NOTE: Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage. But they are not only guardians of the dead, they also help with birth and introducing a newborn child's soul to the world. They are also mediators between the unconscious and conscious realms.

Isn't that quite the word? Psychopomp… Have fun spelling that!

Anyway, I have MOVED this story COMPLETELY to another site. You can find this STORY and all its subsequent UPDATES here, just remove the spaces and asterisks (*): h*t*t*p :/ archiveofourown. o*r*g /works/1143968/chapters/2315532

I have the same penname there as I do here: ParadiseAvenger

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They had been ordered silent, the ones who were hurt so badly that they were still screaming had been silenced by gags. In one case, a young man had had his tongue cut out. This place… it was pure hell. In fact, hell would have been a better place to be. The silence was thick with pain, but it was silent save a few moans and whimpers of pain and sorrow and fear that couldn't be held in. No one wanted to break the silence and had the wrath of the guards visited upon them.

Even so, cramped in the tiny cage, the girl couldn't help but moan in agony. How long had she been trapped in here? In this tiny cage, barely able to breathe, unable to even move or stretch? It felt like an eternity. She gripped the bars of the cage, her fingers skeleton thin. Then, she felt it. The jagged edge of the metal bars that would be her escape from this tiny cage and hellish life. She pressed her wrist too the sharp break in the metal, wondering how long it would take her to bleed to death.

It couldn't take more than a few hours, she decided, and no one would notice. There was already so much blood on the floor. The metal dug into her wrist, the cage so small that she hardly had room to move. Her legs were crushed against her body, her arms pressed in at her sides, feet and hands poking through the bars to supply just a little more space. Her neck ached from having her head and back hunched down inside the tiny cage.

Hot blood welled up on her wrist and the warmth that accompanied the pain was almost welcomed. From not moving, she was so cold. Her blood was dripping on the floor, loudly in the silence, so she tucked her hand inside the cage and the dripping stopped. She rested her head on her knees, feeling her warm lifeblood running down her hand and dripping off her fingers. Soon… soon… it would all be over for her. There weren't very many times where dead was better, but here… in this place… Dead was better than alive.

She breathed deeply, relaxed, her body growing cold and heavy as her blood drained from her wrist. It didn't seem like it had taken very long yet black was already creeping in at the edges of her vision. Soon, she would be whisked across the River Styx and into the next world. Maybe, just maybe, the next world would be better, but she didn't hold her breath. There wasn't much chance for happiness, not for her, not with who and what she was.

She closed her eyes, letting the sounds and sight of the filthy warehouse and other tiny cages fade around her. There was a white light, distant and warm, like sunlight almost. She wanted to go into it, to go through it, to see what was on the other side. She had heard that when you died, you could see your family waiting on the other side, but no one was waiting for her. Then again, she wouldn't have recognized her mother or father—she had never known them.

On the other side of the light, someone's voice could be heard. It was a soft voice, humming and singing a tune she half-remembered. She listened to the music, to the song and the sound. The sounds of agony around her faded into nothingness and the light became everything she knew. She reached out, seeing the wet glimmer of blood on her hand and arm, dripping sluggishly from the gash she had created on her wrist. The light… the light… death… the end of all this pain… She wanted that. She wanted it all to be over.

She could see the Reaper within the light. His face was hooded and his body was cloaked in a shroud of darkness, yet she sensed things about him. There was the gleam of the scythe he carried in long-fingered hands. It was lovely, blood-colored in crimson and onyx with a shining silvery handle. At the side of the blade, she almost felt as if she could see an eye, as if the scythe had its own consciousness and expression. The Reaper lifted his face, but all she could see was the glimmer of his blood-colored crimson eyes.

She smiled as the Reaper looked at her, comforted by the guardian of death's calming presence. She suspected that some people feared both this light and the Reaper's bloody eyes, but she didn't She had been through things much more frightening than death. For years now, she had been wishing that she was already dead. It would have been better that way. The Reaper offered his hand and she took it, his skin surprisingly warm even as she felt his bones on her flesh.

