“Don’t walk so fast. Take your time and enjoy the life around you.” Eneizar smirked before he continued. “You won’t see anything so lively in Hell.”
Zoe left around noon without any real knowledge of her role along Beelzebub. The books Chris had didn’t even cover the subject of the Commander and its powers and connections to Hell. The only thing she did acknowledge was Eneizar’s skills to taunt humans until they blow up.
“Come on, Zoe. This is the life that half of this human race would pay for with their souls. Luckily for you, yours is dangling as the wind blows.” Eneizar said, chuckling at his own dry humor.
She couldn’t turn and glare at him because they were on the street, going home after an eventless day in an occultism shop.
“I appreciate your advice, but I would prefer to be alone right now.”
Eneizar chuckled. She was a bundle of sarcasm and irony. He hadn’t heard her say anything genuine ever since he appeared in her life.
Zoe was walking in front of him, with her hands plunged deep in her jacket’s pockets. She was annoyed for diverse reasons. It was March, the beginning of spring, and the time when everything was coming back to life. It was the time for optimism and love. It was also the time when her parents would like to go places together.
She was really worried of the moment when her mother would call and tell her the plan. That subject absorbed every quantity of attention she had so she knew where she was going only by reflex.
Zoe didn’t see nor expect someone to grab her arm and push her on the street. It happened so fast that she couldn’t register what happened.
She fell on the street at rush hour. People were getting out from work and were returning home.
The car honked, but she just appeared in the middle of the road. It was impossible to stop time, so the collision was certain. Eneizar wasn’t allowed to pop up all human-like in front of the car and stop it miraculously, so he appeared before her and wrapped his arms around her, protectively. Her eyes were wide and scared, grasping on his arm like her life depended on him, which it did.
Fortunately, the evil was supposed to keep her alive at all costs. The familiars started to push the car so that it would stop in time. That was proving to be hard since they weren’t really powerful and big, but the car did stop a few millimetres from Zoe thanks to a bigger and stronger demon. Zoe pushed Eneizar’s arm slightly to the side to see who saved her. It was someone familiar; very familiar but she didn’t know why.
The driver got out from his car and rushed to her side.
“Why did you jump in front of the car, you stupid girl? Are you alright? Imagine if I actually hit you and-”
The driver started to swear and complain, but she couldn’t hear him. The shock was too big. She almost got run over by a car. Moreover, someone had pushed her in the middle of the street.
The demon that stopped the car disappeared quickly but not before he nodded at Eneizar. The vanity demon got the hint and touched her temple, making her faint instantly.
When Ezekiel and Rowan came to the hospital, Zoe was already awake and looking very uncomfortable. She was staring intensely at a chair placed in the corner of her room.
Ezekiel and Rowan glanced at each other before they looked at the chair.
“Who’s there?” Ezekiel was the one to ask.
“An old lady who’s judging me hard.” Zoe mumbled shyly, aware that the ghost could hear her.
Rowan raised an eyebrow before he started to laugh. She gave him a sharp look that shut him up instantly.
“Can you tell her to leave, please?” she asked her friend innocently.
Ezekiel sighed and turned towards the empty chair.
“Can you please leave, ma’am? This isn’t your room.”
He couldn’t see it, but Zoe could.
“She flipped the birdy at you.”
Ezekiel was taken aback, but Rowan found it really funny.
“She’s not very friendly. She gives this thug feeling,” Zoe continued, flinching when the lady narrowed her eyes at her.
Ezekiel crossed his arms in front of his chest and turned expectantly to Rowan. The former thug raised an eyebrow, confused what the shorter boy wanted.
“What?” he asked.
“Why don’t you try? It takes one to know one, right?”
Rowan glared at the shorter boy and leaned in.
“What did you say, midget?”
Ezekiel glared at Rowan and straightened his back.
“Sorry, I didn’t understand a word you said. Can you repeat in a language that we all know?” Ezekiel asked, fully aware that Rowan’s thick accent was always a problem for him.
Zoe watched the two boys fight with each other in silence. The lady had moved next to her bed and was watching the fight, too.
“I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes.” Zoe turned to the lady, perplexed. “Ghosts talk, mostly in hospitals. There’s a price on your head, Zoe Lestrade.”
“Who?” The lady chuckled.
“You already know who. Demons can’t help you against humans. There are higher forces getting into this problem of yours,” the lady said before she left.
Zoe was confused. What kind of higher forces? She has never ever seen an angel.
“Guys.” The two didn’t even hear her. “Guys!” They turned to her with narrowed eyes. “She left already.”
An hour later, Rowan had to leave. He and Ezekiel made peace quickly, over a pack of Oreos.
“Oh, by the way! Chen’s in this hospital, recuperating. Do you want to go visit him?” She blinked and pushed the hospital food aside. “I think he’s on this floor, too.” Ezekiel was deciding it by himself, as it seemed.
“Isn’t that wonderful?” She was sarcastic. Zoe smiled all annoyed at Ezekiel but he didn’t seem to get the point. “It’s too soon. I’m not spiritually prepared to see him,” she responded more seriously.
