Book finished: Saturday, 09 June 2018,01:35
Started writing: December 2017
First spell check & editing complete: Wednesday, 26 September 2018, 17:26
— Mr. Matthias Smith?
I slowly opened my eyes and saw the orange, afternoon sky above me. It was really pretty, with all the pink clouds and the sunbeams lighting it up…
— Mr. Matthias Smith?
I heard someone repeat the question. I turned my head and saw a woman with blond hair and the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen staring at me. She was wearing some kind of uniform and was holding a list of some kind in her right hand.
— The sky is really pretty today… I mumbled completely ignoring the woman and her questions. I just wanted to stare at the sky.
— Mr. Smith, I really don’t have time for this, and to be entirely truthful with you, neither do you. You’ll be late for your trial, she said with an emotionless face, but I could see she was starting to get a little annoyed.
— What trial? I didn’t do anything wrong, I said and the woman frowned.
— Please, get up, sir, and take a good look around you, the woman said and gave me a fake smile.
I looked at her surprised. What was she talking about? I got up simply because I was curious, and then I realized I have been lying on the ground, surrounded by ruins which looked like something exploded inside the buildings they once were.
— You didn’t do anything wrong… the woman repeated with obvious irony in her voice. — But anyway, your name is Matthias Smith, am I correct? she then asked, but I wasn’t able to answer.
My head was completely empty, I didn’t remember anything! My last memory was of staring at the sky a few seconds ago!
— Well? the woman tried to make me say something just by continuing asking questions.
— I… I’m not sure, I stuttered after a while.
— What do you mean you’re not sure? I swear, if this is a part of some joke of yours, you’re going to regret it. And don’t tell me you lost your memory, because I’m not going to believe that, she said.
— Well, sorry to disappoint you miss… Melodia, I said as I looked at her nametag — …but I’m afraid you’ll have to.
And it was at that moment the pencil she held in her left hand broke in half. Then she gave me the smile of a serial murderer about to kill his next victim and said through her teeth
— If you’re joking right now, I swear, I will destroy every last piece of your remaining soul, you have my word…
I don’t know why, but somehow, I really felt threatened by that sentence, so I started to slowly move backwards with my hands in front of me, ready to block every attack, if Melodia suddenly decided to attack at me.
— Now, now, calm down, Mel, I’m sure you wouldn’t do anything like that, since that would make you a bad person, and bad people go to Hell, I tried to calm her down, but she just answered
— I don’t mind going back there.
I stopped for a moment. Did I hear her correctly? She didn’t mind going back to Hell? Did that mean she’s already been there? I looked at her nametag once more and read what was written on it: Melodia, Junior Grim Reaper Assistant.
— Who are you exactly, miss? I asked, a little scared by now.
— A junior grim reaper assistant, as you just read on my nametag, who has come here to collect the D-soul, Matthias Smith, she said and a scythe appeared in her left hand from a single beam of light.
— Nonononono, miss, this is a huge misunderstanding! I’m a human, I’m not dead! I said and walked even further back.
— Oh, really? Then why did you just walk straight through that pile of bricks like if it was air, huh?
— What? I looked down confused, but when I looked at her again, the only thing I remember is her jumping towards me with her scythe centimetres from my forehead. Then everything turned black.
I opened my eyes just to see a plain, white ceiling with red a few spots on it. For whatever reason, I felt pain in my entire body, but it didn’t bother me as much. I slowly got up, and saw that I was in some kind of operation room where all the walls and parts of the ceiling were covered with fresh blood. The room was a big mess, almost everything was either destroyed or had fallen to the ground. I stood up to my feet and looked at the bed I was lying on. It was first now I realized I was fastened to it with lots of belts, which were torn into small pieces while I was getting up, and now were lying on the floor. I continued to look around the place, and saw a surgeon in one of the corners of the room. He looked like he was terrified! He was shaking of fear, after all.
— Hey, I started, but then the surgeon grabbed a nearby scalpel and pointed it at me with his shaking hand. — Wow, calm down, I just want to know what happened, where I am, and why I am here. That’s all, I said as calmly and reassuringly as I could.
