Published October 27, 2016 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 11

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.

A dungeon

After I'd lost all hope.

I found Alphonse decades later somewhere in between masters. Maybe it was after the crazy hag who'd scream at me if her house wasn't spotless, or perhaps just before an old man with a strange bread obsession, but it was a time when I'd become so used to this world that I no longer cried. No matter what anyone did to me I would just stand there and take it, because as Felix once advised, it's always easier to just do as they say.

One evening I was lying in a Soul Market dungeon somewhere in the east. I was trapped in that pit for days while waiting to be resold. Various customers seemed interested in my youthful face, but they quickly changed their minds after flipping through my thin record. And it didn't even contain the real horrifying stuff.

Those mortals obviously preferred fresh souls who were easily broken in, and nobody wanted used goods which may creep into their bedroom and slit their throat while they slept. Because as much as the soul trade tries to cover it up, it isn't a rare thing.

That underground basement was dark, damp, and the regular staff had already returned home taking the few lamps with them. I could faintly see the outline of the steel cage bars, and the other ghostly souls haphazardly shoved in around me. There must have been fifteen to twenty in each narrow cage, and I didn't even have enough space to stretch my legs. Every so often I would hear someone scream in their sleep, even though I thought it was impossible for dead people to dream.

"Ethan?" said a faint voice somewhere amongst the darkness.

I hadn't used that name in so long that it took me a moment to answer. I glanced over my shoulder to see a familiar soul staring at me through the bars of the cage next to my own.


I hadn't seen him since the day the Soul Market took us from Alistair's mansion, and I never expected to meet that guy again. When I woke up the next morning he was already gone, and I'm not sure if our meeting was real or just another delusion.

"It is you!" he said joyfully and his face lit up. I never thought that Alphonse would be happy to see me.

"I thought you ran away," I whispered.

"Got caught, they locked me up for days in a box. Couldn't tell up from down and the screaming was terrible." He paused like he was afraid to say more. "But I'm a good soul now. I don't try to run away."

"That's good Alphonse," I said kindly, but I noticed that there was something different about him. He seemed far more timid and anxious than the strong man who once used to threaten me.

I reached through the bars to hold his hand, and Alphonse happily twined his fingers around mine like a child. "What happened to you Alphonse?"

"You know, many things. Same shit that happens to everyone else. This is the Underworld." He nervously laughed. "I guess there aren't many masters out there like Alistair."

"Yes, I know." I recalled my own long list of terrible owners.

"I'm sorry about what happened to the master Ethan. I know how much you were into him."

"No, Alphonse, that was you."

"Really?" said Alphonse like he could no longer tell his own memories apart. "I do kind of wish that he hadn't died like that. Don't tell Mira, but sometimes I like to imagine that he's alive somewhere looking for us. It makes me happy for a moment, but then I remember the way things really are and how he's never coming back."

"I thought I saw Master once." I remembered the day in the desert when I chased after a delusion. "But of course it wasn't him."

"I saw Mira and Anya, or at least I think I did."

"Really Alphonse? Tell me more about them."

"Mira was working in a tavern where one of my old masters used to go. One day she got mad and smashed all the cups against the wall. I never saw her after that. And Anya..." He closed his mouth and his gaze fell to the floor. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you," he muttered.


"I don't want to make you sad Ethan."

"Tell me Alphonse," I demanded. "Please tell me what happened to Anya."

Alphonse locked up and tried to change the subject several times, but with some gentle persuasion he finally caved and told me everything.

It all happened ten years earlier in a similar Soul Market. For days Alphonse and another one hundred souls were left in storage to accumulate dust, until he heard voices from outside their prison.

"You have to be joking!" cried one of the mortal staff. "They want us to get rid of this many?"

"You know that we can't do shit about it," said another voice. "The market has been overstocked for months and the price of souls has hit rock bottom. It was only a matter of time."

"This was never in my contract!"

"Oh, it was there under clause twenty three. I can bring it down from the office now if you don't believe me Mr. Smith. I can read it out for you in front of everyone. I'm sure that they'd love to hear all the nitty gritty details of your very legitimate employment."

"Fine!" snapped Smith. "Have it your way. Let's just get this over already."

The door burst open and several men in gray suits filed in.

"Rise and shine dead guys," laughed one young man as he enthusiastically banged a steel pole against the cages to wake the souls up. "Today's gonna be somebody's lucky day."

"Which ones do you want?" asked Smith who was still hovering by the door.

"Let's just start with the most useless ones and then work our way up," answered another man.

"This girl talks to herself!"

"This old bastard is actually growing cobwebs!"

"This brat once bit me!"

"Bring them out!" ordered their boss.

