When he left the bar, he shrugged on his leather jacket and pulled on his headphones over his ears. He didn’t bother turning on his music this time- his player was running out of charge for the third time this week. It didn’t bother him. Sometimes he needed deafening silence to help him think.
Not often did Alpheaus pursue lost souls- living or non- He was bombarded enough with the ghosts that pursue him, but this case was different.
He had a soft spot for spirits that lost their younger siblings.
His walk led him to deep into town as well as deep into his thoughts. Unfortunately, silence usually brought him to a place that was dangerous, reminders of the past usually up and ready to torment him.
So he decided to draw his attention away from said thoughts and onto the things around him. Traffic lights, the packed streets, people all moving with a sense of purpose, the subtle conversations between people, the person in front of him jumping out into the street to dangerously weave through traffic- he tried to stick towards the alleyways himself.
His people watching was rudely interrupted by a sudden smack in the face. Not by a hand, or an arm, or a bag, or even a book, but a sheet of paper that was carried by the wind. The malicious vibe that radiated from it warned him of a demon who had written on the paper, but told him little else.
Alpheaus took the sheet of paper and scanned it over a few times. It wasn’t to him considering it was addressed to someone named Jean, but didn’t make him feel any better. Poor guy lost his body being tricked by a demon it had seemed.
To his right, he felt the sort murmurs off the walls of a dark alleyway. It gave off and aura that had faint traces of demon- a few days old, he figured- but he could also feel a soul without a body.
A living soul?
He turned on his heels and started down the alleyway. Quite a ways down, he saw the spirit crouched down next to a cat. He pulled his earphones down and he heard the cryptic words of missing pieces.
Talk about a deep guy.
“I guess it depends on the type of pieces,” Alpheaus said, now directly behind him.
Jean gazed up at the strange man. He wore baggy cargo pants and an unnecessarily baggy tank top that exposed part of his chest and rib cage. He was covered in tattoos and had messy hair.
The cat hissed and ran off. Jean sighed and stood up.
“What could you possibly know about having the greatest thing in your world be taken away?”
An amused smirk touched the medium’s face as he ran his fingers through his hair as to straighten it out with little success. “Well it smells a lot like countless years of vomit from alcohol, feels like hundreds of dollars that could have been spent on practical things, and a constant crowbar to the chest, “he admitted.
The medium got better look at the specter in front of him. Like himself, he was covered in tattoos and piercings, not to mention the fact that he was missing half of an arm. His composure looked grief- stricken as if he has just experienced a recent loss.
“Although I doubt you will experience the smell,” he tacked on before shoving his hands in his pockets. “This place tells me that you’ve made a deal with a demon, am I right? Would that have something to do with this ‘thing’ you lost? Perhaps a family death?”
Jean shoved his hands in his pockets and shook his head towards that ground. “She wasn’t just my family. Sophie…….was my life. My only devotion and reason to live after everything that’s happened.”
The medium gave a quizzical look.
“Sophie was my sister. We, like Tidus, have lived for a very long time. All I remember happening was waking up with a missing arm and my parents dead. They had apparently worked with a fallen angel.
“We evidently started life like it was always the two of us. Everything was fine until some old lady that was way out of her wits told us a terrible calamity would fall if we didn’t continue to wander to new places. I shrugged it off and a couple months later the Black Plague started.
“We spent the next couple hundred years wandering the world until we stopped in Virginia. That was when the fallen angel that killed my parents came back for her. A demon showed up before she could take Sophie’s soul, but she was already gone and I’m sure you know the rest.”
Alpheaus rubbed the back of his neck.
What was it with evil spirits and sisters? Was it an epidemic or something?
“Well aren’t you an open spirit,” he mumbled before the specter’s words settled in. This was Jean Claude; the spirit others were talking about. To top it off, his story sounded a lot like….
“You have the Wanderer’s Curse as well?” he asked up front.
Jean met his gaze in awe.
“Yes, that’s what she called it.” Jean took a step closer, unsure if this medium was a hallucination. He paused for a moment, a puzzled look across his face.
“Wait, you said, ‘as well’. Do you know someone else with the curse?”
“Say hello to the man that cursed the San Francisco earthquake,” Alpheaus laughed uneasily. “Yes, I have the Wanderer’s Curse. I haven’t started anything as intense as the Black Plague, thankfully. You’re the first person I’ve met that actually out-ages me. Although I would have figured you to be a little more….calm? Never mind. This just happened.”
“Calm? Yes, I admit I was snappy before. I’m just angry at myself for not being able to save her. Let’s start over. I’m Jean Claude, son of a French nobleman.”
Jean outstretched his right arm and lightened his mood, glad there was someone that understood at a deeper level.
“Alpheaus,” he replied simply.
There was a long pause between them before Alpheaus spoke again. “I’m assuming that this letter was addressed to you,” he started. “Tough luck, bro. Once a demon has your body, it’s over. You’d have to get it exorcized in order to get it back, and that is not a skill that I have. Banishing feral ghosts is one thing, but a demon is something completely different.”
“Bro?” He’s starting to sound more and more like me.
Jean gave out a clipped, nervous laugh.
“Well that’s a shame because I SO wanted to find that bastard and kick his ass. I don’t really care anymore. I learned a long time ago to go with the steady flow of the stream instead of fighting it. It’s time for me to find another path.”
“That’s good to hear. My condolences for your sister, by the way. Loosing family that close is hard. All I can say is that it will get better. You’ll find those missing pieces,” he said, turning on his heels to leave the alleyway.
The sound of cackling sent shivers down Alpheaus’ spin. “Aw that’s it? No fighting back? No plot to kill the master? Well that’s no fun,” the voice said. The alley became cold and he could see his breath in front of him. “Thanks for talking to our good friend Alphie here; you’ve been a great help.”
Alpheaus’ nerves went on overdrive, all of his senses reaching out to pinpoint the origin of the voice. When he couldn’t, he reached to pull his headphones over his ears.
He was half a second too late.
It felt as if his body was on fire. He could feel the malevolent being imposing its will over him as he lost control of his body. Soon, he was just a memory in his own mind.
“This couldn’t have gone any easier,” the demon smirked, twisting his neck in an awkward angle as to crack it. “Now it leaves killing off that brat Tidus.” With that, he waved a Claude and started walking away.
Jean stared unblinking, trying to process what happened.
Was that a demon or fallen angel?
He didn’t know what, but he knew that he needed to do something.