Claimed *Completed*

"I'm already living on borrowed time. When it comes to it, it will be my time to go."

500 years ago Cathy should have died, but she didn't. She was saved by the Devil.

"I agreed to something ... Something that cant have been important then, it seemed too far away.
I'd agreed, after five hundred years, to hand myself over to the Devil, to become his."

Now her time's up, but back in the city where it all started, things are far from over. Cathy finds out that there is more to the Devil than she ever thought. A new boy, a best friend and a deadly enemy, things are about to get complicated...

"No one's that good or bad, it's not that simple, nothing's that black and white. It's more grey."

*Hi, this is my first Movella, so I'd love some feedback and constructive critsism! Thanks :)

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15. Thursday, 13th January 2012

  Thursday,13th January 2012

 

 

 

It looks more like a prison than a block of flats. At least, it probably used to.

  Twenty storey’s high, the dark form of the tall grey building looms up over me. The small windows are empty and the glass that used to live in them is scattered in fragments around the base of the building. A tall chain-link fence separates me from the cracked dry earth surrounding the flats that I suppose once could have been called a courtyard.

  I look down at the address in my hand, this is the place alright. A glace up and down the road tells me building like this one line both sides of the road.

  I don’t know whose idea it was to call this Church Lane, but there’s not a church in sight and the whole street looks abandoned, apart from a stray cat wondering lazily across the road. It looks like even the homeless avoid these parts.

  I take some comfort in the fact Chrissie and Jack are just around the corner, waiting in the car. I insisted on walking the rest of the way alone, in case Jess saw them.

  Despite this my resent ‘lack of super-powers’, as Chrissie calls it, makes me more nervous than I normal would be as I squeeze through a gap in the fence.

  I tread carefully around the glass, cans, broken chairs, and even an old shopping trolley. Weeds have grown up around them, sucking them into the undergrowth. I have to pick my way around the large patches of weeds to avoid being submerged in green myself.

  Once I’m across the yard I step cautiously through the doorway, whose door is nowhere to be seen. Inside it looks like everything of any worth has been striped out, in some places even the carpet has been taken. I shiver; this place gives me the creeps.

  A noise comes from behind me and I spin around before I realise that it’s only the scampering noise of rats’ feet of the bare floor. I see a tail disappearing around a doorway, I let the tension drain away and slowly I inch my way over to the foot of the stairs; I don’t even need to check to know the lifts don’t work.

  A check on a couple of floors proves that the whole building is the same; damp, empty and rat-infested. What’s Jess doing in a place like this? My suspicions grow, Jack would have told me to turn around long before now, but my curiosity is too strong.

  It’s dark as I make my way higher. A few windows are all I have to illuminate my way, but even that offers little help, since the sun has already gone down outside. I can’t see where I’m stepping and choose not to take a closer look. The corners and crack are pitch-black, making the stairs seem endless.

  When I finally arrive on the top floor something’s different.

  At first it’s only a subtle difference; I can no longer hear the pattering of rats coming from the walls and it strikes me as ominous that even the rats avoid it up here – then I realise why. In the gloomy, half-light of the corridor, a faint glow seems to be coming from the room beyond the door. I move instinctively closer, and stop just outside. It must be one of the only doors left in the building.

  I hesitate; part of me wants to turn around and run as fast as I can away, but the stronger part of me is determined to find out the truth. I take a deep breath, tug the door open and step inside.

  The bright light hits me first, so I can’t take in anything else, I hold a hand up to my face to shield my eyes. As I adjust to the brightness I see Jess standing in the middle of the room, feet slightly apart and arms by her sides, poised for a fight. The light seems to be coming from her, but she hasn’t got a torch or a candle – no, the light seems to be coming from inside her.

  Katrina. That’s the first thought that pops into my mind, which has blanked in surprise. It’s the same light that I saw, momentarily, just before Katrina pushed me. It’s not really light – the room is still as dark as ever – but the light is more like a  powerful feeling, like the ones that get from people, but much stronger. I think that if Chrissie or Jack were here, they would see nothing but Jess standing in a dark room.

  Oh, god, it’s a trap. I should have listened to Jack. I start to back away, back out into the hall. Jess puts a hand out to stop me, but it’s her words that make me freeze.

  “Cathy, please look closer. I’m not the same as Katrina. Look at the light; it’s not as bright as hers.”

  How does she know about the light? How does she know about Katrina’s light? Can she see it like me?

  That little bit of hope that she’s like me means can’t help but look closer.

