I tried to avoid them. I really did. Always do. It's why I took this road today.
"Where're you running off to, retard?" Kraus sneered from somewhere behind me. Or at least I think it was Kraus.
"Hold up a minute," an unfriendly voice soon followed. Was that Kraus? Again. I'm not sure which. They both sound eerily similar to each other.
I turned around, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, to come face to face with two faces I'd rather forget. Kraus, and his twin brother, who I've yet to learn the name of.
I would reply, except I am mute. I'm not retarded, but I could write the names at least two guys who are. (Well, one of them, really.)
I instinctively pull out a notepad and pencil, only to have the notepad smacked to the ground with a brisk slap.
I raise my gaze, full of a silent fury to Kraus. Or at least the one wearing a green shirt today-- who just knocked my favored means of communication to the ground. I'm met with a shit-eating grin.
I do know sign language, but unfortunately it's wasted on most people. As long as they can read, I find this notepad to work well enough in most scenarios.
"Pick it up," green Kraus mocked, pointing at the notepad.
I purposefully leave it on the ground. A minor insult, but... I guess I'm just not in the mood to 'talk' right now.
"Pick it up," the other Kraus clone demanded, in a much meaner tone.
In the same instant, my pencil is snatched away from me and held at a distance.
"What's the matter, fag? Cat got your tongue?" the pencil-holding Kraus taunts. There's no point in distinguishing between the two. They're equally ugly, equally mean, and equally trash human beings.
I reach my hand out in an attempt to grab my pencil, and it's roughly grabbed by the Kraus without a pencil.
You might be thinking these are just a couple of bullies, and that I'm just some unfortunate highschool misfit. But these aren't your average, everyday bullies. These are advanced bullies.
The Kraus with the pencil makes his move. With my hand caught, I watch in abject horror as the pencil is embedded into the top of my hand, almost dead-center. Not sticking all the way through, but far enough to hit bone. I screech in pain, to the best of my ability. It might have sounded rather pathetic, in all honesty. But pain is pain, and my reaction is the same as any other person.
Just like that, they both run off, probably afraid of getting caught. Either that, or they feel like maybe they've gone too far this time. I am unsure which. I crouch to the ground, in agony, and remove the pencil. Blood is pouring out at an alarming rate, and I'm honestly pretty terrified of passing out from blood loss, it makes me squeamish. I do my best to staunch the bleeding with pressure, using the bottom of my t-shirt.
I was walking home from school when I got jumped. A different path than normal. This is a road devoid of very many houses, the next one might be a quarter mile up ahead, if I had to estimate.
I'm in trouble. I...
I was hiding in the bushes, watching my current host suffer. I don't necessarily enjoy when innocent people like him have to deal with the bad luck I bring, but I have to watch. I must. It gives me the energy to persist in this world, and the people I haunt are essentially random.
I watch the two assholes run off after getting their fill of torture for the day, and I watch as the guy they stabbed grabbed his hand in pain and sank to the ground. My life essence fills with energy, granting me at least another three days in this realm. It makes me wonder, do vampires enjoy the blood they drink to persist? Maybe I'll ask one someday...
My eyes widen as he slumps to the ground, losing his strength. That's enough for me. I don't want him to lose too much blood, after all. I wish I were more cold-hearted sometimes, but I'm not.
So, I step out of the bushes, prepared to help my host...
... who also happens to be my best friend.
"Ben!" a sweet, warm voice calls to me from not too far away.
I turn with surprise to the source of the shout, and I'm immediately relieved to see Athena running to me, worry etched across her face. The amount of times she seems to show up after tragedy is beginning to make me suspicious... but also, I'm not the kind of person to curse my own blessings.
I smile as she slows her approach, although my expression is quite pained. I eagerly show her my hand.
"Oh my gosh! Sweetie, are you okay!?" Athena hurriedly blurted out when she got a better look at my injury.
I merely nodded in response. Stripped of pen, paper, and effectively my sign language as well. What else could I do?
So, that's when the water works started. I turned my head away, to try to hide the fact that I was ready to cry. A poor attempt to hide the obvious.
"... I'm sorry," Athena quietly whispered to me.
Not what I expected to hear, honestly. I never dared blame her for my bad luck... but, is it possible she blamed herself? I turned to her, and she looked awful. Remorseful. About as bad as I did.
I shook my head 'No' in an attempt to try and make her feel better. That she shouldn't blame herself. Honestly my options of communication were quite limited. I didn't want to move either hand away from each other.
But then, Athena said something to me. Something I didn't expect. Something to catch me off guard.
