Lies and Pity
Zoe was in a fancy restaurant, moving in her seat nervously. She licked her lips and tried to open up a conversation a few times already but she couldn't even look into his eyes.
"Are you uncomfortable?"
She raised her head and looked at him. He was handsome and she was surprised he asked her out.
"No. I'm just a little nervous,"
The boy smiled brightly, "Truthfully, I am too. I don't come to these kind of places often."
"Me neither." She lied, "I was surprised when you invited me here."
The boy chuckled nervously and rubbed his cheek.
"I've been seeing you around and I got curious since you were a new face."
She started to fidget under the table experiencing going out with a boy for the first time.
"There's nothing really to say,"
"Actually, a few friends said they saw you talking to yourself in the halls," He leaned over the table and whispered,"I found that really interesting." He continued, Zoe's fidgeting becoming even worse under the table.
"Is that why you asked me out?"
He blinked; she could see him try to think up an answer. "Not exactly,"
She still had hope.
"I heard you can see ghosts."
Or maybe not. She glanced around and realized it was one of those old and renovated restaurants.
He hummed and leaned back, "Do you see something here? Just in case."
It was such a disappointment. Zoe genuinely believed he was nice and liked her for who she was. She's been trying so hard to fit in and that was her result.
"My own deception.“ She mumbled.
He didn't hear her with all the noise around, thankfully.
She blinked and the images changed into reality. She saw Ezekiel waving his hand in front of her face.
"I called you a few times. Did you get lost in your world?"
She shook her head and rubbed her temples. Her memories weren't welcomed; not now, not ever.
"Are you alright? You were staring ahead blankly," Eneizar leaned back and stared at her curiously.
"You do realize we are not going to eat anything here." Eneizar shrugged. "We are not ghosts. We can't live what they live."
"Then why did you want to come here?"
Suddenly, the whole restaurant seemed to move in slow motion; everyone, except them.
"For this." She pointed at the front doors. "Any minute now,"
Much like she expected, the doors opened after five minutes and a man entered, alarmed and scared.
"A man! A man was hit by a car!"
Zoe watched the scene unfold with great interest.
More people walked to him and asked him for details. The manager did that too. Unfortunately, the one hit was his son. He froze and started to tremble.
Everyone was watching with pity; pity that seemed overused and already a routine. She could understand that.
"Zoe! Stop being stubborn and get in the car!"
A 14 years old Zoe stomped her foot on the ground.
"I am old enough to know where you want to take me, mom!"
Her mother's foxy eyes were staring at her intensely, "Get in the car, Zoe."
The kid only puffed her chest out. She was scared and wanted to fight against her mother but she was just a kid.
She wasn't budging from her spot.
"Fight back~" She heard someone whisper in her ear.
Her mother was exasperated mostly because they were in a populated area. They were on the street, not outside. Besides, they just went out for shopping and bam! Her mother was trying to distract her with money and stuff but Zoe didn't need that; she wanted affection and understanding.
"Get in or I'm going to do something bad," The woman threatened, glowering at her daughter.
Zoe gulped and took a step forward. Only one step.
"Don't give in. Don't give up~"
She nodded to herself, gaining some kind of encouragement from that whisper. That voice was powerful.
"I'm not going anywhere, mom. Certainly not to that therapist. I don't want drugs and pills to sleep. I don't need help."
Her mother glared at her before grabbing her arm forcefully and pulling her closer.
"You do what I say. I am your mother and I know better. You are making a fool out of yourself. We both know you have mental problems."
That was it. Zoe pushed her mom away and ran into the street. She closed her eyes and waited for the impact.
Her mother's eyes widened when she saw her daughter getting hit by a car. People gathered around to watch but Zoe was fine. She got up and realized she was only scratched. Her mother grabbed her by the shoulders and hugged her tightly.
