed around his body, and he whispered:
Jude watched as his brother dropped from a hundred feet in the sky, screaming with every moment as he fell. He slammed on the gas, speeding down the road. No, he didn’t care if his foot cramped, didn’t care if he got a ticket, or if he died trying to save his brother.
And he certainly didn’t give a rat’s ass if he hit the demon that murdered his parents in the process.
He would do anything to save his brother from this fate.
Demons surrounded them, walking in a straight line as they watched Jay fall. Fly, little bird, fly, he heard some whisper.
It became a chant that was disgusting to its core.
Jude slammed on the brakes, and he heard a yelp form behind him, but as he ignored the sound, and ran out of the vehicle with the blade Anielle had given him.
I will save you, Jay, he said silently to himself.
Perhaps he would die trying to save his brother, but that was okay. At least he tried; at least he did something instead of watching his parents burn.
Not again, not today. There will be no death.
He flung at the demon with the black Stetson whose face was burnt to a crisp. He thrashed at him, snarling as the blade hurled towards his chest, but the demon only laughed and held his hand up and flicked. He went flying backwards.
“Let go of my brother!” Jude growled and went towards him again, jumping like a mad man.
But his arms stopped moving, and he was completely useless against this demon.
“Fool,” the demon that murdered his parents said. “You’re just as stupid as Lori and Jack.”
A muscle feathered in his jaw. Fighting against the force against him, he couldn’t move a single arm, knowing there was no point. “Let him go,” he repeated. “Or you’ll regret it.” Where was Shannon?
The demon rolled his red eyes. “That’s cute,” he replied, drawing close to him with long claws for nails. The assassin removed his Stetson, throwing it to the side to reveal his goat horns. “You can try,” he added, touching Jude’s jaw with a claw. He went to bite it, but the demon didn’t even flinch as he got a centimeter away from snapping it off. “But you’re just a hairless ape.”
“A handsome one at that.” Struggling slightly, the screaming of his brother stopped. Oh god, is he dead? Jude’s eyes widened.
Silence—complete and utter silence.
Please don’t be dead…
The demon raised a brow and shoved Jude to the side as he went to look. “That can’t be…” he murmured.
His heartbeat quickened, and he felt bile rise up his esophagus. “Is he… is he d-dead?” Words were too hard to say. His mouth went dry.
“Far from it,” the demon replied after a long moment of silence. Oh, thank the gods! “Little bird can fly.”
The demon released him, and stumbling forward, Jude turned around and faced the assassin who’d fell to his knees. Was he… praying? Since when did demons pray?
Jude looked up to a blinding light, and the silhouette of wings spread like giant blue-jay wings. They were beautiful and elegant, and as the eldest Mauser looked at the youngest, he hadn’t any words. There was only shock.
Light beamed around them like the hottest fire, and he felt warmth to it. It was calm and serene, and when he watched his brother descend, Jude shook his head, not wanting Jay to fly away.
He slowly sank to the ground, the light became dimmer, and the world began to spin.
Jay, his little brother, had wings. The wings that matched his name, and the demons were praising him. Oh god, if he hadn’t gotten him into this mess, he’d never have to learn about this—this curse.
Taking the blade in hand, he eyed the demon that murdered his parents as he kneeled before Jay, chanting words in an unknown language.
“The key has awoken,” some said behind him.
“He has risen,” others said.
“Lucifer will rise again,” another whispered.
Triumph beat around him with a drum, and he stopped breathing at the sight of his brother. No, that wasn’t his brother anymore. Whatever he was… it was ancient, dark and unmerciful.
Jude squeezed the blade in his grasp, letting his hand bleed. He would take this moment, he told himself. He would kill that monster.
Staring at the assassin, Jude snarled at what he created of his brother.
“Have fun in Hell,” he whispered and plunged the blade right through the demon’s back, hearing a crunch.
Light flashed red around them with sparks of fire burning his flesh.
He held the blade there for a long, long moment, smiling with pleasure as he watched dark, crimson blood drip from where he’d stabbed the monster in the heart.
Then the beating stopped. The demons turned around to face him, eyes blank and bodies unmoving.
Jude looked back and kept the blade there as he moved away from the assassin, breath hitched and his hand started to shake.
Demons alike continued to stare before a low laugh ruptured from them, pulsing and getting louder… They all joined in, and like a wave, they stood from where they prayed.
Eyes flicking back and fourth, he started to walk backwards, away from these beings. He made a mistake… a big one, indeed.
Then a voice said from behind him, “You changed your fate.” It was Shannon’s voice.
Facing her, he got out, “What have I done?”
“He was supposed to kill you,” Shannon replied quietly, not looking at him but at the demons behind them. “But you took his life instead.”
Jude couldn’t move. “Then… what does that mean for me? What’s going to happen?”
“I can’t see anything… it’s all blank—it’s dark.” She shook her head. He hadn’t seen pain in her eyes before, and when he saw it, he knew they were in incredible danger. “Too dark.”
