Published July 01, 2016 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 3

Story Summary

Ethan is a soul in the Underworld with no memory of his life on Earth. He is bought and sold by various masters for centuries. Traveling from large industrial towns to scorching hot deserts. During his journey he picks up the skills, knowledge and magic to escape his enslavement. He runs with the intent of living a free life, but is pursued by agents until he's cornered on a remote mountain range. With little time left, Ethan begins to recount his life and masters in the hope of leaving a record of his existence. These are his memories.

Every week I'd watch Alistair become intoxicated and flirt with anyone he could. Men, women, and even his own soul slaves.

As much as I slowly came to accept my master's strange ways, the flirting always got under my skin. I don't know if he was intentionally trying to mess with us, or just did it without knowing, but Alistair successfully turned half his souls against each other as they fruitlessly struggled for his affection.

"Traitor!" Mira screamed and threw a knife at my head when I fled into the kitchen carrying a tray full of wine glasses. "Trash! Filth! Waste of two hundred pounds!"

The knives all painlessly passed through my ghostly body like air, but I dropped my tray in shock. The glasses shattered against the floor with a crash.

"So you think your the master's new favorite soul now, do you, pretty boy?" said Alphonse as he leaned against the kitchen bench behind her. Arms angrily crossed over his chest as he glared down at me.

Alphonse and Mira stupidly competed for Alistair's attention on a daily basis, but they decided to join forces with Angela, who must have also been there.

Angela was a small soul who looked no older than seven. Dressed up in expensive children's clothes with several ribbons in her curly hair. She appeared small and innocent, but that girl was over four hundred. All the centuries in Hell had warped her childish soul into something dark and unrecognizable. Even I was often mortified.

"Slit him open," her tiny mouth said with a wicked smirk.

Alphonse and Mira began to encroach on me, and being the naive idiot I was back then, I completely freaked out.

What a joke. As if a ghost can actually make a ghost bleed?

I stupidly pressed myself against the wall in terror, when Anya suddenly burst through the window dragging Felix behind her.

Felix was a young looking soul with messy hair and glasses, even though souls don't need them to see. Our master unsuccessfully tried to hit on him several times, so Felix retreated to the garden and barely came indoors.

"You!" angrily spat Mira, like refusing to address Anya by name would somehow make her inferior. "Have no right to be here!"

"Mira!" Anya angrily pointed one finger towards the other girl. "Looks like your pea sized brain has finally figured out that Master will never love you, but there's no need to take your pent up frustration out on poor Ethan!"

"What do you know, you messy haired bitch!" screamed Mira as she violently waved a knife in her hand. "I've been here for three generations! I know things about Master that you never will!"

"Oh, dear Mira," said Anya. "Knowing how the master was potty trained shouldn't be considered an amazing secret."

"But I know more!" cried Mira as she struggled for words. "I...I...I know what he looks like naked!"

"I saw him naked once too!" Anya yelled back.

"Liar! Everyone knows that he was only half naked that time!"

"Was not! I saw everything!"

"Why am I even here!" cried Felix as he desperately tried to escape Anya's grip. "I'm just a gardener!"

"Quit struggling and back me up!" snapped Anya. "You're supposed to be on my side."

"I never agreed to be on your side!"

"If you're not on their side, that automatically makes you on my side!"

"Even Felix can't help you now!" yelled Mira and she threw a kitchen knife at Anya.

Knowing my fellow souls, they probably descended into some pointless argument and began threatening to kill each other, despite already being dead. The fight only came to a close when Anya grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the room.

"Come on, let's get out of here!"

We dashed out of the kitchen and down the corridor like a pair of small children. The skirt of her maid uniform billowed behind her as we dashed past expensive oak furniture and exquisite works of art. We traveled through corridors and up and down stairs, until we finally arrived at the library.

Anya shoved me inside and then bolted the door behind us.

