(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.


2. Waking

The room was so cold, mist breathes rose like blown out candles.  A single bed pressed itself against the wall, draped in creased cotton sheets and an eaten through matress.  The springs groaned under any weight, and the closer you looked, the more incisor scars could be seen on the timber headboard.  

    The room itself contained nothing more than a patch of light and a few old bedside tables and a chair.  The more you observed the more apparent it became that that the room was not destroyed, but built.  It looked like a roofless shell to most, but looking out the window, you could only see the rest of the house that was never built.  Like a labyrinth for rats.  Lucifer ran his fingers along the cracks in the windowsill.

    He lay back, the skeleton of the bed digging into his ribcage.  His eyes were tired, unwilling to remain open, but he pried them open with long, crooked fingers just to watch the roof.

    All light above the windows began evaporating into the vast abyss that was above, where the foundation had let down the ceiling.  But instead of stars watching the bed below, the black fog above the room twisted and crawled along a starless night.  

    There was only one thing in the room that was bright and new and full of colour.  

    His blood had turned black and cold in his heart, but he lay in the bed with eyes as blue as deep reflections on the surface of rain’s scars, and hair as silver as the skin that showed blue veins through.  His breath may have been heavy but his limbs fell from the bed as if he was filled with feathers and down.  He watched the walls crack and fall but so slowly he was sure he had rested for a million years.

    The bed groaned as time went on, and he sat up, leaning against the headboard, avoiding the scratches.  His head and been coated in a million wounds and he felt fused joints ruptured with his single throbbing mind.  It felt like snakes had traveled through his lungs, up his neck, out onto the surface of his mind, as flat as the earth.  He had never felt pain before, and it weighed down heavy and limp on his bones.  It rolled his very eyes to the back of his head.

    Writhing, choking, he rested his weight on exposed knees.  The bed let him go, powder under his touch.  He looked down at his body.  Scrawny, open, so pale all he could see were bruises and bones.  He shivered, something possessing his figure.  He took himself in his arms, holding together what felt like a broken man.  The tighter he gripped, the fuller the gap in his soul got, but when he let himself go it opened like loose stiches.

    The room looked larger than it had when he first opened his eyes.  It was dustier, darker.  As if the only bright thing in the room had somehow lost its colour.  He gripped tighter.

    Out of the darkness, a single hand uncoiled and gestured for him to move closer. The hand was withered, cut, and he felt himself drawn towards it like it was winding a rope back into its grasp.  

    “You’ve been asleep a long time, boy.” a woman spoke from the shadows, her voice curling like her fingers.  When she stepped into the light, there was a moment where he saw her familiar face, and it’s beauty.  But it quickly evaporated into a powder complexion with a grimacing face.  He wondered how long she had watched him for.

    “Where am I?”

    The woman looked to the side, thinking, “What a terrible question.”

    He dropped his arms to the side.  His muscle had gone weak, his arms scrawny, but the taller he stood, the more her mouth opened, “What is this place?  Who are you?”

    The woman began backing away, “Now, now, boy.”

    He kept looking down on her, and took one heavy step forward.  The blood had finally returned to his legs, and he was ready to run from that dreadful room.  He realised that he was tall, and something in her feared that part of him.  He wondered what he looked like to her, scarred maybe, ugly and rough and equally as pasty.  Something about this place sucked the life from him, he could hardly tell if he was ever alive in the first place.

    “Boy, don’t be testing this place,” she said, lurching at him with a small, razor sharp blade between her fingers, pointed like a wand.  He moved back, his chest pounding where he imagined the razor where tear his skin, but he didn’t back down.

    “Where am I?”

    “I’ll end you.”

    “End me how, what is this place?”

    “I’ll- I’ll…” she eyed the blade, and then him.  The corner of her mouth pulled up at one side, “You know who you are don’t you?  How could that be?”

    “Who am I?  Answer me that, wench.”

    “Wench?  You must have been here longer than I thought.  You’re a man between sin and saving, like the rest of us.  But why you’ve been here so long, I don’t know.”

    “Between sin?  What does that mean?”

    She walked up to him, and he attempted to not flinch as she ran the blade over his chest, and shoulder, and throat.  When she smiled, she couldn’t have been older than 30, but in the window’s dusty light, 50 years more weighed on her complexion.

    “You don’t know what sin is?”

    “I… I do, I-”

    “You’ve been asleep for years, I understand that you must feel lost.  Sin is a limit, a way of life for some.  It’s the things someone once told you was wrong and you were forced to follow, but without it, you can rise to a world above ours now.”

    “And our world now?”

    “Some call it The Waiting, or The Hold.  The ones above call it Purgatory.”

    “And the ones above?  Who are they?”

