My father was rushed to the hospital within the hour. I called my family and waited fanatically as the doctors raced him to the ER. Initially we healed quickly but this seemed to be different this time. I thought maybe he’d recuperate in a few minutes after being stabbed but he didn’t. The ambulance ride was agonizing.
How was it even possible? We always healed. Maybe the devil found a loop whole to kill us. I prayed it wasn’t poison. I prayed the effects weren’t lethal.
The waiting room was empty so my legs paced the whole room at least 47 times.
“Laken?” Pierce engulfed me into his arms.
I did my best not to crumble. We weren’t a soft family. We were raised with a hard exterior so any sign of weakness was new to us.
“They took him in a few minutes ago. They said he needs surgery. His heart was punctured.” I explained with my face protectively against his chest.
My mother concealed her tears as Gabe held her. “We mustn’t tell Miriam just yet. She has the baby to worry about.”
We all agreed and anxiously awaited together for a doctor to at least glance our way but none did. The walls were white and the muted television had no use of distraction. The quiet atmosphere made it that much more possible for me to pillage my darkest fears. My father couldn’t die. Not like this.
Ahhhh I knew I should have done something. Like what? I was up against the devil, the founder of all that was evil. I stood no chance. He would have pummeled me the first chance I tried wiggling from his grasp. It felt like a century till the cardiovascular doctor walked in. His face was composed giving us nothing to go by.
“Mrs. Reese I presume?” He went right up to my mother.
She nodded and theatrically we were chewing our fingers off waiting for the doctor to continue.
“Your husband’s surgery went well. He’s in critical condition and will be in intensive care for a few days.”
I sighed in relief. He was going to be ok. I would have died myself if he didn’t make it through. I would have blamed myself till the end of time.
“May we see him?”
The doctor complied. “Two people for now. He needs his rest.”
“Jess,” Pierce addressed his wife. “Will you go with mom and see him?”
Jess agreed and guided my mother out of the room. I knew why they wanted to stay behind. The silence was deafening so I practiced how I would word my explanation of the events.
“What happened Laken?”
I couldn’t even look my brothers in the eyes. Paige rubbed my back encouragingly and that small gesture helped me clear my throat.
“The place was basically empty when I got there. I guess I should have known right then but I didn’t. Dad left to purchase the furniture when I was visited by the devil.”
It sounded pretty silly even for us.
“The devil? As in Satan?”
By the tone of Gabe’s voice I knew he was mocking me. It was pretty ridiculous. The devil had minions to do his dirty work. Why visit me in the flesh? What was so special about Laken Reese?
“Yes. I didn’t want to believe him at first but I felt it. He was...toxic.” He had that psychotic, seductive, dangerous, charm about him.
“Why?” Their questioned were pounding in my ears.
“Cal was supposed to kill me but obviously he didn’t. There were so many ways he could have killed me. Satan doesn’t necessarily want my blood. He wants my soul and my obedience.”
“Your obedience? He wants you to follow him?” Gabe erupted into a frenzy of disbelief mixed with anger.
“Yes,” I whispered. I still couldn’t believe it myself. “He wants an answer by tomorrow night or he will kill us off one by one.”
Again silence consumed us and I could feel the lurking fear creep into the air. Never had we ever felt so cornered.
“What’s changed? He’s always tried to stop us.” Pierce examined every possibility.
“I guess he got tired of losing. He’s planning something big.” I could feel it.
“Well he can try.” Gabe’s tough exterior concealed his doubt.
“I’d die before I’d ever join him.” I promised.
Pierce patted my shoulder but for once I felt no comfort. I was scared and I was stupid if I tried to deny it. I prayed God would give me strength. My faith was still solid and I realized I had nothing to fear. God was there. He saw, and he listened.
Eventually we bribed the nurse to let us all see our father together. We promised to remain quiet and let him rest. We huddled in the room listening to the echoing beats on his heart monitor. I loved the sound. It reminded me that he was still alive and that was something to be thankful for.
Hours passed and tenaciously I waited for my father to open his eyes. He didn’t. No one wanted to go home either. Jess and Paige offered to fetch some food but I didn’t think any of us were hungry. They went anyway but I didn’t touch it.
