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Once a person's life on Earth has ended, their soul is judged by God and they are either sentenced to Heaven or Hell. Those in Hell, like Alyce, spend eternity collecting the souls of the living who have broken a deal with the Devil. Her afterlife remains constant until she comes head to head with a guardian angel, who is more of a challenge to her than she realizes, and discovers the truth about her past. View table of contents...


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Submitted:Apr 29, 2014    Reads: 14    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


"He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have."

~Socrates

The Masquerade

Holding the black and silver sequined mask to my face, I moved through the crowd while my eyes searched the room for the person I was trying to find. I glanced behind me once and my eyes landed on a man staring directly at me with a smirk on his face. As soon as he realized that I was watching him, his smirk widened into a wicked smile.

At that moment, I knew he was like me.

I was unable to break my gaze from his mostly because of the confusion I was feeling. Why would he send two people to do this task? It was so simple.

I had always thought I was pretty tall at my height of around 5"7 but this man easily dwarfed me. He was definitely taller than six feet and had black, slightly wavy hair. My eyes locked onto his, which were dark brown and captivating. His face was pretty much flawless. He was probably one of the most handsome men I had seen in my life. My view of him was obstructed when a group of people walked between us, wearing colorful dresses and laughing.

I tried to push the fact that he was apparently following me out of my mind and focused on the task at hand. I turned away and moved through the crowd, muttering an apology as I bumped into someone.

A small smile spread across my lips as my target came into view for the first time tonight. He exactly matched the description I was given of him. Tall with brown, tousled hair and hazel eyes.

I strayed closer to him, weaving in and out of the dancing couples. His dancing partner was a petite girl with blonde hair wearing a blue dress and a white mask. Before I interrupted their dance, I stole a quick glance behind me to check for the guy I had seen earlier. The smile on his face had been etched into my mind and I couldn't help wondering why he was here.

It certainly couldn't mean anything good. It could be possible that we could both be after the same man but I was going to get to him first. He was my catch and I would be taking the credit for it. You always completed your task. There was no questions about it. You either return with the person you're assigned to get or you don't come back at all.

I breathed in a sigh of relief when he was nowhere in sight. I walked straight up to the couple that were intertwined and tapped the man on the shoulder. "Do you mind if I cut in?" I asked him, giving him a tempting but very much artificial smile.

"No, not at all," He breathed after a moment, releasing the girl's waist. I reached down and took his hand, leading him away from the blonde girl who was glaring at me. I gave her a quick smile before returning my attention back to the guy in front of me. He looked straight into my eyes, seeming to be mesmerized by them.

I smiled, knowing what he had found there that was making it so hard for him to look away. It actually was written all over my face. My eyes, my smile, everything about me reflected a sense of danger, thrill, of the unknown.

I could see it in his eyes by the way he took in my appearance. This was going to make tricking him all the simpler. It would be almost too easy and that was no fun. The only thing I liked about this job was the chase. It was like a game. At night though the horror of what I had done would catch back up to me. I was about to ruin this man's life.

"I'm James," He told me as I wrapped my arms around his neck. The next song began to play and I started to dance with him to the slow waltz.

"It's nice to meet you, James. I'm Alyce," I told him, giving him a warm smile and stepping a little bit closer to him.

"I don't think I've ever seen you before."

"I'm not the type of person who stays in one place for too long," I answered.

"Well, I hope you stay in town a little bit longer," James added, giving me a mischievous smile. A smile played around the edges of my lips, knowing that after he figured out the real reason why I was here he would wish I had never come.

"We'll see," I answered, shrugging indifferently.

It used to be hard for me to believe that all these people took their lives for granted. All of them were blessed with the ability to have free will and live their life but they always want more. Nothing is ever enough. It didn't take long for me to figure it out.

After dealing with a couple, it became obvious to me that they were all capable of the greatest evil to satisfy their greed. They are willing to do anything to get what they want. I never knew that these people could be so greedy and unthankful despite what God gave them. I guess I really can't judge them though considering that I used to be one of them.

"Hey, do you want to go grab a drink?" James asked, pulling me out of my thoughts.

"Sure," I replied, letting him lead me through the crowd and off the dance floor just as the song was ending. He brought me over to the long table that had been set up and poured both of us a glass of white wine.

"You're drink, ma'am," He said, trying to be charming as he handed me a wine glass.

"Thanks." As soon as I grabbed a hold of my wine glass, I let it slip through my fingers and crash to the floor. The glass shattered loudly and the pieces were thrown everything.

"Oh my gosh. I am so sorry," I told him, sounding genuinely apologetic.

"It's fine. It's no big deal. Accidents happen," He answered, kneeling down to pick up the broken shards of glass.

