Ezekiel was the one who woke up first, not remembering what happened exactly but feeling really tired and a bit out of it. He was ready to go back to sleep when he noticed a body near the couch. He got up and saw Zoe sleeping peacefully on the floor.
Suddenly, he got a quick flashback of what happened: how he got shaken a little by a demon and how she tried her best to protect him. Ezekiel smiled and leaned back, thinking just how weird Zoe was. He didn’t even know if he could call her a proper girl, a proper human. She had no friends except the supernatural beings and her life was vague.
“She cares for you. That’s pretty clear.”
Ezekiel frowned. He swore he heard something but it was too soft to understand.
Andrew rolled his eyes and scoffed, remembering just how tense Ezekiel was. The ghost wanted to have a chat but the human couldn’t see him; that was another problem. His eyes landed on what Ezekiel had beside his head: a phone. But it was too small for him to express exactly what he wanted and it was turned off. Andrew’s eyes ventured further, where he saw something else: Zoe’s laptop was lying on the floor.
Ezekiel’s eyes widened when he saw the laptop’s screen pop up, writing a document by itself.
“What the-Andrew, I hope that’s you,”
The ghost smirked; smart even if dead, he should have thought about that before.
“She’s an idiot,” Andrew started, “but she’s not a bad person. She’s not the brightest crayon in the box but she’s aware of what’s going on around her.”
Truthfully, the ghost wasn’t too sure about that. He only hoped she wasn’t completely oblivious.
“I know,” Ezekiel muttered, glancing at her face.
He smiled unconsciously. Maybe she was a girl, but she was definitely far from being human. No matter how he looked at Zoe, there was something dark surrounding her.
“You don’t know. She knows nothing but demons. It may sound fun and interesting but it’s not. Imagine that one day, you wake up and you can’t see the sun anymore. That’s how it is,” Andrew explained as simply as he could.
She definitely wasn’t showing how hard it was for her and through what exactly she was struggling, but she was. She was alone and that itself was a burden for her.
“Is it because she might be the inheritor?” Ezekiel suddenly asked.
“I don’t know. You should ask someone who does.” Andrew hesitated. He had a feeling that Eneizar lied but he wasn’t sure of anything, anyway. Her role was vague and the demons were blaming one another, making her destiny even more questionable than it already was.
Andy bit his lip and typed the name. He might have done something bad that would annoy her later on, but at the same time he was doing her a favour.
“She had a friend that she talked about before. His name is Terrance Talbot. Something happened between them and she started to avoid having friends all together.”
Ezekiel rubbed his chin and narrowed his eyes at the laptop.
“Is he alive?”
Andrew stared blankly at the human. Did he just ask that?
While Zoe was taking her sweet time sleeping, Ezekiel snuck out of her house. Andy followed him closely and used the phone to converse. He gave him the address and Ezekiel found himself in front of Terrance’s house in no time.
“Harlow, Essex. Zoe was born and raised here,” the ghost wrote.
Well, that was good to know. He wanted to know more about her and Andrew was giving him all the information he needed.
“Where does she live?” Ezekiel asked curiously, not sure where to look after the ghost. He didn’t have to; Andrew was right behind him, looking at the human warily.
“Now, why would I tell you that? We’re here on a different mission, remember?”
That little ghost wasn’t very friendly and Ezekiel could even hear Andy’s grumpy voice saying that.
“And how should I find this guy? How can I begin a conversation with him about Zoe?” Ezekiel had a lot of questions since he had never done something like that before but Andy already left. “You’re not very helpful, are you?” He moaned when he realized he was talking to himself.
If looks could kill, Ezekiel would have been in Andy’s place. The ghost really felt like kicking the human but kept that desire locked in his mind.
“Excuse me?” both culprits frowned, even if the stranger couldn’t even see Andy.
Behind them was the guy they were looking for but he didn’t look exactly like Ezekiel imagined. He was average in height, though he was shorter than Ezekiel, and he was one of the rare men with dark hair and blue eyes; he wasn’t exactly the Gothic, long haired, androgynous type of guy he imagined.
“You’re scaring the kids,” the blue-eyed average man continued, pointing behind him at the park.
Ezekiel looked around him and realized that he did stop in front of a park, with kids that were staring at him. He sighed, ignoring Andy’s bemused laughter both on the phone and in real life.
“So you were actually talking on the phone.”
After he met the guy whom he had to talk to, Ezekiel couldn’t just leave. He did move out of the way and played with the kids for a while, just to get their minds off what they have seen, but Terrance wasn’t a kid.
“That makes sense. Sorry I interrupted it. You looked very concentrated,” Terrance continued apologetically.
Ezekiel shook his head. He had to get the guy to talk, not apologize and leave.
“No, no. I was just around, searching for someone.”
Terrance looked very young but not enough to be stupid. His blue eyes were warm and completely different from what Zoe was emitting. He was also a curious guy.
Ezekiel decided to play stupid for the time and go with whatever his mind would make up on the spot.
