Redemption

She died young, and was only saved through an exorcism that ended up killing her mother. Now she’s 18, three years past her expiry date and her soul is due for collection. Followed by a man named Luca (possessed by a Death), she and her best friend (demon) have to find some way of cheating Fate’s army of Deaths, and finally face Fate herself. Supernatural, thriller, horror, humour – and just a splash of romance?

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1. possessed

Luca drove anxiously through the highway, looking up at the amassing storm clouds every so often. Lightning snaked through the sky and Luca, somewhat absentmindedly, counted six seconds before thunder followed at a frightening volume.

He cursed sharply, manoeuvring an abrupt turn to dodge an inaptly placed tree along the dark, empty road. He shook his head in an attempt to clear his mind and focused on the remaining half hour of his trip.

It must be Aunt Gracie’s stupid orthopaedic tea.

Only the twisting luminance of the lone car’s headlights suggested any form of life on the otherwise empty highway.

Suddenly, a loud horrendous screech erupted from the rear of Luca’s car, followed by a rough, unsettling vibration. Luca swerved frantically into a convenient rest stop with a sign proclaiming “Stop, Revive, Survive” – the same sign he had been dutifully ignoring for the past two hours – braking the car at such an alarming speed, it flung him forward and was saved only by his seatbelt. He breathed out, leaning back, his heart beating at a swift pace. He got out of the car, pulling the collar of his leather jacket over his head; a pathetic attempt to avoid the torrential rain. Luca forgot all about warmth and comfort about the same time he sighted his wrecked tyre.

“No!” he muttered furiously. He glanced around him for help, and his face melted into complete gratitude when he glimpsed the roadside emergency telephone through the vision-impairing rain.

Luca picked up the phone, pressed it to his ear and pushed the blue button in the middle of the machine, emitting a short beep before starting to ring.

“Hello?” Luca spoke when there was a break in the monotone ringing.

“Hi, how may I help you?” the operator asked.

“My car’s lost a wheel.”

“What?”

“My tyre’s busted!” he shouted.

“Okay. If there’s lightning in the storm, please stay inside your car. We will arrive at your location in twenty minutes and replace your tyre.”

Luca thanked the woman and hung up, hugging his jacket closer as a chill percolated his body. Lightning twisted from above and thunder shook the earth, and an odd sound – like a massive force erupting into thin air – rung out from behind him. Luca spun around, his eyes barely making out the shape of what appeared to be a large black sphere hurtling toward him. He gaped in panic and shock, and the orb was gently vacuumed into his mouth, shrinking to fit. Luca choked, falling on his hands and knees, and then underwent a violent convulsion. He shrieked, fingers pulling and stretching at his face and throat, eyes rolling back into their sockets. And then as suddenly as it had started, the convulsion stopped, and Luca lay motionless on the ground, his expression – mouth open, eyes wide – petrified. Briefly, like a sea of black water, a curtain of dark glossiness swathed Luca’s eyes completely. A moment later, his eyes were topaz again, although his expression had not changed.

Tony had worked at the Traffic Management Centre for over twenty years, and as his windscreen wiper cleared the glass of rain, his mouth set in a grim line. Never in his career had he witnessed such difficult conditions. As another round of thunder and lightning ensued, Tony hurried to the car in the rest stop, taking with him the spare tyre. He leant down, knocking on the window of the driver’s side.

“Hello? I have a spare tyre for you!” he shouted.

There was no answer. He stood up, and caught sight of Luca, laying on his back, looking very dead.

“Oh no…oh please, no.”

Tony crouched down next to the man and placed his palm a few centimetres from his mouth – he wasn’t breathing. Tony searched his pockets for some form of identification. He found Luca’s wallet, and as he took it out, he felt the faint and somewhat erratic pulse against his thigh. He flipped open the wallet, wiping rain off the drivers’ licence as he squinted to read the name.

“Luca! Luca, can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can hear me, Luca.”

He was unresponsive. Without another thought, Tony began CPR on Luca, desperately pleading “breathe” with every compression.

Suddenly, Luca gasped deeply, bolting up. He took a few more breaths, calming himself, before turning his attention to Tony beside him, who was grinning in relief.

“Good to have you back, mate. Here’s your tyre.”

Luca looked at Tony, expressionless. Calmly, wordlessly and without much effort or struggle on his part at all, he strangled Tony. Luca sighed contentedly, feeding on Tony’s soul as it escaped from his mouth as a wisp of cloudy gas.

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