~SOUNDTRACK: Twenty One Pilots – Heathens~
Sit tight and listen closely. Hold your breath. Don’t let them hear you. You think the end will be bad? Think twice. What’s sent to prepare the world for its end is well prepared to make you want to beg for it to stop. Fear not the end, kid. Fear them, for they whisper sweet nothings in your ear and break you from inside and before you know it, you’re a slave to their will and there’s no escaping but the one that the end provides. That is how this’ll work. Be warned.
This is an ancient story, old as time. Old as me. And I am very old. I’ve been around for as long as this Earth knew the first glimpse of the sun. It’s about how the world was born, bathing in light. And about how it’ll end, drowning in darkness. Your Bible knows this story. It speaks of a last day when the worst of sinners stand to be punished. It speaks of skies splitting up and grounds swallowing this world whole. It speaks of four horsemen riding around and delivering the well-deserved doom.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But there are things your books do not know about the end. The world doesn’t end on one day only. When the world is deemed rotten enough, sick enough, broken enough, preparations begin. Like the end is just an unfortunate spectacle at which you, mortals, all happen to have front seats. It takes rehearsal.
So the ancient story goes like this.
When the world is deemed rotten enough, sick enough, broken enough, seven judges are named to be set free above ground. You all know them. You feel their whispers in your ear each day. You know their names. They take shelter in the depth of your chest with every time you frown, purse your lips, curse, groan, cry, clench your fists or unleash your tongue. And when the time comes, they’ll step among you and they’ll spit their venoms in your mouths, making sure you become just as rotten, as broken, as sick as your world, enough to deserve what’s coming for you.
So the ancient story goes like this.
Seven sins. Seven virtues. A war between the cliché forces of good and bad.
So the ancient story goes like this.
A boy born out of virtue able to make the world kneel and bring it to redemption.
Where the ancient story was wrong.
There are seven deadly sins. But there is one graver than them all. Me. I was there when Cain murdered Abel. When Caesar was betrayed and stabbed. When Nero burned Rome to the ground. When they put bullets through John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. I am still there. I am here. I am on the edge of each knife. On the barrel of each gun. On every set of knuckles that connect with another jaw. In every drop of blood that’s spilled. They say that life is the greatest gift that God granted mankind. And that taking away this gift is the greatest sin. I am Murder. I am the greatest sin of all.
So the ancient story goes like this.
There’s this boy who’ll save the world. Way too cliché for my taste.
So my story goes like this.
I’ll find this boy. He can’t very much save the world if he no longer possesses the virtues to help him do so. When I find him, I will kill him. It’s what I’m best at. And if I can’t kill him, then I’ll corrupt him. I’ll allow nothing to stand in the way of the mayhem I have prepared for the worthless humans.
So the actual story goes like this.
You could say it’s a story about a confused boy who finds himself in the middle of a biblical war. Partly. But that would be boring. No. This is a story about seven devils, murder and the confused boy they have their claws in.2: Chapter 1: Seven devils
CHAPTER 1 – SEVEN DEVILS
There once was a man with danger in his eyes,
Born to deception and broken by lies;
He searched the whole world for a purpose to meet,
He never looked back and he trusted his feet.
The road was uncertain, strange faces to greet;
He found Lust on the side of a street.
She swayed her hips, whispered in his ear,
He told her she’s shallow and watched her disappear.
He went on his way without hoping for much;
Deep in his gut he felt Gluttony’s touch.
He asked him to rest, let his belly be filled,
But the man saw the devil for he was ill-willed.
Days and nights passed, he then met Greed,
The one who cared for nothing but his own evil deeds.
He told him the world was his for the taking,
But the man had no use for avarice and moneymaking.
His heart on his sleeve, he kept going and going.
His path crossed with Sloth without even knowing;
A mindless slacker who asked him to quit,
To let go of worry and lie down a bit.
But the man carried on with his chosen path;
The anger and restlessness led him to Wrath.
He was tempted to give in to his calling to rage,
But he was the better man and turned the next page.
And so he met Envy, the one green with spite,
Who made him resent everyone in sight.
But by then he knew these games all too well,
So he bid the green-eyed monster farewell.
The last one was Pride, zealous and vain,
An empty shell who thought the world was his to reign.
The man rolled his eyes and chose to stay humble
And as he took that last step, the world began to crumble.
For a man is such made to know virtue and sin,
And one pure man only cannot save his kin;
For when the world meets its doom and the devils ascend,
Only the righteous and the wicked can stand until the end.
~SOUNDTRACK: Lana Del Rey – Serial Killer (K Theory Remix from Suicide Squad)~
I was the first of my own to awaken. We’ve been asleep for millennia. We’ve tasted the despair and the decay of humans, we’ve felt the bliss as they slipped into sin and the guilt as they uselessly repented for it. Once you taste the sin, it lingers on the tip of your tongue until you’re left craving for it as you crave the air. Humanity is beautifully weak.
We’ve been asleep for millennia. Through eternal dormancy, we’ve enjoyed the way humanity slipped step by step, farther and farther away from righteousness, until they could no longer find the way back. And when there’s no way back, all that’s left is the ledge. You can only step forward, into free fall.
We’re those steps heading to the ledge. Seven of them. Seven steps until the leap. I am the first one. I am Lust.
I open my eyes. I take my first breath in thousands of years. The world smells rotten. I love it. Our waiting will pay off. I can already taste all the sin I will feast on.
The earth cracks open and I take my first step. It’s exhilarating. The world is not as I remember it. It’s dirtier than ever. And I’ve walked among these pitiful humans many times before, each more despicable than the one before. And they’re rising to my expectations. The air is a mixture of mischief, each scent familiar to me as it is derived out of the seven types of venom we’ve spat since the beginning of time. But as I identify my favorite one, I lick my lips.
Oh, I’m gonna have so much fun.
These are perfect times for lusting. The 21th century is a cocktail of hormones and urges, it’s like a stage on which everyone gets naked. Sinning used to take more effort, but I’m not complaining. It’s easier to read what they want, what they desire now. So I’m off to hunt.
I’ve taken many forms before, according to what each man – or woman – wishes me to be or desires to be with. Now I’ve settled for this one. Golden hair. Long legs and a red dress with a rich cleavage. I remember when people lost it at bare ankles. It’s almost too easy.
The click of the high heels through the bar announces my arrival. I know how it goes. All eyes are on me. I hear the blood hum in their bodies as their gazes follow me to my seat. I make it a point to swing my hips and even throw a wink here and there and even stopping to move a strand of hair beneath a girl’s ear, a sweet young thing with doe eyes who gulps as my fingers graze her cheek. I’ve always had a soft spot for girls. Sin bred by innocence is my drug and I enjoy that rush like nothing else.
Then I sit down at the bar, order a drink, and I hear the rumbling behind me as the eagles race to my side like I’m their prey.
And it’s on. For little do they know, it is me who’s the huntress here. And these weaklings are my pretty to be devoured.
~SOUNDTRACK: Brown Bird – Down to the river~
I awoke famished. I’d gone for millennia without a single bite of all those human delicacies. The human race may be wicked, but they surely have a taste for the finer culinary things. I played a vital role in that. I’d been there to constantly ensure that these mongrels fell prey to the hunger in their bones violently.
It had never been hard, for I was, after all, Gluttony. I played their cravings, their ravenousness like a good poker hand. And then they thanked me for it. I made peoples starve for others to stuff their bellies and I was praised like a god rather than a sin. All the better. A thing you don’t know can destroy you becomes so much more lethal.
I recognized the place where I first awoke. Of course. I knew Italy all too well and Italy knew me. Italy worshipped me. The entire Italian cuisine was an homage to me. Restaurants and terraces flooded with humans from all around the world, flying from all of its corners to get a taste. And I was hungry for their hunger.
I strolled down the streets of Naples, enjoying the smells, enjoying the countless flavors, enjoying the way that, with every step I took, I could practically feel their insatiableness as a tangible entity.
One step. Moans against mouthfuls of food.
Another step. Washing it down with bottles of expensive fine wines.
Another step. Chewing as though their lives depended on it.
Oh, but it did. Humans were such frail, funny creatures. Flaunt a speck of temptation before their eyes and they fall for it like moths flying into the light.
By the time I got to the end of the street, I’d left mayhem behind me as the humans learned that the only thing that could destroy them was themselves and their own taste for sin.
~SOUNDTRACK: AC/DC – Money made~
Now this was indeed a surprise.
Back when I’d walked this Earth last, these lands they now called America had been inhabited by savages, by what people apparently now called Natives. And here I was, in the 21th century, in a city so wealthy, so opulent, so bright, so vibrant and melodic with the sound of money clinking, that it made my blood sing.
Greed. After all the empires I’d seen and brought down, I hadn’t expected to find it here, of all places. Though I assume Las Vegas was a small empire of its own. I would’ve said it was as good a place to start as any, except it was the perfect place for me.
I smiled to myself. Nothing like sinning and dumb humans falling prey to their basic instincts to get your heart pumping after being asleep for millennia. And people were silly like that. The more they resisted temptation in their day to day life, the harder they fell. The easier it was to take those instincts and twist them until it was all they could see before their eyes.
