There exists a place down under, and not like Australia’s way of saying down under. It is a place below the surface of the physical earth, where angels reside. There are many different types of angels, but these ones were arguably the worst kind, next to Hell’s angels.
Every now and then, there would be new recruits. No one grew old or lost their youth. Ones that were evil enough for Hell but were more useful for causing pain and misery were transported to the underworld.
On a normal day in the underworld, a green flash of light appeared into the normal spawning area. A girl had appeared into their world, no older than twenty. She was passed out on the cold, dark grass. Her glasses were broken on the left lens.
“What was that noise?” An older looking venomous angel asked.
“Must be a new soul coming in.” A young angel, even younger than the new one, replied.
“Let’s go check it out.” The older one said.
“Nein! I’m not quite done with my stack yet!” The younger said in her thick German accent. An automatic irritated flick of her wings sent the house of cards collapsing. “Now look what you’ve done!”
“Come on, Gretchen. Let’s go.”
They flew to the spawning area, where the new girl was waking up.
“She’s waking up. Are you sure this was a good idea to drag me here, Ursula?” Gretchen said.
“Come on, look at her. She’s adorable.” Ursula gushed. Gretchen rolled her eyes.
“Are you sure you’re a real venomous angel?” She said sarcastically.
The new angel woke up and groaned. “Ohh. My head.” She rose to look at the other two angels standing above her, wings still out.
“Welcome to the underworld, the place that constantly looks like a graveyard.” Gretchen said in an exasperated tone.
“I’m Ursula. She’s Gretchen. It’s always nice to have more ne’er-do-wells here. Surprisingly, there’s not too many of us. Most people end up in Heaven or Hell. We sure could use you. What’s your name?” Ursula introduced herself.
“I’m Am…An…Mira.” The new angel said. “Why can’t I say my real name?”
“What’s wrong with her?” Gretchen whispered to Ursula.
“Oh, dear. Another one with split personality disorder.” Ursula shook her head and clicked her tongue. “Where’d your split go?”
“To Heaven, probably. My other side was such a goody-two-shoes. Always nice to everyone. Too f$#king kind. It made me sick.” Mira spat.
“Do you or do you not have a love for ruining peoples’ lives?” Gretchen asked firmly.
“I love watching people fight, spreading discord and disharmony. The world’s too boring without it. Love is something one should have to work their ass off for.” Mira answered, eyes already morphing into the signature angel style.
Ursula grinned, baring her ghost-white teeth. “I think we’ve already found her profession.” She mused.
“What would that be?” Mira asked her.
“As venomous angels, our jobs are to go to Earth and f*#k s@%t up. You are built for ruining people’s relationships and causing them years of emotional pain.” Ursula explained.
“Sick.” Mira said, smiling.
“Oh, by the way, feel your back. You’ve earned your wings.” Gretchen said, pointing to Mira. The newfound angel reached around and felt coarse, clustered feathers. Some of the acid dripped onto her hand.
“AGH! What IS this stuff?!” She yelled upon it touching her. “Is it…?!”
“Relax, mein Grünschnabel. That is just the acid our wings secrete. It hurts celestial beings, or Heaven’s angels in layman’s terms. It does nothing to everyone else.” Gretchen interrupted Mira, holding up her hand. “See? Nothing. It isn’t burning you.”
“You know what else is useful? We’re close with Hell, so we often see demonic angels around here. We can also cross over there and help them with their duties if they need it!” Ursula exclaimed.
“Question. Why do you two have your halos but I don’t?” Mira asked.
“You haven’t done your first bad deed yet. Once you successfully screw up a relationship, you earn your halo. That is also your ticket to traveling between Heaven, Hell, and Limbo. For now, you can only go to Earth and back here.” Gretchen explained. “My talent is causing hate crimes, so I can help you with this one.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve seen all the movies. I like your accent, by the way.” Mira spread her wings and began flying upwards.
“That’s not the portal to Earth!” Ursula yelled after her.
“WHAT?!” Mira called.
“You don’t just fly up! I’ll show you the portal!” Ursula shouted, waving her arm for Mira to come back. She obeyed, and Ursula took off once Mira caught up with her.