“Well, I’m a friend of Zoe Lestrade. I heard that she was raised here and I just wanted to see what kind of environment she grew up in,” he said, watching the blue-eyed man closely. Terrance rubbed the back of his neck and frowned.
“How is she?” Terrance asked slowly. Ezekiel blinked innocently. He was walking on dangerous ground, but he was really curious what he knew about Zoe. “Is she unharmed?”
“Is there a reason why she wouldn’t be all right?” Ezekiel answered Terrance with another question, which only took the older man aback. He wasn’t sure what to tell a stranger because he wasn’t even sure if that guy was a friend of Zoe’s or not. Andrew appeared behind Ezekiel and sent him a message. It was something that didn’t make sense for the human but he said it nonetheless. “I was looking through her stuff once and found a letter.”
“Oh. Has she read it?”
The whole atmosphere was getting towards a sensitive path that Ezekiel wasn’t so sure about following. He tilted his head to the side and checked his phone for more details; the answer didn’t come. He closed his eyes and rubbed his hands, annoyed. Andy was helping, yet he wasn’t.
“Maybe.” Ezekiel wasn’t sure what he was talking about. He sent her a letter and she probably kept it for later. She was that kind of person. “She certainly treasures it.” He was lying through his teeth.
“You know, I thought it would be easier if I just sent her a letter and explained everything in it. I guess she ignored it. She is that kind of person. She doesn’t get too attached to someone.” Maybe Terrance wasn’t that easy to lie to. “You’re a bad liar. Your eyebrow started to twitch from the moment you told me you were talking on the phone,” Terrance stated, a bit amused by Ezekiel’s reaction. “Are you like her?”
“What do you mean?”
Terrance wasn’t an idiot. He stared deeply at Ezekiel and waited for an answer.
“I’m not. I can’t see anything even if I’d like to. She’s the only one with a special gift.” Ezekiel gave up his act and responded sincerely.
“What she has—it’s not a gift; it’s a curse. Why are you here?”
“Are you the one who told her that?” the younger man asked. Terrance seemed confused. “She said it too. Seeing ghosts and demons is not a curse. It’s a gift. It’s up to her to decide how to use it,” Ezekiel stated firmly. He found it important to take her side.
“Many people would argue with you about that. Her parents, for example. They never understood their daughter. Her mother is the overprotective type.” Ezekiel could imagine. “ Zoe had a lot of rules to obey. Her parents are rich and they don’t allow weirdness into their family. She had never been normal. I noticed how hard it was for her and I tried to help her.”
Ezekiel started to understand the guy or at least sympathise with him. He wanted to make life easier for her but she probably ran away.
“She tries to face the problem but somehow, she runs away right when it gets hard.” Ezekiel was on point. “Why don’t you visit her? I’m sure she’d like that.”
The older guy laughed loudly and shook his head. “No. She wouldn’t like it at all. We didn’t part on good terms.”
Ezekiel was really curious what exactly happened between them.
“What was she to you?”
Terrance sighed and leaned his head back. The sun was shining brightly and the heat was suffocating, just like the time he found out how miserable her life became when he entered her world.
“We were friends. At some point, I guess I wanted to be more than that. She didn’t run away. She was more than happy to have me there but I let her down when she needed me the most.”
Ezekiel frowned and started to have all these images where Zoe would actually try to socialise with people. She was really bad at human interaction.
Terrance could feel the guilt surfacing once again. He turned to Ezekiel and smiled softly. “Let’s take a walk.”
“Zoe’s powers became noticeable in middle school. She transferred to two schools before she got to mine. There were rumours about her. Kids are kids and they always exaggerate the stories. I heard that she was a witch, a ghost, a demon and so on but what I saw was just a helpless girl, fighting against herself. Back then I chose to believe her and labelled what she saw as imaginary friends but in high school, she changed. She became normal. I never knew just how hard it was for her to act her age. She was ignoring everything that was happening around her: the demons, the fairies, the mist; everything. She never felt free to be herself. One day, I caught her talking to herself in an empty classroom. I thought she was crazy until I saw something on my desk.”
“Did it make sense?” Ezekiel asked, getting drawn into Terrance’s story.
“For me, yes. 《Believe her》 I confronted her about it and she told me the truth. Somehow, it all started to make sense. Every time she would disappear, the times when she would hide just to find her later with scratches on her face and arms, the fear and anxiety; it all made sense. She wasn’t paranoid like I originally believed. She was genuinely followed around by things. I believed her and I think that just got her into more trouble.”
The two boys were already halfway through the park.
“It was one time, only one time. Her mother invited me over and I asked her some weird questions about Zoe. She overreacted and followed Zoe once. She saw her talking to thin air and got scared. She came while we were in class and dragged Zoe out. In front of the entire high school, she told her daughter that she signed her into a psychiatric institution.”
Ezekiel’s eyes widened and he stopped midway. He couldn’t believe it. She said that nothing big happened in school yet there was so much.
“I can still see it…” Terrance continued.
