Some say that the greatest beauty hides the darkest heart. Sometimes, it’s not true. There are some really beautiful but nice people in this world, with pure intentions in their hearts. Those pretty, young ladies who offer you candies and sweets and the nice teachers who offer you bonus essays when your grades are slipping do exist.
Unfortunately, it is true in several other cases… such as mine.
This is the story of how I died.
It started when I was just a toddler, my small, round hand clutching tightly to my mother’s long, slender fingers. We were at the mall shopping for new clothes, because I was growing fast, and I would outgrow many of my attires soon. My mother haggled with the clerk for over ten minutes before storming out with me, furious at the overpriced shirts.
I still remember the blast of the hot summer sun as it shone down upon us, drenching us in sweat. I had to trot to accompany my mother’s brisk pace. I remembered longing for the air conditioner, and the relief as we stepped into an elevator headed towards the cool upper layers of the mall.
Then, I saw him. Ty had always been dark and beautiful, even as a child. I remembered seeing him slouching against the glassy elevator walls, his black eyes staring at his sneakers.
“Hello. Do you know where your parents are?” My mother asked kindly.
I wasn’t surprised that my mother asked. It was pretty suspicious for a five-year-old to be standing alone in a random elevator.
“I don’t have parents.” Ty said before disappearing. One moment, he was there. The next moment, he was gone.
Back then, I didn’t dwell on it much. My mother didn’t either. In fact, I thought Ty was a magician with tricks up his sleeves. I thought that he had used some sort of trapdoor to disappear, but now, thinking back, I realized that it would be pretty impossible to disappear off an elevator without any safety harnesses or any trapdoors.
Years later, I saw him. I was eight years old and running late for the school bus because the blasted alarm ran out of batteries. As I sprinted up the paved path, I saw the bright yellow bus rumbling down the street away from its stop, and I was very frightened. I had never been late for school before, and I did not want to be late at all.
Then, I saw Ty again. He materialized right in front of the bus, looking about ten years old. He just stood there, hands in his pockets, and looking very calm as the bus screeched to a stop. I hurried up and got on, but when I looked through a window, Ty had disappeared.
Later on after school, I interrogated the bus driver.
“Did you see that boy who stopped the bus?” I asked eagerly.
The bus driver looked at me curiously. “No, there wasn’t a boy. I just saw a wolfdog that ran across the road, so I stopped.”
After the conversation, I headed home, but I knew for sure that a boy looked nothing like a wolfdog.
Four years later, I saw him again.
At that time, I was twelve. The finals were over, and my friends dragged me to a rock concert starring some band I didn’t know and didn’t care about. When we grabbed our seats, I was still upset that they forced me to cash three fourths of my allowance for the tickets. The band soon started to play, and I was regretting every moment of the screaming and music, until the very end blew me off completely.
That was when I saw Ty.
The band members moved aside to reveal a lanky fourteen-year-old boy dressed completely in black, with dark eyes and black hair, looking completely disinterested. He picked up a fiddle and started to play. In moments, the entire audience, including me, was raptured.
The music was soft and mild, showing no signs of harshness or anger. It sang of happy times with family, friends, and loved ones. It sang of kindness, gentleness, and peacefulness.
Then, Ty caught sight of me. His eyes widened slightly in surprise before the corner of his lips quirked into a half smile. Again, he disappeared as the crowd burst into applause.
I wondered if I was the only person to realize that the song he played was not complete.
As I turned sixteen, it was the fourth and last time I saw him.
I was a tenth grader. I was not the prettiest in the grade, but I was definitely one of the most popular. I had excellent grades and a number of impressive skills that left people around me green with envy. I was invited to many parties, but I would always leave halfway through.
“Nora, do you want to come to Becca’s party tonight?” Whitney asked me.
“Sure, why not?” I said reasonably.
“Good.” Whitney nodded, satisfied. Then, she lowered her voice and leaned forward. “There are only five sophomores invited. Becca’s inviting pretty much all of the juniors and seniors. Think about it, Nora! Seniors! It’s going to be really scary, but fun.”
“Why are there only five sophomores?” I asked carefully, not wanting to sound dumb and scared. In our school, the seniors were at the top of the social triangle, packed with valuable knowledge of life. They were very secluded from the rest of the school, staying in their wing and glaring at anyone who would cross the line into their territory. Going to a party packed with them would certainly be one of the scariest but most interesting events that would ever happen in my life.