— J… Junior G… Junior Grim Reaper Assistant Melodia brought a D-soul to us and said that back on Earth, just before she took your soul, something got into your right arm. We were trying to get it out, but you… you… the surgeon wasn’t able to continue.
I, on the other hand, looked at my right arm and saw that a black slug was moving beneath my skin and turning all the veins it touched black. I frowned, as I could feel every move it made under my skin. I wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible, so I clenched my right fist, placed my left hand a few centimetres from the area on my arm where the slug was moving, focused, looked straight forward, and after a few seconds the slug jumped out of my arm with parts of my skin and a lot of blood. The pain was so intense, that I had to shout.
The surgeon stared at me with even more fear in his eyes now, but I didn’t really care what he thought about me. Blood was still coming out of my arm, but the pain was completely gone only after a few seconds. I looked at the floor, where the still alive slug tried to get away, but it didn’t get far because I stepped on it, showing no mercy. The black goo, which was left after the slug, stopped moving completely, so I guessed I killed that thing. Then I looked back at the surgeon and pointed at my shoe
— Was that the thing you were trying to take out?
The surgeon nodded.
— So, with that out of the way, back to my questions. First of all, where am I?
— You’re in Grim City, where every soul, after being on Earth for a certain number of lifetimes, has its trial here, and then goes either to Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. But, if a soul has the right traits, it might be chosen to be a grim reaper and go to Grim Academy here. After the soul has become a grim reaper, it is being sent on missions to Earth to help lord Death collecting souls, said a dark-skinned man in a suit who entered the room. — Doctor, you’re free to leave the room, if you wish, the man said because the doctor was shaking so much, that the scalpel he was holding was hitting a nearby table and making a lot of noise.
At once the doctor heard he didn’t need to be in the same room as me, he jumped up to his feet and ran out as fast as he could.
We watched him leave, and then I asked
— What’s with him? Why was he so scared?
The man looked at me for a while, as if I asked a question with the most obvious answer, but then he said
— Oh, right. Just… just follow me.
And then he simply walked out the door.
Once we exited the operation room, we entered a corridor entirely made of glass. It was first now I could see how high above the ground we were, which, I’m not going to lie, made me feel quite uneasy. I couldn’t even see the ground from here! I stopped and looked through the glass for a moment. The view was mesmerizing, I could see all kinds of flying vehicles fly just a few meters away from the glass, and hundreds of extremely tall towers which were connected by glass-tunnels, like the one we were in right now. I looked up and tried to see where the ginormous towers ended, but my jaw slowly dropped as I was unable to do so.
— The atmosphere scrapers really do make an impression, don’t they? the man asked after I’ve been staring at the view with an open mouth for quite a few, long moments. — The whole city is made out of them, and I can tell you that one atmosphere scraper is able to room up to a billion people, or souls, to be exact.
— Then why do you need so many of them? I asked a little confused. — There are only seven billion people on earth.
But at once I finished that sentence, the man started to laugh.
— What’s so funny? I asked.
— Oh, it’s just that every new soul I introduce to the city says the same thing, thinking that a person and a soul are the same thing. So let me tell you right now, a soul and a person are far from the same, remember that. The thing is, one usually thinks that only people have souls, but that isn’t the truth at all. Every animal, insect, plant, every single blade of grass in fact, has a soul. That makes far more souls than just a mere seven billion, and the numbers are constantly growing! All these souls need a place to be while they are waiting for their trial, so we’re keeping them here, in Grim City, under the watchful eye of the grim reapers, he explained.
— So… I’m one of those souls who are waiting on a trial then? I asked.
— No, you’re here to… he started, but didn’t get to finish, because of an explosion which took place just outside the corridor.
The whole corridor shook and the glass started to break. We looked in the direction where the explosion came from, and saw a smiling woman in a black suit with some kind of goggles covering her eyes, and a scythe in her right hand. Turquoise light was coming from beneath her shoes, which I guess was what allowed her to hover in the air like that. The eyes of the man who I was talking to widened, and he shouted to me
— Run back to the operation room! Now!
