Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Ch19



Story Summary




Long ago I sold my soul and doomed myself to an eternity in the Underworld. I was treated like a slave for centuries, but no more! I'll find a way out of this destiny or die trying!



Chapter: 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

Just as Oscar predicted, Escape never returned. I found only one guy who claimed to have seen him on the day he disappeared.

"That lunatic was heading towards the front lines," shrugged a soul whose uniform had become more holes than cloth. "Ranting and screaming at people to let him through. But after that... nothing."

"So you saw him get destroyed?" I asked.

"Not exactly, but who can survive in a place like that," he laughed, then tossed another severed arm onto the bonfire.

I came to accept that perhaps Oscar was right and Escape had been destroyed. We were miles from civilization after all. There was nowhere to run.

Things had been almost tolerable when I had friends by my side, but without them, there was nothing to distract me from the horrors of war.

I gradually withdrew within myself (like I had so many times before) and became just another washed out ghost who roamed that depressing desert. Waiting for my end to come like it had to everyone else who I'd cared about.

"Hey, he's watching us again," hissed one young foot soldier to his friend. Subtly tilting his head in my direction as they continued to spar.

I was sitting in the sand by an open square. Knees drawn up to my chest. Lethargically watching on without bothering to be subtle.

The friend bit his lip, then quickly turned away like I also uneased him. "Don't let one creepy soul distract you," he snapped, then lunged at the other guy. "Whatever you do, don't take your eyes off the enemy!"

There were dozens of soldiers practicing around them. Most had arrived a day earlier. Awkwardly swinging their swords like they'd never entered a battle.

Almost all the recruits I saw when I first got there were dead. The ones who remained had lost all their optimism. Weeks earlier they'd laughed and bragged about changing the Underworld. But as time passed, their faces became grim and lifeless. Like they'd seen and done too much to ever go back.

Sometimes I found people I knew, in the faces of those mortals or souls. Searching for some hint of familiarity amongst all the strangers.

"Alphonse?" I said to one large soul who resembled my old friend. His size and hair were identical, but when he turned to face me I was looking at a stranger.

"I'm sorry," I muttered with my head down and eyes fixed on the sand by his feet. "I thought that you were someone else."

"Again!" he cried. "How many times are you gonna keep doing that?"

"I'm sorry! It won't happen agai-"

"Creep," he spat and shoved me to the ground.

I just sat there. Feeling nothing but shame for my stupid mistakes, but it wouldn't be the last time.

My feelings were insignificant. Nobody cared. To the mortals in charge we were nothing more than a number. My tasks didn't change and I was sent to clean up the battlefield alone as the last remaining member of my group. It was tough on my own, and everything which used to seem easy suddenly took five times longer.

Then one day I found him.

The short commander who I thought would never lose.

My new idol was at the bottom of a small crater with his eyes wide open, several holes in his stomach, and limbs contorted at unnatural angles.

Surrounding him were the bodies of twenty Heavenly soldiers. He at least put of a decent fight before they ended his life.

I'd thought that he was different. That the commander could beat anyone and survive until the end, but he lay there defeated like everyone else who I'd ever believed in.

"Crap," I hissed and looked away. Trying to convince myself that he didn't matter.

I took hold of the closest body, a large demon twice my size. I fruitlessly pulled at his feet and attempted to shoulder his weight, but as much as I struggled, it was impossible to get him into the cart.

I screamed in frustration and let him fall to the ground. Kicking the body once before collapsing onto the bloody sand. Allowing myself to give into the despair that I'd tried so hard to fight.

I was alone.

I was so bloody alone.

"Need help?" said a friendly voice and a ghostly hand took hold of the corpse's' legs.

I removed my hands from my face and looked up to examine the new arrival.

It was Spots.

He was covered in sand, wearing the same dusty uniform as myself, but there was no doubt that it was the soul who stood beside Foreman and helped berate me.

