The room was dark when Hekate first opened her eyes. The darkness began to fade into spots before disappearing to reveal a ceiling fan that wasn’t familiar to her at first. Voices on the other side of the room caused her to stiffen, afraid of where she had been taken.
“But why her? Why did you put all of this on one person?”
“She was chosen. There is nothing more than that. It is something she has to do.”
The familiar voices caused Hekate to relax before she started to sit up. Marcia and Moro were on the other side of the room, facing each other. Moro sat on the floor while Marcia sat in her large comfortable chair by the window.
Hekate’s hand reached up to rub her forehead, releasing the tension. “What happened?”
Marcia glanced over to see Hekate sitting up. She moved from her oversized chair to the edge of the bed where Hekate had been sleeping. “After you destroyed the demon, Moro and I brought you back to my house. I called your mom and said we were having a sleepover.”
“Thanks,” she mumbled, continuing to rub the fog from her head.
“You’re not going to ask why I’m not freaked out by the talking wolf that followed us home?” Marcia asked with a grin.
Hekate rolled her eyes. “Considering you were talking when I woke up, I believe Moro has probably filled you in on the details.”
“She did.” Marcia glanced back at the white wolf sitting in the corner of the room.
Moro stood up and walked to our side of the room. She leaped onto the bed to lay behind Hekate, supporting her back. “I felt it should be your decision on whether or not your friend remembers the events from earlier today.”
Hekate turned her head, eyebrows furrowed. “I have that choice?”
Marcia reached forward to punch her arm. “No. You definitely do not have that choice.”
“All right. All right. I get it,” Hekate said, rubbing the now sore spot on her arm.
“I was asking Moro why you were chosen for this dangerous mission, all on your own before you woke up.”
Moro lifted her eyes towards Marcia. “She is not alone.”
Marcia held her hands up. “No offense meant. But you said it yourself. Unless she talks to you directly or calls you, you’re basically in dormant mode. That fight could have ended very differently if she didn’t shoot that weird light out of her hand to grab its heart.”
Hekate feigned offense. “I think I fared pretty well, thank you!”
“You get my point.”
“I guess. I’m not even sure what made me think to do that,” Hekate said as she tried to remember the fight.
Moro sighed heavily. “I’ve been wondering that myself as well.”
Marcia leaned back on her arms to see the wolf clearly. “What do you mean? That’s not a power you expected her to have or something?”
Moro shook her head. “Every human manifests abilities unique to them and how they’re soul is. It could be as simple as telekinesis. One of my former humans once used his own blood as a weapon. But this is a first where a human has tapped into not only her own soul, but my own to pull power.”
Hekate leaned her head back. “Am I hurting you when I do that? I honestly don’t even know how I’m doing it.”
Leaning her head forward, Moro nuzzled Hekate’s neck. “It does not harm me. It only weakens me for a short time. But this is something you did from the beginning. Most cannot manifest their abilities so quickly. What can you remember when you reach for power?”
She let her head rest on the wolf’s as she thought. Every time she used her ability, she didn’t think twice. All she could remember was feeling angry, and immediately pulling the power into her hand to turn into something that can destroy. Even when they were back with Selene, she wasn’t sure what possessed her to shoot the energy at one of the Gates. Whatever she did seemed to seal the door again, holding back whatever Horseman was trying to escape.
Finally, she remembered to inhale and breathe again when Moro pushed into her neck. “I’m not sure. All I remember is feeling upset and wanting to make everything around me stop.”
Suddenly, Hekate remembered the end of her battle. “Moro, did I just kill a demon?”
She could feel the wolf’s hesitation as she tried to figure out the best way to answer the question. “The human was already dead.”
“Are you sure?”
“Hekate,” Marcia started, “He was trying to kill you. Us. If you didn’t stop him, he would have killed us both. You can’t think about it like that.”
Moro lifted her head to glance at Marcia. The wolf nodded in agreement. “She’s right. Whether the human survived that possession or not, they would have been damaged permanently, never allowed to live their normal life again. If anything, it was a mercy what you did.”
Hekate’s eyes narrowed, but she said nothing. She had a feeling Moro was only telling her a part of the truth. She was trying to spare Hekate of the guilt. Instead, Hekate leaned back to rest her weight on her wolf.