“So where exactly is this portal?” Mira asked.
“It’s near the Tree of Reincarnation.” Ursula answered.
“If you don’t do your bad deeds for a long time, you’re rejected and forced to live life once again. Your personality crosses over, but you have no memory of what your experience in the afterlife was.” Ursula said. “We’re here.”
The tree looked anything but normal. Its trunk and branches were black, as if they had been scorched by years of hellfire. There was a hole in the middle of it, but nothing lived in it. This tree was enormous in stature. On the branches of the tree, there were many colorful leaves. They glowed with life and vibrancy. Each leaf was a different shape, and they changed color every second. The sweet scent of pine emanated off them, even though these were clearly celestial leaves.
“Ready to go?” Ursula said.
Mira nodded hesitantly. “I can’t see the portal.”
“Silly, it’s that hole in the tree.” Ursula laughed.
“How am I going to fit through it?” Mira asked.
“Just trust me.” Mira swallowed hard and slowly flitted toward the portal. It seemed as if it had its own gravity field. The closer she got, the stronger the pull was on her. She was a bit apprehensive as she felt herself shrinking automatically to fit the size of the portal. A whooshing sound resonated as she was sucked in and thrown out on the other side.
Mira was alone. She landed in the middle of a cold, asphalt road. A blinding light flashed before her eyes. An eighteen-wheeler truck was the source of it. She shrieked, expecting it to run her over. Fearfully, she braced herself, expecting sheer pain. Amazement washed over her as she passed right through the truck.
How can I stay on the ground? Mira thought. Oh well. I’d better get to work.
She took a good look around the area. Mira did not land in a very nice neighborhood. A siren could be heard in the distance, along with howling dogs. It appeared to be about ten at night. The apartments looked very run-down. Half the buildings that had light-up letters had most of their lights burned out. Graffiti was almost covering the neighborhood.
Several cars whisked by Mira, and she just stood there, not knowing what to do. An apartment door opening caught her eye. A lone man was walking out of the lobby. After squinting, Mira could see that he was in a police uniform. He was a night guard for…someplace. She hesitantly began walking towards the apartment he exited from, phasing through the door.
Inside, the place looked like a sleazy motel, but upgraded a little bit. There were only five floors and the receptionist looked like a meth addict. His nails were too long and black, his face was wrinkly, and he twitched every six seconds. Mira cringed as she passed by him. With a flick of her wings, she slowly flew upwards until she was on the top floor.
From here, she could hear everything that happened in each individual room. There was the stereotypical couple making far too much noise, the guy blasting his music too loud, and, of course, the crying, neglected baby.
Mira selected a room to enter. It was littered with clothes and used tissues. There was a woman, no older than twenty-four, on her double bed. She looked worried, and tears were streaming down her face. Mira watched her in silence for a couple minutes, curious. After a while, the woman left the room to go use the restroom.
Mira was alone. She scanned through the room and found the lady’s cell phone. She noticed a lot of text messages sent to this guy named Gabriel. They were desperate and contained things like, “Are you cheating on me?” “Answer!” “Please!” Mira gave a low chuckle and she read the rest of the conversations. Gabriel was assuring her he wasn’t cheating, and that gave her an idea.
The lady left the restroom, and Mira walked straight through her. Mira opened the first drawer she found and grasped a tube of red lipstick. She applied it to herself and put the lipstick back where it belonged. She closed the drawer and made her way to the closet next to the double bed. The strange woman appeared to be asleep, so Mira reached into the closet and pulled out a white dress shirt.
This must be Gabriel’s, thought Mira. Cautiously she kissed the collar of it several times, leaving lip prints on it. A devilish smirk spread across her face when she put the shirt back. She waited for hours in the same spot, wondering why she didn’t earn her halo yet. Eventually it was morning, and Mira realized she’d been passed out for hours. She awoke to the sound of screeching.
“WHAT IS THIS!?” The lady was screaming at her boyfriend.
“What do you mean, what is this?!” The man assumed to be Gabriel shouted back.
“These…these LIP PRINTS ON YOUR COLLAR!”
“I swear, I don’t know how they got there!” Gabriel spluttered, attempting to explain himself.
