The hospital room was dark and dimly lit, the only source of light being the steadily beeping machines that helped her live. The lone occupant of the room stirred from her fitful sleep. Her dreams, which had all begun beautiful and carefree, had eventually ended up as dark and nightmarish as her present. Her skeletal body shone with a glistening sheen of cold sweat. She gave an agonized start, and opened her eyes as wide as she could. It had only been a nightmare, just another nightmare. They had been plaguing her ever since she had awoken in the cold hospital bed, lying on stiffly starched sheets, with the life-support machines telling her just how narrowly she had escaped death. She lay in the white hospital bed, a pale, wheezing wisp of a girl. Her hair was thin and lackluster, a shadow of her once vibrant waterfall of hair, and her pale green eyes, eyes that used to shine with the luminous light of the moon itself, had lost their sparkle. Beneath the translucent layer of silken skin, one could see the intricate network of veins and capillaries that was all the life left in her.
A cough tickled the back of her throat and she reached for the glass of water by the side of her bed, only to find it empty, again. How she kept finishing the water in it was beyond her. Most of the time, she couldn't even remember having drunk more than a sip, which was all she could down, before the familiar gagging sensation overwhelmed her. The large glass pitcher half-filled with clear, sparkling water lay beside the empty glass. She had once been a strong girl raised in a famous vineyard and made from the time she could walk, to help out. But now, and she laughed hoarsely from the irony, she could scarcely lift her hand, let alone a half-full pitcher of water or a bushel full of prize wine grapes.
Her hands struggled to gasp the little button that would alert a nurse of her discomfort. With a small grunt of pain, she grabbed the thin, white cable and dragged it nearer to her. She pressed the little button that jutted out, just begging to be pressed, and patiently waited for a nurse to enter her room. She waited a minute or so and, when nobody came to check on her, pressed it again, more forcefully this time. She would have pressed it a third had the door not opened and someone not stepped in.
A short little boy with tousled black hair walked into the dimly lit room, a cheerful smile on his face. He could not have been more than eight or nine years of age and was dressed in an azure blue bodysuit. A weird armor-like breastplate covered most of his chest, small as it was, and a sky blue sash was tied around his slender waist, knotted neatly at on side. He saw the confusion on her pain-weary face and his smile grew wider.
"You won't live much longer, you know." He said casually, sounding more as if he were discussing the weather. "In fact," he continued, almost off-handedly, "I'm surprised you've lived this long. Most people would've died within a day if they had been subjected to what you had." His wide, childishly innocent grin turned mocking as he recalled exactly how she had come close to being mauled to death by a wolf, and not just any wolf, but one of the Beastmaster's that had accidentally wandered oh-so-off-course.
She said nothing, not that he had expected her to anyway, and her mouth hung open like a gaping goldfish. In all truth, half-alive as she was, she looked profoundly amusing. He was relishing the delicious despair and apprehension that emanated from her, then, he remembered the reason for his visit.
"I've noticed you, known you from the day you were born." He waited for a reaction from her. He was about to give up and continue, when a soft, wavering voice stopped him.
"How can that be possible? I'm older than you, and you're just a little boy."
He had expected exactly that from her. Humans…they were just too predictable, too boring by his standards. Well, at least most of them were… He laughed, a strange, eerie sound that seemed to bounce off the walls of the room and vibrate through her body. She was astounded by the fact that he appeared to be making so much noise, and yet, no one was checking in on her. His odd laughter rang out for several seconds more, before he ceased. And even so, it seemed to linger in the air, and echoing mockery of her frail state.
"Looks can be very deceiving…" He put a sweet, charming grin that, were it not for the fact that it almost instantaneously turned feral, reminded her of the child angels her mother had once told her about.
"Wh-who are you?" She whispered, hating how her voice trembled with unspoken fear.
