“Sori!” I woke up with someone pounding at the door. I grabbed my head, pain ripping through it. I got up and went to the door. Vernon was standing outside, “Do you know where Cat is? She was supposed to meet me last night and never showed.” He grabbed onto my shirt, “Do you know where she is?!” He was frantic and it cleared my head a little.
“Vern, Cat is a Demon. She can take care of herself.”
He let go of me. “Wait, what?”
I forgot that she never told him. “This is going to shatter what you thought you knew. Cat is a Demon and she works with me in Hell. She’s a Demon; I’m a Reaper.”
He sagged against the wall. “I never knew.”
I took him and set him on the couch, “She was worried you would leave her if she told you.”
“Why would I leave her? I love her.”
Something chipped away at me, “You love her? Have you asked her to marry you?”
He nodded, “The night before last. I thought she ran from me when I asked her. She said her beeper was going off, but I did not see a beeper in her hands. She just turned white and ran away. I waited and waited, but she never returned.”
“I’ll find her for you and you two can straighten this out.” I stretched and stood up. I looked at my clothes. “When did I start to wear dresses?” I went into my room and changed into my green shirt and vest with my black shorts and boots. I came out to see Vernon frozen on my couch.
I poked him in the arm. “There’s food in the fridge and you can watch TV, if it’ll make you feel better. I’ll show you that she’s fine and she’ll come back to you.” I walked into the kitchen and grabbed some food and put it into my bag, before eating something else. I grabbed my umbrella and placed my bag on my back.
I stepped out the backdoor and stood in the second Circle. Naoribi stood there, outside the Gate. “What happened?”
The Circle looked like a fortress and was guarded by various Demons. She glared at me, before she unleased her anger, “It’s your boyfriend! He is destroying Hell!”
I looked at her then the Gate. “You must be mistaken. Erick is the kindest, gentl-”
She shook me, “Open your eyes, Sori! He’s not a human and he’s destroying our home!”
I shook my head, “That can’t be true. Let me through and I’ll figure out what’s really going on.”
She looked defeated as she stepped away from me. “Let her through.” The guards stepped aside and let me pass through the Gate.
I looked at the Second Circle, before a couple of foam darts shot near me. I looked to the two kid souls, “Hey!”
They came out of hiding as I ripped the darts off the wall. “Next time, I’ll bring my Nerf gun.” I gave them the darts back and asked, “Have you two seen a male human pass by here?”
They both looked to each other then nodded. I looked at the two kids, one was a short scrawny white kid wearing a tuxedo and the other was a slightly heavy-set Hispanic kid wearing his Sunday best. They both pointed to the Third Circle door. “He went that way.”
I ruffled their hair, “Thank you.” I walked towards the door and heard them following me. I turned, “You can’t come with.”
“Y-You need our help.” They both sounded terrified and I knew that they needed my help more than I needed theirs.
“Alright.” I motioned for them to follow. “Stay close and do whatever I tell you to.”
They both nodded and I opened the Third Circle’s door.
The Third Circle was made up of a bunch of rooms full of old used clothes. It was more of a junk pile than anything, but Cat has been working on it for millennia. Every year, a new room is created to accommodate the stuff. This was still a dangerous Circle. Zombies have been known to show up here and attack unsuspecting Demons, Reapers and Souls.
There was the sound of a baby crying down one of the hallways away from the Fourth Circle. “Stay here.” I commanded the kids. They nodded and I followed the sound. I used the pencil light to look into the rooms as I followed the sound. I found the room where the crying was coming from, but inner rooms were separated by dusty curtains.
I used my umbrella to move the curtains to as I looked for the source of the sound. I moved the last curtain and a female zombie thrashed at me with her claws. I blocked her with the umbrella, before using the tip to zap her. She screamed and backed away, her hollow eyes looking at me. She wore tattered gray clothing and her limp hair hung long down her back. She smiled, her teeth razor sharp.
She launched herself at me, the umbrella against her throat, keeping her snapping teeth away from me. I heard screeches as other zombies ran into the room. I pushed her off of me, before transforming the umbrella into the scythe. I used the scythe to cut them down one by one, but it was like every zombie in the Circle was attacking me.
I swung the scythe in a circle around me, the spiral tattoo lighting up under my eye. I was the eye of the storm as lightning struck from overhead and tortuous winds blew them around me. I watched as the zombies were lifted off their feet in the large room, before I slammed the base of my scythe to the ground. The zombies slammed onto the ground with bone-breaking force, before lightning lit up the room. All at once, lightning struck every adversary around me. Once the thunder cleared, not a single zombie still stood.
I walked back to the kids and they saw my cloak gathered around me. “Stay close.” The scythe again became the umbrella and my clothes became normal.
We walked into the Fourth Circle. There were shadows and lights that lit our path. I opened the umbrella, bathing all of us in its golden light. The kids stayed close to me, until we came to the bridge to the Fifth Circle.
Naoribi’s twin, Saoribi, walked towards us. “Get in the shadows, don’t move or make any sound.”
She pushed us into the shadow as I saw a giant gorilla type creature walk towards us. He was surrounded by guards, but he still held a long cane. I held my hands over the kids’ mouths as I pushed them behind me. They stayed silent, but I had pushed them onto a hill of rubbish. A piece of rubbish fell from where the Hispanic kid’s feet were.