Zoe knew what actually happened; she saw him. He wrapped his arms around her and softened the collision. He was there, behind her mother. She reached her hand out and he touched it; he was an entrancing person and no one could see him but her. Besides, she didn't know him but those eyes; those eyes she never forgot. She found them so pretty and she could trust them, trust him. Those same eyes appeared once more afterwards but this time, they didn't disappear after an accident. They remained there, by her side, doing nothing but trouble.
Zoe got shaken back to reality when she felt someone grabbing her hand and leading her to some other room. She was perfectly conscious of what was going on and when someone pushed her inside the cooler room and locked the door. They locked her in the freezer; moreover, she found no will to fight back or get out.
"Hey, calm down. An ambulance will come soon."
Chen assured and reassured himself that he wasn't dreaming. He was in an empty building yet Ezekiel was crouched on the ground, soothing the air.
However, through Ezekiel's eyes it was different. He was next to the manager who had his head between his hands crying loudly. Iaosur rolled his eyes and leaned against a random table.
"He's crying like a little girl,"
Eneizar nodded. He was watching the scene with calm and superiority.
"It already happened anyway. His son won't survive but will enter a vegetative state and he will hang himself. Nothing more and nothing less."
Both demons sighed. The pub was doomed to replay the same story over and over again; it needed a new proprietor and a new life. Just because it was haunted didn't mean it wasn't functional.
"I don't understand. Why can't humans live with it? They can use each other."
Chen eavesdropped on their conversation and pointed out his own opinion, "Ghosts and humans can't live together. It's not natural."
The demons stared at Chen blankly.
"Humans love ghosts. They define them as spirits lost on Earth when the truth is that everyone has the right to choose. Ghosts are humans too. Would you like to leave everything you worked for and loved behind? No. That's why they stay here. Because they still feel."
Chen frowned, "But that doesn't make any sense. Some ghosts are evil and scare people."
Eneizar narrowed his eyes at the human, "No one changes. Not even after they die. Whoever was evil alive will definitely be the same in death. That's how it goes. There are hundreds of ghosts around and just because you can't see them doesn't mean they're not there."
Life certainly became very paranoid for Chen.
"We should leave. Zoe-" Chen turned around but didn't find anyone. "I swear she was behind me a few minutes ago."
Iaosur and Ezekiel suddenly jumped. Their signs were getting white and their hands were getting blue.
"What's going on?" Ezekiel was feeling like he was going to give his last breath. Iaosur was already dead so the feeling was a little different but still painful.
"Someone used the accident as a distraction,"
Suddenly, Ezekiel remembered the manager's words. He ran to him and pulled him by the collar. The ghost was surprised and confused.
"Where is Zoe?" His tone dropped a few notes. It was the first time Chen saw his friend act and sound like that,"You said it before. That we will become like these people soon."
"You are not dead." The manager started in an offended tone.
No shit Sherlock, Ezekiel already knew that.
"But you can see me; us. It's her, isn't it? The little demon."
Everything vanished. The demons got into defensive positions while Chen only moved closer to Ezekiel.
The building was silent and empty. He could hear his own heart beat. The manager changed his appearance, he became this weird and incredibly built man with eyes like a fox's. He smirked, which only complimented the whole evil image.
"Let's see what happens if we kill her. Will you die too?" The ghost lowered his tone an octave.
Ezekiel swallowed in fear, his sign shining brighter. Iaosur's wasn't having the same reaction, the glow becoming faint.
"He is already dead. Now it's your turn." The ghost muttered in a husky voice.
Ezekiel let go of him and took a few steps back. His hand was starting to hurt and he could feel his pulse dropping; he was going to die.
"What the heck are you doing?"
For someone who was watching the love of his existence being all grim and ready to die, Mehrdir sounded monotone.
"And the prince comes to the rescue,"
She was freezing and her body was shaking. Her lower lip was slowly turning blue and she couldn't move her legs. She was standing all dejected next to a box of frozen vegetables.