I walked into the nearest casino with an expensive suit, my pockets filled with cash and a big grin plastered on my face. Music played loud, women passed me by wearing obnoxious slutty dresses and men followed them, hoping they could buy some of their time and some of their flesh. Dices rolled. Laughter. I closed my eyes and breathed in the mold in these people. It was almost too easy.
I moved behind a pretty little thing in a red dress, with blonde hair, pure and untainted. Oh, Lust would’ve just loved her. But seeing as she was in my corner this time around, I’d be the one who got to have fun with her.
I cleared my throat and she flinched a little, gazing at me over her shoulder.
“Hi,” I smiled sweetly at her until I turned the frown between her eyebrows into a small grin that mirrored my own.
“H-Hi,” she replied softly. Oh, the corruption of a soul infused with temptation is easy and fun. But corrupting sweet, innocent souls? I’d forgotten how addictive that was.
“You know, these are very rich men,” I started my game, not breaking eye contact for a second. She gulped and stole a glance to the table where the dices rolled and rolled in a dizzy dance.
“I, I know. I didn’t mean to… I was just curious. My boyfriend, umm, he brought me here for my 18th birthday and I—“
I raised my hand and put a finger over her lips, watching as her eyes darted to it and then found mine, looking beyond hypnotic.
“Shhh,” I whispered close to her. “Never mind him. You are surrounded by men with power. Men with money. Men with wealth beyond your comprehension.” She gulped again, staying silent this time, perhaps starting to sense my implications. “You’re in Vegas, baby. You know the amount of money that many of them would pay to have a virgin warm their bed tonight? You’d walk out of here a rich woman.”
She started trembling, gripping the edge of the table for support. But I had her. I smiled as I felt her mind open up to me and I feasted hungrily on the weaknesses I found there.
“You want it, don’t you, Samantha? You’d return home with more money than mom and dad could ever hope to earn. You’ll shut them up. You’ll go to college without owing them a penny.”
She looked around her, pondering, and I decided to see just how far I could push her. After all, she was my first prey in millennia and I was curious to see just how out of practice I was.
“Why stop there? The night’s young. I’m sure you’ll find someone who’s willing to pay a huge deal for your purity, but you’re young, beautiful. I bet there’s plenty men – and women – here who’d make you a very, very rich woman just to have you in their bed for a couple of hours.”
I closed my eyes and let out a dramatic gasp, then opened them up to find her watch every movement and cling to each word that poured out of my mouth.
“The choice is yours, Samantha. You can go home with your boyfriend, maybe lose your virginity in the backseat of his car and have him dump you in a month or two…” I paused for effect. I always was a fan of the dramatics. “Or choose the other option and solve every. Single. One. Of your problems.”
I’d leaned in at some point in the conversation and I saw her lick her lips. I chuckled lightly and moved away, watching her shake her head a little in an attempt to shake off the spell. Pointless. The seed was planted. I could read the choice in her eyes. Out of practice or not, I had to admit I still had it in me. Like riding a bike.
“And, umm,” she cleared her throat. “W-Would you be? Willing, I mean?”
My eyebrows shot up in surprise. Count on these puny humans to shock you. “I’m afraid this is out of my jurisdiction,” I mocked, letting out a laugh at my own joke. I thought again of Lust and how much she would’ve appreciated the offer. “But off you go. I’m sure you’ll make a guy, or two or three, very happy. As they will you.”
I winked at her and watched her as she swayed her hips towards one of the men at one table, leaving the casino at his arm within minutes. Of course. There were a few universal languages that humans spoke. Seven, to be precise. And money was one of them.
With the young doe corrupted and out of the picture, I squared my shoulders and cracked my neck. The night was young and with money flowing in waterfalls, I was keen on catching up on all the thousands of years of greed I’d missed out on.
~SOUNDTRACK: The Heavy – Same ol’~
This was so troublesome. I was sleeping so damn well. Was there any particular point for which we’d been woken up? I mean, it had been merely millennia since the last time we’d been around Earth. Was it honestly so necessary for us to be up again?
I knew the drill I knew all too well. Humanity was wrecked again. We were to ensure its perdition for good. What a drag. Humanity had always been broken and everyone knew they were beyond salvation. But every now and then, someone decided we were to work some of our magic and give them that last push towards perdition. So completely useless. They were lost anyway.
I woke up on a beach. It looked like The Bahamas, but I couldn’t be sure. These earthly lands looked the same to me. The heat was unbearable and the waves were too loud for my liking. I would’ve preferred something quieter, more remote, but I was, after all, on the job. And as I looked around me at all the lazy humans splattered on the sand with their bellies in the sun, I figured I was just in the right place.
I lied down in a chair on the beach, with a giant hat on, sunglasses and a big cold margarita. Luckily for me, it didn’t take me much to corrupt. It was like one of these waves crashing at my feet. Or maybe like a heat wave spreading over.
I kept sipping on my margarita carelessly.
What a drag. And this crazy heat. I couldn’t wait for this to be over so I could go back to sleep. I bet the other six were so excited, so eager to spit their venom tirelessly. I’d just gotten here and I was already so tired.
The wave of Sloth spread quickly and surely. No one felt like moving from their spot on the sand, they allowed themselves to rest there lazily for what felt like quite a long time. I couldn’t tell for sure. In eternity, days felt as no more than mortal minutes. But when I finally got up from my chair, I walked among corpses in decay who’d been too lazy to stand up and get out of the burning sun.
So I guess I was doing my job right.
~SOUNDTRACK: Halsey – Control~
Just my spot.
I woke up in Iraq, loaded with Wrath. After all, it was the emotion of this century. People were angry all the time. At other peoples. At their own countries and leaders. At their friends. At their neighbors. At themselves. I thrived in it.
Baghdad crashed and burned at my feet and I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath. The streets reeked of blood and smoke rose to the skies. Screams rose with them. Some bred from the heat of the violence. Some in agony.
I walked those streets paved with violence, stepping like a lioness sniffing for prey. I didn’t have to do much. They were already so good at destroying each other. I think I was merely to supervise their destruction and make sure it all went according to plan. But then again, humanity had always been good at hate and anger. It was their way to blow off steam. And it was also what I’d been bred from.
As I kept walking and sniffing at the air filled with bloodlust, I caught sight in my peripheral vision of a woman trying to run away, holding a loaf of bread tight to her chest. Behind her, a man caught her hair and cursed at her while trying to beat her up. I smiled wickedly. I would’ve preferred more machine guns, nukes, heads blown off and limbs torn, but I was getting there. Baby steps, right? I’d just awoken from a sleep thousands of years long.
I placed myself next to them, my arms crossed over my chest. Neither of them minded me, caught in their deadly dance. The woman fell to her knees, never letting go of that bread. She struggled to free herself, but the vendor’s grip was too tight. Still cursing at the woman, the man reached for the gun tucked in his belt.
I closed my eyes and reached forward to feel their blind fury. His for having been robbed. Hers for not being allowed a single loaf of bread to feed her family. There was blood to be drawn. But what a plot twist it turned out to be at the very end.
In an explosion of blind rage, the woman kicked him in the gut and reached for his gun. In the blink of an eye, he was the one on his knees and she was the one pointing a gun at his head. They both stopped for a second, allowing me to lick my lips for the sweet taste of wrath pouring out of them. The woman started shaking , her eyes travelling from the gun to the vendor on his knees before her like she couldn’t remember how she’d ended up in this situation.
She flinched and turned to me like she was just noticing I was there.
“Do it,” I repeated, spitting my venom in her open mouth. “Pull the trigger. He deserves it.”
“I, I can’t,” she cried, her whole body shaking.
“You can. Use that rage and pull the trigger. Kill him or you won’t be able to get that food to your family. It’s them or him. He would’ve killed you, raped you for a loaf of bread. Do it.”
And I read it in her eyes. Every time she’d taken a beating for less than this. The anger at the people, at the system who starved her family. At the man who would’ve shown her no mercy. And she put a bullet right between his eyes with no remorse.
His blood flowed under my feet as I turned away and kept walking. This had been fun, but I had bigger plans. More fatal wrath to harvest. Machine guns. Nukes. Heads blown off and limbs torn.
~SOUNDTRACK: Fall Out Boy – Novocaine~
Envy is a tricky thing. A sneaky little feeling. I was a silent devil.
I’d watched men build things for themselves. And then I’d watched them watch other men build things for themselves, and struggle to build bigger things than these men. It was a vicious game, a never-ending and self-amplifying cycle. It was a restless chase for more, more, more.
My awakening happened in Dubai. It was a strange, newly built place. Like an infant compared to the other ancient places imbued with history throughout the world, but I understood its charm and its connection to my mission. It was the classic tale. A man built a building. Out of envy, a man built a taller building. And another built a taller building. Until there was a building so tall it touched the clouds. Too tall, built on a rotten foundation. Mine. And so it collapsed.
I found it a fitting metaphor for humans. Everything they built in my name had a tendency of collapsing. And that is to say, most of it. They’d always been in a silly competition with one another.
