Alright guys, in the last chapter we saw Ava do the unthinkable. I know this is an extremely touchy subject to write on, but I just wanted that one last twist. Besides a person can only take so much. I am not condoning suicide as okay, because it isn't. It is heart breaking... But you will see in this chapter that I hint at it being a 'sinful' thing. That is not something I necessarily agree with either. This chapter heavily relies on some thing the Dante's Divine Comedy (The inferno) Again, this is not a reflection of my personal beliefs just something I found interesting. I do not want anyone to be offended/hurt by the content in this chapter and the one before it. It's a sensitive topic, but just stick with me for a little bit longer.
I thought that would be a good thing to mention with recent events in the story and those to come. Thank you for the support, I love hearing from you guys. Smooches!
Caiden was working on cleaning his home. Cora had left late that night, and to her displeasure she was fully clothed. As much as she wanted, and he too, Caiden couldn't force himself to. She was beautiful and sexy, but every time she touched him more and pulled at his shirt, memories flooded back in his head. He couldn't do that to Cora, or to Ava. It just wasn't fair, to anyone.
'Maybe I'm over thinking it.' He thought to himself.
The rest of the week went smoothly, and Caiden found himself happier than he had been in a long time. For the first time in over five years he was genuinely happy for more than a couple of hours. It was a good feeling. But even then, there was worry underlying his happiness. It crept up on him unexpectedly during the day and he couldn't force it down. He had to think rationally. There was no news from Ava's family, so he figured that was a good sign. She must be doing fine, at least he hoped. There would be contact if anything big had happened, even if he wasn't to actually contact her.
"Now my pet, how should we celebrate your home coming?" Red Eyes said in a false tone of sincerity. Without waiting for a response, he snapped his fingers and flames began to flare around them, turning the room into a roaring furnace.
"This is much better, didn't you miss me love?" He said, stroking her cheek.
"No," She said flatly. Even now, in death she felt the effects of the sleeping pills. She felt like shit, and Red Eyes was making it worse.
"Come love, you need better attire." He snapped again and Ava found herself in the familiar black dress from before.
"I hate you." She spat.
"Such strong words." He said laughing loudly. He drug her down the narrow passages of Hell, passing all the cages she was familiar with. Her old cage was still vacant, but they continued passed it.
"You haven't experienced any pain yet." He laughed.
Ava pressed her palms against her temple. There was a pulsing sound in her ears that would not stop. The pressure just grew continuously, she thought her head would explode. Her legs wobbled as she walked and she saw black spots everywhere.
"The feelings will pass." He said waving his hand around. They finally arrived in a dark open area. It smelled of burnt hair and blood. Ava tried to hold her breath, but that didn't even help; the smell made her want to vomit.
Red Eyes stopped abruptly and shoved her down into a dark hole. She landed hard scraping up her arms and legs. She could feel the warm blood oozing.
"Fuck!" She screamed. Her legs felt broken and the smell was even worse now. She couldn't see anything around her, but the floor was moist and the walls were cold.The only source of light was above her and they were the flames of hell.
"I will return for you my poppet, but for now I will leave you with your thoughts." His silhouette disappeared. Slowly her eyes adjusted, and Ava could see shadows lurking around the edges of her small hole. They moved and whispered to themselves, laughing at her pain. Ava curled into a ball and started to scream.
The shadows crept forward and threw the slits between her fingers she could see their faces, deformed and pale. They were the faces of everyone she knew; Caiden, her mom and dad, her siblings, Azarias... Everyone. They all yelled at her, hatred spewing like venom with each word.
It seemed that this torture continued for hours on end and the only thing that would block out their voices was her scream. Ava was lying in a tight ball, her hands covering her ears and her head tucked in at her knees.
"Child, rise." The voice was familiar and comforting but Ava didn't move. She had been tricked already several times only to be beaten down. Instead, she opened her eyes and moved her head. Flames were everywhere around her and they were slowly moving closer. The voices still spoke loudly in her ears but she could not see the shadows.
