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Reaper Underworld

REAPER Underworld

 

Mini-Series #2

Copyright: Dannielle Wicks

Shakespir Edition

 

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PART 2

 

I’m shivering, but not from the cold. A heavy breath tickles the back of my neck, I’m not game enough to turn around and face the second giant dog. Why did I have to follow Logan? Why couldn’t I just stay with Sebastian, instead of running off? Now I’m going to meet my end at the jaws of the scariest thing I have ever laid eyes on.

The dog in front of me jumps and I hit the ground, my head bouncing off the stone floor. I throw my hands up and my fists collide with the dog’s furry underbelly and neck. Screaming, I kick my legs out. The dog snarls at me and snaps its jaws. I start sobbing. My vision is going blurry at the edges; I must have hit my head hard.

Suddenly the dogs back away from me, cowering. I try to sit up while placing a hand on my dizzy head. Someone scoops me up in their arms and starts walking towards the door I came through.

“What in living creation are you doing down here?” Logan’s clipped voice barely reaches my ringing ears.

“I was…” I glance back at the huge dogs staring at me with their soulless red eyes. I shudder. “I was looking for you. What is this place?”

“Off-limits to you.”

I lean my head against Logan’s shoulder, fading in and out. Where is he taking me now? Home? Please be home.

We turn down a familiar white stone hallway and I lift my head. “No, please. I don’t want to go back in there.” I struggle to escape his grip as he opens the door and pushes me inside on unsteady feet. I stumble and trip, hitting the hard floor on my hands and knees. “No!” I scream, turning back to the door as he slams it closed. “Please! Logan! Don’t leave me in here.” My voice breaks on a sob and I slide down to the floor, leaning against the door.

How could he be so cruel? When we were home, I thought he might be shy or maybe even nice, excluding the creepy stalking.

Obviously, I’m a terrible judge of character.

I should have called the police for protection when I had the chance. Now I’m stuck here, probably until the day I die.

I drift off leaning against the door.

Logan is standing in front of me, only it’s not Logan. It looks like him, but his features are cold and devoid of emotion. I can no longer see his pupils in the glowing white of his eyes. He lifts his hand slowly and two giant dogs step forward on either side of him. They lower their heads and growl. Logan swipes his hand in a command and the dogs leap.

I wake with a start, sweating and panting. It was just a dream… A sick, twisted, horrible dream. I exhale a steadying breath and slump back against the door. I just want to go home. I want this nightmare to end. Another tear slips down my cheek. Haven’t they dried up yet? God knows I’ve cried enough.

I shake my head. That’s enough. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself and pull myself together. I am Gracie Martin and I can survive this… I can escape.

I push myself off the floor and start searching the dark room. My eyes have adjusted, but it’s still too dark, I can only see shapes. Across the room lies a bed and chair. If I squint the right way, just above the bed I can make out a sliver of light. A window?

No…an escape!

I make my way across the room and grab at the wooden planks nailed to the window frame. They hold fast and secure. I dig my fingernails into the edges and rip at the wood.

With a cry of frustration, I plunk down on the hard bed and wrap my arms around my middle, thinking. I’m not giving up. There has to be a way out of here. My gaze lands on the shadow of the wooden chair. I tilt my head to the side and purse my lips at it. I think I have an idea.

Jumping up, I grasp the chair by the back piece, lift it as high as I can and throw it against the floor with all the effort I can manage. The chair bounces off the cement floor with a clatter.

Damn, they make it look so easy in the movies.

I pick it back up and hold it down while stomping on one of the legs. Come on, just break already, you stupid piece of useless furniture.

The leg groans and cracks. I stomp on it one last time and the leg snaps off. I barely stop myself from jumping for joy before grabbing the splintered leg and feeling my way back to the window. Wedging the leg into the side of the wooden boards, I try to lever them off, like a crowbar.

The wooden frame squeaks as the nails slowly slide out. Just a little bit more. I grit my teeth and pull harder. A board snaps free and falls onto the bed. I grin at the strong ray of light shining through the glass of the window and start tugging off the rest of the boards.

Right, now what? Will someone hear me if I smash the glass? I’ve made it this far, I’m not stopping now. I lift the chair leg above my head, ready to hit the window when a click at the door stops me. I drop my weapon and whirl around to face the tray of food sliding under my door.

Thank god, I thought someone was going to come in and catch me. I exhale heavily and bend down to pick up my chair leg.

I pause and listen, making sure no one is around and then I swing the leg at the window pane as hard as I possibly can.

The glass explodes, little shards flying everywhere. I keep a hold of my wooden leg while I lean over to look through the shattered window. It doesn’t look too high. I could make the drop…I think.