Marcia lifted on hand to point toward Moro. “You’ve done this before. What’s the longest someone has survived doing this task for you?”
Moro hesitated, but answered honestly this time. “A year. Two at most.”
The hair on the back of her neck began to stand as a cold sensation traveled through her entire body. Moro glanced at her, noticing when Hekate’s body shook with nerves.
Marcia stood up, holding her hands into the air. “That is not happening.”
“And that’s not your choice,” Hekate said softly, her eyes being hypnotized by the ceiling fan.
The reality of the situation was finally beginning to sink in. The only reason she had survived that battle was because of her instincts. Had she made one wrong move, not only would she be dead, but Marcia would have been killed as well. She needed to take a deep breath and accept the fact that mistakes weren’t acceptable with this. Each time she tried, her breath would catch. And each time, she would internally curse.
Marcia wasn’t having it. “Yes it is. It is my choice to help you.”
Moro’s head jerked towards Marcia as her jaw dropped slightly. She was speechless.
Hekate was slower to react. She wasn’t quite sure she heard her best friend right. Slowly, she tilted her head forward. “What are you talking about?”
“Think about it. The talking wolf said the longest someone has survived was only a year. Two, if that. So, if she’s not fighting alone, her chances of survival increases. Right? Which means, two of us would be more effective,” Marcia explained.
Moro and Hekate only looked at each other, astonished. Marcia was clearly proud of her plan. When neither answered, she believed she had won. “Then its settled! Go find me my own spirit animal.”
Moro shook her head, breaking the trance. “What you say is a possibility, but I would need to evaluate your soul’s strength. Should it even be strong enough, do you realize what you’re asking? Your fate will be tied to hers. Hekate was chosen because of the strength of her soul. Should yours not be equally as strong, your soul would need to be tied to hers to ensure your survival. But if she dies, you would die.”
Marcia didn’t flinch. “I don’t care. I’m not letting her get killed before she’s even graduated high school. This is the way things have always been for us. Ride together, die together. Whether she likes it or not.”
Feeling Marcia’s determination, Moro nodded. “Very well. We should take our leave now. Come. Grab a hold of my fur.”
Hekate began to follow them off the bed, but the room began to spin as her feet hit the ground. Moro jumped, placing a paw on her chest to push her back down. “You’re not coming. You need to rest. You pulled too much from your own soul this afternoon.”
Marica pointed towards the clock. “It’s past eleven. Mom won’t check on us this late. You go ahead and get some sleep. I’ll be back tomorrow and we can go to the mall to celebrate with Erik.”
She sighed in defeat. “Of course you would.”
Winking, Marcia reached down to hold Moro’s fur. “Hey, you bailed, so I rescheduled. I’d say that’s fair.”
Marcia had barely finished the sentence before the two of them vanished. Moro was so determined to leave, Hekate didn’t even get a chance to ask where they were going. She assumed to the Gates where Selene was, but it was only a guess. She could still feel Moro’s presence, but it was very faint. For now, she was alone.
Reaching up, she rubbed her forehead again. The last thing she wanted to do was put Marcia in any danger. In a silent groan, her fist slammed into the mattress underneath of her. She was frustrated and she wanted to take it out on something or someone. But when she lacked the ability to even move from the bed, she finally gave in to her body’s need for sleep.
The next morning, Hekate woke up in Marcia’s bed with no sign of Marcia. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes before looking at her surroundings. The dresser had been disturbed with the bottom drawer opened.
She’s in the shower.
Hekate was beginning to get used to Moro suddenly talking to her in her head. She worried if that were a bad thing. “How did it go?
It went well.
“The wings?” Hekate asked.
She’ll receive them at another time. Her soul needs more time to prepare. I have been preparing yours for your entire life. Once the time is right, I will take her back.
Hekate winced at the memory of her own wings emerging for the first time. “Does her soul need to be connected with mine?”
She sat up, running her fingers through her hair. “Why would my soul be stronger? Marcia has always been a strong person, mentally and physically.”
It has nothing to do with a human’s personality. It has to do with their past lives.
Hekate blinked. “Excuse me?”