The body of this beautiful mortal woman with a voluptuous body and long red hair allowed me to explore depths to my sin I looked forward to. I always did like to flirt with at least the edges of my brothers’ lines of work. And this mortal body was too lustful not to put it to good use. And from what I heard, humans did consider this Dubai a place of endless possibilities and obnoxious pleasures.
So I put on a dress and some high heels and took a page out of Lust’s playbook. I allowed myself to be desired, knowing that on whoever’s arm I’d end up tonight, the rest of them would turn green with envy and turn on each other.
Oh, how I enjoyed the game.
~SOUNDTRACK: Cage The Elephant – Ain’t no rest for the wicked~
Venezuela. What a joke. I would’ve preferred Italians, they’d always seemed people with more of an affinity towards me, but with their cuisine so flourishing, I was certain that was now Gluttony’s heaven. Or hell. I presume it depends on the connotations. Well, Venezuela would do. Location wasn’t important so long as there were people who loved themselves enough for me to take advantage of that. And there was no shortage of that these days.
Though I couldn’t say I’d ever be able to pull off a success as grand as the story of Narcissus. Poor boy. Such love for his own pretty face, and yet such a weak mind. Back then, they all knew me as the devil named Pride and their piousness and religious stubbornness to stay humble was an obstacle I often faced. But Narcissus was so easy to blind and even easier to drown. It brought me no small amount of pride to know people still spoke of it. What could I say? I was prone to my own corruption.
I looked around and stuffed my hands in my pockets. Such a sea of victims, I had to get to work. I couldn’t let my brothers have anything against me. I was the prideful one, after all, and I sure had plenty of ways to get creative about the downfall of human nature.
And then there was another one. Not one of the seven devils, but a sin nonetheless. Deadly, violent, fierce and merciless. The gravest one of them all. For when God made man, he gave him His most precious gift. Life.
And so, when the seven devils came and started spreading mayhem, she was there, too, for that final step when humans broke the ultimate law and took away God’s most precious gift. Hidden. Watching. Dooming. Waiting for her time.
It came sooner than she would’ve expected. Because that’s the way it always is. In a world of worthless humans, no better than animals susceptible to the influence of sin, there had to be one, just one stubborn human who dared the unthinkable. To be different.
Hello, everybody! I’m back with a brand new story!! And for those of you who don’t know my work, it’s a pleasure to have you here and enjoy the ride!! Seven Devils is a project that I’ve had in mind for a while now, bust just recently got to writing. I mean, it’s the seven deadly sins, guys. There’s some standards there and I don’t wanna screw it up.
The poem from the beginning is actually something I wrote back when the idea started catching shape in my head. Also, I really hope you enjoy the soundtrack for certain scenes. It gives a feel to it, I promise.
Man, I can’t help to hear your opinions! I’m super hyped up!
Lots of love,
xoxo3: Chapter 2: One man
CHAPTER 2 – ONE MAN
~SOUNDTRACK: Tom Walker – Heartland~
His name was Adam. Just Adam. A lone son of a bitch – a son, maybe, but God only knew whose bitch – sort of like a Jon Snow of Brooklyn, who’d lived his life in filthy orphanages and on streets painted with blood and violence. He didn’t complain. Twenty-five years of this shit and you sort of get used to never minding this lack of belonging, this aimlessness. He’d learned you’re better off not giving a flying fuck.
Most days he wasn’t so self-pitying. Most days he genuinely didn’t care. Most days he didn’t feel like cursing at his life and at whatever God he didn’t believe in. Most days he’d go about his business like any other day, with the past way behind him and an uncertain future he wasted no energy worrying about. Most days. But then there were some days when he woke up in his crappy little studio, in crappy Brooklyn, going to work at his crappy job fixing crappy cars and drinking crappy coffee, eating crappy food, partying in crappy clubs, smoking crappy pot, then going to sleep in his crappy bed. Some days he remembered. It came back to him, the realization he’d had back when he was just a kid that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Not all people live this crappy life. Some got lucky. And he wasn’t one of them. He’d always had to settle for the worst.
Today was one of those days. When his alarm went off at 6, he was already wide awake, staring at the ceiling. He could just tell it was gonna be one of those fucked up days. He climbed out of his lumpy bed lazily and went through the motions carelessly. Shower. Toothpaste. Brush. Cereal. Milk. Jeans and a shirt that still smelled decent. A couple of cigarettes. Keys. And out the door.
Adam walked the streets of Brooklyn with his shoulders slouched and his head down. It must have been sort of a reflex. He’d gotten used to making sure he didn’t stand out. In violent orphanages, on the streets, in the shady places and with the shady people he spent his days with, standing out gets you in trouble.
He made his way to the café where he’d worked a few years ago and walked in, his eyes instantly searching for Quinn. When he didn’t find her, he let out a disappointed sigh. He went to the counter and found Barry, Quinn’s coworker.
“Hey, Bar. The usual.”
Barry came back with a black coffee, with two lumps of sugar and cream and pushed it towards Adam. “There you go. Quinn told me you’d drop by.”
Adam clicked his tongue. “Could’ve sworn this morning was her shift.”
“It was,” Barry shrugged one shoulder. “But it’s mine and Martha’s anniversary tonight and she agreed to switch with me. She wanted me to tell you she’ll make it up to you tonight after her shift.”
Barry winked at him, but Adam just scowled. He and Quinn weren’t like that. She was his oldest friend and probably the only person in the whole shitty world he gave a damn about. They’d hooked up drunk a couple of times, but their friendship was something close to sacred and not to be tempered with. People didn’t get that.
Adam and Quinn had been friends ever since they were children in the same orphanage. They’d shared beatings, food, beds, bullying, nightmares and pretty much everything two kids who have nothing left can share. Adam had been trouble and Quinn had been his conscience. Then at 16, after about a dozen orphanages and the same terror repeated throughout all of them, Adam ran away. And two kids with nothing left became a boy with nothing left on the streets and a girl with nothing left missing him like crazy.
Adam had been through rock bottom and lower than that still. He’d slept on benches. He’d picked pockets. He’d wiped windshields. By the time Quinn had turned 18 and could leave the system, he’d managed to hook them both up with jobs in a café. In time, Adam had moved on as a mechanic while Quinn had stayed his favorite barista.
They were 25 now. Quinn was turning 25 today, or so she liked to say, because unlike him, she’d made up a fictional birthday since no one at the orphanage would ever bother to tell them that much. They’d spent over half their lives together and as much of a lone wolf that Adam was, he couldn’t imagine a timeline where he could have ever made it this far without Quinn.
“Alright,” he grabbed his coffee and turned away. “Tell Quinn I’ll be back after work. See you around, Bar.”
He left the café and headed towards the auto shop where he worked, knowing there were some shitty car there to remind him all about the shitty life he led. Well. Nothing new under the sun.
~SOUNDTRACK: Camila Cabello – Crying in the club~
When Adam went back at the café that night, he found Quinn sulking over a cup of coffee that he suspected was spiced with something stronger.
“Starting the party without me, queen Bee?” he nodded towards the cup and she just glared at him. “Uh oh,” Adam fake gasped. “I sense trouble.”
Quinn wrinkled her nose and let out a loud sigh, throwing her head back in frustration. “He dumped me.”
Adam made a quick scan through his memory, trying to remember what was the name of her latest boyfriend. It was something with T, definitely. Tom? Teddy? Tyler?
“Who? Trevor?” he tried, and was rewarded with another glare.
“Jack, Adam. His name is Jack. And he broke up with me because I told him I’m spending my birthday with you. He got jealous and got hysterical and—“ She sighed, trailing off and Adam grew more alert, sensing some implication he didn’t like.
“And what, Quinn?” he prompted her. “Did he get violent? He didn’t touch you, did he? Because if that motherfucker—“
“Chill, dad,” Quinn rolled her eyes at him. “He’d never dare. He knows you’d hunt him down and kill him and he’s scared of you. And I can defend myself, you know. We grew up in the same orphanage, Adam. And you’re the one who taught me how to throw a punch.”
His shoulders relaxed. “Then let’s go, queen Bee. We got a fake birthday to celebrate. No more moping over douche ex boyfriends.”
She looked up at him like a puppy, biting her bottom lip. “Do we have to? I’m not exactly in the mood for partying.”
Adam rolled his eyes at her. “Let’s go. I’ll tell you where you can shove your moods on our way to the club. You only fake turn 25 once, and the only Jack you’re allowed to think about tonight is Jack Daniels.”
He smirked over his shoulders, already on his way out, and Quinn couldn’t hold back a smile of her own as she followed him.
The music carried Quinn back to cloud nine where she and Adam belonged. She danced until she couldn’t feel her feet, smoked until it dried both her lungs and her eyes, drank until she couldn’t remember what she was trying to forget.
She was always like this. Gave her heart away for free, carelessly, and she always got it back in shreds because she never did know how to choose the right person to take care of it. And then it was always up to Adam to patch her up and walk her through her pity parties. But this is what they did. They fixed each other. They took care of each other, had been for almost 20 years. Adam was what she imagined family felt like.
She was glad he’d talked her into going out after all. Screw Jack and his stupid jealousy. Any men in her life were to know that he was the only constant for her, the one she was never letting go of. Somewhere along the way, she and Adam had stopped being just best friends and had started building a bond so strong it could never allow anyone between them. She couldn’t expect someone like Jack to understand that.
