The disturbing crunch of Anthony’s hand echoed around the room, sending shivers down my spine. It was the unmistakable and chilling sound of bone giving way.
“F***!” He roared, his eyes widening in horror as he stared down at the destruction that was once his hand. Blood spurted from the wound, rapidly staining his clothing in a gruesome shade of crimson. Groaning from the pain, he called out in a voice lined with urgency, “Quick, Jane, come here! Heal this! I can’t stand it!”
As his maid, Jane rushed to his side, I couldn’t help but notice her unnervingly calm demeanor. It was as if she had witnessed and treated such thoughtless antics from him many times before.
‘Is he an enemy of yours? Why the hell would you do that?’ I couldn’t help but shout at Alex internally. I was in shock, unable to process the violence I had just witnessed, especially towards someone who seemed to be a close acquaintance, if not a friend.
Alex responded calmly, ‘It’s not what you think. Anthony and I have had rough moments; we’ve hurt each other worse. Just relax. Jane’s got this.’ As he finished his sentence, a bright green glow surrounded Jane’s hands, indicating the start of her healing abilities.
Jane’s voice, firm and filled with irritation, broke through my thoughts. “Master, you truly are an idiot.” As she spoke, she firmly grasped his damaged arm. The sight that followed was nothing short of miraculous. The protruding bones and torn flesh began healing right in front of me. Within moments, the injury had significantly improved.
Anthony shot back with a mix of pain and anger, “Come on, Jane. We were just having a bit of fun. What’s with the attitude?”
Having regained some composure, Anthony fixed us with a wary glance. His suspicion was warranted because we had nearly crushed his hand without any direct contact from us. “You cheated, didn’t you? How’d you manage to make your abdomen turn to steel?” Rising to his feet and flexing his recently healed hand, he awaited an answer.
Staying true to Alex’s script, I replied, “Just a new technique I’ve picked up. Remember our deal; you owe me. We’ll meet tonight, usual spot.”
Anthony and Jane started blushing, misunderstanding what I said.
“That’s not what I meant, idiots!” I yelled at the people present.
A soft voice sliced through our conversation, “At it again, are you two? Honestly, you’re a pair of idiot’s.”
A lovely girl, her face irritated, regarded us as if we were misbehaving children.
Her gaze then settled on me. It was an odd sensation; while I felt I should be nervous, I strangely wasn’t.”Hey, Alex?” She said. Is that her way of saying hi?
Anthony glanced between us, a smirk slowly forming on his face.
“Care to join the game? I’d wipe the floor with you,” he teased, making a playful gesture.
She let out an exasperated sigh, choosing to overlook his taunt.
Their striking resemblance hinted at a familial connection—likely siblings or maybe cousins.
‘Siblings. We should get going,’ Alex’s voice chimed in, settling my earlier curiosity.
“I’ll be heading out. Till later, Anthony,” I remarked, my thoughts still remaining on the captivating young woman.
She seemed about the same age I had been in my previous world.
Playing with a silver pendant on her neck, she asked, “Hey, Alex. Heading out so soon? Off to your place?” Her voice was soft yet held a hint of playfulness.
‘What do I say to her? Alex, help!’ I asked internally to Alex while panicking.
“Hello?” She asked, curious about why I was silent and staring at nothing
‘Tell her whatever you want; You have to learn to be me. I will only help you when necessary but remember that you are no longer in your old body. Try and see how you feel nothing when talking to her.’ Alex said, dismissing my concerns.
“Sure, I’m headed home,” I replied, feeling… calm. This is weird.
She glanced down, toying with her pendant, then hesitantly asked, “I need to stop by the market, and it’s on the way to your place. Mind if I join you?”
Anthony, spotting an opportunity to tease, made a playful joke, “Why go to the market? Why not just send one of our maids?”
Her timid expression shifted swiftly as she retorted, “Mind your business, moron!” Her playful facade momentarily slipped.
“Uh, sure. Let’s head out,” I responded a hint of excitement in my voice, realizing it had been quite some time since I’d spoken to a girl.
Stepping out of the majesty of Anthony’s house, I looked to the girl beside me and I inquired internally. ‘Hey Alex, what’s her name?’
‘Eliza,’ came Alex’s quick response.
As we walked side by side, Eliza broke the silence with an observation. “You do realize that antics like today’s are probably why men tend to have shorter lifespans, right?”
She had a point. The game was absurd. Yet, admitting to that might paint me as inconsistent, especially after participating in it. Then again, it was clear that Alex and Anthony were anything but typical.
I followed Eliza, taking in the path to the market and, subsequently, to Alex’s home. The scenery was captivating, hinting at the potential of this new world. It could be the fresh start I needed, a second shot at life.
Our journey mainly was idle chit-chat, but then she surfaced a subject that piqued my curiosity.
“Something at work has been bothering me,” she confessed, sadness in her eyes.
‘Hey Alex, what does she do for a living?’ I inquired internally.
Suddenly, a fit of laughter from Alex echoed in my mind. Honestly, he could be so exasperating!
‘What’s so funny?’ I mentally retorted, irritation edging my thoughts.
‘She’s a priestess at the church,’ he finally managed between laughter.
‘And why is that funny?’ I challenged internally.
“You zoned out there,” Eliza remarked with annoyance.
‘Well, she’s sworn to a life of virginity. Just thought I’d save you some future disappointment,’ Alex replied with a smirk.
‘I do not like her! What are you talking about?’ I retorted.
‘You realize I feel what you feel.’ Said Alex.
Regaining my focus, I replied, “I am sorry, I just had a lot on my mind. What were we discussing?”
She gave me a strange glance, a mix of irritation and amusement. “Really? Daydreaming in the middle of our chat? Not cool,” she scolded, playfully pulling on my ear. She’s stronger than she looks.
“Sorry about that,” I said with a light laugh, genuinely engaged by her cheerful behavior.
She rolled her eyes, taking a deep breath before sharing, “Lately, there have been some strange happenings, not just the ones you already know, but also at the church.” A look of concern briefly appeared on her face.
“Like what?” I probed, my interest piqued.
Silence followed for some seconds. She quickly changed the subject to more casual matters. While the town bustled with life, my attention began to wane, and I found myself drawn more to her than our surroundings.
Amidst our leisurely walk, she whispered, “I know a shortcut,” a mischievous look in her eyes.
Guiding me into a quiet alleyway away from the main road, she suddenly stopped. The abruptness of her break sent a warning to me.
“What’s going on?” I asked, my voice barely concealing the dread I felt.
Her whisper was so faint I had to strain to hear. “Look.”
My eyes focused on where she was pointing. “Clothes?” I said.
Amongst the scattered clothes display, patches of blood and what horrifyingly appeared to be human skin dirtied the scene. This monstrous discovery sharply contrasted with the peaceful tone of our evening.
Alex’s voice cut through the horror, demanding, ‘Get her out of here, now!’
Without hesitating, I grabbed her hand and pulled her away, sprinting from the nightmarish sight. In moments, we found ourselves amidst the lively chatter and activity of the market, a stark contrast to the terror we’d just fled from. As we paused to catch our breath, one pressing question weighed on our minds: What on earth had happened in that alley?