    “You’re full of questions, boy.  Would you not care why you were asleep?”

    He nodded, his eyes fixed on the cracks in the wall.  He remembered them forming, but now they were still.  She ran the razor down his neck, making him shudder again.  His vision blurred, and she did a double take on his features.
    “You… You might know.”

    “How would that be?”

    “You dreamt, did you not?”

    He didn’t know if he knew the word, but it resonated something in him, like a light he could nearly hold.  As it slipt through his fingers again and again like sand, he began to see pictures and songs and moments he had never lived through.  He closed his eyes, and upon his inward eye he saw a world so bright it shrouded the bedroom in darkness.

    “I can see people.  They were in this room before me.  No, I was in theirs.  A place made of gold and air and one where blood could not be shed.”

    “It sounds like saintly place.”

    “A saint?”

    The woman smiled, but this time it did not lift the years from her face.  Instead, it made her crack the bones in her hooked digits, “It’s a funny thing, boy.  You’ve been sleeping and you’ve seemed to forget the Walking Place.”

    He looked back at her, confused, and not wanting to ask more questions, and still wanting to run.

    “Maybe… Maybe you’ve never been to the Walking Place?”

    She walked around him once more, her tongue hanging out of her mouth.  Blood dripped to the floor where it began to fork, “What’s your name, sir?”

    He looked to the back of his mind, and the answer pierced the white light that still blinded him, “I- I am Lucifer.”

    “Sir!” a shout came from the outside world, and with a kiss the woman dug the razor through his chest, knocking his head back.  He collapsed onto the remains of the old bed, and as he lay between old sheets and musty splinters, the old woman’s nails turned to claws as she bit down on his wound.  He cried out as she began to suck the blood from him.  No life was left to fade, but he realised that he had never felt pain like this before.  His body began to shake with fear, realising he was not as brave as he had thought.  He began to forget even his name, the pain taking the light from behind his eyes.

    “You witch, release him!” the same voice shouted, as a woman emerged from the darkness.  She lunged at the woman, serving for her to turn with the blade, and cut along her stomach.  The woman fell down, blood dripping from the corner of her lips, but she stood as quickly and pulled at the satchels on the back of the old woman’s belt.  His mind started wandering, and from the outside world he swore that he could hear laughter.

    “That was quick.” the voices said in singsong tones that he knew the names of, “He was only awake a moment.”

    The old woman growled as a pursed stitched in silk tore from her back, and as the girl opened it black powder frothed at its rim.  She took a hand full, and while screaming herself, used it to coat the witch’s face in dust.  She backed away from him, screeching and shattering his ears.  It pierced his mind, and he could no longer feel a thing but her pain.  She stumbled onto the floor, rolling and clawing at her eyes.  Her features melted into a plaster as dark as the blood that surrounded her lips.  She writhed, the girl panting, and looking down on her with wide eyes.  Her own hands had burnt off, leaving stumps that hung at her chest.

    But as the old woman’s face sunk into her skull, the wrinkles and scratches vanished.  Her claws turned as soft and clear as cream, her voice lifting from a deep growl to a squeal.  Still, is sounded like she was screaming for her life, as her skull dropped through like the roof, leaving a cavern of red and white where the screams sound have came from.  Her voice began to gurgle, and quieten.

    The girl noticed this, and pulled him onto his feet.  He held his chest, where it had been torn through, but she still moved as if her stomach wasn’t in two.

    They stood, watching the woman turn beautiful.  Her body was able to move in unexplainable ways and she tried to escape the pain, and her voice became as sweet as the melted gold that painted the dead.

    “Horrible, is it not?”

    “Disgusting.” he said, and they watched for longer.

    Finally, the girl nudged his arm, and he moved away, raising his hands to protect his body.  She bit her lip, “We should go, is all.”

    He looked back at the rotting body.  The girl looked away, tightening her grip on him with the crook of her scorched arm.  For some reason, he decided to not move, and to let her hold him for support.  Maybe her legs were as weak as his, as a terrible thing happened.  The voice that seeped into his mind, and stained his dreams for lifetimes to come, turned into sobs, and broken cries.

    “Please,” it said, as soft as a whisper, “Please help me.  Anyone, please!”

    A little girl sat in the middle of the room, holding her head as parts of her mind fell to the floor with a nauseating thwap.  The other girl started to cover her ears, but as the little one called out into her darkness, her voice full of blood and teeth and a vile powder that was burning her throat, it became hard to ignore the screams for help.

    “Someone!  Moma, pap, please.  It…” she began to sag, her spine snapping and echoing through the void above, “It hurts so bad…”

    Finally, the crying and screeching stopped, and the little girl was enveloped in the old witch’s clothes.  Under the red fabric, a cry newer than a year, just torn from its mother, began to bubble up in the air, and suddenly stopped.