So she danced it out. She smoked it out. She drank it out. She surrendered herself to the music with complete abandonment and let her body spell it out for her. She let Adam’s hands at her waist guide her to the motions until her brain was numb and the outside world became a blur.
For in the small space between his body and hers, there was the safety she knew and trusted, there was the haven where she feared nothing and no one could hurt her.
Adam didn’t always enjoy night clubbing. Sure, there was drinking and there was smoking and there was sex in shady bathrooms, but it didn’t make him feel a certain way that was different from the way he normally felt.
He was enjoying himself tonight. He and Quinn screamed and sang loudly, trying to cover the deafening music, they’d lost count of beers and shots of tequila and funny-colored drinks and of cigarettes smoked. They were drunk and high and he was glad they could make each other forget about whatever shit was going on in both of their lives, if only for one night of fun.
“I’m gonna get us some more drinks,” he yelled over the music in Quinn’s ear and she just nodded, too lost in the feel of the beat in her bones and the sweat dripping down her neck and the smoke in her lungs. He smiled. He was glad she was having fun. They both deserved it.
He made his way to the bar, unaware of the pair of eyes fixated on him as if he were a doe in the jungle, about to be hunted down.
~SOUNTRACK: Skylar Grey – Dance without you (Ricky Luna Remix from Step Up Revolution)~
She watched him across the dance floor. She’d had her eyes on him ever since he’d walked into the club with that dull little girl on his arm. But then they’d gotten closer, dancing with their bodies glued together, getting lost in music and booze and pot and in each other. And she could feel the desire oozing from both of them.
And she got hungry.
She waited for the boy to reach the bar and went hunting.
She swayed her hips , pushing her blonde locks away from her face to reveal her rich cleavage. Poor boy stood no chance.
She let her hand brush his shoulder and travel smoothly down his arm before speaking. “Hey, handsome. Care to buy a thirsty girl a drink?”
He turned to her confused, his mouth swinging wide open as he took her in. And she couldn’t blame him. By human standards, she was quite irresistible. Wasn’t that the whole point? Though she doubted humans paid much attention to resisting temptation these days.
“I, umm, hi,” he stammered, still a bit dizzy. He was falling right into her webs.
“Hi,” she smiled sweetly at him, sitting in the chair beside him and crossing her legs in such manner that the cut of her dress revealed enough to have him drooling a little. “I’m Lust.”
He blinked up at her and cocked an eyebrow. “Lust? What, you’re an exotic dancer or something?”
She looked him over a little puzzled. Not quite the reaction she’s expected. By now, men were usually tripping over their tongues to get to her. Maybe he was just one of the more resistant ones.
She forced a chuckle. “Oh, I can be anything you want me to be. Anything you’ve ever dreamed of.” She slid a hand beneath the collar of his shirt, feeling him shudder a little. Perhaps not quite so resistant as he’d come off as. “What do you say we get out of here to play some… exotic games?”
He stared her down, looking as though he was considering it. This wasn’t right. There should’ve been no doubt. No moment of hesitation. No second guessing. She could read the temptation in his posture, on his face, in his eyes, in the quiver of his lips, and yet he resisted. Then he threw a look over his shoulder at the girl who kept dancing not far from them, and then he let out a sigh before speaking.
“Thanks, umm, Lust,” he stumbled over her name. “Very generous offer. But I’m kinda here with someone, so—“
He trailed off, grabbing the beers and heading towards the girl on the dance floor, leaving Lust with her mouth wide open and utter shock cursing throughout her mortal body.
A human resisting her. This hadn’t happened in centuries. She wasn’t one to be denied. She was the one sin people found it easiest and most pleasurable to give in to. Who did this worthless human think he was?
She smirked and clutched her fists tight to keep from crossing that dance floor and sticking her claws into his jugular. It would appear she needed reinforcement.4: Chapter 3: Six temptations
CHAPTER 3 – SIX TEMPTATIONS
~SOUNDTRACK: Dorothy – Wicked ones~
The light crept through the broken windows of that old warehouse, the crimson shadows of the sunset giving the place a hellish look. They felt like home. Holed away somewhere remote, plotting against humanity with dusk watching over them like hellfire.
Though it had been long, if ever, since they’d stood together above, and not below the crust of the earth, the seven of them gathered in the same place among the humans. But when Lust had called for them, with the unsettling news that a mortal boy had resisted her temptation for the first time in centuries, they’d all rushed to Brooklyn, against all rules that claimed that the seven deadly sins must not reside in the same earthly place for too long. Last time they’d done so, Sodom and Gomorrah had met terrible perdition for committing grievous crimes against their nature.
But then again, a human who could resist the direct temptation of a deadly sin… Wasn’t this immeasurably graver? Did it not require their most immediate attention?
“So, not much luck?” Lust looked around, leaning backwards against an old rusty table in a way that pushed her chest forward, revealing her cleavage. She wasn’t even aware she was doing it. For her, moving her body and arching it in a way that was most appetizing was a must and nothing short of a reflex.
The other six looked at each other, none of them particularly eager to admit their defeat. In the past week since they’d gathered in Brooklyn, they had taken turns on the boy and had been met with exactly nothing.
Pride fidgeted, clearly taking defeat the most personal of them all. He would’ve obviously expected to be the one to corrupt the boy. He was, after all, the most prideful.
Pride drove his convertible Cadillac into the garage where the boy who went by the name of Adam worked. He climbed out of the car with a deep scowl on his face as he took in all the greasy surfaces and oil stains that threatened the well-being of his expensive suit.
He turned around when he heard the Adam boy whistling, taking in the car.
“She’s a beauty, isn’t she?” Pride shoved his hands in his pockets, smiling a wicked smile.
“We don’t get these much around here,” the boy commented. “What can I do for you?”
Pride didn’t bother coming up with something that was supposed to be wrong with his car. Cars were a rather new thing humanity had come up with, and since transportations suffered several modifications throughout time, he never minded the nomenclature. It seemed useless to learn how cars worked if they were just gonna invent new machines over and over again, right?
Besides, he was here on business. He shoved his hands in his pockets and stared the boy down. Taking in his dirty clothes and his oily hands, the hair he hadn’t bothered to cut in a while and the stubble that indicated he hadn’t shaved for quite a few days. It was hard to make a man find pride in what seemed like a rather pitiful life, but he did enjoy a challenge.
The boy raised an eyebrow at his silence, still waiting for instruction on what the car needed fixing for.
“This is a nice shop you’ve got here,” Pride commented and the boy’s eyebrows shot up, looking around confused.
“It’s a dirt hole,” he said sharply. “But money’s money. Though I’m sure you can find a fancier service to take care of your car. No offense, but my boss doesn’t have the kind of funds to cover the damage if I fuck it up.”
Pride let out a genuine laugh, like he’d meant it as a joke, but he saw the boy truly doubted his ability to fix such an expensive car. A challenge indeed.
Pride stepped closer, making eye contact with the boy the entire time. “Come on now. Think of it as a stepping stone. You fix this beautiful Cadillac and thus prove yourself to whatever good-for-nothing boss you work for here. You’re a good mechanic. Perhaps the best in town. There’s no car you can’t figure out and fix like a little puzzle.”
The boy took a step back, a deep frown on his expression, not even in the least fazed by Pride’s attempts. On the contrary, he looked rather freaked out.
“Look, man, I appreciate the pep talk and the, umm, encouragement speech. But this is a service for guys with ancient fucked up trucks with their insides more fried up than my friend Quinn after a night out. We don’t do fancy Cadillacs. I’m glad you think I can win the mechanic Olympics or whatever, but we wouldn’t even know how to begin touching a car like yours. So…” he trailed off, leaving Pride nearly gaping at him.
So Lust was right. The boy was truly incorruptible.
Foolishness. Nothing in this world was truly incorruptible. He just may have gone the wrong way about it.
“What about your looks then?” he tried. “You look rather handsome, underneath—“ he gestured towards his filthy clothes with an almost disgusted gesture, “all that. Just imagine…”
“Look man,” the boy interrupted him, looking like this conversation had exhausted him to no end. “If you’re here to hit on me or something, you should’ve said so. I would’ve saved you some time and told you I don’t swing that way. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got work to do. Actual work.”
He turned his back and walked away, leaving Pride totally baffled. In thousands of years, he hadn’t been nearly so humiliated by a worthless human. No one dared to turn their back to the vainest of sins, no one dared to disrespect him the way he’d just been disrespected. His charm hadn’t even touched him. Pride hadn’t even gotten to finish his routine when the boy had cut him off, completely unaffected.
Oh. It was personal.
Pride cleared his throat. “I must have had a particularly unlucky day. Or I’m out of practice. Surely you can’t tell me a human could resist me.”
“It’s not just that,” Envy turned to him abruptly. “It’s not just you.”
Envy found Adam in a coffee shop. She paused in the doorway and tried to get a read on his emotions and his weaknesses. She stopped dead in her track when she realized she was coming down empty. This had never happened before. As guarded as a human could be – and that alone took an iron will power –, none of them was uncrackable. But when she tried to get into his mind or at least get a feel of his aura, his desires, his blind spots, all she got was pitch black.