Without thinking, I jumped to my feet and violently shoved Spots to the ground. Furiously grabbing anything that I could get my hands on. Rocks, debris, body parts, and began throwing them at the bastard in a sad attempt to bury him.

"Wow, wow, wow." Spots quickly unburied himself and backed away. "There's no need for that." He grabbed hold of his shirt and pointed to the number stamped across it. "I'm not here to hurt you! I'm B147 now! We're both on the same side, right?"

I stared at him while wondering if it was all just a new mind game he'd created to hurt me, but there was no one else around and I needed his help.

The rock dropped from my hands. I then grabbed the body's shoulders and Spots grabbed the legs.

"Funny, right?" said Spots. "The two of us meeting again after all these years, and in a place like this. I never thought I'd see your sorry arse again Gir- I mean..A272," he said while reading the number painted across my chest. "What a story this will make."

With our combined strength we managed to pull the body into the cart, then moved to grab another.

"So, where you been all these years?" he asked, but I ignored him. "Don't want to talk then." He smiled. "I respect that. I mean, you never were a big talker back then. Unlike that friend of yours. Didn't she have a mouth that never stopped once it got started."

I let the body drop from my hands. "How could you do it!" I snapped. "How could you worship an arsehole like Foreman?"

Spots looked right at me. He was quiet for a moment, as though carefully crafting the right answer. "It wasn't like I... or any one of us... really wanted to be like that. Deep down anyway. But we didn't have a choice. It was either eat or be eaten in that place."

"What sort of crap is that! You all had a choice!"

"And end up as one of that guy's victims? Are you insane?"

"You never had to go that far! It was like you were all... enjoying yourselves!"

"Ah, perhaps, we did a little." He nervously scratched his head, then jumped when he noticed the rage in my eyes. "But only because the pain doesn't feel as bad when you're inflicting it on someone else."

"That's a weak excuse!"

"Maybe, but it's the only one I've got." He dragged the body back towards the cart. "You know that I never wanted things to end so badly for you, right? A milder punishment would have been enough, but Foreman was so insistent. He always loved obliterating anyone who tried to challenge him. He'd never stop until he'd crushed every ounce of your free will."

"And you did nothing to stop him."

"And what should I have done? If I got in his way, then it would have been me instead. That's how that place worked. Everyone knew that, including your friend. How come you're the only guy who refuses to get it?"

I bit my lip. I couldn't deny that he wasn't wrong, but I didn't want to admit it.

"That guy, Foreman," said Spots. He let out an exasperated sigh. "Wasn't so evil once you really got to know him."

"Whatever," I bitterly muttered.

"He was just like the rest of us, you know? Just wanted to be something more than a soul slave, but couldn't. So he became something stuck between us and those brothers. Perhaps all the pressure changed him into that monster."

"I met him again." I had no intention of telling anyone of our meeting, but the words suddenly slipped out. "Years after the factory."

"Who?"

"Foreman."

"And?"

"He was broken."

"That's no surprise," Spots laughed without a hint of remorse.

"I thought he was your friend."

"I said that he wasn't so bad. That doesn't mean that I actually cared about the bastard."

Spots' eyes were so dead cold that I knew he couldn't be lying.

"Where did you go?" I picked up the body's shoulders and helped him lift it into the cart. "After they sold you."

"Became king of a small country and married thirty wives. Had a great time too, until I lost it all in a rigged game of cards. Now I'm working here to pay back my debts and exact my revenge."

"Really?"

"Of course not!" Spots scoffed. "What do you think happened to me?"

I thought of asking, but there was no need. His real story was no different from any other soul.

We worked together in silence and soon filled the cart with body parts. I should have returned to the bonfire, but I couldn't stand the place where Oscar was murdered. Instead I sat on the edge of the crater and watched the latest battle. Bright flashes of light and explosions lit up the sky in the distance. It would have been beautiful, if it didn't mean the death of thousands.

I expected Spots to soon disappear, but he sighed and sat down beside me. Occupying the same place not as enemies, but equals.

"Hey, Spots."

"What?"

