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 low and hoarse.
The voice on the other side was silent for a while. She could only hear him breathing heavily like in those scary movies.
“You sound really different in the morning.”
She groaned and glanced at the clock. Her heart broke when she saw it was 4 in the morning.
“Ezekiel, why are you calling me at this hour?” She hissed, rolling on her other side.
“Didn’t you send me a text a few days ago about a camping trip in Scotland?” He asked, a bit irritated.
“I don’t know your phone number.” She muttered, “Maybe Andy sent it.” She added, knowing it happened before.
“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.
“And?” She asked when Ezekiel didn’t say anything.
“It’s you,” Ezekiel took a dramatic pause before he continued, “I think the commander is you.”
“Can you not think? I’d like to go back to sleep now.” She answered, getting on her bottom and grumpily wiping the drool off. She must have had a good dream.
"I’ve been searching for books that could give me information about the Devil’s child. I found nothing but what I did find was another child, Beelzebub’s.”
“Go get a new hobby,” she ordered, anmoyed that he wasn’t acting like a normal man.
“But Zoe, this is a huge discovery! Everything about the commander connects to you and how you live your life. My opinion is that-”
"My opinion is that you should get here in time for the trip. That’s all.” She stated firmly before she hung up.
Looking at the clock, she laid back in bed but after a few turns it was obvious she was not going back to sleep. Zoe got out of bed and walked in the living room all irritated. Once she turned on the lights 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 only adding to her irritation. Zoe walked past him, into the kitchen where the lights turned on by themselves. Annoyed over the line with both Ezekiel and the greed demon, she sat at the table and glared at Mehrdir.
“Where have you been?” She asked.
“Around,” was his evasive answer.
“You see, that kind of answer does not satisfy me. I need details or at least a proper lie. Let’s try again.”
She was angry for different reasons and she was focusing all of it on one victim. Luckily for her, he was a demon and could not be taunted with angst but that did not mean he wasn’t annoyed.
“I’m not going to comply to your rules, Zoe. I’m not human and your existance can easily be replaced.” Mehrdir replied, taking a few steps towards her, enough to see the wrinkles between her furrowed eyebrows.
“Ezekiel called me a few minutes ago. He told me he looked into this child of the Devil and instead found another one,” she didn’t have to explain further because Mehrdir already knew.
“The commander. Beelzebub’s child.”
Zoe couldn’t say she was surprised that Mehrdir already knew. He has been hiding a lot of things from her and she needed an easily excited boy that had odd interests for the truth to finally surface.
“Is Ezekiel correct? Am I this commander?”
The demon bit his lip, still not willing to tell her but seeing how mad she was, that could backfire at a crucial time.
“We have two hours to clarify that.” He spoke with superiority, hiding his true intentions and means.
With so many questions and theories hanging in the air, Zoe prepared coffee for herself and sat down, expecting Mehrdir to at least explain the general aspects of their newest subject.
“You were born with amazing abilities. You can see the world beyond the veil and 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.” Mehrdir explained before 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 stated as a matter of fact 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 why did you ask Eneizar to come in your place?”
He was still pondering on the theory that he could be wrong but that rarely happened.
“I came to you because of that sign and if you’re clean, there is no reason to stand by your side anymore.” He answered coldly, looking down at her with a different glint in his eyes; it was just as if he built an exterior.
“Eneizar doesn’t seem to believe so. He’s been more of a guardian than you had ever been. I admit that he is vile, hard to read and takes very risky decisions but at least he never hid anything important from me.”
Mehrdir felt disappointed but didn’t let it show. Maybe having Eneizar around wasn’t such a bright idea after all but there was no one better with humans than a demon that couldn’t lie.
“Demons are not trustworthy and kind creatures. You should know that already. Eneizar came for the same reason I did.” Mehrdir told her in a scolding tone.
“I have been possessed and have seen Ezekiel being possessed. Does that not matter either? A new demon entered my apartment and he seems quite excited if you ask me.” Zoe combated his theory that her life meant nothing.
