Sins and Sinners
“I can’t believe we’re here.”
The next day, they had to visit the high school early in the morning and get acquainted with the place and stage.
“This place doesn’t look as creepy as Hans made it seem.”
“That’s because he exaggerates. It’s probably as Zoe said. They use the ghost stories to attract students and sponsors.” Lucy scoffed, glaring at Hans from the side.
Lucy’s mind was working differently than Zoe first thought. She was a smart woman with a sharp mind and wasn’t living off her parents’ money. She was the only one who didn’t believe Hans’s made up stories; she knew they were made up because she found him searching for stories on the Internet. Zoe laughed since Hans reminded her of Gabe. But that had a bad point too because Gabe got possessed because of his ghost story.
Zoe surveyed the place, but she couldn’t see anything. It was silent and empty; nothing supernatural was lurking in the shadows, at least not at the moment. She smiled when she realised she had nothing to worry about.
“So, I talked to Andy and he said it’s clear.” Ezekiel spoke without moving his eyes off his phone.
“Are you talking to Alice?” she asked, her eyes set on his fast fingers typing non-stop. He blushed and turned his back to her. “Andy is not here so how did he assure you that it’s empty?”
He threw a nasty look at her over his shoulder.
“He sent me a text. He comes and goes. Doesn’t feel like seeing you, though,” the puppy human commented, his eyes not once moving off his phone.
Zoe raised an eyebrow and leaned against the window.
“I already said I’m sorry. Curiosity got the best of me,” she whined loudly.
“Don’t you know? Curiosity killed the cat.”
She walked behind him and leaned over his shoulder. “Then how come you’re still alive?” she whispered in a low tone.
Ezekiel froze and ignored her comment.
The student council of that high school asked Yun and the rest to help them a little with the decorations since they were the only team that came early. Truthfully, they were all so excited to see something suspicious that they even decorated the stage with candles and weird writings that had no connection to the Underworld.
“This isn’t safe,” Zoe stated, her eyes taking in all the unnecessary details.
The boy who was in charge of the student council turned to her curiously.
“What isn’t safe? Is there a mistake?”
She shook her head and pointed at the writings.
“You mean that? I think it’s just random words put together,” the high school student brushed it off quickly.
“But don’t you have ghosts?” Hans interrupted.
Zoe rolled her eyes when he came behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders.
“Oh. You’ve heard the rumours, have you?” He rubbed the back of his head and smiled sheepishly. “The truth is that we do have one. It’s the ghost of a girl who was into Satanist stuff and she killed herself for a ‘higher purpose’, as she said.”
Zoe glanced at Hans over her shoulder. He didn’t seem too interested in that story; he was waiting for something deeper and more meaningful, not just a made-up story.
“So it wasn’t a secret affair, an accident or a bullied girl.” Hans sounded disappointed.
“What makes you think it is a girl?” Zoe asked, doubting they had anything.
The student council member frowned and started to play with his shirt.
“Some students saw it. They said she was in a long white dress and her hair was—”
“Long and spread over her face. Her eyes were red and she was moving backwards on her limbs. Am I right?” she continued the description for him. He nodded slowly. “That’s the characterisation of every ghost in Japanese high schools. Tell me something I don’t know.”
The member huffed in annoyance and called someone.
“I think you made him mad,” Hans mumbled. She didn’t care if she offended him, reality being disappointing especially in the dark world. “Oh. He’s coming here with a tall and dangerous guy.”
Zoe followed Hans’s sight and noticed the skinny yet very tall and intimidating guy staring at her. He told the member something and walked towards them.
“I’m out of here. Good luck and it was nice to meet you.” Hans waved and left Zoe all alone to face the intimidating guy.
“Hello.” His English was good. “I’m Toma. I’m the one in charge here.”
“Are you the student council president?” She blinked in confusion.
He chuckled and shook his head. “No. I’m a little too old for that. I’m thirty, but thanks for the compliment. I am the supervisor and one of the teachers at this high school.” Once he started to smile, the atmosphere around him became more comfortable. “I heard you have been questioning the supernatural in this place.”
Her face was the perfect example of someone who didn’t know what he was talking about but actually knew and didn’t care.
“Ghosts. Everyone talks about ghosts around here.”
Zoe sounded quite rude with a stranger she knew nothing about. He ruffled his hair and sighed.
“Well, that’s how this high school survived for so long. Those stories bring curious people and curious people bring money. No matter what, money brings happiness to the staff and students who learn here. They need accommodations and books,” Toma explained.
“But there’s not a Satanist ghost in here,” she explained, thinking that he may understand what she was doing.
“I haven’t seen it. But who knows? There might be.” He wasn’t helping at all.
“Let’s try it out.”
Toma and Zoe froze. The member of the student council raised an eyebrow and tapped his foot on the floor.
“I will protect the pride of my school and I will prove to you that we’re haunted.” That caught Chen and Ezekiel’s attention. Actually, it caught everyone’s attention.
“Let’s do it. I’m curious, too.” Jeremy and Hans were already planning something evil for their friends, anyway. That guy’s proposition was only adding more fun to their plan.
