The sun was fading away from view, orange and red spilling across the horizon. It hid behind the towering skyscrapers, framed by the rest of the structures in the city. Hundreds of passersby parade through the streets and sidewalks. They were all ready to head home to rest or spend their Friday night somewhere else-somewhere they can enjoy themselves. They were all living their lives, even if it was futile. They were all oblivious. Foolish. Unsuspecting.
A head of silver sticks out from the mob. An ashen face, with cerulean jewels for eyes. He dressed like the rest of the masses-fitting jeans tucked into boots with a simple shirt and a brown leather jacket. One look wouldn't be enough to imbue any suspicion, but if one's eyes were to linger a little longer, then perhaps one could tell that he was rather different. Some said he lost the glint in his eyes-devoid of hope and gorged with acrimony and apathy. Some said that he had always been such. He gritted his teeth. The passage of time in the world of the vile and sinister was different than here. For him, only a decade has passed since the last time he felt empathic with the residents of the surface. But once he came back to the place he once called home, everything has changed. Tremendously.
He felt an urge. He couldn't remember the last time he fed. Still, the prospect of taking a life was too much. It felt better when it remained a thought. A theory. A hypothetical situation. He'd kill to feed, he once said, but now that he was back with what was once his kind, the thought itself bothered him. He shook his head and made a sharp turn, pushing glass doors open as the scent of coffee wafts in the air.
He remembered this place. It was no longer the same from what it was since he left, but he knew this street like the back of his hand once upon a time. He walked up to the counter and ordered a latte and took a seat alone at the corner of the cafe-their favorite spot. Soon, all the memories came flooding in. Her warmth. Her voice. Her smile. All their little arguments. An overwhelming wave of sadness hit him, but the tears didn't fall. It was brief and the feeling didn't linger as long as he wanted it to. All he wanted was to feel again. To smile. To laugh. To cry. He thought that by coming back to this place, he'd feel all of it again.
But he was wrong. He was always wrong. Not one thing in his life ever went his way, and that continued to haunt him to this day.
The night passed. Customers came in and out and it was now an hour before closing time. He was alone again, and pray tell the employees told him to leave. His drink remained untouched-the taste of human food no longer that palatable for him. Nothing. Still nothing. He felt absolutely nothing. He cursed under his breath and buried his face in his hands. Soon, he raised his head and a complete stranger sat before him. He had short cropped jet black hair and eyes that match. From the way his shoulders were hunched and his eyes empty and downcast, he presumed that he too had a bad day. He didn't even bother to ask why, of all the tables in the cafe, did he have to sit with him.
"You're Mallory, right?" The strange young man asked, voice nearly devoid of emotion. "Mallory Cyrille Durand?"
Mallory scoffed. He hasn't heard that name in ages.
"No, not anymore, no. Not until I was damned."
Mallory widened his eyes. He expected the stranger to find his joke distasteful, and yet here he was, mentioning the name he was forced to adopt in the last ten years. Who was this guy? What did he want from him? Was he alone? Mallory couldn't remember anyone who despised him since he left the surface. Not anyone alive, at least. It felt strange, and yet he felt no imminent danger from their encounter. He didn't even bother asking anything.
In fact, he wanted to take the opportunity, if the man was willing to play along.
"Well then, since you know who I am, then let's get this straight." Mallory tented his fingers and leaned closer. "Can you do something for me?"
The stranger's deep obsidian eyes remain dark and destitute, and he soon lidded his eyes.
"Shouldn't you be ordering me instead? Don't put your rank to waste."
Mallory sucked in his lips. His patience was starting to wear out, even if they've only been talking for the last three minutes. "Then I will," he smirked. "Kill me."
The man chuckled and shook his head. A simple 'no' was all he said.
"I'm not here to give you what you want, Mallory."
Mallory closed his eyes and took a deep breath, biting back the urge to make his fist meet with the man's face. He slumped his back against the loopy metal backrest and made a slow nod. "I see," he whispered, "that you're just here to waste my goddamn time."
"But if you're that keen to meet with death, then I don't see why not?"
The ravenet stood up and took Mallory by the wrist. The latter didn't have enough time to protest-he was dragged out of the cafe and next thing he knew, they were already in a dark alleyway. There were few passersby if any, and the lights were dim-too dim that Mallory's sight was in black and white to accommodate his night-vision. What little light that leaked from the end of the alley shone on the stranger's face, framing it with a stark white contrast.
"You wanted to die? Then I'll give you death. Here," the man muttered. "You're better off elsewhere, somewhere you can live without anymore deadweight. Not like me."
Suddenly, he felt cold hands around his neck, their grip tightening the more he felt away from the pavement. Mallory writhed in instinct, thrashing about and clawing at the hands around him. Soon, his horns came growing out of his forehead. His teeth now razor-sharp. His once-blue eyes were now a glowing gold in a sea of black. His pale complexion replaced with a darker one, and a scaly tail shoots out from behind. Claws grew out from what was once his nails, and his feet were now thing but the hind legs of a wolf.
His glamour wore out. He felt more vulnerable in this form, especially to those with strong sixth senses. He wanted a swift, painless death. Not like this, no. Not like this. Mallory swore he should've worded it better, but now he had to pay the price.
The grip grew tighter by the second. It felt inhuman. The stranger's strength barely matched with his appearance. Even Mallory knew that one should never judge someone by their looks, but for him, this was insane. He seemed nothing short of the degenerate and the damned he faced before. Was he like him? Was he something more? Mallory would never know. He no longer fought back-it was his wish, after all.
He felt his body limp, inching closer and closer to the oblivion. His vision was darkening. He felt no power anymore. The last thing he saw was the deadpan look on the stranger's face as he choked him.
Darkness. Nothing but darkness. Was there an afterlife? He was once there. He died once, and now he faced death a second time. What was there left for him now? Heaven was out of the question.
And now, there was nothing. The man refused to let him go, even if Mallory was nothing but a cold corpse in his hands. He parted his lips to speak, but no one else was there to listen. No one but himself.
"Don't worry. The world you'll be in will be more forgiving."
A bright light emanated from his body, and he soon disappeared with Mallory in tow.
"I'm more forgiving than your god."