She rolled onto her back and looked upward. There was now a bright white light shining from above. At the center a tall dark figure stood, arm extended toward her. Ava felt more afraid than she ever had before.
"No." She screamed, and scooted across to the edge of her cave.
"Ava, come with me." The figure jumped into the hole and landed with a thud on the cool, moist floor of the cave. Up close Ava could see who this man was.
"Jeremy, not you too. You were my angel." She cried. This was a cruel trick, it didn't seem right to make an angel part of Hell's hallucinations.
"I am here to save you."
"Just go away, I won't fall for these tricks anymore. You are only going to hurt me."
"No I am not."
"Yes, now leave." But the angel did not obey her wish. Instead he stepped forward and took her arms roughly and dragged her out of the hole. She felt a burning sensation all over her body, it was very familiar to her now, but it still hurt.
"He knows." Ava whispered.
"You still have your soul, I can feel it." He responded. "He cannot hold you."
"He has a piece of it." Ava said, her vision was blurred and her body was burning. The further up they went the hotter she felt.
"Not possible," Jeremy replied.
"Why don't you see for yourself?" Red Eyes said in a smug voice. He was standing at the top of the cave, waiting for Jeremy, as if he knew this would happen.
"Stop toying with me Red." Ava screamed.
"Toying with you?" He looked between the two of them and smiled. It grew wider and wider. He stepped forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. "My dear this is not my doing. Our angel friend here thinks that he can save you."
"I can and you know it."
"Yes, but then you will never retrieve your dear human's soul." Red Eyes opened his palm and a ball of blue-white light appeared in his left hand. Ava felt a tug from inside her, her entire body was screaming at her to snatch it from him. She stepped forward, but Red Eyes shook his fingers and flicked hand at her.
Ava slid across the room and slammed hard into the wall. She felt red hot metal clasp onto her wrists and legs. She was now bound to the wall. Red Eyes smiled and clenched his left hand tight. Ava's body shuddered as pain spread throughout her entire soul.
"I am not letting you get away this time sweetheart. I underestimated your abilities before, I will not be fooled again."
"I am warning you." Jeremy said. He looked fierce, his hands bawled into fist, skin glowing.
"Lets make a deal." Red Eyes shouted.
"I do not make deals with demons." He snarled.
"No? That's too bad."
"Let her go. I will not say this again."
"Take her, but you cannot have her soul, only she can retrieve it."
"How?" Ava muttered.
"You will see."
He snapped his fingers, and Ava felt herself being dragged away from the wall and back down into her hole. She clawed at the ground, making her fingers bleed. She screamed for Jeremy's help but he stood motionless.
"I won't let you out easily this time. If you fail I will get your whole soul."
"We've made no deal." Ava shouted.
"Maybe not, but the choices you make here will determine whether you belong in heaven or hell."
The demon laughed then and suddenly the cave was lit by flames across the walls. Around her a group of people had gathered. Most of them were strangers, but she saw a couple of faces that she recognized. She had no idea what to expect but, she stayed low, and waited for something to change.
"What is this Red?"
"Your test." He responded from somewhere around her, but when she looked she couldn't find him. She pushed through the people, who didn't say a word to her. Behind all of them was a large wooden door with a decorative glass knob. Ava stepped forward tentatively and took a hold of the knob. It was cool to the touch, but Ava also felt some sort of electrical charge as she turned it. Something was being switched on.
It was Wednesday, but for Caiden it felt more like a Friday. He had left work early to go to dinner with Cora. He had been anticipating the day all week. His coworkers joked around with him and so did Brad.
"So, how was work?" Cora asked sipping at wine. She eyed him playfully and extended a hand to him. He took it happily and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. He felt a twinge of guilt as he did so, because he suddenly only felt Ava's skin and saw only her eyes. He returned his hand after a moment and sipped at his beer, looking away from Cora as he did.
