To the Ends of the Earth

Ava is constantly having the same nightmare, being dragged to hell. But every morning she wakes up next to her boyfriend Caiden and everything is okay. Being together is literal bliss; but in the back of Ava's mind she knows it is going to end.
Caiden would do anything for Ava, but what he doesn't realize is that Ava has already done the unimaginable to keep him safe.
On their eighth anniversary, Ava is taken from Caiden and dragged into the darkness of hell where she must fight for her own life and find her way back to earth alone, or so she thinks. As she struggles to escape she learns that the unimaginable exists and all the monsters under her bed were real.
Because you see, she made a deal... A deal with a demon; and a deal with a demon is a deal for your soul.


*note* there is foul language, some parts are a little scary and dark in nature. There are minor sexual occurrences, nothing to freak out about.*

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24. Salvation

Ava:

After a restless night Ava left the tree.  After one night the clothes she wore were torn and soiled. Blood had dried on her legs and arms, most of it from the underbrush in the forest. As soon as her feet hit the ground she heard heavy footsteps behind her.

"You're mine." A deep male voice growled. Ava's heart began to race and her mouth went dry. She stole a glance over her shoulder and realized the monster chasing her was the Minotaur, and he wasn't going to let her get away now. Ava stumbled over some fallen branches, almost falling flat on her face. Luckily, she kept her footing and continued on. 

The beast continued to speak to her telepathically as she ran through the woods.

"You'll never get away. I can smell you, you'll never be able to hide." His footsteps made the ground shake, and his roar rattled the trees. 

Ava was at a loss; she had no weapon to defend herself with, no where to hide, and no angel to protect her. She lost her footing, and slide down a steep hill until she rolled square into a tree. Her vision blurred and all she could see were black spots.

"Get up girl." She muttered, but she couldn't budge. She was in so much pain.

 

In the distance she heard the Minotaur's deep earth shaking roar. After, another roar followed, and then another. Another second later, several sets of running footsteps were coming from all directions right towards her; she was going to die.

Caiden:

When Caiden arrived home he didn't sleep very long. He was wide awake wondering if Ava would wake up; and if she did what would become of them. She didn't seem so keen on seeing him ever again. In the end he called Brad.

"It's four in the morning..." He mumbled.

"I'm sorry. I didn't know who else to call." Caiden admitted. He ran his fingers through his sandy hair and fell into the couch. After sitting alone for several hours in the silence, he needed to talk to someone. 

"It's alright buddy." Brad yawned on the other end of the phone. "So what's up?"

"Ava," Caiden sighed.

"I figured as much but what?"

"She was sent to the hospital today; she tried to kill herself." Saying it for a second time aloud hit Caiden hard, he started to cry silently.

"Fuck man," Brad muttered.

"She must have been stockpiling her medication. Doctor says she will be fine, but she still isn't awake."

"Her body will need rest. So do you, as much as you don't want to, you need to sleep."

They disconnected the call after that and Caiden did try to sleep. He was only greeted by nightmares and foreboding dreams about Ava. 

Ava:

She was scrambling around for anything that could help her, a rock, a stick... There was nothing. She could hear the creatures looming someone in the near by brush. Using what strength she had left, she pulled herself up with the support of the tree and limped off, hoping that she could find something, anything. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw the Minotaur racing forward at full speed. 

Before she spun back around something came from the right and tackled the large beast. As they hit the ground, it shook. The second animal made a horrid hissing sound; it appeared to be a large lizard. The two creatures wrestled one another, giving Ava the chance that she needed; ignoring the pain, she pushed ahead at full speed. 

"I will kill you if I ever get the chance." She muttered into the skies, and she swore she could hear the demon laughing in response.

The darkness fell suddenly and Ava was looking for temporary shelter once more. In the end she settle in a small crevices of a tree trunk. It was cramped but she could hid herself well with the branches and leaves on the ground. 

Unable to sleep, she forged a new weapon and attempted to dress whatever wounds she had. It felt like she the worst of her injuries were bruises. She knew her back would be covered in them as well as her arms and legs. 