"They shouldn't be able to find us in here," she said with a grin and collapsed on the carpeted floor. "That's what you get for messing with Team Anya!" She triumphantly shoved her fist into the air.

"What about Felix?" It seemed cruel to leave him there to deal with Mira and Alphonse alone.

"He should be fine." She shrugged. "They don't have much against him with that guy being neutral and all."

By neutral, she meant that he wasn't involved in their daily battles to become Alistair's favorite.

"That reminds me." Anya jumped to her feet and quickly spun to face me with her hands on her hips. She was attempting to appear threatening, but my friend resembled a small child throwing a tantrum. "Is it true what the guests are saying? Did the master really-"

I had to cut her off because my mind was suddenly assaulted by images of what happened in the ballroom. I tried my best to push them back down into the depths of my memory where they belonged. "No! They're just making something out of nothing!"

"So it is true!" Anya jabbed one finger at my chest. "I can tell from the look on your face!"

"No, it wasn't anything like that!"

"Oh no!" she cried dramatically and covered her face with her hands. "Don't tell me that you also want to be the master's favorite soul! I thought that out of everyone in the mansion, I could at least rely on you. Oh, the betrayal!"

"No, no, you have it all wrong!" I cried with panic. "He must have just grabbed me because I was standing nearby and it was convenient for him." I let out a frustrated sigh. "It's like he has absolutely no regard for other people's feelings. All I want to do is forget that it even happened."

"Really?" She looked straight into my eyes and critically examined my face. Searching for the truth. "How do I know that you don't secretly want him to yourself? They say that it's always the quiet ones you should worry about."

I couldn't withstand her glare so I looked away. "There's no way that I would ever want anything to do with that guy. He's flashy, vain, and thinks only of himself."

There were plenty of other negative things that I wanted to say about Alistair. Such as irrisponsible playboy who was going to end up destroying himself, but I had to stop there. Anya loved our master more than anything, and she would've become mad if I continued to disrespect him.

"I suppose you're right," she sighed. "But I'm worried about him. You should have heard what people were saying tonight behind his back. They're all so civil and pleasant to his face, but they're like monsters when they think he can't hear. They kept saying that it's wrong to be so friendly towards souls like us. They said that we should suffer for the sins we committed in our past lives. Everyone thinks the master's gone nuts."

"I'm sure that's not true," I said to reassure her, but looking back on it now, I'm certain that Alistair must have lost his mind decades earlier.

"Yeah, perhaps I'm just overthinking." Anya nervously smiled. "I'm glad to have a friend like you who can always make me feel better."

"Oh..." I was lost for what to say. "What else are friend's for."

"Hey, can you imagine what it would be like if the master actually did go nuts?" she laughed.

I began to nervously laugh along with her, hoping that she wouldn't resent me for what happened.

The following decades were uneventful and every day was much the same. We would clean the mansion, serve Alistair's guests, and I'd watch Anya, Alphonse and Mira affectionately wait on our master like children competing for their parent's attention. To me there was nothing strange about our relaxed lifestyle, and I thought that was how most souls lived out their days.

I foolishly thought that we could exist there forever in our own sheltered hideaway, but of course it was impossible to escape from the world outside those walls.

It's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when things began to change. I suppose like everything, it began gradually. Alistair's vain mortal friends got old and stop visiting, the mansion fell into disrepair, and the townspeople around us became anxious like there was something terrible looming on the horizon.

Alistair changed too. Our relaxed and overly friendly master became withdrawn and paranoid, until I wondered if he'd been murdered and replaced with a stranger.

Soon all the majestic night parties were gone, and the guy spent his evenings staring out windows for reasons that simple souls like us couldn't understand. Sometimes he was studying, sometimes he was drinking, but he always kept one eye outside like he was too terrified to look away.

I guess his unusual fascination with the window must have started when the war did.

I can't remember which war it was. People screaming in pain as they cut each other down has become a monthly event. Perhaps it was the war against the Southerners, or Azazel, or Heaven, or just some ridiculous fight without any meaning.