Below me is a small overgrown garden, full of thick bushes and trees. Hopefully, none of the bushes directly below me have thorns.

I glance back at the door and the food tray. I really should keep my strength up and eat, but I refuse to eat anything from that monster. Squaring my shoulders, I take a deep breath and climb through the broken window. Still holding the wooden leg, I might need it, I drop from the window and land with a crash into the bushes. My foot hits the ground the wrong way and I twist my ankle. I gasp in pain, but push through it. I’m not free yet.

I start hobbling through the close-knit trees and plants. Once I’m out of this garden there is a small clearing and then what looks like the start of a forest. I can do this.

I glance back over my shoulder and pause. A huge grey-stoned castle looms up above me, but that’s not the strangest part, I already knew I must have been in a huge mansion. It’s the sky, or what’s supposed to be the sky that bothers me. In place of the sun or moon or even the stars, there is a thick dark fog full of little blinking lights, like fireflies. It still looks like early afternoon, but I can’t see a source of light anywhere. What is this place? Where the hell am I?

I shake my head and start hobble-jogging again. I need to get out of here before someone catches me.

The forest is dark. Too dark for the light I just came from. The leaves above are thick and heavy, creating a cave-like canopy. There’s no wind, but something rustles the low hanging branches around me and I freeze. Was that a voice?

I hobble around another large tree, keeping my fingers on the bark as I peek around it. Nothing. Just more darkness and trees. I’m losing my mind.

Shaking my head, I start hobble-jogging again. Hopefully, I’m going straight and not in a circle. I have no way to tell which way is which.

After what feels like an eternity of painful walking, the trees thin and I stop to look around. A drop of water hits my arm. I tilt my head back and look up. Another drop hits me on the nose, and then another on my cheek. It’s starting to rain. Crap. I need to find shelter. Now.

I push a low hanging branch out of the way and search for a large tree. It’s nearly too dark to see anything other than shapes. I squint into the shadows and find what I’m looking for.

Huddling at the base of the tree, I pull my legs up to my chest and lay my head back against the rough trunk. Something shines out of the corner of my eye. I sit up straighter and glance around. The rain drops are sparkling like little fairy lights. It’s almost like little diamonds falling from the treetops and then disappearing as they hit the ground.

This place isn’t right.

I shake my head and lean back. The large canopy of the tree, I’m under seems to be enough to shelter me, but a few wayward glittering drops still reach me through the leaves.

How am I going to get out of this? I mean, where am I going to go anyway? I have no idea where I am, or which way to go to get home. My hope desserts me, leaving me trembling in the cold. I don’t want to die here. What will my family think? Oh God, my family. They’re probably worried sick, out looking for me. Sarah as well, and what about Brendan? The thought leaves me devastated. They’ll never find me; they’ll never know what happened to me. I’ll be one of those cold cases they could never crack. They’ll air it on the TV ten years from now as a mystery that was never solved.

I roll onto my side on the damp leaf litter and curl into myself. My ankle throbs painfully, keeping me from any sleep I may have been able to get. It’s too quiet anyway. There are no noises that point to signs of life. No wind, even though it’s raining. My eyelids feel heavy and tired, but I don’t close them, for fear of what’s out there.

 

Soft voices echo around me.

“What is it?”

“Shhh, I don’t know.”

“Is it dead? Can I poke it to make sure?”

“No you idiot, its breathing.”

My eyes drift open, unfocused. It’s dark, like the light just before dawn. Where am I? Oh wait, never mind. I must have finally fallen asleep. I push myself up and rub my hands over my eyes, yawning.

“Stay where you are!” I freeze with my arms up and turn my head to find two people standing about three meters away, longs sticks raised and pointed at me. I thought I’d dreamt those voices. Apparently not.

I flinch when the female of the pair steps forward. She drops her stick and smiles. “I won’t hurt you. What are you doing out in the middle of the Forest of Lethe? It’s dangerous.”

I can’t tell them I’m on the run. I’m not that stupid. They probably know Logan and they’ll return me to his castle. I don’t want to go back to that monster. “I’m, umm… just taking a nap.” I mentally smack myself on the forehead. So much for, not being stupid.

The female tilts her head with a weird look. Half confused, half disbelieving. “Taking a nap?” I nod. “In the middle of a storm?”

“It’s not raining,” I answer, looking up at the tree tops.

She smirks, her long braided hair falling over her shoulder. She knows she’s caught me out in my lie. “No, not as of five minutes ago.”

“Oh.”

She shakes her head and holds her hand out to me. I hesitate and then take it. She hauls me to my feet and I instantly stumble and go down on my knees again.