I sat on the floor with my back flat against the wall and my eyes shut. I had the urge to call Cal. I thought maybe he could help; maybe he knew something I didn’t. I tapped my phone repeatedly like I was on crack or something.
Should I? Was he still mad? We both had our bipolar moment. Was he over it? I know I was. I had other things on my mind now. I wanted him here. I needed him to tell me everything was going to be alright and that he wouldn’t let anything happen to me. I was beginning to hate myself for longing for his comfort yet it seemed to be the only thing to calm my nerves.
I dialed his number anyway despite my pride. He answered after the first ring.
“Laken darling I miss you.” That distinct sultry voice was a vapor of sin seeping through my phone.
“Where’s Cal?” I demanded like I had every authority.
He tsked me. “I’m sorry darling but your time is up.”
Up? Up? What did he mean? I checked the time on my phone. Oh I see. My day was up. The slimball wanted his answer.
“I want to see Cal. What have you done to him?”
“Nothing...yet. Now my love all I ask is for your cooperation. I promise to not harm anyone you care about.”
My leg was shaking uncontrollably. “And I’m just supposed to trust you? You yourself claimed to be the king of deception.”
I could sense the smirk spreading across his flawless face.
“Well Lakey Poo it doesn’t seem like you have much of a choice.”
He was right because I wasn’t willing to chance it. I had no doubt he’d shoot us down like a bunch of animals for the mere pleasure it would bring to his sick twisted self.
“Where can I find you?”
He cackled and I regretted every compliance I was about to make.
“Look outside the window,” he ordered.
I heard thunder before even glancing out the window. Dark grey clouds of majestic proportion were scaling around a tall building a few blocks away.
“Do you see us now?”
The clouds were a magnetic force clinging to all that was evil. Lightning illuminated the dark navy sky. The weather was changing far too quickly to a more morbid climate. It was unnatural and 100% due to the lurking creatures inside that building.
“I’ll see you soon darling.” His ridiculous British accent made the situation seem that much more sadistic.
The line ended and my only link to Cal did too. This huge lump of pressure began to build up in my chest but now was not the time to hyperventilate.
Pierce came up behind me, questioning the unnatural sight outside. “What’s going on?”
“It’s the Him.” I exhaled. “I need to go. He has Cal.”
Pierce grabbed my arm before I could walk away. “Don’t go.”
He was furious. I could tell. He must really hate Cal.
“It could be a trap Laken.” Gabe added his input this time. “He could still be working with Satan. What if this is their lure? You can’t go.”
But that was the thing. I had to go. I had to be sure. I couldn’t live my life on what ifs. The devil was coming after me regardless. It was just time to face it.
“He’ll still come after me. I can’t hide forever.” Cal saved my life. It was time to repay the favor.
I remembered I put a few of my weapons in my trunk, just in case. Well didn’t that just come in handy.
“We’re going with you,” Pierce said with no room to refuse.
I was thankful to be blessed with such a fearless family. We had each other’s back and I knew I was never alone. Before we left we had a family prayer. We prayed for protection and strength. We prayed for forgiveness and hoped God heard our pleas.
Jess stayed with mother as we gathered our last image of our father resting in peace. At least he was safe but I couldn’t help but wish he would open his eyes for us one quick moment before we go. Pierce took a moment for a sentimental farewell for his wife. He promised Jess he’d be back soon and I prayed he could keep his promise.
My brothers had also prepared for the worst and packed their trunks with illegal weapons. It was a precaution we all had taken. We geared up, strapping things to every part of our bodies. My combat boots were my last touch.
This was it.
We peeled open the automatic doors of the abandoned building. They were rough, stuck in place from months of dust build up. It was once used as a law firm but temporarily shut down for renovations. The smell of blood was thick in the air. The iron taste was on my tongue, choking me. I wasn’t even sure how that was possible until we were halfway in the lobby entrance.
There was a trail of blood stretching towards the elevators. It looked as if a bloody body was dragged across the room to leave us a trail of bread crumbles.
“That’s discreet,” Gabe’s sarcasm was anything but mood lifting.
I supposed that was the dark Lord’s way of igniting the fire to our already lit flames of hatred. We followed the innocent blood to the elevator where a bloody fingerprint covered the 66 button. How cliché.