She groaned internally and squared her shoulders. It looked like she had to do this the traditional way. She hated the traditional way.
She tossed her red hair over her shoulder and made her way to his booth and sat in front of him without so much as announcing herself. He raised his eyes to her, frowning deep in confusion.
“May I help you?” he asked slowly, still processing.
“No,” Envy smiled wildly. “But I can help you.”
Adam sighed and rolled his eyes dramatically, taking a sip of his coffee before speaking. “What is it with you weird Brooklyn people?” he muttered under his breath almost to himself, then he turned to her. “Look, lady, if you’re with Jehovah’s witnesses or some kind of cult, save your breath. I’m not interested in whatever salvation you’re selling. Unless you wanna write me a fat check with plenty of zeroes to pay what I’m owing some people and pay my rent before my landlord kicks me out.”
He said in all in one breath and took another sip of coffee, his head slipping subtly to the left like he couldn’t be bothered by Envy’s presence. She leaned forward and rested her chin in her palm.
“Is that really what you want?” she asked and he turned to look at her again, bored to no end. “Hmm, no, it’s not. Come on. Tell me. What is it you truly want?”
He tried to seem unaffected, but this time, Envy caught it. She might not have been able to crack his mind, but she could read body language and the small things that humans betrayed themselves through. As soon as the question left her lips, she noticed his eyes darting to the left again and she followed his gaze.
What he was stealing glances as was a scene unfolding at the counter with a waitress that looked rather dull in Envy’s eyes, with plain brown hair and a wide smile that scrunched her face and revealed big crooked teeth. Plus a cleavage that would’ve put Lust to shame and that she knew exactly how to use to her advantage in her flirting game with a customer. By Adam’s mopey face, he must not have liked that very much. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on here. The oldest tale in this predictable race’s history.
“I see,” she clicked her tongue. “You don’t want all that. You want the girl.”
He turned to her abruptly, not bothering to deny it. “Are you in some sort of Jehovah’s Witnesses Drama Queens Club?”
Envy leaned forward, ignoring his sassy remark. “She’s pretty. You’d make a cute couple, I guess.”
“Not at all your goddamn business,” he snapped, but she wasn’t so easily intimidated by a mortal boy.
“It isn’t fair, is it?” she clicked her tongue. “You’re here for her and yet she runs in the arms of the scumbag.”
He rolled his eyes, but Envy could tell he’d clenched his fists and there was tension in his shoulders. She was getting through to him.
“It’s 2017, lady. No one uses the word ‘scumbag’ these days.”
“What does he have that you don’t?” she kept going, leaning in and keeping intense eye contact, wondering if his walls were truly coming down. She hadn’t worked so blindly in ages. “You’re the one she should be with, not him. He won’t treat her right, you know it. It’s your arms she’ll run crying into when it ends badly. Always the shoulder to cry on. None of that would happen if that good-for-nothing were out of the picture.”
Adam pushed his coffee aside only half-drunk and let out a loud sigh, running his hands through his hair. He took out his wallet and threw a dollar bill on the table to cover for the coffee, standing up.
“Thanks for your insight, ma’am. If I’m ever in desperate need of love advice from a creepy religious sect, I’ll give you a call. Have a good day.”
“He acknowledged the temptation,” Envy paced, the frustration of failure written clearly on her slightly green skin. It was like even their human forms preserved at least some aspect of what they represented. “He just refused to let it in.”
“At least you got something out of him,” Gluttony folded his arms over his chest. “I wasn’t even close.”
Gluttony placed the dish in front of the boy proudly. He’d outdone himself, really. No one could ever hope to resist so much chocolate. This cake was the goddess of all desserts and yet, Adam eyed it warily.
“I didn’t order this,” he spoke slowly, frowning.
“It is a special offer, sir,” Gluttony folded his hands before him. He very much enjoyed playing the waiter.
“I’m sure it is,” Adam let out a humorless laugh. “I didn’t even know you guys served stuff like this in here. But I could never afford it. You must have got the wrong table.”
“Not at all, sir. This is for you, on the house.” Adam frowned even deeper, causing Gluttony to grow restless. “Is it not your birthday?”
Adam simply shook his head, looking as if he was having trouble following the whole business.
“Regardless,” Gluttony waved a hand. “A gesture of good will, if you’d like. Since it’s here, it would be a shame to let it go to waste.”
“Look, I appreciate it, really, but I’m lactose intolerant, so…” He trailed off with a shrug, leaving Gluttony blinking at him.
Eventually, the devil muttered an apology and walked away with the cake, almost sad. What kind of monster turned down food?
“I’m telling you,” Gluttony mumbled. “The kid’s a piece of work. Anyone who doesn’t give in to food is evil.”
Wrath rolled her eyes. “We’re the evil ones, idiot.”
“Still,” Gluttony glared at her like a little kid. “For all that bragging, did your plan even work?”
By Wrath’s death stare, they all assumed the obvious.
Brooklyn was no Iraq, but it was violent enough. The gangs made the night streets bloody enough for Wrath’s taste.
She tailed Adam for a while hoping she could just jump on the right opportunity. Although she’d heard it from the others, it still shocked her to not be able to read him at all. She didn’t like working blindly. She felt deaf. She was a devil of adrenaline and violence and she was used to all those physical markers of anger that could be read so easily on humans. The smell of bloodthirst. The taste of bitter rage on the back of her tongue. The sight of red at the edges of her vision. Without those, she wasn’t sure whether she was even rowing the boat in the right direction.
Eventually, as she kept following Adam, she watched him run into a guy who was coming out of a bar. The man was tall, muscular, with his arms covered in tattoos and the stench of alcohol on him easy to smell even from a distance. Compared to Adam’s scrawny body with his crouch and his clothes hanging loosely from his thin hips and shoulders, the guy was a monster. And he was in the mood for trouble. Wrath grinned. Just what she needed.
“Hey, what the hell is your problem, dude?” the drunk shoved Adam, who held his hands up in front of him defensively.
“No problem here, yo,” he tried to keep calm, but Wrath was already at his side.
“You’re gonna let that motherfucker talk to you like that?” she hissed in his ear. “You’re just gonna let him walk away without a fight?”
Adam turned to look over his shoulder at the crazy lady with a death wish.
“Yes,” he nearly shouted in her face, his face tense with fear. That wasn’t good. Fear and anger tended to cancel each other out. “Yes, I am. I’m not out of my goddamn mind.”
“Come on,” Wrath gave him a little push, her own blood humming in anticipation. “Aren’t you pissed he’s picking on you? Show him who the boss is.”
The drunk took a few unsteady steps toward Adam, his hands already clenched into fists.
“Got anything to show me, punk?”
Adam gulped. “Look, I’m not looking for trouble—“
“Too bad. You found it.”
As soon as he got the words out, the drunk sent his fist flying and punched Adam squarely in the jaw.
“Son of a—“ he mumbled, stumbling backwards, already waiting for the next blow. He knew this kind of street fights and while he could hold his own, he didn’t win them too often. But luckily, the guy was already picking a fight with some other random drunks, and Adam was already long forgotten. He turned to Wrath, wiping the blood from the corner of his mouth.
“Was that really necessary?” he spat in her face, moving past her and walking away.
Wrath was too fazed to even be mad. And she was always mad. She couldn’t say that was the kind of anger she’d have hoped for.
Wrath sighed and turned to Greed. “If you failed, too, I’m gonna murder this fucking dude with my bare hands. No problem to worry about if the problem is dead.”
They all glared at her, but Greed pursed his lips. Oh, yeah. He’d failed, too.
The lady in front of him at the ATM walked away and Adam quickly caught sight of the money she’d forgotten to take. It was quite some cash there.
“Hey, lady—“ he began to call after her, when he felt a hand gripping his shoulder.
“Don’t be an idiot, dumbass.”
Adam turned around to look over his shoulder. “Excuse me?”
Greed rolled his eyes dramatically. The kid couldn’t possibly be so pure and innocent. No one was.
“Let her go,” Greed whispered. “She won’t notice the money’s gone until later, when you’re long gone.”
“Excuse me?” Adam simply repeated incredulously.
“The money, pal. Look at all that cash. It’s gotta be worth like a whole year’s rent.”
Greed saw Adam’s eyes flash for half a second, but not enough to last.
“Screw you, man,” he shook his head in near disgust, grabbing the money and hurrying to catch the lady it belonged to. In order to return it. What a waste. Turns out someone truly was so pure and innocent.
Lust sighed. Five failures so far. Six, to count herself.
“Sloth?” she tried, and he looked up almost confused.
“Oh, I meant to,” came the excuse they all had expected. “But then you guys came back empty-handed and I figured it was useless to waste the trip just to confirm what we all know. He’s immune.”
Normally, the rest would’ve scolded him for his lack of participation, but his words rang through the empty air, raising a grave issue. The boy was immune. No one in the history of humanity had ever been immune to temptation. Not the greatest of saints, not even God’s favorites. The boy was dangerous. The problem was that they couldn’t tell whether the danger he represented meant doom or salvation for their cause.
