01: The Letter

Dear Vitula VII, Watcher,

It prides us to host such a brilliant mind in our lower ranks. A true testament to the idea that any demon can become anything they wish. Beginning 5th Decem, 4XIII, the next human to be under your watchful eye is the following:

Kaliya Copperfield.
19 Years Old.

Thank you so much for your continued trust and dedication in the Omnipotens Empire.

Head Watcher,

ₓ˚. ୭ ˚○◦˚.˚◦○˚ ୧ .˚ₓ

   I felt like my eyes might burst out of my head with how fast they snapped right to left reading through the letter. The letter, which came in an envelope with the return address: Omnipotens Assignment Board, vibrated with an immense amount of power. This letter was not only my ticket back into the world I was born for but it would also get me out of this couch surfing situation I've found myself in. Couch surfing might be too impersonal of a word to be used to describe the situation I'm in. In less simple terms, I'm illegally frogging in my friend's apartment between assignments. Of course frogging implies that my friend is unaware of my presence, but he very much is, it's the authorities that are the ones left in the dark. It could be better described as holding up in his apartment. I'm having a bit of difficulty coming up with the right words right now, maybe this letter is cursed. Anyways, thankfully Aeter is high enough ranking in the Soldier District that they don't preform routine checks, because even though outside my presence is invisible, once you step into Aeter's apartment it's very clear he isn't the only one living there.
Aeter and I have known each other for an extremely long time, before he moved to the Soldier District, specifically since training at the academy. The way we met seems cinematic looking back and I'd love to recall the memory but what's in my hands is more important right now. The paper felt old underneath my skin, like it had been left out in the rain for a few days, which it probably had. Holing up at Aeter's apartment meant mail for me came sporadically, or to put it more plainly, because I have no permanent address, even though the building itself is left to rot, my mail still gets delivered to my childhood home. I have a friend back home, I can hardly remember her name anymore as it's been nearly 340 years since I've last seen her, let's call her Pone, who forwards mail left at my unoccupied childhood home to Aeter's apartment. Truly a godsend, or maybe not because then the mail wouldn't come stained with blood. I read the words typed on the letter over again. 5th of Decem..
    "Aeter." I called out, turning my head. Aeter looked up from the book he was reading in response to meet my eyes. "What is the date today?"
    His eyebrows grew taught while he thought for a second, are neither of us good for anything? It would seem like we aren't, because he had to set his book down to stand up and go look at the calendar in the kitchen. "Decem 4th." His voice slightly muffled by the distance. "Why?"
   That meant I had to be in the Watcher District tomorrow. Usually I'd like to arrive with around a week to get adjusted to living there again before I start my assignment because then I feel like I even lose the time to breathe. The assignment takes up a good amount of time but the friends I have made in that district cling to me like parasites. I can't complain too much though, I'm looking forward to it.
   "I'm leaving tomorrow for the Watcher District." I said, a smirk that I unsuccessfully hid making its way onto my face. I looked up from the letter to look at Aeter who was now sitting in his sofa chair once more, holding his place in his book with his middle finger.
   "So last minute!" His face looked clearly concerned for me. Honestly, I should have seen the letter as something to immediately open but the truth is it actually sat on the coffee table in the living room for 5 days. I only opened it because I was cleaning and wanted to throw it away, I can't tell him that though. "What do you know about your assignment this time?"
   "Not much more than just her name and age. Kaleya Copperfield. Or maybe Kaliya. She's 19 years old." I wish they had a pronunciation listed next to the names of these assignments sometimes.
   "You keep getting babies!" Aeter laughed. It's true. Usually, according to the friends I've made in the Watcher District, it's not normal for Watchers just starting out to get younger assignments, as it's easier to guide them and fix their mistakes if you're working with someone older and less capable. Somehow I've managed to be given two other assignments both under 20! I don't mind it though, but I will admit jumping right in with an 80 year long assignment was incredibly overwhelming. "I wonder if she's gonna be like the last guy."
    "John?" Or something, I thought. I make it a point to not care too much about my assignments, as many of my peers do. Getting overly attached to something that's just going to die is pointless.