    The girl stood beside him, not meeting his eyes, “We should go on, she’ll be fine.”

    He felt his fists ball by his sides, his wound burning and the heart under aching with the cries of the newborn and newly dead child, “How could you possibly say that.”

    “There are things you may never understand, sir.  She will live.”

    “Then explain.”

    “We have to-”

    “Explain, witch!” he yelled, spinning the girl to face him.

    For a moment, she was surprised, a yelp caught in her throat, but she recovered.  She hooded her eyes, and ran a tongue slowly over her teeth.  It was not sliced, but still made him feel afraid.  She did not smile, and it felt as unnatural to him as the walls or the light or the pounding in his chest.  She reached out to him, and he watched her fingers stretch and grow.  They were only an inch long and as black and red as lit coal, but they were returning to her hands, as if they had never burned in the first place.

    “There are many things you need to learn, but first you will take the sheets from your bed, we need them to bandage ourselves.  Second, please don’t ask questions for the time being, and do not touch her corpse.”

    “What’s your name, miss?”

    “Is that a question?”

    He stood for a moment, dumbfounded by a girl that could hardly stand alone a moment ago.  He nodded, and she pointed to the bed again.

    The sheets were musty, but she ran them under a clear liquid that smelled like acid and fruit.  When the water touched her hands, she nearly screamed.

    “It’s fine,” she said, focusing on the job and not the feeling of needles being pressed into her palms, “It’s fine, as long as I’m working.”

    He sat, shifting on his knees and wondering how he could help.  The small lump draped in red in the center of the room still didn’t shift.  For a reason he couldn’t yet understand, he wanted to reach out for it, but whenever he stared too long, she ran the sheets long his wound, letting the water poison his blood and his face screw up, and face her again.  She would always smile, and he was sure she was a witch too.

    “I’m not.” she said at one point when stitching together her own wrists with shreds of worn blankets.

    “Not what?”

    She smirked, “A witch.  You called us both that earlier.  Neither of us are, but that tells me two things.”

    “And those would be?”

    She twirled her fingers, and he turned his back to her, pulling off his shirt.  She pressed her lip together to keep herself from laughing, and began to pull the bandages around his shoulder and chest.  It burned, but his bit his tongue, not daring to cry out to a stranger.

    “She was correct, you’re not from the Walking Place, and you have also-”

    “What is the Walking Place?”

    She tightened the bandages, pulling him back and shutting him up.  He scowled to his hands.

    “You have also been asleep a very long time.  For whatever reason you were cast down here, you must have needed a long rest.  A lot of time has past since you were alive, I haven’t met someone who’s spoken like you in a while.  Maybe you fell around when I did…” she trailed off, wondering and tying knots in the cloth strips, “There, you can redress.”

    “Thank you.”  he said, pulling his shirt over his head.  A copper smell filled his nose where the old woman had pierced his own pound of flesh.  

    When he turned back, the girl was holding the woman’s blade in her hand, and was tying the belt around her own waist.

    “Do you need those?” he asked.

    “You need anything.  You don’t understand that there are no things as witches yet, but you’ll grow to understand how Wielders can use powers cast down from-” she stopped, and looked up at him, her face flushed, “Anyway, that’s for another time.  Stay over there, you can’t touch her.”

    “Why not?”

    “Ask a better question.”

    He looked into the darkness through the empty door frame.  Dust hung in the air, but nothing else could be seen outside the shell of a lone room, “What do they call you?”

    The girl smiled, “My name?  You should have a million questions, and that is your one?”

    He looked away again, and she stood up after taking all the supplies the woman carried.  She extended her hand.  It was bandaged, but it was nearly normal once again, “My name became Bede, or Obedience, since I came here.  Not all of us are as lucky as to remember a former self.”

    He shook her hand, grimacing as the skin under his grip slid on the muscle, “Lucifer.”

    “You can’t remember that.”

    “But I do?” he asked, confused.

    “It’s Fate, or Lafayette.  That is your name now.”

    Lucifer took his hand back, offended, “You must answer my why now.”

    “Because with your true name you shall never find your way home,” she took him by the shoulders, for once without her smile.  Her skin looked drained, as most things were in the room, but it was tinted with bronze and honey, and he could almost see her name in the back of her own mind, “It is a key that you must keep around your neck, with your throat slit before it is discovered.”

    “And why?”

    Bede smiled again, her eyes flicking over and back.  He could see his reflection in her irises, “Because you are now in the Waiting, and I may be the only reason you live to see light.  Do you trust me, sir?”

    Fate nodded, “Yes.”


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