I was about to do as he said, but then the glass broke into a trillion tiny pieces and it all started falling down. I was about to fall into the crazy traffic of flying vehicles, when I saw the man throwing a pair of metal buttons/tiny discs in my direction. The sides of the buttons started shining with a turquoise light, and the buttons flew towards me at an unbelievable speed. They then attached themselves to the bottom of my shoes, and I started hovering in the air, just like that woman with the scythe and the man I was talking to. It was kind of hard to keep my balance, but at least I wasn’t falling down anymore.
— Look how the great have fallen! the woman laughed while she was looking straight at me, as I did my best to keep my balance.
I looked at her surprised, but then the man made a movement with his hand, creating a beam of bright light which after a second transformed into a scythe.
— Tenebris, long-time no see! he started. — I had no idea the rogue reapers were so desperate for souls that they’ve started stealing D-souls! I’m impressed over how far you’ve fallen!
But the woman just laughed.
— Oh, silly! she laughed. — You’ve clearly not been updated on what’s happening recently! I’m not here to steal a D-soul, I’m here for something much more important, but you happened to be on the way, so I thought I’d drop by and say hi!
Then she charged straight at the man, who was barely able to block her attack with his scythe. The woman’s attacks were so fast that the man was barely able to block them, but suddenly he used his scythe to push the woman away. She then grabbed a flying vehicle which was flying by, and used some kind of telekinesis to throw it at the man, who sliced it in half. The fight was going on for a while, but then the woman flew away a few meters to catch her breath.
— Look at that… Have you been practising lately? she asked the man.
— You clearly haven’t! the man replied and this time he attacked her, but the woman just blocked his attack with the scythe in her right hand and smiled.
— Are you sure about that? she asked rhetorically and the veins on her left hand turned completely black. Then a black substance appeared above the woman’s hand.
The man quickly got away, just in time to avoid the black substance, which was shot at him by the woman. The black stuff landed on a nearby building, close enough for me to see that it was the same black goo I stepped on in the operation room. The goo started moving around and spreading on the wall of the building.
— Matthias! the man shouted towards me as he was blocking another one of the woman’s attacks. — Destroy that thing!
— Matthias? Really? Is that your new name now? Pathetic! the woman commented.
I completely ignored the woman’s comment, as I assumed she just wanted to distract me. I somehow made it to the building, where the black goo has already spread over several meters in every direction. I looked at the goo and felt… proud?
— So it works, huh? I mumbled against myself and smiled.
— Matthias! I snapped out of it, when the man shouted towards me again. — Here, use this!
The man threw another metal button/disc towards me, but this time the sides started shining in yellow. I caught the button, but I had no idea what to do with it.
— Attach it to the wall! the man explained as he dodged another attack from the woman.
I was about to do it, but once the button was only one centimetre away from the wall, I heard a voice in my head scream in agony
— No! Don’t hurt it! No! NO!
The voice faded once I paced the button on the wall. The whole goo from the wall started to be dragged into the button, but for some reason, I felt horrible just by looking at it being destroyed. I had to clench my fists to not take the button away. I felt angry. Angry at myself for placing the button there and destroying the goo. I didn’t really know why, but for whatever reason, I did. I didn’t feel that way back in the operation room when I stepped on it, so what was wrong now? Suddenly I heard the man scream my name again, just before I heard the woman whisper into my ear
— There is something left of you after all… It’s good to have you back. We missed you.
Then she disappeared. The man flew towards me and asked
— What did she tell you?!
— N… Nothing, I answered against myself again.
— I saw she said something! What. Did. She. Tell. You?!
— I didn’t hear what she said, I swear!
I didn’t want to lie, but something inside told me it was what I should do. I didn’t want to lie. It was something inside me that made me do it.
The man looked at me suspiciously for a few moments, but then he said
— Alright, I’ll believe you. For now. But anyway, that encounter took some time, so we’ll be late.
— Wait, late where? I asked a little confused, but the man just flew back to the door we were supposed to walk through when the glass corridor still was in one piece.
It took me some time to catch up to him, since I wasn’t used to flying yet, but when I finally did, he opened the door and we went inside.
I expected to enter another extremely futuristic-looking place, so you can just imagine how surprised I was when we entered a hall in Victorian style. An elderly woman in a long dress was standing in the middle of it with a warm smile on her face.
