Posts on consecutive days? Unheard of! Don’t get used to it, either. Today is a special occasion, since we’re closing out Secondhand Soul (for now). That’s not to say we’re bidding farewell to Videl and Marcus – there’s still a lot of unresolved issues there. Just that we’re bringing Videl’s origin story to an end and shifting focus to Paola and her troubles for a while.
So let’s get on with it! The prompt I’ll be using is another of this week’s Master Class prompts at Our Write Side.
Prompt: Tainted beauty
When I wake up, I’m alone. There’s no way to tell how long I’ve been out, or even where I am. The room is small – more of a closet, really – and there’s a single light hanging from a chain. It swings back and forth in a non-existent breeze, shifting the shadows about the space. It’s cold, forcing me to huddle in a corner and hug myself in an attempt to conserve warmth. I’m so consumed by the cold I almost don’t notice the oddest part of the room – it doesn’t have doors or windows.
How the hell did I get here? I push through the cold, the nerves prompting me to get up.
“Hello? Can anyone hear me?” My voice bounces back, grating on extra sensitive ears. Panic threatens to overtake me, and I’m no longer sure if I’m shivering from the cold.
I’ve never felt so useless – as a human or demon.
Videl has been lying there for the better part of a day, with still no improvement. More of her skin has turned to purple-tinted charcoal, the infection – at least, that’s what Max called it – spreading so that it covers her entire arm, most of her leg, and even a portion of her face and neck. It’s probably covering even more under her clothes. As I watch, her arms turn bloody.
“How’s she doing?” Max enters the room behind me.
“I don’t know. She hasn’t moved. The infection doesn’t seem to be actively spreading anymore, but it’s also not receding.”
“The stasis I put her in won’t let it spread. She’s safe for now. Take comfort in that.” They place a hand on my arm. “I spoke to my father, but there’s nothing he can do, since her soul belongs to Lucifer.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Hope she can fight it off on her own. She’s resilient. I have faith.”
“Easy for you to say.”
“I have a feeling she’ll surprise us. Especially since she was able to wield an angel blade.”
“It nearly killed her!” Turning around, I walk away from her and across the room.
“The operative word being ‘nearly’. It definitely would have killed you. For someone who’s soul belongs to my brother, hers is surprisingly pure. Likely because of the circumstances under which it came to be his in the first place.” Max smiles, like they don’t have a care in the world.
“Hello!!” My throat is raw, and the word ‘hello’ has lost all meaning. I’ve punched the walls I don’t even know how many times, but still I’m trapped.
The damn light won’t stop swinging, nearly hitting my head each time I pass under it. My frustrations getting the better of me, I grab the lightbulb and yank it out of the ceiling, plunging myself in darkness. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than before.
As my eyes adjust to the dark, sparks twinkle in my vision. I blink, hoping they’ll go away, but they don’t. It takes a moment for me to realize the sparks aren’t in my vision, but in the air around me. I try to get close to one, try to reach out and touch it. It burns when I do, triggering a blinding light that forces me to shield my eyes.
When I open them again, I’m not in the dark anymore. Instead, I’m in another room, this one more of a large chamber. I feel like I’m being watched, stalked by something urging me to move forward. My steps echo on a floor that seems made of black opal as I approach the center of the room. There, a body floats in mid-air. I don’t recognize her until I get close enough to touch it – it’s me, but her skin is incandescent, letting off a soft glow that lights the area immediately around us. Something about her exudes purity, and I’m not sure how, but deep down I know what she is.
It’s my soul. The very thing that got me into this whole mess in the first place. She’s pretty, innocent, and I almost resent that fact. She’s everything I’m not and will never be again. I want to touch her, but I have a feeling it’ll burn worse than the spark did before.
A sound off to my left makes me turn. There’s a figure at the edges of my soul’s light, hovering just out of reach. I can’t make it out, but something inside me twists with fear and a sudden urge to protect my soul at all costs. The longer I watch it hover, the more difficult it becomes to figure out exactly what it is. All I can make out are two eyes, but they’re not focused on me. They’re focused on her.
When it launches itself at her, I don’t know what else to do but intercept it. We collide and fall to the floor with a thud, as what feels like tendrils of smoke wrap around me, suffocating me. I can’t move, so I stop struggling. Above us, as the darkness overtakes me, slipping inside me and seeping into my skin, my soul continues to hover.
At least she’s safe.
“Videl! Videl!” My whole body burns, but I latch onto the sound of Marcus’ voice. Something light touches my face, prompting my eyes to open. I have to blink several times before I get used to the light, but I immediately know where I am. Beneath me, my bed has never felt more comfortable. As my vision clears and the burning stops, Marcus’ face comes into focus.
He pulls me up in response, wrapping his arms around me in an embrace I never thought I’d feel again. “You’re okay.”
“I think so?” I look down between us, noting that my hand – the one burned by the blade – is tinted in dark purple, almost black. “What happened to my hand?”
Marcus pulls back, uncertainty in his eyes. “It’s not just your hand – the infection left its mark.”
I follow his line of sight to the window by my bed. In the reflection, I notice that a portion of my face is the same color.
“Good to see you’re feeling better.” Lucifer’s voice distracts us, and we both immediately stand at attention.
“Relax.” He waves his hand, as if dismissing the formality. Lucifer smiles as he watches us sit back down. “It looks like I got more than I bargained for with you, Videl.”
“What do you mean?”
“That blade is a demon-killer. One-hit kill, so to speak, but something in you fought back. All it managed to do was pull your demon nature from your soul.”
“So am I…?”
“Don’t get your hopes up. Looks like you patched yourself back up again. Still a demon.” This time, he smirks. “Be more careful in the future, though, will you? I doubt it’ll work like that a second time.”
“Yes, sir.” I only let a second pass before I ask, “My family? Are they okay?”
“Yeah – Max took your siblings back to your mother. They don’t remember a thing.” The news that my siblings won’t recall any of the time I spent with them hurts, but I know they’re better off. Marcus seems to sense this, taking my hand in his. The gesture doesn’t escape Lucifer. His eyes flick to our hands before looking up at us again. “I’ll leave you to it, then. The witch community is in a frenzy over what just happened. I have some damage control to do.”
“You don’t have any assignments for us?”
“Not yet. For now, lay low. Don’t need the other demons thinking they can split their souls like you did.” He narrows his eyes at me. “I’ll call you when I need you.”
“Yes, sir.” We both stand and bow before he disappears.
And that’s that. Like I said, this isn’t the end of Videl’s story, just the close of this arc. I’ll definitely be visiting them again later, especially in Provisional Freedom. And, of course, this’ll get its own novella someday. Consider these serials very rough first drafts 🙂
As always, think happy thoughts!