I felt dazed. Where the hell was I? I sluggishly stood up and looked around. Skulls surrounded me on the floor. Human skulls?
'Not again,' I thought.
Where were they? Last time this happened, the cult members were already getting ready for the sacrifice. Why would they wait this time?
It was at that moment that I heard voices that seemed to travel down the long earthy hallways that led here.
"Where will we put the sacrificial body once it's dead?" a male voice asked, low and husky.
"We will be told that by the boss," another said, his voice deep and smooth. "For now, we just prepare her for the summoning, and we worry about what comes later, later." The footsteps continued on their way.
'Hold on,' I thought. 'Summoning? When did they start summoning?' This was not good. I knew how to get out of sacrifices, but summoning demanded a whole different kind of materials, spell, and ritual. What made them change their minds?' This was definitely not good. I had to find a way out ASAP.
I was free to walk around except for bars that blocked the tunnels from my access. However, there was nothing that I could use or manipulate into achieving my freedom. A couple of torn books here, some candles there, and a sandy, rocky surface all around. Absolutely nothing useful to me.
I heard footsteps making their way closer to where I was being held. I turned around and saw Michael, the one that had gotten to me the first time. I couldn't believe he had the guts to come face me again, after what I'd done to his face.
But he was smiling through that mask he was wearing over the right side of his face. It was probably so damaged after the fire that even his buddies talked about it behind his back. I bet they never lived long after that.
"Michael," I acknowledged.
"Clarissa," he said back. "Nice to see you again." He smiled. "How's your husband?"
That was it. "Shut up," I warned, racing up the bars that prevented me from breaking the guy's neck. "Shut up."
Michael smiled even wider. He was sickeningly calm while I felt like I would burst. "How bright was he when he was swallowed by flames?" I closed my eyes. This couldn't be happening. "Did it hurt? Did he suffer? Because it was the revenge I'd dreamt of, times ten. You hurt me when you decided to burn half my face off. I couldn't let you get away with that. You had to suffer the same way I had to do. So I found who you loved, and killed him."
I was shaking by now, fighting to keep tears from cascading down my cheeks. I couldn't let this sick son-of-a-bitch see me break. Oh wait – he already had. He was standing twenty feet away while I helplessly watched my husband burn to death.
"Dean!" I raced outside, heart beating dangerously fast, to find my husband enveloped in bright orange and white fire. All I could hear from him were his screams for help. I felt completely helpless. I couldn't fucking watch, but I couldn't fucking look away. The love of my life, the man that I was going to make a family with, the man I was supposed to live happily ever after with, was being burned alive and I couldn't do anything to stop it.
When the fire didn't have anything left to eat and distinguished itself, I ambled up to the charred form that was my husband. My eyes were cried dry.
He had suffered so long.
I knelt down by the black and crispy form and tried to find anything that resembled my husband. I saw a stub of a tooth that had never fully developed. Dean had said that that tooth was what kept the child in him alive.
I cried waterless tears. I finally collapsed and rolled onto my back. My husband's body and mine were once again side-by-side.
Something caught my eye. A glint of something dark to my right, and my head whipped around toward the motion, but saw nothing. My eyes wandered over the darkness slowly, and then rested on what seemed like a homeless man's silhouette.
I didn't say anything. I didn't need to.
Michael stepped out from the shadows, letting light spill over the left half of his body. At that moment, I knew he was responsible for Dean's death, and I was determined to kill him.
I stood up, stared at Michael, daring him to move first, then darted inside the house, grabbed the gun I kept behind the door, and hurried outside again, determined to make Michael pay for what he did.
He was gone.
The last thing I remembered about that night was his fucking smile, only half visible under the streetlight.
"I'm sorry for your loss," Darren said, shaking my hand.
"Thank you." My emotions had dulled, and would remain dulled for the next week. The rest of the week had been a pain – flowers, urn, invitations, and all the rest that went along with funeral preparation. The remains of his body were cremated, and the only people that knew how Dean died were my mother and his parents. Everyone else at the funeral home came to give their condolences to a widow, thinking that her husband died from a thug's bullet to the chest.
They were all so sorry.
"I'm sorry we have to do this to you, Clarissa," Michael said, peering through the bars. "But you've been a hurdle for so long that I've just decided to go around you. Dean's death was just a consequence of your actions."
Two of the gates opened behind me, letting in two of Michael's goons. They were each holding rope and candles. They made their way toward me, slowly but threateningly. My brain and body were so exhausted, but I still had some fight in me. I would save that bit of energy for a last attempt. I didn't want to witness a summoning of anything.
Michael watched as the new arrivals tied me to a ground hook in the center of the room, exactly where I'd woken up. My eyes were still moist with unfallen tears. I was going to get out of this situation somehow, but that would never happen when everyone was on full guard.