He drank in the waves of trepidation that flowed from her in a swift, steady stream. It was so rich and heady he nearly purred like a kitten sated with a bowl of thick cream put in front of it. His luminous moon-washed eyes frosted over with a hunger that was just beginning to be fed. His eyes glowed a pale cyan as he lapped up the smooth silky tendrils of anxiety and nervousness.
She watched, a chill of foreboding freezing her spine, as he stood there, that primal grin on his face and his eyes glowing like electric blue coals. He was the strangest, and most certainly the scariest, child she had ever seen. In his current state, he barely even looked human. And then memories of childhood stories about mazoku and how some hid under your bed if you cluttered up the space beneath it, how some lurked in dark cupboards, waiting to be set free, how they waited in shadowy corners to pounce on you and devour you, surfaced. As a little girl, she had believed them as readily as she had believed in the bogeyman, and birthday wishes, and those made upon a shooting star. As an adolescent, she had thought them legends, a myth that might have existed several eons ago, when the world was still fresh and molten. Then as a teen, studying the spiritual art of magic, she had believed in them again.
"You-you're not human. You're a mazoku." She stammered, amazed that sound had come out of her shivering form.
At once, he snapped out of whatever trance he had been in. The glow faded into nothing and his eyes snapped back into focus, but the evil smirk on his face remained. For a long time, he did not reply. But when he finally did, his voice was a silky purr, deadly in its softness.
"Who else did you expect? The devil? The grim reaper in his hooded black cloak and long, sharp scythe?" He watched in sheer amusement as her eyes widened and her pupils dilated out of the reflex fight-or-flight stimulus. "Oh no, the grim reaper has no cloak and owns no scythe, and the devil couldn't give two hoots about who lived and who died. Oh no." He paused to let his words sink in. "I'm not the devil, though that's in my opinion, neither am I the grim reaper, if he even exists. But either way, you are going to die, and very soon too. And when you die, do you know where it is that you pass on to? Do you want to know?"
She shook her head, terrified, not knowing that all she accomplished was to feed him, and strengthen him further.
"No matter. I'll tell you anyway. It's not truly hell, if you believe hell to be a fiery pit of lava with pitchforks poking and prodding at you. Oh, but don't be mistaken in believing that it is heaven, blissful and paved with gold. No. Where you go, where everybody goes to in the end, no matter how pious, how strongly devoted they are to the Dragon Gods, to the Demon Lord, to L-sama herself, is where I live." The child-like innocence in him, whatever little remained, departed, and a sliver of insanity slipped into those lunar orbs of his. "It's crystal sharp and simple. It's nothing fancy, not like the elaborate halls within the stone walls on Wolf Pack Isle. It's cold, but not frozen, like the bitter north. It's everything, and at the same time, nothing, light, glaring and bright, yet deep and pitch-black. An empty, eternal abyss that spans forever. That's where you'll be going very, very soon…"
She lay unmoving, frozen in shock, in total fear. "No…I don't believe you… My mother told me that all good people go to paradise…"
He let her cling on to those last shreds of comfort, before ripping them from her grasp.
"And would you like to hear her new and edited views of where dead people go to?" He sneered.
She remained motionless, her eyes glazed over. Silently, mentally, she made her desperate pleas. I don't want to go there…I don't want to go there…
As if reading her mind, he walked slowly towards her until he stood by her bedside. She cringed at his nearness and flinched openly at his words.
"But you don't have to go there…no, you can escape all that. It's a relief from your impending death, and pretty permanent. It all sounds very nice, doesn't it?" Out of thin air, he produced a sparkling amber orb. It was slightly larger than half and inch in diameter and its insides swirled with an almost liquid smoothness. Her breath caught at the sight of the gem. "Beautiful, isn't it? It used to shine and glow very brightly, almost like the sun. But then, recently, something happened, and the light died to what it is now."