The lady scoffed. “Yeah, RIGHT! I KNEW you were cheating on me! WE’RE THROUGH! TAKE YOUR S&$T AND LEAVE!”
Mira watched, her mouth agape. A minor chord rang in her ears, and she felt something appear.
She rushed back to the restroom and looked at herself in the mirror. A large, spiked, bright green halo appeared above her head.
“Awesome!” Mira exclaimed. Suddenly, a portal opened above her head and she felt herself being pulled back in by a hand slightly larger than hers. The nails were long and painted black. It was Ursula’s hand. Mira was placed on the ground and the portal closed up.
“So, how’d it go?” Ursula asked, beaming.
“That was easy.” Mira said. “I walked into this apartment where this psycho chick was always thinking her boyfriend cheated on her. I made it look like he did, and she flipped a s^@t and dumped him.”
“Good job! Sounds like you’re a natural. How ‘bout I take you under my wing and give you a tour of the afterlife?” Ursula put her arm around Mira and poked her in the cheek.
“Sounds fun. Let’s go.” Mira replied. Ursula let go of her and took off in the opposite direction of the Tree of Reincarnation. Mira’s wings felt heavy, so she struggled a little to keep up. As she followed her mentor, she noticed that the underworld became sparser as she pressed on. There were less trees, less grass, less birds…everything started turning darker and darker. Soon there was a large drop in altitude. Mira’s jaw dropped when she saw what was at the bottom of the cliff.
The ground was scorched and black. In the middle of it lay a giant volcano, with some sort of substance coming out. It most certainly wasn’t lava. It was too dark red and translucent to be lava. Mira swooped down and landed near the mouth of the volcano. She dipped her hand in some of the red substance and it seemed to have a mind of its own. It encircled her and touched her as if it had hands. After a few seconds, it disappeared.
With each step towards the portal, Mira heard bloodcurdling screams that just got louder. The sound of chains and machines could be heard below the screams and evil laughter rang out every once in a while.
“Dear god. I’m guessing this is the portal to Hell.” Mira said, cringing a little.
“Indeed it is! Come on, follow me.” Ursula took Mira’s hand, but Mira retracted it.
“Hmph. I’m not some little kid.” Mira looked at the ground and pouted. Ursula laughed.
“Well, if you say so.” Ursula dove into the portal, Mira following behind her.
The inside was worse than the outside. The place was littered with stalagmites and stalactites. Chains and ropes hung from the ceiling. There were several torture devices laying around, most of them with spikes. There was even a spike pit. Many poor souls hung around being tortured or hiding in corners.
“Where are all the demonic angels?” Mira asked Ursula.
“They’re around. They just don’t torture the people here. Most of them are archangels, bringing new souls in. Some corrupt Heaven’s angels and turn them into fallens. When they’re resting, they sit around in that cave over there.” Ursula explained, pointing to a large, unstable cave built from bones. Mira felt a little scared as she stuck by Ursula, walking into the cave.
The demonic angels took notice of Ursula and they all greeted her.
“Hey!” They all called.
Ursula hugged several of them. Mira observed the demonic angels and noticed several things that were different. Their wings were either dark grey or black, there was no acid, they were shaped like Heaven’s wings, each angel had striped horns on their head, and their eyes seemed to constantly glow. One of them looked strangely familiar.
“Simon!” Mira exclaimed. “You ended up here?!”
A dark-haired angel arose. He was much taller than Mira, and he looked a few years older as well. “Oh my god. You’re a venomous angel.” He said.
Mira chuckled sheepishly. “Uh…yeah. Sorry about killing you there.”
Ursula gaped. “You killed this guy?!”
“He and some other bitch drove me way too far. They played mind games with me and I snapped.” Mira said, shrugging.
“Well, well, well.” Ursula grinned. “You’ve certainly got far more potential now. Imagine the damage you could cause OTHER than ruining relationships!”
“I’ve got to give you props there. I thought you couldn’t do it.” Simon said, walking up and hugging her. She turned away and refused his affection.
“So you guys are cool now?” Ursula said.
“Hell no.” Mira said.