"Can you tell me one of your stories about life on Earth?"

"Alright." Spots tapped his fingers against his knees. "There is one story that I've been dying to tell." He paused for a moment as though collecting his thoughts. "Once, long long ago, there was a mortal man who lived in a small village in a tiny hut. Inside that hut was also a beautiful woman and four small children."

"So they were a family?"

"Maybe, but they were too poor to care about such things. They had nothing, and then one day the food ran out. The children complained of their hunger, so the man set out to find something to eat. He walked for hours until he encountered a magician on the side of the road. A man in a gray suit who could make seeds sprout into flowers in the palm of his hand."

"Like magic?"

"Exactly like magic. Hungry my friend, that man said with a large smile. Fear not, because I can get you anything that you possibly desire. Just sign here on this dotted line and it will be yours. Does that sound familiar, soul number A272?"

"No."

"Well it should." Spots winked. "The man knew not to trust men who promised impossible things, but it was either make a deal with a devil or watch everyone starve." There was a hint of bitterness in his voice. "The man signed the contract, and in exchange the magician handed over a large bag of seeds. No different from any that he'd seen before, but they immediately turned into giant turnips once he returned home. How wonderful! The children cried. Now we can eat for weeks."

I laughed at the stupidity of his words, but Spots ignored me and continued.

"Their joy brought warmth to his heart, and the man went to bed that evening knowing that all was well. But once he fell asleep, he never woke up in that world again. And that, soul number A272." His eyes looked directly into mine. "Is the only memory I have that the Soul Market couldn't erase."

The laughter died in my throat. I silently sat there and tried to process his words. Searching his face for any hint of deception. I had long worked out that Spots' stories were blatant lies, but I found myself wishing that at least that one was real.

"How about you?" Spots asked. "Do you remember anything from Earth?"

"No."

"Not even a little?"

"There's nothing."

"Do you ever want to know who you were back then?"

I wasn't sure how to answer, so I didn't.

I'd spent decades wondering what sort of person I could have been, but I had to accept that my memories were gone.

"Spots, do you know where we go after this world?"

"It depends who you ask." He shrugged. "Some believe that we simply disappear from existence, others believe that there are other worlds beyond this one. There are some people out there who think that you can even be reborn as someone else. As stupid as that sounds."

"Do you think I'll remember my mortal life." I thought of the way Oscar screamed as he was destroyed. "When they erase me from this place?"

"Who knows," Spots laughed. "No souls ever come back to tell the story, do they?"

I stood up, brushed the dirt from my uniform, and combed my fingers through my hair. Gathering all my remaining courage.

"Well, I think it's time to find out."

Spots sat there with his eyes wide in surprise. "Just because you leave this world, doesn't mean that the other side will be any better."

"I know that."

"Then stay."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

I sighed. "I'm so tired, Spots."

"Of what?"

"Everything. Being here. Having to do whatever they want. Watching everyone I like go, until I'm always alone. I can't do it anymore."

It was then that I was hit by a brilliant idea.

My hand extended out towards him. "You can come too. If you want."

Spots silently stared at my palm for a moment, as though seriously considering my offer, but then looked away and yawned. "Thanks, but no thanks. I haven't given up yet. I know that there's gotta be at least one good person out there waiting for me. I'm never gonna meet them if I die here."

"Suit yourself," I muttered and took a step forward.

"You never know! There could be a cute immortal out there waiting for you too."

"I doubt it."

"Or a nice mistress who just wants a pet?"

"You're just talking crap, like always."

"Send my regards to the others if you find them on the other side!" he called out as I walked away.

I gave a small wave goodbye as I walked towards the battle in the distance. Clambering over dunes, body parts, and broken armor.

I thought I'd be afraid, but I felt surprisingly calm. Like the terrible fate I was trapped within could finally come to an end.

Large groups of soldiers rushed towards the fighting. None who paid any attention to someone like me. But all souls stopped before getting too close to the battle. The enemy could destroy us in a second, so it was a waste of resources to send us out to fight.