"Get out of here." He ordered her.
She raised an eyebrow and leaned her head back, "You have no right to come and tell me what to do."
Mehrdir almost forgot how stubborn she was.
"Why did you want to come to this place? You knew it will bring back old memories." He was actually scolding her, he whom has never had the courage to admit anything regarding her.
"I had more than just one guy interested in me, you know. In high school, there was this cute guy with freckles. He was a little nerdy and people were bullying him for that but I found it attractive."
She was rambling. He sighed and put his hands in his front pockets. The temperature was dropping with every minute.
"Anyway, I helped him and we became friends. Then, I developed this huge crush on some other guy. He was far more popular and attractive. More attractive than you will ever be." He rolled his eyes and crouched in front of her, "He asked me out; the more attractive guy. And I said yes. At the same time, my one and only friend asked me to go see some kids’ movie. I went with the pretty face, of course. Do you know what happened?"
"It failed." He grumbled
She leaned towards him only to slap him; it was powerless but still.
"He was interested only because he heard kids talk about my so called gift to see ghosts. He got me to some fancy and old pub; The Volunteer. It was rumored to be haunted."
Mehrdir knew the story. He was right outside, watching her through the mirror; he saw everything. She walked home with such a sad face that night.
"You know what happened to my friend?"
He sighed, "You're going to tell me."
"He wanted to go see the movie anyway. He was so excited afterwards that he crossed the street when it was a red light. Some crazy motorbike dude entered into him and they both died. He was excited because he wanted to get to my house and tell me everything. He wasn't in the least mad that I chose some insignificant guy over him. We were friends."
Mehrdir bent and grabbed her head. She was crying but whatever was coming from her eyes weren't tears.
"It's over now," The demon tried to comfort her but he wasn't feeling any empathy.
She started to cry loudly even though she could feel her eyes sting. Zoe rose her hand and touched whatever was dripping down her cheeks instead of tear; it was blood.
"How many people died because of me? Do you know what's worse? This restaurant makes me feel better. I've always craved to be here again."
Mehrdir froze, "What do you mean again?"
She chuckled darkly. It was really weird when she was acting like that; like she had multiple personalities disorder.
"A year later, I saw his ghost; my friend's. He said we should meet here. I couldn't come on that day so I came later on but couldn't find him. Now, everyone knows my name as the commander," She trailed, looking down at his Oxfords.
"And you thought he might be still here? After all this time "Even ghosts get tired of waiting and move on, Zoe."
He wrapped his arms around her protectively and pulled her into his chest. He rubbed her hands and tried to keep her warm.
"Don't leave me, Mehrdir," She mumbled, grabbing his hand tightly and squeezing it.
That was probably the biggest surprise of the day. His eyes widened and even though he opened his mouth to give a smartass comeback, he couldn't come with any more than, "I-"
"I don't care. You have big issues and I don't give a shit what those are. Just- don't leave me forever," Her voice was weak but her gaze was pressuring him.
Mehrdir was looking at her with so many mixed feelings. He felt somehow honored yet he was scared. She could feel it in the way his chest tensed.
"What about the rules?"
She scoffed and wrapped her hands around his waist, "Fuck them all."
The greed demon chuckled and brought her closer.
It didn't matter anyway because Beelzebub already knew about him.
She decided to keep that little detail to herself, though. It was better like that. Asmodeus was probably going to annoy her with it and come a lot more often around to check up on the -assholes that do not deserve the titles they have- but she couldn't care less.
On the other side, Ezekiel was going through the same things as his master. Zoe was crying with blood, for some unknown reason therefore Ezekiel’s ears were bleeding because of her.
“I’m really freaked out right now.” Chen was the only human there and he was panicking with each passing second.
“We have to find Zoe.” Eneizar commented, looking around the empty pub.
Chen glared at the vanity demon before getting up and grabbing the demon by the collar of his shirt, “He’s dying. Do you really think he can resist for much longer? He’s freezing and bleeding!”