Each floor up brought us closer and closer to our destined fates. Was it our will to die tonight? We were going up against the devil, as in The Devil. Pierce and Gabe pulled me out of my doubts as they held my hands. We bowed our head and prayed together the Lord’s prayer. Father hold us close. Give us strength to fight this unknown.
The elevator dinged just as we finished and the doors opened. Sheets of plastic and a strong whiff of paint helped distract me from the iron aroma of blood. It was vacant with nothing but the cold stone floor and high ceiling. It was remarkably easy to find our party who was so patiently waiting for us.
The Devil with a group of seven other bodies, I’m presuming either fallen angels or demons, were glaring at us with distinct disdain.
We cautiously approached them when my eyes flickered to the person hiding in the back. It was Cal. His somber gaze gave me nothing so I turned my attention to the mastermind himself. Cal could handle himself. The Devil winked at me and I swallowed hard almost biting my tongue off in the process. He was so painfully beautiful and scary.
“Laken my love, you look absolutely delicious.” He teased.
“And you look like a forbidden poisoned apple in human form.”
His crooked smile glowed with mischief at my little smart comment. “Have you come with a decision?”
“You already knew my answer and it hasn’t changed.”
“Aww Callias were you wrong about her?”
Cal’s jaw clinched and his eyes darkened. They were almost unrecognizable and somewhat demonesc.
“Just take away the things she holds dear and she’ll do more than comply.”
“I knew you would betray us. I should have killed you when I had the chance.” Pierce growled in vengeance.
Cal’s eyes flickered to my brother completely avoiding the area I was standing in. “You would have only giving me a reason to end your pathetic life faster.”
Cal betrayed us. He betrayed me. What about all the promises he made me? Were they all for nothing? I didn’t want to believe it. How? How could he do this to me?
The girly part of me wanted to fall apart and cry about it all. How could life be so unfair? The other part needed more evidence and if proven guilty I was going for blood.
“Do you see this sword?” The Devil waved the sharp object in the air for everyone in the room to see.
“It’s one of the very first swords ever forged. It’s made by angels. It’s also the very sword created to keep every living being out of the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve disobeyed God.” He swung it carelessly through the air. “Oh how’s your father doing?”
Like he cared. His spiteful actions were only intended to infuriate us and let’s face it I was livid.
“Recovering.” I breathed.
“Slowly but surely. Next time I’ll make the damage more permanent.”
I took the sleek blade from my thigh strap and flung it towards him. I was a quick throw and usually never missed my target. The blade made a whisking sound as it grazed past the devil’s cheek. If it wasn’t for his freakishly fast supernatural speed I would have easily run that blade through his nasal canal.
He even had time to grab the blade midair. Technically that was cheating. The Devil’s eyes glowed a crimson red as his smirk overpowered his face.
“It’s like what everyone tells us. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
He shot the blade back my way. Everything turned to slow motion in my attempt to dodge it but it was too fast. I did move slightly causing it to only puncture my shoulder blade. The pain erupted throughout my whole body.
I winced biting my tongue but for the most part kept my composer. I noticed Cal flinch a bit. Wait, was that concern I saw?
“Not even a little scream?” Satan taunted. His sadistic voice promised to hurt me further. “I can fix that.”
Paige’s screeching voice filled the room and rang in my ear like a siren. We all turned to see what was the problem. Nothing. She was crouched down on the floor in pain but no one was physically hurting her. Cal once told me they all had the ability to use mind control on humans. I could only imagine the horrible torture he was inflicting her with mentally.
“Ahhh!” Gabe yelled before running towards the bringer of hell.
He drew his sword in a heroic attempt to slay the ‘dragon’. Honestly that was the fastest I had ever seen anyone sneak attack before but this was the devil we were up against. Gabe too crumbled to the floor in anguish. His voice and his wife’s cries intertwined to unveil the horrors they were undergoing.
Their piercing cries echoed around us and I felt extremely helpless. I needed to wisely choose my next moves.
“You were always the more intelligent brother but every way you plan to kill me will not work.”
His eyes were directed towards Pierce. Pierce didn’t move a muscle, not out of fear but out of sheer critical tactics. He was analyzing his options.
“Who would be stupid enough to think they could?”