“I think this is a bad idea,” Ezekiel whispered to the closest person, which was Lau. He chuckled and patted Ezekiel’s back.
“I think we should do it. What can happen?”
The crowd divided and the students started to talk about the ghost. They were looking forward to that night.
The plan was simple. The show was from 4pm to 8pm. Afterwards, the K University team was going to their hotel to change and shower and return at midnight.
“Why midnight?” Yun asked curiously. He was very curious how that night was going to progress. “And how come it will only be K University, you and Seto?” he asked Toma.
“Seto wants to prove something to you. He’ll make that ghost appear, no matter the cost.”
That worried Zoe. She glanced at her hand and sighed heavily. If there was something at risk it was everyone’s safety.
The show began at 4pm sharp. The singers were behind the stage while Zoe was watching the show with Yun and Toma. She remembered something and turned to Yun. She patted his arm to get his attention because he was very concentrated on everything on stage, from lights to people.
“Do you have a younger sister by any chance?”
He was taken aback that she was interested in him enough to talk to him. She didn’t seem to like him very much from what he observed.
“I do, yes. Why?”
“Is her name Suzy?” Yun looked genuinely surprised.
“No. I don’t know anyone called Suzy. Sorry.”
She could feel a pressure on her chest and it felt a lot like fear. Zoe got an unknown phone call from someone that warned her about Suzy.
“Why do you ask?” It was his turn to ask her.
She licked her lips and turned towards the stage.
Yun raised an eyebrow but didn’t press her for details. It wasn’t his business in the first place but she was acting a little weird compared to the other girls.
When the show ended, the boys hurried out to get ready for the most amazing night in Japan. The girls weren’t happy with how things turned out. They were sure that the boys were going to do something to scare them both in the school and in the hotel therefore, they made a plan to counter-attack the other plan. It was both confusing and childish for Zoe and, surprisingly, for Lucy.
“I hate this. We’re going to make fools of ourselves. We’re thin and small compared to them.”
“It’s all right as long as one of us changes into a ghost and scares them.” Clarice brushed her off.
They only had to find someone to take on the role.
No one was brave enough to accept it without a proper fight. They played rock, paper, scissors again and the loser had to dress and act like a ghost. The unlucky girl was Lucy. She glared at them and entered the bathroom to get ready.
“Isn’t this fun?” Hayley asked Zoe in an excited manner.
She smirked. It was fun mostly because she was part of it. For her, being part of the group and being involved in their actions was enough to make her happy.
On the other side, the boys were creating their own plan.
“Who should we go after?”
“Sonia is a scaredy cat. She would make a good victim.” Jeremy chuckled and high-fived Chen. The two were having a lot of fun.
Ezekiel hit Chen and the younger one narrowed his eyes at his best friend.
“What?” Ezekiel pointed at his eyes. “What?!” Chen repeated. He didn’t get what Ezekiel was trying to say.
“Aren’t you avoiding a little something regarding Zoe?” Chen was still confused. “She can see ghosts and she didn’t see anything.”
Chen’s eyes sparkled with an evil glint. Ezekiel was surprised just how much his friend could act like Eneizar.
“Wouldn’t that be so cool? What if the incantations we make let us see the demons around her?”
“They’re not around her at the moment. What if the incantation brings another demon, though? One that will possess one of us and kill the rest.” Ezekiel’s theory was scary even for himself.
“That’s not going to happen.” Chen said that with too much confidence.
Ezekiel raised an eyebrow, making the boy become serious.
“It happened, didn’t it?” Chen whimpered when Ezekiel nodded. “Well, I already almost died once and didn’t see the light. I think we both know what that means.”
“It means you’re stupid.” Ezekiel scoffed before hitting him. Chen glared at his best friend and launched at him.
Much like in the past, they started to wrestle in the middle of the room. The rest of the guys paid no mind. Yun walked out of the bathroom and noticed the two hitting each other and rolling on the floor.
“Nothing unusual here.” He rubbed his back and went to change. “Nothing unusual at all.”
“Are you guys ready?”
They met in the lobby. The boys were acting normal—suspiciously normal.
“I’m ready to get this over with.” Lucy was grumpy.
Clarice nudged her and told her to be quiet. Jeremy raised an eyebrow and gave Hans a knowing glance.
“Are you ready?” Ezekiel took Clarice’s spot next to Zoe.
“If I see something, you’ll be the first to know,” she mumbled, her mind being busy with other theories, completely different from scary haunted places.
Ezekiel smiled and grabbed her hand. For some reason, she remembered the moment she first entered Chris’s store; Eneizar had grabbed her hand in the same manner Ezekiel did. It made her feel safe, but at the same time it made her feel some kind of connection. Ezekiel wasn’t Eneizar and the intensity wasn’t the same but she could feel something coming off his body.
“You don’t have to be scared, Zek.” The human tensed. She leaned towards him and squeezed his hand. “I’m here. If someone gets in danger, it would be me.”
“That’s not reassuring at all.”
She chuckled and noticed his lips curve slightly. Maybe it wasn’t reassuring, but it made him feel better.