“Cheryl! I think you’ve had enough.” Ursula yelled to another demonic angel. She appeared to be twenty-one, and she was heavily intoxicated.
“Yo, you don’t…you don’t know nothing!” She retorted, slurring. A sloppy smile was plastered on her face like macaroni on an elementary school kid’s art project. “Awww! Who’s the new venom in town? She’s so cute!” Cheryl arose from her rock and held Mira’s cheeks slightly too hard. She stretched them out with an endearing look on her face.
“What are you doing?!” Mira snapped.
“That’s Cheryl. She’s really nice when she’s drunk, which is almost all the time. She can’t die from alcohol poisoning, since she’s already kind of dead.” Ursula explained.
“What if she’s sober?” Mira asked.
“She likes to butt in and take the place of the minions in charge of the torture devices. She gets really sadistic and stabby.”
“Sounds like something I’ve read before.” Mira said, looking back over to Simon. He was giving her ‘the stare’.
“Jeez, Simon.” A younger-looking guy said. “You can’t help but ogle at every female in existence, can you?”
“Shut it, Amon.” Simon said, not taking his eyes off Mira. Suddenly, she felt irritated by his look.
“Uh, hey, can I talk to you over there?” She asked shakily, pointing towards the deeper recesses of the cave. A wide grin spread across Simon’s face. He immediately started walking farther into the cave, with Mira trailing behind him.
“Oh, boy.” Amon sighed. “Here we go again.”
“You want to see my room?” Simon asked. Mira nodded, barely able to see in the darkness. They took a few more turns, with bats occasionally flying off the walls. There seemed to be a lot of forks and corridors in this cave. It was much bigger than it looked. When they reached Simon’s room, there was a tie on the door.
“Mother f#%ker!” Simon yelled. “Don’t these guys know that this is my room?” He tried to twist the doorknob, but it was locked. He brought his foot up and drove his heel into the door, but not forcefully enough to break it down. A couple of startled screams could be heard, one soprano and one tenor.
“That’s what I thought!” Simon said. One minute later, the couple came out of the room with their wings hiding their faces. He was about to walk into his room when Ursula’s faint voice called out from a distance.
“Mira! It’s time to go! Say goodbye to your new friends!”
“That’s my cue. She’s taking me on a tour of the afterlife.” Mira said. “We still have unfinished business. I’ll be back.”
“Damnit.” Simon muttered under his breath when Mira walked away. He took the tie off his doorknob and threw it on the ground.
Ursula retraced her steps back to where she and Mira entered Hell.
“Where are we going next?” Mira asked.
“Next? We’re going up.” Ursula answered.
Ursula and Mira returned to the underworld, sweaty and tired.
“Boy, it’s hot down there.” Mira said, panting. Her wings were drooping, and her acid was almost dry. The colder temperature of the underworld was slowly helping her return to normal.
“Want to take a break?” Ursula asked.
“That’d be nice.” Mira said. “How do you guys relax?”
“We watch TV. There’s a lot better stuff on here than the crap they put on Earth TVs. We are similar to humans, but some stuff we like is more…grotesque.” Ursula replied. “I’ll take you to the house appliance graveyard. There’s tons of old stuff, but it works.”
The two angels walked side by side for about twenty minutes. When they came across the appliance graveyard, they had to pass through giant wrought iron gates. There was a sign that was crumbled and unintelligible above the gate. The gates were mostly rusted and they creaked loudly when they opened.
“Jeez, what a dump.” Mira said upon entering.
“Well, what do you expect? This isn’t Heaven.” Ursula said back.
The grass was littered with old TVs from 1980 and before. There was everything imaginable. Stoves, microwaves, computers, old game systems, cables, wires…everything that would go into a household. There were even some old vacuum cleaners and VHS players.
Ursula picked up a small television, the proper cables, and a VHS player. She assembled the set and plugged it into one of the land’s outlets.
“What movie do you wanna watch?” Ursula asked, fetching a huge box of VHS tapes.
“I guess Candyman sounds good. That was always one of my favorite movies.” Mira shrugged and sat on the grass. Ursula popped the video in and turned the TV on and sat down on the grass next to her.
The movie went on, and the two angels burst out in laughter every time someone died or said “candyman” too many times. After it ended, the two were in tears.
