I’ve woken up before in a stranger’s bed. That’s disorienting. Waking up in a completely different universe is much worse. Especially when you have someone staring at you with a creepy smile on their face.
I sit up and look around, trying to figure out if I’m dead or not. I thought I died. Sort of. Maybe… I saw Maria, and then everything went dark. I just assumed that was death. But here I am, seemingly alive. I’m not in Hell, I know that. I know what that feels like. And I figured if I were in Heaven then I would be happy and stuff, right? But I’m definitely not happy. I’m pissed.
I look to the creepy smile and focus on the face. It’s kind of dark, but Avva’s ridiculously white hair stands out against the darkness. “Where the hell am I?” I demand to know.
“You’re finally awake! I was worried that your soul didn’t stay intact during the transfer, but it did!” she squeaks with joy.
“That didn’t answer my question in the slightest.”
“Oh, right. Well, your in purgatory. Kinda sucks, I know.” She continues talking, but I don’t hear her. My blood is pounding in my ears.
“P-purg… I’m in purgatory? Like, actually for reals here, not like an illusion like last time? I’m not having a seizure or something?”
“Nope!” she says way too cheerfully. “You are for reals here! Oh, and Inus took over your body on earth and is going to use it for some really evil stuff.” She says the last part as though she blames me.
“Um, okay. Thanks for all that horrible news all at once. Anything else awful you would like to tell me?” I stand up and take in my surroundings. I can’t see much, since it’s just getting darker by the minute, and apparently purgatory doesn’t have streetlamps.
Avva also stands up. “Well, yes, actually. There’s a price on your head here in purgatory. Some of the residents aren’t so happy that you helped release Inus into the world.”
I look at her incredulously, but I don’t think she can actually see my face. Which is disappointing, because facial expressions make it a thousand times easier to get my point across. “How the fuck is that my fault?! I’m in fucking purgatory! You think I chose this?!”
“Shhhh! Keep your voice down. Your want to be caught? I know it’s not entirely your fault…” she says.
“Not at all my fault,” I interject.
“… but he did use your body. And you didn’t really try that hard to stop the witches from summoning him.”
“I can’t even believe what I’m hearing right now,” I say, laughing dryly. “You’re the one who sent me to find Maria in the first place, so isn’t it all your fault? Had you not said anything to me, I wouldn’t have gone to find her, and they wouldn’t have used my body as a freaking vessel!”
“Don’t try to pin this all on me, Jude. I was just trying to help. If I had known that you absolutely suck at using your powers, I wouldn’t have even spoken to you in the first place. You’ve had how long to figure out your powers, and you can’t even stop a few witches?” She clicks her tongue and shakes her head. “Pathetic.”
“Excuse me, you fell for a cult and then got burned to death, all while remaining a virgin. I don’t think you’re in any position to be calling me pathetic.”
Avva gasps and holds a hand to her chest, offended. Then she balls her fists at her side, a stern look on her face. “Fine. Let’s say were even. Like I said, a lot of people are angry here. So we need to find a safe place to hide. You’re lucky I was watching you, so I knew where you would end up.”
I smile tightly. “Great, I am so very glad that you came to save me after basically getting me killed in the first place.”
She snorts. “It’s not like you’re actually dead. You actually have a chance at escaping this place. The rest of us are just trapped here for eternity.”
She starts walking away while I stand there trying to process what she just said. “Say what now?” I say, following after her. “I’m not actually dead?”
“Well, no, not technically. Your body is still alive. The only reason you’re even here is because Inus’s soul was here, and basically, your soul was traded with his. You just swapped places. Technically, if you had help, you could just swap back.”
It’s so dark now that I can barely see my hand in front of my face. The two moons must actually be suns, then? I try to follow Avva, but she is moving too fast, and I end up tripping over something. I land on my forearms, the hard ground rubbing off a layer of skin.
Avva sighs and I hear her walk closer. “I forgot; you humans can’t see in the dark. This is why humans aren’t supposed to end up in purgatory.”
I sit up and rub my stinging arms. How does a soul feel pain? “You’re not human?”
“Do I look human to you?” she asks condescendingly. “Get up. I guess I’ll hold your hand like a child and guide you.”
“I’d rather die,” I say, standing up and brushing the dirt form my pants. Why am I still wearing the clothes that I died-but-not-really-died in? Oh well. Questions for later, I guess. “Just walk slower. I’ll follow.”
If Avva responded in some way, like nodding or something, I don’t see it. She does move slower though. I only trip about three more times on the way there, but I make it mostly unscathed. Avva opens a door and lets me in, closing it quietly behind me. I stand there blindly until I hear what sounds like stones striking together, and a small shower of sparks ignites a piece of paper. Avva uses it to light a few lanterns that are hanging from the walls, and I blink against the sudden brightness.
We’re in a small hut type thing, made of stone. I think its just a cave with a door on it, actually. But as far as caves go, this one is pretty nice. The floor is covered in soft springy moss, and there is a crudely made wooden table in what I am assuming is the kitchen. The chairs are more like stools made of stone, with moss covering the tops.
“This seems awfully primitive,” I say carefully.
“I prefer it over living in the cities. When I died, we didn’t have all fancy stuff that’s around now,” Avva says as she fills a pot with water from a hand pump. “Besides, it’s safer for you here. If you were in the city, you would already be dead. Or, dead-er.”
“Dead-er. How exactly can one become dead-er?” I ask, sitting on one of the moss-covered stools.
“Well, I guess technically we don’t know what happens when someone dies in purgatory. You’re already dead, but then you can die again in purgatory. I honestly don’t know how that works. You can’t die of old age, though. No one ages here.”
My head is starting to hurt. I pinch the bridge of my nose, trying to stop the throbbing. “So even though I’m not actually dead, I am dead, and I can die again?”
Avva looks at the wall thoughtfully, then nods. “Yeah, basically.”
“If humans aren’t supposed to end up in purgatory, then why did I end up here?”
Avva gives an exasperated sigh. “I told you, because Inus traded places with you. Only supernatural beings go to purgatory when they die. You know, gods, vampires, werewolves, fairies… things like that.”
“Gods can die?” I ask.
“Well, they think they are gods. Really, they are just powerful beings. But yes, they can die, just like you and I.”
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. “What kind of supernatural being are you?”
She flips her hair and smiles devilishly at me. “A succubus!”
I can’t help but burst out laughing. She pouts at me, but I keep laughing. Finally, I compose myself. “You’re a virgin succubus?”
She crosses her arms and looks away, turning red. “It’s the ultimate sacrifice. I did it to raise Inus, before I realized how evil he was. A virgin soul is powerful, but a virgin succubus soul is ten times more powerful.”
I snort and grin. “Were you born without the seductive genes or something?”
“I’m not trying to seduce you right now,” she says defensively.
I raise my hands. “Okay, okay. I guess I’ll take your word for it.” We’re silent for a moment, then, “How come I’ve never met a succubus before? Or… any supernatural being that wasn’t a ghost or demon?”
Avva sighs. “The humans were afraid of us. To the point that they killed off most supernatural beings. You know the salem witch trials? Most of those killed weren’t even humans, and none of them were witches.” She looks away and taps her fingernails on the table. “Humans are such idiots.”
I stare at her. “Ahem.”
“I’m only telling the truth.”
“Do we really need to go over how you died again?”
Another long silence. “So, you mentioned a way for me to get out of here?” I say casually.
Avva laughs. “Oh, trust me. It’s not that easy. But the plan is to get you back in your body and get that asshole back into purgatory.”
“Sounds like a good plan to me. When do we start?”