“Are you okay?”

I look down at my leg. “I think I’ve twisted my ankle.” She turns to her male companion, who hasn’t said a word the entire time.

“Can you carry her Darling?” He grunts, not at all pleased with the request, but he moves forward and lifts me off the ground. “We’ll take you back to our place and fix you up.”

“Thank you so much.” I tuck my arms across my body and keep my eyes averted from the huge man carrying me. “What do I call you?” I direct at the kind woman.

She is already ahead of us, skipping. “It’s Hebe.”

Hebe? That name sounds familiar.

 

We exit the forest and I’m carried towards a large stone house set amongst smaller trees at the edge of a huge flat field. I’m laid down on a small wooden bed and the burly man turns and leaves back out the front door. Hebe fills a glass of water at the sink and hands it to me as she sits down on the edge of the bed. I take it from her with a thank you and greedily gulp down the cool liquid. It feels like heaven on my dry, sore throat.

Hebe leans down and starts pressing on my ankle. “Where does it hurt?” I’m about to answer, when she presses on a tender spot and I jump up with an ouch. She smiles. “Well, that answers that.” She turns to the roll of fabric she brought over and starts wrapping it around my ankle. “I’m going to strap it up, but you probably shouldn’t walk on it for today.”

“Thank you so much,” I answer, nodding.

“So what are you?”

I frown. “Excuse me?” What an odd question.

She tilts her head to the side, curiously. “You’re not a deceased soul, so you can’t be human. Are you a furry? A nymph?”

“I, uh…” What? “Deceased soul?” Oh my god. These people really believe they’re in the Underworld. As in Hades, the Greek God, underworld.

Hebe smiles again and secures the bandage around my ankle. “You must be new here. Did one of the other Gods send you?” My mouth pops open and I shake my head slowly in shock. She pauses and frowns. “Then what are you doing here? And what were you doing in the Lethe?”

“I don’t know?” I stumble, biting my lip.

Hebe’s frown is instantly gone, replaced with concern. “Oh darling, you’ve forgotten. That’s what happens when you stay too long in the Forest Lethe. It makes you forget. Someone should have been escorting you.”

I haven’t forgotten anything, but I don’t say a word. Let her believe whatever she wants, as long as I’m safe and away from Logan, I don’t care. She pats me on the leg. “You are welcome to stay here until you remember. The effects of the forest will wear off eventually.”

Her name suddenly clicks. Hebe, as in Greek Goddess Hebe. Daughter of Zeus and Hera, married to Heracles. If she is who I think she is and if I’m not crazy, what the hell is she doing in the Underworld?

Hebe leaves me lying on the bed while she bustles around the small cabin, cleaning. I watch her until my eyes grow heavy and drift closed.

 

The room around me is dark. All I can see are shapes and fuzzy shadows. Where am I? Something moves beside me and I jump. What was that? I hold my breath and listen, waiting.

Nothing.

I let out my breath in a heavy whoosh, relieved. Must have been my imagination.

“I can hear you breathing,” a voice whispers out of the darkness.

I scream.

“How did you escape?” it coos softly. The voice is male and kind of familiar. I shake my head and cover my ears. No. This isn’t happening.

I wake with a cry and wipe the sweat from my forehead. It was just a dream. Actually, more like a nightmare. I gulp and look around the room. Hebe is fast asleep on the small bed next to mine. I take a deep, shuddering breath and close my eyes again. He can’t get me here.

I slowly spin, fanning the dress out around me. Its odd looking and it feels funny against my skin. It looks like it’s made of scratchy cotton, but it feels like silk.

“Ready?” Hebe glances up at me from the kitchen table and smiles approvingly. I nod nervously and follow her out the door. She’s taking me to her work with her. She believes it will help my non-existent memory issues. I wanted to decline her offer seeing as how there’s nothing wrong with my memory, but she wouldn’t listen.

On a side note, who works in the underworld? I mean, isn’t this supposed to be the peaceful afterlife? Why would you want to work?

 

We walk along a large dirt pathway through the surrounding forest. It looks like the middle of the day outside, but after scanning the sky again, I can’t figure out where the light is coming from. The trees don’t rustle in the wind either, there isn’t even a small breeze. I glance warily at the huge branches as we pass. They don’t look right. Yeah, they are green, but the leaves are a funny shape. They are giving me the spooks.

We exit the trees and I stop walking, frozen in place, staring at the castle in front of us. It’s a million times bigger than the one I escaped from. On the upside, at least I know Logan doesn’t live here.

Hebe stops when she realizes I’m no longer beside her. She laughs and waves me over. “Come on. Just wait until you see the inside.”