“Hey, um…will you take me to Heaven?” Mira asked.
“I can do that, but we’ll have to put our disguises on.” Ursula said.
“Didn’t you know? We can disguise as Heaven’s angels, but it only lasts for a few hours. You can’t give it away by acting like you usually do. Pretend to be a goody-two-shoes.” Ursula replied, snapping her fingers.
She snapped each hand three times, at different heights. Once by her head, once by her waist, and once by her knees. A line of colorful sparkles appeared after each snap, becoming more visible with each one. She was done, and the sparkles grew into a large cloud, engulfing her entirely. After a few seconds, the sparkles disappeared and Ursula looked way different. Her hair wasn’t as spiky, she had nicer clothes on, her halo was now golden, and her wings were white. They no longer had acid dripping from them.
Mira’s jaw dropped. “Oh my god. You could pass for the real thing! Am I able to do the same thing?”
“Sure. Go ahead and try it. Oh, and when we’re in there, don’t call me Ursula. Call me Catrina. I’m known very well in Heaven, and they think I’m one of the guards.” Ursula said. “What’ll your Heaven name be?”
“I’ll just disguise as my split, Annelise. I don’t know what she does, but she probably doesn’t do much.” Mira said. She followed suit with Ursula, mirroring Ursula’s routine snapping. The same cloud of sparkles covered Mira, and she emerged in some of the finest celestial robes. This time, Ursula’s jaw dropped.
“Dude. Annelise is the new harpist?!” She yelled. “You’re gonna have a hard time, kid.”
“She plays the frickin’ harp!?” Mira said in shock. “Aw, god damn it.”
“THIS time, we fly up. Since we’re disguised, they’ll think we were on guard duty or something.” Ursula said, taking Mira’s hand and flying upwards. Again, Mira snatched her hand away.
“I. Am not. Your kid.” She said firmly. Ursula giggled and didn’t reply. The two continued flying upwards for a long time.
The weather changed drastically as they ascended. The black clouds of the underworld grew thinner and thinner. Soon they began getting lighter, turning dark gray, then gray, then to off-white and lighter. A faint ray of sunlight shone through after a while, and Mira knew they passed Limbo. The air felt less dense, and soon Mira could see the sun in all its radiance. For some reason, it didn’t blind her.
“We’re here.” Ursula said. They were now standing before Heaven’s gates, and Mira could not stop fidgeting. The gate slowly opened and the two ventured in.
Heaven was the most beautiful thing Mira had ever seen. Crystal clear water ran through waterfalls and rock ponds. The only birds around were snow-white doves. Many Greek-like abodes and statues were built on floating clouds. Some clouds had gardens on them with the most beautiful flowers and trees. A little farther back was a tree that looked exactly like the tree of reincarnation, except the bark was white. Mira flew upwards a little to get a better look, and she noticed that the clouds got darker as the kingdom of Heaven stretched further away from her line of sight.
“Ursu—” Mira tried to say.
“Catrina!” Ursula hissed, not wanting to give away her disguise.
“…Catrina, why are the clouds so dark at the back?” Mira asked, landing back next to Ursula.
“Somewhere in the deepest depths of Heaven, if you dare to misbehave as an angel, you’re pushed down into a pit. It’s dark and gray and it leads to limbo. Your wings are severed. The feathers turn a dark gray and they’re all tattered. Your halo shrinks to become a collar around your neck, forever making you soul-bound to limbo. You’re forced to float around in nothingness forever. Demonic angels can corrupt these angels and make them misbehave. Mind control is one of the most potent powers an angel can have…” Ursula explained.
“Oh my. I’m here to see someone…” Mira began twiddling her thumbs.
“…who?” Ursula asked in a suspicious tone.
“Annelise? Is that you?” A familiar voice called out.
“Are you involved with an angel here? Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?” Ursula asked.
A young man came flying over to the two disguised venoms. His wings were pure white and his halo shone gold in the rays of Heaven’s sun. Mira instantly recognized him and threw her arms around him.
“Patrick! I missed you so much!” She cried, burying her face into his shoulder.
