Briefs and Boxers
When they got there, everyone was sleeping peacefully in their tents. Ezekiel frowned when he realized he had to get Gabe in his tent.
“Just get him in silently,” she mumbled loud enough for him to hear.
Ezekiel couldn’t get in because Luke was sleeping too close to the entrance, so Ezekiel did what he could: he dropped Gabe somewhere close to his sleeping bag but not far enough for him to actually fall on something. The noise of a dropping body was surprisingly loud.
Zoe rolled her eyes and entered her own tent. Alice was on her side, seemingly sleeping but when Zoe opened the zip to her bag, it made enough noise for Alice to open her eyes.
“Oh, you’re back. How was your adventure?”
Zoe got in bed and turned her back to Alice. She didn’t want the human girl to see just how bad it was.
“Eventless. Good night.”
She heard Alice mumble something along the same line and closed her eyes. She couldn’t shake off the feeling that maybe the others were right.
In the morning, Zoe woke up with a massive headache and two demons having an intense disagreement above her body. She kept her eyes closed and ears perked up.
“You’re reckless. Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”
She didn’t recognize that voice. It wasn’t Eneizar or Iaosur and it didn’t sound like that bulky fairy either.
“Why didn’t you?”
But the second voice was definitely Mehrdir’s.
“She was too young to understand how important she was. She’s not just the commander; she’s also human. We can’t ask her something that is impossible to do in her present condition.”
That voice was smooth and sounded way nicer than the other demons’. It was weird because she was sure he was a demon and he didn’t feel weak at all.
“Why did you leave, then? If you care so much about her then—” The other demon stopped Mehrdir.
“That’s the problem: I cared for her. I hope you won’t make the same mistake as I did. I let my guard down and she took advantage of it, even if she did it unconsciously.”
That didn’t make much sense. If he cared for her, then she’d definitely met him before. But that was impossible—nothing about him felt familiar.
“She needs to learn.” At least they were agreeing on that. “Iaosur already found someone who can teach her how to fight, but not enough to fight us.” The older demon chuckled and glanced at her.
Zoe could feel his intense gaze and it made her shiver. She couldn’t stay like that for long so she started to stretch and move. When she opened her eyes, the demons were gone.
Outside, Alice was talking to Ezekiel while Andrew was standing behind them, watching like they were characters in a play. She ruffled her hair and rubbed her stomach, completely unfeminine.
“Morning!” She stopped her unfeminine actions and smiled. Henry waved at her before he gave her a soda. “How was your late night adventure?” he asked.
“Nothing really happened. Did Gabe wake up?”
Being possessed was a lot of trouble and the victim was often drained of energy at the end of it. Gabe was going to sleep for the whole day, and nothing was going to wake him up.
The second day of camping was by far more normal and boring than the first. The excitement died and so did Mark’s expectations. He had a few plans for the camp and they were all around his neighbour but Henry happened and it messed everything up.
“How’s the trip so far?” He finally found an opening when Henry went to talk to Alice.
“It’s fun. I’m really glad you invited me, Mark.” Zoe started, smiling softly.
"It seems Alice is glad I did too. She's kept an eye on your friend from the moment he entered the car." The young man added, chuckling bemusedly, "She's checking on Gabriel at the moment but once she walks out of the tent, just watch where her gaze goes."
“This time is perfect for another session of scary stories.”
Luke was getting excited for nothing. After what happened that night, no one was in the mood to scare and be scared.
“I’ll pass," was everyone's answer.
Luke’s sulky mood lasted for a few minutes before he got another bright idea.
“Fine. Let’s just speak, have some bonding time. Let’s start with Zoe and Ezekiel since we don't really know much about them.”
“There’s not much to say. My name is Ezekiel and I’m an Arts student. I major in Musical and Drama and I like to spend my free time with a good friend of mine. My best friend is in hospital and he’s recuperating after a tragic accident—”
Ezekiel continued to tell his life story, but Zoe was stuck on the hospital part. His best friend was in hospital, recuperating after a tragic accident which coincidentally was very familiar to Chen's story. Ezekiel was in the same university as Andrew and saw his soul getting out of his body at the moment of his instant death. From what she knew, Chen did say he knew an Andrew too and Andy was in the same Department as Ezekiel, in the same university. Her eyes widened when the pieces came together.
