My name is Alice Braxton. I'm a teenage runaway. I spend my nights at O'Hara's pub drinking my shit life away with only ten more days until...
Until Death Do Us Part
I pressed the chilled glass to my lips, not caring if it was my fourth or fifth drink. The smooth liquid warmed my whole body and with each gulp of my gin and tonic, it almost whisked away all of the troubles that dared to cross my mind. Almost. The sharp pain in my chest refused to leave, even now. Forcing me to remember her lifeless corpse laying on the ground. As if the memory was on repeat. Replying over and over again in my mind. Telling me, I will never forget.
Not even in a million years.
I clenched my hand over my side as I dug my nails into my favorite Pink Floyd shirt, hoping by some miracle it would stop the pain. It seemed no matter what, I couldn't push the memories away for too long. Especially not with Aiden around. He looked so familiar, but for some strange reason, I can't seem to find the reason why. It's haunting me. I also can't seem to remember the deal I made with Therion. All I see is my best friend Ali soaked in red as I hover over her body with a knife in my hand, drenched in blood. Her blood. That's one of the reasons I always come to O'Hara's Pub. A small part of me thinks maybe Aiden will help me remember it all because there's a blur in my vision that night, a dark figure staring at me as I lay beside my friend before Therion appeared. I can't for the life of me remember its face or why it was there and it's driving me mad. I know by coming here all the time it will torture me, but if I was going to hell in ten days...I need to know the truth for why I murdered my best friend and for some strange reason, I know Aiden will help jog my memory.
Maybe that's why I always tell Zel no when she comes up with ways to save me. Deep down, I don't believe I deserve to be saved because who in their right mind would murder their best friend? It hurts, so much and no matter what, I can't get her dead eyes out of my mind. Day and night, they haunt me. And Zel is so full of life, I honestly don't know why she's grown so attached to me. Sure I saved her from my cat, but why stick around? I mean, I don't know much about the fae, her being a pixie and all, but I'm sure she knows she has nothing to gain from staying by my side. And if Zel finds out I'm here, again. She will wreak havoc in my apartment and probably shave the cat again if she hasn't already. I sighed exhaling all the air from my lungs, it was probably time to go before she starts to worry. She really is driving me crazy.
I tossed two twenties on the granite countertop and headed for O'Hara's front doors. But before I could slip away, Aiden came jogging towards me. His golden waves swayed with each step he took. His eyes radiated like starlight as he spotted me from across the bar. I couldn't quite read his expression, but he's hiding something, something dangerous and the dark shadow cast upon him is growing each day.
"Hey Alice...Um..." he paused while fidgeting with his hands. I could have sworn maybe a hint of worry flashed in his ocean blue eyes, but it vanished. "It's pretty late. Are you sure you don't need a ride home? I mean, I'm sure my boss wouldn't mind with all that's going on in town."
I knew it would only take a few minutes for him to drive me home, but I couldn't accept his offer. I'm not in my right mind to question him...And I didn't want to feel any more pain then I already do. I shook my head giving him my best smile, "Nah, I'm okay. I'm not too far from my apartment. Thanks though," I said as I turned around.
"Be safe." Where the last words he spoke before I gave him a small wave and left through the doors.
I paced myself, trying my best not to stumble into anyone. For being midnight on a weekday, there were quite a few people outside. But I could see why. The gleam of the moon was cascading down on me. The cold crisp air of the autumn soothed the warm tingles that settled inside my stomach. Probably one of the last times I'd ever feel this content.
I turned down on Ace Street and then took an immediate left towards the alley. It was the quickest way to get home and plus, I didn't think Therion knew of this new route. A dark silhouette scurried behind a couple of trash cans right by O'Hara's backdoor making me quickened my steps. A massive thud came from behind, sending chills down my spine. I peeked over my shoulder to see if anyone was following me. Street lights revealed garbage scattered across the cement, moldy hamburger buns launched in each direction, soiled napkins with yellow and red stains filling the alley's entrance. I whipped back around, slamming into a body that hadn't been there just two seconds ago. " I'm sorry...I didn't..." I gazed up at the figure towering over me.
No matter who he chose to possess, they all had the same glowing amber eyes like hot coals. "Awe, there you are. I've been looking everywhere for you."
Why tonight of all nights? "Piss off, Therion," I bit down bitterly.
Leaning down, he stroked a loose strand of my cinnamon stained hair. "Tsk, now that's no way to speak to your savior."
I winced. Was it too much to ask for a week free from his checkups? "Not much of a savior if you won't even tell me what you saved me from," I muttered.
