Hope/Stephanie/Persephone turns toward the echo of unfamiliar names, like she can hear them. Her blue eyes widen, like she can see me. She freezes up, like she knows what I am.
My eyebrows crease at her mistake, and I start to sputter “No, I’m-” But I never get that far. Because screaming has begun. Hope/Stephanie/Persephone screaming, and it almost sounds like the wails of the dead.
“MOM!” She wails as if her life depends on it. “Mom! They’re back! The spirits are back!”
And I am sucked back into The Veil.
“Persephone…” The One whispers the name, mostly to himself.
“Who is she? Persephone, I mean.” I only ask because of the agony lining His thick grate of a voice.
“She is, She was…I….” I have never known Him to lose words, never known Him to trail off in a sentence. It made Him seem so...helpless. Almost human, in a way.
“She is what your people would call my… wife. Though the bonds we made were much stronger than that.” And now I hate him. Hate Him for being so weak in this moment. Hate Him for acting so strong.
For so long, He had me murder people, innocent people, for the sake of His Dictatorship. And now, in this moment, facing nothing but a girl, He crumbles. At least I had the decency to admit I was weak. What the living could only do if they knew of His facade.
“You will not whisper this to another soul, Leanord, or so help me, I will lock you in Nether for eternity!” That threat, right there, was enough to quiet my mouth, like a dam, against the questions in my brain that flow like water. But The One reads those things which were secreted in life.
“Yes, Leanord. My wife. My love. As you had your Stephanie, I had my Persephone. She was mine and I was Hers.” He broke down with confession, though I could tell by the melancholy tone that invaded my mind, He did not want to. Then He switches back to anger, like the bipolars in my psych ward.
“You will bring her to me, Leanord. Bring Hope to me so that I may end her. This has gone on long enough.” And just as I was wondering what in Hell Hope had to do with this, just as I was about to ask more about His love, just as I was about to lose my fucking mind again, the command registered in my brain.
And I realized what He wanted me to do. I had agreed to killing the child. That much is already known. But to end her completely? End her soul, and create a void out of the place she once was, destroy her. In the very least, she would come to Hell after Death. But to destroy her is true murder. I will not do it. I refuse to.
“Ha! You are as foolish as the day I laid eyes upon you, Leanord. Foolish and brave. But let us wait and see how brave you are. If you will not give me Hope’s soul, I will have yours. I will make you into one of my mindless puppets, Leanord, and command you to do those unthinkable things that erect your so-called ‘blood-chilling’ screams. I will capture her myself and command you to torture her to her wits end and then some, and then I will end her in spite of it.” I bowed my head to The One.
“I will do it.”