I was only four years old when both of my parents passed away. When people ask what happened to them, I normally say they died in a house fire. The truth, however; isn't that far off.
Twelve years before I was born, both of my parents met while they attended the same parochial school. They were both studying to become exorcists. After they graduated, the life of spouse-hood awaited them. Their wedding was said to be one of the most memorable; it was your typical religious wedding until the gate opened. The "gate" was a break between the mortal world and the dark realm. To many, the dark realm was known as the modern hell. All types of demons were released into our world by the evil lord himself. They could only exist in spiritual anomalies. For the first few months, priests and reverend fathers would go and rid these spirits out of the physical world. Another few months passed before things started to calm down. They started to decrease in numbers.
Not even a week soon after, they started to come back; this time in a form more recognizable that the only way to tell them apart from the living was by the hideous stench they gave off. After a solid year of watching and studying the goal and personal intentions of the spirits; the Church decided to make an announcement for the entire United States. The news would broadcast a proposal that would allow the spirits to continue to walk among us. The said proposal was if the spirits wished to continue to be here, they would have to take a test that would determine whether or not they would have malevolent intentions. If they passed the test, they would be given the same rules as humanity. Instead of jail or prison time, it would be an exorcism, and just like how the government knows how many people exist, the Church would keep track of how many of each different type of spirit would exist in our world.
My parents were always out on a call from the Church, traveling around the country performing exorcisms on spirits that would break the rules or just go after spirits that choose not to take the test.
Ten years passed before my mother became pregnant with me. My father continued to work in the field while my mother stayed home for all nine months. I wasn't born in a hospital, instead; during a service day at Church, my mother fell into a week early labor.
After I was brought home, the Church offered to pay my parents to stay home as long as they would teach me to follow in their footsteps.
Shortly before my fifth birthday, there was a panic in the world. Before the Church had time to react to the new threat, the dark lord himself sent three of his generals to kill all the exorcists that were alive. Once my parents found out, they quickly pulled out all their hold weapons. I watched them run around the house as they gathered everything into the living room where I was.
"Mommy, I'm scared." I was innocent and knew nothing that was going on around me. My mother walked over to me on the couch and wrapped her arms around me to pull me into a tight hug.
"Don't be afraid, baby. Everything is going to be okay." Her voice was soft almost like a lullaby. IN the other room I could hear my father's phone ring. My mother's body was warm and had a smell of pear shampoo, it was comforting to me.
"MJ." My Father spoke softly as he entered the room where we were. My mother and I looked over at him as he stood in the doorway. Looking at my mother as she gently rubbed my arm, she stood up and leaned down to kiss my forehead.
"I'm going to go talk to daddy real quick, okay?" There was a slight shake in her tone as if she was going to cry. I slowly nodded in response and watched as they walked off to the other room. I could hear faint mumbling from both of them. Once they walked back into the living room, my mother's face covered with a weak smile. It looked like she was in a lot of pain. "Hey baby," My mother said as she walked over to stand in front of me just to move down on to her knees. Her hands moved to touch my forearms and gently rub them, "You're going to go with your Aunt Variska for a while."
"Where are you guys going?" I asked looking at my mother with a soft frown. My mother smiled and wiped a single tear away as it fell down her cheek.
"Daddy and I are going to go see the Holy Father." Her tone was weak and full of sadness.
"Will I see you guys again?" My words seemed to affect my mother so much as if I had a hold of her heart and dug my nails into it. I wasn't sure what was going on at the moment, I just didn't want my parents to leave me.
"You'll see us again pumpkin. It might be a while. We have important work that the Holy Father asked us to do." My father walked over to my mother and helped her to her feet. She faintly smiled before walking out of the room. I watched my father as he sat next to me. "Remember when I was telling you about how the Holy Father takes care of us all?" My father had told me this before when he was reading the bible to me. I nodded in response. "Well while mommy and I are gone, the Holy Father will protect you for us. He will guide you on your journey to becoming an exorcist."
"Is the Holy Father going to protect you and mommy also?"
"Of course. One day we'll see each other again. For now-" a knock broke his speech and a light smile fell onto his face. "For now you're going to go spend time at a big fancy place." He stood up and grabbed my hand to help me off the couch. Just as we walked to open the front door, my mother walked in with a backpack. My Aunt Variska held the screen door open as my mother handed her the bag. "Thank you." My father said to my Aunt then let go of my hand to get on my level just to embrace me in a saddened hug. When he let me go, my Aunt picked me up into her arms.
"Take care of her for us." My mother said to her sister. At that moment I could feel my parent's sadness start to become visible as if a hidden message was to be relayed but I never got it.
"Of course, she'll be safe at the school." Her voice was reassuring to help put my parents at ease. My mother nodded, trusting her sister's words. I reached out at my mother and instead of her grabbing my hand, she covered her mouth with a single hand. "Come on, say bye to your parents." Her words were almost silent to my ears. We started to move away from the house as I slowly waved my hand, closing and opening it repeatedly as a pain-filled my body. Almost completely out of sight of the house I grew up in, an unexpected explosion made both my Aunt and I jump. The house had busted into blazing flames that changed color from blood red to a blinding white. Even as my Aunt covered my eyes with her hand, I still knew that Satan had killed both my parents within seconds.
