It started off as a normal night filled with death. Gathering souls, fighting off Eaters, and watching the confused hurt faces of those around my recent victim. Jealousy flashed through me at the concern on the specters. My own death wasn’t as morned. Many of my own family members didn’t even know I was even dead. It’s been a year now, you would think that they would have heard something. But no, my life away from my family wasn’t what most people experienced, those that know about it wouldn’t take even a second from their life to let the others know.
“Get your head out of the clouds Leandra. It’s time to move before more Eaters come.” Steel was my mentor. He had been guiding me through this transition. I haven’t made the decision to embrace this fate of mine or not so he stuck around. I personally think he just got lonely, even when training all the new recruits. The victim was whining in my ear about her life being too short and that it should never have ended this way. I took one small glance at her silencing her immediately. Shortly after my induction into the Grim society my eyes took on a red glow when I grew irritated. It came in handy in times like this but it also kept the souls from trusting me. Ignoring the fear radiating off her I followed after Steel. From behind I could see Steel’s darker than pitch black curls graced the base of his skull. His hood was down showing his Italian tanned skin of his neck leading into his lean build body under his robe. He would normally keep his hood up to hide the red glow of his eyes but the fighting with Eaters caused it to fall back.
We traveled in the Shadow World, away from the prying eyes of humans. I thought when I first became a Grim that I would miss the Up Side, what we call the human dimension, but the darkness of the Shadow World is far more comforting to me than I ever though it would be. The screams in the distance have grown familiar, much like leaving a television on for the sound. The dry, burning wind caressed my dead flesh as if water feeding a thirsty plant. Even the burning flesh smell mixed with the dry desert of ash seemed like a fresh apple pie. I didn’t eat anymore but if I did I’d grow hungry just from the smell.
“Where is this one going?”I asked Steel as I glanced back at the soul again out of habit more than need. I could hear her dragging foot steps across the dry land and her soft sobs as she followed more out of fear than anything else.
“What does it matter? We turn them in, it’s their job to sort them out.” Steel said with his usual bored voice. He’d been doing this job for far too long. He died in the 1930’s during a speakeasy raid. Seven shots from a Tommy Gun he said.
“I was just wondering.” I pouted. He hated when I pouted. Claimed it was too childish. However I noticed him pout when he lost one of his precious weapons once. Ever since I would pout just to tease him.
“You shouldn’t wonder. You shouldn’t get too involved. You know the rules. Stop challenging them.” He intoned with the boredom of a teacher that spoke the words of a lecture far too often without change. The soul behind me gasped as we came into view of Grim Castle. I couldn’t really blame her, my first view elicited the same reaction. It stood as giant spikes of death growing out of the ground. The black spires raising out of the ash covered ground stood in a place that wasn’t even in existence on the Up Side. It existed on it’s own plane that corresponded with the Shadow World. Only a Grim could find the way, and only a Grim could enter. Well a Grim and a soul being guided by a Grim. Other creatures of the Shadow World couldn’t even access it when following a Grim. We’d just suddenly disappear into thin air when the entrance came near. It was rather convenient.
As we got closer the land turned to black, jagged rock that seemed to hug the back metal spires. Gun metal black, it made me inquire into their material once. Steel told me he didn’t know, no one knew, it’s just always been there and we’ve always been here. I rolled my eyes at the mysterious answer and figured I’d find out eventually. Steel did that sometimes. He didn’t answer anything that he thought was useless information. It could get really irritating to a curious mind.
The castle door groaned open before us. Another unanswered question, how the door knew to open. I chuck it off to magic. Silence filled the halls. I learned rather quickly that Grims weren’t really a fan of talking. It made me wonder why I was chosen to be a Grim. I talk far more than they do. Ask all kinds of questions, eager to learn more. Most of them have learned to just ignore me now. The halls were empty right now. The black marble floors echoed under our feet as we followed the main hall to a set of very large Judgment doors. I had no clue what was on the other side. Nor did any Grim. We bring the souls before the door but when they open them all we can see is blackness.
“Here you are. Last stop to no where.” I told the soul still looking around in wonder. That was until she took in the doors of Judgment. They depicted a scene of purgatory. Rather frightening if you didn’t understand the logistics of it. The souls were trapped by two rather large creatures that looked much like humanoid demons. In truth they were the oldest of the Grim Reapers. Their flesh had melted and rotted away long ago leaving behind blackened, hardened bones under worn storm gray robes. Behind them were tortured souls that seemed to scream out for mercy reaching toward heaven, or I assume it’s heaven.
“Go. Open those doors and walk through.” Steel demanded. She looked at him and shrank back slightly. He kept his red glare on her waiting for her to comply. She pulled her eyes from him and looked back to me with questions in her eyes.
“Don’t look at me. This is your judgment, not mine. You’ll open those doors and walk through. Only you will know where you are going.” Dropping her head she walked with I could only assume was shame toward the doors and hesitated with her hand out. When she finally touched the doors, just a light brush of her fingers, they opened with a scrap of stone against stone. I saw only blackness, pure darkness, not even a single shadow. The lighting of the room was swallowed up in it’s eternal emptiness to my eyes. The soul didn’t pick her head up but walked forward and disappeared as completely as the light making the doors close behind her. I looked to Steel but he was observing me already.
“What?” I asked indigently as I crossed my arms across my chest in defiance.
“You’ll never see it. Not unless you are ready to be judged.” I shivered at the idea of being judged. “We’re done for tonight.” With that he walked away, not a goodnight or anything.
I hated early nights as they gave me time to think about things from the past. Things from my life. Regrets, pain, and minute happiness. Sleep wasn’t really needed for a Grim, though we could to pass the time between shifts. I often remained awake deep in thought. I couldn’t escape it either way. I would either dream of it, or I’d think of it. Tonight wasn’t any different. Tonight I remembered the day my pain and confusion started. The reason for my blackened, hate filled heart.