Ezekiel rolled his eyes and moved the pillow aside.
“Don’t you want to test your theory?”
Well, she was curious if what Mehrdir said was true but she knew that the world wasn’t exactly going as Mehrdir wanted.
“How long am I supposed to stay in hospital for?” Zoe changed the subject, unwilling to go along with Ezekiel's plans.
The doctor entered at the right moment.
“Only today. At the end of the day, you’ll be free to leave. We ran a few tests and everything seems to be fine.” The doctor smiled kindly at her. “Your boyfriend was here until you woke up.” Zoe pointed at Ezekiel, unsure. The doctor chuckled and shook her head. “The other one. He was really worried.” The doctor checked her IV and winked. “He was quite the catch.”
Zoe was confused.
After the doctor left, Ezekiel sat on the empty chair beside her bed. He was trying not to smile, but the corner of his lips were moving. He couldn’t hold it back for long; he wanted to tease her.
“Just say it,” she grumbled, her expression blank.
“It seems someone is getting all mushy for you,” Ezekiel started, amused. She raised an eyebrow and bit the inside of her cheek. “You know. We all noticed how much Mehrdir cares for you, but now Eneizar? You have them all wrapped around your little finger, don’t you?” Ezekiel was enjoying it a lot.
“You’re spending too much time with demons.”
Ezekiel chuckled and shrugged, not really caring what her opinion was. His circle of friends became thin, and most of them were demons, but it was fun as long as he wasn’t going to be killed.
Ezekiel’s phone rung and it seemed he got very good news. He went out for a moment and came back with someone. Zoe froze when she saw that person again.
“Hey, Zoe. Look who I’ve got here. Chen, this is Zoe. I’m sure you heard about her.”
His smile was wide and evil. If she didn’t know better, she would have sworn Ezekiel was possessed, but the bad thing was that he wasn’t. Chen blinked in confusion. Both Zoe and Ezekiel were curious what he was going to answer.
“Hello. I’m Kim Kyung Jae, but my friends call me Chen.”
His smile was nothing like the one in his ghost form; it looked joyful and human. It was good to see someone who was gleaming with life after he woke up from a coma.
“Why did you drag me here, Zek?”
The evil puppy laughed and hit his friend’s back playfully.
“You’re so funny! Now excuse me, my mum is calling!” He rushed out and closed the door.
Zoe and Chen looked at each other in complete silence. She didn’t know what to say and he didn’t care enough to think about it.
“So, you and Ezekiel are friends,” she started.
“Yes. Are you his girlfriend?” he asked bluntly. It didn’t seem like he had any memory of her.
“No! God, no.” She choked on saliva. Chen chuckled.
“He’s a hard one to handle?”
She scoffed. That was an understatement.
“He’s a pain in the ass. His phone didn’t even ring, but his mother was calling? Please.” Chen laughed and walked closer to her. “How long have you two been friends?” she changed the subject.
“A long time. I can’t even remember how exactly we became friends. We were both interested in music and we took lessons together. Now we’re in the same university.”
That was a good starting point. She could move around that subject.
“What university?” She already knew but it wouldn’t hurt to play a little.
“K University. What about you?” She rubbed her hand and chuckled nervously.
“I already graduated and finished the master class.” Chen’s eyes widened. “I’m twenty-six,” she continued. His eyes widened even more.
“Seriously? You don’t act your age.” Her smile dropped instantly. That statement was getting old.
“Anyway, I had a friend in K University. He was a Music Major, too.” Chen tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes a little.
“Yes. Andrew Garley. Did you know him?” She was really pushing her luck, but maybe it was going to be worth it.
“He died two years ago. Some dumbass pushed him on the stairs and he fell. He hit his head really hard and he died.” Chen was uncomfortable telling that story. “We were in the same class and we were friends, in some ways.” She licked her lower lip and inspected his facial expression. He was sad about what happened but he got over it quickly. “Me, Ezekiel and Andy were the best in our year but truthfully, I am better than both of them. I have a wider vocal range.” He looked so innocent while saying that.
“Some things never change,” she mumbled. Be it human or ghost, he had quite an ego.
Ezekiel wasn’t exactly the master of patience. He was dying to know what they were talking about and if Chen remembered Zoe. He barged in happily and stared at his friend.
“Well? Did you remember?” Ezekiel asked with a weird glint in his eyes. Chen had no idea what his friend was talking about.
“Remember what? What are you talking about?”
Ezekiel’s creepy, smiling face turned to Zoe. She shook her head.
“It’s fine. Tomorrow is another day,” the puppy said optimistically. Ezekiel waved at Zoe before he wrapped an arm around his friend and pulled him out of her room.
“Wait! Remember what?” She could still hear Chen shout outside.
“You’ve got yourself some interesting friends, haven’t you?”
Zoe scoffed and rolled over to her left side. She didn’t feel like seeing Mehrdir.
“He doesn’t remember,” she mumbled.
The greed demon glanced at the door before he turned to her with a blank face.
“Not yet. But he will.”
She snorted before she closed her eyes and went to sleep.