She takes me around the side of the monstrosity and we enter through a small door, like a servant’s entrance. I gasp and run my fingers over the walls. They’re made of dark marble, all of it.

Hebe chuckles as she leads me along a hallway and into another room. There are people everywhere, most of them servants by the looks of it. They dust and clean, but with the size of this place, I’d say they have to do it every single day.

“Come on, don’t dawdle. The master will want his dinner.”

Hebe leads me into an enormous kitchen where people are already bustling about at various tasks. I pause just inside the door and watch them in amazement. They’re like a well-oiled machine. There isn’t a single word spoken, but they obviously know what to do.

“Over here,” Hebe says, snapping me out of my thoughts. She grabs my hand and tugs me over to a table full of trays already stacked high with different foods. “Take one of these and follow me.” I pick up the heavy silver platter full of sliced up fruits and follow Hebe back out of the kitchen.

We enter a dining hall in the next room and I tilt my head back to stare in awe at the painted ceiling. Are they fairies? Before I realize what’s happened, my foot catches on the edge of the huge Persian rug in the centre of the room. I go down, landing with a heavy thump on my stomach, the tray of fruit tumbles out of my arms and scatters across the expensive rug.

“Who is this clumsy fool Hebe?” I tilt my head and look up at the man standing over me. He’s tall and dark. His nearly black eyes are set in an amused expression as he stares down at me.

I blow the hair out of my face and slowly push myself up. “Just who do you think you are? It was an accident, there’s no need to call me names.” I snap back at him. He looks confused for a split second and I see Hebe put her hands over her mouth in horror behind him.

“Who do I think I am? Umm… Hades, Ruler of the Underworld?” He’s not joking. Crap. “And who are you?”

I close my eyes tightly. Maybe if I wish hard enough, this will all just go away. When I open my eyes again, Hades has his hand out, waiting to help me off the floor.

I stand by myself and brush my skirts off. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you,” I apologize, not meeting his gaze.

“You didn’t answer my question.” He smirks and picks up the silver platter near my feet. “Whom do I have the pleasure of meeting?”

“Oh sorry, my name is Gracie…”

“Sire,” Hebe mouths over his shoulder.

“Sire.” I curtsy and kneel back on the rug to start picking up the scattered fruit. Hades kneels down beside me and reaches for an apple. I can hear Hebe’s gasp just before she drops to the floor and helps too.

Once all of the fruit has been stacked back on the platter, I stand to take it back to the kitchen.

“Please stay and have something to eat?” Hades asks as he takes a seat at the long dining table. I shake my head quickly in a no. He raises an eyebrow and motions to the chair next to him. “I insist.”

Gulping down my fear, I slowly walk back over to the table and sit down in the chair to his left.

“So where are you from Gracie?” Hades asks, adjusting the plate in front of him and leaning across the table to the platter of meats.

“I, uh…” Do I tell him the truth? Will he know if I lie? What if he has a problem with humans too, like Hebe. “I’m from a small town called Port Melody.”

“Port Melody? Never been myself, but I’ve heard many things from my employees.”

“Your employees?”

“Oh yes, death is a very big and demanding business. I can’t do it all by myself.” True, I guess. I drop my gaze to the plate of food in front of me. There are no thoughts comforting running through my head. I think I may be in shock. Maybe this is all just one huge, crazy dream. Maybe I fell and hit my head, I’ve heard people in coma’s have really weird, vivid dreams.

I sit in silence, picking at my food until Hades stands up from the table and announces he’s retiring for the night. I watch him walk towards the door. The further away he gets, the steadier my breathing becomes. Just when I think he’s about the leave the room completely, he turns back to face me. I hold my breath, waiting. This is it, he’s going to hurt me.

“Gracie, I would like you to stay as my guest of honour. I’m having a get together tomorrow night and I would love for you to attend.” He smiles as if he’s being the perfect gentleman.

“No, I couldn’t possibly.” He waves away my weak answer. I suppose he doesn’t hear the word, no, very often.

“Nonsense.” He looks towards the kitchen door, where Hebe has just entered. “Hebe, please ask Gabrielle to escort Miss Gracie to one of the guest rooms.”

Hebe glances over at me warily and then nods, “Yes Sire.” Before heading back the way she came.

Gabrielle is a petite girl with deep red hair. She doesn’t speak or look at me, it’s as if she’s been ordered not to. I try to keep up with her brisk pace as she leads me down yet another hall. I’m definitely lost now, everything looks the same, every passageway, and every room…the same.