“This is out of our jurisdiction,” Lust crossed her arms over her chest. “We need her. We don’t have a choice.”
“Don’t you think you’re overreacting a little?” Envy narrowed her eyes. “He’s just a human.”
“They all were,” Pride commented. “They all are. And yet they’ve been here for thousands of years. Every time we try to destroy them, all it takes is one human to save them all. Just remember Noah and his ark.”
“She’ll be pissed,” Wrath clicked her tongue. “You know she hates cleaning up our mess.”
Lust looked at the other six. On that, they agreed. And yet, all she could do was repeat, “We don’t have a choice.”
~SOUNDTRACK: Imagine Dragons – Believer~
Adam stood on the roof with a cigarette resting between his fingers. A six-pack sat at his feet, and he ached for a beer but he’d promised Quinn he’d wait until she got here. He stood trapped between Brooklyn and the night sky, feeling just as lost as ever.
Before he could sink deeper into his sulking and self-pity, he heard footsteps behind him. He turned around with a half-smile reserved for Quinn only.
“You would not believe the week I had—“ He trailed off, his smile fading.
The one standing in front of him wasn’t Quinn. She was taller and her hair was bright red, curling around her shoulders. She wore a leather jacket and a feral smile. And she strode to him as a panther would when it surrounds its prey. And when she spoke, her voice sounded like velvet. Except soaked in blood perhaps.
“Was it because of my minions? I do apologize, but you have to understand, it’s just business. We’ve never seen anything quite like you.”
Adam wanted to open his mouth and throw in a snarky remark about how it had sounded like a cheap pick-up line, but he couldn’t get the words out. She was so mind-blowingly beautiful, but in a dangerous way with which you’d appreciate the beauty of a beast in the middle of its hunting. Graceful, gorgeous, deadly.
“You’re Adam, right?” she went on, standing right next to him. He felt adrenaline running through his veins and cursed himself. She was just a girl. Wasn’t she?
“I, umm, yeah,” he stammered and she grinned.
“Nice to meet you, Adam. I’m Murder.”
He gulped. Maybe under different circumstances he would’ve laughed, like when that exotic dancer from the club had called herself Lust. But he was petrified by that cold smile of hers that sent chills down his spine.
“Unusual name,” he managed to comment.
“Yeah, well, I’m not your usual devil,” she shrugged, seeming oblivious to the fact that not a single fucking word that came out of her mouth made sense. “You see, people often have me confused with Death, but I gave up chasing that promotion centuries ago. Being a horseman is too much responsibility.”
Adam frowned, almost forgetting how terrifying she was. The woman was nuts. “Oh,” he muttered under his breath, but she hardly seemed to mind him.
“I get the confusion, though. But you see, Death is a collector.” She fixated him with her gaze, making Adam shiver a little. Her eyes were red. Blood red. “I’m the weapon. The killing blow.”
He wanted to ask her what nut house she’d escaped from. Whether she thought it was Halloween. He remembered that last year, Quinn had dressed up as a vampire for Halloween and she’d worn red contacts. But you could tell they were contacts. This woman’s red irises looked like every muscle in them had been soaked in blood. But that was absurd, right?
“What are you doing up here?” he asked instead.
She looked over the edge, letting out a low whistle. “It’s a long way down, isn’t it?”
Adan just blinked at her. “What?”
“Lots of floors. We’re quite high.”
“What do you want from me?” Adam brought himself to ask, and she grinned again, that blood-chilling grin.
“I want you to jump.”
For a few seconds, all that Adam could hear was the loud thump of his heart with this city jungle as a background. She stared him down as if she truly expected him to jump over the edge.
“What?” he shrieked, and she leaned in, never breaking eye contact.
“This cannot possibly be the best life for you, the life you’d have imagined for yourself, can it, Adam? You must feel betrayed, like the world has let you down. This building is filthy and smells like shit. You’re smoking cheap disgusting cigarettes. Your own best friend stood you up, probably letting some other shady guy screw her in some bathroom.”
Adam shook his head. “How did you—“
“You work in a broke car service that can’t possibly pay enough. Aren’t you tired of going through the motions, of living each day without as much as a safety net, worrying about the next one? Hasn’t this loneliness consumed you already?”
This time, Adam stayed silent, not a single muscle in his face twitching. She refused to let her see how close to home she was hitting. He broke eye contact and looked over the edge. His building was 20 floor-high. His brains would paint the pavement and there was a good chance his heart would fail on the way down. He couldn’t say he hadn’t considered it before, ending it all. He’d stayed for Quinn, because he couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her alone to grieve him. Or he’d stayed because he’d lacked the guts. Because he was a coward.
He was being talked into suicide by a creepy chick named Murder. How ironic and how very fitting. He understood now why she chose to call herself a weapon, a killing blow. A mean to an end rather than a destination.
He felt her lips at his ear as he kept looking over the edge.
Her words cut through him like a shockwave and, without the intimidating spell of her blood red eyes, he snapped out of it. He’d made it for 25 years. He wasn’t gonna let those go to waste by giving up now.
“You’re out of your goddamn mind if you think you can just come here and talk me into flying myself off the fucking roof.”
He heard her sigh and managed to courage to meet her eyes again. They weren’t angry by a long shot, and nor were they disheveled in any way, but they were even icier than they had been minutes before, despite the flames in them.
“Well, then,” she said sharply. “Then it is a problem than we must take care of, mustn’t we?”
Adam didn’t get a chance to ask her what the hell she was talking about before it all went pitch black.5: Chapter 4: Eight friendly strangers
CHAPTER 4 – EIGHT FRIENDLY STRANGERS
Looks innocent enough, doesn't it?
But sometimes there are dangers involved that never meet the eye
No matter where you meet a stranger
Be careful if they are too friendly
~SOUNDTRACK: Panic! At The Disco – Casual Affair~
Adam woke up in an abandoned warehouse. Your typical kidnapping slash horror movie location. Although woke up wasn’t precisely accurate, since he hadn’t been knocked out to begin with. It was like that point in a conversation when you realize you haven’t been paying attention and you regain focus. It was exactly like that. He simply shook his head and realized the last thing he remembered was standing on the roof next to that woman with red curls who was now staring back at him.
Adam frowned and blinked to clear the fog in his eyes. He now noticed that the woman – Murder? – was surrounded by seven other people. He more or less recognized them all.
“You’re those freaks,” he stated boldly, not bothering with filters. “The exotic dancer,” he pointed at the girl who had called herself Lust. “The little shit at the ATM. You were the waiter with the cake. Guy with the Cadillac. Chick who got me punched. Jehovah’s Witnesses lady. Was I kidnapped by Brooklyn’s most fucked up gang?”
The Murder chick huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. “I hardly kidnapped you. You walked here willingly.”
“But I don’t remember doing it, so it still counts as kidnapping—“ Adam began to point out when the hot blonde from the bar – Lust – cut him off.
“But I don’t get it. If we couldn’t influence him, not even you, how did you get him to come here?”
The redhead waved a hand dismissively. “I wasn’t trying to get him to sin. It was a charm. I couldn’t very well let him roam the streets not knowing what he is.”
Adam raised a hand like a little kid in school, realizing immediately afterwards how ridiculous it must have looked. “I know it looks funny when the guys in movies do it, but it’s actually really annoying when people talk about you like you weren’t there. And I’m not a what. I don’t appreciate being objectified, thank you very much. Now if I may, who the fuck are you?”
“I told you,” the red head said exasperated. “My name is Murder. And these are my seven devils.”
Adam’s eyes traveled around all the eight faces staring down at him, frowning deeply. “Right,” he said eventually, speaking slowly as if he were actually trying to find a speck of reason in this whole conversation.
“The question is,” the black chick who’d talked a drunk guy into punching Adam leaned forward with her hands on her knees, looking pissed. “What are you?”
Adam smiled smugly, shrugging despite the danger he sensed in the air. “A mechanic.”
The chick clicked his tongue and turned to Murder – thinking of her like that felt all kinds of weird – her nostrils flaring. “You hear that? He thinks he’s being a smart ass.”
“Wrath,” the redhead simply glared at the black chick and she stepped back obediently. Wrath? What kind of screwed up cult had he ended up in?
“Look,” he held his hands up, standing from his chair. “You clearly have issues and I want nothing to do with,” he made a dismissive motion toward them, his eyebrows rising like he couldn’t even bother to begin to understand what the hell was happening, “all that. I need to be at work and earn a damn living. Whoever or whatever you guys think you are or whatever twisted roleplaying game this is, you kidnapped the wrong guy.”
“Sit down,” the redhead roared in a totally different voice than she’d used up until now. Her voice held an edge that made Adam take a step back and fall back in his chair.
Perhaps he’d underestimated the situation. These people were clearly disturbed, but nothing had ever stopped deranged people from also being dangerous. And if he’d thought he’d underestimated the situation before, as Murder strode to him and fixated him with her gaze, he realized he’d also underestimated that statement. The situation was out of the jurisdiction of any reasonable explanation. Because as she leaned forward, her eyes flared red. Not like last night, when he’d noticed her irises were blood red. No, this time, her eyes turned red entirely, like blood-filled smoke flooded even their whites until her orbits were no more than two puddles of blood.