In no time they found themselves in the theatre. When they got there, Seto had the whole place prepared. He drew a circle and wrote some words around it. It was very well drawn, down to the smallest detail.
“This is creepy. Did you search how to do it on Internet?” Toma asked his student, who nodded eagerly in response.
“Isn’t it awesome?”
Toma wasn’t impressed and he was definitely not seeing it as being awesome. He was an adult after all and wasn’t so sure why the kids were excited for nothing.
As Seto wished, there were three circles. One in the middle, where he was sitting; a medium one around him formed by Toma, Yun, Clarice, Lucy and Lau; the biggest one formed by Ezekiel, Chen, Sonia, Jeremy, Hayley, Hans and Zoe. However, once they started the incantation, she shifted and moved out of the circle. It was too dangerous for her to be in it. She didn’t know what could happen and she wasn’t prepared to find out.
Seto had a candle on a black plate in front of him. The rest of the candles were only to illuminate and help the spirit communicate.
“You who lived yesterday,
I’ll call you from my mind to yours,
Come back from the shadows into the light
And show yourself here.”
Nothing happened. The room was silent, and while some of them were anticipating the manifestation, some were genuinely scared. Zoe noticed Jeremy shifting in his place, trying to reason with himself that ghosts weren’t real. Seto closed his eyes and the rest followed his example.
“Show yourself to us, Aimi.”
Zoe tilted her head to the side and glanced at Hans. He was staring ahead with no sign of excitement or supernatural satisfaction; he was bored and looked like he didn’t actually believe in whatever was going to happen. If it was going to happen.
One candle flickered, and it was the one closest to her. She glanced at it from the corner of her eye and saw a pair of familiar shoes.
“Hey.” She raised her head and looked at Ezekiel, who leaned back a little in order to whisper to her. “Do you see anything?”
She mumbled something incoherent. Ezekiel opened his eyes and glanced at her over his shoulder as subtly as he could.
“Eneizar’s here,” she repeated.
Ezekiel’s eyes widened and he suddenly turned his body towards her. Seto’s eyes opened and they narrowed at the older guy.
“Stay silent and wait patiently for the ghost.”
Ezekiel scoffed. He really wanted to tell that little smartass that he had already met ghosts and he had even been possessed. Everything was on the tip of his tongue.
Zoe placed her hand over his and nodded; it was all right to go with it for a little bit longer. Ezekiel got the point and turned back to his position.
“There’s not even one uninteresting ghost in here,” she heard Eneizar comment. He stretched and leaned against the window.
An idea struck him and he waved a hand towards the centre of the circle.
“Oh,” someone gasped.
A few candles flickered. Seto’s eyes widened and he started to ramble something about past and future and whatever. She blocked his voice out.
“That’s not funny,” she mumbled. On the other hand, Eneizar was entertained.
“It is. You have to agree that your friends make funny faces when they’re scared.” He was grinning but wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. There was just one thing bugging her.
“I have to go to the toilet.”
Seto grunted but let her leave.
Hans watched Zoe until she was out of sight. Ezekiel tilted his head to the side and stared warily at his classmate. Hans was a little suspicious lately. And how did he get so close to Zoe in such a short time? He was the one who complained the most when Ezekiel announced that his girlfriend was going to join the trip. He made a big fuss over it so why was he so nice to her?
Zoe didn’t need the toilet; she wanted to talk to Eneizar. The demon took a step back when she pushed him harshly; surprisingly, his shoulder stung. He caught her wrist and turned her hand to look at her palm.
“Why is it bandaged?” he asked, one eyebrow raised cockily.
She pulled her hand back and narrowed her eyes at him.
“Why are you here? I made myself very clear that I can handle myself.”
“Some things changed back home,” he started. “We had to leave for certain reasons. It seems someone from the Holy Brotherhood found you. They broke in your apartment and searched for dark stuff. They found none and they left with disappointed faces.”
“What about the rest?”
Eneizar rubbed his chin and started to pace around.
“Rowan is safe; he plays stupid well. Iaosur has some business to take care of and Mehrdir got an errand for Mammon so he’s not in Japan for you. And I got bored.”
“What about my neighbours?”
“What about them?” She rolled her eyes at his ignorance. “They have nothing to do with you so they don’t matter.”
She scoffed. That was a very blunt way to show how little he cared for other humans.
“So, did something happen?” She threw a dejected look at him. What was that supposed to mean? “I’m asking again. Did something suspicious happen here?” Her expression changed. She didn’t look as confident as before.
“One girl. I was with her and someone called me to tell me that she was one of them.”
Eneizar was intrigued. He stared at her for a few minutes before he looked to the side.
“Something is lurking in the shadows. It’s not a ghost. Your stupid friend is invoking a Satanist,” Eneizar stated. He didn’t even finish his sentence when she ran back to her friends.
Eneizar tilted his head to the side and waited patiently for the other person to appear. He could see him clearly.
“You can see me.” The demon’s evil side was kicking in. The person chuckled darkly and walked out. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Is that how the saying goes?” Eneizar continued amusedly.
The person shrugged. He didn’t charge at Eneizar but walked right past him, into the men’s bathroom.