"Let's not argue over the semantics. Besides we have our anniversary coming up. Don't you think we should celebrate before the big finale?" He cooed as the gangly bastard he'd chosen to possess slithered closer and closer until he was only a couple of centimeters away. His hot breath stuck to the air, suffocating me. It reeked of cheap cigarettes that were trying desperately to mask the horrid stench of rotten eggs but failed. Like always.
I tried to walk away and not give him the satisfaction of a reply, but he gripped my shoulder before I could get away, stopping me in my tracks, whispering into my ear, "Did I say you could leave?"
Without thinking, I shoved him into the cold brick wall, catching him off guard. I pressed my arm up against his throat. The vile demon was getting on my last nerve and I didn't care that he was possessing someone. He needed to leave.
His face flickered a hint of surprise and then an inhuman smile stretched across his face.
"Don't you have anything better to do?" My hands were trembling now.
My blood began to boil and his manic laughter only fueled my hatred even more. His wild grin now engulfed his entire face. "Deals have been dealt. I save my nights for you."
I tried to steady my heartbeat, but my mind went feral and had other plans. "I couldn't give two shits. I know you keep tabs on me for a reason. You need me. I've learned that much." I might have said the wrong things, because; with a blink of an eye, he turned savage. He pried my arm off his throat and twisted my wrist as he shoved me to the concrete. Pain erupted throughout my entire arm as if he sent an electric current into my body, starting with my fingers first. I couldn't stop the scream from leaving my mouth. The tears surged down my face as the electric current made its way to my heart, taking it into its clutches. And with a one swift tug, he could have killed me in an instant.
"Now listen, you're an assignment. An important one and you bore me. If I have to spend my time dealing with a whiny brat like you, of course, I'm going to make things interesting. Don't think for a second I won't do more than just tease you," he fumed.
I couldn't help but shiver as those cruel words echoed off his lips.
"But it's cute how you think you have a chance of winning."
I grabbed my chest trying desperately to breathe, "fine," I gasped. Even with all the hatred in the world, I couldn't defeat him. I was destined to lose. Hell, even when I tried taking self-defense classes when I still lived in Oakridge with my mother, he was there to taunt me. To let me know I'd never be able to defend myself. So I did what any teenage girl would do with a demon stalking her. I looked up tutorial videos on youtube.
Another epic fail.
"I couldn't hear you, sweetheart, say that again."
I clenched my teeth and held my tongue, hell, my cat Socks was probably dying of hunger by now. Yeah, it's a sad life I live, but it would probably make it easier to accept my inevitable death. I sighed, "You win. You always will." When those words left my lips, whatever magic he possessed, he released it.
"Ah, music to my ears, a broken girl." Maybe that was all he needed to hear or maybe he grew tired of me again, but I wouldn't complain. I don't know if I could have handled being around him any longer. Before he left, he crouched in front of me and jerked another lock of my lifeless hair from my skull. I clenched my jaw at the sudden pull, the small ache lingered for a few seconds then vanished. He probably had some weird hair fetish. I have no idea what demons are into, nor did I want to find out. "Tenebris est socius," he chanted and then disappeared into the starless night leaving a cloud of smoke to cover his tracks.
All of that was too close for comfort and forced unwanted memories to resurface against my will. I grumbled, picking myself off the rigid cement. Why did everyone passing by have to vanish when the demon decided to stalk me? The walk from O'Hara's pub was meant to be a five-minute walk, but the demon was determined to make it feel like an eternity.
I pried my door open, and no doubt, Socks was there to yell at me. First, he acted cute, purring as he weaved through my legs. Then the devil emerged within him and he bit my ankle.
"Okay, okay, I'll feed you, fat ass."
He was adorable, but also a little monster. He is the only good thing in my life besides my mother, but I couldn't see her. I had to run away when I was sixteen and it's been a little over eleven months since I've seen everyone from my hometown. I couldn't handle it anymore. The insincere sorries. The constant eyes watching my every movement. The pity everyone felt for me was too much to bear if they knew what happened. Every day was the same. I hated it. I wish I had told the demon to wipe away all the memories of me so no one would shed a tear on my behalf because that kind of grief really changes a person. I would gladly take all of that pain and suffering from everyone. Where I am going, there would be a lot more of it anyways.
I went straight for the bathroom and turned the faucet on. Gazing at the girl I didn't even know anymore. My olive green eyes lost their spark and now my favorite shirt and black skinny jeans are torn and covered in dirt. My pale skin was even more colorless than a vampire's. I felt and looked like a steaming pile of shit.
