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The Devil Within

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Everything faded to black.

Alex was losing his form

He was transforming

Into Satan

“What is happening? I am losing control. I feel stronggeerrrr!”

Satan laughed sadistically

“Forget everything! Become me!” But Alex couldn’t hear him over the immense pain he felt.

“It hurts! Make it stop!”

His entire body was changing. His bones were brutally stretched out, giving him a broader form. Horns mercilessly sprouted out of the sides of his head, leaving trails of red blood dripping down his face from all around them. Though the blood was quickly changing colour, becoming indigo streaks of liquid, mixing with the tears on his cheeks.

He could feel his cheekbones breaking, as they were getting larger, stretching his skin out to the point where it was tearing apart, showing some of his forcefully bigger getting muscles.

His rapidly growing hair and beard caught most of his blood leaving them a sticky, crimson, violet, indigo mess.

Alex was momentarily blinded, as his eyes burned, as though the backs of them and the nerves leading to them had been set on fire. Tears escaped his eyes and he shut them, the insides of his lids feeling like sand paper against his pupils. When he opened them again they were glowing white, creating a stark contrast to the deep blue orbs he once used to possess.

“No. Let us enter the new world, my son” Were the first words Alex could finally make out. There was still a shrill ringing in his ears, though whether it was from the transformation and the changing of his ear shells into longer and pointier ones or his relentless screaming in harrowing agony he didn’t know.

“N-no!” He responded weakly, his voice sounding completely foreign and wrong to him.

“What? You still dare to oppose me?” The devil demanded, now more furious than ever.

“No matter” He said, trying to calm himself “You will come around eventually. No one can withstand this form.”

“I will never!” Alex shouted, still very sure of himself.

“Do not worry, my son. You will yet come to accept your true form!” Satan was almost smiling now.

“Now, how about I let you rest in your chambers for a while?”

“M-my? My chambers?” Alex mistrusted this newfound kindness of the devil, finding it most concerning.

“Why yes, of course! You are my son, the prince of the underworld after all! It is only fitting to have your residence here!”

Alex didn’t want to ‘rest in his chambers’ all he wanted to do right now was run as fast as he could. But where would he go? He realized that he couldn’t leave this place. He simply couldn’t let his friends or his father – adoptive father, as he just found out – see him like this.

His friends… Emily… Jack… what would they think if he never returned? He knew his father thought he was dead and, in all honesty, he might as well be, in his own opinion. But what would his friends think? Were they going to assume he died again? It was hell after all. Would it really be that big of a surprise if he failed again? How long would they wait for him in front of that gate until they decided he wasn’t ever going to come back?

He would have loved to talk to them one last time. He would have loved to tell them not to worry, that he was fine. But then again, was he really?

He had literally just transformed into the spitting image of Satan himself, after finding out that he was in fact adopted and was truthfully the devil’s and some angel’s child, after having been resurrected from death… He could go on. The list had become nearly endless. It just now dawned on Alex that, no, he wasn’t fine. Oh god, he was so far from fine, he actually felt like crying.

Of course he wasn’t going to! Not in front of the man, that was to blame for all of his sorrow. No, he wasn’t going to give him that satisfaction. He wasn’t going to break down a second time and be vulnerable again.

Taking this and the fact that he couldn’t face the outside world ever again into consideration, he really had no other choice but to accept the offer of his own room, whether he wanted or not.

“Alright” Alex answered finally. Sighing as he did so. “Where’s my room?”

The devil seemed satisfied with that answer and something about that felt really wrong to Alex.

“Follow me.” Satan more so ordered than anything else. And so Alex did what he was told and took a step towards his biological father, wincing at the cracks every last one of his joints seemed to make.

He had already seen quite bit of hell, though it had been the outer rings of it. Where he was headed now was the very centre of hell.

On his way there he saw multiple skeletons, like the one he had met earlier, before he had entered hell, bowing to him, recognizing him as their superior.

There was also quite a lot of souls ‘stored’ there, as god had put it. Though unlike in heaven, where they were free to roam, here they were either in cages or chained to walls. Some of them looked absolutely mortified upon seeing him, others didn’t seem to care. Not just about his presence but about generally everything. They had been tortured to the extent that they were long since broken, being simply in a state of existence rather than living. Though, Alex supposed, they weren’t alive in the first place, seeing as the were in hell. He had to giggle at that, the happiness he felt at that thought tickling in his chest.

No! This was wrong, so very wrong! He had been wondering which state of these souls unsettled him more but this definitely won every prize of scary. His own state of being, his own thoughts and emotions were what he found the most terrifying in all of hell. This wasn’t right; he was supposed to be a hero! Yet here he was, giggling, of all things, at the anguish of these souls.