“No way,” she mumbled.
Chen, Ezekiel and Andy were all from the same place. After Andy got sent to her, Mehrdir sent Chen and Eneizar led her to Ezekiel. While Andy was a ghost, Ezekiel had links to some suspicious people. She still didn’t know why Chen was involved but she was sure she was going to find that out soon.
“Zoe?” She looked up in time to see everyone staring at her patiently. “It’s your turn.”
“My name is Zoe and I'm older than I look. I like to draw and watch horror movies. I am an only child and I am originally from Essex. I guess that’s all.”
The guys laughed it off, but she was serious. She was older than most of them, already finished university, and it wasn’t even something about arts. Still, Luke wasn’t satisfied with her answer, mostly because they didn’t learn anything new about her.
“What about your job?” Henry was really interested what she could do, career wise.
“I majored in Psychology since my father is a philologist. However, I never practiced it. My parents don’t know this. They think I work at a hospital and I’d like it if it would remain that way.” The woman answered sincerely.
“How old are you?” Asked Henry.
Their eyes widened. She was far older than she looked and acted, and even Ezekiel was amazed since he never bothered to ask.
“Hey! I’m twenty-six, too! Don’t make such faces!” Alice glanced at Ezekiel to see his expression. He didn’t seem to care at all. Actually, he was far gone in ZekLand.
“I’ve never been around people younger than me until now. It’s a nice feeling.” Zoe admitted.
When she looked back to Mark, she saw Eneizar behind him, right in front of the entrance. He waved at her and swayed from side to side. Behind her was Mehrdir so they ended up cornering her.
“Why do I suddenly feel paranoid?” Ezekiel leaned in and asked her. She looked at him expectantly and the man figured it out. “Why am I the only one feeling it?”
“Because you know the difference. Why didn’t you tell me you know Chen?” Zoe changed the subject, feeling like finally pieces were coming together.
“I didn’t think it was important. Why?”
“He came to me when he was in a coma.”
“When was that?” Ezekiel asked, moving closer to her.
“A few weeks ago. That stupid demon Mehrdir sent him to me.” She heard him cough behind her. “He ordered me to make friends in high places.”
“I prefer the term ‘advised’,” he commented from behind her.
“Why would Chen help you? He doesn’t have connections to magic or anything weird. If anything, he’s a troublemaker. He loves to mess around and cause—” Ezekiel stopped. He could understand why his best friend was good for her cause. “I get it now. He acts like a demon in a way, but he’s not a bad guy. He’s just full of life.”
“It doesn’t matter, because he doesn’t remember me. That’s how it goes. When a ghost that's connected to its body gets back, the subconscious retains that memory and only shows it as a dream. It's tricky and that person has very low chances to remember what happened. ” Zoe explained, her eyes widening when Mehrdir moved even closer to her.
“Just wait until he sees you,” he whispered into her ear. She shivered slightly when he breathed down her neck.
Eneizar, on the other hand, was having fun. He got very interested into what the humans were bickering about and was confused regarding the difference between briefs and boxers.
“Well, he’s better now. You can come with me next week when I go visit him.” Ezekiel said before returning his attention to the rest.
The rain didn’t stop and they had to gather everything and place it in the car. Gabe was still sleeping, so they moved him in the car while Alice was going to drive them back. It was complicated to break the camp while outside was pouring, but they had help—if it could be called help. Eneizar gave a harsh gust of wind and everything fell down. Zoe glared at him, but he only gave two thumbs up in return. Mehrdir was standing next to Eneizar with his hands in his pockets, lazily watching the humans pack.
“This is a waste of time,” Mehrdir commented.
Eneizar nudged the greed demon and pointed towards the forest. Right there, the original guardian of Zoe was watching, looking the same as he had when she was a kid.
“That stupid demon. With all the power he has, his eyes always become soft when they land on that idiot woman,” the greed demon continued.
Eneizar raised an eyebrow and patted Mehrdir's back sympathetically.
“Your eyes do that too, mate,” he added.
Mehrdir glared at the smirking vanity demon but ah, for Eneizar it was just so fun.