Shannon turned around the corner and paced down Larson Street. Her stride was perky and carefree as she walked down the empty street, unaware of the two pairs of eyes that watched her hungrily from above; one pair of golden and one of blue; a blue too deep and too dark to belong to a human.
The sun was setting at the time, casting long shadows as the girl walked gracefully despite her high heels. On the right side of the street, an old, catholic church towered oppressively over the whole block. The girl seemed to remember something suddenly. She opened her purse and started searching something inside it. She was reaching the corner when she heard someone whispering her name as if from right behind her. Startled, she turned to see who it was.
The sound of tires screeching against the tarmac echoed through the empty road. A single scream followed. And a banging.
"Let it begin."
Zoe was sitting on the chair leaning lazily against the wooden desk before her. It was like this all day. No calls. No customers. Then again, was it right to wish for a customer? At least in this job it meant someone had to die. For she worked in a funeral parlor.
For the first summer of the third decade of her life, Zoe had planned vacations in Europe with her friends. It would be ideal after her first year in university. But unfortunately her plans were canceled when one of them was diagnosed with Hepatitis B (Zoe had warned her to be more careful), the other one decided to go to Australia with her family and the third failed in all but one classes and had to study his ass off during the summer.
So there she was, taking a job in her uncle's funeral parlor since she seemed to have nothing better to do. Most people would consider it kind of morbid but Zoe wasn't the kind to be easily shocked or disgusted.
She was alone at the time when the phone rang with that annoying ringing of its pulling Zoe out of her daydreaming of summer sun and golden beaches.
"Finally, someone got unlucky," she said loudly since no one was nearby to listen to her insensitive remark.
But when she answered it, she found out that unluckiness had stricken the last person Zoe wanted.
Zoe rushed to the hospital frantically. After asking the reception, she hurried to the emergencies. She saw them both upon entering the long hallway; her aunt sobbing with her face buried in her hands while her uncle spoke to a man in a white robe. His eyes were red and swollen. Zoe's heart clenched painfully in her chest. Feeling her own eyes watering she went to them. She tried to comfort them although she didn't really know how. What could you say to a parent whose child just had an accident like that? The truth was, she had never before been in a situation like this, having a loved one so close to death. She was only three when her parents died and didn't really remember anything.
Now her head was throbbing from the effort she put on not to start crying. She knew, if anything, she had to stay strong for her uncle and aunt. The girl's parents were the ones in the worst position right know. Not knowing if their child was going to live or not… Zoe couldn't think of anything worst.
But it was hard for Zoe, too. Shannon and her had been like sisters, practically growing up together until their late teens. The thought of losing her, and in such a way…
And the doctors just wouldn't give them any serious hopes. Only: 'we did what we could' and 'she's in the hands of God now'. In the hands of God? Really? They had to rely on someone non-existing? Well, that was comforting…
It was the first hours of the morning when the doctor came again. Her uncle had gone to the house to bring some clothes they'd need and her aunt had just fallen asleep on the seats after taking some sedative pills.
"Any news?" asked Zoe softly.
The man shook his head.
"Still very unstable."
Zoe bit her lip. What were they waiting, for Shannon to die? Someone had to do something…
"Can I see her? Please…"
The man in the white robe seemed to think about it for a moment.
"Only for a little bit," he agreed lastly. "But you must be prepared. She's in a bad condition."
Zoe nodded and tried to prepare herself for the worst. She had seen corpses in really bad condition in the mortuary but this was no indifferent stranger, this was her beloved little cousin.
She followed the doctor to the room, braced herself and got inside while the man closed the door behind her. The moment she was left alone she was unable to hold back any longer.
On the bed lay Shannon. Her fair hair surrounded her head like a halo, framing her- oh God, her face… Her once perfect cute face with the little nose and the full lips was now smashed. The right half was swollen and full of stitches, her left eye and her jaw covered in bandages, her lips cut. She breathed through a machine. Her body was covered by the sheets for which Zoe was grateful. She wasn't sure she could take much more.
Her cousin, that angel seemed like she had fallen from the clouds and crashed harshly on the hard ground. She didn't deserve that. Nobody did. Zoe just couldn't bear looking at her damaged body. She sat on a chair next to the bed muffling her sobs with her hand while her tears poured freely now.
She didn't know how long she stayed there. When her tears run out she just sat there by the bed not wanting to leave her cousin alone. Suddenly, a heavy, tangy smell reached her nostrils. She puckered her nose. Was it… sulphur?
"Pity, isn't it?"
Zoe literally jumped on her seat. Who had just spoken? As she scanned the room with her eyes, her stare stopped on the dark corner on the other side of the bed. Someone was there. Zoe stood up trying to see who it was. Was it darker in here than before?
"Who is it?" she asked backing up towards the door.
A dark chuckle resonated inside the hospital room.
And then he came out from the shadows slowly, allowing the light to reveal his features one by one. The first Zoe took in was his eyes. Never had she seen eyes like those before. Piercing and blue, so dark and intense, no man's eyes should be. His skin was a deadly white, his face flawless in the smallest detail. The masculine yet beautiful features were surrounded by long black hair that fell to his waist. His full, well-curved lips were slightly pulled back in a not-so-pleasant smirk. He was tall and lean, his body covered in black leather with silver chains attached here and there. Not the guy Zoe would come across every day. Actually, he was unlike anyone she had ever come across
"What are doing here?" demanded Zoe after the first shock. "How did you get in?"
She went to the door and grabbed the knob. Why wouldn't it open? She hit at the door once.
"Tsk tsk. You wouldn't want to wake your little cousin, now would you?" came the deep mocking voice. "She seems to sleep so peacefully."
