(NaNoWriMo, unedited) Between Heaven and Hell is a place only lost souls walk, alone, shrouded by grief and confusion and the knowledge and suspense that leads, hand in hand with eternal life and possible damnation. Between the bodies and scattered plans to escape to a world where their actions are not judged by a man without fault or knowledge claiming to be holy, a hero of sin rose. His name was Lucifer, and he would be the one to lead a revolution using hatred and hearts of wounds. He would be the one to let the evil rise.


3. The Waiting

The world they called the Waiting was littered with ash and stone.  Maybe not being able to see it from inside the hospital bedroom was a good thing, since he was sure he would have slept for longer if he could see how cold the world was.  It was equally as grey, a barren landscape that stretched out into the endless night.  The sky was clouded, a grey blanket that could have been the roof of a cavern, or a bottletop, containing the small people that wandered through the land with their heads to the ground.  Old bones and faces were fossilised into the earth, and each step echoed through the desert, down into the empty pits below where no one even noticed the movements above.  There seemed to be no source of light, but simply a dreary grey glaze that haunted and lit the entire world.  There were no shadows, no plants, just cliffs and - from time to time - the distant sound of screams.

    He noticed a few caves and shelters, and even a small town or two far away where the dust had settled and clouded the view, but he knew they were not alone in the massive world that stretched out under the hill.  He suddenly felt crowded.  A part of him remembered his dream, and how he was always surrounded by chatting friends, draped in white, but here everyone had a uniform.  Grey or black cloaks and robes and dresses that lifted the dirt from the dry stone surface.  The only sound was the pressure of the air, and the muffled sobs starting from the room they had left.

    Bede, who had seen the world many times before, and stood watching Fate as his face sunk, started sighing and took him by the arm, “Let’s be on our way.  She’s waking up.”

    They started what seemed to be an endless scaling of an endless hill.  The summit was visible, but every step was trudging, and there always seemed to be one after.  Bede didn’t even notice, and walked with her hands rummaging over the loot stolen from the old woman’s young body.

    “May I ask?” he said, breathless.  His voice seemed to startle her, and she whipped around with her shoulders around her neck.  She was clearly used to traveling alone, and he wondered how long she had walked without another soul by her side.

    “Ask?  Of course, we can have turns.  If I may, why are you so out of breath?”

    He felt his cheeks heat up, “I have just woken.”

    “You have, but you are broad and strong, you should be better at this.”

    “I don’t even know where I’m from, my stamina is not my concern.  My turn?”

    She waved her hand, and returned to the satchel of bone shards in her hand.  He thought for a moment.

    “Why did the old woman watch me, why did she drink my blood?  And why was I asleep for so long?”

    Bede clicked her tongue, “Good questions, we don’t have a lot of time for talking around these parts.  Funny, all the time in the four worlds, and none of it is for conversation.  Maybe there’s a reason that the walls have shown, but that can be talk for another time.”


    “Nothing.  A story of revolution that’s much too long.  You-”

    “What’s revolution?”

    She looked at him through the side of her eyes, “You… A much too long story.  I’ll explain when it’s quieter.”

    “But I can’t hear a thing.” he said, thinking to himself.  Everything she said seemed like a riddle, or a different language to his ears.

    She shook the bones in her hand, “Maybe it’s just these so.  Or the angels are coming back, they-”

    She looked up at him, wide eyed.  He stopped, but she just shook her head, eyes locked.

    “It’s nothing.  Back to your questions, the woman has been watching you for years, I think.  Maybe twenty in the Walking Place, she seemed about that age.  There are a few like you, and when their blood is drank, enteral beauty is achieved but at a horrible price.  She was waiting for you to wake to see you were who she thought, then she would take the life from you, but your blood is too strong, causing the infancy, you can imagine.”

“There are more like me?”

“Many more, coming from the same time as you, most of them.  You might recognise their faces, we’re going there now.”

“And where is there?”

She jumped up on a rock, and grabbed him by the hand to help him find his footing.  When he pulled himself off, her ring finger snapped off, and began traveling back down the hill.  She winced and said a word he had never heard before.  His blood stopped in his veins, but she kept helping him to higher ground.

“It’s fine, it’ll grow back too.  Anyway, a long time ago, or so the oldest souls say, rooms like your were created, springing from the stones below.  Like new nursing rooms, I believe?  Well, some souls have taken the beds in them, and it is said that these souls have the blood to reverse ages, to raise the powers of ordinary sinners, such as myself.”

“You’re a sinner?”

She bit her lip, “It’s complicated.  The Waiting has a long history I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”

“Why not?”

“Try again.”

He growled, “Fine.  Your voice, it’s strange.”

“My accent?  I’ve listened to other souls for generations, and as time goes on, so does the tongue.  You do yourself, if you don’t mind my saying.”

“I wouldn’t know about that.  When were you from?”

“Late eighteen-hundreds, I believe.  I have corset scars.  Wanna see?” she lifted her dress around her chest, revealing a thin line around her waist, and making Fate’s eyes blur.  She, again, noticed this, and stepped away.

“A-Also,” she began again, “The souls have been here as long as you, but they haven’t woken.  Some, named the Harvesters, wait to steal their eternal life.  We all live forever, but if you don’t clean your self, purge your mind of sin, you begin to rot where you stand, turning to skull and skin marking the pavements below.  I’m sure you’ve noticed the faces?”

He nodded.