She stops at a door in the middle of the hall, there’s nothing special about it. It’s exactly the same as the ones on either side of it. She pushes it open and holds her hand out, motioning for me to enter. As soon as I step inside, the door slams shut behind me and the lock clicks.

No, not again. What is it with these people and locking me up? Do I really look that dangerous?

I glance around the room slowly. At least it’s nicer than the one Logan had me in. A plush four poster bed sits to the side, light from the open window spread across its covers. Wait, open window? I rush over and look down. I’m at least ten stories up. How is that possible? I don’t remember going up any stairs. I turn and search the room again. Is that a door? I walk over and try the knob half-heartedly. I already know it’s locked.

Wandering back to the bed, I sit with a heavy sigh. Looks like I’m stuck here for now.

Lying back, I relax on the soft covers and stare up at the dark marble ceiling. I have to figure out how to slip away at the party tomorrow night. It’s my only chance. And this time, I’m not accepting help from kindly strangers. I’ll find my way home by myself.

I would have thought someone would have come and got me for breakfast, but as mid-morning wears on, I’m getting less and less hopeful. Maybe they’ve forgotten about me?

I don’t know how long I lay back on the bed, staring at what I can see of the never changing sky. My stomach grumbles loudly. I should have eaten more last night.

Suddenly the door is thrown open; I jump up from the bed and watch three unfamiliar, young women enter with armloads of fabrics and small boxes. They converge on me and start pulling at my clothes and hair.

“What are you doing?” I ask one, but she ignores me.

Once they have me unclothed and shivering in the middle of the room, they push me towards the locked door I tried last night. I pause just inside and stare at the bathtub full of water set to the side of the large room.

Was it just a bathroom? Then why was it locked?

One of the ladies pokes me on the shoulder and then points to the bathtub. I glare at her and then slowly slide into the hot water. They start scrubbing roughly at my hair and skin; I cringe at the scrapping from their harsh cloths. All of the grime from the last week comes off in the dirty water.

They towel me off and start pulling soft fabrics over my head. By the time they’re done, I’m wearing a gown reminiscent of the Tudor era. There is no mirror to see my reflection, but the look of satisfaction on the maids’ faces is enough to know I look.

The three ladies leave the room just as Gabrielle arrives to collect me. I follow her, without a word, back the way we came the night before.

After what feels like a million twists and turns, she ushers me through an open doorway and leaves me at the edge of a huge hall full of people. It’s so noisy I nearly have to cover my ears. The hall is enormous. All white marble instead of dark, with thick, white columns lining the sides, like a temple. The entire hall sparkles with the reflections of flickering candle light. As I glance around, I notice I’m not the only one dressed in Tudor gear, everyone here, and that’s a lot of people, are dressed in the same fashion. I try to gently push my way in, but they are too tightly gathered in the entrance.

I look around at the unfamiliar faces and realize they are all facing the front of the room, where I can just make out Hades, lounging across his elegant, dark marble throne with a glass in his hand. But they aren’t looking at him; their heads are tilted down slightly. What are they all looking at?

I take a deep breath and push my way forcefully through the delicate dresses and royal looking vests until I’ve nearly made it to the front.

If I stand on my toes, I can just see through a gap in the hordes of people. In the centre of the room is a man kneeling in front of the throne, his head bowed low to the ground and his hands tied behind his back. What is this? Some sort of show?

I tap the man in front of me on the shoulder. He turns to me with an annoyed expression. “What?” he has to shout over the noise of people chattering or laughing.

I lean closer to him so he can hear me. “What’s going on? I thought this was a party?”

He smirks. “It is. Lord Hades is going to hand out a punishment to one of his Reapers. They never break the rules. This is a very rare occasion, that’s why we’re celebrating.”

I frown, a little disgusted. He’s excited like he’s about to watch a football game instead of someone about to get hurt.

The prisoner lifts his head and looks in my direction as if he knows I’m staring. I gasp, throwing a hand over my mouth in shock as his sad eyes meet mine. I can see the emotions swirling in his eyes from here, the recognition, the pain. He closes his eyes and drops his head, defeated.

The prisoner is Logan.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED

###

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

I hope you enjoyed the Second part of REAPER the Mini-Series. To keep up to date with news and release dates add me on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads!

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Reaper Underworld

Alone. Trapped. Afraid. No hope of escape. No one is coming to save her. In Part 2 of the Reaper Mini-Series, Gracie Martin is facing an eternity trapped in the terrifying Greek Underworld. She can trust no one. She can tell no one who or what she is, for the punishment is death. The Reaper is here...

  • Author: Dannielle Wicks
  • Published: 2015-10-19 08:20:06
  • Words: 5105
Reaper Underworld Reaper Underworld