"How the hell am I supposed to do this?" She muttered to herself. "It's my own soul and I can't find it..."

As she spoke she felt a tug, it tugged at her entire body. There was no external force pulling her from her safe place, but she felt a distinct jerk. It was all but possessing her to walk from her hiding place and into the open. 

She resisted the temptation to move and fell asleep, remaining in her safe haven for the remainder of the night, and a majority of the next three days. 

 

By the fifth day, her muscles were extremely stiff. She needed to move on and begin her search again. The strange pull was gone from her, and she felt more lost than ever. And by the eighth day, she was losing all hope.

"What do you know about a soul?" She pretended that Jeremy, her beautiful angel, was standing with her going over facts.

"It's a part of me, it has my feelings."

"If it has your feelings, it has your...." He left the statement open ended for her to finish.

"Memories."

"Exactly. But it also has your mind. No matter how small it has everything you have.

Ava was stuck again. She had no idea where to begin. She wished for Jeremy to appear before her with the sliver of her soul in his hand. Wishful thinking wasn't going to get her anywhere. She thought through Jeremy's lesson once more. If it has your feelings, it has your memories... 

As she worked through Jeremy's words in her head over and over again, the same sensation from before overcame her again. She felt as if something was trying to pull her forward. Rather than resisting, she stood up and walked in the direction she gravitated towards. After a few steps the tug became weak.

"This is useless!" She thought. Then she felt something hit her, and she fell to the ground.

Slamming the insanely heavy text book shut, Ava slumped in her desk chair. 

"This is useless." She huffed flipping through her notes. She was supposed to be writing up the final paper for her last undergraduate course ever. Instead she was staring at a useless text book and a blank document on her laptop. 

"Then it's time to take a break." Caiden whispered in her ear. He wrapped an arm around her and with the other he shut the laptop. "There's no use getting frustrated. Let's go for a walk and grab a bite to eat." 

He spun the chair around, so Ava would face him. Ava sighed and agreed to take a break, maybe she was just low on fuel, so to speak. She stood up and put on a jacket, slipped on shoes and grabbed her shoes. 

"Not so fast," Caiden said, now seated on her bed. He pulled her to him, hands on her legs. "You won't leave this apartment pouting. The whole point is to make you feel better."

"I just want to get this paper over with." 

"I know, but anger and frustration aren't going to write your paper. So smile." In response, Ava frowned more, crossing her arms in defiance. 

"Well now we really have a problem." Caiden smiled mischievously; he grabbed Ava by the waist and swung her onto the bed. Then he proceeded to tickle her sides and armpits, until she was squirming. He only stopped when Ava was laughing so hard she couldn't breathe.

"Still not happy." Ava said, still recovering.

"But you're at least smiling." Caiden said leaning over her. "You'll get the paper done. If you want, I'll go pick up something to eat and let you work for a bit alone."

"Will you bring dessert?"

"Of course." He smiled. He stood and left the apartment to get food.

Ava sat up abruptly, breathing hard and sweating. It was such an insignificant memory, Ava had practically forgotten about it. Now however, she remembered working late while Caiden slept and writing the almost the entire paper that night.

As she sat there on the cold ground, Ava once again felt as if she was being pulled by some unseen force. She stood slowly and walked in the direction she felt the force was taking her. Every few feet she would be hit with another memory. She did her best to stay on her feet while she was overwhelmed with emotions and dragged into her own mind. The further she walked the more frequent the memories became. She remembered things from her childhood, vacation, high school, college, and from every other part of her life. 

The tugging grew stronger the more that she walked. Eventually, she came to a small cave, similar to one she had hid in on her first night in Purgatory. Unlike the first night, she felt that there was something waiting for her in the cave now.

As she entered she felt a cool musky breeze come from within, and with that breeze came an awful odor that smelled of decaying flesh. She had no means of creating a light source, and she didn't have the patience to try. So instead Ava walked along the edge of the cave, one hand on the wall and one extended in front of her. The memories had stopped at this point; but the tugging was still present, leading her deeper into the cave. 

