Sunday, August 26, 2012

Monday Night Chinese: Part 5 (FINAL)

Part 05: An Afterthought

It had been quite some time since the incident with Raphael, and every now and again Levi, Alice and Blue would discuss those events. They would talk of how No One escaped from Astoria, where his other minions might be and when, if ever, they would show up once again in the Afterlife. Blue was of the opinion that No One would focus on the two planes of existence that weren’t filled with able bodied spirits who knew what to look for now (the Dreamscape and the living world), but Alice was uneasy all the same. She spent more time after that out in the living world fighting and tracking down demons to better her combat skills and from time to time Levi and other Listeners such as Uriel would accompany her or Laura to track down the missing Afterlife workers. A few had been found, but many, such as Grimshaw, were still missing.

The black hearts had vanished, and for a brief while only the ordinary, easy to work with demons were all Levi received. He worked as peacefully as he could, now that he had grown slightly more paranoid of his own surroundings. He began spending more and more time cooped up in his restaurant, thinking.

On one particular occasion that Levi found perfectly appropriate to stay in his favorite booth (third from the front on the left side, it had the best feng shui), Blue had decided to pop in for a chat. He slid into the booth opposite Levi rather cheerfully. Levi said nothing for a while; he only stared at his zodiac calendar placemat. Blue took the initiative and spoke first.

“You still haven’t told me who cooks for the restaurant,” He said playfully, resting his arms on the sturdy table and leaning forward. Levi didn’t respond. Instead, he folded his arms and began stroking his chin. Blue didn’t stop smiling, not even once. “You know, I heard Alice say she’d be by later. I think there’s someone else looking for you, too.”

Alice’s previously frequent visits had occurred less and less in the year and a half since the event, due to her increasing trips into the living world. Levi wouldn’t admit it, but it affected him not having her around and he never enjoyed the few and far between trips he would take with her into the living world to search for the still missing employees. He had tried filling the void of her friendship with his love of the idea of Laura, but after two dates their relationship hadn’t taken off, but they remained friendlier than they had been before. She, along with Blue, would stop by the Chinese restaurant to check up on the ever withdrawing Levi and make sure he got out at least once in a while.

“Are you thinking about Kristjan?” Blue’s voice cracked through Levi’s thoughts, and he finally glanced up at the young man.

“Yes. What happened to him was… something that should have been prevented. Had he simply died and become a black heart, I wouldn’t feel so bad. But I couldn’t fix him. I wonder if Merrill was really able to stop his pain.” Levi set the hand he had been stroking his chin with on the table. Blue leaned further in, apparently trying very hard to invade Levi’s bubble.

“I really dig your British accent, you know that? You should never have hid it,” Blue said, backing off a bit.

“I sort of forgot it had even existed to begin with. Once you’ve been dead as long as I have, you start to forget who you were in your past life.” Levi tapped on the table. Blue had a peculiar look of confusion and disturbance that caused his face to wrinkle, creating aged lines of experience his features were too young to have. He may have been dead, but mentally he was still growing and maturing.

The door to the restaurant opened and LeRose, the model thin female Reaper with the most delightfully disturbing ruby hair stepped in. Everything about her demanded the attention of the boys in the room, from her snarling face to her clothing choice of Daisy Dukes and a dark tank top. Behind her in the hallway was a giant black blob with four spindly legs popping out. It was covered with hundreds of beady green eyes that were looking at everything around it. It secreted a noxious steam every time one of the eyes would blink. There was a chain wrapped around it and Charles, tall and thin with nicely parted sandy hair and clothes equally as nice, held on to one of many chains that secured the demon, preventing it from running amok. He looked bitterly uncomfortable.

“What is that?” Blue asked intently. Levi could see the ‘this is so totally awesome’ look on Blue’s face take over.

“Order up! Got another one for you. Friggin’ Charlie didn’t want to go near the thing like usual, but at least he’s still a better partner than Grimshaw. I just wish he’d man the hell up.” LeRose said with her typical scowl, holding on to another chain that wrapped around the demon. Levi was convinced her face was frozen that way as he had never once seen her smile. Oh how it pained Levi to hear her speak with her crude tone as well. He was at least somewhat thankful that he rarely saw her as she spent much of her time with her new partner, Charlie, who had recently come to the Afterlife. They were just similar enough that they got along. And when they did bicker, it was over such petty, trivial things that they often forgot what they had been arguing over five minutes after they had started fighting.

