Published March 22, 2018 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 49


Story: 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.




We sat together in silence for what felt like hours. I entertained myself by watching the flickering embers of the dying fire. Trying my best to ignore the blood flowing from his wounds. Occasionally I would look up to see my prisoner examining the room. No doubt creating an escape plan for the moment I let my guard down.

"I wonder what will kill you first." I anxiously tapped my fingers. "The blood loss or the cold? You know, I could patch up your wounds in an instant. If you start telling the truth."

"I told you the bloody truth," the demon hissed back. Breathing more strained than before.

"You...told..me..nothing." I made sure to coldly emphasize each word.

The demon weakly laughed, then flinched from the pain. "You know that more are coming, right? If you've got half a brain, you'll run while you still have the chance."

"And allow yourself to magic your way out of this one?" Did he think I was an idiot? "Forget it. And besides, I have a feeling that it'll be days before your friends show up. If you even contacted them at all."

The demon growled like I'd caught him out on his lie. "You know this will never stop, right?" he spat. "They'll just keep sending more of us until you're begging us to take you back. Just give up already, soul!"

"Someone before you said that too." I smiled. "Just before I stabbed him in the throat." There seemed no need to mention that I did it only to defend myself.

"You're sick!"



"You can thank all your little friends for that. Anyone would go insane after what you bastards put me through."

"So you think that you're some kind of victim now?" The demon's face contorted in anger. "That you were mistreated or something?"

"No one in Hell could deserve what happened to me."

"What's your problem, soul? You're the one who agreed."

"It shouldn't count if I can't remember!" Why couldn't any of those bastards understand? " You can't talk like I'm the same person who I was back on Earth."

"No, you're wrong," the demon hissed. Eyes angrily glaring right into mine. "You're just like them. They might insist on calling you souls, but all I see is another rotten human who can't take being on the other end of the shit stick."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"My kind used to rule the Underworld, you know," the demon lectured. "Occasionally bringing in corrupt humans from Earth. But all that changed when that bastard Azazel descended from Heaven. Now our once mighty race has been reduced to this. A bunch of fricken dogs. Barely better off than you stupid souls."

"Oh, what a tragedy," I breathed sarcastically.

"You think your life was bad?" The demon was on a role. "I was taken from my homeland before I could even walk. Shoved into a bloody institution where they taught us to be like you. They filled our heads full of false promises. Of how if we worked hard and did what you wanted, then they'd somehow treat us like one of your own. But no matter how hard I work, people just take one look at my face and see me as below human. So don't you dare lecture me on how hard your pathetic life was, dead human, because you don't know shit."

It was a nice speech. If I'd heard it two centuries earlier I may have even given a damn. But all I could think about was how to use his own words against him.

"If you hate humans so much, then why are you trying so hard to hide their secrets?" I asked.



"Because I despise you more than them," the demon spat back.

"Ah, of course."

"Aren't you going to ask why?"

"No," I laughed. "I think it's quite obvious."

"No," he hissed. "I can tell that you have no idea of the suffering we went through, just to bring back your sorry arse. Four of us set out that day, but now I'm the only one left."

"Four?" I had inevitably caused the death of one, but I had no idea about the other two.

"We lost one to the cold, then another guy fell. Perkins….he was the one who insisted we keep going. He had a young family to feed, and was afraid of losing his job. I'm sure you remember him, he's the one who you murdered."

Those words were like a knife through the gut, but I couldn't let the demon know. I kept my eyes straight ahead and expression as passive as possible. "Like my fate would be any better, if you had won."

"But I can help you too!"

"How?"

"If I plead for your insanity, then maybe they'll destroy you." The demon's eyes shined with desperation. "That's what every soul wants in the end, right?"

He made it sound nice enough, but there was no way that the Soul Market would ever make it that easy. Any end they had planned out for me, would surely be as drawn out and agonizing as possible.

"Nice try," I muttered. "That may have worked, if you'd asked me centuries ago."

"And would that be before or after you were bought by Lynch Textiles?"

I was taken back. Shocked that he knew something so personal, but it shouldn't have been a surprise. I could imagine them all in some dusty office, laughing over my pathetic existence before they set out. It was unfair that my time was an open book for them to pick apart, when I knew nothing of theirs.

"I was stationed in Azaelia once," the demon continued once it was obvious that I had no witty comebacks. "And people still talk about him. The Butcher of Azaelia Town. But you'd know all about that, wouldn't you?"

I clenched my fist, but kept my face neutral, hoping that he'd drop it if he saw that I didn't care.

"How many was it?" the demon asked. "Thirty? Fifty? Perhaps even one hundred? All under the eyes of the military and they didn't do a thing. I heard that he cut them up and stashed the remains in the factory basement. Even if they weren't quite dead yet. I wanted to ask if you ever saw him do it."

"Only an idiot would believe such stupid rumors," I hissed. But I felt it, memories that I'd tried so hard to suppress.

I could suddenly see it within my mind. A girl no older than fifteen, desperately holding onto my arm in Master David's room. "Please," she begged. "You have to help me."

I knew what would become of her, but no matter how much empathy I felt, my body refused to move. I was so damaged and broken that the mere thought of going against my master's wishes froze me with fear.

"Just do it," Foreman hissed from behind me. His face screwed up in disgust, like even he couldn't stand the things that Master David did. "Things are easier if you just do what he wants."

"Did he use you as practice?" asked the blue demon. "Is that how you became so fucked up in the head?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I coldly snapped back.

"No, I think you do." The demon looked me straight in the eyes as though he could see through to my mind. "I can tell from your face that you saw it. That explains a lot."

"Whatever," I muttered.

"We all heard things about you, even before you pulled this petty escape attempt. A lord in the south ordered twenty souls to be buried together with him when he died, and just like he wanted, his family shoved all their souls into that shithole with the dead guy. The only thing was, they never approved it with us first. Our agents broke open the tomb months later to find that all the souls had gone mad. All of them, except you."

"They were weak."

"No." The demon shook his head. "I don't think that's it. I think that you were already so fucked up that something like that couldn't leave a dent, you crazy piece of shit."

The demon then devolved into a long string of profanities which only came to an end when I kicked him in the shins.

"Fuck!" He swore in pain.

"Enough wasting time!" I snapped. "How did you know where I was?"

"I already told you-"

I was so tired of those words that I grabbed a coal from the fire and moved forward to shove it in his face.

"Wait! Wait!" cried the demon when the coal came dangerously close to his skin. "I'll tell you alright! I'll fucking tell you!"



I lowered the coal. "Now that's more like it."

The demon looked to the ground and chewed his lower lip. As though he'd kept the truth so closely guarded that he couldn't bring himself to voice it.

"Well?" I asked.

"Right pocket," he muttered.

"Huh?"

"It's in my right pocket."

"This better not be a trick."

I leaned forward and reached my hand in to the frayed jacket pocket, fingers wrapping around something small. I pulled my hand out to find a small shiny black orb, not much bigger than a coin.

"Now push down on both ends," the demon growled.

I did as he asked, but nothing happened.

"Harder!" he snapped.

I pressed down with all my strength. With a soft click, a thousand small beams of light suddenly exploded outwards from the orb. They sailed across the room, each one stopping in mid air, until I found myself surrounded by a million small twinkling stars.

"What is this?" I breathed in awe.

"A map of souls. All agents have one-"

I finished the sentence. "Making it impossible to ever get away."

I leaned in closer to examine a small cluster of lights by my head. Noticing for the first time that they weren't all standing still. They were too small to make out any individual features, but if I looked closely enough, I could recognize the vague outline of their bodies.

"That's the Western Region," said the demon. "You can tell by the shape of the groups."

"Where are the living people?"

"Who knows." The demon shrugged. "Anything with a body doesn't show up, but souls… you're all naked and exposed for everyone to see."

I gritted my teeth in frustration. It wasn't fair. How could we ever hope to challenge a system that had perfected our enslavement.

"Where are we now?" I asked.

"Hades Teeth is over there." He nodded towards the back of the room.

I moved passed the larger clusters to an area with fewer lights. "Here?"

"No, further, towards the wall. We're pretty far from everything, so you have to go back as far as you can." I did as he said. "Now, see that one little light in the corner? If you look real close, then you should see your ugly mug."

I moved closer, trying to find the tiny star, but I saw nothing.

"Are you sure?" I turned back to the demon and instantly realized my mistake.

His good hand was free from the constraints and extended out towards me as he rapidly chanted a spell. I dove to my left and only narrowly dodged a falling ceiling beam.

The demon scrunched up his face in irritation, but didn't waste a moment starting his next spell.

"No!" I screamed and dashed across the room towards him, lunging straight for his neck.

I wrapped my ghostly fingers around his jugular and the chair tipped over backwards, sending the demon's head straight into the floor.

"Don't you dare!" I screamed in a poor attempt to exert power, but the demon's eyes rolled back into his head and his body went limp. Either from the impact, or the other terrible things I did to him, I honestly didn't care.

But my fingers didn't let go. All I could think of was how easy it would be to end it there. Just squeeze a little harder and I'd have one less problem to worry about. Sure, it was unpleasant, but I'd already killed people before, so how would one more make a difference?

"Why should I give a damn about you?" I hissed in his face.



I sat back on a mound of snow and watched the cabin burn. It had served its purpose, so why shouldn't it go up in flames? It was better to erase any evidence that I'd ever existed at all.

I pulled the black orb from my pocket and the map of stars materialized into the air around me. I sat there examining them all, searching for my star until I located it in the distance. All alone with only itself to rely on. Just like the soul it belonged to.

It finally made sense. I ran to the most rural place I knew, but isolating myself had just made it easier for them to find me. Like a giant walking target. It would be better to return to the cities where one soul would be harder to distinguish amongst thousands.

But even then there would be no end. As long as the Soul Market could track me, they'd always be on my trail. I was destined to spend the rest of my existence running and fighting until either myself or the Underworld came to an end.

There are times when I wonder what things could have been like, echoed Josephine's words within my mind. If we were both born into the same world.

And for one moment I could see her there on the snow before me. Eyes full of love and admiration, but still longing for something that I couldn't give.

But there was a time long before then when someone else said a similar thing.

It was at a grand party in a large mansion, under the gleam of a thousand colorful lights. There, Alistair dragged me out onto the dance floor and crushed his lips against mine.

I was taken back. Bewildered. Confused as to how I should respond when somebody kissed me but I couldn't move.

"Oh, Ethan," my old master whispered in my ear so that only I could hear. "If you were alive, we could do so many more exciting things."

He laughed and then pulled away. Returning to his guests with vigor that only a living person could possess.

My fingers tightly squeezed around the black orb in my hand.

Yes, there was one way to hide my existence from the Soul Market. It seemed impossible, but that didn't mean that it couldn't be done.

"Hey," I said to the unconscious demon laying on the snow beside me. "I've made up my mind. I'm going to become human again."

The guy didn't flinch, but I was confident that he'd live. He had the heat from the burning shack to keep him alive after all.

I put the orb back in my pocket and stood to my feet. Ready to begin my descent down the mountain and towards a new goal.

But I wouldn't do it just for the sake of escaping the Soul Market or fulfilling the wishes of dead people.

For as long as I can remember.

All I ever dreamed of.

Was to become human again.


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