“Well they were those who came before us who didn’t turn to God’s “holy” light.  A way to keep from turning to ash, is to drink blood the kind of yours.  It’s cruel, but so is this place.  The faces speak of times where angels would introduce the Waiting, calling it Purgatory.  So many people would ascend back then, but since, so many people turn from God’s laws in the Walking Place, also named Earth, and the angels were bored trying to solve the world’s problems, so they were abandoned.”

“I know Earth.”

“You do?”

“It’s familiar,” he said, surveying the rooms as they came into his vision.  It looked like a hive, and she pulled him behind boulders and cliff faces, making sure that there were no Harvesters lurking around their sleeping prey, “I think I heard it in my dream.”

“Many souls say they remember it.  Not a life before, or a family, or name, but a knowledge of a corrupt system of power, a magic bearded man on top.”

“And why did I remember my name?”

“Some just do.  Perhaps you’re important, Lucifer, hm?” she smiled, still looking out into the seemingly empty world.

“I thought I was Fate?”

She grabbed his hand, and started moving towards the closest room, “You are Fate, but I’m only hiding your name from reasons that will come in time.”

Inside, the room was the same, except less broken, less dusty.  A fresh bed was made, a beautiful man with skin as dark as cherry wood weighing down clean white sheets.  He seemed to light up the room, mending the sort of cracks that had plagued where Fate had come from.  Something bitter stirred in him.  When did he stop lighting up the world this way?

“Do you know him?  I doubt so.”  Bede stared down at the man, who smiled peacefully, unaware of the war around him, or that when he woke he would be kept as a slave, murdered again and again so another could avoid sin corrupting their body.

“No, not that I remember.  Why would you doubt it?”

“He’s a new angel.  The standard of perfection changes every time the world does, and angels are molded to match that.  Imagine, God creates minions to match what fickle, poisonous creatures in a world he molded imagine on the covers of papers that no one wants to read.  Anyway, we should leave, I hate these rooms.”

She turned to leave, hopping onto the glass-less window sill to run through the back, but Fate couldn’t stop watching the sleeping angel.

“You look like him.” he said.

Bede sighed, a lost look in her eyes, as if she was watching a love from long ago from across an ocean of time.  Fate thought it odd.

“You mean dark skinned, but features from conquering places.  Mixed they say now, mongrel when I was born.  Again, another story for when we can rest.”

“I’d like to hear it now…” he said, lifting up the clean sleeve of the man.  In the bend of his arm, pin pricks showed up in black bruises.  Bede hopped off the wall and walked over to scan them, running one of her remaining fingers along the bumps under his skin.

“Someone’s been drinking his blood early, and by the method of draining I can guess the life the Harvester led.  Most Harvesters did drugs.  It’s a funny occupation to have after death, but there’s not a exactly a way out from sin for them, there’s no exact rehab here.”

“What are drugs?”

She rolled her eyes, “To answer your slightly intrusive questions, Fate, my mother was a maid of sorts, and my father her owner.  I was said to be the child of sin, and so I was sent to Purgatory, despite my life and who I was.”

“And who were you?”

“I was a thief.  I stored books under roof tiles and swore to my mother’s figurative headstone that I would raise myself and get revenge on the man that caused the accident that I was to happen.”

Fate thought she didn’t seem like any accident he had ever known, “And did you get your revenge?”

Bede sniffed, and anxiously rubbed the back of her hand hard with her thumb.  Layer of skin piled beneath her nail, “It only took the idea of running on my eighteenth birthday and thirty lashes to my back to stop the notions that I had made my life around.  I thought being intelligent would save my soul, but I guess not.”

“How do you remember this?” his voice felt like it was clawing out of his body.  His throat ran dry, his temples burning with anger.  

She noticed this, and placed delicate fingers to the side of his face.  She smiled, not seeming to mind the past like he thought she should, “Some of us are important, and I would like to believe that me knowing my past means I am too, it is my key the way yours is Lucifer.”

He ran his own fingers against hers.  Her skin shifted on the surface where she rotted beneath, but she was still soft to touch, and he was grateful for the warmth of her kindness, “Do you remember your family so?”

“My father, unfortunately.  But not my mother, she died giving birth to me.”

“I’m sorry, Bede.”

She intertwined their fingers, and pulled him towards the back window, “Pay no mind to my sad life, it is all in the past, and if he is beautiful to the Heavens, then times have changed, surely.  No one like us are hurt any longer, at least that’s what I would like to believe.”

They jumped out of the room, into the endless silver dawn and the place without life or death, as dull as granite and chalk, but their palms were still pressed together, and she was right.  They were both important, and together the ground beneath them seemed just a bit brighter.

“And anyway,” she said after a moment's walking, “I once locked eyes with a woman, a few years older, but of my stature and complexion and, I believe, of my name.”

“Really?  Your mother?”

She shrugged, “Who’s to say?  But she smiled, and that was something that could even make this world change.”

“Did you follow her?”

Bede stopped before the next room, and pulled her own hand back.  His palm suddenly felt as cold as the dead.

“You still haven’t heard of the revolutions.  Why does that made me laugh?”  she wasn’t even smiling, and didn’t wait for an answer, “Because her face is now burned onto the walls of the stairway to Heaven, because she believed what she was sent here for - the sin of bearing me - was a sin that had died soon after her.  She believed she should be free, and so the Gods let her body rot into the world they had decided should be a pen to hold those who refuse to lead blindly.”

Fate was stunned by her bitterness, how she bore her teeth speaking of the world above Purgatory, and then how another finger fell to the ground, leaving her prints fossilised into the dirt.  She smirked, and dug the remains into the ground with the toe of her boot, leaving time for one look to the vast nothing above the Waiting, her smiled stained with a single tear.

    “Let’s go, Lucifer.  We should be on our way.”

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