“Just another face in the crowd.” Levi stood up and walked towards the creature that dwarfed him; it strained against the chains to greet the Listener, every single one of its eyes shifting at once to focus on the man. Levi noticed a few black hearts that replaced the black blob’s pupils.

Levi allowed the L noise to wash over him. “If you felt you were justified, then you were. Ignore what anyone else says. If they deserved to die, then they did.”

The demon exploded in a flurry of steam, revealing a strong young man with a shaved head. He held a wicked grin, and a broken heart was tattooed on his forehead. He made a lunge at Levi, but LeRose kneed the man in the gut.

“LeRose, always the delicate flower.” Levi ran his hand through his wavy hair.

“Shove it,” she said as indelicately as Levi imagined she could.

“I think you deserve to die, too.” The man coughed out. Levi touched the cracked heart on the man’s forehead.

“I’m already dead. The people you killed didn’t deserve it. And you don’t deserve reincarnation.” Levi rapped the knuckle of his index finger on the heart. “Sometimes Listeners have to lie to get the job done.”

“Little boy Blue, follow me up to the river. He’s your business now.”

“Guess we have to trap him in the river. Later, Levi.” Blue stood up and ran out the door, shoving past Charles. “Race you there, LeRose!”

“You can take all the head start you want, you know you’ll get winded after fifty feet!” LeRose shouted after Blue, taking her sweet time walking out of the restaurant while dragging along both Charles and the bald man.

Levi sighed heavily, leaning against the doorframe of the restaurant entrance. He peered out into the hallways of the Afterlife, gazing at his coworkers as they passed by. With great effort, he separated himself from his little area, and set out to see something. Maybe, if he were lucky, he’d run into Alice.

That was not the case. Levi had gone quite a ways away from his little nook, wandering ever closer to the shores of Acheron, the place where the halls shifted into caverns, following the others who had left his restaurant. He had rarely gone this way; the last time he had seen the shores was probably fifty years prior, yet he felt drawn there.

As he arrived he noted how not much had changed, boats came and went frequently and Levi waved to the people he recognized, and stopped when he found Blue walking into the water, followed by LeRose and Charles, who held the tattooed man on either side. He thrashed violently, kicking up a spray of water.

Blue grabbed the man’s face and began chanting. Levi couldn’t understand the spell, and soon enough it was drowned out by a haunting scream that everyone seemed to ignore until suddenly it stopped. It stopped, and slowly the man sank in to the waters, Charles and LeRose letting go of him so he could be eaten by the river. There was a faint glow, and then nothing; his soul had become one with Acheron, trapped by the sins he committed before becoming a demon. Levi would have continued to ponder the man’s fate had he not heard the word Monday shouted at full force. Levi looked around.

It was Friday. Friday? Friday!

Certainly spotting Friday was the last thing that Levi had expected, but nonetheless he was surprisingly excited to see the Guardian. He walked briskly towards Friday, who waved in broad strokes with his arm.

“Monday, my dear, dear long lost friend!” Friday embraced Levi. “I have news!”

“Good Friday, Black Friday, what brings you to the Afterlife?” Levi felt his speech shifting in tone to match at least part of the ridiculousness of Friday’s.

“Well if you’d let me explain instead of asking silly… no, now it’s gone. Like a bubble. It just popped. Maybe if bubbles were made of paper they’d last longer?”

Levi laughed. He wasn’t even irritated, just strangely calm. He felt peaceful, and started to daze.

“Oh, now I remember. We’ve had a hit on No One!”

Just like that, Levi was snapped out of his daze. “What?”

“No One temporarily found a body and was invading the Dreamscape, but HR says he was stopped. Funny place to invade, it’s always changing, it would give me a headache.”

Levi stroked his chin, frowning. He chewed on his lip, not wanting to let on to the grotesque feeling that was churning in his gut at the news. “Well then, the game is afoot. Let’s make a plan.”


See you on Tuesday :)

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