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CODEX Part 1: The Story of The Commander

By Ana Chirila All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Fantasy

Dancing Queen

Zoe was walking towards her apartment when she met Mark in the hall.

“Oh, Zoe! You woke up early today.” She raised an eyebrow in confusion before she remembered that she wasn’t supposed to be a morning person.

“Yes. That’s because I don’t have any work right now and can sleep.”

That was a lie. She didn’t have work since her webtoon was taking a small break but she couldn’t sleep at all. Too many people were occupying her apartment.

“Are you going to class?” she asked as she noticed his backpack.

“I’m going to work.” She continued to look at him, waiting patiently for the continuation. “I work as a dance instructor.” He started to smile suddenly and his eyes brightened. “Do you want to come and watch?”

Zoe had two choices: stay at home and ponder on her life or avoid reality and go with him. She was definitely going with the second one.

“So, you work as a dance instructor in your free time.”

They were in the subway and Zoe was standing really close to Mark. He blushed faintly but she was actually freaked out. She had a ghost right next to her that was staring in a perverted way at her.

“You can see me, right?”

She tried to ignore it. Actually, she tried to ignore every ghost around her but they weren’t stupid. Zoe was avoiding them, so she was definitely able to see them.

“Can you tell me where I am buried?”

Zoe moved even closer to Mark when the ghost took a step forward.

“Are you all right?” Well, he couldn’t see what she was seeing. “Oh, by the way. Henry and Alice will come by these days. We plan to go out. Do you want to come?”

She looked at him and blinked, still registering what he asked her.

“In a club?”

Zoe really wanted to say yes, but something was stopping her. A club had a lot of people and a lot of people had a lot of ghosts and liars around. It was too big of a risk and too much of a burden.

“I can’t, but I’m sure Ezekiel would like to go since Alice is going.”

Mark chuckled, a bit disappointed that she didn’t want to go dance.

“Then would you like to go out to a different place?” Mark was trying his luck and he seriously hoped it was going to work. “Like somewhere with less people and, um—” Once he looked at her he realised just how intense her gaze was. Her big eyes were glistening with something that he didn’t recognise; something that sent chills down his spine.

“Actually—” She was interrupted by someone bumping into her. That was very suspicious, and besides, no one was standing next to her.

Idiot! Look what you’ve done!

She heard a small fairy yelling at someone else. Zoe was so close to Mark that she could practically see her reflection in his eyes.

They were both staring at each other in utter silence while the fairies were fighting on the empty seat.

But they look like Romeo and Juliet now! How romantic!

The female fairy glared and pushed the male fairy harshly.

You’re an idiot. I bet on the other human, not this!

The male fairy rolled his eyes and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

It’s not my fault that the number of humans around her is increasing,” he mumbled before he simply planted his ass on the seat, just like a sulking child.

The two were having quite an intense argument, but Zoe couldn’t concentrate on it. Behind Mark was a demon that didn’t look very happy.

While Mehrdir was watching everything, she started to feel guilty. It was just like she was flirting with two guys at once and they had no idea that each other existed. It was really weird, because neither were her dates.

The rest of the way was awkward. Mark tried to liven up the mood and goof off, but she became very stiff. She couldn’t shrug the thought that she was playing two cards at once and it wasn’t even true, because she wasn’t.

“By the way, you never told us what happened in the forest,” Mark started suddenly, perplexing her.

Zoe forgot about it after she got welcomed into her own house by a stranger who became her trainer. She had worse things to think about than a little possessed student in the forest.

“Nothing really happened. We didn’t find the lake.”

“Of course not. Gabe is the master of horror stories. He looks them up on Internet. Recently he found a story about the commander.” She froze. However, Mark continued. “He’s been talking about it a lot ever since he came back from the camp. The commander here, there, everywhere. He said he heard someone talk about it in the forest and he got curious.” She gulped and rubbed her neck.

“Did he say who was talking about it?” Zoe asked paranoid but Mark shrugged.

“He doesn’t remember. Personally, I think getting interested in this kind of stuff is dangerous. It can swallow you whole.”

Zoe started to fidget nervously, her mind speeding up. Mark smiled brightly at her.

He started to talk about something else and didn’t notice just how deep she was in that dangerous stuff he was talking about.

But how could he? She looked completely normal. She had become too good at hiding her true self.

When they got to the dancing studio, the first thing she saw was ghosts. Lots of them, but none were connected to the humans around. It was cute, though. They weren’t dangerous or mischievous. They were just dancing or watching other people dance.

“Zoe! You’re here!” Henry sounded too excited and he realised it fast. He coughed and lowered his voice. “I mean, hello.” He was really cute. The difference between his appearance and actual personality wasn’t that big, but it was.

“I heard all good dancers come here so I wanted to see it with my own eyes.”

Alice glanced at Mark suspiciously.

She noticed him chuckling nervously. He told her that lie to look better in front of her, but if Zoe wanted to see great dancers, then Henry was going to give her a show. It was his world, after all. Besides, Mark wasn’t going to back down. That was the main reason why they left Zoe with Alice.

“Boys will always be boys. Always trying to impress the girl they like,” Alice commented when the guys got out of hearing range

Zoe chuckled while watching the two boys channeling their energy into dancing.

“I wish I could do that, too.” She was obviously not talking about dancing, but Alice didn’t know that.

Channeling your energy into something to make it stronger and better was probably her best shot. She didn’t know much about dark magic and the few things she knew were strictly for research but she was in need of more. Maybe it was time for her to break the rule. Maybe that was what everyone had been waiting for: a breakaway.