Whitney shrugged. “I have no idea, but just get to my house at ten tonight, and I’ll get you there. You’re not going to bail, aren’t you?” Whitney added anxiously.
“I won’t.” I reassured her. “I’ll be there, trust me.”
As promised, I snuck out the back door and hurried over to Whitney’s house at exactly ten o’clock sharp. I had carefully selected a dark red cocktail dress with delicate white lace at the hems, hoping to appear elegant but casual at the same time. When I arrived, Whitney marched me to her car, and in five minutes, we were walking up to Becca’s house and knocking on the door.
“Hey, you guys came!” Becca said, delighted. She wore a sleek evergreen dress that bore her shoulders. She led us into the living room, which was packed by students chatting quietly with each other, not touching the beer.
I was quiet. Apart from the five sophomores and several other juniors, the room was packed with silent, brooding seniors. Many parties I have been to included people kissing in corners and getting drunk with beer, but this party was completely different, with its silence and lack of alcohol.
“Is everyone here?” a bulky senior asked. I recognized him as the football team’s quarterback.
“Yes.” Becca answered nervously.
“Good job.” The quarterback nodded curtly. He attached his phone to a speaker. After a quick burst of static, some music started to play.
Moving by an unspoken command, every senior in the room stood up, found a partner, and started to dance. Immediately, the tension eased. The seniors danced just like how any normal person would, and some even made mistakes. Maybe the seniors were just nervous going to a sophomore party after all.
Soon, everyone was dancing, and some people were starting to pass around some beer. Whitney waved as she ran off to find a date. Becca was already dancing with a junior. I was left alone, and partner-less.
That was when I saw Ty.
Ty stood in a corner, dressed in a black leather jacket, a torn black shirt, and black jeans, watching the dancers. His expression displayed pure boredom, as if debating whether to stay or leave.
I saw Ty sigh as he leaned forward to grab a can of Coke, but as he looked up, he saw me. For a brief moment, we just stood there, watching each other. That was also when I realized that Ty’s eyes weren’t just dark. They were pure black.
Slowly, Ty straightened up, and smiled. It didn’t make him look kinder. In fact, it made him look even more menacing as he strode forward to meet me.
“Hi,” I said weakly, my throat dry.
Ty nodded. “Would you like to dance?”
“Sure.” I swallowed and moved towards the dance floor. The music slowed, and the dancing seemed to slow as well. What I didn’t notice were the shadows that lurked along the walls elongating like claws, snapping at the ankles of the students.
“My name is Ty.” Ty said quietly as we swayed to the music.
“I’m Nora.” I said.
Ty did not say a word.
For the next few minutes, we just danced. All the while, I was flustered and nervous that I would step on his feet or something, but I didn’t. After what seemed like eternity, Ty broke the silence again.
“I like your dress.” Ty said curtly. “The color is very… fascinating.”
“Thanks.” I said, unsure of what to do. Unconsciously, I glanced down. My dress was actually really simple. It fell to my knees, and the neckline wasn’t deep at all. The color was just a simple dark red, with nothing fascinating about it.
Then, Tyler shoved a slip of paper into my hand and walked out the door. Hastily, I chased after him, but when I burst outside, Ty was gone.
Whitney drove me home. She congratulated me profusely for actually staying until the end of a party, but to be honest, I didn’t really care. The second I got off her car, I sprinted up to my bedroom to examine the sheet of paper.
Written on the slip of paper was a phone number… Ty’s phone number.
I was scared. Should I call him? If I did, what could I talk about with him? What if this was just a huge joke?
In the end, I chose to take a long shower to wash away the scent of cigarettes and alcohol before diving into bed and going to sleep. I would call him tomorrow.
The next day came far too quickly for my liking. Dragging myself out of bed was a whole new level of personal torture. I ran through my usual morning routine: showering, brushing my teeth, eating breakfast, packing my bag, and driving to school. All through the day, I barely paid attention to the classes, dreading the time when I would have to dial the blasted number. I knew I didn’t need to call Ty, but for some reason, I just had to.
When I arrived home again, I was drenched in cold sweat. My phone slipped from my shaky fingers so many times I’m surprised that the screen hasn’t cracked yet. Thank goodness for the extra tough screen covering.
Soon, I found myself hearing the typical beeping while waiting for the other person to pick up.
After five rings, Ty picked up.
“May I ask who is on the other line?” Ty asked formally.
“Hey, Ty,” I said. “It’s Nora. Do you remember me?”