“Wait. Aren’t you supposed to be playing the harp?” Patrick said, pointing upwards. The faint sound of the said instrument could be heard echoing throughout the place.
“No, you got to listen to me. I’m not Annelise. I’m Mira.” Mira said, grabbing him by the shoulders and looking him in the eyes.
“That explains why you know my name! Oh my god…you’re a venomous angel.” Patrick was awestruck. He wrapped his arms around Mira and gave her a big hug. “Why are you here?”
“I wanted to see you again…my friend Urs—I mean, Catrina, I mean, oh, f^@king hell.” Mira proceeded to bring her hand to her face in shame.
“I’m Ursula.” Ursula said. “I’m also disguised, but I don’t come here often. Mira seems to really like you, so I won’t hurt you.”
“She was taking me on a tour of the afterlife, and I went to earth and did my first bad deed. Then she took me to Hell, and I saw…I saw…”
“Saw what?” Patrick curiously looked at Mira.
“I saw Simon…” Mira’s voice was barely even a whisper.
“I SAW SIMON!” Mira yelled, scaring some of the doves away and attracting the attention of some of the other angels.
“Oh, no. Did he hurt you?!” Patrick was worried.
“No, he didn’t. Calm down, sweetie. It’s just…I’m scared of ever going back there. I tried to talk to him to get him to stay away from me, so he took me to his room. It was already, uh, ‘occupied’.” Mira made air quotes with her fingers. “Ursula called me back after he shooed the other angels out. I wanted to tell him to leave me alone, but it was too late. I hope he doesn’t think it’s okay to come near me.”
“Don’t worry. You have friends in the underworld, right?” Patrick asked.
“There’s really not that many of us. I have Ursula, and I don’t know what Gretchen thinks of me.”
Suddenly, the harp stopped playing. Patrick felt fear surge through his body. A voice identical to Mira’s disguised voice rang out from up above.
“Patrick, sweetheart? Who are you talking to?” It called.
“Oh s#!t.” Patrick said quietly. “It’s Annelise. I’m with her, but she never makes time for me because it’s her job to play the harp, and—”
“Hello?” The musical voice called once again.
“Uh, no one, dear!” Patrick answered, and then he turned back to Mira, lowering his voice. “You better get out of here before—oh crap.”
It was too late. In the middle of Patrick’s sentence, Annelise began to pass through her cloud and swoop down towards Mira, who was wrapped around Patrick. She immediately noticed that something was amiss.
“Why is there a clone of me?” She firmly asked, still airborne.
“Look, I…” Patrick couldn’t find the words to explain.
Mira’s disguise began melting off. Her halo grew larger and turned back to its sickly green color and regained its spikes. Her wings crumbled away in a stream of sparkles and revealed the larger, more dangerous ones underneath. Mira’s eyes morphed back to its different look, and her teeth went back to looking like fangs. Her tongue was once again snake-like. An automatic irritated flick of her wings sent drops of acid flying. Unfortunately, some of it landed on Patrick.
“AGH! IT BURNS! IT BURNS!” He screamed, thrashing around in agony.
“Now look what you’ve done, Mira! He’s in pain! I knew I should have been more alert! Now I have to go fetch him the antidote!” Annelise shouted.
“I didn’t mean to—” Mira tried to respond.
“GUARDS!!” Annelise shrieked. The angels perched on the walls holding the gate turned to attention and spread their wings, readying their spears.
“Oh, s(%t! Book it!” Ursula yelled to Mira, also ditching her disguise. Both took off outside the gate, which was rapidly closing. They barely made it out, with seconds to spare. It wasn’t long until Heaven’s guards began chasing after them, flinging their arrows and spears. Acid flew off their wings, landing on the holy angels. Some fell behind while some others pressed on. The clouds grew darker and the air grew thicker. Sunlight was fading, making it harder for the guards to see. The two continued down further and further until they were sure they lost the guards.
Gretchen was waiting for them back in the underworld, impatiently tapping her foot.
“WHERE WERE YOU?” She said firmly. Both angels were too winded to talk.
“Long story.” Ursula finally managed to say, sitting down.
Accursed - a story by Amelia Dutra for Student Newspaper is currently under construction. Please come back later.