The devil was already an immortal, indestructible being. So basically we were screwed.
“Callias,” the devil waved him closer.
Callias came out of the shadows and I couldn’t help but study his features. He was draining but cold as ice; giving me nothing to go by.
“You didn’t kill the girl but I won’t condemn you for it because you were right. I see great potential in her.” He gave me the once over. “It’s time to redeem yourself. Kill her brother.”
I started to hyperventilate. No, no, no.
“Cal...” Cal shifted his attention towards me as I whispered his name.
His eyes were clouded over like he wasn’t coherent. He was being forced to murder my brother. I honestly believed with my whole heart Cal didn’t want to.
“Callias please...” I begged.
Cal’s eyes hardened to a foreign shade. “Your biggest mistake was believing I gave a damn about you.”
My pathetic hopeless heart was breaking. What could I possibly do now? I was beaten, emotionally. Something told me no matter how hard we tried to fight we wouldn’t be able to win this battle.
“Join my side and I promise your family won’t die...tonight.” Satan’s eyes shimmered red.
My insides were twisted to unbearable measures. “I can’t.” I cried knowing my answer was setting our fates.
The Devil nodded to Callias to continue the order he gave. Cal took a few seconds before pivoting his body towards Pierce.
There was a sick feeling compressing throughout my body. Something terrible was going to happen.
“Pierce!” My nerves were exploding.
Pierce stood motionless but his face searched mine. Why wasn’t he pulling out his sword? Why wasn’t he defending himself?
“I can’t move.” He growled, trying relentlessly to pull out of his immobile trance.
Cal stalked closer to him and I knew I had to protect him. I ran in front of Pierce and pulled out my pistol. I wasn’t sure what good it would do me. The odds were definitely against me but I couldn’t let him hurt my brother.
“Laken get out of my way.” Cal warned.
I shook my head gripping the metal in my hands tighter because I was sweating profusely. My body was warming up with vengeance. This wasn’t how it was going to end.
“Aww the star crossed lovers. I almost envy you Callias.” His shadow hovered between us as he stalked around us. “You’re willing to kill her brother yet she still emanates love for you. Now that’s the purest loyalty.”
“Something you’ll never have.” I couldn’t imagine anything or anyone love the devil with all their soul.
“I have plenty who would die for me.” He defended.
My eyes were still cautiously locked onto Cal’s. I couldn’t risk one second for him to get to my brother. “Yes but their loyalty comes with a price. I know you’re not stupid enough to think they’re not just looking after themselves. You provide a certain sense of security. If they had the chance to save their own skins, they would.”
There was a moment of pause which only hyped up my nerves.
“That is why I want you so badly. You are created differently. Your love has no bonds. I can only imagine what links you’d go through for the ones you truly love.”
Oh gosh, was he serious? He sounded like one of those mad men who no matter how many times you reject them, they want you more. “I could never love you.” I finally flickered my gaze at him. The depth of security in his eyes only concluded my theory. He was serious.
“Is that a promise?” He took it as a challenge.
“You’re deranged.” I couldn’t think of anything better to say. I mean I could call him a bunch of names but what good would it do.
“But you’re attracted to that, aren’t you? Fixing broken things. Deep down in your beautiful soul you want to believe I’m misunderstood and lost.”
I could hardly concentrate on Cal anymore. What the heck was Satan getting to? And how did he know what I truly believed? Could he read my thoughts? Because he could technically depict my fears.
“So why not join me and persuade me to see the way you do? What do you say Laken? Change me for the greater good.”
His piercing eyes dared me but what was the point? He was leaving me thriving in chills and pondering the possibility. Ughhh no. This is ridiculous. He was just trying to trick me.
I shook my head feverishly as my palms got claimer. “No.”
“Alright then. Callias kill her.” The Devil commanded effortlessly.
So much for wanting me so badly unless he was testing Cal’s loyalty. Cal opened his mouth like he was going to say something, then quickly shutting it. He wouldn’t question master. We challenged each other in a fierce staring contest. Neither one of us were backing down. He was patiently waiting for a reaction from me.
Why did it have to be like this?
All my emotions of anger were bursting and taking over my body. How could he do this to me? How could I let myself get fooled? I pulled the trigger and his hand sabotaged my shot but it still hit him in the shoulder. His blood even spattered on my face but all I saw was him wince.