“Yes.” Ty’s voice lost quite a bit of its formal tone. “How was last night? I apologize that I had to leave. Urgent matters tend to arrive at the most inconvenient of all times.”
“No problem.” I said, relieved. I called Ty. We were talking about the dance last night. It was not a huge joke. I was safe.
“So…” Ty started. Then, he hesitated for a fraction of a second before continuing. “Would you like to come over to my house? It’s not very far.”
“Sure!” I said instinctively, before what Ty said actually sank into my brain. I was going to his house? This would probably be one of the greatest wonders that had ever happened in the entire world.
Ty gave me his address, and I wrote it down. We said quick good-byes to each other, and the second I placed down the phone, I felt the urge to both scream with delight and to puke in the toilet.
In the end, I did neither.
I changed out of my sweaty clothes and into a fresh pair of jeans and a light blue top before running outside and into the car. My parents wouldn’t be back until eight, and I sent a text to my friends that I was sick, so no one would disturb me.
Little did I know that it was one of the most fatal mistakes I have ever made in my life.
When I arrived, I have to admit it. I was stunned.
Ty lived in a huge three-floored mansion, with a neatly trimmed lawn and yard, a glittering pool at the back, and tall, elegant iron gates. The windows and door were rimmed with gold and silver, and there was even a fountain twisting and spraying water into intricate shapes and droplets.
As I pulled up, the gates opened, and I drove in, heading for the garage. The doors of the garage opened automatically as well, sliding open fluidly. Once I was done parking, I got out and headed for the front door.
I barely had time to knock when the door opened. Ty stood there, wearing a black shirt and black jeans, smiling slightly.
“Hello, Nora. Welcome to my home.” Ty said quietly as he led me in.
“Thanks.” I said. “Ty, your house is beautiful.”
“Thank you.” Ty said so quietly I almost didn’t hear him.
His house was magnificent. A towering ceiling was dripping with crystal chandeliers, and the furniture was all antique. A gleaming grand piano stood on a platform in a corner, and bookshelves stretching all the way to the sky lined every wall. My mouth must have been dropping way open, but Ty didn’t comment, and I was grateful for it.
“Would you like to come to my room?” Ty asked once I was done admiring everything.
“Sure.” I answered. Once again, I felt nervous. A senior has hardly ever invited a mere sophomore to anything before. I felt almost like an intruder.
Ty led me up a long, sweeping spiral staircase before opening the first door to the left. It revealed a simply made bed, a desk, chair, wardrobe, and a cabinet. That was it. That was Ty’s room. As I looked closely, nothing in his room was antique.
“Your room is nice too.” I added.
Ty just nodded tightly.
Everything was turning very awkward. I felt like sitting, but I didn’t sit. I felt like talking, but I didn’t talk. We had nothing to talk about, anyway.
I tried something risky.
“Have I seen you before? You look really, really familiar. I think… I think I saw you several times before, right?” I asked all in one go.
Ty stiffened. Then, he relaxed and laughed.
While he relaxed, I stiffened. His laughter sounded so kind and warm… it sounded human.
“Yes, I have seen you before many times.” Ty said, still chuckling. “I suppose this is the first in all those times we actually had the nerve to talk to each other.”
Soon, I found myself relaxing with him, and even releasing a shaky laugh, before the shaky laugh turned into full giggles that threatened to go on forever.
After touring his room, we toured the rest of his house. Despite the expensive taste, style, and elegance, I still very much preferred Ty’s bedroom. It seemed by far the most homely.
As we reached a balcony on the third floor, we leaned out and enjoyed the cool breeze while watching the sun set over the horizon. The pool glittered like a thousand stars as it reflected the brilliant golden colors of the sunset, throwing fragments of light across the grass. It was beautiful.
“Thank you for coming to my home today.” Ty said quietly.
“No problem.” I answered, smiling. “Today was really fun and nice. You’re really nice too.”
Ty stared at his hands.
Then, he looked up, leaned forward, and kissed me.
It wasn’t those long, drawn-out, movie-like kisses. It was just a quick brush of the lips, but it made me feel warm and happy on the inside. It was probably the best moment of my life.
As we leaned away from each other, blushing (only I was blushing. Ty looked as cool as ever) furiously, a scream shattered the peace.