"Ben. Do you feel like anyone loves you?" Athena asked. A very strange, serious tone in her voice.
Honestly, I was stunned at her question. While she knew I was depressed, and had halted me from harming myself on multiple attempts, I couldn't hide the fact that my life had been pretty shit for awhile now. She was the only light in my world, the only person who seemed to care about my well being. This little pencil incident was part of the small stuff in the grand scheme of things. The second I get home, I would get to look forward to more abuse.
"... y... o...u...?" I attempt to rasp out. Honestly, I'm not even sure she heard what I attempted to say. But she'd become quite adept at reading lips in the time we've spent together this past year.
That caught her off guard. She raised her hand to her mouth and cried as well. I knew she was a sentimental person, but...
It really hurt to hear that.
Ben's an amazing guy, and I actually do care for him deeply, despite being the actual source of all of his problems. Long ago, I was once told back in Hell not to develop any human emotions otherwise my existence would become problematic. Now I see why.
But, I'm ready to make things right. I'm going to put him out of his misery... or, rather... into it.
"Ben, listen carefully, I want to make you a deal," Athena eventually said, once she composed herself, "I hate watching you suffer so much, so..."
I nodded in agreement, my curiosity piqued.
"Would... um... you like me to," Athena mumbled, obviously flustered. Embarrassed, even.
She looked me in the eyes. Hard.
"...make all of your problems go away?" Athena finished.
An insane question. Who could truly guarantee something like that? I decided to play along. Maybe for her sake, since she seemed so genuine with her query.
I nodded "Yes" followed with a pained smile.
Athena half-smiled back, and touched my hand. Barely a second later, it was miraculously healed. I always knew she was an angel. I just knew it!
I flexed my hands. They felt good as ever. I wasn't going to question her powers. Like I mentioned earlier. I don't want to curse my blessings. If I had a goddess for a friend, I was damn well not going to say no to that. Not a damn thing ever goes right for me in this world, this world that won't even let me voice my own fucking opinion.
[Athena. That was amazing!] I spoke to her, with hand signs. She was a smart girl. She learned sign language specifically for me when we first became friends. [You are incredible! I'm a little scared, honestly, but I think I'll manage.] I furiously signed, with a huge smile on my face.
"Aww. You're welcome, Ben!" Athena happily replied, followed by a bit of sadness, "But... we have a new problem."
[... And...? What's wrong?] I signed. Butterflies in my stomach.
"Well... you're officially in my debt, now," Athena mumbled, "something you've previously never been in."
I was confused. Who wouldn't be? Perhaps it had something to do with her powers.
[I don't know how to respond to that. May I pay this 'Debt' off somehow?] I signed. I didn't want to offend her. No, not her. Anyone else, I didn't give two shits about. But Athena was quickly becoming my whole world.
Athena sighed, and hugged me out of the blue.
"Ben, don't run," she breathed into my ear. Suddenly, I found it near impossible to move my legs. Not that I planned on running. I was scared, but I trusted her.
I would sign back, but she was hugging me, so it would fall on 'deaf ears.' So, I merely returned the hug. My heart was racing with anticipation of what she wanted of me.
"There's no simple way to put this, Ben, are you ready?" Athena said to me, backing up a bit.
[Blow my mind, Athena. You're the only person who cares about me. I'd jump off a cliff for you if you wanted me to.] I signed.
"Well, would jumping down my throat also work?" Athena mindlessly blurted out, looking slightly embarrassed.
I wheezed. [Hilarious...] I signed. Somehow I didn't expect a joke. But she wasn't laughing.
Athena sighed, and touched my chest. My world-view grew exponentially, as everything around me soared high like redwood trees. Her joke from earlier was starting to make a little more sense. Still, unable to run, I looked up to her, in her new skyscraper-esque glory. Perhaps she really was a goddess after all.
Athena looked sad, and bent over to pick me up. Very gently, as if she'd done it a million times, she deftly engulfed my body with her thumb and pointer finger, and lifted me high into the air to better converse with me. Perhaps it's hard to read sign language from someone the size of a Tic Tac. Just a wild guess.
"Ben... I'm a demon," Athena said, nonchalantly.
At first, I had believed her to be a goddess. But... Demon? Wasn't that supposed to be a bad thing?
Suddenly, I felt afraid. Very, very afraid.
[Please don't hurt me...] I signed, albeit very shakily.
In all honesty, this time, Athena looked like the one who was afraid of me.
