Signs and Silence
It was still dark outside when Zoe’s phone rang. She opened her groggy eyes and moaned, still tired. She didn’t even remember when she fell asleep but she woke up to the vibration of her pillow.
“Yes?” She sounded really bad, her voice lower and hoarse.
The voice on the other side was silent for a while. She could only hear him breathing like in those scary movies.
“You sound really different in the morning.”
She groaned and glanced at the clock. It was 4 in the morning.
“Ezekiel, why are you calling me at this hour?” She complained rolling on her side.
“Didn’t you send me a text a few days ago about a camping trip in Scotland?” She furrowed her eyebrows, too early for her to think. “Anyway, I think you should postpone your vacation.”
“No.” Her response was short. She was ready to hang up when he stopped her. It was only one word but it was enough to make her wake up instantly.
“The commander. I looked into it while you were making plans.”
She sighed and rubbed her eyes, waiting for the continuation. When Ezekiel didn’t speak, she asked, “And?”
“It’s you,” Ezekiel took a dramatic pause before he continued, “The commander is you.”
“Come here, immediately.” She commanded before she hung up.
Zoe got out of bed and walked in the living room in a hurry. Once she turned on the light she got a scare from seeing a man in the middle of her apartment. Mehrdir scared the heck out of her, him being the last person she was expecting to see.
“It’s been a while, huh?” He started like a cheeky bastard.
His stupid smirk and dark eyes were annoying but the fairies were right. She missed him.
“Why are you here?” He was ready to respond when she shut him up. “Maybe to tell me that I’m not the inheritor but the commander?” He opened his mouth to say something but she didn’t give him the chance. “Why didn’t you tell me something so important before you spuff-ed away and asked a stranger to babysit me?” She was really mad.
“Are you done?”
She glared at him but nodded nonetheless.
“Good. Take a seat. We have two hours to clarify this misunderstanding.” He spoke with superiority, like he didn’t just get her in trouble again and sent some guy to watch her in his place.
They moved in the kitchen, Zoe standinging on the chair near the window while Mehrdir was pacing in front of her.
“You were born with amazing abilities. You can see the side of the world that doesn’t involve angels and other heavenly things. There is a story about demons getting missions on Earth, one of them being Beelzebub. He was and still is the commander of most legions in Hell. He came here once and found a human more interesting than others. He possessed a girl and probably left a piece of him behind; a sign.” He walked to her and grabbed her hand harshly.
“What are you doing?”
He rolled up her sleeves and looked after the sign. It was supposed to be there, on her forearm, but she was clean.
“Where is it?” He rolled the sleeves up to her elbow. Nothing. “You don’t have the sign.” He muttered, still not believing what he couldn’t see.
“Maybe because I’m not the commander.” She rolled her eyes and pushed him away.
Mehrdir stared at her thoughtfully. She might have been right if he didn’t know it for sure but he did. Everyone did.
“Now, tell me where did you run off to?”
He was still pondering on some life changing thoughts, moreover Zoe was clean and suspiciously bossy. She wasn’t that kind of woman before, maybe because she knew she had no one to go and complain to. That suddenly made Mehrdir feel bad for sending Eneizar over.
“I had to run some deeds for Mammon,” He mumbled, his attention drifting from one thing to another. She raised an eyebrow and stared at him in astonishment.
“Deeds for Mamm-are you making fun of me? While you were gone I got possessed!” Sheyelled in anger. “That’s not a nice feeling, Mehrdir. And I wasn't the only one.” She mumbled for herself, snatching a new expression that she never saw on Mehrdir’s face: shock.
“What?!” He looked pretty annoyed, dark mist surrounding him.
“Eneizar came right in time. No one knew that would happen. Demons can’t see in the future.” Her response only caused Mehrdir to get more annoyed.
“Like you’d know. You don’t recognize just how much you can do if only you would know how to use this gift in your advantage.” He bluntly offended her without remorse.
“Demons don’t do what I tell them to.” She wasn’t sure if he was judging her for what she said or not.
“They do but you have to know how to play their games.”
Zoe sighed and started to make coffee or else she was going to be a zombie on the way to Scotland.
“Isn’t that the plan? You have been keeping me in the dark for as long as I remember.” She used a sassy tone especially to make him feel annoyed.