Though one could argue that they deserved it. They were in hell for a reason after all, right?

No! No, no, no, no! No one deserved eternal torture, no matter their past!

He kept repeating this sentence as his mantra in his mind, growing louder whenever he looked into the eyes of one of the lost souls.

“Here it is.” The devil finally said, gesturing to a castle.

“Uhm” Alex looked around a bit. “Where exactly?”

“Here” The king of hell insisted, pointing to the castle once more, this time a little more vigorously.

“Th-this whole thing?” Alex asked unbelievingly, to which Satan simply nodded.

Alex guessed it made sense, he was this place’s prince after all. Everything wasn’t so bad, now that he thought about this. He could get used to this…

He swung open the grand doors to his castle with ease, thanks to his new muscles, and stepped in. He was met with a big hallway, containing carpets with a colour barely distinguishable from lava, doors richly adorned with gems and gold and a small, artificial ‘waterfall’ of lava by the end of it.

Pleased by what he saw, he walked in further, letting the doors fall closed behind himself, leaving the ruler of hell outside.

Yes, he could really get used to this…

Wait, what? Alex didn’t belong here!? He certainly didn’t like hell and let’s not even think about torture!

“No one deserves eternal torture, no matter their past!” He reminded himself.

“No one! And I mean no one! Deserves eternal torture! No matter their past!” He repeated.

“Not even that Ryan…” Alex spoke that name disgustedly, still not having forgiven him for his actions.

“Though I guess, he had a reason…” He concluded looking down on his, now bigger and indigo, hands, finding that there was still some dried up blood under his fingernails.

He supposed Ryan was not that bad of a person, even if he had been wrong to kill him. Alex was after all a hero. He might have been the son of Satan but he was also the son of an angel. He could choose his path and he chose justice. Alex wasn’t a bad person. Ryan had simply been wrong.

How dare he assume that anyway? He had been a hero for god knows how long, relentlessly improving his skills, not for himself or to brag but to help the people. He genuinely cared about everybody. So how could that little twit just decide he was better than him? Oh, Ryan had done it now and Alex was going to show him! He was going to give that pathetic, obnoxious, unworthy slime of the earth what he deserved!

No one deserved eternal torture, no matter their past!

Ah, that’s right! No one! No one. No one… no one…

Alex slid down a wall to sit against it, coward together, legs in front of his chest, arms resting on his knees, forehead laying on his arms uncomfortably due to his new horns. He felt like he was going insane inside his own mind!

He felt an undefinable itching underneath his skin. Scratching it only made it worse but he kept doing it, clawing at his forearms with his long, sharp nails, not stopping even after he drew blood.

He needed to do something, anything to distract himself! He needed to get out of here!

Aimlessly wandering out of the castle, Alex looked around but found nothing that could help him. All he saw was living corpses. He heard their groaning. Oh, their groaning in unimaginable and everlasting pain. It could only ever be cut through with a piercing scream that came from somewhere in the distance occasionally.

He had to get out of here, not just the castle but hell as a whole!

He couldn’t take his friends feelings into consideration anymore. He needed to leave this place as soon as possible, whether they were going to see him or not.

He rushed back the way he had come, now hating the seemingly endless mazes he used to love. With every pained groan he heard he got faster until he broke into a sprint. Finally he saw the gate out of hell in the distance and it was the lone uplift in his mood he had felt for the past hours, at least he thought it had been hours, it could have been less, and decided he would gladly accept the metaphorical light this shone on him.

He didn’t stop running when he crossed the border and he didn’t stop running when the skeleton, seemingly the entry guard, asked why he was in such a hurry. When he did stop was when he realized neither Emily nor Jake were anywhere to be found. Had they really left already? He looked around. He didn’t find a note saying they were out for food, in a shop or an inn of any kind. In fact, he didn’t find any notes at all.

He cautiously approached the guard.

“Hey, you wouldn’t know where the boy and the girl I came here with went, would you?” He asked warily.

“No, brother” The other responded. “They merely said they weren’t expecting you to come back and left.”

“Do you know when that was?” Alex wanted to know. Maybe he could still catch up to them if he hurried…

“About a month ago, my brother.”

A month?!” The boy didn’t understand. How could that be? He hadn’t even been in that that literal hell hole for a day, let alone a month!

“What do you mean ‘a month’, surely that can’t be right?” Alex tried to reason with the skeleton.

“A month in Earth time, far less in hell.” Seeing that the younger one still didn’t quite understand, he explained further.

“Time is a construct humans made up to measure their short, meaningless lives. It doesn’t exist anywhere but here. You only spend an instant in hell but here its equivalent to a lifetime.”