   "Josh! You don't even remember his name!" Aeter didn't agree with the way I viewed these things. He thought I was being too harsh on them, he sees them as something like a pet, which is exactly why he will never be a Watcher. Though I'll never be quite sure why they allowed him to be a Soldier either, the Aeter I know is way too soft.
    "Whatever.." I shook one of my hands at him. "I should start packing, but I don't want too-oo-oo." I sang. A lot of people think of Hell as an inverse of Heaven and if that were true, I bet I would have some kind of evil powers where I could manipulate the environment around me, bending reality to my will, and I would use it to pack my bags automatically. Unfortunately, reality is not as interesting as the daydreams of the minds of my assignments, and I am stuck to spend the next 8 hours of my night packing my belongings into suitcases that can barely hold them. "Do it for me."
    "Well, I'm not doing that." Aeter opened his book, put a bookmark in, and closed it. "I will help you, though. I'm sad you're leaving out of nowhere~." He whined a little there, this is what I'm talking about. The fate of the citizens of the City of Dis rests in his hands?
   I'm really going to miss him. Aeter has meant so much to me throughout the years we have known each other, I don't know what I would do without him. I wish he could understand how much he means to me, so I try by saying, "I love you so much!!" before running over to him melting into a sobbing ball in his arms. Maybe I'm being too dramatic but it's been about 50 years since my last assignment and had gotten comfortable living as Aeter's leech. I'm bound to see him again but I can't help but feel a nervous feeling creep up my throat. Leaving Aeter so suddenly felt like having my favorite stuffed animal to sleep with being ripped away.
    "What's gotten into you?" Aeter said, petting me as I curled up like a cat on his lap, sniffling every once and a while. "I love you! Too! Don't be so sad though, you'll be right back here afterwards. Unless you decide to replace me."
   "I bet you'll replace me." I said, jokingly, but he seemed to take it seriously, contorting his face into a mess. "I'm kidding! Oh my god, that face, you just cured me. I never want to see you again." His face changed again as he laughed. The electronic fireplace Aeter bought for himself a few solstices ago framed the right side of his face in a reddish-orange glow. He had a slight dimple when he laughed really hard like this with me and the glow of the fireplace illuminated it, making it look huge. His eyes were open, only slightly, as his cheeks forced them to squint. This face, I might miss though.
    "You're too cold!" An invisible tear rolled down his cheek and he wiped it off. "Seriously though, no one could replace you. Too much stuff to remove anyways. Unless I decide to start liking seahorses."
   What an odd comment to make.
   Unless you lived in Aeter's apartment, then it made total sense.
   This kind of forces me to come clean about something. The reason why Aeter's apartment would easily link him to someone else is because adorning most every surface is a seahorse of some kind. Over the years I've taken assignments, I've grown obsessed with seahorses to the point that I will take momentums for myself whenever one appears in their reality. In Hell, there is no such thing as a seahorse, making it an incredibly obscure object for a resident of the Soldier District to be obsessed with. Though who could blame him? "I think you should start."
   "You know what should happen first?" I do. "Packing." I knew it. "Let's stop wasting time!" I want to keep wasting time. I want to spend a little more time with him, I'm a little too shy to tell him that though.
   "Mom." I sneered at him instead and he smacked my arm.
   "Hurry up!" Aeter stood up from his chair, knocking me to the ground, and softly kicked me before walking away.
   "I'm gonna have you arrested for physical assault." They'd probably arrest me before I could invite them inside but that's beside the point, I wanted to say. I laughed and Aeter's laugh joined mine before he kicked me again. "Okay, fine. I'm going seriously." I ran out of the room, grabbing a few things of mine laying around the living room that I needed to pack on the way out. ---
    Even though so much of last night was spent packing, I can't remember anything that I packed. The overstuffed suitcases, three in number, lay in front of me. One of them is clearly ripping from the seams but that's an issue I'll have to deal with later. Whatever is the contents of these suitcases is beyond me, except for a few key items, like my ID, Tracker, lucky blue ceramic seahorse, and some expensive shoes that had just come in time. Though I can't recall what they look like, I just remembered that I have got to pack them for this assignment.