Mehrdir walked behind her and moved her hair over her shoulder. She felt a chill down her spine when he breathed on the crook.
“Knowledge is power and you, commander, need that power.” He whispered.
She felt a gust of wind and the demon behind her was gone. He left as spontaneously as he arrived.
Two hours later, Zoe had her luggage ready and was still pissed off when Ezekiel reported for duty in front of her door. She was sulking and he didn’t like how deep she was reflecting; that only meant bad times were approaching.
“What happened?” Ezekiel tried to start the conversation.
They were waiting for Mark and Luke, Ezekiel leaning against her door while she was standing on her trunk with her arms crossed in front of her chest.
“Nothing.” She spat with hatred.
Ezekiel looked down at her worriedly, debating if he should do something or not. In the end, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and gave a light squeeze. She didn’t budge.
“Is it about the phone call this morning?”Ezekiel continued with a persuasive personality.
“Nothing happened, Ezekiel.”
He wanted to ask her more questions and even tell her what he found in the last few days but Mark opened the door and walked out. He smiled when he saw Zoe.
Ezekiel waited to see if she was going to return the gesture. She did in a way, her smile looking more like a grimace, though. Mark turned to Ezekiel, reaching out to shake hands.
“She’s not a morning person.” Ezekiel covered for her, using his charismatic carefree smile to charm Mark.
“Anyway, our friends will be here shortly. Let’s go wait for them near the street.” Mark shrugged her behavior off quickly.
Luke was just walking out of his apartment when he saw Zoe grabbing her luggage and heading out. He frowned and glanced at the two remaining boys. Ezekiel turned to them and smiled nervously.
“Sorry about her. She’s just-“
“Not a morning person, right?” Mark continued innocently, though it did sound like he was subtly sarcastic.
Ezekiel froze for a moment before he nodded, “Right.”
He was walking head first into yet another problem. At least no one was going to get possessed on that trip; hopefully.
Zoe was walking thoughtfully towards the street. She didn’t want to act so mean with Mark but Mehrdir really pissed her off. She stopped when she got in front of the wall. No matter what it said, no one bothered to clean it. She sighed and continued forward, not noticing the guy coming towards her. He was texting while she was looking at her feet, the course of events was obvious. They crashed into each other.
“Sorry!” They both apologized at the same time.
Thankfully, he didn’t drop the phone. It cost way too much to get broken so early.
“I was just going to get my friends.” He furrowed his eyebrow and looked at her closely. “Are you by any chance Zoe Lestrade?”
If he was going to ask her for help regarding some death/life situation, she was going to deny who she was. He chuckled and shook his head.
“We have common friends; Mark and Luke. They told me you and a friend of yours will come with us to Scotland. He also showed me a picture of you.” The new guy continued innocently.
Coincidentally, the guys caught up to her just then. Mark took only one look at his friend in order to realize he already spilled the beans.
“You asshole! I told you to keep that a secret!” He launched at his friend. It was a weird sight, even for Zoe.
“Where did you get a picture of me, anyway?”
Ezekiel and Luke were glancing from one side to the other nervously while Mark blushed and stopped hitting his friend.
“There is one on the site but it’s pretty old!” Mark tried to save his ass using his big eyes, that were definitely a good factor for such situations.
If that was supposed to be reassuring, it wasn’t. She told Alec repeatedly that she didn’t want to make her profile public. The web series was more like a way to express her emotions and what she was going through above everything else.
“By the way, I’m Henry!” He shook Zoe hand and smiled.
He was really handsome even if he wasn’t exactly tall. Actually, he was pretty short, almost same height as Zoe but he was handsome and well built. His fashion sense was a bit weird because he had purple pants on him, which wasn’t something she was used to.
Henry talked to Zoe for the whole few meters to the car. He helped her place her luggage in the back while Ezekiel could barely raise his. Mark tried to sit next to Zoe since she was new; he wanted to stay between her and Ezekiel but Henry was really fast.
“So you’re Zoe!”
There was only one more girl in the car. She had short blonde hair, barely reaching her shoulders,bangs covering what Zoe thought was a small forehead and big black eyes covered by glasses. It was very obvious when her eyes landed on Ezekiel and lagged there for a moment longer. She tried to make it look normal but Zoe was a girl and even if she didn’t have experience, she knew how to read the signs.