After a five-hour plane ride, both my Aunt and I arrived at Fairbanks in Alaska. Walking out of the airport, we met up with a tall man that wore a gray dress shirt and blue jeans. He had silver, messy hair that matched his bushy, silver horseshoe mustache which made him look two times older than most middle-aged adults.
"Alice, this is Father Metric." My Aunt said and gestured for me to greet him.
"Hello," I said looking up at the priest. His smile was welcoming. A low chuckle left his mouth as he placed his hand on his chest and leaned forward in a slight bow.
"It's an honor to finally meet you, Alice. I've heard a lot about you." His voice was strong but old like he's been around and seen history as it's happened.
"Father, you're not wearing your Cassock." Metric's smile faded as my Aunt made her remark about what he was wearing. Metric let out a soft sigh as he hesitated to respond to her.
"Yes, well I figured it would be more comfortable for Alice if I didn't just show up in what I normally wear." His tone was still light and full of age. My Aung laughed under her breath as to tease him.
"Are you sure you're not just getting lazy?" Her words were kind but spiteful as to mock his age and ability. Metric shook his head and turned to open the door to a small, black limo.
"Shall we get going then?" Metric gestured for us to load into the vehicle. I grabbed onto my Aunt's hand as we walked to step into the vehicle. The seats were a silky leather that filled the air with the smell of cigars that must have been just recently smoked beforehand. I looked through a small dividing window from us and whoever was driving the limo. Once Metric got into the back with us, both my Aunt and Metric started to talk about where we were going. "She will stay at the main building with me and one other student," Metric explained as I stared out of the limo's tinted windows, watching every road sign and car that we passed.
"Once she is of age to start learning, will she be moved to the girl's dorms?" My Aunt asked.
"When she is finally old enough to be enrolled in the school itself, she may choose if she wishes to move into the girl's dorm or not. As requested by the Church, our cram classes will be offered to her as long as she shows signs of strength." Metric took in a deep breath as we turned a corner.
"Security is as promised, right?"
"Right. As I started over the phone to both you and Carmine, our security is one of the best in detecting spirits and alerting out exorcists of the location and threat level from miles away from the school's border walls and gates." Metric reassured her. Once we started to drive along an even gravel drive, we were approaching a large metal gate that was connected to a behemoth stone wall. "We're here," Metric said just as the gates started to open to a view of a three-story, Victorian-style building.
"Wow," I said under my breath as the limo rounded a circle grass garden that sat in front of the building. The limo came to a stop and Metric chuckled as he opened the same door we entered through. When we all got out of the vehicle, my Aunt handed Metric the backpack as her phone started to ring. Metric swung the bag over his shoulder as he gently placed his hand on my back.
"Shall I show you to your new room? It's not much, but it will do for now." His tone was mildly stern, so all I did was nod. I was taught at a young age to never argue with an elder, especially a person with a title such as a priest.
Once we made it inside the building, there was a lady sitting behind a desk that sat in front of a large staircase. Leaving a vast open area full of couches and tables.
"Good evening Father." The lady behind the desk said. She had a white veil and dress-like robe with a black cover.
"Sister Maria, this is Alice." As soon as Metric spoke my name, the Sister's face lit up with excitement.
"The daughter of such holy parents. Welcome to New Year Academy, I am so excited to finally start working with you." The sister walked from behind the desk. Something about her was light and inviting. As if I didn't have to get to know her because her aura already felt familiar to me. She reached her hands out face down for me to grab them. While we held hands, the sister closed her eyes and took in a light breath. "I see the strong spirit in you." Sister Maria let go of my hands and gave a smile as if a miracle had just come true. With her aura, a light grew inside of me. At that moment I couldn't help but smile.
"Sister would you please show her to her room. I will return shortly." Metric said as he handed her the backpack, he seemed concerned as he turned from us to head for the exit.
"Come on," Sister Maria said as I reached for her hand as she started to bring me up the large flight of stairs, "I'm sure you'll enjoy being here. While you're here, I will be your teacher until you can join the other students." She almost reminded me of my mother. Always positive even as an influential figure.
For ten years, Sister Maria would meet me downstairs in a separate room so we could start my class. I wasn't the only student she was teaching. There was this boy, he was only a year older than me. His hair fell past his ears but not yet to his chin.
"Jasper." The boy would always give me a sad glance whenever I would say his name. Jasper's gray-black hair almost always blocked me from seeing his eyes when we would be by each other. It always made me wonder if he was just bashful or if something bad had happened to him.
When Jasper had turned fourteen and was able to join the freshman year class, he turned it down and wished to stay back until I was of age. I didn't understand, he had the chance to go make friends and get a head start, but he chooses to stay with me. Whenever I would ask him why I would always get the same answer.
"I just don't want to." Jasper never had anything else to say. Though Jasper decided to wait to join the school, he was getting separate lessons with a different lady. After a week of working with her, he started carrying around a white, gothic pistol that he called Angel.
When Jasper would be out training to use Angel, Father Metric would give me tasks such as cleaning or helping Sister Maria with students that would need help with anything.