“OH MY GOODNESS SAKE, TYLER VUK-DUSOJED(1)!” a girl shrieked from below us. Her voice was filled with rage. “YOU BROUGHT A MORTAL INTO OUR HOME, NOT FOR A SNACK, BUT AS A LOVER?”
Ty swore. He ran down the stairs, with me hurrying after me. I was too rattled to understand the girl’s words.
Halfway down the stairs, Ty grabbed me.
“Nora, my sister, Raven, is home. She’s kind of weird, and she says weird things, so don’t pay attention to her much, all right? She also hates visitors, so… just stay quiet, and I’ll take care of everything.” Ty said urgently.
“All right.” I squeaked.
We barely had time to turn around when Raven stormed up the stairs.
Raven was equally as beautiful as Ty. She had waist-length black hair that gleamed in the light, healthy but pale skin, and a beautiful figure. Like Ty, her eyes were also black.
“Ty, you should not have brought a mortal home without telling me! I could smell her reek all over the house, and I could literally smell her love pouring out of her like no tomorrow. Now that she’s known everything…”
“Gavran-Dusojed, možemo li molim vas pricati na Latinskom(2)?” Ty said in a placating tone.
“No!” Raven yelled. “I will speak in any language I want!”
Then, Raven turned to me. Immediately, her face turned mocking, and her voice turned sickly sweet.
“Hello, little girl,” Raven crooned. I shuddered. “Did my big brother bring you back for a snack? Oh well, it doesn’t matter anyway. You’ve known too much. If he doesn’t want to eat you, that is fine with me. I don’t mind an extra snack.”
Raven opened her mouth wide, revealing black gums without teeth.
I gave a sharp cry as I stumbled back, tripping on the stairs. What sort of creature was she? I looked desperately at Ty, who was yelling at her.
“Gavran-Dusojed, odmah zaustavite svoj čin!(3)” Ty shouted.
Suddenly, Raven was blown back by a force, as if someone had shoved her. Instead of tumbling onto the ground, she executed a perfect backflip and landed in a catlike crouch, baring her toothless gums and hissing like a wildcat.
Furious, Raven turned to Ty. “Почемувы это делаете? Она является ничем перекусить едят и забыли. Просто убить ее и получить это над сейчас!(4)”
Ty ignored Raven and turned to me. “Nora, get out of here. Don’t come back.”
Wordlessly, I tore down the stairs and out the door. My heart was beating furiously as I heard Raven screaming at Ty. For his sake, I hope that he’d be unharmed after this.
When I returned home, I cooked dinner, ate, and went to bed, but I knew that I had to make sure that Ty was safe. I had to get more answers.
Ridiculously enough, I made another vow: to return to the mansion tonight.
I crawled out of bed at midnight, dressed warmly into jeans, a black shirt, and a wool cardigan before slipping out the back door. I sped to the mansion.
Everything was black, so painfully black. The stars were hidden, and the moon crawled behind thick black clouds. Even the streetlights seemed to be much dimmer than usual.
I parked a street away from the mansion, and walked there by foot. When I reached there, I knocked hesitantly at the gate. I should have called Ty before I arrived!
Then, to my immense surprise, the gate swung open.
I walked in, walking cautiously across the paved path to the door. Then, my foot crunched on something hard. As I looked down, I saw that it was a huge, but thankfully dead cockroach, its dry guts spilling onto the ground.
“Ugh,” I said, disgusted as I stepped away, only to hear another crunch as I stepped on another dead bug. With rising horror, I realized that the entire lawn had turned into a mass of both dead and alive bugs, swarming with cockroaches, slugs, snails, spiders, and even a scorpion or two.
I had never been scared of bugs before in my life, but to be honest, I was starting to feel pretty sick. The worst thing is that I had to cross the path of the dead cockroaches to reach the front door.
Gritting my teeth, I ran, wincing at every step I took. When I finally did make it to the front door, my shoes were positively caked in bug guts.
Turning away from the state of my shoes, I knocked on the front door, hoping that it would open like how the front gate had opened.
A blast of dry, musty air caught me full in the face as I walked in. The mansion had changed so much! Instead of the elegance and beauty, it was like a funeral home. Cobwebs danced on the chandeliers, and the walls were covered in flaking mold. The antique furniture was rotted, and the books were falling apart. The most terrifying thing was the small hunched figure curled up on the couch.
I walked over. It looked like a tiny girl, no more than eight years old, wearing a tattered nightie. Impossibly, I saw her back rise and fall, as if she were breathing.
“Hello, are you all right?” I asked cautiously.