  Now my eyes have fully adjusted, I can see she’s right. I thought the light was bright at first because of the dim light, in and out of the building. But from the little I saw of Katrina’s mind, it was a lot brighter than Jess’ is now.

  That doesn’t completely erase my suspicions though.

  “How do you know about the light?”

  Jess relaxes as I seem to accept that she’s not quite the same as Katrina. “It’s called an Aura. You’re not the only one who can mind scan, cool eh?” She laughs, although not completely     naturally, “Okay, you look confused. We got off to a bad start. Why don’t we sit down? I don’t bite.”

  Jess pulls up two chairs from a corner of the room, which seem in too good condition to have already been there before. They look starkly out of place in this run down flat.

  As I sink tentatively down, I look around the room, dark as ever despite Jess’ Aura, it’s a strange sensation.

  I look up at Jess; I’m blunt, “Who are you?”

  “Jess-”

  I cut her off; I’m not in the mood. “You know what I mean.”

  “Yes, I do.” I wait for more and Jess sighs, “Okay, normally this would sound completely mad, but I guess mad’s your thing.” She peers up at me, waiting for confirmation, so I nod stiffly.

  “Look, you know about the Devil, right? Well-”

  “How do you know about the Devil?”

  Jess sighs, “Look, I know quite a bit about you already, if you shut up and hear me out you’ll find out why.”

  I don’t like her tone, but I just press my lips together and fold my arms, keeping quiet.

 I know the Devil’s followers are called the Damned and they all have some long Latin names that I can’t remember, but that’s about all I know about him.

  “We are trained to spot them for miles off, they have an Aura around them, like mine, but theirs is horrible.” She shivers, “It’s just black-black-black; it gives me a headache.”

  “So, that light,” I motion in the air around Jess, where the light still sits, except now I’ve got used to it, I almost don’t notice. “That’s called an Aura?”

  Jess nods, “Humans don’t have one, or at least it’s so weak that it’s almost impossible to see, only the supernatural have them.” I take a second to process that, and everything else she’s said, but there’s more, “The problem is the Damned are almost as good at hiding it as us, so they’re not always obvious. You can see me now because I’m letting you.”

  “Why?”

  “Because I want you to see that I’m not hiding anything, even if you did think I was Katrina for a minute. I expected that, and I just hoped you’d see that that we aren’t the same, and you did.” She smiles a little at me, but I don’t return it, “It’s tiring to be constantly hiding.”

  I think for a minute, I suppose it all makes sense, but it’s frustrating that she knows even less about the Devil than I do. I have a million questions running around my head, but I voice the first one that reaches my lips.

  “Who are you in all of this?”

  She flinches, “More like, what am I” - Wait, what? What is she? - “Or, what I was.” She stares off into space. I wave a hand in front of her face to grab her attention. Her eyes refocus, but they’re troubled.

  “Sorry, I’m not following you.”

  Jess sighs, “Well, there’s a Devil, do there is also the opposite, the Angel, and her ‘followers’ called the Saved.” She snorts, “I’m not sure ‘saving’ is the right word for what she did to me.”

  I lean forward in my seat, “What did she do?”

  Jess steels herself, “I was Claimed two years ago-”

  “Claimed?” I don’t like the sound of that.

  “It’s what the Angel does best; she Claims souls. She takes a soul and makes it as her own, I became a Saved when she Claimed my soul, that’s why I have a white Aura; it’s the Angels mark on me.” She shivers. “She can’t just Claim any soul, it has to be willing, so the Angel takes advantage of girls who aren’t ready to die.”

  I can’t move for a moment, a renewed swirling of questions in my head; is that what the Devil did to me? Claimed me? I feel like I’m so much closer to finding out what’s really happening. I almost too afraid to say anything. Jess waits patiently until I finally find my voice, “When I saw the Devil, he gave me the exact same choice. Does that mean the Devil and the Angel are the same?”

  Jess frowns, “No, the Devil and Angel have been sworn enemies for as long as anyone can remember, and they must be centuries old.”

  I try to keep the irritated expression off my face. She’s not exactly being helpful. “Well then, what’s the difference? If they’ve been around so long, what they do? And the Saved?”

  “Do you want the nice version, or the truth?”

  “The truth.”

  Jess raises an eyebrow, “You really don’t.” She turns quickly serious again. “What I was told when I first became part of the Saved that our job was to preserve the balance of life and death,” she laughs a harsh, sharp laugh. “That was only the cover story.”

