I woke up in an abandoned old subway station that was dusty and full of cobwebs. I was still kind of groggy, but startled awake when I realized I was lying in a pool of . . . something. I brought my hand, which was coated in the stuff, up to my nose. A familiar metallic tang hit my nose.
Blood. Not like I was surprised. Why else would I be lying on the ground in a empty old subway station? I registered my surroundings for the first time. There was a large, unmoving shape slumped on the ground a few feet away, which appeared to be the source of the blood. I scrambled to my feet and rushed over to it.
It was a teenage boy, about 15 or 16, with blood dripping out of cuts on his stomach, chest, and throat. What was on his chest? I wiped some of the blood away and saw a weird symbol. It was like an infinity sign with a cross sticking up out of it and another line through it about halfway up. I wasn’t surprised; it was the same sign that had been on the other victims. I checked his pulse, but he was long gone. I checked his wrist for a name, almost sure of what I would find. -
“Mary…” I read. I wanted to be surprised, but I wasn’t. I had known someone - something - had been killing my alters’ soulmates, and I was beginning to wonder if I had an alter I didn’t know about - one who was maybe a psychopath. This was the fourth death, and they were only getting more gruesome. I pulled up my sleeve and ran my hand over the name on my own wrist, as if reassuring myself that it was still there. "Castiel..." I whispered softly, as if I were sending a prayer to the heavens. I had come to consider him as a guardian angel of sorts, but with him being the archangel Cassiel in the bible. I'd probably never meet him. He was like that of a myth, or something out of a fairytale. "I hope you never end up like this. The only way to prevent it from happening seems to be avoiding each other, like neither of us exist. So I pray to you that we never meet each other."
In elementary school, the names didn’t really matter much. We weren’t thinking about soulmates! We were focused on having fun. Once we got to middle school, everyone made a big deal out of it. If you didn’t, you were seen as an outcast. High school was worse. We learned about how they worked, how it was that an apparently omniscient being who didn’t know you could pick out your soulmate from more than seven million people, and what the chances were that you would ever meet that person. According to the teachers, there is not one person in all of recorded human history that hasn’t found their soulmate. I refused to believe that, saying there must be someone, at least a few outliers. I got suspended for “treason and sedition.”
I snapped out of my thoughts when I heard the pounding of feet on stairs. Someone was trying to come down into the subway station. But who? It had obviously not been used in at least a decade, so why would anyone want to be down here? I looked over at the body, now almost completely drained of blood, and realized what a bad situation this was. I was covered in blood next to a corpse with a weird satanic-like symbol on its chest. I had to get out of here.
I hopped onto the rusty track and ducked into one of the tunnels as someone screamed and the footsteps ran back up the stairs. I ran through the subway tunnels until I saw a light from another station. I edged around the corner slowly, prepared to meet a crowd of curious onlookers, but when I got into view of the station, there was no one there. It wasn’t as dusty as the last one, and dim lights shown from the ceiling. However, it appeared to be closed, which was weird because most subways don’t close. I just accepted it as a random stroke of luck.
I jumped up onto the platform and ran across to the stairs. Looking up the stairs, I saw the starry night sky twinkling above the New York City skyline. The buildings leaned down ominously, making me feel trapped. I breathed in, smelling the familiar smells of the city: exhaust, food vendors, and the distinct pungent odor of cheap beer. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it was all very faint because the tang of blood was emitting off my clothes and skin, masking all other aromas. I needed to wash all this blood off, and I doubted I could get a cab to my apartment when I was covered in blood like this.
I walked slowly up the stairs to the sidewalk, trying to avoid the curious stares and odd looks I was getting from passerby. Thankfully, I happened to be very close to my apartment. When I got there, I felt in my pocket and found a disappointing lack of keys. With a sinking feeling, I twisted the door handle, expecting it to be locked. Oddly, it wasn’t. The door creaked open, revealing a room bathed in shadow. That was the last thing I remember before I blacked out.
When I came to, I realized the murderer had been busy. I was tied to a chair facing the door and there was another dead body on the floor in front of me, one who was a lot smaller and had a knitted purple scarf around her neck. Oh god. It was a kid. I felt bile burning in the back of my throat and twisted around as vomit splattered on the ground around me, narrowly missing the girl. Unfortunately, the violent movement tipped my chair over and I landed right next to the kid’s arm.
I swore loudly. Whatever this murderer was trying to get, he didn’t have many more chances. I only had six alters, and none of them were active after their soulmates were brutally murdered. It was either going to be mine or Jade’s soulmate next, and I felt bad about hoping it was Jade’s. My phone rang loudly, jolting me out of my thoughts.