When I was bound and sitting in the middle of a pentagram, more of the cult members entered the room, surrounding me completely. A select few were standing on the five points of the pentagram, and another five on the corners of the center pentagon of the pentagram. Michael made his way into the star and positioned himself in front of me. He towered over me, which was how I always felt whenever we met. I hated the feeling.
The five skulls that bored into my eyes were removed and replaced by the candles. I guess the skulls were leftovers from a sacrifice the night before. The five members on the outside simultaneously bent over and lit the candles.
It must have been fucking rehearsed.
Michael reached down and touched his palm to my forehead. Strange warmth made its way through my body, starting in my head and neck, then branching its way to my arms and all the way down my legs, reaching my toes.
Then Michael started chanting while the other cult members hummed softly in the background.
"Aperi foramen universi. Fiat in Lucifer. Aperi foramen universo. Fiat in Lucifer."
My heart sunk. This was a summoning for Lucifer.
Michael seemed to tense more and more the longer he chanted those words. He and the other men standing around me also got progressively got louder and louder. At one point it felt like Michael was going to crush my forehead with all the tension that had gathered in his hand.
I was sweating by now and had a strong craving for water – and for blood. My mouth was watering, and I could taste the metallic taste of blood. I swallowed the saliva and discovered that it was indeed mixed with a heavy dose of blood. With each swallow of that blood/saliva solution, my body seemed to get stronger with defiance and confidence. Soon I felt great and felt like the strongest I've ever been. I smiled.
The ropes were gone. I could move.
I tried to stand, but I couldn't. I couldn't move any muscles in my body. I couldn't even stop smiling. I realized that Michael and his pals were completely silent in the dark, watching how I acted. Michael was still grinning in that evil manner that he always had. But for some reason I was pleased with him. I didn't want to kill him for everything he'd done to me. Maybe it was worth it. Maybe this moment is what I've been waiting for.
'No. Stop it. You don't believe any of this.'
Yes, I do.
'No, you hate him. You hate all his buddies, too.'
No, I like them. They brought me here for my purpose.
'No! You don't believe any of this! That's Lucifer talking! Don't listen to him!'
But I love him.
'No! You hate him! You hate what he's done! You hate what everyone's done! You—'
Then I felt peace. No anger, no need for revenge. I was here and that's what mattered. I looked at Michael and smiled at him. I wasn't mad. I was proud of him. Everything that he'd done to me and my family made sense. I understood why Dean died.
This is what my destiny came to, and I accepted that.
I stood and looked at all of the men that helped me enter this part of the universe. I disliked this body. I wasn't used to it after all the forms that I'd been able to take when in this world. I could feel her forgotten pain and the wanted revenge on the human standing in front of me.
So this is what pity felt like. Or was it pleasure?
I raised my hand in a welcoming gesture towards the men around me. The one that brought me here kneeled and bowed his head. I put my hand above him.
"Thank you." With those words, I set him on fire. His screaming was pleasure to my ears. The fire's pain equaled the amount of pain he had inflicted on other humans. His screams seemed to go on forever, so he must have been some kind of local Hitler. He was paying for his sins.
The human's friends didn't move. That was smart. They just stared at their fallen leader. They didn't want to die like he did.
I could feel the woman's soul still in the presence of the room. I decided to let her out instead of keep her lost soul in this room forever. That way she could get some closure.
That was nice of me. I've stayed loyal to God, but despised these invasive humans. I wasn't evil. After all, I was an angel.
'No! You hate him! You hate what he's done! You hate what everyone's done! You—'
'No. This is my body, not yours.'
Okay. You may stay.
I was fighting for this body. There wasn't enough space for two souls. I wanted my body back. I stood up and observed the men around me. I wanted them to die. They ruined my weekend.
Immediately, they all went up in flames. I watched in amazement as their screams filled my joyful ears. They would pay for what they were doing. I looked over at Michael, who had for some reason, not been set afire yet. He was watching in horror as his followers were being burnt alive. He looked back at me. I could see him trying to hold in his fear, but it could be plainly seen as he slowly knelt in front of me – a nice switch of roles.
"Thank you," I said. And at that, he lit up like a raging forest fire. He had no chance. I couldn't believe how great this felt. He was paying for Dean's death. I wanted his pain to be equal to what Dean suffered, or maybe even more.
When he was finally in ashes, it felt like I could live again with nothing holding me back; my husband wasn't there to hold me back from anything.
I left the pentagram and looked at it. It was so puny. I was surprised that the summoning didn't work. After all that I'd seen these cults do, I was expecting more. Unfortunately for them, their crimes came back to haunt him.
I smiled and opened the cages that kept me in.
I finally got the chance to leave. There was no hell I wouldn't take the opportunity.