"Do you need help?" I asked him.

"No, I got this." While he was picking up the pieces of glass, I turned my back to the dance floor and poured a clear liquid into his wine glass. It wasn't a heavy dose so it wouldn't do that much damage. I poured myself another glass of wine while I still had my back turned. By the time I had finished, James had picked up all the glass and thrown it in the trash can.

"I promise I won't drop this one," I told him, smirking. I handed him his wine glass before picking up my own.

"Cheers," He said, holding out his glass to me.

"Cheers," I said as I gently clinked my glass with his before lifting it up to my lips. I took a small sip, watching silently as he drank most of the wine in his glass.

I removed the glass from my lips when an unusual expression crossed his face. It was working faster than I had thought it would. Maybe I had put a little too much in his glass. "Are you alright?" I asked James, feigning concern as he brought his hands to his stomach.

"Yeah. I just don't feel so great," He told me as his face began to turn a pale greenish color.

"You don't look so great either. Come on, let's go find a bathroom," I encouraged him. I placed my hand on the small of his back and gently walked him out of the main ball room and down a hallway. We hadn't made it halfway down the hallway when he began to sway and stumble.

"James?" I asked him, putting a steading hand on his shoulder.

"What's happening to me?" He asked, collapsing to his knees. Instead of kneeling down by his side, I moved in front of him and looked down upon his crumbled, sickly form.

"Everybody wants something that they can't have. I have tons of wishes and desires too," I told him, my voice saturated with a bitter sweetness. "You know, I thought that living out your life-long dream of being filthy rich would be worth the consequence. I guess not." I shrugged and gave him a smirk, watching as the panic set in on his face as he realized what my words meant. I could see the wheels turning in his mind as he put two and two together and made the connection of why I was here and who I was.

I was here to take his soul.

His jaw had gone slack for a moment but when he seemed to have finally mustered up the strength to say something, his body slumped over. His eyes were closed and he was out cold on the ground at my feet.

"Wow, I wasn't expecting you to take a cop out. They say that you're one of his best."

I looked up and right into the eyes of the man I had seen earlier. He was just casually leaning up against the wall in his black tuxedo and eying the guy passed out on the floor with mild interest. I wasn't able to speak for a moment, stunned. Somehow he seemed even more attractive now than he had earlier.

"I personally like to watch their faces as I drag them to Hell," He said, letting out a cold, derisive laugh. His voice caught my attention above all else about him. It had a sickly sweet quality about it but it was more than that. His voice was strangely calming and yet, it had a sharp, cutting edge to it.

"How sweet," I answered, narrowing my eyes at the guy who was judging the way I did my job.

"Hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but I didn't get this job because I'm sweet. And neither did you."

I rolled my eyes and ignored his comment. I had more important things to do than stand here and listen to him. I kneeled down next to James who was unconscious on the floor and pulled the sleeve of my dress up, exposing the Devil's star that was tattooed onto my wrist. It looked as if the ink was seared into my skin by a cattle-prod.

I lifted up his arm with my other hand and pressed my wrist against his. Knowing that the guy was watching, I tried not to wince or show any sign of being in pain as my wrist began to burn. I grinded my teeth together and focused on not showing any emotion as the burning grew into a searing pain.

After a couple minutes, I released his wrist and rose back up to my full height. I gazed down to where I had burned the star tattoo into his skin. His star was bright red and bleeding while mine had turned a darker shade of inky black. I took in a deep breath, feeling an icy chill spread through my veins. The more debtors I brought to him, the stronger I became. I couldn't help the smile that lingered around the corners of my lips since I knew that more of the Devil's power was now flowing in my blood.

"Isn't it incredible?" He asked in a low voice, his warm breath hitting my ear. I spun around quickly, staring him dead in the eyes. He must have moved behind me while I was preoccupied with James.

"Don't you have anything better to do than sit here and stare over my shoulder?" I hissed at him, trying my best to keep my voice level. He was really getting on my nerves. It was amazing how much I could dislike someone without knowing a thing about them. I didn't even know his name.

"I don't believe I do," He answered smugly, smirking down at me. I let out an exasperated breath and crossed my arms, wanting to wipe that smug look off his face.

"Well, if you wouldn't mind…" I cut off, not knowing his name.

"Damon."

"Well, if you wouldn't mind, Damon, I would appreciate it if you would let me do my job without the criticism," I told him politely, my voice saturated with fake sweetness.

Footsteps began to echo down the hallway we were in. Almost instinctively, both of us stepped in front of James to hide him from the person walking towards us. It was the blonde girl I had seen earlier with the sky blue dress who had been dancing with James. Her blue eyes darted from my face to Damon's as she came to a halt in front of us.