Cal then knocked the gun out of my hands and I went in to punch him. He rapidly blocked my blow and I continued to wave my fists in every open shot I had. Yet I felt like no matter how swiftly I fought him Cal was always faster. I assessed every battle tactic I knew but fighting him was like punching cement. My adrenaline was the only thing keeping my sore hands at bay.
Somehow I viciously succeeded in busting his lip and I staggered back a bit. Cal didn’t even flinch. He heaved before sucker punching me in my ribs. They caved in and the burning sensation halted the oxygen to my lungs. I panted for air then raised my gaze as tears fell down my face. Cal gave me no remorse before kicked me to the ground.
My butt cracked against the pavement and pain shot up through everywhere. I crawled back a bit as he stalked towards me. He wasn’t anywhere near finished.
“You promised,” I choked. His hooded eyes were concealed but I saw his jaw clinch. Was he really going to kill me?
I could feel them starting at me most likely laughing at my pathetic attempt to pull Cal back to me.
“You should be more careful with who you trust.” Satan taunted me.
Ahhhh. I took a deep staggering breath to stop the tears.
“I trust you Callias.” I felt like he was in a daze and he just needed to be woken up, so I tried again. “Callias-”
Maybe this was my fate. Maybe this was God’s will. We had spent most of our lives protecting everyone we could but what if this was the end for me.
Cal closed his eyes, shutting me from existence. “May I use your sword to kill her?”
I closed my eyes for the briefest second and then suddenly he was holding the holy sword. Oh God, this was it.
Our gazes were locked as he leaned closer, poking the sharp tip of sword against my chest right above my heart. Randomly I felt his warm hand cradled my face. This small gentle caress made my pain disappear. I was numb.
Even in this moment I forgave him. I wanted to hate him and avenge myself any imaginable way but that’s not what I wanted my last thoughts to be. I wouldn’t let Callias’ poor actions rob me of my faith. Vengeance and grudges were what destroyed most of our hearts. We morph into cold heartless people and turn our backs on God.
No. Not this time. No matter how this was ending I wasn’t going to let the Devil win. I guess it was time to finally meet my heavenly creator.
The blue in his beautiful eyes melted and it warmed my soul. He couldn’t hurt me.
Callias turned and waged the sword into the Devil’s chest, completely throwing me into a loop. The Devil was far too shocked to react quickly enough because already Cal plunged it deeper into his heart. Cal was lifting him off his feet with the force he was using. Blood flooded out and I fumbled back a bit. Everyone in the room was too stunned to move. We all watched as the Devil tried tearing at Cal’s neck but Cal dropped him before he could do any damage.
I turned to my brothers and sister. They were okay and out of their tortuous trances.
The Devil spat out blood while cursing Cal in a thick foreign language. He pulled the sword out with unfathomable difficulty. No one tried to help him.
Cal rushed back towards me. Did I...did he... Did I just witness Cal trying to kill one of the most powerful creatures ever known to exist...for me?
“Forgive me,” Cal whispered pulling me out of my cluttered and confused thoughts.
I didn’t even get time to answer when Satan waved his hand sending Cal flying across the room. He was incredibly pissed. I searched for my gun but he already had me under his death grip. With my back against his chest he squeezed me like an anaconda to the point my lungs had no room to inhale. He was probably snapping the rest of my ribs.
“Love is just an illusion.” He trailed his lips upon my throat. “It’s time to wake up to the true reality.”
I felt his sharp piercing teeth dig into my flesh. I whimpered but no amount of resistance would stop the venom he was releasing into my veins. The pain shooting down my body was almost paralyzing and soon enough I went numb. A few seconds later Satan’s presence was gone and I fell to the floor, my head almost busting open due to the pavement impact.
“Your terror here is done.” I heard faint voice command.
I tried fluttering my eyes open and barely could focus on who saving us. The glimpse of blond hair helped me piece it together. Maybe Matthias was here to rescue us.
I desperately tried staying awake but my surrounding went black. I couldn’t see anything and soon my hearing went blank too. It was like a slight siren ringing in my ear. I laid on the floor and curled into ball. All my senses were shutting down. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever felt in my entire life.