The Damned (The Unearthly Book 5)(8)By: Laura Thalassa
“Shame,” the devil commented, “she seemed to like me well enough.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Why did you call me in?”
“Ah, yes, that.”
He released me. When I didn’t do anything immediately, he sighed. “You can get off my lap.”
Wary of him, I did so. Were the last few minutes just some weird mind game? Maybe he really didn’t like me all that much.
One glance at his eyes dispelled that possibility. They roved over me, looking hungry.
And there went that shred of hope.
My insides curdled. What happened a few seconds ago—that near kiss … that wouldn’t be the last of it. Between Pluto’s sinful nature and my siren, they’d make sure of it.
That howling wind swept through the throne room again, tossing my hair about my face. The devil’s, I noticed, barely fluttered.
He leaned his chin on his hand, studying me as the wind began to circle me. “I will miss you.”
“Miss me?” As I spoke, I caught sight of my toes peaking out from under the hem of my dress just as they left the ground.
I balked. “Oh my Go—”
“Don’t you dare utter his name,” Pluto warned.
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!
Even in your head! the devil hissed.
“My feet aren’t touching the ground!”
“Nor is the rest of you,” he added helpfully.
The howling wind tightened its circuit around me.
“Don’t you remember the myths, little bird? You only live here half the time.”
The wind spun around me, a dark, shadowy cloud made up of thousands of lost souls. They brushed against me, and I could feel their torment.
The bottom of my dress disappeared, swallowed up by the screaming souls.
“Pluto, help me!”
“Help you?” He stood from his throne. “If I could, I would join you.”
Why did I bother?
The tormented souls bushed against my skin, each one searing me until my entire body felt consumed by the same flames that had trapped all of the devil’s other victims. They obscured my vision, until the man himself disappeared from view.
They dragged me up and up—and I wasn’t just levitating.
I was flying.
Ohsweetbabyjesus no, no, no. I might no longer be bound by the laws of physics in this realm, but some things should just not happen, regardless.
Bring me back a souvenir, Pluto whispered in my mind.
“Wait, seriously, what’s happening to me?”
The souls that pressed in on me thickened until I couldn’t see anything beyond them—until I had no choice but to breathe them into my lungs, swallowing their anguish as they swallowed me up.
You’re returning to earth, and there, little bird, you will deliver my reckoning.
I tasted earth in my mouth, felt it sift through my hair, rake down my face. It pressed against the crown of my head and my body.
Shadows, darkness, and magic. It all coursed through me. The brush of it felt foreign and tainted and powerful. Now I was a part of the darkness, and now the darkness was a part of me.
Faster and faster it rolled over me, pushing, pulling, forcing me up, up, up. I wanted to scream, but too much soil already filled my mouth, and I couldn’t open my eyes.
This is hell. Everything else that came before now must’ve been a dying dream. This horrible sensation would last forever.
I needed to breathe. I wasn’t blacking out from the lack of air, but my lungs were spasming.
Just when I thought it would never end, the earth warmed and the texture changed. Looser soil.
The pressure at the crown of my head lessened. Then—
In one great burst, the earth purged me.
I coughed out the dirt and debris that weaseled their way into every orifice. My entire body hurt; I was just one giant bruise.
Distantly, I heard screams.
I stared down at the dusty soil, my fingers digging into the fine, dry dirt.
Get up, I commanded myself. I pushed to my feet.
The sky above me was dark, the moon hanging low in the sky.
Jeruselum, a voice whispered in my ear.
Holy ground had purged an unholy creature.
I shook off the dirt and brushed it out of my hair and off of the dress I wore. Only then did I realize I had an audience.
I’d gotten so used to the screams of the damned that I hadn’t noticed that I was the cause of these particular ones until now. A crowd had formed around me, and as I met their eyes, they staggered back, watching me warily. A few of them held up smart phones—smart phones. It was that, more than any other detail that hit me square in the chest.