    Aeter stayed awake with me the whole time even though he has a shift at 6AM. I looked over at the clock above his head and it read back: 4:00AM. I told him to go to bed but he insisted on staying awake until I left for my bus. I can't lie though, I am happy that he wanted to spend as much time as possible with me. I'm really going to miss him this time, we had fallen into a pattern with each other through the recent years. "I'm really going to miss you." He wasn't in the room when I said this, so the wall of the now nearly empty room became my recipient. Deep down, I was aware of the fact that I was going to see him again, after everything, but for some reason this parting felt final. Though I had nothing to base this feeling, so I tried to push it to the back of my mind the best that I can.
   "Your bus is in 30 minutes. Is everything ready? Are you ready?" Aeter's voice flowed into my ears as he slowly entered the room, holding two plates of breakfast he had just finished for the two of us. He was always caring like that, in a way that went above and beyond, which is why I always questioned why they assigned him such a heartless role. Soldier. Assigned to, typically, the most ruthless of the residents of the City of Dis. They're trained to protect the citizens of the City of Dis but some are forced to do shadier work for corrupt higher-ups, thankfully Aeter has never been in a position where he's had to do something like that, to my knowledge. It's all a conspiracy, anyways.
    The public transport buses that left from the Soldier District to go to the Watcher District never came other than in the early morning, I don't think I'll ever get used to them. Hesitantly, I nodded. "Everything should be packed. If I'm missing anything, that's just an excuse for you to come see me."
    I looked over at Aeter, imagining I'd be met with another contorted smirk before he tells another joke, but instead the face he wore was filled with anxiety. The fireplace now illuminating the miniscule tears he tried to hold back from forming in the corner of his eyes as he tried to put on a smile, for himself or me I wasn't sure. Doing that.. It only makes it harder to leave. Without thinking for another second, I ran over to Aeter and took him in my arms, holding him up as crimson tears streamed down his cheeks. How this man is a high ranking Soldier is beyond me. "Hey, seriously it's okay! I'll be right back after this." I tried to reassure him but I can't shake off the feeling that this assignment holds more meaning than I'm expecting. Something was in the air, changing how it felt when we breathed it in, like someone was controlling the oxygen allowed into this room. I couldn't put my finger on it, all I can say is that I feel uneasy. As Aeter shakes in my arms, I can only assume that these thoughts are also going through his head.
    "I'm only crying because I'm thinking of how long the drive from here to the Watcher District is."
   "Sure. You'll do it though right?" His hair felt so soft underneath my hand as I pet it slowly. Seems he's become the cat this time.
    "Maybe. Pay me." Aeter had almost fully gotten ahold of himself at this point, standing up and softly sniffling, wiping his nose with his sleeve. Was he a kid?
    "An allowance? Use your own money. I'll pay you in food." One of my favorite places to be in the Watcher District is Pavo's Pub. Their drinks are some of the best I've ever had in all of the City of Dis but when Pavo decides to cook, you can expect to have your life changed. The first time I had ribs made by that master chef, I had to rethink everything I thought I knew about the way meat could be cooked. He seasons the meat just right, a little spicy but not so much that you can't enjoy it, the meat practically falls off of the bone into your mouth, it has an unreal texture, perfectly in the center of gummy and thick. Not even the most seasoned writer would be able to find the words to describe the quality of meat Pavo is able to deliver. Shoot, I noticed I was drooling.
    "From the way you're looking, you might eat my serving too.."
    I wiped my mouth with my sleeve. Was I a kid? "When Pavo's food finally touches your tongue and you are teleported to another galaxy with tastes your brain can't begin to comprehend, then you'll understand this reaction."
    Aside from Aeter's physical presence in my life, I'm going to miss these chats with him. Everything flows with him, without any obstacles. It feels like we were destined to meet each other, even though I was so resistant to him after our first meeting. Though who wouldn’t be resistant to somebody who begs to hang out as often as Aeter did? Some people just can’t take a hint. In this case, I’m glad he didn’t.
    The next twenty minutes were spent discussing random topics, anything to avoid talking about the fact I probably wouldn’t see him for nearly a century, depending on how long this assignment lasted. Whenever I’m away, I pester Aeter continuously about coming to visit but I don’t mind that he never does, that 15 hour train isn’t an experience I’d wish on my worst enemy. That 15 hour train was in fact the same one as the train I was about to board this morning, getting me into the Watcher District with just enough time to set up and clock in for my first day. Thankfully, time is on my side, as much as I want of it, otherwise I’d feel like I’m letting it slip away through my fingers.