The gorilla looked directly at us; the hook of his cane reaching behind the kid’s leg. I blocked the hook from getting behind the kid’s knee, knocking the hook out of the way. The gorilla screeched loudly, as it probed towards the other kid, who caused a mini-landslide on my other side. I knocked the cane away from the scrawny kid, but found the hook wrapped around my thigh. The gorilla yanked and I was pulled away from the kids. I yelled, “Get out of here!”
The kids threw me my umbrella as they ran back towards the First Circle. The gorilla pulled me close to him, the hook constricting around my thigh. He held me less than a foot from his face before he screeched loudly. I covered my ears, blocking out as much sound as I could. He hoisted me over his shoulder, luckily, I was heads up.
I looked to Saoribi, “Where’s he headed?”
She answered, “Third Circle.”
“That’s the opposite of me. I don’t have time to be a simian playmate.” Luckily, I had thunder thighs and was able to get out of the hook by sliding my leg out. “Did you see a male human?”
Saoribi growled, “You mean the male who is tearing up Seventh Circle and caused this mess?”
I shook my head, “Erick wouldn’t do this.”
She scoffed, “You know the simians are on the Sixth and he tore them out of their cages. He’s not human.”
I watched her leave with the guards, “There’s got to be a mistake.”
I ran to the bridge to the Fifth Circle, stopping near the edge. I put the umbrella into my bag, keeping it with me, yet no restricting my movement. I took a deep breath and jumped off the bridge, diving into the deep waters below. I found a helm to a ship and willed it to rise to the surface. The ship listened and rose to the surface. Cat never liked this Circle; too much water for her. I sailed the ship towards the Sixth Circle, enjoying the ride.
Then I saw the two lights approaching me. I grabbed a stone from the ship and threw it at the lights. One of them cracked and fizzled. The other light came at me faster. I grabbed another rock and threw it. I missed and the light grew brighter and I saw the teeth rising from the sea.
“Mother Hell.” I dove into the water and swam as fast as I could. The giant circle of teeth rose behind me. I saw the painted red line on the beach and I swam as fast as I could. I saw the lights of the bus right next to the line, the door open. I swam to the door and at the last second, Souls pulled me inside of the bus.
I turned to face the sea as the teeth came crashing down to where I just was. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I looked to the Souls, “Thank you.”
When they realized they saved a Reaper, they stayed silent. I spoke to the bus driver as he started to move again. “Where are you headed?”
“Second Circle.” His answer was curt.
“I need to get to the Seventh.”
The elder couple I reaped when saving Erick piped up, “Why would you want to go there?!”
“What do you mean?”
The woman shouted, “A man named Erick has claimed that Hell is to be his! He is trying to get into the Ninth! A demon named Catherine has him at the Seventh!”
“Oh no!” I was not sure who I was worried about. I loved Erick but Cat is my sister. I jumped off the bus and ran up the road towards the Seventh. I slid through the Sixth as I saw the teeth come crashing down behind me.
I pulled out my umbrella, ready for the Sixth. The simians were smart and knew how to draw wary into their traps. “Still don’t know why the Boss likes them.”
I heard loud screeches from all around me. I opened the umbrella to feel canes come out of different directions. I was caught between both knees and one arm. My umbrella arm stayed out of their reach. I felt myself being pulled forward, a cane around my waist. “Put me down!” I yelled as the simians brought me to their leader.
The large gorilla scratched his chin, his voice entering my mind, ‘Why should we listen to you?’
“Do you like the Sixth Circle?” I used my umbrella to gesture at the jungle they created.
“I don’t think the Boss would appreciate you slowing down his investigator to the Seventh.” I bluffed.
‘You smell like the human that passed through here. You’re rotten meat and I will not allow you to pass.’
“Then you leave me no choice.” The umbrella became the scythe and I cut through the canes as if I was cutting through flesh. The cane tore easily and I dropped to the ground. “I am Reaper XIII, Sori. Allow me to pass and I shall not destroy your jungle.” My cloak flowed around me, the storm brewing.
The simians screeched and hissed. With a louder screech than anything I have ever heard, the leader silenced his people. ‘Reaper XIII, we will allow you to pass. But understand that if you try to leave with the human, we will tear him apart.’
I gulped, “Understood.” ‘Please, let us be able to pass silently and let me be able to get my love out of here alive.’ The scythe, again, became the umbrella and my cloak vanished. The simians lined the path to the Seventh Circle.
I entered the Seventh to hear the sounds of fighting. I ran to see Cat and Erick fighting each other. I yelled, “Enough!” The two of them split apart and looked at me.
“Sori!” Cat called out. “He has been destroying Hell and he’s looking for something!”
Erick just caught me with his smile, “I’ve been doing nothing of the sort. I was simply picking something off the ground when this wench attacked me.”
I stepped between them. “Cat. Report upstairs.”
She started to argue with me, “Sor-”
“I told Vern what you are. Report upstairs!” I barked the order at her. She turned away from us, defeated.
“He’s not human, Sori. Snap out of it!” She ran away from the two of us, reaching the Sixth Circle.
I turned to face Erick, “What are you doing here?”
He walked towards me and slapped me across the cheek. “How dare you raise your voice at me?”
“I-I-” I stammered, rubbing my red cheek.
He stepped close to me, holding my chin in his hand. “Sori…” He kissed the cheek that he just hit. “Why did you make me hit you?”
He kissed me and I felt the oxygen being pulled from my lungs. “Erick.” I exhaled before feeling a sharp pain on the back of my head and darkness called to me.