One by one the staff began pulling souls out of their cages and leading them down the dark corridor. Alphonse curiously watched them walk past, when he noticed one familiar face in the crowd. She'd only been two cages away from his, but he never realised who the soul was until it was too late.

"Anya?" whispered a bewildered Alphonse.

She jumped in shock and then turned to face him. Her hair was a mess, she was covered in grime, and her clothes hadn't been changed in decades. Her eyes widened in surprise and she open to her mouth to answer, but no sound came out like she'd forgotten how to form words.

At last Anya croaked a very strained "Alphonse," before one guy shoved her forward towards an empty storage room at the end of the hall.

He stopped and examined Alphonse too. His fingers reached out for the cage door, but then muttered "suppose that's enough," before turning away.

They shoved all the souls into the end room and bolted the door shut. Alphonse wondered what they were doing, but he wasn't concerned about Anya's welfare, because there was no way that they could destroy her, or so he stupidly thought.

And then the screaming started.

There were high pitched cries of pain lasted for hours, along with bright flashes of light that leaked through the cracks in the door. The handle rattled once or twice like someone was desperately trying to escape, but eventually the screaming stopped and the Soul Market agents emerged. One man's shirt was ripped and another guy had scratches across his face like he was attacked by a wild animal.

"I didn't sign up for this," Smith angrily muttered as he stormed down the corridor.

"Look at the brightside, Smithy," hummed one young man who didn't look the slightest bit unnerved. "That's thirty less sinners that you have to look after."

"You should have joined the army Norris," said someone else. "You looked like you actually enjoyed doing that."

Norris maliciously grinned back. It's guys like that who make our existence so much more painful.

Alphonse looked into the room once they were gone, but it was empty and there was no sign of Anya.

Their disappearance mystified him for days, until the agent named Norris noticed his unusual fascination with the end room.

"I'll let you in on a secret big boy," Norris said with a grin while casually leaning against the cage.

The very moment that Alphonse walked closer, Norris grabbed his shirt and violently pulled him forward until he was pressed up against the bars.

"The guys who went through that door ain't ever coming back," he hissed into Alphonse's ear. "But I can take you down there if you like. Just the two of us. And I can show you what I did to your pretty little friend with the long hair."

Alphonse was too frightened to move and stood there frozen until Norris let go and strolled away with a laugh. After that incident my old friend was too afraid to leave the corner of his cage. Fortunately he was sold to a gentle old lady a few days later.

"Don't you see Ethan," said Alphonse on the night that I met him. "They keep preaching that we're trapped here for eternity, but they can actually destroy us whenever they feel like it."

"I don't know Alphonse." Until then I never knew that a soul could actually disappear. "Maybe they just put them into boxes or moved them out another door."

"But there was no other door! I don't know how they did it, but it was like they made them vanish into thin air. And it makes sense! How else can they continue to bring in hundreds of souls every day without us overrunning Hell."

I sat there quietly while pondering his words. His story seemed unbelievable, but I had seen enough of the Underworld to accept that such a thing could be true.

"So she's gone forever then?" I asked.

"I'm sorry Ethan, I know how close the two of you were."

"Don't be," I said with spite that hadn't existed in my voice a century earlier. "She deserved it. I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up somewhere even worse than Hell."

"How can you say that? I thought you were best friends."

"Friends? Even you should have worked out that there's no such thing as real friends in this place. There's only shitty people who use you to get what they want."

Alphonse sat their silently for a moment like he didn't know how to answer. "You use to be different Ethan, how did you turn out like this?"

"I don't expect you to understand," I said coldly and let go of his hand. "You ran away Alphonse. You never saw what happened to us."

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Published October 12, 2016 by

Diary of a Soul in the Underworld Part 1 free ebook

I recently put chapters 1 to 10 together to make a free ebook that you can read on your kindle or ebook reader. I also made a PDF and epub file too. You can download it below.

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Published October 02, 2016 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 10

Summary: Ethan is a soul doomed to spend eternity as a slave in Hell for reasons he can't remember. After centuries of torment he finally snaps and goes on the run from those who enslaved him. Can he escape and become more than a regular soul, or is he doomed to spend an eternity in The Underworld? 

Click here for other chapters

A desert

Somewhere between the beginning and now.

Even after he died, I thought I saw Alistair several times over the years. I would often see him amongst a crowd of strangers, only to walk closer and discover a different man with a similar face. I suppose that a small part of me didn't want to admit that he wasn't coming back.

The last time I did that to myself was when I was traveling through an oasis in the south. There the days were bright, and the locals dwelled in ancient buildings made from sand and mud.