A younger version of Zoe was being dragged harshly by two bodyguards. Her mother was right behind her, watching her daughter with pity.
“Mum! What are you doing? Let me go!”
Zoe was scared. Her mother just appeared at school and took her forcefully.
“I’m sorry, Zoe. You are my only child and I have to protect you. I never thought your imaginary friends would last for so long.”
Her eyes widened and turned immediately to Terrance. He was there, in the crowd, watching sorrowfully but doing nothing to help her.
“You told me you like me!” she started. The crowd turned to look at the brown-haired boy. He couldn’t look her in the eye. It was his fault. “You said you believe me! You said you believe!” His shoes became suddenly more interesting than the whole scene. “I believed in you, too! I believed when you said you wanted to be friends and even more! Why are you standing there?!” She was already tearing up. She squirmed and surprisingly, she did free herself only to fall on her knees and look to the side with hatred. “You did this to me! Why don’t you show your face? Why me?!” She was crying by now. The crowd was murmuring already.
Zoe was talking to herself and no one would ever truly believe there was someone standing on the side, watching with dark evil eyes as she was squirming against her family and friends.
The bodyguards grabbed her again and dragged her out. She had no power to fight them anymore. Terrance turned to the place she just screamed at. He couldn’t see anything.
When he got home, his room was a mess. He frowned and inspected it thoroughly, finding a note that both scared him and made him feel guilty.
《It’s your fault》
Ezekiel was speechless. Out of everything he would have imagined, that was the worst. Her mother put her daughter into an institution of mental illnesses; she had to go through that; she had been forced by her own mother and the one who begun it was the guy she liked, the guy she trusted enough to tell him the truth.
“It left a big scar on her. After that, I heard that she went to an institution for a few months before she moved to a different school. She finished high school and entered a university in London. Her mother didn’t let her out of her sight. We met once on the street and I saw her eyes; they were empty. She became better at hiding her power but she also became better at hiding herself under a mask. I felt guilty. It was my fault. I tried to apologise in person but her mother was very strict. Zoe ended up with no friends at all. She lost her only chance at a normal life because of me. I wrote her the letter and I told her everything.”
Ezekiel blinked quickly and opened his mouth to say something. He had nothing. It was just too much to say something.
The meeting was cut short when Terrance had to go to work. On the way back to London, Ezekiel’s mind was swirling with a lot of thoughts. At first he felt jealous because people would give everything to get a glimpse of what she could see, but after he heard just how hard it was to contain it he started to have second thoughts. Of course, he would have handled everything better, his parents were nicer and would have probably believed him and protect him but that was probably what made her different from him. The gift was a curse and vice versa so it was obviously hard to make an image of how his life would have been if he was born with it.
“So now you understand.”
Ezekiel jumped in his seat when his phone vibrated. It was Andy. So that was the reason he gave him the address and wanted him to talk to that guy; so he could fully understand what he was getting himself into.
“She still hides her gift from people and became quite good at it. She has no one to protect her and no one to ask her if she is all right. Maybe that was why I got sent here but you are human and you can help her more than I can.”
“Is that your way to say goodbye?” Ezekiel asked confused.
Andrew glared at the human. He got a lot of courage lately.
“No. I’m stuck with her no matter what but I am a ghost in case you forgot. I can’t protect her from humans as well as you can.”
“Am I her babysitter now?” The ghost rolled his eyes. Unfortunately, Zoe had a lot of babysitters already. “What about the letter? Has she never read it?” Andy rubbed his head and tried to remember.
“She didn’t. When she became an adult, she realized what happened back then wasn’t his fault. It was her fault. She shouldn’t have told him the truth. Besides, he doesn’t know exactly what happened afterwards. I don’t know either.”
“Then who does?”
“She had a demon around her at that time. He was powerful and he was her original babysitter. One day, he vanished and Mehrdir came in his place. She doesn’t remember him very well but I think he was the one who got her so entangled into this supernatural world.”
It was far more complicated than Ezekiel thought. Surprisingly, he loved it.
At home, Zoe woke up to the sound of whispers. Her eyes opened wide. No one was in the room—no one but two annoying demons with too much free time on their hands.
“Sleeping Beauty woke up. How nice.” She rolled her eyes and started to gather her things up, ignoring the rambling demon. “That story of yours is quite interesting. Too bad you can’t see angels.” The angst demon was telling her everything she didn’t want to hear.
Iaosur was pissing Zoe off and he was enjoying it to the sky and back.
“Do you even have any idea what you explained in your story? You don’t know how dark magic works.”
She got up and passed him on the way to her room, glaring at him right before she closed the door.
“You’re supposed to mess around, not tell her. You shouldn’t make her want to know,” the vanity demon commented right before he jumped on the sofa.
“How will she take responsibility if she doesn’t know how to fight back? Let’s find her a trainer. That way she can learn how to cast spells in our favour too.” Iaosur’s eyes sparkled with mischievousness. He was enjoying his new mission way too much.