Eneizar stared at the human with a poker face. It was the first time he got the courage to stand up against a demon and it was for the same reason every human does that: friendship.
“If Zoe is safe, he will be safe. She signed a human. He has the endless knot on his forearm; it’s worse than a pact with the Devil. We all know where he will end up if he dies, don’t we?”
Chen gripped Eneizar's shirt tighter before pushing him away angrily. The human had to calm down but only a glance at Ezekiel's painful expression was enough to bring the panic and anger back.
“First, we find Zoe. Do you understand?" Eneizar asked the human, keeping a certain distance between them, “Iaosur, guard the entrance. We don’t need more ghosts in here. You, Chen, will stay here with Ezekiel and try to keep him alive. I’ll go search for that idiotic human.”
Iaosur scoffed, “Who made you the boss?”
Eneizar glared at his friend. Iaosur bit his lip and tried to suppress any need to comment. He decided to go with Eneizar’s decisions for the moment but that didn’t mean he liked it.
“They’re going to find you soon,” Mehrdir mumbled, swaying her back and forth.
She was dizzy yet she could feel life gripping on her with no intention to let go, “Why can’t I die?”
Mehrdir stared at her like she was an idiot for saying something like that.
“Because you don’t want to die. If you wanted that so badly, you’d already be in Hell; for good.”
She scoffed. She was still very lively for someone who had her fingers blue and couldn’t feel her legs.
“I did but they sent me back. They sent me to find the inheritor,” She shuddered and coughed.
He glanced at the door a few times but nothing and the seal was too powerful to break from inside.
“That bastard Lucifer doesn’t see anything but that. And he doesn’t even want to protect him! He wants the inheritor to be tortured.”
Mehrdir sighed and pulled her closer to him. He already placed his coat around her but it wasn’t enough.
“Do you know what’s worse?”
He shook his head, acting along. He couldn’t believe how much she changed him; or maybe it was the other way around. That second thought was more comfortable than the first.
“I found him.”
Mehrdir froze, “What?” His eyes widened.
She chuckled and poked his cheek, “Can you finally see me? Because I can certainly see some emotion in your eyes.”
He narrowed his eyes at her and got up.
“Where is the inheritor?”
Zoe groaned and laid on the ground with her legs and hands spread. He pushed her away so easily that she could feel a piece of her heart shattering at his feet.
“He’s coming to me,”
The greed demon frowned, “What’s that supposed to mean? He’s close?”
She stared at him closely. He was getting worked up over that when she was on the verge of dying; what a gentleman he was.
Zoe hardly raised her hand and signed for him to come closer. He leaned in and she grabbed him by the neck, pulling him closer to her face. He glared at her but it was hard to know for sure if he was genuinely mad or just himself.
“You’ll never now,” She hissed, glancing at his lips before rising to his eyes.
Her eyes were the same brown colour as usual. Zoe wasn’t going to die and she knew that but it was worrisome. She was ready to give her life away any time yet she wasn’t. It was such a contradiction.
Without thinking, he leaned in to kiss her. It was weird and he just went with the flow but she moved her head to the right and he ended up kissing her cheek.
“Why don’t you go up and tell them where I am?”
He leaned back once she let go of him.
“Why don’t you give a sign? Why are you staying here with me instead of getting the others here?”
Mehrdir tidied up before looking at her from under his eyebrows, “Would you like me to leave?”
She was having the urge to punch him in the face and bash his skull against the wall. That tone was pissing her off and his cold actions were making her think that he has been acting nice only to find out what she knew.
“You’re playing with my feelings,” She mumbled, glowering at him from her position, “Don’t make me play with your existence, Mehrdir. I can be a true demon if I want to.” She threatened him, her voice growing in power even if her body was freezing.
She was delusional.
“You’re talking like that because your brain is shutting down.” He reasoned.
