Trylla dragged the woman’s body deeper into the wooded area on the side of the interstate. The traffic was very light; she hadn’t heard a single vehicle pass by since she dragged Cindy’s body from the trunk of the car.
Cindy had all of the classic marks on her body. There were obvious signs of struggle, and her clothes had been mostly torn from her body. The three gunshot wounds to the head and chest would be blamed for the cause of death, and the autopsy would reveal that the killer never actually sexually assaulted the body in any way.
To the west on the side of the interstate nearby, the car’s flat tire, hydraulic jack and spare tire beside the automobile would be the beginning of the police investigator’s story. Trylla left the parts and pieces in such a manner that one could easily suppose that the girl was in the process of changing her flat when she was interrupted and dragged into the woods. It didn’t take much of an imagination to fool a human.
Dusting off her hands, Trylla walked a few steps from the body and raised her arms in preparation to open the portal to the conclave. She hated going there, but loved it as well. She got to see him, but she also had to return to the underworld. Not just any demon was allowed to leave the underworld without strict supervision. Not returning and having to be forcibly brought back in was a guarantee to get you permanently banned from returning to the surface. Only one had ever escaped and never returned. Those that knew his name forgot it, or simply never repeated it again.
Channeling her power, the light in front of her fingertips began to warp and deform until the dark portal began to slowly form before her. The acrid smell of fire, hate and regret spilled from the doorway and teased her nostrils. Steeling herself against her soul’s better judgement, she stepped forward into the portal, returning to the only home she had ever known while leaving the living world behind.
“You had one job, Trylla.”
She hated it when Damarus used terms and memes from the upper world that were so outside of his time. He was one of the Legendary, an ancient class of demon that were created in the underworld which had no ties to the world above. Regardless of that fact, he would spout phrases and quips (mostly incorrectly) using the vernacular and slang of the modern world.
However, she never spoke back. As much as she admired him for reasons other than his vocabulary, she knew her place in the hierarchy of power in the underworld. Not only was she a corrupted soul, but a faulty one as well.
When she first arrived in the underworld, she couldn’t remember her previous life. Try as she might, she had never been capable of dredging up the smallest memory from the time when she was alive. It was actually Damarus that gave her the name she has now. He said that it was an old Scandinavian word that used to mean “to enchant” or “to bewitch”. Though no one in the underworld had been able to explain her lack of memories, she felt that it was a blessing in disguise. Her inability to relate to people and situations in the real world made her less prone to wanting to run away when presented with “job opportunities” on the outside.
“It wasn’t my fault, Damarus. I had been in the house getting her set up when she just bolted. I had no idea why. She could have been running to the bathroom for all I could have known. It wasn’t until I called out for her and she bolted again that I knew something was up.” Trylla hated explaining her actions, especially when events had obviously been out of her control.
Damarus had been listening and reading her expressions intently. Trylla had always supposed that he was trying to catch her in a lie. “A failure is a failure, no matter how it happened, and the failure still falls back to you on your record.” He opened up a file folder on his desk and, removing a black fountain pen from the front pocket of his jacket, began writing. “There’s nothing that can be done now. The soul’s already gone from the world and no amount of yelling or coaxing will get it back.”
Trylla lowered her eyes, noticing that she was gripping her pants tight enough for her knuckles to turn white. Looking back up, she saw he was still staring at her.
“Trying not to cry?”
“No.” She hated getting emotional, and hated it worse when he was right about it. “I was replaying the whole thing back in my mind, trying to figure out where I-“
“It doesn’t matter now. I have something new for you.” Damarus smiled, and that worried Trylla a bit. The expression looked entirely foreign upon his face. He had decided that it was because he never smiled with his eyes. They never seemed to change expressions, and try as he might he had never acquired the skill to do so. He saw that he had her interest, so he continued. “This time you will be taking charge of a young child.”
“How young?” The thought of a babysitting job absolutely turned her stomach. The only thing worse than a human is an untrained human.
Damarus closed and sat Trylla’s record off to the side, then opened his desk drawer and removed another folder. Opening the seal, he removed the contents and handed her the picture. Turning the image over in her hand, her curious gaze was met by that of a young boy, ten to twelve years old at most. His brown eyes matched the mussed up hair on his head. His freckles were more pronounced that she was sure that he would have liked them to be, and from his shoulder width in the picture, he still had a lot of growing left to do.
“This is Michael Quarrel. We will be facilitating his soul to this realm. He has no near-time death marks against him, no countable sins against his soul, and his current situation is that of comfort, in the spiritual sorts.” Damarus watched her face for any signs of panic as he expected. Without looking up from the image, she reached across the desk and slid the papers to her side and turned her attentions there. He always wondered what went through her mind at these times. Seconds turned to minutes as he watched Trylla scan the papers several times before she finally looked up and asked her first question.
“Because the Master wants him. Because he has brown hair. What difference does it make why you are being sent to get him?”
“That’s not what I asked, Damarus.” Her voice wasn’t stern, but genuinely curious. “I don’t care why you’re sending me. I was curious about why him.” She watched Damarus reach over and, by pulling one steel ball away from the others and releasing it, the functions of the Newton’s Cradle on his desk began. The constant “click, click, click” of the device was infuriating after just a short period. People with these devices should have a special place in Hell, she thought to herself, and they should be right here in this office suffering with her.
“To be honest, I don’t know.”
click, click, click
His last statement caused Trylla to pause a moment. Never once in her existence in the underworld had she ever seen Damarus without an answer. They weren’t always specific, and many times lacking the kind of details that caused her to ask the question to begin with, but there were always answers. This time, he had nothing for her, and that bothered her more than anything else.
“So,” she continued, trying to not show her curiosity more than normal, “How soon do you want him here? Do I have a time frame or a deadline?”
click, click, click
“No. Just get him here. The sooner, the better, obviously, but there’s no set deadline.” Damarus watched as she sat there quietly, as if waiting for more information. Leaning forward, he asked, “Was there something else?”
Surprised, she flinched a little. “No, nothing. I’ll be on my way, then. I’ll give you an update once I have made contact.”
“You do that,” said Damarus. He watched her take the picture and information and leave his office. As the dark mahogany door closed behind her with a solid, deep thud, Damarus’ phone rang. His hand was already heading for the receiver with one hand and stopping the Newton’s Cradle with the other when she was walking out the door; he was expecting this call.
“Yes, my lord, she has everything she needs.”
“No, my lord, she didn’t suspect a thing.”