“Kore, you have a mission.” The leader of my block says; he brandishes a pistol out from his belt-pocket and hands this to me.
It’s not like I have a choice either way: why ask?
“Good. Now, remember your mission: find the peasant that had betrayed this company and bring him to me alive.”
How I wish that I had listened to those words.
As I shifted my feet back-and-forth-back-and-forth, I couldn’t help but be unsettled by the mission. Commander Dimitri was counting on my agility and skill to withstand the long mission. First, I’d have to do research. Second, I’d have to travel to the center of town to stalk the culprit. Third, I needed to lurk on the backstreets as a peasant and understand the fight of this culprit. And, everything else after, would only be proceeded if I had not gotten caught.
Even worse, killed.
These are the things that could’ve happened to the sixteen-year old me back in those days. I recall with such memory, the days in which I was called to take up that job. Now, my greasy, sticky body clung to my shirt as I slumped around the forest. My hair was not hair at this point-it was a nest of snakes hissing throughout. When I was reincarnated after my first life as Kore Middleton in 1885, I had bad-really bad, terrible as hell- luck throughout my past other three lives. And now, as punishment, I am reincarnated in my fourth life as a monster: The head of a lion with snake hair, the body of a sticky and gross creature. My feet were muscular as they were fragile-I didn’t know how to get used to this power of strength, especially on all things, my feet- and my tail was on fire most of the time.
But it all didn’t matter to me.
The pain didn’t matter. Why? Because when you have lived through a few centuries with the same memories as your first life, you don’t have a choice but to toughen up. There are days when you know you want to quit, but what was the point of quitting when your life was just going to go on repeat from this day on?
As I scavenged throughout the woods, I found a burgundy sack of classics: To kill a mockingbird, Jane Eyre, The adventures of Huckleberry Finn. They were interesting reads, both wild and fanatical. Especially Jane Eyre.
There was something about today that perked-up my interest: not only was it a bright and sunny day-but- it was a less lonely day: there was a family camping out in the woods today.
The kind of family I could-and never would- have.
“I guess this is what happens to those who do bad” I say this to myself as I slump my back against a giant oak tree with a sigh.
---- -- -- -- - -- - - - - - - - - - -
There was once a time where I believed.
Believed that there was one person out there who’d stop all my vengeful feelings, my hatred. I want to believe that, sure I do. I want to think that out of all the terrible-heated- feelings that would strike me in the heart, that I’d forget about HIM.
Him whom I really did kill.
“Kore, you don’t have to do this. It doesn’t have to end this way, you know.” He had said this so sadly.
“Sorry, but it is my duty.”
I remember the blood, the ugly gnash on his chest, the whole scene that I caused.
I don’t want to believe it.
Do in which I had been inclined to think-that through its entirety- through, and through, that my entire life was dependent upon every kill, every buck I made for the killing. I was killing the innocent, the unobtained, the lonely, the forgotten, all the ever-sadness and pain that had been thrown against me. Me, who was the block’s best assassin, the leader’s best daughter. The daughter who has been forced to train-day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute- since the day she turned four-years-old, to be the best of THE best, the cruelest among cruel, all awhile being truly loyal and fearless to enemies and pride.
That day had felt different though.
“Sir, I’d like to show you around the town’s food fair. Would you like for me to show you around? You are new, after all.” My scorpion-blood-red tattoo was covered; for fear of this peasant from knowing the truth. Brunette hair covered, and I was wearing blue-colored contacts for good measure.
“Sure!” He had replied, so eager, yet so naïve.
As so I thought.
“Ok. Then, let’s go.”
And the adventure began!
We had travelled by traditional horse carriage, the small ponies at the front were whipped multiple times-they were slow and frail by the end of the ride- I show them no pity. After all, I clearly recall that time that I was bitten by a pony back when I was seven.
The breeze was cool, the sun warmed up my toes. The peonies, daisies, daffodils, and Easter lilies wisped past; the air filled with honeysuckle. There was a rice farm up ahead, and I could catch a glimpse of the women tending to the fields. Their large straw hats covered their faces, shielding their forehead from the sun. Wearing long peasant robes and wooden sandals, they looked tired. Meek, driven by the need to feed their children and husbands; barley, wheat, and rice they carried heavy sacks over their heads.
And here I was, complaining about a simple mission.
I had almost forgotten my place: I was not to pity these peasants; after all, any one of them could be my next victim.
“You ok over there?” The boy-peasant asked me.
How charming. How am I supposed to kill him if he’s being so nice to me?
Caring about my wellbeing, what a gentleman.
And, he was charming all right. Dark hair and bright blue eyes that gleamed at the ladies in the rice-fields. He smiled and waved to them cheerily, offering bits of bread and silver coins (but, isn’t he poor?) to them; one lady smiled so kindly to him that I almost saw the humanness in her, a poor lonely soul she was. His skin was pale, but not sickening, always flushed from the heat. I started to admire his strange beauty and admire the crowd that surrounded him.
“Yes. I’m doing alright. Thanks for asking.”
I gave him my best possible smile.
“Good! So, where to first?”
Good question. Where to first? Crap. I had lost track of time that I forgot: the map that father had given me for this mission…
I guess I started-at that moment- to hesitate and look around me in fear, because as soon as I looked back up at him, he says, “Oh! No worries! I got you all covered ma’am.” He reached into the back pocket of his thread-bare jacket and pulled out a copy of the map.
It definitely wasn’t the same map.