Alex didn’t know what to make of that information. He would have been devastated to have missed another month of his friends’ lives but seeing as he could never see them again, it didn’t really matter, did it?

At least this way he didn’t have to face them, right?

Yeah, it was for the best anyway, he decided.

Completely forgetting to say his thanks to the skeleton, Alex was on his way. Where to, he didn’t know. But he had to go somewhere, right? Wandering around the forest for what felt like hours, he finally found a cave that he decided he would settle in.

He felt like a dirty animal, trapped in that dark, mouldy cavern. But he forced himself not to leave. He was a scary looking monster; he didn’t want to frighten anyone. Or so he said. Though the truth is, he was ashamed of himself.

But oh, how he wanted to leave. How he wanted to see the light again, to breathe fresh air again. How he longed for adventure and battling monsters, animals or anyone really.

But that was exactly why he couldn’t leave. He had thought about it a lot in those past weeks, he had been residing in this cave, his friends and father, his real father, loved him for who he was not for what he looked like. Naturally it would be a shock to see him like this but they would accept him regardless. But over the course of time he had discovered, that he had changed, that it wasn’t in fact ‘who he was’ anymore but rather ‘who he had been’. More and more often he found himself wanting to hunt, hurt and destroy. More and more often he found himself furious over the most trivial things.

He hugged his legs to his chest, sitting in a foetal position.

Ryan had been right.

He had been right about everything.

He had been right to kill him.

He cried at what he had become, pounding his fists to the ground. He had done this to him. He was the one to blame. He… was truly the devil…

Alex’ mood turned from depressed to boiling in mere seconds with the pent up frustration he had. He couldn’t stop himself any longer and marched outside his cave. He felt an animalistic rage take over him but he did nothing to stop it. He was blind with anger and ripped out the nearest tree with his bare hands, turning it into splinters with his claws. He let out a loud howl, right in the face of a deer that was trying to escape his fury. He grabbed it and threw it against a nearby tree. He felt powerful. He felt mighty. But most of all, he felt worriless.

But as though just to take away his moment of inner peace, or as close as he could come to it anyway, two figures appeared from the general direction of the closest village. They both had purple hair and… and he recognized them as Emily and Jake! This awoke Alex from his trance like state and he realized what he was doing. But it was too late.

“Take no step further!” The boy, Jake, said and the battle began.

Alex didn’t want to fight them. But his former companions didn’t seem to see a problem with fighting him. They didn’t recognize him. He couldn’t blame them, really, though it still hurt.

He knew the siblings tactics, seeing as he used to fight alongside them. That gave him somewhat of an advantage. Emily tried to cast sleep on Alex but he dodged. Jake shot him with a water beam, not being able to get out of the way quickly enough, Alex was hit. He groaned.

“Stop, please!” You couldn’t kill them. He simply couldn’t, so, he had to find another way to make them stop.

Emily faltered as she was about to cast sparkles. She may not have recognized Alex due to his appearance and voice but she certainly found it odd that a monster was begging for mercy. Something like that had never happened before. All the monsters she had fought up until that point had been mindless creatures with only the intent to annihilate.

“Jake, wait!” she cried as her brother was about to attack the apparent monster with flame field.

“Not now, Emily!” the boy yelled back.

“Yes, now!” The sister responded in an almost childish manner, as she would in a sibling rivalry.

“What has it actually done to us?” She demanded “We only came because we heard a growl. That doesn’t mean it has done anything bad!”

“Are you kidding me?” Jake seemed aggravated as he cast the spell despite the girls wishes.

“Haven’t you seen what it did to the animal and the tree? It won’t stop until we make it!”

“And how do you know that?!” That took Jake off guard. How did he know? How did she not know? That was the universal truth every hero knew. Monsters were bad and heroes had to fight them.

“We log trees! We eat animals! Why are we so much better?” Emily insisted.

“Why are we better?” Jake turned to face his sister. “Because we are intelligent creatures with more than just the unkillable urge to destroy!”

“But that monster is more than that! It begged us to stop! And look, you turned your back to it and it didn’t even try to attack you! Shouldn’t we give it the benefit of the doubt?” Hearing this, Jake turned around quickly, remembering the imminent danger and keeping his guard up as he spoke.

“You’re too naïve, Emily! That’s why you have me to protect you. You’d probably invite things like that for tea!”

“Hey!” Alex frowned. “I appreciate that you don’t want to assume my gender but do you have to call me ‘thing’?”

“Huh?” Something about the way the monster said that seemed to spark something in the siblings’’ memory.

“Alex?” Emily asked carefully. Said boy seemed taken aback, his eyes widening in size.

