Note: This is part two of a duology series. Please read the story “Touched by an Angel” before you read this story in order to understand what is going on. This takes place one day after the events in the story “Touched by an Angel”. This is told in Judas Lee Cameleo’s perspective.
Sweat poured off my body. More than I ever thought possible. I wiped some of it off my face, uselessly. Why did it have to be so hot here? I clenched my hands on the stool I was sitting on. It seemed to be the only thing keeping me tied to the living.
I still couldn’t believe I was here. In the place I most feared. My chest tightened just at that thought. I’ve been here for less than a day, and I already wanted to leave.
The servants of Satan gave me food. They let me rest. They haven’t killed me or hurt me yet. They keep me in this building. This suffocating room that’s no bigger than a bathroom. Probably so I don’t burn to a crisp.
But all of these miniscule attempts of ‘kindness’ were all a coy. I knew it from the bottom of my heart. They had no good intentions keeping me here.
I had to get out.
I stared out the window. No doubt the most interesting part of this room. Outside, I could see the constant fires raging. Mercilessly licking up every single person it could find. Screams of pain were heard in the distance.
As much as I knew why they were here, I felt sorry for all of them. They were just not lucky enough to have believed in Jesus to their last breath. That’s why they were here. I could have prevented at least one soul from joining this place. If I had just. . .
I heard the door to my room creak.
“Judas.” A voice said behind me, and I could almost hear the smile on his face. It was male, deep, and rich. It sounded almost. . . familiar.
I turned, and a few feet away from me, stood a man, maybe seven feet tall. With his raven-black hair, fancy black suit, and smooth smile, he could easily pass as a rich businessman who just made an excellent deal.
But his pure black skin and flaming eyes ruined the look.
It was that man from my vision. The man that had made David into what he was. Into a hunter of the per quod angelus tetigit. Humans that had been touched by an angel.
I was supposedly one of them.
“Are you comfortable?” The man asked me, like this was a normal conversation.
‘Gee,’ I thought. ‘I wonder. Am I comfortable? Am I comfortable in a fiery wasteland that just happens to be my fear? A place where I was sure I would never set a foot in. You tell me whether I’m comfortable or not.’
Even though my mind was whirling, I said nothing.
“Ah,” the man said, nodding. “You’re going to play the silent game.”
As quick as a viper, he pinned me against the wall. Up close, his flaming eyes seemed to flicker, like there was an actual fire in them.
“I don’t care what plans you have of escaping.” The man hissed. “No matter what they are, they’ll be futile. I, Dracul, the archangel of Lucifer, will turn you over to our side. You will become a servant of the devil. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
“What are they even doing to me? How are they turning me over to their side? I feel nothing changing. It’s just the same old same old, every single day.” I said aloud, groaning.
I writhed on the brick floor, my neck and back felt stiff from sleeping on the hard floor for over a month. It had become my new bed.
I had woken up to the screams of dead, tortured souls. Every single day, new people were tossed down here. That thought made me hollow. As much as I didn’t like it, it had become my new alarm clock.
A few minutes later, a hooded man walked in my room, holding a tray. He set it down and left without a word. On the tray was a glass of hot water and two pieces of burnt bread on a plate.
I drank down the water, not caring how it scorched my tongue. A month ago, for quite some time, drinking this water had me curled up on the floor, in pain, wishing for something cold to hit my tongue. But now, I fought against the pain, swallowing it down. I then moved on to eat the bread.
The burnt bread was always terrible to eat. It was edible, but that was the most flattering thing I could say about it. It was almost completely black. The tiniest bit of flavor, ironically, came from the burnt parts.
Nonetheless, I choked down the pieces, trying to ignore how bitter and bland it was.
I didn’t know how I was still alive from surviving off of that. But it has become my new breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.
I sat back down on my stool, and watched the fires spreading. I silently thanked God that this building was made of fireproof bricks. The fire was so destructive, yet so mesmerizing. It felt almost alive. The fires outside swallow up anything and everything in its path. Day in and day out. It had become my only entertainment.
I don’t know how long I stared at the fires outside. Time was impossible to keep track of. There was no sun or moon. Just the hellish landscape stretching on as far as I could see.
But eventually, I stood and paced around the tiny room, trying to keep myself from panicking.
The last month, I had been numb and distant. Going about my daily routine. Sleeping. Eating. Watching. Praying. Bathing. I had hoped this was all a crazy dream for so long.
But glancing around the room, looking at the people burning from the fires, and remembering the faces of Dracul and David. . .
Everything came crashing down. Emotions. So many emotions.
A month ago, I had been quarantined at home, browsing on social media. A month ago, I had been in an online college. A month ago, my life had been normal.
But now. . .
I was in hell. The actual hell.
Tears trickled down my cheeks, mixing with the sweat. I knelt on the floor, and prayed. Prayed for help. Prayed for survival. Prayed for guidance.
How much more of this could I handle?
I closed my eyes as the hot water trickled down my body. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine I was back home, taking a shower after a long day.
But the screams of the souls brought me back to the harsh reality.
I sighed, relaxed. For once, the water wasn’t all that hot. Then I noticed that my hands and body were slowly turning red from the hot water. I started toweling off with my hoodie, but Dracul barged in my room.