I rinsed off my hands and forced my legs to move towards my empty bed. I couldn't help but collapse on my obsidian sheets. I didn't care if my hair was covered in dirt or if my eyeliner was smeared. I couldn't take the harrowing thoughts anymore. I begged the nonexisting god to let me have this one night without the memory of blood-soaked hands.
An ear-splitting crash interrupted my rest. Zel is probably trying to climb through my window again."Go away," I groaned, not picking up my head off the pillow to see if she'd broken anything this time.
A small buzz crept closer, and in seconds she glided right in front of my face. "But, but, but I found a way! Will totally work this time. Cross my heart."
I tried my best to ignore her, but pixies are very persistent.
"Heeey." Her tiny fingers started to pry my left eye open.
"Shit, alright. What did you find?"
A devilish smiled stretched across her emerald cheeks, putting her needle-sharp teeth on full display. "Well, I'm glad you asked," she paused as she dug through her hazel trousers. "Dammit, I swear on the cat's life it was just in my pockets."
I rolled my eyes. "Are you sure you didn't just gamble it away?" I teased, but she didn't find it funny.
Her little tongue was sticking out. "I don't have a problem, unlike you." She gestured with her hands at all the empty beer cans scattered across my room. One merlot wine box and piles of makeup occupied my vanity dresser. Dirty laundry draped over my computer chair with Coors light cans scattered across the room from a couple of nights ago.
I shrugged. "I don't see the problem." Eh, maybe it was a little messy.
Zel's little face turned beet red. "Ugh, you're...No, no... We'll tackle that problem another day. So what I was going to say before I got rudely interrupted," she darted a fierce glare in my direction, "Is that, there has been a lot of talk about an old geezer who can break any spells, but in return, you just have to do some jobs for him...blah, blah blah. The usual."
I looked down at her in disbelief. "That's sweet of you and all, but I highly doubt it's that simple. And besides, I don't want to get out of a deal and then hop right into another," I let out a shaky laugh.
She tilted her head to the side in confusion. "But isn't it better than death? And how are you so sure it's even a demon in the first place? I swear you humans are so ignor...."
"Just drop it. It doesn't concern you," I said as I rubbed my tired eyes, exhaling all the air that was stinging my lungs. Why did it feel like I was about to cry?
She quickly leaped in the air, slapping me across the face.
I was shocked that her little hand could even have that much force behind it. I lifted my fingers, slightly touching my blushed cheek.
Her lilac wings wildly fluttered, keeping her at eye level. "I made a promise! The day you saved me from that vile beast! I vowed!" She pointed her tiny hand in the direction of Socks. The furry grey brat lounged lazily on top of my clean clothes, not even fazed by her accusations.
Maybe I should have let Socks toy with her a little more...
"Okay...I'll check it out, where is he supposed to be? Does he have a potions shop or some bullshit like that?" I muttered.
Another mischievous smirk crept across her face. "It's in Vasilis."
Shit, she really was crazy.
"Don't worry! I have a friend of a friend who can glamour you, no one will know a human there. Promise!" She shook my head violently.
"Okay, okay," I swatted her away, but in seconds she attached herself to my face again. I couldn't help but have another sighed escape as she squished my cheeks together.
"I didn't want to bring this up, but..." She paused as she scrunched up her nose and continued, "since I have no choice and you just want to jump right into your death, I see no other way... I've heard rumors of a Sluagh Sidhe named Gossamer close to the border between our worlds running from the Unseelie Court. If you really want to find out what happened that night she will have all the answers, but it comes with a price and I would prefer you go see the old geezer first... But if I promise to take you to her, will you carry your ass to Vasilis?"
"Why didn't you say that in the first place?" I shook my head. She knew how much this meant to me. Why did she hide it so long?
"You're so reckless! Sidhes are dangerous and don't take kindly outsiders unless we have something they want. It's a long shot and I didn't want to get your hopes up. But I can't just watch you accept death with open arms! You're going to hell! HELL. I have read stories and their anything but pleasant," she fumed as she tried to steady her breathing.
"Deal." For the first time in a while, I felt hopeful. My cheeks began to ache from the smile I couldn't wipe off my face. I didn't care at this moment that Zel hid something so important. Instead, I realized I have a chance to figure out what happened. The truth, that might just set me free from these chains that have been dragging me through the dirt for the past agonizing year. You think I wouldn't so easily accept another deal, but second time's the charm or was it the third? I guess I'll have the chance to find out.