— Welcome! she started. — I am Mrs Audire and you must be Matthias Smith. It’s a pleasure to welcome you to my memory bank. Here, I have every memory of every soul that has ever existed. Young Benjamin here said you have some trouble with your memories, so I am here to help you, but before I do, I’d like you to wash that blood off your face and clothes, she said.
— What blood? I asked confused, looked into the closest mirror, and felt my jaw drop.
I looked as if I just had murdered someone, with blood all over my hands, arms and face. No wonder that doctor was terrified!
— I… Is there any bathroom here, so I could… I started, but Mrs Audire interrupted me by saying
— Upstairs, honey.
I nodded and headed up the antique staircase, which had to cost a fortune. On the second floor, I quickly spotted the door with the word “Bathroom” written on it in such an over-the-top font, that I was barely able to read it. I went inside and was met by another room which looked like it had escaped from the 1870s. My eyes automatically looked at the sink, where a note was lying on a pile of some perfectly folded clothes. It said:
This is your school uniform you’ll be obligated to use while on campus. The opening ceremony at Grim Academy will start in :
And then there was a timer which was counting down. I had no idea how that was possible on a piece of paper, but it said I only had about an hour left, so I decided to hurry up. I took a shower and washed away all the blood from my hands and face. Then I put on the new uniform and went back downstairs, where Mrs Audire and the man, who apparently was named Benjamin, were waiting. When the woman saw me, she smiled and said
— Much better. I see you found the uniform too, that’s great. Now, let’s bring you your memories back, she said and opened a pair of double doors which lead to a one square meter big room with no windows.
I didn’t know what to do, so I just stared first at her, then at Benjamin and then at the tiny room.
— Oh, come on, don’t be shy! Get in! Mrs Audire said as she pointed inside the room.
I looked at Benjamin, quite confused. How was this supposed to help me get my memories back? But he just said
— Go on, we don’t have all day.
Well, since I didn’t really have a choice, I slowly walked into the tiny room (if one at all can call it a room) and Mrs Audire closed the doors behind me. Everything was completely dark for a few seconds, but then I felt that I was falling. I heard the sound of the rain and the bell from a clock tower. A few seconds after that again, I saw that I was standing in a dark alleyway between some houses which looked like they were from the 1800s. It was dark, and the only light source in the alleyway was a flickering street light. Suddenly, a woman ran into the alleyway from around a corner. She was screaming for help, but it seemed like she couldn’t see me. Then, a man came into the alleyway. He was holding a knife in his hand and wore a black coat and top hat. There was nowhere for the woman to go, so she just kept on screaming, but now instead of simply shouting for help, she shouted something about “the Ripper.” The man quickly caught up to her, ripped her stomach open, and looked as her entrails started falling onto the ground. The woman stopped shouting, and just stared into the man’s eyes with an open mouth as she fell to the ground. The man then continued massacring the corpse with the knife, and stopped first after a few minutes. He was now sitting beside the massacred corpse and stared at it. I couldn’t believe what I just witnessed. I wanted to shout, cry, throw up and run away, but somehow, I couldn’t move. I just stood there and stared at the horrifying scene. Then the man turned his head towards me and looked at me for a moment. He had blood on his face and pure sadness and pain in his eyes, but he seemed so calm and so… familiar?
— You know what it means to be forgotten, don’t you, old friend? he asked as he stared straight at me. How could he see me if the woman could not? — You know the pain, you know how unbearable it is, much better than I do… being forgotten by the whole world… Only you truly understand… Azariah and Tenebris may think they understand too, but they don’t. They never will. They never felt the pain that we did, and they don’t know that this is the only way I can get this pain out. That’s why I keep coming back here, reliving my old memories.
The man then stopped talking and turned his head back to continue staring at the corpse of the poor woman. He then slowly got up and turned around.
— I remember you once told me that forgetting is one way to get rid of the pain, that it is what you do to keep functioning like a normal being, but I’ve never been able to understand how you do it. You told me there is a way to always forget everything every time you die, but it’s just temporary. The pain will slowly but surely come back together with your memories, but hopefully your trial is finished by then and you’ve already been reincarnated into a new being, or sent to Heaven, Hell, Purgatory or whatever. Either way, after the trial you lose all your memories anyway, so that’s fine, but as you forget everything, you completely lose yourself in the process, he said. — Tell me, how were you able to forget absolutely everything, even what happened in Babylon during that New Year celebration, but still keep all your strength and powers?
