1. Heaven & Hell by Kumohime
She had been called in by her boss, yet again. This was not going to be good.
As she made her way through the dark humid corridors, she was careful not to touch the walls. They were slimy and wet and usually covered in blood and blood doesn’t wash easily.
She reached the door but she didn’t knock. It wasn’t necessary. Her boss could sense her outside and she would sense when he wanted her to come in.
She waited patiently trying to ignore the smell of sulfur assaulting her nostrils and trying to shut the screams of the lost souls of those not good enough for heaven but not evil enough to eventually become demons like herself. She didn’t mind the screams so much, except today they were giving her a migraine. Everybody in the underworld insisted that demons did not get migraines, but that didn’t stop her from getting one once in a while. Still she kept quiet about it. The other demons already thought her weird without that.
“Get your ass in here!” Her boss’ voice resonated in her head. She winced but didn’t delay entering. That would only anger the older demon even more and she would earn an even bigger punishment and those things were not taken lightly in any of the circles of hell.
She saw her boss sitting at his desk, which was made out of black carved stone, just staring at her. This was not good. She noticed his boss skin was molded with different shades of reds that gave the demon an almost iridescent tone, although it was a little too dark and matted to truly be iridescent. The different colors moved constantly not in the sluggish way they usually moved but rapidly, as clouds in a storm with strong wind. And that's what told the young female demon she was in deep deep trouble.
"Don't you ‘hello-Camui’ me," the higher level demon interrupted. "Leave my human name for a time when I don't want to throw you in with the lost souls."
"I'm sorry, Master." She knelt in respect showing contrition, which she really did feel. Camui was a disciplinary demon and for some reason had taken to her from the start. Ever since she had woken up in the inferno right after being killed, he had been her mentor and her guide and she knew that the demon saw her as a kind of daughter. But she was sure that this would not save her this time.
The other demon sighed. "Stop that. Cisarath, I cannot bail you out anymore. I have my own bosses and keeping your origin a secret, if you continue like this…"
"I know.” She knew all this. She was half human and, contrary to popular belief, halflings were not allowed under any circumstance anymore. If someone found out she was one and that she had been born after the ban, she was toast… pretty much literally. “I'm sorry. I honestly don't know what happened."
"You don't know what happened? You were supposed to make a man feel so heart broken that he would go on a killing spree and then kill himself. You know, I would have accepted a simple suicide but how the hell do you go from that to him going to the middle east as a doctor without borders?"
"He found his first love and she took him there..."
"And who helped them meet again!" The lord of chaps roared.
Cisarath flinched. "The woman was with a handsome successful man, I thought she would reject him and end up breaking him..."
"YOU SET UP A ROMANTIC DINNER FOR THEM!"
"The more romantic the set up the bigger the fall?" In all honesty she had liked the place and the view and she thought it would be a waste not to use it for something but she was not about to admit that.
Her demonic guardian rubbed the sides of his head with his eyes pinched closed as if he had her headache ten fold.
"I'm sorry," she whispered doing her best at looking repentant. With other demons that would have been suicide. In hell you never looked soft or weak but this was the demon who had taken her after she had been tortured and killed and had showed her all there was to know about being a demon, he was her mentor, and she loved him... no, she would love him if demons like her had feelings, which they didn't. And SHE didn’t… honest.
“I know you are. But I cannot help you anymore. This is not the first time this happened.”
“I know, but I explained everything. And I’m getting better… Really… and… what do you mean with you cannot help me anymore?”
The sadness in Camui’s eyes was both foreign and disturbing. A pissed off demon she could handle, but this...
“I have a boss too, you know?”
Yes, she did know and he had mentioned his boss twice already. He who shall not be named. He who ruled the above and the below. She had heard about this creature but had never seen him (if it was in fact a he) and she didn’t want to and Camui bringing him up now did not bode well.
“Camui… Master… I’m sorry, I really am. I tried but…”
She felt a strong arm sneak around her shoulders and a second later black wings enveloped her.
“I’m such a disappointment, aren’t I? I bet my father, whoever he is, would be ashamed.”
“No, he isn´t… I mean he wouldn’t be.” The demon took a deep breath. “Maybe you were never meant to be here. Maybe staying would be a mistake.”
Cisarath felt all her blood drain. She couldn’t go back to Earth. Sure, things had changed and she probably wouldn’t be tortured and burned at the stake because some old pervert accused her of being a demon spawn (which she had been) if she went back to live in that place permanently. But what would she do there. Even if she made the choice to ascend, she didn’t know anybody and even if she met somebody, she was immortal and everybody would end up dying. And that is not even considering the fact that she would never see Camui again.
She immediately fell to the ground. If she had to grovel, she would. Hell was not perfect but she could deal with it. Going back there and live among humans was a completely different story.
Again, she felt the higher demon’s hands on her shoulders and his forehead resting on the back of her head.
When he spoke he sounded wary. “Go. I’ll see what I can do. But this is the last time. I might get you one more chance but after that, it will really be out of my hands. Now go.”