Jude went to touch her, to make her feel… better than this, but she flinched away. “We need to go,” she said. “Now.”
“What about Jay—“
“There isn’t time,” she hissed and looked at him, eyes burning with rage. “You made a stupid mistake and now we have to go.”
He looked around, unable to find his brother. Could he have just disappeared into thin air?
Where had he gone?
A hand slapped across his face, and when he went to clutch it, Shannon grabbed his wrist and snapped:
“We don’t know what he’s capable of.”
“No!” he screamed, trying to break free from her grasp. “We have to find him—“
The world around him flickered before the sound of flapping wings filled his ear.
August 5, 2017 – The Middle of Nowhere
Jay couldn’t control whatever had happened to him back there, and when he opened his eyes in a field full of long grass, he sat up and winced with pain that came from the back of his head. Slowly he went to touch it, and as he did, the injury disappeared with the wink of an eye.
“What the…” he said with low volume and stood up on his wobbly feet. There was so much grass around him, and a mile away there was a road with what looked like an abandoned car.
It didn’t take long for him to stumble his way over there, but when he did, he held in his panic as he eyed a dead body of a man with… goat horns?
Was it already Halloween?
It must have been a prank of a passing fellow who wanted to scare someone. Snorting, he waved it off and made his way to the vehicle and looked inside. An empty pie-tray, a magazine, phone and map were the only things left in the car with no keys.
Behind him laid a long blade, and frowning, the male moved towards it, lifted it in his hand. Blood covered the blade, and holding in his vomit, he knew this had to be a joke. He turned around, keeping the blade with him and returned to the vehicle.
Rubbing his chin, he got inside and held the wheel. It was leather and soft against his skin, and with a smile, he knew he could get somewhere with this car. It was, if he recalled, a Honda Civic 2016 model. But… how do you hotwire a car?—
The car hummed, and he jolted from the wheel as the car automatically started. “How the hell…?” He squinted his eyes, trying to decipher what he just witnessed. “Something weird is going on around here,” he whispered to no one.
Shrugging, he pulled the gear to drive and pressed the gas slightly before a large boom sounded a few miles away, piercing his ear. Letting out a painful wheeze, he looked out the window and saw a beam of light brighter than the sun beyond the horizon.
“Yup, weird,” Jay said to himself and pressed the gas again. “Very, very weird.”
He drove for a while, unsure of where he was going. Fogginess filled his mind, blocking things he couldn’t place, and shaking his head, he turned on the radio and listened to Sentimental Street by Night Ranger.
Meadows and trees spread across the land around him, and only a single vehicle drove past him. There must have been something there before his mind was… fogged, he supposed. But had it been important? Friendly or mean?
Whatever it was… he didn’t remember, and he wasn’t sure if he should have cared or not. So he didn’t, and he kept driving, and driving, and driving. Until he found himself passing by an old motel that made him furrow his brows. Parking the car in the lot, and stepped out of the vehicle and looked around, eying the Primrose Motel – VACANCY. Jay grimaced at the sight and decided to not enter the shabby and revolting place they called a motel.
Picking at his nails, the male started to walk down a path that lead towards various different building: tailor shops, Shoppers Drug Mart, a few restaurants and a book store. A very quaint town, and it was—
He jumped backwards as a car honked at him angrily, and when he looked up, the light beamed red. Jay flinched at the colour, staring at it as if it stared back.
“Move it, idiot!” the angry driver called, and nodding slowly, Jay walked back to the safe part of the road. “Damn drunks,” the driver muttered as he drove by, disappearing down the road towards the suburbs.
Rubbing the back of his neck, the male stood there without much thought. He hadn’t any idea where he was, and the knowing that something was missing… It bothered him.
So he kept on walking down the street to nowhere, until his feet grew tired and the sun went down. Until the moon shone down before him and he began to shiver from the cold.
And until he felt completely alone in this world.
He was sleeping on a bench at the side of an old bar, shuddering from the crisp wind. No blanket comforted him or a fire, and as he lay there, he struggled to fall asleep. Looking at the concrete sidewalk, the sound of footsteps could be heard from behind him. Eyes flicking up, he stared at a hooded man that smirked at him and showed—fangs?
Sitting up, he went to say something, but he stuffed a cloth in his mouth and covered his eyes with a bag, and within seconds, they knocked him out cold.
They followed the light after a day full of endless arguing.
Shannon hated the idea of going towards that beam that screamed danger, but she knew Jude would have gone without her if she continued to fight back. And Jay could have been there, after all.
Upon arrival, her eyes fixated on the sight of pure disaster. Everything was burnt to a crisp, and the skeletons of animals were spread all around the grey field of dirt.
The light was more bearable here, but when she eyed the Gate to Hell, she shuddered with fear.
“We’re in really big trouble,” she said to Jude, but when he looked at her, he didn’t say a word.
She is dead to me, was what she heard in his mind. I hope to never hear her voice again once we’re done here.
