Lahash kept his word to Pandora. Having brought her and Caticus back to the present time, he portaled the weakened fairy to the dark realm to help her restore some of her strength to face her mother.
He brought the fairy pair to a secluded area of the dark realm, away from the demon soldiers and past the prisoner cells. Pandora followed the smug demon past the cells where they held prisoners. “Where are we going? My mother told me that fairies are weakened here. Are you trying to trick me?”
Lahash kept his head down as he walked. “Your mother speaks the truth. However, we can help restore some of what it lost. You will need to return home to regain your magic and power. Suddenly he stopped walking and snapped his finger where a door appeared, placed in what looked to be the end of the line of the dark realm.
Pandora stood beside Lahash with her arms crossed. “What is this?”
Lahash said, “Open the door.”
Pandora cut her eyes toward Lahash, who made no moves. She reached her arm out and took the wooden doorknob within her grasp and turned it. After she pulled the door open, a bright light emerged. Pandora squinted her eyes until she heard water and birds singing. She looked to Lahash again. “What is this!”
Lahash pulled the door further, widening the opening. He said, “This is where some souls come when they are held prisoner here. We rarely use it. In fact, we haven’t opened the door for some time. We would bring humans here for mind games and more psychological punishment. You ever heard the mortals saying, ’If there is a hell, there is a special place in hell for certain people? Well, it exists, and this is it.”
Pandora stared at the wondrous and beautiful landscape into another world in disbelief. She was looking at a place in what the humans called hell. “This makes little sense. It looks wonderful.”
Lahash snorted, “Of course it does. For now. There is no such place as hell. It is a loosely used term. However, here in the dark realm, when we collect those interesting souls who claim to be something good, something they are not. They come here for a while. Arrogance is something these people have. The majority that comes here claim to be a martyr, a Christian, or something of faith. But deep down, they are more downtrodden than the ones who are downtrodden. Oh, these humans are so fun to have. They assume they have arrived in what they believe is heaven. They see nirvana, heaven, or whatever they told their selves before they died. They are the ones who believe they are better than any other human. We dump them in here for a while and let the lay of the land give them their first bouts of punishment.”
Pandora tried to shut the door. “I am not going in there.”
Lahash put his hand there to stop it. “You can go there. You are not a human nor a lost or bad soul. The effects of this place will not harm you. However, you will derive energy from it. In a lot of ways, this should resemble the fairy realm, does it not?”
Pandora gazed into the strange and mysterious place and said, “Yes, it does actually. But what do I need to do?”
Lahash looked to her, “You do nothing. You wait. Then you will see.”
“Why should I trust you, Lahash?”
“I never asked you to trust me, I brought you here for some energy that you will receive. That is all.” Lahash walked away, leaving Pandora and Caticus standing at the doorway.
“Well?” Caticus asked while staring with a sly smile. “So, let’s go?”
Pandora looked back over her shoulder. “What is with you? He is a demon. We can’t trust him.”
“Oh, he is but so handsome, isn’t he? Did you check out his threads? My, oh my. It must be wonderful to have existed for so long, getting eloquent clothes and from Paris and London no less. Ahh, you know. If a mortal saw a fairy, well, we would not get those clothes. The only humans that see us are the witches, and I just can’t say I enjoy their tastes in clothes.”
Pandora furrowed her face. “Would you shut up! We are in the human perceived hell, and you want to talk about clothes. Good night!” Pandora brought her hands up in the air and walked into the mystery land.
Caticus said, “Where are you going?”
Pandora slapped her hands down at her sides. “Where does it look like I am going? Come on before I change my mind.”
After they both walked in, the door shut behind them and disappeared, leaving only a wondrous place. Green as far as the eye could see, the temperature was even more perfect and not what would be expected in the dark realm. Birds audible in the distance as they flew in the lavender sky. The slopes looked like a Van Gogh painting with speckles of vibrant colors of flowers over sloping hills.
Pandora looked around. “I don’t get it. They bring humans here to punish them? This doesn’t look like punishment.”
Pandora’s rushed and frustrated speech was interrupted with the audible sounds of footsteps dragging through the ankle-high lush grass. She turned around the see what it was walking up behind her. When she looked, there was nothing there, just the sound of the soft breeze blowing through her hair.
When she turned around to speak to Caticus, he was gone from her sight. Pandora stood still, unsure of what to do next. She peered out of the corner of her eye to see what looked like a setting sun. However, when she turned to face what was in the sky, there was not a sun. Just an altogether unique light, a smaller moon-like object, the color of red hung in the sky. She placed her hand above her brows to block the light from her eyes to get a better look at what lingered.