Henry and Mark proved to be quite the dancers and the teachers. They helped and taught a few children before they got a break and they had a showdown and even got the girls involved. It was fun and it was Zoe’s first time in a lot of things. While she was messing around and being twirled by Alice, she completely lost her balance and fell backwards. Thankfully, there was one dancer who noticed and caught her in time. Zoe glanced at the mirror to see his face. He was young and slightly tanned, but he was really handsome.

“Ah, sorry. I have two left feet,” she mumbled, ashamed.

He only blinked and helped her stand. She turned around to take a closer look at him. He was really handsome and skinny.

They continued to stare at each other and none really made a move to leave or speak.

“Do I know you?” It was suspicious how he was the one to ask that, but she felt it too. Something was familiar about him and his eyes. His eyes were very familiar, in a way she couldn’t describe.

“Are you real?” He raised an eyebrow before he started to laugh.

That attracted attention. And it wasn’t just her friends—it was the whole studio. She gulped and realised what she said. It was perfectly normal for her, but not for normal people with no connection to ghosts. Ah yes, the ghosts.

You.

They started to walk towards her and form a circle. Each one of them had something they wanted. The voices were overwhelming and so was the spiritual energy. They were too many for her to handle at once.

For most humans in the room, the view was both weird and intriguing. Zoe was backing off and she was getting really pale. Her hands started to tremble and she wasn’t breathing normally anymore.

You are a demon, aren’t you? That demon.

This wasn’t happening. Zoe shook her head and closed her eyes. She turned her back to the crowd and hit the mirror.

“Are you all right?”

Zoe flinched when she felt someone pat her shoulder. She opened her eyes and looked into the mirror.

She realised she had become the centre of attention with her suspicious antics. The ghosts disappeared and she could breathe again. When she looked at her reflection, she blinked. It wasn’t her; it was Eneizar, and he didn’t look happy at all.

Thank me later.” He winked and disappeared.

“I am now,” she responded to the human behind her.

Behind her was Mark and he looked really worried. She had a lot of explaining to do.

“So you had a panic attack?”

That was the best lie she could come up with. It made perfect sense and the symptoms were pretty much the same.

“Are you all right now? Do you want water or something?”

Alice was a woman and had that motherly, overprotective side; actually, since they were the same age, she was seeing a good friend in Zoe. Besides, Zoe was the closest person to Ezekiel from what she found out.

“I’m fine. I have a few bad memories that suddenly surfaced, I guess. I got scared.” She smiled softly and wrapped an arm around Henry, who was sitting next to her. He was too busy being worried to blush. It didn’t seem like that was the reason she got scared. She was perfectly fine until she saw that guy.

“Are you sure it’s not Jake’s fault?” She tilted her head to the side and frowned. “You two were talking before you had the panic attack,” Henry continued, growing angry at the innocent dancer.

“Jake?”

Henry nodded and pointed to where the tanned handsome boy was standing. He was there with two other guys, talking. He noticed them since it wasn’t just one or two; it was a whole group staring intensely at him. He said something to the others and got up.

“He’s coming over here. Don’t act stupid, guys.” Henry and Mark scoffed at Alice’s threat.

It’s him.

Andy’s sudden appearance behind her was not as surprising as it should have been. She had kind of gotten used to the creeping and sneaking around but he was saying something very interesting.

“Hello. I’m sorry for what I said earlier and I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.” She didn’t react, only watched him closely. He smiled nervously and looked straight into her eyes. “I’m—”

Jake. It’s him. He’s the guy I told you about; the contemporary dancer. My one sided crush.
Zoe’s eyes widened. Well, that was a surprise.

Zoe’s reaction was a surprise to everyone. She got up quickly and grabbed one of Jake’s arms.

“We have to talk, please.”

Her eyes were still wide and curious. She wanted to know everything, but not from Andy because he had a tendency to overthink and over-analyse. Maybe that was the main reason he got sent to her; she was the exact opposite, and so was Ezekiel.

“Are you sure you’re all right? You looked like you’d seen a ghost only a few minutes ago.”

She felt like laughing. That wasn’t far from the truth. She had been called a demon. She didn’t know what was worse: ghosts stealing energy from her or making her the bad guy.

“I just want to ask you a question.” He nodded as a sign for her to continue. “Do you know Andrew Garley?” Jake’s eyes widened for a moment.

“No,” he responded quickly.

She raised an eyebrow and walked closer to him. They were standing in front of each other and she didn’t look intimidating at all, no matter how much she wanted to. Zoe wanted to intimidate him into telling her the truth.

“You go to K University, right?” He nodded. “You’re in the Contemporary Dance Department.” He nodded. She was right so far. “You know Andrew from the Music Department, don’t you?” He shook his head. She was annoyed because she knew that he knew but didn’t want to talk about it.

“I don’t know anyone called Andrew Garley,” he stated firmly. She was ready to ask him something, but he interrupted. “Look, I’m relieved that you’re fine now, but whatever happens in my personal life is personal.” He opened the door and walked out. She sighed and rubbed her forehead.

“What the heck are you doing?” Andy sounded furious. He was glaring at her with so much passion that she felt a little touched.

“I’m trying to do something for you.”

Andy didn’t seem very appreciative of her good will. He leaned in and scoffed.

“Well, stop. I don’t want you to get involved in this. It doesn’t concern you,” he scolded her, like an older brother.

“Look, you little ungrateful bastard, I’m trying to help you since you got stuck here for me. I don’t care if you like it or not. That guy knows you and you told me many times just how much you care for him. You had a crush on him and he’s acting like he has something up his ass. You either shut up and listen or get out of here.”

He left.

Zoe groaned and hit her head lightly against the wall.
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