It began on the outskirts of the province, then slowly began creeping towards the cities until we could see smoke on a clear day.

I should have been afraid, but back then I couldn't comprehend the horrors of war. I was still certain that terrible things only happened to others who weren't me.

Of course that way of thinking would soon be corrected.

One evening I found Alistair in the sitting room leaning up against a window. Staring into darkness like death itself was going to come strolling up the front path to abduct him.

"Master!" I called out from the doorway.

Alistair jumped in shock. The wine glass fell from his hand and shattered against the floor.

"Master, don't-" I called out, but with a mortifying crunch, Alistair took one step forward right onto the shards. He didn't cry out in pain, and instead just silently stood there staring at his foot which had begun to bleed.

"Please don't move, Master." I rushed over and picked up the glass around his feet.

I then dashed out of the room to fetch a small medical kit that Alphonse used to patch up guests who partied too hard.

When I returned, Alistair was still standing there like he was too tired to move. I gently guided him over to one of the plush velvet chairs, then carefully removed the glass from his foot with a small pair of steel tweezers. Watching the blood drip from the wound.

I tried to hide my fascination with his cuts, but I couldn't help but wonder what it feels like to bleed. Is it really as painful as living people make it out to be?

"You're good at this," said Alistair as he watched me. "How did you ever learn?"

"Someone has to know, Master," I said with a nervous smile. "Who else is going to patch you up when you get hurt?"

I could have sworn that I saw his cheeks turn red, but he quickly looked away.

I was relieved that Alistair believed my lie, but the truth was that I had spent hours studying his books about anatomy and medicine. I was desperate to remember what it was like to be human. Everyone around us was always changing, while my fellow souls and I remained the same.

"How long has it been, Ethan?" he asked. "Since you came here."

"Forty years," I obediently replied.

"Forty years, huh? Has it already been that long? I remember when I first met you at the Soul Market," he said with a small smile. "Do you remember, Ethan?"

"I'm sorry, Master."

My memories of before the mansion are hazy and I can't remember much. It must be a side effect of death.

"Well I remember," he said. "You were just staring into space with a blank look on your face. You couldn't even talk. I asked if you wanted to come back, and then you smiled. You actually smiled, Ethan."

"Really, Master?"

"And then I..." he paused and I patiently waited for what else he had to say. "I suppose the rest doesn't matter," he sighed with defeat.

Alistair went silent and watched as I finished bandaging his foot. I found the silence unnerving. I was so used to a flamboyant lively young man, that I didn't know how to act around the new quiet version.

"How about Anya, Master?" I asked. "What about the day that you met her?"

"Anya?" he muttered. "My friend picked her out for me. I suppose that he must have asked for the most violent and strong willed girl they had. Perhaps it was his idea of a joke, but she has served me unexpectedly well."

"Yes, she's great," I said brightly. "She seems to care for you very much, and she's kind, thoughtful, and beautiful as well. She might just be a soul, but anyone in the Underworld would be lucky to have her."

I may have developed my own secret feelings towards Anya, but all I wanted was for her to be happy. If making Alistair like her was the way to do it, then I would have said anything.

I thought I'd done a brilliant job of supporting my friend, but against my expectations, Alistair just let out a frustrated sigh.

"Don't you think that's something you should say to her yourself, Ethan?"

"I..." He was staring at me so seriously. I stood there unsure of what to say.

I never voiced my true feelings about Anya to anyone, and kept them to myself like a teenage crush.

Could it be that Alistair saw through me?

There was a knock on the door, and I was thankful that someone had come to save me.

"Master," said Alphonse from the doorway. "There's someone here to see you. He looks like he's from the barracks."

Alistair's face turned pale, and when he looked at me, I could see fear in his eyes for the very first time.

We all stood there in silence for what seemed like forever, until our master pulled himself from the chair and went to meet his guest.

"Thank you Ethan," he said with one last glance at me. "That will be all."

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