“Gah!” I yelled, covering up as quick as I could. “Haven’t you ever heard of privacy? Or knocking on the door?”
My eyes widened as I realized that was the first words I had ever spoken to Dracul.
“You’re a prisoner here,” Dracul sneered. “You don’t get privacy.”
I did my best to keep all emotion off my face.
“I came here,” Dracul continued, “because you’ve been here for months now. And nothing’s changed. All of the per quod angelus tetigit that came here changed. They became more corrupt. More. . . disconnected to God. But you” --he glared at me-- “have barely changed at all. You’re still as faithful as ever.”
“But in my vision, you said that people touched by an angel had unbreakable faith.” I said quietly, frowning.
Dracul laughed dryly. “A lot can change in eight years, girl. The per quod angelus tetigit’s faith is still strong, but not invincible. It takes three months here, at most, for them to crack. My point is, you’re not cooperating. I promised you that you will be working on our side soon. And I don’t. Break. My. Promises.”
He walked out of my room and slammed the door.
Later that day, as I prayed, I wondered what was in store for me in the future.
God still hasn’t helped. Not even a word of his guidance. Even that voice in my head had gone silent.
Seven months. It’s been seven months since I got stuck in this room. That thought made me angry.
That was all I thought about today.
As I chewed off a hunk of burnt bread, my rage burned. As I watched the endless fire burning through people, my rage burned. As I showered under the hot water, my rage still burned.
Was I really going to be stuck in here forever?
Cold, hard determination pressed against my bones. I couldn’t just fall into a pit of hopelessness. Because once you fall in, there’s no coming out.
I was hanging by my fingertips, right over that pit. One small slip-up, and I would fall in.
I couldn’t have that.
But still. Why, God? Why haven’t you saved me from this hellish place?
I’ve abandoned hope. I don’t have it inside of me anymore. It’s vanished, like what happens to your smile when you receive your test scores.
I could see why Dracul’s plan for the people touched by an angel was so effective on them. They started losing things.
Happiness. Well-being. Hope.
And eventually, faith. Hell just sucks it out of you. Slowly, but surely.
But that doesn’t mean I have no faith left. God has a plan. Jesus has a plan. I’ll get through this. I had to.
I stared out the window at the fire. It eagerly devoured souls as I watched. In the year I’ve spent here, I must’ve watched the fires outside hundreds of times. Maybe even thousands. Every single time, there was something different. The way it flickered. The color. How fast it was. How destructive it seemed.
Yet one thing stayed the same. I felt sorry for them.
Behind me, the door swung open. If you could open doors aggressively, that’s exactly what Dracul did. He marched in, pure anger lighting up his face.
“One year.” He growled, slamming the door behind him. “ONE YEAR! One year since you got here. But you still have your faith. Unbelievable.”
He pinned me against the wall, in the exact same way he had a year ago.
“What’s your secret?” Dracul asked, not much louder than a whisper. “What is it?”
I struggled against his hold, but it was useless. After the tiny amounts of food and not much space to exercise, I was weak. Not to mention that I stood at a painfully short four foot eleven inches.
“I have no secret,” I managed to say. “Just. . . Love. Faith. Hope. I will give my life for Jesus anyday.”
Dracul smiled. “In that case, we have no use for you now, child.”
His hands shot out and latched around my throat. He began to squeeze.
I coughed, my face surely turning red. My breathing got weaker and weaker. I tried to escape his grasp, but it was much too strong. I couldn’t do anything as Dracul sucked the life out of me. I instantly knew this was how I was going to die. After a year of being tested by a rebel angel of Satan, I would be put to rest. Somehow, that thought didn’t terrify me.
Faces of people flashed through my mind. My loving parents, who cared for me in every way they could. My Japanese and white mother. Elizabeth Lee. Her light-brown eyes and dark brown hair. My Puerto Rican father. James Cameleo. His dark brown eyes and curly black hair. Their kind souls had always looked out for me. I missed them so much. It has been over a year and a half since I saw them. And now, I was certain that I would never see them again.
The kids that used to bully me. Jackson. Paul. Deborah. Mia. Calling me names. Cyberbullying. Spreading rumors about me. Making fun of my religion and heritage. Their bullying was relentless. They never got caught. I spread the Gospel to them, which just made them angrier. Made them strike back harder.
My pastor, who was almost as kind as my parents. Rachel Sullivan. Who taught me the ways of God, and taught me the Gospel. I owed her so much. Where would my life be without her? I missed her so much. She passed away only two years ago. But I was sure that I would see her soon.
Other faces shot by, going so fast I could barely catch a glimpse of them. My best friends, who were all dead because of the Coronavirus. The only guy I kissed. The pet lizard I used to have in elementary school. My history teacher in middle school. The homeless guy I would always give money to whenever I saw him.
At last, the montage of faces slowed, stopping on the face of David Cambron.
No matter how gorgeous he was, this guy had literally thrown me into hell. Because of him, I had to spend a year here, all alone except for the company of evil rebel angels. Once David had found me, he had teleported to hell, dropped me off, and casually strolled back to earth to find more per quod angelus tetigit. Like he was dropping off his kids to school, not dropping off Christians to hell.
One last time, all of the Christian faces I knew flashed through my mind.
‘I will see you again soon. In heaven.’
That was my last thought before I dropped to the ground, dead.