She moved slowly, afraid of falling flat on her face. The further she went into the cave the more potent the smell of death became and the colder the air around became. Had she been able to see the space around her, Ava would have found hundreds of bats hanging above her, watching her every move. On the floor bugs were crawling around beneath her feet and crawling on her. 

When Ava reached what she assumed was the center of the cave, there was a dim light, the same color as the orb Red Eyes had held in his hand before. As she neared it, a large shape came into view. Eva realized what it was, but it was too late. The Minotaur was charging for her; she assumed it was the same one that had been chasing her before, but she couldn't be sure. The eyes were different now; they were the same color as her soul had been. 

Ava only had a second to think about what to do. She could turn and run, but what if this was her chance to end this all and get back where she belonged. Perhaps the Minotaur was feeling the same force that Ava had been feeling as she found her way through the cave. If this wasn't a trick, a piece of her soul was inside the Minotaur.

Making her decision, Ava stood her ground and faced the Minotaur. She stood still as the creature stormed closer. Ava could feel each step of the Minotaur through the vibrations in the ground. Ava shut her eyes, too afraid to face.

Caiden:

Caiden woke up early, showered and got dressed. Without getting any food, he left for the hospital barely taking the time to buckle his seat belt. He wasn't going to miss any moment with Ava now. It was in his power to be there for her and he was going to be there. 

He arrived at the hospital as two men dressed in suits were leaving the front desk. He followed them down the hall as we walked towards Ava's room. The further he walked behind them, making the same turns, the more nervous he became.

", this is probably nothing. The girl probably ran away and got hooked on drugs before coming back home to fix her life." The blonde suit muttered in a short tone.

"Dude," The taller suit said.

"I'm just saying, its a possibility. After this we should stop and get some pie. I saw sign a few blocks back: BEST PIE IN THE MIDWEST."

"Seriously Dean? You don't think ANY of this is strange? This girl was gone for five years. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where there are tapes of her talking to nothing, and nurses hear her mentioning someone she calls Red Eyes. Not to mention she looks the exact same."

"Yeah, that's a little weird. But all I'm saying is some people are crazy." 

"Some people would say WE'RE crazy." The tall dark haired one rebutted.

"Touche." 

By this time the pair realized someone was behind them and they stopped chatting all together. The rounded the corner where Ava's room was and all entered. Now Caiden felt he needed to find out who these people were. But before he got the chance, Ava's mother spoke first.

"Who are you?" She stood from her chair by Ava's bed, where Ava remained unconscious. Caiden was a little disappointed, he had hoped she would be awake by now. 

"Uh, hello Ma'am. I am Agent Nicks and this is my partner Agent McVie." The shorter man said. Only now was when Caiden could get a good look at him. He had dark blonde hair and green eyes. He had a distinct jaw line, which suddenly made Caiden feel conscious of his own appearance.

"Curious last names, some of the Fleetwood Mac members share your name." Ms. Holland said with a dubious tone. She was sure to stand between the men and her daughter. Caiden moved to stand with her. 

"Aha, yes. We get that a lot. The department made a joke out of it, and now we are partners." The taller man said in a gentle tone. He had a younger face, but the same color eyes. Caiden had a bad feeling about these guys.

"So why are you here." He said 

"We're from Missing Persons, we just came to get some information from your daughter about what happened when she disappeared. Just routine questions, to see if she had information about who took her that might help her case or others."

"Well, as you can see my daughter isn't in any state to talk."

"Do you mind us asking what happened?" The tall man asked in an empathetic tone. He seemed genuinely concerned.

"She tried to kill herself, what else is there to know?" Ava's mother was getting frustrated. 

"We know this is difficult, and we can't imagine what you are going through. But anything could help us, and help your daughter."