“You were possessed?! What the heck did Eneizar wait for?!” He looked pretty annoyed by that, dark mist surrounding him.
“He 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.”
“Isn’t that the plan? You have been keeping me in the dark for as long as I remember.” She used a sassy tone in order to make him feel annoyed.
Mehrdir walked around the table and grabbed her by the cheeks, pulling her closer harshly. His usually dark eyes became completely black, which meant danger for anyone with and without an affinity for the underworld. She felt a chill down her spine when he breathed on her lips.
“Don’t mess with me, Zoe. You don’t know anything about me except what I show you.” He whispered before he disappeared right in front of her eyes.
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 reached the wall and sighed heavily.
"No one bothered to clean it."
She sighed once more 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 graciously 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!” Mark 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 arse 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 of a way to express her emotions and what she was going through above everything else.
“By the way, I’m Henry!” He introduced himself, taking and shaking Zoe's hand with a smile.
He was really an odd short man with small eyes that seemed to always be narrowed at somebody and a well built body. His fashion sense was the opposite of his looks, quite weird even, because he had purple pants on him and a white shirt that had No Objections written on the front.
"I'm Ezekiel, Zoe's friend." The brown haired boy said, drawing Henry's attention from the poker faced woman. "I can't wait to get to Scotland and camp. I used to do it with my parents back when I was in middle school and it was fun." Ezekiel added, at the same time pinching Zoe to at least change her expression.
Henry talked to Ezekiel for the whole few meters to the car. He helped Zoe place her luggage in the trunk 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 moved really fast, literally jumping in the car next to her.
“So you’re the newcomers!”
There was only one more girl in the car and she was sitting in the very front, next to the driver. 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 and our driver today is Gabriel," the girl started, "We're really happy that you're joining us today! It's been a while since someone other than Mark and Henry's dancing friends tagged along."
“Most of them men." Gabriel added, turning towards the new acquaintance, "You'd be surprised how much Mark talked about you these past days.” Gabriel stated bemusedly, getting a whine in return from the victim itself.
Mark was ready to go and stay in the trunk with the luggage if it wasn't for Ezekiel's huge luggage.
"What did you bring with you? Your whole room?" Mark asked jokingly, though his back was hurting for real.
"I brought necessities for both me and Zoe." Ezekiel answered smiling nervously. There was so much more to what he said, most of the objects in his luggage having nothing to do with camping.
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?” Gabriel asked, eyes set on the road, “We have everything we need for a two days one night camping trip. There will be no rules, except maybe one: have fun and get in touch with nature,” he looked into the review mirror at the two newcomers and winked.
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 if you knew.” 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 enough.” Gabe responded happily. Zoe heard Henry gulp and try to focus on the moving scenery. “Are you scared, Henry? Mark?”
Gabe was targeting the two men in particular, gaining some kind of pleasure from seeing them squirm. Zoe couldn't help but compare him to a demon, maybe not Mehrdir who only liked to play the boss, but to the new one that possessed Ezekiel.
“We’re fine. Nothing’s going to happen. We won’t be that far from the street.” Henry answered for both himself and Mark.
Gabe chuckled and glanced at Alice, high-fiving each other. 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.
“If it makes you feel better, I don’t believe in ghosts.” She whispered, making his blush faintly, his ears getting tomato red.
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 troublesome.” She whispered.
“I have a few books in my bag. If anything happens-“
“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?” Ezekiel asked, opening his eyes. She gulped and shook her head. “It’s Eneizar, isn’t he?”
Zoe nodded and straightened on her seat. As long as Eneizar was not going to do more than mess with her, it was alright. But if he were to find amusement in creating problems to the others, then Ezekiel's books may come in handy.
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 friendly 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 in Zoe's perspective too. 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. See?” Luke insisted, pointing at the others.
“I want to be done with it. As soon as possible!” Gabe whined.
From outside, the whole fight was childish but it was enough to make Zoe relax a bit.
“Hey. We’re going to share a tent. Do you know how to install it?” Alice asked before she sat next to Zoe.
“No, sorry. This is my first time in a forest.”
“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 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. The ghost 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.