“I’m Alice.” Zoe nodded and looked at the driver. He looked the most excited out of everyone. “He’s Gabriel.” Alice added. The boy turned to her and smiled.
“So you’re Zoe, huh? Mark talked about you these past days. A lot.” Gabriel stated bemusedly.
Mark was ready to go and stay in the trunk with the luggage. Everyone found It necessary to embarrass him.
In the end, Ezekiel took the seat next to the window, on the left then came Zoe and Henry. In front of them were Mark and Luke, in the driver’s seat was Gabriel and next to him was Alice.
“So, do you know where we’re heading to?” Ezekiel and Zoe nodded, making Gabriel chuckle evilly. “We have everything we need for a two days one night camping trip. There will be no rules, except maybe one,” He looked into the review mirror at the two newcomers. “Have fun and get in touch with nature.” The others scoffed, making Gabe laugh.
Ezekiel glanced at Zoe worriedly. Getting in touch with nature had a different meaning for him because truthfully, if something was out there, she had no demon to rely on. He was quite glad that he grabbed a few occultism books from Chris now.
“Did you know that the specific place we’re going to is rumored to be haunted?” Gabriel continued teasing his friends.
Mark wasn’t keen on that kind of experience and Henry didn’t look well either. Luke, Gabe and Alice seemed to be really excited, though. Ezekiel’s eyes widened and he felt Zoe tense next to him. Mark missed that little detail when he explained everything to her.
“I'm sorry I didn't tell you that but I thought you might not come.” Mark turned to the two newcomers with an apologizing expression.
“We’re not scared. It’s only rumors, right?”
“I guess we’ll find that out soon.” Gabe responded happily. Zoe heard Henry gulp and try to focus on the moving scenery. “Are you scared, Henry? Mark?” Gabe was teasing the two.
“We’re fine. Nothing’s going to happen. We won’t be that far from the street.”
Gabe chuckled and glanced at Alice. They were having a lot of fun.
“Henry? We know you’re a scared cat. You don’t have to act tough.” Mark was probably the one enjoying it the most even if he was in the same boat with his friend.
“I’m not scared!”
No one believed that statement. He was visibly uncomfortable and Zoe felt bad for him and leaned towards him.
“If it makes you feel better, I don't believe in ghosts." She whispered, making his blush faintly, his ears getting tomato red, though.
That was ironic coming from her and Ezekiel felt like throwing up but it worked and it made Henry feel much better.
As they were getting closer to Aviemore, Alice noticed that Ezekiel was very close and gentle with Zoe. She was curious what their relationship was since Zoe was a pretty girl. Actually, Alice didn’t expect Mark’s crush to be so well-mannered and grown up. Zoe looked like a shy person, even lonely, yet whenever Ezekiel was close to her, she would let her guard down.
“Zoe, are you and Ezekiel a couple?” Alice asked that quite bluntly but she was curious and didn’t want to go around the bush.
Both of them disagreed vehemently; Ezekiel shivered, even. He could never be able to go so far, moreover after he talked to Terrance and got into her personal bubble.
“So that’s a no.”
“Are you interested, Alice?” Gabe chose to tease her. She blushed but luckily, only the driver could notice it.
“No.” It didn’t sound true. “Maybe.” She mumbled.
Zoe chuckled and glanced at Ezekiel, nudging him playfully. He didn’t seem to enjoy it but wasn’t hating the whole situation either.
“What about you, then?” Gabe was the one guy with courage to ask about those kinds of things. “Do you have a boyfriend, Zoe?”
Mark turned to her, which only made her feel more awkward. She suddenly remembered the bet between the fairies and it made her feel so uncomfortable.
“No, I don’t.” She said softly.
Henry’s eyes moved on Zoe unconsciously after finding out that she was single. Mark rolled his eyes and sulked in his seat. The ride wasn’t going exactly how he imagined.
They were still on the road and had approximately two more hours left. Gabe turned on the radio and almost everyone fell asleep; everyone except Zoe.
“Are you worried?” Ezekiel had his eyes closed but he couldn’t doze off, no matter how much he tried.
“A little. If that place is haunted, it will be very troublesome.” She whispered.
“I have a few books in my bag. If anything happens-“ She narrowed her eyes at him. He opened his eyes and looked at her.