— What happened in Babylon? I asked him, very confused, but he just stared at me for a few short moments, before he started to laugh.
— You’ve done it again, haven’t you, you clever bastard? he smiled.
— Done what? Who are you?! I asked even more confused now. What the hell was he talking about? I’ll admit that he looked familiar, but I’m sure I’ve never been friends with a murderer!
The man just kept laughing for another few moments, but then he suddenly stopped and stretched out his right hand towards me.
— You can call me Jack, I’m a C-soul. Back on Earth, I lived in London in the 1880s. My trial is taking a lot of time, so I sometimes come here, to Mrs Audire’s Memory Bank, to relive my memories to, as I mentioned before, get the pain out.
I started to shake of fear a little bit. He just murdered a woman and massacred her corpse in front of me, but he was still acting so casual about it, like if nothing happened!
I slowly stretched my right hand too, and shook his.
— Oh, there’s no need to be afraid. We used to be friends, and even though I used to be a skilled murderer back on Earth, you were always far more powerful than me. Some even considered you and everyone who believed in you to be much worse than me, he smiled. — What’s your name now?
— M… Matthias, I answered. — Matthias Smith, and I’m a D-soul.
— Matthias? That’s quite an unusual name for a D-soul like you… Jack started, but didn’t get to finish, since suddenly the whole alleyway shook.
— I don’t remember there being any earthquakes in Whitechapel at this time, so I guess Mrs Audire figured out you entered someone else’s memories instead of your own… But perhaps that’s better. Your memories aren’t exactly peachy either, from what you’ve told us before. Anyway, it was nice to meet you again… Matthias. See you around! he said and walked away.
Then everything became black again, and the sound of the rain slowly faded away. After a few seconds, Mrs Audire opened the double doors again, and I was blinded by the bright light that came into the room as the doors opened.
— I’m so sorry! she said. — Sometimes the memory-finder shows my clients someone else’s memories and I haven’t been able to find out why this is happening yet. Again, I’m terribly sorry! If you just give me a minute or two, I’m sure I’ll be able to fix the problem and show you your memories…
— There’s no need, Mrs Audire. I’m afraid that we’re already late for the opening ceremony. Thank you for your time, Benjamin said, gave Mrs Audire three golden coins, and headed to the exit.
He was about to open the door we came here through, but I stopped him saying
— Wait! Don’t you remember that the glass tunnel which is supposed to be outside this door has been destroyed by that Tenebris-lady?
But he just raised his left eyebrow, as if he had no idea why I brought that up right now. He then opened the door, showing me that behind it was a huge hall, filled with people dressed in the same uniforms as me.
— Huh, seems like it didn’t start yet. I thought we would be late, he mumbled to himself as he looked inside. — Alright, Matthias, so this is the point from which you’re on your own. They’ll tell you everything you need to know during the ceremony, and when it comes to your lost memories… Well, let’s hope they’ll come back soon on their own. Best of luck! he said, pushed me into the hall and closed the door behind me.
Thankfully, no one seemed to care about another person entering the hall. For some reason, I wanted to get away from that place as soon as possible, but as I turned around, the door I came here through was gone, replaced by a plain, white wall. I looked around, but the door was nowhere to be found. The only door I could see in the hall was a five meter tall one in the opposite end of the room. I looked at the people the hall was overfilled with. They were all wearing the same uniforms as I was, and standing in small groups, talking and laughing, clearly very excited. But suddenly, a new door appeared in the wall, a few meters away from me. It opened, and a person entered, but this time, everyone in the entire hall became quiet and stared at him. I heard people around me whisper things like
— A C-soul… They’re never up to no good…
— It’s best to stay away.
— I can’t believe they actually let someone like that enter Grim Academy!
— Some C-souls actually deserve redemption, but he is definitely not one of them.
I couldn’t see the guy’s face from where I was standing, I could only see the back of his head. He was wearing the same uniform as everyone else, and he didn’t look any different than the others at first glance, but everyone tried to keep a distance of at least a few meters between themselves and him. Suddenly, a red-haired girl exited the crowd and walked towards the guy. She stopped about a meter away from him, and crossed her arms on her chest.