He held it suspended over his hand, and brought it nearer, where she could get a better glimpse of it. With his free hand, he touched one of the electrodes attached to her temple and yanked it off, then, he repeated the process with the one on the other side. She quivered at his trance-like voice. Not only was he inhuman, he was crazy too. He slowly slid out one of the needles in her arm that connected to a drip, careful to elicit a sharply drawn hiss of pain from her. She whimpered at the sudden chill and weakness that washed over her. Within seconds of him dropping the rubber tube and needle on the floor, a hairline crack appeared on the golden sphere. She writhed at the sudden bone-deep ache in her, her breaths coming in laboured gasps.
He took the orb between his thumb and index finger and lightly applied pressure. The crack lengthened. Corresponding with the growing flaw, she screamed, a sound almost beautiful in its sharp crystalline purity. He eased his fingers and let the orb float once more above his open palm. Her screams gradually ceased and her tightly clenched fists relaxed slightly. She wheezed, a strange whistling rattle that sounded with each breath that she took.
"Meet your soul." He whispered into her ear.
She screamed again, not in pain, but in fear. She thrashed loudly against the bed, hoping, praying for someone to come in to check on her.
"There's no use. I killed them, killed them all with a flick of my wrist. Scream as loud as you want, but the dead can't hear you." He waved the cracked orb in front of her, taunting her with the cruel fact that her life, whatever little remained in the soulorb, was his to control. "Just hear me out first, how's that? I have an offer to make you."
She nodded slightly, not wanting to enrage him. Who was he, that life and death mattered so little? Who was he that he could kill with a flick of his wrist?
Pleased that he now had her attention, he removed the soulorb from her view. "Your life." Seeing the confusion that played on her face, he continued. "That's what you want, don't you? Or do you still want to die?"
"Good. I give you a long, long life, and you help me. Is that a fair trade? Your life, to do as you choose after you help me." He smiled, the villainous smirk gone, leaving only traces of angelic innocence. "And there's no catch either. Sounds really nice, doesn't it?"
"What do you want me to do?" She found it terrifying that she was even considering his offer, but the prospect of having her life back proved too enticing for her to refuse.
"So you'll do it?" Smiling even more widely at her shaky nods, he withdrew the damaged soulorb from the pocket in space where he had kept it, and brought it back in front of her. "Like I said before, this is your soul, every last bit of it. And if I were to break it… In simple terms, you'd die, but there would still be a small amount of energy left I your body. It's not much, but it's enough for me to resurrect you." He looked on, noticing with amusement at how she reached weakly for it. "Do you want it?" He placed it in her damp palm. "Here it is then." And punctuated his sentence with an effortless press.
The soulorb shattered into a million shimmering shards, glowing lights from the monitors and machinery reflected off the pieces of the broken orb, sending a brilliant array of colours spraying out. She gave a choked gasp as life was drained out of her. She struggled for breath, her arms and legs flaying about in asphyxiated agony. Her eyes, panicked, flashed with the acid betrayal that she felt, the same treachery that left him bright-eyed and satiated. At the same time, the monitors sparked to life, the machines sounding together in a cacophony of metallic beeps. Within seconds, her struggles ceased, though she gave several involuntary jerks, her muscles going into spasms. A long, continuous beep interrupted the stillness of the dead room, and he shut of the noisy machine. With a petite hand, he brushed the pale hair out of her wide, unstaring eyes.
"Don't worry, you'll live again soon." He slid his hand down her face and covered her eyes. He held her limp hand in his and then, began to fade into the darkness and shadows, taking her along with him.
This actually started out as an English assignment last year, but I ran out of inspiration within the first few paragraphs or so and dumped it into my computer. Then a couple of days ago, I was just randomly looking through all my saved trash and crap and I came across an article I couldn't identify. I opened it and voila. I edited it a lot, extended all existing paragraphs, added paragraphs etc… And there you have it… Believe it or not, I was crazy enough to try and use Phibby in my English essay last year…this was the result of it…and I didn't even complete it in the end…suffice to say, I didn't pass it up… I'd appreciate it if you could give me ideas for a title… After all, I can't keep calling this fic "A Fic Whose Title I Haven't Thought Of Yet"…right? And now, due to my ever-annoying brother, I shall stop.