"No!" she near shouted, before lowering her voice a bit for my sake, "No... Ben. Everything will be okay. I'm sorry, but I have to do this. I physically have no choice anymore. I have to claim your soul, because I healed you. If I don't, your afterlife will be a Hell worse than the life you've lived so far. But... if I were to swallow you..."
Athena raised me up to her enormous lips, and whispered, "You'll be mine for eternity."
Athena lowered me back out at arm's length again, to judge my response.
[I'm... going to die?] I signed. This was hard to take in. I've contemplated suicide before, but Athena was the only thing stopping me from doing that. How was I supposed to feel when she's the method of death I'm supposed to succumb to?
"Everything will be okay, Ben. I promise. I know it's hard to trust demons, with all the bad rep we get. But, I genuinely care for you. Your afterlife matters MUCH more than your Earth one. If I claim your soul, I'll make sure you live in a paradise. I can only do this by swallowing both body and spirit at the same time... and..." Athena spoke softly.
"No one will ever fuck with you again. You'll be under my rule, forever. And I don't plan on making it an unpleasant one. I implore you. Take my offer," Athena whispered, sounding serious as a heart attack.
From this point of view, looking up to her light blue eyes, I noticed something. They had a yellow glint to them. An unnatural, imperceptible glow. Had that always been there?
[I am... scared, Athena. I'll close my eyes. Do what you will with me. I'm not sure if I can force myself to enter something my instincts so powerfully warn me not to enter. I'm going to trust you.] I signed out what felt like my last will and testament, and closed my eyes.
I don't think I've ever been so hesitant to devour a human before now. We demons are selfish entities, for us to claim a soul is grand prize, indeed. Their soul is ours to do with as we please, stolen from the reach of God or the devil himself. They're ours to torment as we see fit.
So why do I feel such pity for the little guy cowering in my hand, covering his eyes? When I first latched onto him almost a year ago, I never thought I'd grow to like him so damned much. He was already tormented on a daily basis before my arrival, and it got worse when I showed up and manifested as a female since I'm already half succubi. He never knew it was me draining his luck, of course. Yet he treated me as a friend. And entertained me on numerous occasions, without even speaking.
I carefully held him with two fingers, and lifted him up to my lips.
A thought did cross my mind. I told him I wasn't going to hurt him earlier, yet here I was, preparing to devour him. While it was a white lie, in the large scheme of things, the afterlife is the thing that truly matters. Once I own him, this little rite of passage will never even have mattered.
I sat Ben in the center of my tongue, and wondered how he was feeling. There was a possibility he might be feeling degraded, and the thought unnerved me. I've never been eaten before, but I guess the point is still clear... it's a complete domination of one being over another.
I wanted to make it quick and easy, for that specific reason.
I couldn't believe what was happening. So much had happened so fast. I absolutely lost my shit once I felt Athena tilt her head backwards. Her tongue was an immense force, irrefutable in its strength. The air was hot, and muggy. And I was positively coated in her saliva. I felt... subhuman.
Her throat grappled me with a powerful swallow. I lost my nerve. This was terrifying! In a panic, even though I was already well within her throat, I tried my best to press my arms against the esophagus to halt my descent downwards into what was a dark abyss.
Pointless. Futile. Her muscles continued to contract automatically and dragged me downwards, and I had no feasible way to counter my new fate.
Of course, in the back of my mind, I still believed her. She obviously wasn't human. But that didn't mean that dying still wouldn't be painful. The groaning abyss below me was still a real threat. And I'll be honest, pain never felt good no matter how much I've been subjected to it.
A few moments later, and I have a very brief freefall and land on a hot, warm fleshy surface. The smell of this organ is abhorrent, and being in pitch darkness at the same time, as well as knowing my death is practically assured... I screamed. Not that it was a scream worth anything. I ran around in panic, only to have my foot slip from underneath me, causing me to faceplant into bile.
I was the embodiment of fear. I cried in the darkness, whimpering for comfort, and receiving none; despite the close proximity of the one person who showed me any true compassion.
I observe my surroundings. On the asphalt at my feet, I see Ben's blood had seeped into the road. It makes me furious how shitty he was treated. Nearby, I see something else, that really stirs something within me.
Ben's notepad. The one he initially used to communicate with me before I learned human sign language. Ahh, the memories. Once he's absorbed, I think I'll...--
A vision of my next host enters my mind. A new soul to bring misery to, and extend my stay in the real world.
I giggle with glee to myself as I retrieve the notepad. It will make a nice memento for my nightstand.
As I make my way home for the day, I begin to fantasize of the ways I can tease Ben and cheer him up. It won't be long, now.