Yes, she understood why he felt this way. She shouldn’t have run… She shouldn’t have forced him to go. And she shouldn’t have saved his forsaken life. Maybe he should thank her at least once, but she kept her trap shut.
“We will do this together,” she tried again with him, but there again wasn’t an answer. “I know you’re angry, but we can—“
He just walked away, unwilling to hear her out.
“Fine, be that way,” she said to herself and followed after him.
The Gate of Hell was deserted and quiet. It pulsed as if it had a living heart, and the light turned black, as she got closer. The entry was forbidden for angels, and she was locked outside.
If she ever stepped foot inside Hell… the first thing that the demons would do was saw her wings off, and then skin her.
She shuddered at the thought.
It wasn’t like how she pictured it, however. It was brooding and intimidating, and the energy was indefinitely suffocating, but she expected… darkness. A shadow of blackened silhouettes that guarded the Gate.
But no one was here.
Not a living soul besides the duo.
Slowly she moved around it, feeling for others, but not even the sound of a cricket could be heard. Intimidating, indeed.
Jude stalked around and then sank to the ground, touching the dirt followed by a hiss of unexpected shock. She could hear his curses that filled his mind.
“Do you want me to look at your hand—“
He looked at her with anger that stabbed her in the heart before he kept looking around.
This agony of wanting him to forgive her struck her heart deeply, but she ignored the wanting and went for the needing. They had to find Jay, but the evidence showed there hadn’t been a soul here for days to the least.
“Jay?” Jude suddenly called, hands up to his mouth to increase his volume. “Jay?”
No answer, no footsteps, no breathing.
Just nothing. A ghost town.
“This isn’t like the demons,” Shannon said to Jude, not caring if he ignored her. “They never step away from their posts.” She shook her head. Something was very wrong here. “I think this is a trap—“
Footsteps sounded in her right ear, and swirling around, a man with short blonde hair and green eyes stood there.
“Hello, darling,” the forty-year-old man purred.
But he wasn’t a man.
He was something far darker, far more powerful.
Her heart stopped beating, and her mind screamed run run run run run…
“Headmaster,” Jude growled from behind her, and he slowly made his way to her side. He reached for something, but found nothing there, and Shannon realized what he went for.
He’d forgotten the blade.
Looking back at the man called ‘Headmaster’, she knew that wasn’t his real name. Oh no, far from it.
“I heard you took someone dear from me,” the Headmaster said with a fat lip as he eyed Jude like a wolf ready to pounce on prey. “And I am not very happy about that.”
Jude spat at his feet. “I don’t give a damn,” he hissed. “I would kill a thousand of those demons if I could.”
The Headmaster looked at the spit and chuckled. “You humans are so barbaric.”
“Listen, we didn’t come here to fight,” Shannon said, moving in front of Jude. “We want what’s ours.”
The Headmaster raised a brow. “And who said that I have what’s yours?” he inquired.
Jude stepped to the side and snarled, “Give back my brother. I’ve had enough of your lies.”
He only smiled, and raising both arms, he called, “Bring the dear boy forward.”
They sounded like a thousand men, racing towards them with the sound of thunder clapping behind them. A storm had come, and it began to rain. Shannon looked towards the rising of dust that plumed around demons with red glowing eyes, and some with pitch-black pupils that covered the white.
Some that looked like humans came forward, while others showed their true forms. There must have been hundreds…
Shannon became light headed, and when she looked to Jude, he looked pale.
In the arms of four laid a boy with black hair, and Shannon nearly screamed as they dropped him on the ground. Jay… their Jay…
What had they done to him?
Jude ran forward, thrashing and flailing, but Shannon held him back. If he got even an inch too close to Jay, his head would be sliced off his shoulders before he knew it.
The demons roared with laughter, and when she looked at the Headmaster, he bowed with a clumsy grace.
“I must thank you,” he said to her, and then eyed to Jude once again. “You have the front row seats to watch the first Key enter Hell.”
Shannon shook her head. No, no, no… “It can’t be… It can’t.”
The Headmaster gestured to Jay’s body. “Bring him forward,” he said, and the four demons immediately obliged, dragging Jay towards him.
Her eyes lined with tears as she watched them treat him nothing more than a bag of vegetables.
“My fellow demons,” the Headmaster called, “we are given the Key!” The response was a roar of pride and triumph.
They won… she couldn’t stop them.
The Headmaster kneeled in front of his body and placed a hand over his heart, uttering the words before time. His body glowed a pale blue.
Jude screamed at the demon, but the Headmaster didn’t even flinch, and before she could stop them, they bashed him in the back of the head with their fist. He fell into the ground, and Shannon let out a pathetic cry.
“Watch,” he growled and continued to chant. “Watch your failure.”
Shannon couldn’t breathe—she couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t—
A flash of light filled her vision and blinded her. She heard herself scream before she hit the ground.
Everything else turned silent, while a constant ring sang in her ears.