“Deanna! Where have you been? I’ve been trying to get ahold of you all night!”
My sister. Great. She was just the person I wanted to hear from when I was tied up with a dead body a foot from my nose. “Hiya Sammy.”
“No! You do not get to ignore me for four years and make up for it all with a ‘hiya Sammy!’”
“What am I supposed to say? If I remember correctly, you were the one who walked out on us, not me.” I sighed.
“You still could’ve tried to contact me!” she screamed. “I was sick with worry, Mom was so mad and I didn’t know what she would’ve done to you.” She trailed off.
“She wouldn’t let me talk to you.” I admitted. “Anyway, why are you calling?”
“Well, I’ve been trying to call you all night, but I was only getting this creepy guy. The first time I called I assumed I had the wrong number, but he was still there when I called again. I guessed he was one of your alters - unless you’ve been cured?” she said hopefully.
“I’m not going to be ‘cured,' Sammy. It’s not a thing that I can just take a few pills and it’ll go away. Well, I suppose I could if I took the right pills...but that’s not the point.”
“So then I guess that dude was one of your alters, right?”
“I don’t know. What was he like?”
“Well, he was also really slick, like a used car salesman or something.”
“Yuck. But trust me, I don’t have anyone that sleazy in my head. I know all of my alters, and none of them are that slick.”
“If you’re sure. Also...I heard something in the background of the call. It was weird. Kind of a gargling groan I think? I don’t know. The call was also really echoey.”
“Huh. That’s weird.” Not really. I knew exactly what that sound was. It was the sound of someone slowly bleeding out though their throat in an abandoned subway station. “Anyway, why were you calling in the first place?
“Oh...we kinda...lost Mom.”
“What?! She was in an asylum and you lost her?! Are you there now? I’m coming, just give me ten minutes.”
“I’m there, but don’t bother coming all the way down to Atlanta for this. We’re fine here.
“Me, Sheila, Aunt Marcie, Do-”
I cut her off. “So you’re telling me that our entire extended family is there, but her daughter, the one who looked after her for years, the one that took care of her when everyone else abandoned her is not?!” I realized I was shouting. There was no one here to hear me except a dead body, and somehow, I don’t think it minded much.
“Deanna! I tried to call you, but your head was being taken over by a car salesman! In case you forgot, you’ve got a serious mental disorder that you refuse to get help for, and I know it’s getting worse! You’re not going to tell anyone about it and one day, it’s going to kill you!”
I hung up. Speeches like this one were the reason I hadn’t talked to Samantha in years. I didn’t need more life lessons from the girl who left me to deal with our psychopathic mom four years ago. Now that she'd hung up, I focused on the more pressing issue: how was I going to get out of these ropes?
Struggling wouldn’t help, as that would probably just push me into the puddle of blood and vomit that had formed on the floor. There was a knock at the door and I looked up. Who would be trying to get in? I hadn’t talked to my old friends in years, and I hadn’t made any new ones since I moved out of my mom’s house. “Who is it?” I called out.
“I’m your neighbor. There was yelling coming from here. Are you okay?”
A male voice, probably mid-twenties. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just…” I looked around for something that could’ve screamed. “My lamp...fell on my foot.”
“Oh ok. I hope you’re fine. I do need to borrow something, though.”
This was the worst possible moment for a him to come by. “I’m a little tied up at the moment. Maybe you could come by later?”
“Sorry, but I can’t. It's kinda urgent. Can I come in?”
I surveyed the scene. This didn’t look good, but he sounded like the type of person who might be cool with this thing, plus maybe he could help me out of these ropes? I sighed. There was no way anyone would be cool with a dead body. Oh well. I supposed it couldn’t hurt. “Yeah, sure. The door’s probably open.”
The door opened slowly, and I knew that there’d be look of horror on his face, then he’d turn green and rush out of the room. I could picture him shrieking through the hallway, on his way to call the police. But when he opened the door, nothing happened except a tiny flicker of horror and disgust that flashed onto his face, then was gone in an instant, replaced with a look of shock.
“Oh my god! Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m perfectly fine here tied to a chair on the ground. So comfortable.” Sarcasm was my only defense.
He scurried around the body and the puddle of filth and started untying me. As my wrists, then my ankles became free, I twisted them around, trying to get the blood flowing. He was avoiding my eyes and looking anywhere but the body. “Thanks dude. Anyway, what’s your name? I’m Deanna.”
He looked at me in disbelief. “Really?”
“Yep. So, what are we going to do about the body?” I asked, gesturing to the limp form in the puddle on the floor.