She nodded and walked out in silence.
Anmo stared at the door. For the first time in the 500 years since she had been born, he was worried. She was not a full demon and she didn’t belong in hell. She was not a full human and she didn’t belong in Earth and she had no one else other than him.
He took a deep breath, there was only one thing he could think of doing.
The angel walked the cloud-like corridor. He took deep breaths trying to calm himself down. He was in so many troubles that not even his cutest puppy dog eyes could get him out of them. It had really been an accident. He couldn´t have foreseen his charge’s reaction. How was he supposed to know that that was going to happen? Usually when people have a life changing experience they found a new love and respect for life, right? Well, not this guy. This guy had gone and gotten a heart attack. A heart attack! At 40! Honestly, the angel thought he had brought it on himself by not exercising, working too much, drinking too much beer and eating too much junk food.
He stood at the imposing white door to his boss’ office. He didn’t knock; he would be summoned when he could get in.
He folded one of his wings and ran a hand through the long soft feathers, which were a muted white color now, matching his current mood. No matter how he looked at it, he was in deep, deep trouble. He wondered if his wings would be taken away. They weren’t really his, they had been given when he had been brought up here.
He felt a tingle run through his body which interrupted his thought. He knew he was being summoned. His wings drooped low and he took a deep breath before he walked past the slowly opening doors.
The place inside was not inside at all. It looked like a garden with silver-white grass and iridescent flowers and of course sunshine all around. He had always liked sunny days before he had died and been given his wings but heaven was a little too shiny and sparkly even for him. All the shine and light gave him headaches. Of course he never complained about it, angels were not supposed to get a headache, least of all from heavenly light.
“Now I’m sir. At least you know you are in trouble.” The angel sighed. Hyde, one of the highest hierarchy angels, was sitting on a stylish butter colored sofa, which was at odds with the garden-like scenery. He had not looked at him yet.
“I know that my last assignment was… less than successful,” the young angel ventured.
“Less than successful? You killed the man, Takahisa!”
He winced at this. He had never wanted to hurt anybody, least of all be the cause for their death. “Is… is the soul…” He stuttered.
“Yes. He is waiting to be reincarnated. It will take some time, however. He wasn’t supposed to die for 40 years, his future parents have not even been born yet.”
“I’m sorry, it really wasn’t my intention…”
“I know. It never is and yet here we are again,” the older angel sighed sadly. “I know you don’t mean any harm, my child. And I have been protecting you all this time but now…”
Takahisa swallowed the lump forming in his throat. “Now?”
“I report to someone else and many angels are complaining about you. I have feared that you would be brought to his attention and now after this, I’m sure of it. You don’t exactly blend in.” Or fit in, Takahisa thought but kept quiet. “And do you have to play so many pranks on the other angels?”
“It’s fun and everybody here is so boring. And not everybody minds… much…”
“You caused an uproar last time.”
“How was I supposed to know a “heavenly creature” would be that afraid of lizards?”
“How were you supposed to know he was afraid of lizards? How were you supposed to know a man would have a heart attack when you revealed yourself as an angel and barreled him with visions of his past? You wouldn’t have to know all that if you would think for two seconds before you act!”
Takahisa looked down at his feet. He had never minded the fact that angels didn’t wear any clothes in heaven, since their bodies were most of the time made of light, but now he wished he had at least a T-shirt to fidget with.
“So, what’s going to happen to me?”
“I don’t know. I’ve kept your true origin a secret but now…”
The angel let the sentence die.
“Yes… I should have never existed and of course I’m not a good angel, since I’m not really one.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Well, I’m not a full angel and…”
“And nothing. Although… Maybe you should go back. Maybe you’d be better off where you were originally born.”
The ancient angel saw the panic instantly forming on the young one’s eyes. With all the kindness he felt at that moment he said. “It won’t be like before. Things have changed since then?”
At that moment memories came in a flash. The persecution, people in the old small village calling him a monster, the stones coming towards him.
“I can’t choose to go back. There is nothing for me there. There is no one. I can’t go back there. I wouldn’t…”
“Okay, okay,” the angel interrupted him. “I’ll think of something. Now, go. And please stay out of trouble.”
Takahisa nodded and left without saying anything.
“I can sense you around. I didn’t give you access to snoop around,” Hyde said after Takahisa left.
There was a low chuckle and a demon appeared. “I never snoop around.”
Hyde chuckled back. “Spying then?”
“Do not insult me, angel.”
“I apologize, demon.”
They both broke into smiles and patter each other’s shoulders in greeting.
“It has been a while, Camui.”
“It has, and once again we find each other in a similar predicament.”
“It would seem that way.”
“We made a mistake by bringing them here, didn’t we?”
“Yes. But they both died so young and in such a manner…”
“And it wasn’t their fault.”
Hyde nodded. “We could send them back.”
“Not unless they do it out of their own free will. I don’t know if they would accept that. They both really want to become worthy.”
“Yes, but there might be something we can do.”