"All I know is that she must have been hiding her pills. One day she couldn't cope anymore or something, and she took them all. The doctor's don't understand why she hasn't woken up. They pumped her stomach in time, and her vitals have been stable since. They just keep telling me to give her time. She didn't talk about what happened before she was committed, but she wasn't sleeping well, she wasn't stable. We attributed that to whatever trauma she had been through. I don't understand how this is going to help."

"We know, it doesn't seem to make sense now, but this has been helpful. We thank you for taking your time to talk to us." The taller one said trying to console Ms. Holland.

"One more question," The blonde man interjected. "Can you talk a little bit about her disappearance, when did it happen?"

Now it was Caiden's turn to talk. 

"It was our anniversary. We had been together for eight years." The shorter suit whistled amazed. "We were out at the park and I had to go back to the car to get something. She screamed and for a second I saw her and then..." Caiden paused. 

"She disappeared?" The shorter man finished.

"...Yeah." The men look at each other skeptical, but say nothing. 

"Was there any other significance of this day for either of you?" The taller man said.

"Yeah, it was our anniversary, but it had also been a year since our car accident. I had been in pretty rough shape. Someone blew a stop sign and hit the passenger side, Ava was driving. She was beat up over it for months. I fully recovered. Doctors were amazed."

"Well, thank you for your time. We hope that Ava recovers." The tall man said before shaking Ms. Holland's hand and offering a business card. 

Suddenly, the monitors attached to Ava went haywire. The screens were glitching and every piece of machinery with an alarm attached was sounding. Ava's mother let out a cry of fear, and the two Agents moved aside as nurses flooded the room with the doctor. Before they could do anything all the monitors and alarms shut off.

For a moment all was silent. Ava's back arched and she sucked in air. The medical personnel surrounded her ready to inject her with medication to sedate her. But before they could hold her down, she flung them all off her and sat up straight with her eyes wide open and mouth ajar as if she had been screaming. 

"Son of a Bitch." The shorter suit exclaimed. 

"Where am I?" Ava muttered, her voice cracking. Everyone stood in shock for a moment unable to move, even the doctor and nurses. 

"Oh my God." Ms. Holland screamed. "Ava!" She pushed through the staff and threw herself over her daughter. "I have to call your father, and Azarias. Thank God."

"Yeah, thank him..." The blonde man muttered.

"Dean." The taller suit said shoving his partner. They excused themselves from the room and were mostly forgotten about.

The rest of the day was spent with nurses coming in and out of the room to check on Ava and make sure she had everything she needed. The entire time Caiden didn't leave her side.

Ava:

Ava was laying in the hospital bed with her eyes shut. She was too afraid to actually sleep, weary that it wasn't truly over. She was exhausted, and her body ached. She was able to stay awake for the flow of visitors she had throughout the day. But now, only Caiden remained and he was sitting in a chair staring at her, she could feel his gaze even with her eyes shut.

"I'm not going to disappear you know." She said without moving or opening her eyes to meet his. She was still afraid that their relationship wouldn't be the same and that Caiden had truly moved on. But that wouldn't explain why he sat by her side staring and saying nothing.

"Doesn't matter. You are a flight risk now, I gotta keep my eyes on you." He yawned and leaned back in his chair. Ava took a peek opening only one eye. He looked tired, and older. 

"I'm sorry." Ava whispered.

"Don't start this again. None of this is your fault." Caiden got up from his chair and sat next to her on the bed. Ava hesitated a moment before saying anything.

"I know, but still..."

"All that matters is you are okay. You should rest."

"I'm not tired." Ava argues mid yawn.

"Yeah okay." Caiden shakes his head. He stands up, squeezes Ava's thigh and returns to his chair.

A few hours later, Ava fell asleep. Caiden had fallen asleep in the chair and was quietly breathing. The room was silent, but feeling some sort of unrest, Ava woke up. Standing at the foot of her bed was Jeremy.

"I wondered if I would see you." She whispered.

"You are well, I see. I'm glad." He walked towards the window and looked out into the night.

"Is it over?"

"Yes." Then without another word, Jeremy had disappeared. Finally, Ava could sleep peacefully, and at last without fear.

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