Zoe turned around to see the man leaning over Shannon and caressing the blond hair off her forehead.
"Don't touch her! Get away from her!" she yelled. "I'll call the guards!"
"Oh, how protective of her little cousin," the man said mockingly but then his face got more serious. "But if you know what's best for her, you will shut your mouth and get your ass back here now." To point his threat he ran his hand over Shannon's cheek.
Zoe froze in place. Who was that man? How did he get inside the room and why? He freaked her out and, in her defense, not many people were able to do that. What did he want? And how did he…?
"How do you know she's my cousin? Who are you?" Zoe asked.
She tried to speak more calmly now for fear of the man who was dangerously close to Shannon and the breathing machine. The man's face took on a proud smile like he was waiting for the question to pop up.
"I am, you might say, your cousin's… guardian angel" he said, his voice rather ironical. "And I know a whole lot about you and her."
"Guardian angel," Zoe almost laughed. "In that case, you did a lousy job. Now, who the hell are you?
"Actually, that's more like it," he chuckled. "Because… I am a demon, actually."
He looked at her darkly but Zoe had figured out now.
"You're nuts!" she exclaimed. "You must've escaped the Psychiatric Ward."
That still made him dangerous. A man believing he's a demon…
"I find your reaction quite amusing but I don't have much time. I'm gonna have to force the truth into your little ignorant head," he stated. "Your cousin is on the verge of death. I have the power to take the little life she has left in her right away – and drag her immortal soul straight to hell". His voice was really deep now, ominous, non-human. He spoke with ecstasy. "And I can do that because your ancestors made a deal with me. And her soul is now mine for the taking. Or…" he let his voice trail off for dramatic effect, "I can give her a second chance and let her live. Of course I can see you are not convinced yet" he said noticing her confused, unbelieving expression. "Humans these days…" he sighed. "Such skeptics. Fine. I'll show you. How about waking your cousin for a second just to say 'hello'?"
"Shannon's in a coma. No one can wake her. Don't touch her!"
"Oh, but I won't have to," he reassured smirking heavily.
And rising his left arm in the air he snapped his thumb and middle finger together. Zoe heard a slurping sound and her eyes flew to the bed. And to her horror she saw her cousin having opened her eyes widely and looking at the ceiling with pure horror. Trying obviously to breathe, the heavily inured girl made a liquid, gorish sound and blood stained the mask of the breathing machine. Shannon's traumatized body started shaking uncontrollably as if in great agony. Zoe backed up in horror. This wasn't happening…
"Shh, now." The man touched lightly Shannon's forehead and the girl's body went limp again at once. "She's not ready yet," he commented and looked up at Zoe. Seeing the girl completely petrified, he smiled showing his pointy fangs. "But I can give her the time she needs in order to heal."
Her legs feeling weak and wobbling, Zoe threw herself on the chair with one hand covering her mouth to prevent herself from screaming.
"I can always show more if you like but we're really short in time here."
Zoe shook her head violently.
"Demons… don't exist."
The man laughed.
He circled the bed and walked over to her. To her horror, Zoe saw that wherever he stepped on the floor, he left a small slimy black trail. She stood up frightened and rushed to the door. She battled with the knob but the door wouldn't open.
"Open, damn it!" she screamed. "Help! Someone!"
As she was about to give it a good kick something wrapping around her leg. Then something caught her arm. Looking down, she saw slimy black tentacles crawling up her body and all around her. She tried to scream but for some reason no sound came from her mouth. Unable to speak, unable to move…
She looked at the man who was smiling devilishly just a few inches from her. She struggled against her restrains.
"I'll wait for you to calm down," he said stoically. "Until then let me make it clear to you; I can even take your miserable life, right now. Your two immortal souls will be a delicacy in hell. But I'll be generous. I'll give you a chance to save your cousin as well as yourself. I'll offer you a deal."
Zoe had stopped struggling by now and was looking at him breathing hard – the only thing she could do, anyway.
"I see you've calmed."
With a wave of his hand the tentacles began withdrawing. Once they didn't support her, Zoe fell onto the ground.
"What…" she had found her voice again, "what do you want?"
"The deal is simple," he explained casually. "I spare her life and soul and you… you become mine."
Zoe looked up at him in confusion.
"You will belong to me, do as I command" the man explained. "And through your services you will repay me for the prize of your cousin's soul."
"What … will I have to… do?" Zoe asked helplessly.
"Whatever I command you!" the man said authoritatively.
"For how long?"
He cast a look at Shannon.
"I believe your sweet cousin is worth a good… three years."
Just that? Only three years? Zoe had thought he'd say 'for the rest of eternity' or something equally long-termed.
Stepping forward the man grabbed her arm and forced her to her feet in front of him.
"My patience is running out, mortal. Get a hold of yourself and give me your answer now," he growled.
She looked straight into his mesmerizing eyes, her rational mind refusing to believe this was happening.
"Well, if you don't want to see her again… " He raised his free hand, his fingers ready to snap. "I hope you've said goodbye."
"No!" Zoe screamed shutting her eyes and shaking her head.
"Say it then!" he hissed.
"I'll… I'll do what you want!"
With one of his fingernails – no, claws – he cut his palm, then grabbing her hand he did the same to hers. He entwined his fingers with hers, fervently pressing their bleeding palms together.
"We have a deal, then."
A deal with the Devil.
Thank you for reading my story. I'm sorry for any mistakes - I'm sure there are a lot - but English is not my native language and I really tried hard. And yes, I know; no description of the main character, but I didn't find a good chance in this chapter. There will be one in the next chapter, though. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated, so please review! Thanks again.