"It was the same as always. People don't know what they are doing so I have to fix it. I did make a deal with a company in New York, so we will be opening an office out there."
"Oh! Let's celebrate." She said raising her glass.
They ate dinner together peacefully, and the date went off without a hitch. Caiden wasn't really sure if he should call it a date at all, but it was starting to feel like one. They drove to his house and flipped on the television. Cora was snuggling next to him, gently rubbing a finger across his arm.
"You know I like you... Right?" She said. Caiden swallowed hard and looked down at her.
Inside, it was completely dark, except for one area in the distance. A lamp hung over a large gold door. Ava peered into the darkness around her and continued toward the door.
"Tell me child, why did you kill yourself?" A voice in the distance questioned. It was deep rumbling sound, and it shook the ground Ava stood on.
"Were you filled with so much self hate that you had to end your life?" The voice continued. Ava tried to look around and see the speaker, but there was nothing but blackness. She continued walking towards the door, picking up her pace as she went. More and more, she was getting the feeling that this was a trick, and she was walking down an endless corridor.
"Did you not have a good life?" The voice asked. "Are you ungrateful?"
"NO! Ava shouted. "I just, I couldn't take it. Living wasn't living anymore."
If she were to be truthful, she hadn't really given herself time to live again. She had only been back home for four months. At the same time, Red Eyes wasn't giving her much of a choice. She would have been stuck in the mental facility for years.
"But you are fortunate, you have been to hell and made it back to earth. Why would you condemn yourself to this fate again?"
"I told you." Ava muttered. She was steaming now. She hated Red Eyes, she hated this voice, she hated Jeremy for doing nothing to help, and she hated herself.
"I see it now, the wrath behind your eyes." The rumbling voice said.
"It just wasn't fair!" Ava shouted, she stopped dead and spun around looking for the source of the voice. She wanted to strangle him to shut him up. "I sacrificed everything! I suffered hell for forty years, and then almost died everyday for ten years in Purgatory. When I returned, I got nothing! Everyone had forgotten about me. Everyone, even Caiden!"
"Your lover was spared, is that not what you wanted?" The voice demanded.
"Yes it was.. I just.. I thought everyone would have believed I was alive.. They all gave up on me."
"Like you gave up on me?" A familiar voice whispered. At the other end of the corridor, Jeremy was standing, wings and all. He looked furious, but at the same time exhausted.
"No," Ava stammered. "You didn't have faith in me, you didn't believe that I would save you." He said. The distance between them closed and he was suddenly looming over her. His blue eyes digging deep into her soul. He had moved so quickly and quietly that Ava was unable to register that he had moved at all. She looked up at him and swallowed hard, her throat dry.
"I wasn't going to wait anymore!" She had meant to sound confident and intimidating, but when she spoke she sounded like a frightened mouse. "You told me that the journey was mine, it was my cross to bare. I was out of options. I did everything I could. I'm only human here, I don't have mystical supernatural abilities to get me out of any situation."
Jeremy staggered backward and was mute.
"I hoped and prayed that you would save me, that someone would." She was panting now, stepping up to Jeremy and looking up at him. She poked his chest and he continued to stumble back. "No one came, so I took matters into my own hands. It was my life, I chose what happened and I threw it away, but I never gave up faith in you. Even now, I believe. This isn't the real you and I know that."
As Ava finished, Jeremy's figure began to fade away. Once he had completely disappeared there was complete silence in the eerie corridor. The only thing that was left of the blue eyes angel was a bright gold key. Ava stepped forward, her steps echoing down the cave-like structure. She knelt down to pick it up and noticed that something was engraved down the side. The old fashioned key was cool to the touch and once it was in her hands, the words began to glow a hot red.
"What...?" Ava muttered. What could that mean? Fear welled up inside her stomach, she walked slowly to the door and inserted the key. It turned without a problem. She turned the knob and pulled the door wide open; the inside was just as dark as the corridor behind her.