“Nothing will happen.” Zoe stated clearly.
“I wouldn’t bet on that thought.” She heard Eneizar whisper into her ear.
Her eyes widened and she straightened immediately but he wasn’t there. She looked to the side, on the window and flinched when she saw Eneizar’s face, smirking wickedly. As soon as it appeared, it disappeared.
“Are you alright?” She gulped and shook her head. “It’s Eneizar, isn’t he?” Ezekiel grabbed her hand and squeezed it lightly.
Everyone woke up around the same time. Gabe was parking the car and Ezekiel fell asleep while holding Zoe’s hand. That didn’t look very nice in Alice’s eyes. Anyway, once Gabe stopped the engine and unlocked the doors, everyone got out. They were mostly stretching and breathing in the fresh forest air.
“Ah! This feels so good!” Mark was probably the one who needed that break the most. He had been very stressed lately.
Zoe got out slowly and looked around, surveying the place. Ezekiel was curious what she was searching for because it didn’t look like the place was haunted.
“It’s so silent.”
Ezekiel was really curious how that place really looked like through her eyes.Truthfully, the scenery was normal. The sky was grey and she could see the spirits of dead animals but overall, nothing was dangerous.
“What is she seeing?” Ezekiel wandered out loud, jumping in surprise when his phone vibrated. Andy appeared next to him and crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“Nothing. That’s the problem.” The ghost sighed. “It’s the silence before the storm.”
They had to install the camp in order to finally enjoy the fresh air. That proved to be troublesome.
“Do you even know how to install a tent?!”
Luke and Gabe were going to share a tent but it wasn’t even up yet. Gabe was very excited and wanted to get rid of installing the camp and enjoy himself. On the other side, Luke was laid back and in no need to hurry
“Why are you so tense? We have enough time.” Luke wasn’t in any rush. The older man really wanted to beat the crap out of him. “No one is done yet.” Luke tried to make himself look like the victim there.
“I want to be done with it. As soon as possible!” Gabe whined.
From outside, the whole fight was childish and fun. It was enough to make Zoe think positive.
“Hey. We’re going to share a tent. Do you know how to install it?” Alice asked before she sat next to Zoe.
“It’s ok. I don’t either. We’ll just have to ask the guys.” Zoe nodded. “I think Henry fancies you already. He’s been glancing at you from time to time. He’s doing it now, too. It’s hard not to notice when he does it so obviously.” Alice added, pointing at the subject.
The boy looked to the side quickly when he noticed Zoe looking at him. While Alice found it amusing, Zoe couldn't help but compare Henry to Mehrdir.
“I think it's a bit soon to talk about who fancies whom.” Zoe replied, shrugging Mehrdir's face from her mind.
“I fancy Ezekiel.” Alice admitted. "You can't choose when or who you like. When it happens, it happens fast."
Zoe looked down at her hands before she glanced at Ezekiel. He was going to share a tent with Henry and Mark but wasn’t really getting involved into installing their tent. Actually, Mark was doing most of the job.
Zoe could see someone tagging along; someone who was yelling at Mark to do this and that yet he couldn’t be heard. Zoe sighed and remembered that Andy liked camping. He talked about his trips with his friends before but he was the type to give orders instead of helping. He went to Ezekiel and tried to make him understand what Mark was doing wrong. Zoe bit the inside of her cheek seeing as Ezekiel was glancing at his phone every time Andy was talking.
Surprisingly, the boys finished in time. Unsurprisingly, they finished only because Andy gave detailed instructions to Ezekiel. Zoe was watching with amusement as Ezekiel was making a ghost friend. Andy really needed someone else than Zoe to talk to. On the other side, Alice’s admiration towards the puppy guy was growing rapidly.
“You know, we’re going to have a campfire tonight. You can go seat next to Henry while I take Ezekiel.”
Her idea was good only, Zoe wasn’t ready to get so close to a guy. She didn’t know him and what was worse was that he knew nothing about her. The fairies were right. It was hard to have a human boyfriend when most, if not all, of her friends were supernatural beings.
“Wait. Campfire?” She suddenly realized something important. In movies, a campfire usually led to stories; ghost stories; scary stories. Zoe gulped and got goose bumps. That was not going to end well.