"Alice," Father Metric said as he approached me as I sat at the desk, "would you run to the store and pick up a few things?" His request was simple as I looked at the small list of items.
"Of course Father." I agreed and gently grabbed his debit card as he held it out at me. The store wasn't that far from the school, maybe just an hour round trip.
The road to town is only ever busy with foot traffic, horses, or during snowy days, sled teams. Vehicles are said to draw too much attention. In Alaska, we try to keep chaos levels to a minimum; even with the Church keeping the spiritual beings in check, with most of the exorcists gone, malicious spirits have still come through the gate. Caos leads these spirits to heavily populated areas where they feed off of and destroy lives.
Lost in the train of thought, I almost passed the small grocery store. While I walk in I felt a sudden sense of uneasiness. Ignoring it, I walked the small isles for ink, chapstick, can tuna, and double-A batteries. As I walk up to the checkout counter, I notice a dark figure out of the corner of my eye.
"Thank you." I smiled kindly at the checker before walking out of the store. The figure was still following me, or so it felt like it. When I would glance back the figure wasn't there. Quickly I picked up my speed until I reached a small alleyway between two buildings. Keeping my back towards the darkness of the alley, focusing on the open sidewalk and road in front of me.
"Hello, little lady~" A deep whisper growled in my ear sending chills down my spine. I was frozen where I stood. "What's someone like you doin' all alone?" It felt like his breath was less than living. The lack of heat shivering across my neck and a freezing rough hand slide along my throat. The new sound of bones popping open, inhaling breath like screams and hungry salvation almost seemed to fill the alley with a new death.
Suddenly an aura change was forced as a loud flashing echo filled throughout the alleyway making the male figure release his grip and fall to the ground. Hesitating to turn around and face the person who just killed my attacker, every nerve in my body was tense as I slowly glanced over my shoulder. A tall male figure walked out from the darkness.
"Are you okay," He had deep, blood-red hair that was full and passed his ears. As he grew closer into the light, I could see that he had a single red and blue eye. A sight old to the mind, "Alice?"
"Senri." My tone was flat and almost numb. I knew this person, well I used to. Almost eleven years have passed since we have seen each other. The aura was tense and made me feel awkward. I didn't know how to feel about him showing up out of the blue. "It's been a while." My tone ceased to change.
"So it has been. I'm sorry about your parents. They were great people." Senri's tone was light but low. Since I haven't seen him, I didn't know how he got information about my parent's death. The news, however; likes to show too much information that they have no reason to share but for fame.
"They sacrificed their lives for ours, so there's no need to be sorry." I allowed myself to relax a bit. Suddenly a loud beeping came from my wrist. "Shit." I looked at a small watch that I had on. It was fifteen minutes past the time I should have started on my way back to the school. "As much as I would love to chat, I have to get home." My tone changed to a more apologetic volume. Turning around to walk out of the alleyway, a cold hand grabbed my wrist and spun me around.
"Alice," Senri's tone seemed to make the world around us go in slow-mo, "let me come with you. It's not safe to go alone." I felt stunned. It was so sudden that I didn't have proper thought to argue.
"That won't be necessary." An all to familiar voice broke the lost world I seemed to be stuck in. It was Jasper, he was a few feet behind me. "Alice, let's go." Jasper's voice was demanding. I could feel his angered glare against my back, it wasn't for me to feel but more of a warning to Senri.
"My apologies, I'll see you later then, Alice." Senri let my wrist go and took one look over at Jasper before smiling down at me then walking away; back into the dark alleyway.
If it wasn't for Jasper pulling me away out of the alley, I might have never left. The whole walk back to the school, both Jasper and I were silent. I wanted to break the lack of conversation and say something, but I could tell Jasper was upset. Even though his expression was always plain and emotionless, Jasper's aura was annoyed.
As we were approaching the school's gates, a deep sigh broke our painful silence.
"I thought I told you to not leave without me, ever!" Jasper was meaning to scold my actions. It's true that he's always told me to get him if I ever had to leave the campus for any reason, at any time.
"I'm sorry. Father Metric asked me to go get a few things, so I did. I didn't want to inturrupt your training." I spoke low in hopes it would calm Jasper down.
"Yeah, well look where that got you." Jasper huffed. I've always hated it when Jasper would get angry, I lowered my head and didn't know how to respond to him at that moment.
"Damn it Alice," Jasper stopped walking and turned to face me," one day you're going to get yourself in a situation and I won't be able to save you! You need to be more careful." Jasper always worries about me, I don't know why and I never wished to invade and find out. Slowly I reached my arms out to give him a hug Jasper's just stood there without moving as I embraced him in a hug.
"I'm sorry, I won't do it again," I promised him. When I let him go, I noticed he was looking away from me and avoiding eye contact. His hair was pulled back into a high pony tail. It seems with age, his hair has gotten to become a lighter gray.
"Com'mon, let's go. The headmaster needs to see us." Jasper called Metric didn't then his priest's name. I gently nodded as we headed for the gates, Jasper walking behind me only two feet back with his hands in his pants pockets. I was curious as to what Father Metric needed us for.