The girl made no reply.
Just as I turned around, the girl threw her head back and gave a blood-curling shriek. I screamed with her, our voices bouncing off the high ceiling, returning to us sounding warped and unfamiliar.
“Umukni, obojica!(5)” A frighteningly familiar voice ordered. It sounded like Raven.
The girl fell silent immediately, curling back into her old position, as if she had never screamed at all. I, however, looked much less orderly, sweating and gasping, and making a racket.
A raven fluttered in through the window. As it sailed in, it started twisting, morphing into Raven, and landing lightly on the floor.
If Raven looked horrific during the day, she looked a thousand times worse at night. She seemed even more beautiful in the sleek black gown that rippled like water, but along with the beauty, she seemed much darker. Her lips were the color of fresh blood, and her eyes were like black beads.
“It seems as if you’re back.” Raven purred. “Oh well, I guess I’ll be getting my snack after all.”
I turned tail and ran.
I tore up the stairs, trying to block out Raven’s high-pitched laughter with the sound of my thudding heartbeat. I just had to find Ty. He must be in his room, or I’m dead.
The second I reached the second floor, I shoved open the first door on the left, and promptly started retching. The bedroom must have been some place for Raven to store the dead bodies or something, because it was literally stacked to the ceiling with the corpses of people, young and old. Some of them were nothing but crumbling skeletons, but many of them were fresh, recently decayed human beings who had just so stumbled into her trap. Knowing that the room was where I would stay if I were caught just made me feel even more desperate. Where was Ty?
Like a miracle, I suddenly remembered. Ty’s bedroom was the first one on the right, not on the left! Laughing with relief, I opened the Ty’s bedroom door and nearly cried with both joy and despair.
Ty’s bedroom was completely the same, with its bed, furniture, and mood. On the other hand, Ty was nowhere to be seen. The only sign of life in the room was a lean black wolf curled up under the window.
“Ty?” I called out desperately.
The wolf opened its eyes. They were black.
No, no, no, no, no. There was no freaking way that…
The wolf stood up, stretched, and like Raven, morphed into Ty.
“Hello, Nora.” Ty said quietly.
Ty looked just like Ty. He still wore the same clothes, acted the same way, and looked the same way, but… somehow, the demon Ty wasn’t like the Ty she had met this morning.
I turned around. I had to get home. I would drill Ty the next morning, but not tonight. I couldn’t stand it anymore, but I had barely taken a step when Raven appeared, blocking my way.
In simpler words, I was trapped. In even simpler words, I was going to die.
Ty turned to Raven, his face a blank mask. “Trebao sam joj reći o tome, ili želite?(6)”
Raven smiled maliciously. “Ti bi trebao. To bi svakako biti puno više zanimljiv taj način.(7)”
Ty nodded and turned to me.
“You were easy to trick, Nora.” He said. His voice sounded almost sad. “You see, twelve souls were needed for the sacrifice. Killing would be easy, but the most difficult part was that the twelve souls had to love us before we could kill them. That was the trick to make the sacrifice work.”
“No.” I said hoarsely.
“You loved me, Nora. We could all see it. Let’s just assume that you’re just one of the sacrifices, shall we?” Ty said calmly as he walked forward.
I stumbled back. I didn’t want to cry, but I couldn’t help it.
“How could you do this?” I whispered. “How could you kill people?”
Ty smiled. It made his face seem like a skull.
Suddenly, using his bare hands, he dug into his heart. I screamed as he tugged out a lump of black muscle from his chest, his hands dripping with black blood. He held his heart up, as if he was holding it for show-and-tell.
“This is my heart. For centuries, I have killed to survive. I am a soul-eater. I have a heart as black as coal to survive. I apologize, Nora, but this has to be done.”
With an awful sucking noise, Ty placed his heart back into the chest. The muscle knitted itself back together, forming without a scar.
Then, it was over.
Beautiful people do exist in this world. Sometimes they are nice. Sometimes, they aren’t.
This is the story of how I died.
 Latin: Wolf Soul-Eater
 Latin: Raven Soul-Eater, could we please speak in Latin?
 Latin: Raven Soul-Eater, stop this act immediately!
 Russian: Why are you doing this? She is nothing but a snack to be eaten and forgotten. Just kill her and get this over now!
 Latin: Shut up, both of you!
 Latin: Should I tell her about it, or would you like to?
 Latin: You should. It would certainly be much more interesting that way.