Okay. You got to play it cool Kore. YOU GOT THIS! You can’t let some measly peasant ruin your chances and play at you. Think smarter! Faster! Stronger!
I still continued to drone on in my fear.
That day, we had finally made the decision to head to the pumpkin festival down south in Dirsbury instead of going to the town’s food fair: for a couple of reasons. For one, it was far: a three-hour drive and then another hour walk. Secondly, it was way too public: people could probably tell who I am and report me to the King if I don’t lay low. And of course, the most obvious reason: it was raining.
Yes, it was.
It was pouring down, the droplets of water splat on the dirt roads. All a while turning the pale taupe soil into a deep dark, and wet mud-road. I keenly observed mother nature’s works with great disgust: how was I supposed to get back to the block in time? Ugh.
“What’s wrong?” He asked me, observing the way that I tugged at the end of my sleeve.
“You can tell me if you want you know? Just spit out the anger”
I turn bright red, my ears warm from the flush.
What? Did he find out who I am?
“After all, it was a pretty good day to be checking out the pumpkin festival. Darn! I wish it didn’t start raining because there was a buy one get one for pumpkin pie sale!” His eyes lit up like a little kid when he says this.
At least he didn’t find out.
“Yeah.” I hope to myself that I can get home on time before training.
“You don’t talk much, do you?” His blue-blue eyes are wide in curiosity.
“Well, especially not to total strangers.” I try to play along.
“Aren’t you the one who’s being a total ‘stranger’ to me? What’s your name by the way?”
Quick! I need to think of a random name. Uh, Betty, Tess, Ariadne, hmmm. I think…
Actually, that’s my middle name.
“Ok. Now we aren’t strangers.”
“What do you mean? That doesn’t mean that I tell you my name that we are officially not strangers- “
He cuts me off and says, “Well, if the world was in the middle of a war and zombies reigned the Earth, would you be picky on who you call a stranger and who you call a friend?”
Seeing my reaction to his silly question, he points a finger at me to indicate wait-I’m-still-talking.
----- --- --- --- - --- -- -- -- - -- -
When the time came in which my new friend had to be killed, I was-of course- devastated. Especially when the first words that he said to me, “You ok over there?” and his kindness that was more than I ever received in all my sixteen years; was gone. Gone like all the other past lives I lived, gone and dead. Now, I was a monster: with no name, nationality, and significance. I was just an “unfavorable demon” as people called. A spiritual demon-monster that haunts lives and lurks around the woods at night.
But I didn’t want that.
What I wanted was a life lived; a life like before. But then again, I wanted a life of freedom! One that I didn’t have to depend on from fathers, mothers, or parental guardians. One that in which I can make my own decisions.
A life that isn’t reincarnated with the same memories.
---- -- ---- -- - -- - - - - - - - - - - -
Today embarks the second week of my life as a monster. The second week of a life with no: purpose.
As I wander around the woods in despair, I feel a pair of eyes watching me.
Who could it be? Was someone here to taunt me like before?
“Hello.” I say to him, in an effort to make conversation happen.
“Hello. Can I have your bread?” He asks me, pointing to the piece of bread I was going to eat for lunch.
But he was just a kid, though.
“Okay. Here you go.”
As I watch him, the small boy crouched in the corner, nibbling on the piece of bread, I secretly wish that he was older.
Like someone I had known.
“How old are you?” I ask him in curiosity.
“I turn eight-years-old today!”
His eyes are wide in excitement.
“So, it’s your birthday, isn’t it?”
“Yes! It is!”
Little boy walks over to me, and starts to shoot questions, one after the other:
“Who are you? Why do you look like that? What’s your name? How can you see me?”
“See you? What do you mean?” Now, this little boy makes me doubt.
“Well, most people can’t see me.”
“Why?” See him? I see him alright. He looks human to me…
“Because.” He looks down at his sneakers and mutters something to himself that I can’t hear.
And, in that moment, I realize something: his blue-blue eyes. They are gleaming the same way he did. They had depth, not bullshit-gaze-types. They had the maturity. The color of the cerulean-blue-sky.
“Do I know you?” I ask him, refusing to gaze into those beautiful eyes.
“Maybe.” He smirks. And, for the first time, I see not the little-boy-gaze that he gives, but the kind and settle gaze that he gave me; such a long time since someone has treated me with human-kindness.
For once, I don’t feel purpose-less.
As I smile-my very best smile- at him, the sky looks just like his eyes. But, the moment I start to continue the conversation:
“Ha! You fell for that trick, now did you?” Satan calls to me. His body is on fire, flicks of flame sprout from him, head-to-toe. He pulls out a whip entwined with brass-and-metal and begins to flick it back-and-forth to me.
I know what he’s trying to do:
“Why would you DO THIS to me?! YOU ARE MY DEMON. You will always-and forever be- my servant, my slave.” His voice booms with pure hatred, making me feel purpose-less once again. He rises into the sky, smoke surrounding him.
Coughing slightly, I rise along with him. It is my duty, after all.
“That was a dirty trick you played.” I say, pretending as if nothing really shattered me.
But deep inside, I was.
“Very funny, pet.” He says, and files out the tasks I need to complete today: 1)take the scrolls back to the other half-devils, 2) haunt more people today and 3) make someone drown. These are all very crude and terrible tasks, but there is nothing I can-or will- be able to do about this.
------ --- --- --- ---- - -- - -- -- -
It’s funny how my life just crumbles the moment that it’s starting to get on track.
As I continued to stare out at the vast open, I started to remember: my mission.