Published June 08, 2017 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 28

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 Bakery

The start of my life after the factory.

My next master was a baker in the center of town. He was a large man in his late fifties with stark white hair and a neatly trimmed beard. I never once saw him smile, but fortunately for me, he was more concerned with business than torturing staff. The other souls often moaned about his tough work schedule and spontaneous temper, but after living in the factory, I was overjoyed to have him as a master.

The baker resided in a two story wooden townhouse like everyone else on that street. It was painted bright blue with a red tiled roof, looking outwards onto a dirt lane way. There was also a narrow balcony on the second floor. Always overflowing with colorful flowers which seemed to live forever.

The shop was located on the ground floor. There, we'd display various cakes behind sparkling glass cases. The baked goods were covered in cream, fruit, chocolate, or whatever was in fashion. All the townspeople loved to talk about fashion.

From eight in the morning the shop doors would open, and well dressed servants and souls would pour in. They'd haggle over the price of bread and desserts for their rich employers, and I'd watch the baker's other souls smile and serve them with confidence that I was envious of. Even after years in the bakery, I was still too nervous to engage in conversation with a single customer.

The best I could do was a nod to my master, or a small "hello" to my fellow souls, but they'd all long given up on getting to know me. They found me quiet, weird, and only acknowledged my existence if they absolutely had to.

I liked it that way. Friends were just a nuisance who'd betray me in the end.

"Cheesecake!" called the baker one day as he furiously kneaded bread dough in the kitchen. Cheesecake was the ridiculous name he gave me, and I had no right to complain. "Get those damn rolls out of the oven already, and start chopping fruit. That pompous lord's servant is already here, and the last thing I need is that smug bastard telling half the town that the tarts were late!"

With a nod I went to the wood fire oven, then pulled the scorching tray of bread rolls out with my bare hand. I then carefully turned to lay them down on a bench, making sure not to drop a single roll, when there was an explosion from the second floor. The building violently shook back and forth for one moment. Sending customers screaming and metal pans clanging to the floor. Cracks formed in the ceiling and small flakes of paint floated through the air.

I tripped and almost dropped the tray, but quickly regained my balance and gripped onto it with all my might.

"Not again!" roared the baker and he furiously threw his flour covered hands into the air. "Are you trying to bloody ruin me, boy!" He fetched a straw broom from the corner and continuously shoved it against the ceiling. "Stupid! Bloody! Frickin' magic! I curse the day that I let you go to that damn school! I didn't spend my life slaving away here just to watch you ruin it all! Do you hear me!"

There was an angry yell in response from the second floor, but it was too muffled to understand.

The baker had one son who was a magical scholar. A pudgy man in his mid twenties with short blonde curly hair, dark brown eyes, and a smug grin which appeared whenever he mastered a new spell.

Despite his haughty attitude, the young master failed to test into a more prestigious school, and spent years floating aimlessly through life. He refused to participate in his father's work, and instead slept through most of the day and spent his evenings studying spells. I would often walk past his room to see the young man in his pajamas. Bent over a desk and pulling on his hair in frustration because a certain incantation refused to work.

Of course I was curious about his actions, but I never had the courage to stop and watch. I was far too obsessed with keeping myself out of trouble and being an obedient soul. I did an excellent job at it too, until my perfect record came to an end one sunny afternoon.

I was tidying the young master's room, just like I had a hundred times before. Clothes, books, and half eaten plates of food were scattered across the furniture and floor. We were always there to clean up, so the young man would carelessly pull things from the cupboards and toss them across the room.

I sighed and picked up a handful of battered books and returned them to the shelf. Arranging them back into alphabetical order like the young master wished. I could tell from the covers that they were all fantasy epics and passionate love stories, like the young man preferred to live in a magical world than be the son of a mediocre baker.

I then went to the desk and began collecting the dirty plates and cups that had piled up over the day, stacking them neatly on top of each other.

But then I caught site of the textbook lying open beside them.

The book was too large for me to pick up with one hand. It was at least several inches thick with the name of some magic school neatly stamped at the top of every page.

I told myself not to read it.

Doing such a thing would only lead to pointless daydreams and disappointment, but the book was right there before me, and for one short moment I felt a glimmer of my old self.

I hesitantly put down the plates and examined the open page. Gently running my fingers over the printed words as I muttered them out loud.

It was an incantation on how to make flowers appear from thin air. All it needed was a chant, a few twists of the wrist, and apparently any low level magic user could do it.

Without stopping to consider the consequences, I stretched out my right hand and quietly mumbled the words while moving my wrist. Desperately wishing that a flower would suddenly materialize like the picture, but of course nothing happened.

I tried it again. Pouring every ounce of hope I possessed into that small movement and waited, but still nothing. I then stood there glaring at my empty palm like my stare alone could make it work.

"What are you doing?'

I jumped in horror and fell back against the desk in shock.

Standing in the doorway was the young master. Dressed in a blue bathrobe while lethargically leaning against the wall. His arms crossed over his chest as he looked on with amusement. I had no idea how much he saw.

I froze.

I'd been caught doing something that I wasn't supposed to.

My mind went blank.

"Wait. Don't tell me that you were actually." The young master's mouth broke into a smile. "Attempting to do magic?"

I was too afraid to say anything, but the look on my face must have been enough to give me away.

He let out a laugh so loud that it echoed throughout the room. "A soul, doing magic!" He bent over to catch his breath. "That's the most hilarious thing I've seen in years! Did you actually think that it would work? That flowers would suddenly spring from your hands? Even the real losers in my class knew that a soul can't channel magic! I guess it's true what they say. Only a real dumbass would ever sell their soul."

I just stood there and watched. Wishing that I could disappear into thin air.

Once he finished laughing, the young master wiped the tears from his eyes and confidently strode across the room.

I averted my gaze to the floor and flinched out of habit. I was certain that he'd lash out and hit me, but he instead slammed the magic textbook with a thud.

The young man sighed and examined my terrified face, most probably basking in my fear.

"Has anyone told you that there are two types of beings in this world," he lectured like I was a disobedient child. "Real living people like me, and then dead ghosts like you. Those who are privileged like I am, have the freedom to go anywhere or do whatever they want. I can be a scholar, or a king, or master a thousand spells. My life is full of endless possibilities. Whereas you." His face broke into that smug grin. "Your turn to live is already over. Sinners like you are only allowed to exist in the Underworld so that you can serve living people like me. Otherwise you wouldn't even be here. If souls disobey their masters or do things they aren't supposed to, then they become useless in this place. Useless things get thrown away or destroyed. Do you get what I'm saying, weirdo?"

He impatiently glared at me like he was waiting for an answer, but the thought of having to speak caused me to drown in anxiety and fear. I attempted to open my mouth, but it refused to move.

"Hey! I asked you a question!" he growled, but of course I didn't reply.

The young master slapped his hand across my face in frustration. It was so quick that I didn't see it coming, but he used too much force and his fingers easily passed through my head like I was made of smoke.

His eyes widened in surprise for one moment, like he'd never hit a soul before, but then his face screwed up in rage.

"Well!" the young man angrily spat and jabbed his finger at my chest because the conversation wouldn't go the way that he wanted. "You should know that no matter how special you think you are, or whatever you do! You'll never be anything more than a dumb soul slave, so it's pointless to even try being anything else!"

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