  “What was really going on?” I find myself clinging to every word falling from Jess’ lips, willing it to tell me something more about the Devil.

  “People were dying.” Before I can even register her words, she continues, “The Angel lives off fear, so she uses us as her spies; we’re everywhere, all over the world, living normal lives, but all the time acting the grim reaper. The job of the Saved is to constantly be on the look out for death. Apparently there is no greater fear than that before death.” She shudders, and I know what she means. I have never been more scared that the night I should have died. “Whenever we find death, we summon the Angel, and she feeds.” There is an almost hungry glint in Jess’ eye, but it’s gone as soon as I see it.

  “So all the Saved are all...”

  “Girls.” She finishes for me and nods, “The Saved are all girls and the Damned are boys.” She shrugs, “That’s just the way it is.” I open my mouth to ask the question, but she answers before it leaves my mouth, “The Devil can Claim souls just like the Angel can.”

  I frown at Jess, forehead creasing in confusion. I pick out the first question I come across and voice it, “So what happened to you? If she only Claims people who are dying then...”

  Instead of answering, Jess stands up and moves abruptly to the window. I hesitate for a second, and then follow her to the empty frame where the cold breeze floats in. I lean against the sill, goose bumps covering my arms.  After a pause Jess starts talking, her voice distant, eyes glazed. “Two years ago, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I tried to ignore the symptoms, I didn’t want to think that I was ill. When it got so bad I had to tell someone, it was bad news; I’d left it too long, there was nothing they could do.

  “They gave me the choice between staying at home and spending time with my family for the last... last days...” Tears trickle down her checks, she quickly wipes them away.

  “I’m so sorry, Jess, I didn’t realise...”

  “It’s not your fault,” She takes a deep breath and continues, “I chose the other option; staying in hospital and getting put on life support machine, they could only keep me alive so long, but, to me, that was better then nothing.

  “I was in a lot of pain toward the end, but I still refused to let them turn off the machines that kept my heart beating. I lasted longer than anyone thought I would, probably out of sheer determination to stay alive. I knew the end was coming though, so it wasn’t much of a surprised when the Angel turned up and told me that I was dead, or near enough.

  “Naturally, seeing the Angel, I assumed I was already dead, so I was more surprised when she told me I didn’t have to die.” Jess pauses and I can tell she’s reliving the moment.

  “And then?” I prompt.

  “She offered me something that I just could say no to – life. The thing I’d been wishing for was there in front of me, just waiting for me to take. So I chose what anyone would have.”

  My own words come floating back to me, Life or death, he said. That was my choice, to die a horrible death or live life as I had never seen it before, to get more out of it than anyone else ever would do. And I chose what anyone would have – life.

  I feel one of many weights lift off my shoulders. Jess feels the same; she sees it like I do. As horrible as it is that Jess had to face the same life-or-death choice as me, she understands what it’s like. I’m not a bad person for choosing life over death.

  My eyes soften, “Yes. Yes, I know what you mean.”  I can tell Jess is as relieved as me to find that someone else choose the same path as her, but I need to know more, “What happened? When you were Claimed?”

  Jess shrugs, “I became part of the Saved; my second life was on the condition that I served the Saved, took orders from Katrina and followed the Angel.”

  There’s a pause where I wait for her to elaborate, when she doesn’t I try a different angle, “Why Katrina?”

  “Katrina is one of the oldest Saved, she’s about six hundred years old.”

  Wow, she’s even older than me. “Alyson?”

  “Um, two hundred, I think.”

  I consider this, “So you’ve been part of the Saved for just two years.”

  Jess nods, “As far as I know I am the youngest Saved there is.”

  I look out of the window once more; I can see most of the city from up here. Bright lights twinkle at me in the night and I force my eyes to pick out individual lights. Searching the city I eventually pick out the Kiay Bridge reaching over the dark river. My eyes settle there and my thoughts linger on the Angel.

 I break the silence that has fallen between us. “How come you have told me all this? I appreciate it and everything, but I just don’t understand why you’ve told me.”

  Jess turns to face me, her dark eyes boring into mine. “Because I think what the Angel is doing is wrong. And...” she hesitates, but doesn’t look away, “because I think you deserve a chance?”

  Suddenly I feel icy cold, “What do you mean?”

  “Everything I’ve been told – and I just told you – about being Claimed, the Aura, the Damned being boys, Saved being girls, it doesn’t apply to one person.”

  Oh no; I can sense what’s coming next and I almost don’t want to hear the answer, “Who?”

“You.”

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