In those days, I belonged to a traveling merchant whose name I can't remember. He won me in a game of cards and then lost me again soon afterwards. All I can recall is a hairy man who tossed me his old shawl and asked me to take care of his horse. He wasn't bad for a master, so it's a shame that we parted ways so quickly.

Once, we stopped in a bazaar where he gambled and drank the days away. I found a crumbling well on the outskirts of town and filled a rusty metal bucket with water to give to his horse.

The trip back was difficult and the full bucket was almost too much for my weak arms. I slowly lugged it through the desert while desperately gripping on with both hands. My bare feet continuously slipped through the fine sand. I almost tumbled several times, sloshing water over the dunes, until I made it back to the center of town.

The narrow alleys were crammed with wooden stalls selling gold trinkets and silk. The streets were crowded with living people sweating profusely under the scorching sun. Rich men and women looked down at me with disdain, not to mention the thieves patiently waiting in the shadows for any chance to rob them.

I wrapped the second hand shawl around my head to hide my translucent skin. There are plenty of rural arseholes who get a kick out of tormenting souls. I didn't have time to play kick the dead guy.

There was a group of young soldiers loitering before a jewelry store. Their magenta uniforms stood out amongst the dull desert wear, and they seemed too bright and lively to have experienced any real fighting. Those kids were probably on their way to the Great Southern Front. Most of them would be ripped apart by demons in the upcoming days.

Some of them deserved it.

"Watch this," whispered one guy to his comrades. He closed his eyes and began to chant a mantra which was obviously magic. I never lost my interest in spells, so I crept a little closer to see what he would do.

A nearby table of gold trinkets violently shook, and several necklaces fell to the ground. The storekeeper seemed startled, but shrugged it off and picked them up like they'd been blown over by the wind.

The moment the storekeeper's back was turned, the young soldier leaned forward and snatched a gold pendant from a different display. No one seemed to notice the young man smugly deposit it into his pocket, and his friends turned away and did a terrible job of suppressing their cruel laughter.

Maybe if I had been kinder, or stupider, I would have told the storekeeper about their sneaky trick, but I doubted he would stop to listen to a soul. Instead, I found myself wondering what my old master Alistair would have thought about magic scholars using their talents for warfare and theft. A pacifist like him would have never approved, and he'd have done something to stop them instead of just standing there with a rusty water bucket.

And then I saw him.

Alistair was standing at the end of the alley watching them too. Dressed in a white shirt and dark pants like he once used to wear, with a thin shawl draped over his head to protect his pale skin.

I only saw his face for a moment, but it was grim and expressionless like the days when he spent hours staring out windows.

As quickly as I saw him he turned and disappeared into the crowd like a ghost. There was nothing to prove that he'd been there at all. Perhaps it was an illusion created by my broken mind, but I instantly let go of the bucket and dashed after him.

I frantically shoved my way through the crowd and ignored the cries from the shoppers I splashed. All I could think of was finally meeting my master again.

For years I imagined that his death was a lie.

Those Soul Market agents made a mistake, and Alistair was actually alive somewhere fighting for the king. No matter how strong or ruthless the opponent, he'd somehow pull through with his invincible magic skills. There was nothing that could kill him and my master would live forever.

Alistair was just too busy to find us, that's all, but suddenly he was in that bazaar and together we could find Mira, Alphonse, Anya, and Felix. We'd happily go back to the mansion and live together for the rest of eternity. Everything could be like it was before, and all the terrible things that happened could be forgotten.

I caught flashes of his long blonde hair in the distance. I ran as fast as I could, but the gap between us grew wider and wider until he vanished amongst the living.

That didn't stop me from running. I dashed through that town past palaces and slums. I scrambled over walls and crashed into small children playing on the street.

It was the closest I'd been to seeing him in decades and I refused to let go. I was determined to search every inch of that desert until the Soul Market dragged me back to be punished.

Eventually I reached and ancient stone bridge leading out of town, full of merchants and soldiers traveling back and forth. I climbed the crumbling stone bridge post and examined every face, but my kind old master was nowhere to be seen.

And then the truth hit me like a punch in the face.

I'm such a fool, were the words that revolved around in my head for hours. Even after so much time had passed, I couldn't believe that I'd gone chasing after delusions again.

Crazed laughter burst from my mouth, and if souls could shed tears they would have spilled down my face.

What did I think was going to happen? Even if the guy I saw had been real, I would have cornered him only to discover another lookalike. Master Alistair was dead and never coming back.

I collapsed against the stone wall and quietly sobbed into my shawl. Watching the living people walk past until I mustered the will to go back for more water. I had a new master to serve, and plenty more after that, until I'd one day find a master who would change everything.

I never saw the real Alistair again. As the years past I gradually began to accept that he was gone.

But Alphonse was different.

I met him once more.

01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 5051 ,52,53

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