— Jack the Ripper, in the flesh! she said, making sure that everyone present could hear her. — What are you doing in Grim Academy, huh? Are you the C-soul they sent here to be the new cleaner?
I didn’t need to see her eyes to know they were filled with hate and disgust as she looked at Jack. Hearing the way she was speaking was more than enough. But surprisingly enough, Jack didn’t even answer. He completely ignored the girl and was about to walk past her, when she grabbed his shoulder and forced him to stop.
— What’s the matter, Jackie? Don’t you feel insulted? Doesn’t such disrespect leave a scar on your pride and honour? Oh, wait, what honour? You’re a honourless murderer, you don’t have any! You probably don’t even know what that word means! the girl laughed, as well as several people in the crowd.
I thought that he would try to defend himself, at least a little bit, but he just smiled. He tried to continue walking, but the girl didn’t let him.
— Souls like you deserve no respect, they deserve to burn in Hell for all eternity, but apparently the judges decided that you, out of all people, for some reason should become a grim reaper. I don’t agree with that. I think that you and every soul like you should be burning in the place far below us, so I’m going to make sure your time in this academy is going to be just like Hell for you. You don’t deserve to be here, she said and punched him in the stomach, so he fell to the ground.
Some people in the crowd started cheering, and others said
— You’re right! Show him, Cassidy!
— Go Cassidy!
I just couldn’t relate to the people who were cheering for the girl. Doesn’t every soul deserve redemption? I stepped forward, out of the crowd. Everyone stared at me now, including Cassidy, who was about to kick Jack, who was still lying on the ground, in the face. Everything was perfectly quiet, until I said
— I think that’s enough.
But the red-haired girl just started to laugh.
— And who are you supposed to be, his friend? I have to say, I didn’t expect such garbage as him to have any friends, she said and pointed at Jack. — But on the other hand, you might’ve not been aware of that he is a C-soul, so that’s ok. I’m sorry you had to find out this way, she said as she was about to kick the guy, but her foot stopped a few centimetres away from him.
— What the heck? she mumbled and tried another few times, but her foot was being stopped by some kind of invisible force each time.
I wasn’t blinking at all. I simply focused on the fact that I didn’t want her to bully anyone. After a few failed attempts, the girl gave up and looked at me. For a second I thought I saw a tiny flicker of fear in her eyes, but then it was quickly replaced by pure fury.
— Unacceptable! she said and made a movement with her hands, which caused a beam of light to appear, which then transformed into a scythe.
She seemed to completely have lost interest in bullying Jack and ran straight at me at full speed. She was about to cut my head off with her scythe, but I quickly got away. She tried to attack me another few times, but I dodged every single one of her attacks. I wasn’t even sure how I was able to do that! She was about to attack me with that scythe once more, when we suddenly heard a voice behind us
— Ms. Cassidy, please explain to me, what are you doing?
We turned around and saw a woman with short, wavy, black hair and dark skin. She was wearing a black suit, with a tiny brooch of a volcano. The girl quickly made her scythe transform back to a light beam and disappear.
— N… Nothing at all, Senior Grim Reaper Pele!
Pele? I automatically smiled and greeted the woman with a simple nod. I don’t know why I did that, I didn’t even know that woman, however she did look familiar, just like Jack when I first met him in Mrs Audire’s Memory Bank. The woman nodded back, but she didn’t smile. Instead, she looked at Cassidy and said
— Really? I come to the main entrance hall at Grim Academy to start the opening ceremony, and see a beaten-up C-soul on the floor and you, Ms. Cassidy, chasing another soul with your scythe. That doesn’t seem like nothing to me.
— Well… Cassidy blushed and tried to start explaining, but was interrupted by Pele.
— We’ll talk in the principal’s office after the ceremony.
Then the woman then walked up to the five-meter-tall door I saw before, locked it up with a rusty key, and said so everyone in the entire hall could hear her
— I’m sorry the for the delay of the opening ceremony in the name of the principal and all the teachers at Grim Academy. Please, go into the assembly hall and take your seats. The ceremony will begin shortly.