You’ve lived more lifetimes, therefore your soul has garnered a strength that not all have attained.
She rotated, her feet hitting the ground, staring at the open dresser. “I thought with all this Bible stuff being true, that would mean reincarnation isn’t a thing. you’re telling me it is?”
Hekate could hear Moro laughing in her head. Life is much more complex than human will allow. The secrets of the universe aren’t going to all be given away in one or two books that you find holy. The grand design is much more complex than that.
“So,” Hekate began to ask, “Is there even a heaven or hell?”
Yes, of sorts. But once again, it is far too complex, and I cannot tell you everything. All you need to know is, Marcia will be relying on your strength as you will hers. Most likely her power will be similar to yours in the end.
Marcia walked into her bedroom with wet curly hair, wrapped in a towel, “How’re you feeling?”
Breaking away from her mental conversation with her other half, Hekate glanced up at her best friend. “I think the better question is, how are you feeling?”
She shrugged. “It wasn’t too bad. But we weren’t able to complete the process.”
Hekate tilted her head to the side as her eyebrows raised. “Sounds about right. Where did you go?”
Marcia groaned in frustration as she began to run her fingers through her black curls. “If you mean did we go to Selene, no. Moro took me to someone else.”
Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “The hell did you go?”
“Diana. The wolf took me to, you won’t believe, the Garden. I couldn’t go inside, but just standing outside of it was breath taking,” Marcia explained.
“Who is Diana?” Hekate asked, mainly Moro.
Both Hekate and Marcia turned towards the dresser’s mirror. Moro manifested in the mirror, laying on the dresser. “Diana is the sister of Selene. Instead of the Gates, she guards the Garden. Selene can only bestow her wings on one human at a time. She suggested I take Marcia to her other half. It was agreed that once the connection between your souls was ready, she would receive her wings.”
Marcia pointed towards the reflection. “Yeah, that.”
Hekate let out a dry laugh. “I guess we’ll be soulmates.”
Marcia jumped towards Hekate and planted a kiss on her cheek. “As always.”
Her head tilted to the side before she straightened up to get out of bed. “Better than nothing I guess.”
Marcia moved towards her closet as she started to change. “Get up. I want to meet up with Erik as soon as possible.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Hekate chuckled. She was amazed that after everything Marcia had just learned in the last 24 hours, the girl was still focused on flirting. No matter what Moro said, she believed her friend had a stronger mind. She hoped that would protect her in the end.
When they arrived at the mall, the night before was practically forgotten. Marcia was still messing with her hair when we walked into the food court. Hekate reached to pull her hand out of her hair. “You look fine! Leave it be! I don’t know why you’re freaking out so much. It’s not like we don’t see him all the time.”
“Excuse me for being nervous,” she said while sticking her tongue out.
Hekate sighed. “We’re just meeting him to hang out. And I’m here, so it’s not like there is pressure for you guys to be together. Though why you aren’t, is still a mystery to me.”
“Speaking of that,” Marcia began, “Would you mind it be just the two of us at first? I’ll text you when we’re done talking.”
“Are you serious?” Hekate asked, slightly frustrated, “You’re the one who rescheduled so I would be here.”
Marcia smiled at her sheepishly. “I’m sorry, but I think we might be able to have that talk now.”
Hekate’s mind wandered to the night before and scoffed. “Damn. Let a girl speak to an angel, and suddenly she’s full of confidence.”
Laughing, Marcia reached her arm around Hekate and kissed her cheek again. “Of course!”
Hekate could see Erik on the other side of the food court. That was her cue to depart as Marcia practically ran to him. She was still slightly annoyed at being dragged out, only to be kicked to the curb. Hekate decided to make her way towards the bookstore. That was the one place she didn’t mind hanging out for hours. Who knew how long the conversation between those two would last anyway?
It seems rude.
“It was,” Hekate grunted, low enough for no one to hear.
Moro was silent when Hekate walked into the bookstore. She spent half an hour flipping through books, curious to see if she could find any mention of Selene or Diana. But the only information she could find came from Roman/Greek mythology. Though the stories were interesting, they weren’t what she was looking for. However, she did wonder if there was a connection.