“We are ancient, boy,” she hissed at him. “We will not be the mockery of a worthless human who thinks he’s above us just because he found a loophole around our influence.”
He gulped, his body surprisingly relaxed despite the immediate threat. Ancient devils with blood red eyes. Regular Wednesday here in Brooklyn.
“Okay,” he gave a shrug, making Murder blink and her eyes turn normal – almost normal, at least, with red irises. She’d probably hoped he’d be more scared. Adam almost wanted to sit her down and explain to her the logistics of having nothing and nothing to lose. For him, rock bottom was what he called home. He hadn’t feared for his life since he was too young to even remember. He couldn’t care less about their threats.
“You have no idea, do you?” the exotic dancer, Lust, crossed her arms over her chest, sending her cleavage forward.
Adam raised his arms and let them drop by his body in exasperation. “You might as well offer some explanation, since you don’t seem particularly eager to let me go.”
“You should mind yourself, boy,” the man with the Cadillac from earlier this week flared. “We don’t respond well to demands and lack of respect.”
The shadow of a cruel smile flashed on Murder’s face. “That’s Pride.” She turned to the black feisty chick. “This is Wrath. Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Envy. The seven deadly sins.”
“Reasonable,” Adam muttered under his breath, taking it all in. “And why were they all up my ass all week long?”
“We were trying to get you to sin, obviously,” the one he thought was called Envy threw her red locks over her shoulders. “It’s in the job description.”
Adam simply shrugged. “I still don’t see what the fuss is about. I sin. Big time. I’m no saint to follow around and poke with a stick.”
“We’re no small sins, mortal,” Pride almost spat in his face, offended. He got where the name came from now. “We’re the deadly sins. We thrive in temptation. And you were… not easy to corrupt.”
He averted his gaze, gritting his teeth and Gluttony rolled his eyes. “And by that, he means impossible. Our temptation didn’t work on you. We want to know why.”
All eight of them fell silent, and Adam realized they were waiting for him to offer an explanation. Except he didn’t have one.
“Don’t look at me,” he defended. “This is the first time I hear about devils and shit.”
Murder stared him down incredulously through narrowed eyes. “You’re taking it awfully well. You must have questions.”
Adam mulled it over. Yet again, he wanted to give her the speech about given a rotten shit about this world and its inhabitants. On his part, they could tear the entire human population apart. No one had showed him even a speck of kindness, so why was he concern himself with their fate? But he kept his mouth shut again. This wasn’t a support group. These were, as they liked so much to point out, ancient devils. So he settled for the most obvious question he could come up with.
“Why are you here?”
“I’ve been wondering the same thing,” a man with shoulder-length hair sitting in a far-away corner replied. Adam didn’t remember him or having crossed paths with him this week. Murder had called him Sloth. As in Pride’s case, Adam found the name perfectly suitable. “This city has so many nice hotels with comfy beds. I’d kill for a nap. Quite literally. I hate filthy warehouses.”
“No,” Adam narrowed his eyes. “You know what I mean. Here. On… Earth, I guess. It seems to me like you guys don’t have, like, a permanent residence here. People would’ve heard, would’ve freaked out. That’s what people do. So why are you here now?”
“He’s quick on his feet,” the man from the ATM, Greed, smirked. “I like him.”
“So what, you came to make the world naughty?” Adam crossed his arms over his chest. “’Cause I don’t see any difference. The world was already naughty and full of sinners.”
Murder grinned widely, baring white teeth. “Oh no,” she almost sang. “We didn’t come to make the world naughty, dear boy.” She leaned forward. “We came to destroy it.”
~SOUNDTRACK: The Pretty Reckless – Heaven knows~
“Oh Lord, Heaven knows
We belong way down below”
Adam stepped outside, feeling the dire need to fill his lungs with some fresh air and some tobacco after the whole thing unfolding inside the warehouse. Deadly sins and whatnots. Apocalyptic scenarios. Murder hadn’t said so, but he’d assumed as much. He was oddly fine with it. He lit up a cigarette and paused to actually process everything. Before he could even get to it, he heard footsteps behind him. Even, almost calculated, the click of heels precise like the ticking of a clock, and if he listened close enough, he swore he could hear the sway of her hips.
“You weren’t kidding about that name of yours,” he turned around. “Were you, Lust?”
“You’ll find we don’t joke much,” she mused, her lips wrapping seductively around the words.
“Shocker,” he muttered, shooting a look over his shoulder, almost expecting Murder to be hiding in a corner within earshot. “I thought my boss was bad, but yours puts old Gus to shame.”
She flashed him the phantom of a half-smile, and Adam turned to her. “You know, not to be rude. And not that I’d care much if I were, but I was sort of hoping to get some peace and quiet out here. Enjoy my cigarette in silence. For all you know, I could be in shock.”
“You’re not,” she clicked her tongue. “And I figured I’d give it one more shot. I find I’m quite irresistible. It’s only a matter of how much you can resist. Especially with your little girlfriend nowhere in sight.”
Adam huffed but said nothing. He wasn’t about to drag Quinn into this. He couldn’t care less about this crappy world, but Quinn was the best thing said crappy world had let him have and he wasn’t about to just hand her over to biblical demons.
“So how does this world destruction work?” he changed the subject, motioning dramatically as he summoned Murder’s words from earlier. “Like some sort of Apocalypse? You’re gonna make people sin so much that it’s gonna get the big bearded guy in the sky pissed and he’ll start shooting giant meteors at us? Is that what happened to dinosaurs? Because I’m pretty curious how you’d get dinosaurs to lust.”
He chuckled at his own joke, but Lust remained unimpressed. Hmm, so he’d have to up his game. They weren’t the joking type, she’d said as much, but when you’re a high school dropout with no penny to his name, Adam had learned, being funny is your only option. Making people laugh is underrated when it comes to favors. And he had a feeling he wouldn’t mind ancient devils owing him favors.
“The Apocalypse is indeed upon your people,” she ran her fingers through her golden hair. “But we’re here to prepare you for it. To make you… unredeemable. Beyond salvation, one would say.”
“By sinning,” Adam guessed, and was surprised when Lust shook her head.
“Not just that. Your short little lives are like a scale. The good on one side, the bad on the other, until the scales tip to either side. We’re not only here to override the bad scale. We’re also here to break the good scale entirely.” She turned to him. “Do you know what the opposite of sin is, Adam?”
He frowned. “Quality?” he offered.
“Virtue,” she nearly whispered, as if getting a high from saying the word. “Seven sins and seven virtues, their perfect equivalents.”
Adam stood with the unsmoked cigarettes burning his fingers, but he couldn’t be bothered by it as he processed Lust’s words. His head was spinning. “So you gotta get rid of the seven virtues first? So they’re what, seven angels? Man, this is so weird.”
“They’re humans,” Lust explained. “The virtues are spirits that inhabit worthy humans. Shouldn’t be too hard to banish them.” She grinned widely, a feral smile nowhere close to how fierce Murder’s had been, but still pretty creepy. “And then the world is ours to devour.”
Adam through away his cigarette and lit up another one, bringing it to his lips and inhaling deeply. “And where do I fit in this plan of yours?”
“We’re still not sure on which side of the scale this immunity of yours places you. Until we figure it out, we’re to keep an eye on you. That is to say, until we figure out how to use you to our advantage so that we fasten things up. We’ve been waiting for a real Apocalypse for millennia. It’s so close we can taste it.”
He fell silent for a minute. Eventually, all he could offer was, “Huh.”
Lust turned to him with an expression that looked almost as surprise. Adam could tell she wasn’t used to the feeling, her features almost pushed into the unfamiliar reaction.
“Does it not bother you?” she inquired. “I am talking about the damnation of your people and how you may be the key to ensure it.”
He simply shrugged. Now that she pointed it out, he realized it actually didn’t bother him at all. “I don’t care,” he put emphasis on each word. “The world can go to hell. It belongs there. Look, I knew there was something wrong with people ever since I was a kid. All my life, I knew as much. You’re just confirming a theory. Let it be damned. If you ask me, wherever you’re taking us, we all belong down there anyway. Way down below.”
Lust smirked viciously. “Very well. Let us begin then.”
6: Chapter 5: Lust and Chastity
CHAPTER 5 – LUST AND CHASTITY
~SOUNDTRACK: Pistol Annies – I feel a sin coming on~
The boy had not stopped asking questions on the plane. Like a constant buzz in Lust’s ear. Like a mosquito that makes you slap the air blindly. He wasn’t in the least bit fazed by everything that was about to unfold. He’d taken everything in nonchalantly, probably the first human alive to meet the seven deadly sins and shrug it all off like it inconvenienced his Saturday night plans. He was an interesting little toy, Lust thought. One who squeaked a lot and too loud.
“You know, I still don’t get why you had to drag me along,” he mumbled in the cab they took from the airport in Spain. “I have a job, and that’s not your secretary. What, am I supposed to sit there, look pretty and take notes?”
“We’re assessing,” she simply stated, looking out the window. The monastery where they were headed was a little further from Madrid and they’d paid the taxi driver an absurd amount of money to take them there.
Adam huffed. “Assessing my ass,” he mumbled, then shot her a look. “Though I guess that is your thing after all.”
“Strictly business,” Lust commented uninterested. “I have little interest in your anatomy and sexual endeavors. I’m rather interested in you being interested in my anatomy and sexual endeavors. I have brought you along, as will the others, to assess your behavior and any changes in it we might benefit from. We are trying to read where you stand.”
“So, like a science project,” he mocked, and she actually bothered to flash him half a smile.
“Quite so,” she replied.
He fell silent and Lust thanked the God she loathed for it. He was a rather curious little thing, in his fatally uninterested way. He spoke of the end of the world as one might speak of the weather when he is not particularly interested in the subject, but in the mere act of keeping one’s self busy talking. He was an odd one, Lust had to give him that. Now, if only she could get him to shut up for a little while longer.
“So, this Chastity chick,” he spoke again as if reading her thoughts. “Why are you so sure it’s a nun? How do you know it’s not some random virgin girl hiding in her room and reading the Bible? And why in Spain?”
Lust sighed dramatically and replied, “She is the Alpha to my Omega. My opposite, my counterpart. We’re bonded by that which you call natural balance. Like magnets, you could say. So I know. For sure.”
She ended her sentence curtly, shooting him a look, but Adam didn’t falter or back down. “I hear you, but still, a nun in Spain? Hell, I could’ve passed for Chastity at 14, when little virgin Adam finally realized there were girls—“
Exasperated, Lust pulled him by the collar and kissed him hardly on the mouth, knowing the exact dance her tongue had to do in order to reduce him to silence. She let go of him, leaving him blinking in surprise and a little breathless and she bit his lip playfully.
“You talk too much,” she breathed, enjoying the little way his body shivered when her warm breath hit his cheek. Maybe he wasn’t prone to her influence as a deadly sin, but he was still a man who could be easily driven mad by the wonders a woman’s body can work. And she’d taken the form of a most wonderful woman’s body. There are more ways to influence a man than through devilish spells. Feminine spells worked just fine, she found.
She leaned back in her seat, finally getting some peace and quiet for a change as Adam shifted uncomfortably. She smirked to herself and winked at the taxi driver watching them in a rear view mirror with widened eyes. This time, her devilish spells told her for sure he’d go back to his 50-year old wife with the body of three births in its past wishing she could look more like the gorgeous blonde devil in his backseat.
~SOUNDTRACK: Pistol Annies – Hell on heels~
The old church resonated with the echo of her footsteps. In each corner, the walls shivered and spiders hid in the cracks. And she walked between the pews with dusty high-heeled boots, lingering because she knew it was a fight she was bound to win. Like a cat and a cornered mouse. She knew she could kill it, so she preferred to play with it a little first.
The leather of her jacket shone in candle light, making her look as less the devil she was and more of a goddess. She ran red long nails over the cheap wood of the pews, leaving scratches behind for everyone to know that she’d been here. That she’d done this.
The woman in front of her was wearing a dark nun robe. She was sitting on her knees, praying. Lust wanted to laugh at her. No one was truly listening. At least the spirit of Chastity was bound to know that. Not even her God cared about humanity anymore.
As Lust got closer, the nun turned around. She’d cried while praying and now her cheeks were stained red, blood tears running down. There was despair in her eyes, but serenity in her features. She was scared, the humanity of her host rubbing off on her, but resigned with her fate. She accepted that this was the way of things. Lust was almost angered by that. She would’ve preferred her crawling at her feet with terror, begging for her life. They’d been enemies, magnets, meant to even each other out since the beginning of time. Meant to coexist and battle restlessly until one of them pulled humanity to their side. But this was the final battle. Sin had won against virtue. This time Lust wasn’t to even Chastity out. This time one was to kill the other.
Lust stopped in front of the poor nun who hosted Chastity, planting the heels of her shoes firmly in the floor. She smiled a feral smile and felt the human boy watching her from afar. Let this serve him a lesson. If he’d thought all this was a joke, let him know now just how serious they were. Let him writher in fear as she’d draw that first drop of blood in this war.
The nun looked up at her and beneath the wrinkled skin and the bloodied cheeks, Lust saw the light of the virtue flickering in those human blue eyes. She was disgusted by it.
“You don’t have to do this,” she pleaded and Lust almost let out a small gasp of satisfaction.
“Are you going to beg?” she hissed. “Because although I would very much enjoy that, it seems uncharacteristic for those like you.”
“No,” the nun closed her eyes and they filled with blood tears again. “I shall not beg for my life. We’ve carried a battle for too long now. But I must stand for the humans. They are good and deserve not the hell you wish to unleash upon them.”
Lust leaned forward, her eyes dancing with flames and with the thirst and the anticipation of a kill she’d waited for since the beginning of time.
“They deserve everything,” she said simply. “All of the virtues will not save them when they find sinning so much easier. It is a fate they brought upon themselves and cannot be saved from. So hold your preaching. You’re wasting your last breaths.”
The nun forced a sad smile, almost hopeful as she said, “If they are so corrupt and so evil, why are you here? Why have the seals not been broken yet? Why have the horseman not risen? You have not come because mankind is broken. You have come to break them beyond redemption and to strip them of all that is good and pure yet within them.” Her smile faded as she looked up at Lust, pausing before speaking again. “But none of that matters, isn’t it so?”
Lust smiled down at her, baring her teeth. “I could’ve told you that one speech ago.”
The nun closed her eyes and waited for the killing blow. Lust almost rolled her eyes. Resignation made everything so dull and took the fun out of it. But then again, this was the enemy, the one enemy created for herself only that she’d craved to kill for millennia. So it was still a little fun. Before losing that feeling, she dug her claws into Chastity’s human throat and ripped her apart with her bare hands.
~SOUNDTRACK: SoMo – Back to the start~
Adam was bouncing his knee up and down as he listened to the sound of the shower. Despite himself, he pictured the hot water running down her body, hugging her curves and licking at her skin. He’d felt actual lust before, as one does. And he’d had a taste of what her attempt of influencing him and corruption was supposed to feel like, even if it did nothing for him. But he was neither blind, not stupid. Lust was the kind of girl men and women alike killed each other for. Inhuman. He would’ve had to be made of stone not to shift in his seat uncomfortably when he thought of her naked just in the other room.
Except, of course, there was the aspect of her washing off all that blood that made the situation less hot at the moment. She’d slaughtered that poor nun. And Adam was shocked at himself for being able to understand the devils’ position. They had a purpose and the virtues stood in the way of that. He’d turned his head every time Lust dug her claws into Chastity’s human flesh, he’d flinched each time he’d heard Lust’s erratic roars when Chastity shot her those resigned smiles. He’d trembled as she was strolling toward him, covered in blood that soaked her clothes, her boots, her hands, her blonde hair.
“Something on your mind, big boy?” he started as he heard Lust’s voice and turned his head to her.
Adam gulped. In the doorway of the bathroom stood Lust, gazing at him. Naked, with no shame whatsoever in her stance. Why would she feel such thing? She knew what she looked like and she knew how people felt about her even without having to influence them to want her. They all did.
He took her in and then met her eyes. She raised her eyebrow at him as if daring him to see how long he could keep her gaze and ignore her nakedness. He felt that cold rush in his veins that was starting to feel familiar, the one that let him know she was using her devilish charms on him. He clicked his tongue and rested his elbows on his knees, without breaking eye contact.
“You don’t have to do that,” he told her. “You know it doesn’t work.”
She moved slowly, her feet leaving wet footprints on the floor. He let his eyes roam from her toes to the wet strands of hair falling into her eyes and stopped there, planting his gaze on hers aggressively to let her know he knew what game she was playing and he had no intention to play by her rules. He had it in his blood to be a rebel and bend rules.
“A girl can hope,” she dragged on every word, stopping just in front of him, her flat stomach so close he could just press his lips there. But he remembered her rules and how stubbornly he refused to fall in the traps she was laying, so he stood still, eyes still digging deep into hers. “I keep thinking that with every attempt, I get past those walls a little bit more. And then, one day, I’ll be in.” She leaned forward until her lips touched his ear. “Quite literally.”
Adam smirked despite himself. “Perhaps all you had to do was ask,” he whispered back and her hands gripped his shoulders, sitting in his lap. Adam’s hands went instantly at her waist, brushing the skin there. Girls usually shivered when he did that thing with just his fingertips grazing the surface of their stomach and lower back, but this was Lust. The blood he could still see beneath her nails was proof enough of that. And he was still oddly unbothered by that.
Her hands went to his hair and gave a small tug. Adam let out a feral groan. “I don’t beg, Adam,” she leaned forward and bit his lower lip.
“Then we might have a problem,” he stood his ground. “I don’t, either.”
Lust let out a breathless groan and slid her hands down his chest. This time, Adam couldn’t hold back a shiver. She leaned in and touched her lips to his, but he pulled back and smirked at her smugly.
“Just don’t let this get to your head,” he murmured and, before she could object, he crashed his lips down on hers violently, making her swallow whatever retort and tasting the bitter comeback on her tongue.
And as he got lost in her body, Adam could feel a small part of himself slipping away. And he realized he didn’t mind that at all.