"Something you needed?" I asked her, my voice as cold as ice. I glanced over at the guy next to me, seeing that all trace of smugness had disappeared from his face. His eyes had hardened and like me, he was glaring down at this petite girl.

We couldn't risk her finding out about what had happened to James so we were both trying to intimidate her to get her to leave. Part of our mission was to get in and out with as little disturbance as possible.

"Where's James?" She demanded. I could tell that she was really trying to be brave but her shaking hands gave her fear away. There was anger and resentment in her eyes but every once in a while, I saw a flash of terror. "I know who you are. You're not going to get away with this."

"Those are strong words coming from a newbie," He taunted in a soft and deep voice, a wicked smile on his face.

I glanced from him to her and realized that he was absolutely right. She wasn't just any old human. I stared at the air right next to her head and I saw that familiar glimmer. I can't believe I hadn't seen it earlier. She was a guardian angel and a new one at that. We were probably the first dark angels she's ever come into contact with. A look of shock crossed over her delicate little face and she seemed taken aback by what he had said but her anger returned quickly.

"Where is James?" She demanded again, taking a step closer to us and balling her hands into fists. "Backup is on its way so you'd better cooperate."

"Oh, do you mean him?" I asked her, amused. I took a step to the right and let her see James who was still lying unconscious on the floor. She let out a loud gasp and covered her mouth with her hands.

"You killed him, you monster!" She screeched at us, her face turning a pale shade of green. She looked like she was about to be sick. She stumbled backwards and slumped against the wall, her head falling forward.

"I thought angels weren't allowed to fall in love with the humans they were guarding," I taunted her.

"I'll take care of her. Take him and go," Damon ordered all of the sudden. His voice had taken on a commanding tone that was very different from the playful, taunting one he had used earlier. My eyes flickered over to his but he wasn't looking at me. Instead, he was eyeing her with his jaw set.

I didn't move an inch, annoyed at him. I was determined to find a way to show him that he couldn't just disrespect me and then expect me to follow his orders. Who did he think he was? He began to advance upon her slowly, moving predatorily like a cat cornering a mouse. She had gotten back up on her feet and there was an unmistakable look of horror in her eyes. I narrowed my eyes, trying to think of something I could do to earn his respect. I glanced around for a minute before my eyes finally settled on the angel.

"Nah, I don't think so," I said, the corners of my lips pulled up into a smile. I outstretched my hand, dying to try out some of the power that I had recently obtained.

I furrowed my eyebrows in concentration and focused on trapping her. The Devil's power shot like icy fire through my veins in one quick burst and cement ropes grew from the wall and wrapped around her, ensnaring her so that she was unable to move.

"You're welcome," I said smugly, lifting James off the ground with a flick of my wrist and holding him a foot or two above the ground. I shot Damien a cocky smile before turning away from them and walking down the hall, taking James with me. Since that's taken care of, all I need now is to find a bathroom so that I can get both James and I back home. If I could call it a home.

After I turned a couple corners, I finally found a girl's bathroom and nudged open the door. I walked inside and brought him with me before shutting the door behind us and locking it. I set James on the ground next to the sinks and looked around for a minute, trying to see if anyone else was in here with us. Once I checked all of the stalls, I turned towards the line of sinks on the opposite side of the room.

My hands gripped the edges of one of the sinks as I looked up into the mirror, studying my reflection for a moment before dealing with James. It seemed that every time I saw myself in a mirror, I looked different.

I reached up to run my fingers through my hair which had become a richer shade of brown since the last time I had seen my reflection. My skin looked more flawless and my cheekbones were even more pronounced. With every catch I made, I seemed to grow more beautiful to the point of being enchanting. I gently touched the side of my face, wondering if I would become uglier if I stopped working for him.

I was brought out of my thoughts by a soft, feminine voice whispering my name. "Alyce." Who is that? I turned around quickly and searched the bathroom for the woman who was calling my name but it was completely deserted except for James and me. "Alyce." The voice called my name again but this time the voice was coming from behind me, from the mirror.

I turned around slowly and watched as my face began to change in the mirror. It morphed into a face of a girl with hallowed out cheeks and eyes that looked like black holes. My dark brown hair became a deep red color. I looked closer and realized after a moment that the girl's hair in the mirror was actually blonde. The red coding her hair was blood seeping out of her skull. She gave me a wicked smile and let out a cackle.

"It's always such a pleasure to see you, Mary," I greeted her sarcastically, recognizing her immediately. I had a hard time looking at her since she was so repulsive. This was the Bloody Mary that children are told rumors about. The girl who supposedly appeared in the mirror when you spoke her name three times at midnight.