“We? Oh no, lady. I’m not getting involved in your weird satanic murder business. I get enough of that with my siblings, and I’m not getting involved in another plot to kill the president- I mean...I shouldn’t have said that.”
What did this dude get up to at home? This dude named… “Right, what’s your name again? You never told me.”
He avoided the question, saying, “We need to move this body.”
“Oh, so now it’s ‘we?’ Fine. Where do you think we should hide it?”
“Maybe the refrigerator? We're going to have to clean it out though.”
“I don't have any food in it.” I mumbled. “We can hide it in the refrigerator. But we do need to clean up this mess.”
“We’ll take care of it later. Let’s just focus on moving this body right now.”
Dead bodies are heavy. We picked it up, struggling to carry it to the fridge, then bending it any way it would fit in the refrigerator.
I wiped my hands on my pants, not really caring if I got them dirty. I glanced at the clock. “Wow, it’s only three am.”
“Only? This is the latest I’ve been up in a while. I’m exhausted.”
“Yeah, sleep might be nice. You can sleep on the couch.”
“I was going to go back to my hou-”
I cut him off. “No, you’re not. I don’t trust you enough to not tell this to the police. You’ll sleep here.” I tossed him some blankets from the cupboard. I strode into my room, leaving him standing there with the blankets in his hands. As I snuggled deeper into my mountain of blankets, I realized that I still didn’t know this guy’s name. I’d ask him in the morning.
Something was wrong when I woke up. I was staring up at the man’s face that was hovering over mine, looking worried and a little bit frightened. “Hey. Deanna? Are you…”
“What’s going on?” My head was pounding. “Is something wrong?” My vision still hadn’t cleared. “How did I get into my living room?” He was bleeding from wounds on his face and chest. “How did you get hurt?” I tried to sit up, but the room swam around me. There was a knife clenched in my right hand. I let go and felt feeling flood back into my fingers. My hands were covered with blood. Was it his blood? Nausea rushed into my stomach and I stood up, wobbling a bit, and staggered to the bathroom.
A few minutes later, I stumbled out of the bathroom and into the kitchen. “I feel awful… What happened?”
He stood at the sink, bandaging his wounds and pointedly not looking at me. “You went crazy. I woke up at five and you were standing over me with a long knife. There was a whole speech that I didn’t really pay attention to because I was more focused on the knife. Then you carved these-” He turned and showed me angry red cuts on his arms, chest, and face. “What the hell happened?! It was like you were a different person.” He searched my face for answers, but I had none for him.
“Do you really think sorry’s gonna cut it? You almost killed me!” He got angrier, yelling and getting in my face.
“That wasn’t me.” The fact that I was so calm angered him even more.
“You really expect me to believe that? I watched you carve these into me with that sick, sadistic look on your face!”
“What’s your name?” It was like he was stealing all of my energy as fuel for his anger. I was getting exhausted.
“Don’t try to change the subject!”
“Just tell me. Please.”
“It’s Castiel.” Naturally. This explained the weird look he gave me when I told him my name. The fact that he stayed when he could’ve easily left. I rolled up my sleeve to show him the tattoo on my wrist.
“Castiel. No. Not possible. This can’t be happening. It’s got to be a different Deanna. Please.” He was pleading to the heavens now.
“Look, Cas - can I call you Cas?”
“Too bad. Anyway, Cas, I’m just as irritated as you are.”
“Stop calling me that.” We were interrupted from our budding argument by a knock at the door. “Expecting someone? I hope they haven’t come for something refrigerated.” I gave him a look and looked through the peephole. My mother’s face, horrendously magnified, made me shriek and jump back.
“Let me in, darling. I have a surprise for you!”
“Who is she?” Cas whispered to me.
“My mother. Be careful around her, she’s supposed to be in a mental hospital right now. She killed my father when my sister and I were kids.”
The pounding at the door became more intense. “Let me in! I’ve got the best surprise! You’ll love it!”
“Go hide somewhere,” I whispered to Cas. He obliged, slipping into my room and closing the door. “I’m coming, Mom! Just a minute.” I strolled over to the door, pushing my pocket knife into a drawer on my way. I opened the door slowly, prepared for the unpredictable.
“Helloooooooo dear. What a nice place you’ve got here. But why did you abandon your only family?” she asked cheerily.
“You aren’t my family. You lost that right when you killed my father. I’ve got Sammy, who is the best family I could ever ask for.”
“Sammy? Samantha? Your sister?” She laughed hysterically. “You’ve got to face the facts, sweetie. I killed your sister right before I killed your dear, dear father.”