"Hey! What're you doin!" hissed one tired soul pushing a smashed cannon. "You shouldn't be out here!"

I ignored him and continued walking forward.

"Hey!" he cried out and lunged towards me, but was stopped by another soul who held him back.

"Just let him go," she said, and I could tell from her eyes that she understood my intentions.

I whispered a small "thank you" and dashed forward. Determined to get to the front before anyone else got in my way.

And then the sound hit me.

The explosion of cannons.

The thunder of magic spells.

The agonized screams of the dying around me.

I walked through a field of bodies with several magic users in the center. Desperately trying their best to save the soldiers still breathing.

"You have to stay still!" cried a teenage girl in a long red cloak. Blood covering her hands. Short brown hair plastered to her forehead with sweat.

She removed a shard of steel from a bleeding soldier's abdomen. The man screamed in pain, but then became quiet when she held a glowing crystal up to the wound to heal.

"What are you doing!" cried another healer covered in blood. He grabbed her arm and ripped the girl away from the dying man. "They're coming this way! We have to move!"

"But I'm not finished!" she screamed back.

"There's no time!"

"But he'll die!"

"We'll all die if we don't move now!"

The girl seemed torn between staying to save the soldier, or running for her life, but she allowed the other healer to drag her away as tears poured down her face.

I clambered over a pile of bodies and tumbled down the other side. I pulled myself to my feet to find a thousand soldiers standing in formation before me. All neatly arranged into perfect lines. The weak and disposable at the front and the rich officers towards the back. There were men, women, and demons. Some over two meters tall. Willing to throw their lives away for a king who didn't give a damn about them.

"Advance!" cried a short fat officer perched on a small ladder. He shoved one chubby finger into the distance and they began to march forward.

"Long live the Underworld!" they chanted together. Weapons held high and cannons pointed towards the sky.

With a flash of light, and high pitched wails, hundreds upon hundreds of Heavenly soldiers emerged from behind the clouds. Clad head to foot in bronze armor or pure white silk. Transparent wings extended as they hurled towards us.

The two forces met in the middle. Heaven and Hell. No words or reason exchanged between them. Only weapons and violent spells.

The ground was hit by savage explosions. Ripping soldiers to pieces, and leaving craters the size of houses. In return, the Underworld fired bright beams of magic upwards. Vaporizing wings and sending holy warriors plummeting to the ground.

I watched one soldier, dressed head to foot in a white robe, release a spell to break his fall, pull a sword from his back, and effortlessly lop a demon's head clean off.

His fellow comrades weren't so lucky. I ducked as one body went flying over my head and crashed into the sand behind me. It lay there motionless. Difficult to tell if he was alive or dead.

I summoned my courage, pulled myself to my feet, and walked towards the fighting. Arms extended outwards and eyes fixed on the sky. Gladly welcoming them to obliterate me with their holy magic.

Mortals and demons went flying in and out of my vision, and the very ground seemed to shift under my feet. I glanced down to find that my body was splattered with blood, without any idea how it got there.

Finally one soldier descended towards me from the sky with his mouth wide open. Frantically screaming words which couldn't be heard over the roar of battle.

I thought that would be it.

That he had come to destroy me, and I would be forever free from Hell, but he instead lunged at a demon before me and tackled him to the ground.

They rolled back together, knocking me off my feet. Making it impossible to run from what soon followed.

The heavenly soldier glowed a brilliant shade of yellow, then exploded in a giant burst of light. Destroying everything around them with a deafening roar.

When the dust cleared, all that was left was a giant crater where dozens of men once stood.

And me.

Like it was all one big cruel joke. No matter the scale of death and destruction, I would always pull through. As though Hell refused to let me go.

I lay flat on my back in the center of that hole. Watching the Angel Forces circle the sky above me like vultures. Naively thinking that there was still a chance they'd notice one stray soul.

But they didn't.

They were more than glad to destroy everyone I liked, but didn't have the time or energy to end me as well.

