49 Secrets

January 13, 2029, Hades, Center Earth

 

Lucie is shaking as she closes the door behind her and hides within her chambers. She lights up a cigarette and pulls the smoke deep into her body. After crushing the stub into the ashtray, she slams down her tail to help her refocus. She is fighting off her fears of relinquishing control of the Underworld to the Lead Demons and of leaving the comfort Hades has given her over the centuries. She hopes she did a convincing job with her stage performance. Now is her time to rise. In a matter of hours, she leaves behind the torturous heat and itchy clothing spun from steel wool.

Her freedom also means many things she has missed are returning to her life—like natural light and cool breezes. She will once again be wearing satiny garments like the ones she wore in Heaven. They smelled of lavender and honeysuckle, and were spun from the fibers of the softest flower petals. If she can’t reproduce these on Earth, she will do just fine with the soft silk fabrics spun in the East. No more of the prickly steel wool agitating her skin and robbing her of rest. No more stench of smoke and sulfur rising from her every movement.

She’ll be able to breathe again without wanting to gag. At times, the stench of sulfur, sweat, and burning hair in Hades has been more than she could bear. When brought to the point of vomiting, she went to the Dark Well, dipped a cloth into the dirty water, and draped it across the lower half of her face, tying it into a knot behind her head. This gave her relief for an hour or two until the cloth dried out.

If Almighty had not cursed her as he did in the Garden of Eden, she would have gone to the surface of Earth for some relief. But, in his anger following Adam’s fall, Almighty took away her ability to change form to keep her from ever using it to deceive man again. The only two forms she is allowed on Earth is the body she now inhabits and the one she used on Eve—a black serpent. And though she could go to the surface as herself, she must assume the form of a lowly snake to return to Hades.

Almighty also limited the length of her visits to the surface. After just three hours, her body would automatically morph into that of a black mamba. She had to slither back to Hell through the dark tunnels that run from the surface caves to the planet’s core. She decided decades ago that she would not give Almighty the satisfaction of watching her crawl upon her belly. Because of this, her trips to Earth have been rare from the beginning—and practically unheard of in the last century. Instead, she has been sending her demons to do her dirty work. They can change form without restriction and can possess humans and animals.

When the initial terms of the Great Game were set, Almighty separated himself at his very core. The first separation was the dividing of male and female energies. Almighty offered Lucifer the first choice. He chose the female energy. In it, he saw the capacity of mental agility, and the propensity to master seduction and manipulation. He considered the female traits to be better suited for war.

After choosing the female energy, Lucifer negotiated for extraordinary beauty. If he was going to be housed in the body of a woman, he wanted to be the most beautiful woman of all time. Almighty met his terms—but forbade him from changing anything about his appearance except hair color, eye color, and wardrobe. Even though she negotiated for beauty, in time Lucie came to see her perfect looks as a curse. It proved to be little more than a reminder of her imprisonment. Her beauty was wasted upon the derelict residents of Hades.

Since the curse in Eden, Lucie has only made a few short trips to the surface—mostly to taunt and tempt humans who had proven to be immune to the powers of her demons. While there, she shamelessly flaunted her physical attributes to gain the flattery of men and women alike. She usually charmed one of the sexes into a romp before she headed back. With human society slipping to her low level of moral decay, meeting and engaging in sexual affairs within three hours was rarely a challenge for a woman with her body.

On her two most recent trips, she had little time for sexual escapades—though she did take a park ranger on one visit and a surgeon on the other. These latest visits were to set up her impending reign. She met with her human vessel on Earth, Anna Cohen, to prepare her for long-term possession. Lucie personally guided the design of this “evil twin” and claimed her soulless body on her thirteenth birthday. Anna is very aware of the role she will play in the Great Game. She has a logical conception of the assignment, but lacks a soul to render opinion or emotion.

Very soon, Lucie will be able to possess Anna’s body, and stay on Earth for seven years. She hopes this will extend to all eternity. For now, Hades will be behind her. She will be granted full possession of Anna’s body and identity. Lucie sneers as she thinks through the irony of her soon-to-be human name, Anna Christine, compared to what history will call her: Anti-Christ. The name choice is not a happy coincidence, but she needn’t dwell upon her ability to influence the decision of humans. Man is nothing if not weak and easily manipulated. She intends to build her invincible kingdom upon his weaknesses.

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Triple Digit TOC by K.M. Sheridan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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