Ava felt the urge to turn around and run. Her heart was beating at a mile a minute and she felt completely alone. This had been a bad idea and she knew it. She didn't know what she was getting herself into and she was going to die... again.
Before she could even move a muscle, a black misty figure crept out from the doorway. It was a giant hand, with long talons for fingers. It wrapped around Ava's waist and pulled her through the doorway. Ava tried to grab hold of the frame, but her fingers slipped and she was dragged into the darkness.
Shortly after Cora 'made her move', she left Caiden's house. She was understanding as usual, but there was still sadness in her eyes as she said goodbye. Caiden closed the door and turned the lock with a click. He went back to the couch and sunk into the worn out cushion. It wasn't until late that night that he received the call.
"God, who the fuck is calling this late at night?" He got up and searched for his phone. Before he could reach it, the call went to voice-mail. A minute later, the new message tone rang. Caiden groaned and searched around the house. He finally found it in the kitchen. He had missed ten calls, and had five voice-mails. There were several messages as well. All of them were from Ava's mother and Azarias. Caiden fumbled to redial the number and call them back. He could feel his heart pounding in his ears as he brought the phone to his face. What had happened to her?
The ground beneath her was freezing and moist. Ava pushed herself up and looked around. The place smelled vaguely familiar, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was. Grass... So she was outside.
Suddenly, as if someone had switched on the lights, everything grew extremely bright leaving Ava temporarily blinded. After she had adjusted, Ava found herself in the middle of a meadow. Standing across from her was Caiden.
"He was spared. That was what you asked for." It was the same deep mysterious voice from the cave. Ava spun around but still could not see where it came from.
"The deal had been your soul for his." He continued. Ava looked back at Caiden who was standing motionless across from her.
"You weren't happy with that. You wanted to live, you wanted to keep him."
"I didn't know that I was going to die to save him." Ava muttered.
"Regardless, his soul was spared. Why then were you not happy?"
Caiden suddenly disappeared, and Ava felt her heart drop. She didn't like whatever trick Red Eyes was playing at. Ava looked around the meadow and found him standing farther away holding a girl's hand.. her hand.
"He lived. What more did you expect?"
"To be with him, for him to love me. To get married... just more than what I got." Ava said honestly. She could feel the anger boiling up at the sight in front of her. That was everything that she had lost.
"Humans," The voice said with a hint of disgust. "You always want more, you are so greedy. We've given you what you asked for and yet you are not satisfied."
"I tried. I tried to accept the fact that I might lose everything when I returned home. I told myself that I didn't care if Caiden had moved on. It's harder than that. God knows I tried. But I am human." Ava walked forward towards the frozen Caiden. As she got close, they disappeared and reformed to her right. This time Caiden was on his knee and holding small tiffany box. Ava's heart stopped at the sight of the ring again, she knew that would have happened if she hadn't been dragged to hell.
"You are all the same, filthy greedy creatures." The voice roared. "You want more than you can have, more than you deserve.
"I risked everything to right what I had done wrong, to save his life."
"Did you do it to save his life, or for your own benefit?"
"The boy's family is rich, and he does run his own company now. You would gain a lot of wealth through him. Greed is a sin my dear."
"Money didn't matter." Ava said. But as soon as he had said the word sin, Ava knew what he trials were. The seven deadly sins, the sins that determined whether you went to heaven or hell, at least according to Dante's Inferno.
"Money always matters."
The proposing Caiden disappeared and reappeared in front of a huge house, standing next to a pregnant Ava. It was a dream of hers, of theirs.
"No it doesn't. It was a nice bonus, but I didn't want his money. I wanted to be with him for who he was. I did not act out of greed."
In the blink of an eye everything else disappeared and Ava was left alone in dark nothingness. At her feet was an emerald green key, like the previous one this was had an engraving down the side.
"Envy," she muttered to herself and when she looked up the matching door was in front of her. Ava hesitated with the key in her hand. She was shaking as she tried to put the key in the hole and unlock it. She knew what was coming and there was no stopping it.