"I'm right here!" I rasped and extended one hand towards them. Trying my best to get closer, but my lower body refused to move.

A piece of iron cannon had rolled over my legs and was pinning me down.

It was then that one Heavenly soldier crashed to the ground near my head. The bronze armor taking the brunt of his fall.

He laid still for a moment, then moaned and rolled over. Letting out a string of curses which weren't unfamiliar in the Underworld. He uneasily pulled himself to his feet. Swaying from side to side like a drunk man.

"Hey!" I called out.

His sea blue eyes made contact with mine for one moment.

But then his head dropped from his shoulders and rolled to the ground.

Behind him stood an Underworld soldier with a long silver sword in her hands. She spun on her feet to defend herself from behind, and the headless soldier's body collapsed on top of mine.

I struggled to push him away, but then another body fell on top of the corpse. The soldier who'd just killed him. Dark eyes vacant as blood dripped from her mouth. Her lower body missing like it'd been blown clear off.

Another corpse fell on top of her, and then another after that. Bodies collapsed and rolled into that hole like broken dolls. Some screaming out in agony before eventually going quiet.

There was an explosion nearby. Spraying me with sand, shrapnel, and human remains. Again and again until that hole became a grave.

The sounds of battle grew more and more distant.

No matter how much I screamed, no one could hear.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I couldn't even succeed at something as simple as dying. The best I could do was to lie there and pretend to be another corpse.

It'll be easy, I thought as I closed my eyes to sleep. There's no way that anyone will find me down here.



I spent days floating in and out of consciousness. Spending what waking time I had in my own fantasy world. Oscar and Escape were there, along with my old friends and masters. In my new world we were all equals and nobody died. We'd be together forever and no one would leave me.

"Hey! How far down is this arsehole!" bellowed the deep voice that awoke me.

"Should hit him soon!" cried another.

The rotting corpses above me shifted and blazing sunlight entered my dark world. My eyes adjusted to see several demons pulling away the dirt and bodies.

A green demon grabbed my arm, ripped me to my feet, and dragged me out of the hole.

All that awaited was a silent world. The battle was long over. The ground littered with bodies. Some of which appeared to have been there for weeks.

I looked around for any signs of life, but the bloody dunes were still. The only movement was from the demons who disturbed my solitude, and a large cage of souls attached to a horse and cart.

One demon ripped a bloody jacket off a nearby corpse, then threw it over my shoulders to cover my exposed body.

I scanned the skyline for the latest battle, but there was no fighting in sight.

"Where are the frontlines?"

A demon laughed. "There are no frontlines."

"What do you mean?" I said a little too bluntly, and the demon bit his lip. I flinched out of habit, then expected him to whack me in the face.

"The war's over, kid," answered another demon from behind him. A large red muscular guy dressed in a sleeveless black shirt. He calmly sat down on the remains of a canon and began to smoke. "Those flying bastards buggered off to where they came from."

"So we won?" I asked.

"Nobody really wins in the end, kid." He solemnly stared out at the wasteland of death. "Winning ain't gonna bring any of these guys back."



The cart rocked as we began the long trip back to the cities. I watched the battlefield grow distant through the bars of the cage. It didn't feel like much time had passed since I first arrived. Back then Oscar, Escape, Death Guy and I, were all stuffed together in a similar cart. Piled one on top of each other with no room to move. Screaming and arguing for hours until they finally put us to work. Naively thinking that we could stick together and remain in one piece.

But now they were gone forever and I was the only one left.

I glanced around the cage at the other souls who'd survived the war. Like me, they were covered in dirt, blood, ash, and what little remained of their uniforms. Nobody spoke. Like they too dreaded what awaited them when we returned to civilization.

I wiped the grime from my face with the dead soldier's jacket.

Somewhere amongst that death and destruction I came to a decision.

I may have been robbed of my death, but I swore to never live the way I had before.

I wouldn't be just another stupid soul who passively accepted their fate.

No. This time I would be the one in control.

No matter what it took.




Chapter: 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