Then, distantly, she heard shouting and yelling, and something clattered. There was a creak as the door of her tiny cell was torn open. The Reaper lifted his face as if to look beyond her and then, his fingers melted away. She wanted to open her mouth, to beg him to take her, but he was already gone. The icy floor met her naked body, the cold jolting her back into her hellish life. There was a pool of blood on the floor and the guards were looming over her. Death, it seemed, was still out of reach. Hell was still her only life.

Soul Eater Evans had never hungered for death. In fact, he hated and feared it. Death had come into his life at an early age and tormented his family. His father had died and since then, everything had changed, but he didn't even like to think about it, much less talk about it. His mother had swiftly remarried and the Evans tried to carry on as if nothing had happened. It was almost as if his father had never quite existed and maybe he really hadn't… Maybe, those years plagued with death had only been a horrible dream—a dream that Soul had each and every night.

He woke with a start, panting in the night. Outside his window, the silvery disk of the moon hung low and round in the inky-black sky. The stars around it glittered and twinkled. His mother had told him a story once, that the stars were the tears of a woman who had been separated from her lover on earth. He looked away.

Shivering, he slipped into his ensuite bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. If he listened hard enough, he could hear the sounds of his mother and stepfather making love in their room down the hall. He tuned out the sound and put an old jazz record into the phonograph and tried to relax as the soothing sounds flooded his dark bedroom. He returned to bed, lying there unable to sleep for a long time until the record reached its end and he had to get up to turn it over.

Again, the soothing sounds filled the room and he tried to rest, but it was hopeless. Death had filled his head and there was no sleep for him now. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw his father's face as he imagined it would have been when he died. Bloody… in pain… pale and gaunt like the skull beneath the skin was trying to escape… The record crooned on softly in the night, drowning out the sounds of his mother and stepfather down the hall.

Soul closed his eyes.

The vision of his father's deathly face filled his head.

His eyes snapped open again.

Outside the window, morning had dawned suddenly and brightly. He must have been able to sleep after all. Their household slave, Tsubaki, had already set a tray of breakfast on the nightstand beside his bed. The silver top gleamed in the morning light and Soul peaked beneath it. French toast adorned the plate, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and looking perfect, but he was in no mood to eat. He was always like that after he had had a particularly bad night. Later, he would find Tsubaki and let her eat his breakfast. The young woman would appreciate the food more than he ever would.

Sighing, exhausted and sore from his bad night, Soul turned off the phonograph and ducked into the bathroom. He would shower, dress, and head outside into the garden. Maybe then, he would feel better and maybe then, tonight he would be able to sleep soundly for the first time in years.

Since his father's death…

Soul shook his head to clear those thoughts and started the shower, testing the temperature and shrugging out of his cotton pajamas. He stepped into the frosted shower stall, leaning his forehead on the cool wall and taking a few deep breaths. If he could just relax and get through the morning, the rest of the day would be alright. It was always alright in the daytime, so long as there was light and music and he didn't close his eyes or think about death.

Ever since his father had died…

Soul's fingers found the scar out of habit, tracing the path of the hideous scar that bisected his chest from shoulder to hip. It was gnarled, so sensitive, and still sent a deep throbbing ache deep into his body. He tore his hands away and focused on showering.

Today was going to be a good day, he told himself, a mantra he repeated over and over. Today was going to be a good day. It was only Wednesday and this Saturday, it was his seventeenth birthday. His mother was throwing him a surprise party, even though she thought he didn't know.

He smiled faintly. Yes, if he could just get through the morning, today had the promise of being a good day.

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Please read this story and all its updates in its intended content on the new site, Archive of Our Own.

Please, check out my first ORIGINAL NOVEL! The Breaking of Poisonwood by Paradise Avenger. (Summary: People were dead. When Skye Davis bought me at a slave auction as a birthday present for his brother, I had no idea what my new life was going to be like, but I had never expected this. It all started when Venus de Luna was killed and I was to take her place, to become the new savior… Then, bad things happened and some people died. In the heart of the earth, we discovered the ancient being that Frank Davis had found and created and used to his advantage. The Poisonwood—)

I really like the way this chapter came out, even though honestly not that much happened.

Questions, comments, concerns?

Review!