The truth about her visits though was far different from what children believed. She visited people who were truly desperate for one thing or another. She made deals with them; the type of deals that the Devil makes.

Mary was one of the fallen angels who had followed the Devil to Hell when he left Heaven. She helped the Devil make deals with the living and if they didn't hold up on their side of the deal, that's where I step in. Unlike her, I hadn't been an angel once.

I used to be a person living on Earth just like the rest of them. I had died at a young age and apparently, I had sinned enough to land me a spot in Hell. Since I wasn't psychopathic, the Devil had put me to work collecting people on Earth who had fallen through on their side of the deal. There were a lot of other people in Hell like me, including the guy I had just met, Damon.

"You always have that look on your face when you come back. The look like you've just killed someone," Mary taunted, showing me her rotten teeth when she smiled.

"That's because I have."

"Why so sensitive, dear?" She asked me, leaning closer to the mirror. "I thought you would be used to this by now."

"And I thought that you would know better than to mess with me," I said after a moment, deciding to take the offensive instead of the defensive since I couldn't answer her question. I couldn't figure out for myself why this job bothered me so much.

I couldn't remember why I was here because all of us had had our memories of our old lives wiped out so that we wouldn't be tempted to revisit people we used to know when we made trips to Earth. Nevertheless, my record was apparently stained from all the sins I had committed whilst on Earth so it made no sense why I felt this way after every catch, felt like I had just ruined someone's life.

Maybe it was the look in their eyes when they realized who I was. Even though they had dug their own grave by agreeing to the deal with the Devil, it was I who held their blame in the end. It was I who made them pay up so their blame rested on me.

Mary didn't reply for a moment, only letting out a soft laugh. "You don't scare me, child," She whispered, leaning closer to the mirror once again and giving me a crooked smile. "I know the truth. Everyone always talks about how great you are at your job. Made for it even. But, I know the truth about you. Unlike everyone else, you feel remorse. I see the guilt in your eyes every time you come back. You can't tell me you actually feel sorry for them, Alyce."

My hands tightened into fists and I went completely rigid, my eyes locked on hers. I wish I could think of something to say back to her. Something that would convince her, convince myself that I didn't feel remorse for my victims. But, I did. I hate to admit this but she was right. I did feel guilty. Mary looked triumphant at my lack of response and it didn't take long for her to realize that she had struck a nerve.

"And what will the others think of you feeling remorse for these creatures?" She asked hoarsely, her smile widening. "Your reputation may be modified a little bit."

"You can tell them whatever you want," I told her in a controlled, even voice. "I don't answer to them and I certainly don't answer to you. I'm here to do a job. Nothing more, nothing less. And, it gets done every time. Can you say the same?" I gave her a triumphant smile of my own and leaned over the sink. "Now, get out of the mirror so I can finish my job. Or do I have to convince you like I did last time?"

My fingers reached out and gently ran across the surface of the mirror which was no longer glass. It had become a portal that my hand could easily penetrate. As soon as my fingers broke the surface, Mary sneered at me and took a step back. The last time she had "visited" me, she had gone too far and I had grabbed a fistful of her hair through the mirror. I removed my hand from the mirror as she began to fade and the mirror returned to normal.

Unlike what most people believed, the entrance to Hell wasn't a cavern hidden somewhere on Earth. It wasn't even in one location. It was everywhere, in every home and building. I was looking at it right now. The mirror. Mirrors worked as a sort of portal between the two worlds.

"Time to get to work," I muttered softly to myself. I searched through the folds of my dress around my waist for the pocket knife that I had hidden. My fingers found the handle quickly and I drew it out, opening it so that the blade was out.

I pulled back the sleeve on my dress, exposing the skin on my wrist. After a moment of hesitation, I dug the tip of the blade into my skin, making sure not to go too deep. I withdrew it and saw a thin stream of blood flow from the cut. I didn't even feel the pain anymore since I had done this so much.

I wiped the blood off with a finger and looked up at the mirror. I lifted my hand and smeared the blood on the mirror, making a star surrounded by a circle. The familiar sign of the Devil. As soon as I was finished, the blood vanished as well as my reflection and I was left staring at nothing, only blackness.

With a flick of my wrist, I lifted James up off the ground and brought him over to the mirror. I had a hard time looking at his face because whenever I did, an image of his expression when he realized who I was appeared behind my eyes. The look of horror in his eyes now had me wallowing in guilt.

I passed him through the mirror first into the impenetrable darkness. I climbed up onto the sink and prepared to follow him, not exactly ecstatic about going back. Hell wasn't the most pleasant place in the world and there were a couple of times that I felt like I was wavering on the verge of insanity. I closed my eyes and stepped through the mirror, going from the world of the living into the world of the dead.





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