She blinked and looked at the ceiling, “If I use my sign, I can warm myself up in no time but I’m not because the one that got me here is far more powerful. It’s someone who wants me dead but not really,”
She chuckled and closed her eyes, “Like Belial.”
Mehrdir froze. That was big; she wasn’t even aware of how big that name was.
“He is the boss, Zoe,”
“He is~"She hummed and closed her eyes, "But he also loves Lucifer. Isn’t that why he manipulated him into going against God? That’s why he fell. He was nothing but vanity. Loving yourself more than anything is a curse,”
Mehrdir glanced at the door again. He could feel someone coming closer but not close enough. She opened her eyes when she felt him leave.
“I was wondering when he will leave. I’ve been standing here for a while now,”
She turned her head to the right and saw someone she had never met before but knew unconsciously.
Belphegor shrugged and walked towards her.
“Here. There. I can tell you he’s definitely not in Hell.”
She scoffed and rolled on her left side.
“You found the inheritor, if I heard well. Don’t let any vanity demon near him; not even Eneizar,”
She grunted as a response. He left after threatening -but not exactly- her.
Eneizar was downstairs, right outside the freezer. He could hear everything but after the most important detail, he walked up. Mehrdir appeared before him and pushed him into the wall harshly.
“You go down there and open the door,”
Eneizar raised an eyebrow tauntingly, “Why?”
“Because she’s in there and you knew it from the start,” Eneizar blinked innocently, pissing Mehrdir off, “Don’t play stupid, Eneizar. You work under Lucifer. No matter what, she is only a tool for you. You have no friends.”
The vanity demon glared at the greed demon and pushed him away.
“You think you know everything, don’t you? Well, you don’t.” He snarled at the greed demon before vanishing.
Mehrdir closed his eyes; out of rage, he punched the wall. It left a little hole and it made quite the noise.
That noise grabbed Chen’s attention. He was trying to keep Ezekiel warm but it was hard when he was freezing from nothing. The human got up and followed the sound to the hole in the wall, next to the stairs. He touched it but didn’t feel anything out of ordinary. What he felt, though, was a tinge of regret. He didn’t know whose was exactly but that tinge of regret gave him the push towards the basement.
Chen descended the stairs slowly and surveyed the place; there was nothing but a freezer. He took a peek inside only to notice someone on the floor; he looked closer and realized it was the body of a woman. He gulped and searched for the opening mechanism but it didn’t have any.
Chen remembered how old was the restaurant. He gripped the handle and rotated it towards him the door opening loudly.
He only heard her groan before he rushed inside and noticed the state she was in, “Who the heck got you in here?”
She mumbled something incoherent, unable to open her eyes. He grabbed her bridal style –hard, because she was heavy- and walked out.
When he got upstairs, he placed her next to Ezekiel. He heard something snap when he let her down.
“I think I got five years older in this restaurant,” The human sighed and rubbed his back like a grandfather. He looked down at his friends and felt even worse, “Now what?”
Chen frowned. Gakhas just appeared next to Zoe and said something insane.
“Stab her in the side or cut her wrist. That’s the only way.” Seeing how Chen was hesitating, the demon grabbed a knife from his jacket smirking sadistically, “Do you want me to do it? I can do it.”
The human gulped. Gakhas was ready to cut her wrist when Chen stopped him.
“No!” The demon stopped but didn’t move away, “I will do it.”
Chen gulped and snatched the knife from the short demon. He grabbed her wrist and cut it lightly. Gakhas narrowed his eyes at him and pushed more pressure on his hand. The blood was spilling out quickly and Chen was scared.
The ghosts of The Volunteer Pub appeared again and gathered around them.
“She’s the commander.”
“She’s being fooled.”
“She has no friends. Such a pity.”
“It’s all a lie.”
Chen looked around but couldn’t see anything. However, he could hear it; he heard it well and it sent chills down his spine.
It’s all a lie.