“What? But how? How do you?” He didn’t get to think of a proper sentence before the girl flung herself at him, tears in her eyes.

“We thought you were dead! Again! Why do you keep doing that to me?”

Alex stiffened visibly at her touch.

“What happened?”

After regaining control of his surprise again, he gently pried her off himself.

“Wh-at’s the matter, Alex?” Emily wondered, her voice breaking slightly.

“You shouldn’t touch me.” He answered. “Your brother was right. I’m dangerous.”

The girl wanted to disagree but was interrupted by her brother pulling her away from Alex.

“What happened to you?” Jake demanded with a tone of voice the other boy couldn’t quite interpret.

“I…” Alex started. “I went to hell and met the devil. He said that he’s my farther and that he wants me to rule over the underground by his side.”

“And you agreed.” Jake looked at him reproachfully.

“What? No!” It looked as though it pained Alex that Jake would even entertain that thought.

“No! I didn’t agree! I told him no! But…”

“But what?” Emily looked worried now.

“But he didn’t take that for an answer and made me this…”

“Oh, Alex…” There was nothing but pity in her eyes and he detested it.

“I need to go now. Thanks for the bants though!” He said bitterly.

“Wait!” Emily called after him.

“Let us help you.” Her brother finished for her. Alex’ eyes lit up with hope. Would they really do that for him? For a boy who had changed so much, he couldn’t really be considered their friend anymore. He turned around and took careful steps towards the pair. He felt warm inside, looking at them. Maybe they could indeed help him.

All that could be heard throughout the cabin was the loud crash of a stack of plates shattering.

“A-Alex” Emily stuttered fearfully. It was that, what brought him back into reality.

He was standing close to the girl and had been drying up dishes that she had cleaned, when it had apparently bothered him so much that a lint from the cloth he had been using to dry the dishes with, was sticking to a plate, that he threw all the earlier cleaned plates to the ground. He was fletching his sharp teeth to the girl, probably only moments from letting out his anger on her, too.

“I-I’m…sorry…” He apologized seemingly still surprised.

“I-It’s alright.” The girl smiled shakily.

“No. No, it’s really not…” The boy turned to lock himself in his room again as he had done many times before in these two past months.

“I forgive you. You’re just lucky Jake is out right now. You’d be in a lot of trouble if he saw.” Emily tried to joke, but Alex didn’t seem in the mood.

“It would have been better if he was. You’re lucky you’re still alive.”

“You wouldn’t do that.” The girl assured him.

“Wouldn’t I?”

“Of course not! Look at how sorry you are, and you didn’t even touch me! You really don’t need to feel guilty!”

“But that’s just the thing.” Alex said numbly, staring straight ahead, not into the eyes of the girl he was talking to.

“I don’t.” He revealed finally. “I don’t feel bad for any of the things I do; that’s what I feel guilty for.”

“Wh- Alex…” Emily seemed distraught for a second, before composing herself to her optimistic self again, forcing a smile.

“W-well, that’s a start, right? You still know right and wrong; that’s good!”

“You don’t understand, Emily!” She flinched a bit, hearing her name being pronounced like a foreign word. “I technically know right from wrong but I care less and less about it! I’m still driven by my old principals but there are no feelings behind them anymore! I don’t believe in them anymore!” He looked down, revealing to her his most flawed side. “I’m not a hero anymore…” He was quiet. Almost broken. No. Not almost. This boy, who used to be a great, selfless, fearless hero, was broken. Everything he had once believed in was lost and he was barely holding himself from stepping over the line that was getting continuously more and more blurred.

It was then he finally realized.

“You can’t help me…”

Alex had returned to the cave he had been staying in before he was reunited with his friends.

He was miserable but better than he had been with the siblings. They had been nothing but kind to him and he couldn’t take it. It had been driving him mad how they were so nice that he had absolutely nothing to hold against them. Nothing to justify his actions with. He couldn’t control himself. And they were making him feel bad for it. He couldn’t stand that. It was his nature.

After all, he was the devil’s son.

That’s right… Nature… That’s why he felt this urge, this need to go back. To go back to where he had so desperately fled from. Because he hadn’t been ready yet. He had still been holding on to his principals and morals. But it had been clear from the very beginning. Ever since his transformation had been complete his path was set. This had always been what it would boil down to.

He was his father’s son.

It was really not his fault. In fact, it was expected from him. Why else would Ryan have hunted him down, even though he didn’t even know him? He was supposed to do this.

He was the prince of hell.

He was an unholy crossbreed between angel and devil and he was just doing what was right.

He was going to claim his throne.

“I am ready father.”

With Alex taking his new satanic form and the world in peril, everything faded into black…