After a moment of taking in the mysterious moon-like object, the footsteps she once heard emerged again. This time with swift movements. She plunged her arm and turned her body where once again; she didn’t see what her ears heard.
Suddenly, from behind, she felt a tap on her shoulders and heard child-like giggles as though they were coming from everywhere. Pandora circled around to get a full view, and a quarter of the way through her turn, she saw a figure moving toward her. The lines in the figure were distorted and wavy like she was looking through water.
As the figure moved closer, it became more blurred until just a few steps away, the watery figure emerged with clean lines and a face she longed to see.
Pandora’s face was incredulous as she said, “Mother?”
Selena walked through the lush grass as her long, emerald green dress drug the ground. She carried with her a book and one that appeared to be on the of the famous books she kept in her realm.
“Hello, child. How ironic to see you again and to see you here in the dark realm.” Selena said with her face devoid of emotion and her voice low.
Pandora stood in disbelief at where she was and who stood before her. With a parted mouth, she barely could breathe, and after she took a hard swallow and a brief gasp of air to speak, she said, “How are you here? This can’t be real. What is happening?”
Selena said, “To you, yes, this is real. This is happening. I am genuine, but only from your subconscious. I am not really here, you know this. I am here because this is where your mind took you.”
Pandora shook her head. “No! I wasn’t thinking of you!”
Selena smiled, and her eyes were soft as she reached out to hold her daughter. “You must have been thinking of me; otherwise, I would not be here.” Selena’s hand rested on what she thought was her daughter. She pulled her hand back and stared into Pandora’s eyes.
“When Lahash opened the door for you, this is what your mind created. I am what your subconscious seeks. This place is the fairy realm from hundreds of years ago. When you were a child, this is what it looked like. Close enough to the way it appears now, but different. I can’t recall the moon being so bright in the sky. You have a vivid mind, Pandora. But how can you be here? I cursed you in the underworld? You are not you.” She smiled.
Pandora took a few steps back and covered her mouth. “Yes, yes, this is me. What do you mean?”
Selena’s eyes darkened. “No. You are not you.”
Pandora stared into Selena’s yellow cat-like eyes. “So, if I am not me, then who am I? If this lies deep within my mind, in my subconscious, then it is me.
Selena’s eyes welled up with tears. “This place, as Lahash said, it is where the humans come. The worst of them to their own subconscious mind?”
“Yes, it is. Each human that is brought here if they know it or not creates their own world from their subconscious mind.” Pandora said.
“Whatever it is they long for, miss or that hides within the confinement of their dreams, come here. From there, the demons use their world against them to punish them for a while before they move onto the next circle or section.” Selena wiped the solitary tear that ran down her cheek.
Pandora looked down at her arm, where Selena’s hand once rested, “Your hand was warm. It felt like it did when I was a child.”
Selena backed further away. “You are not my child.”
Pandora shouted, “Why did you cast me away? How could you leave me? I went to the underworld, where I faced things I never knew existed. A shadow figure, a figure that was dark and smoke like punished me. I never saw its face.”
Selena said, “My daughter broke a sacred law. Fairies are to never become involved with demons. You are a demon, and you have upset the balance now. I have banned all fairies from helping the humans cross over. I will no longer help the demon soul collector bring souls to the dark realm. Those humans remain lost, like ghosts on Earth now. Our sacred accord is now broken because of my daughter’s foolish and childish love affair. No matter what you do, demon, you will never have my daughter or my help. Naberious believes Pandora to have left with another fairy. I told him this, and he believes me and will always believe me no matter what you do. It is my magic that keeps him this way. He stole my fairy book. He said he would never give it back to me.”
Pandora was incredulous. “How could you do this?”
Suddenly the light and magnificent scenery changed. Now the sky was black and no longer showered them with warmth. The air was frosty and blew so loud, the roar was unbearable to their ears. Ominous clouds emerged, racing through the sky at an unimaginable speed. The green leaves on the trees died, turned brown, and crumbled into the air where they swept away. The flowers wilted, and each of their petals fell from their stems but fell in slow motion as though something was holding them in suspension.
Selena remained frozen in her posture. With an extended arm out to touch Pandora, quiet eyes of a loving mother and a smile that filled her with a warmth that spoke of unconditional love.
Pandora opened her mouth and screamed as loud as she could, “I will destroy you! You are no longer my mother!”