Suddenly, a loud beeping sound, along with screams, erupted outside of the bookstore. Hekate quickly shoved the Greek mythology book back into the bookcase before running to see what the commotion was about. Running towards her was a man in a gray hoodie. In his arms was a bag of what she assumed was stolen goods. Behind him, people were yelling to stop him, while also yelling at her get out of the way.
Letting her instincts kick in, Hekate held her ground. She waited until he was just close enough before sticking her arm into the air. He had no time to change direction before his chest ran into her arm. Without even thinking, Hekate had practically charged her arm with energy, making it like a brick wall. He slammed so hard, his body flipped into the air before falling onto his stomach.
Disoriented, he jerked his head up, attempting to see what had stopped him. “What?”
Adrenaline flowed through Hekate as she turned to stand her ground, waiting to see what the man would do next. To her surprise, he smiled. Something clicked behind her, and before she knew it someone had grabbed the back of her neck while settling something hard and cold on her back.
“It seems like you’ve chosen a new toy, ” the man whispered into her ear.
Hekate tilted her head towards the hand now holding her. “I’m no one’s toy.”
The man on the ground began to pick up his bag and the old books that had spilled out of it. He looked up at the one standing behind Hekate. “I’m getting out of here.”
The gun that had been pressed into Hekate back suddenly disappeared before shots were fired into the air. The crowd that had been forming around them screamed and suddenly backed away. Security guards screamed at the man with the gun to release the girl and put the gun down. He glanced back at the thief. “Go.”
Refocusing his attention on Hekate, he leaned close to her ear again. She could barely hear him over the ringing he had caused with his shooting. “Moro always did like her toys young. She thinks that means you’ll live longer. But it doesn’t matter how old they are. Or how many lifetimes they’ve lived. They all die the same way. Or worse.”
“Worse?” she questioned.
The thief had disappeared into the crowd now that the security and the police were more concerned with the man holding a gun. He waved it around at them for show, using Hekate as a shield as he spoke to her. “Stay back!”
He leaned in close. “Death would be a gift to grant you. Why would we want to give you a gift, when you could be useful to us instead?”
Glancing around, Hekate realized Marcia and Erik had run over to see what was going on. Erik was holding Marcia back as she tried to reach her friend. This time Hekate really evaluated the situation. There were innocent bystanders all around them, three policemen, and two security guards. One of the policemen was attempting to talk the man down, but all Hekate could hear was the ringing in her ears.
Hekate had had enough. She could feel her anger beginning to build. Looking back at Marcia, she tilted her head towards the side. Marcia calmed down, immediately realizing what Hekate was messaging. Her hand reached for Erik’s as she pulled him out of range of the gun. If Hekate made a mistake, she didn’t want her friends to pay for it. Or anyone else for that matter.
“I guess you’re right,” she whispered, grabbing his attention again, “Dying would be a blessing compared to what you could do to me. A gunshot to the head would be a gift.”
He grinned, pulling her closer. “Are you begging now? I could grant you your blessing if you begged for it.”
She shook her head. “No. But I’m a better prize then them. Why bother dealing with all of these people when you could just have me.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” he scoffed.
The man leaned his arm forward. He raised his gun. The policemen raised theirs. Taking the only chance she’d probably have, Hekate reacted. Harnessing the energy she had been steadily building, she reached for the hand with the gun. With one hand, she pressed as much energy as she could into him, while the other jerked the gun up, towards the ceiling.
Three things happened. Hekate leaped out of the way. The man screamed, attempting to aim the gun again. And the police opened fire. When everything fell silent, so did he. The mark on his arm blackened as if he had suffered a massive burn. Hekate was on the ground, close enough to where he had fallen to watch the life leave him. But before it was gone, he reached towards her, grabbing her leg.
“Death is only a gift. I should know,” he whispered.
Suddenly, Hekate felt it. This wasn’t a demon. The man, now dead, in front of her was human. Something else had possessed him. When the human died, she felt the energy of something else escape, something massive.
The policeman ran towards her, grabbing her by the arms to hoist her up. Her leg jerked away from the man’s grip. “Miss, are you all right?”
Although their hands were meant to be comforting, she could only flinch from their touch. She backed away from the dead man, unable to take her eyes from him. Barely able to speak, she muttered only two words: