Published November 04, 2016 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 12

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.

The Factory

Just after Alistair's death.

Only Anya and I were purchased by the same owner after the Soul Market ripped us from Alistair's mansion. Felix and Mira were snatched up by an old man looking for gardeners, and Angela was left behind because she was too small and unstable. I didn't think that I'd care, but I was devastated to see them go. Like they too were a part of a life that I was reluctant to part with.

At least there was Anya. I told myself that as long as she was there, then everything would be fine.

Or so I thought.

Our next home was a textiles factory in the industrial city of Azaelia. The climate was hot, dry, and the sky was unusually orange from sand which blew in from a distant desert.

The factory was a large three story red building surrounded by gravel fields. Most of the inner walls had been torn down to create a large hall where hundreds of souls would work day and night. The crumbling stone floors and window panes hadn't been replaced in years, and dirt was so imbedded into the cracks that we couldn't get it out, no matter how hard we scrubbed.

That place was owned by three brothers, who at first appeared to be outstanding members of society, but only we knew their true selves.

The oldest brother, Malcolm, was a man in his mid-thirties with short brown hair streaked with gray. I never saw him wearing anything other than a black business suit, as though he had no personal life. He seemed polite and civil, but Malcolm was a methodical businessman who treated us like tools. He calculated exactly how much we could work before collapsing and expected nothing less. Any second that we weren't slaving away was seen as a lost opportunity to make more profit, and he would quietly clench his fist in annoyance whenever production came to a halt.

The middle brother, Frederick, was a bulky man with red hair. He thought highly of himself and liked to pretend that he was pleasant and outgoing. He had plenty of vain mortal friends and considered himself popular, but that bastard became a different person whenever he drank.

The youngest brother, David, was a short pudgy man with long black hair and glasses. He was quiet and withdrawn, which I thought was a welcome relief, but I guess it's always the quiet ones that you need to worry about. David obediently did whatever his brothers wanted, but secretly had a dark side that even his shitty siblings refused to acknowledge.

But those three were the least of my worries. Because as stingy, mean, or sick as they were, they were nothing compared to the terrible souls who ran the factory. Perhaps they were rotten back when they lived, or maybe all the centuries of suffering under cruel masters had created beings who were experts in torment.

Their leader was a soul who everyone called Foreman. I don't know what he did to become number one, but I'm certain that he must have lied, manipulated, and cheated his way through the factory until the brothers put him in charge.

He was a tall man with short curly hair, a broad chest, and was almost as strong as a regular mortal. There were deep lines around his eyes which made him look older, but perhaps it was a manifestation of his cruel intentions. It was impossible to escape his malicious bad side, and he created his own inner circle of corrupt souls who followed him without question.

"Listen up sinners!" he yelled as he paced back and forth before us on our first day.

Myself and several other souls were neatly lined up on the factory floor. Anya was standing beside me. She kept nervously chewing her lower lip, but managed to keep herself together. She was already wearing the cheap grey pants and shirt that they forced us to wear. The fabric was covered in stains, like the uniform had been passed from soul to soul without ever being washed.

"You may have enjoyed yourselves living like kings on Earth," Foreman continued. "But now it's time to pay up! We don't wanna hear you moan about how tough we are compared to whatever soft new age masters you had before. You're now property of the Lynch brothers, and you will work all day, every day, making this!" He picked up a roll of white cloth and shoved it in our faces. "For as long as you exist in this factory, you will be threading! In the morning you will thread! In the evening you will thread! And when you become so tired that your pathetic little fingers can't move anymore, you will stay at your workstation and keep going until we say you can stop!"

"What about break time?" asked one soul in the middle of the line. He didn't see Foreman's minion swing a plank of wood into the back of his head. His face instantly collided with the floor.

"I didn't say you could speak," said Foreman. He then walked over and shoved one foot on the soul to prevent him from getting up. "Those shitty brothers may own this place, but on the factory floor, I'm your king," he hissed. "Got it?"

The soul quickly nodded. Foreman stomped his foot down on the guy's head one last time before moving away.

I stood there frozen in disbelief. That petty power trip was mild in comparison to what he could do, but it was the first time I'd met anyone so cruel. I looked over at Anya and expected her to share my unease, but she just watched on like it was nothing.

After that they named us.

Unlike real living people, our names are just temporary labels that change with our masters. The first name I received may have been Ethan, but I've been called many things such as Maxwell, Snowflake, Napoleon, or Ghosty. I've had plenty of terrible names as well, just like the one that arsehole of a foreman soon gave me.

"Girly boy," he said as he looked at my face and said the first thing that sprang to his mind. Another soul behind him scribbled it down in a notebook like it was already official.

I opened my mouth to protest, but Anya subtly stepped on my foot as a sign to shut up.

"Toilet Brush Hair," he said and pointed to Anya. "Horse Face," he called the next guy. "Rat Teeth."

"We already have one of those," interrupted the guy with the notebook.

"Crappy Teeth," Foreman said and kept walking, continuing to make up more terrible names as he moved down the line.

Eventually he got to the last girl. Her face was unusual like she'd been born without a nose.

"Oh, do I have a name for you," Foreman grinned like he'd hit the jackpot. He then gave her a name so terrible and cruel that I can't even write it.

"That's a good one, Foreman," snickered a guy by his side, and half the souls on the factory floor began to nervously laugh like they didn't have a choice.

"They can't do this!" I whispered to Anya as they led us to our new work stations. "There's no way that they can get away with treating us like this."

"You're so naive," Anya wearily replied. "We're just souls and they bought us, so we have to do whatever they want. It's the price we have to pay for selling ourselves back when we were alive. Everyone knows that."

My mouth slammed shut. I didn't know how to respond. All the other souls seemed to understand our new situation, but I refused to give in.

"Trust me," said Anya like she could sense my defiance. "I've had four masters, and this is just the way things are. To these guys we're just objects which can be used to do what they want," she glanced at Malcolm who was silently watching from a balcony on the second floor. "They think we're below them."

"Wait, you never told me that you had masters before Alistair." I always thought that she was relatively new to Hell like me.

I wanted to ask more about her life before we met, but one of Foreman's minions shoved me in front of a large wooden loom and ordered me to start threading. I nervously picked up a roll of cotton and tried to copy the soul beside me. Her fingers moved with perfect precision, but her face was blank and lifeless like her mind had gone elsewhere. Most of the souls in the room were the same, as though there were trying to mentally escape.

"Don't worry," whispered the soul on my right. He was a thin young man with large eyes and a nervous twitch. I later found out that he was named Twitchy after his habit of convulsing every five seconds. "This place isn't so bad, once you get used to it."

I looked behind me to see Foreman grab a fist full of one girl's hair and yank her off a chair. He then proceeded to yell profanities at her until the young woman was sobbing.

I thought I'd seen the worst of the factory, but it was only the beginning.