When Pandora stepped forward to attack Selena, it was then that her mother faded away like a ghost that may have never been there. Pandora fell to the ground and rolled to her side, holding herself crying profusely. “Why did you do this to me? Why? Why?” She said over and over as she held herself. “I loved you, I loved you so much. Why didn’t you love me? Why did you abandon me?” Pandora’s sobs echoed throughout her subconscious world while the winds howled around her.
From the darkened sky, one lightning bolt shot down from the clouds that raced over her and struck Pandora. Her body convulsed with electricity; her eyes rolled back into her head as she shook from head to toe. The lightning bolt let go of her body and disappeared back into the sky. Pandora ascended and hovered as her aqua eyes glowed, and the remanence trailed over her entire body.
Then, the electricity disappeared, and she dropped back onto the ground like a limp rag. She lay there unconscious for several minutes as the clouds disappeared, and the leaves were green again. All things went backward in slow motion. The sky returned, and the flowers that were wilted and held in suspension returned to their stems.
The audible footsteps were present once more, but this time the little fairy that created the footsteps appeared. Black-headed, beautiful purple iridescent wings that dragged the ground as she skipped to Pandora, who was stirring.
With the little fairy girl was Caticus holding her hand. She was smiling and humming as she skipped next to him until she arrived standing over Pandora, who had just opened her eyes to see Caticus.
“Caticus! What happened? Where is my mother?” Pandora was still seething with anger.
Caticus shook his head. “I do not understand what has happened. I was in nothing! Literally, nothing! I couldn’t see until this little girl appeared and took me by the hand. She and I had quite the brief discussion we did, didn’t we?” He smiled at her and nudged her with his shoulder as he knelt beside her.
“Who is she?” Pandora asked.
The little girl’s smile dropped, and she said, “You don’t remember me?”
Pandora’s eyes squinted, and she said nothing. The little girl whispered to Caticus in his ear, and he nodded after he listened to her secret.
“Pandora, this little girl. She is you. She is a part of your subconscious mind and your story.” He said as he nodded up to the sky. “All of this comes from the little girl inside of you.”
Pandora stood up and dusted herself off. “I don’t understand. Why would my younger self have created this place? I want to take my vengeance on my mother. I want her to be punished for the wrong she has done to me.” Pandora looked at the little girl and said, “Where is my mother? Where is she?” She shouted.
Caticus stood up and took Pandora by the hand. “Pandora, I love you. But sometimes you need to listen to yourself. She is here, the little girl in you. She needs you. It is time to heal your hurts and take care of her.” He nodded to little Pandora, who stood staring up at the two of them with hurt filled eyes.
Pandora jerked her hand away from Caticus and snapped. “No, I can’t help her. She is long gone. What she wants, she can never have. She wants a caring and loving mother. I can’t give her that.” Pandora looked back to the little girl. “I want to know what you did with my mother; she needs to pay for this!” Pandora shouted at her and watched the young fairy cower down and hide her face in Caticus’s leg.
Caticus said, “You may not give her a caring mother, but you can face your mother and do so without further hurting yourself.” He nodded to the little girl. “Without hurting her anymore. She lives here.” He pointed to Pandora’s chest. “She lives in you. She always will. If you do not heal what is inside, you can never confront your mother and do so in a way that sets you free.” Caticus turned to leave, and as he was walking away, he said, “Think about it.”
Little Pandora’s eyes glazed with tears, and she said, “Caticus, this isn’t me, she is not myself from a distant time.”
Caticus laughed, “Sure, she is. It is okay you are just upset because she is.”
Little Pandora shook her head. “No, this isn’t me, she isn’t in there. It is something more sinister.”
She turned and ran away and disappeared into the horizon.
Pandora said, “Where are you going?”
“I am leaving. Time to go.” Caticus pointed to the door that now appeared. “You shouldn’t be so mean to yourself.”
Pandora took off at a slow jog to catch up to him. “How do you know all this? Be mean to me? Really? This is a game, and she isn’t any more real than my mother standing here.”
Caticus nudged his shoulder into Pandora’s and snorted, “I know you, but in all seriousness, you have got to calm down. I can see why Lahash brought you’re here. It was to bring out your unconscious rage. This is an awful idea, and I am nervous to see where this lands us next. Your temper and your mother’s temper isn’t anything I want to be in the crossfire for.”
Pandora looked for her littler self. When she turned around, the little girl was not there. “Where did she go?”
Caticus smiled and said, “She will be there, always. So, do you feel different?”
Pandora walked through the door where Lahash waited. “Yes, I do. What happened?”
Lahash smiled and said, “You will find out.”