Last Line(s): “You won’t understand the importance until you see for yourself, huh?” Akol smirked. “Then I’ll take you to the Ditch of Demons and Devils then.” Akol scowled. With a snap of his fingers, everything went black.
It was a while before Will and Audrey came to from their unconscious state. The last thing either of them remembered was darkness engulfing their messed up kitchen.
Will groaned, clutching his head. He was on his back, on something rough. His eyes fluttered open. All around him, he saw tall, lifeless trees towering up to the skies. “Aud…” he propped himself up on his elbows, painfully at that.
Audrey was somewhere farther away from her husband. She was still gagged, but her wrists and ankles were free now. She didn’t notice until she held onto her head to steady herself from her dizziness when she stood up. She looked around her. It was the same view as Will’s - lifeless black trees, as tall as skyscrapers. Her hands now untied, she rubbed her wrists to let the blood flow more easily and untied the dirty cloth in from her mouth.
“Disgusting.” she spat, and tossed it on the ground. She turned around, hoping to bump into Will, or at least Akol. She was met with trees again. Frightened, she let out a blood curdling scream.
Will swiveled around to the sound of the scream. “Aud, is that you?” he called out.
“Will?” she shrieked.
“Yeah, it’s me. Stay where you are.” Will said, trying to keep a steady voice. “Do you have your phone with you?” he asked loudly enough for Audrey to hear him.
“Turn on the flashlight!” he squinted through the darkness, trying to catch a glimpse of anything that moved.
Audrey did as asked. She turned on her phone - it was at a hundred percent. She silently cheered at that. She clicked the flashlight icon and waved her phone around in the air. “Over here!” Will trudged through the dark forest, tripping over roots and stones, getting closer and closer to where Audrey was at.
Audrey dropped her phone when she saw her husband. “Will!” she exclaimed, and ran towards him, hands outstretched. Something rustled in the dead bushes, making Audrey yelp and run faster towards Will. Will embraced her and squeezed her tight. “There’s something in the bushes.”
Will smirked behind her. “Oh, I didn’t know that. I definitly didn't hear anything.”
Despite her smile, Audrey pulled away and punched him in the stomach. Will crossed his eyes. “What is it with you and punching my stomach nowadays?” he asked, scrunching his nose. Audrey rolled her eyes.
Then realizing they were in the middle of nowhere, the couple, frightened, looked around and studied their surroundings. The forest was dense. It looked even more dense in the darkness of the night. The moon wasn’t even showing, and both of them doubted there even was a moon here. Where they were standing, it was a clearing. Will studied the bush that had rustled.
He shuffled towards Audrey’s phone, Audrey clutching his hand tightly. Will snatched up the phone and put it in Audrey’s jean’s pocket. “Don’t lose it.”
Audrey nodded, still watching the bush intently.
Just then, they heard someone mutter: “I swear to all the devils, I need to get used to snapping into different places.”
It was a familiar voice. Will and Audrey stood, frozen, afraid to even breathe in case it wasn’t who they thought it was. But thankfully, out crawled Akol, disgruntled. Audrey would have hugged him if he wasn’t a devil. Akol looked up at the two. Startled, he sprung up and brushed off the dirt from his suit. “Very well.” he said formally.
Audrey raised her brows and Will clacked his tongue.
“Now that you’re in our Ditch -”
“This place doesn’t look much like a ditch. Why’s it called a ditch?” Will asked, trying to stall him. He didn’t want to experience anymore magic - or whatever this was - because he still hadn’t made sense of what had happened.
“We like to call it a ditch, because ditch starts with a d and as do devils and demons.” Akol growled, walking towards the couple. “Never mind -”
“That’s dumb.” Audrey said, sensing Will’s tension.
“Would you stop interrupting me?” Akol yelled, throwing up his long arms in exasperation.
“No.” Will said flatly. “Why are we here?”
“Because you wouldn’t believe me! The Ditch needs your help.” he looked straight at Audrey, desperate for her to understand his needs. “We need your art so you can bring everything we lost back to life before we’re attacked again.”
Audrey sighed. “You do realize I still don’t know what you’re talking about?” she asked.
Akol gave her a look of confusion. “What do you mean?”
“You jerk, she’s been asking you what the bloody hell her powers are and you’ve been dodging it ever since you told her about it.” Will snapped. He squeezed Audrey’s hand.
“Oh.” Akol sat down on the rocky ground and held his head in his hands. “Well. You paint.”
“No sh -” Will was about to curse but Audrey elbowed him in the ribs and made a shushing sound. Will stuck out his tongue. “Continue.” he ordered.
“You paint life. Whatever you paint, it can come to life, but only if you recite a spell. If any of the devils or demons take your painting and recite the spell on it, it won’t work. We need the painter to blow life into the painting.” Akol explained, head still in his hands.
Audrey squinted. “What?”
“What else did you expect?” Will asked. “It’s magic.”
“Oh so you suddenly believe in magic?” Audrey asked him.
“Who said I never did?”
“I dunno, it’s not like you always ignored me when I talked about it.”
“You never talked about magic, you talked about him.” Will gestured accusingly at Akol.
“He has a name!”
“STOP FIGHTING!” Akol yelled. He was on his feet in an instant, back to his scary form. His eyes were red again, and he looked like he was someone who went to the gym way too often, doing deadlifts everyday. Audrey cowered and hid behind Will.
Will scowled. “Making yourself look strong doesn’t make your words stronger.”
“Shut up!” Akol said. His voice was way deeper now - it sounded as if it echoed off the tall and wide trees. Slowly but surely, he transformed back into his normal self. “Please. Be quiet. If you two fight like this - which is very common with humans if they enter the Ditch - you’ll both be separated and the magic won’t work. Both your magics won’t work.”
The couple studied Akol. He really did look desperate and Will almost pitied him. Almost. “What do you need with me?” Will asked.
“You two need to stick together for the magic to work. Since you’re both soulmates - in human language: married - you both have to be together if one of you can use magic.” Akol explained as patiently as he could - which wasn’t very patient.
A silence fell over the three. No one talked. Each of them could almost see each others’ mechanisms in their minds moving. Akol made sure not to say a word in case that would reject him. Even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to get back to Earth. They would need him to do that. The wind started getting prickly and there was light peeking over the horizon. Morning was arriving.
Audrey stepped forward. “Fine.” she said. “We’ll help.”
Akol gave her a wide grin. “Thank you!”
Will was fine with Audrey’s decision. As long as she was safe, he was fine with it all. “One question.” he spoke up. Akol smiled wider at him, urging him to speak. “Why are your eyes red to me and black to Aud?”
Akol chuckled. “Everyone sees me differently.”