All Evil Has a Beginning

Michael Asher could see Jackson sitting outside of a local restaurant, Yumohney's, with two companions beside him. They sat on metal chairs connected to a table, which the three of them surrounded. Michael stood out in the open, watching the three eat their food outside.

"You're sure no one can see me standing here, Lord?" he asked with a mental whisper, as if he was cautious of even his thoughts being heard.

A few seconds passed before any answer was given. Within his head, a ghastly roar spoke to him.

"You are between realities, Asher. Ereshkigal has granted you access. Think of a two way mirror. You can see into their version, but they can't see in. You are free to be exposed."

"So we're partially in Panthalassa yet again. I've been granted access to a version of reality where no one really exists but those who are chosen to be hunted, until they either die or are toyed with into suicide. Great," he responded mockingly.

Michael took a few steps closer to the table, and slowly continued forward at a slower pace. The voice returned.

"You mock Ereshkigal? Your existence is his property, mortal. He could slay you any instant, and take you to the void." The voice had gotten much more hostile with Michael.

He had reached the table. The three teenagers were talking about their food, though Jackson had none. Michael placed his arm on the table, and attempted to touch Jackson to be sure he wasn't going to be seen. As his finger glided through Jackson's shoulder, he responded to the voice in his head.

"Neither of you have done it yet. You've been visiting me since I was born, yet you never made a move against my life. Face it, you need me to pour your cement and build trap doors for you," he responded with a sarcastic, yet knowing voice.

"And do you remember when and where you built it, wise child?"

"Immediately upon arriving towards the entrance of Cook Forest, for the child and mother in the future."

"Not the intended answer. When you built it, you were sent here by the power of Ereshkigal, and given endless time to construct it within Panthalassa itself. Every second you needed more time, you gained more moonlight. Your project exists in this world in a feat that shows his amazing power- pulling one object over to this world as a permanent entrance to Panthallasa. That is Ereshkigal's power over you. Respect it."

"Yes, Lord."

He had been corrected, and his tone matched it. He took the words as a blessed statement for his betterment, and with that, felt enlightened. Michael bent to get a better view of Jackson's face. He spoke in shock, as if he had found a mythical relic.

"So this is Enki's prime servant? This is the one he had chosen to do his jobs?"

"Indeed, it is. Just like you, Jackson Wilkerson has something special about him. He has been visited since his birth by Ereshkigal. He accepted his rule immediately. A very loyal servant, though his anger often gets the best of him."

Michael attempted to run his finger along Jackson's face, but it simply went through again.

"He is not eating and isn't socializing. Why is that? Is he distant?"

Time flow had stopped with the completion of the question. Beside Michael grew a standing shadow, out of which spawned the skeletal head of a male deer. The antlers still attached, the body came out of the darkness. A black robe bearing a red copy of the icon of Enki, though it was stitched on to the robes, not made of bronze. The shadow persisted behind the newly formed figure, while Michael grew a large smile on his face. The figure stood nine feet, towering over the 5'11" foot tall Michael.

"My Lord Mendes, it's much more comfortable having you here," he said in a blissful voice, tilting his head to the ground in a show of respect.

The boney left hand of Mendes took hold of Michael's right shoulder, as his skull's jaw began to move as if it still had the muscles to do so.

"Jackson is trying to distance himself from Joseph and Natalie, the two before him. Ereshkigal has informed him of the true use of the Hellmouth you've created, and that Joseph Kaufman must be murdered. His inevitable initial failure already has a punishment ready to take course."

"What punishment, and for what for what?" responded Michael, looking into the frozen eyes of the teenager he now understood as Joseph.

"Jackson's punishment and reward is that he is to forever retry his murder of Joseph, for each time he will fail, but learn and grow from that failure. Should he succeed, he will still be sent back."

"All of this is future information, set to happen tomorrow?"

"And the year after."

Michael took a step back, observing the three. Mendes had let go of his shoulder and drifted over behind Joseph. The shadows behind him floating like a fog or a mist, Mendes crossed his arms in his robe.

"My Lord, may I see what you have brought me here to see today? What is my preparation?"

Mendes was tilting his head slightly upwards.

"You, my servant, needed to see the plan being set into motion. I want you to remember these three. Look at how Jackson prepares himself to end his friends, though he knows he will fail. His reward is that his sadism may be temporarily fed, but his punishment is the absolute repetition he must have gone through countless of times already. His mission starts tomorrow, yet he has already finished - and restarted - many times already. Ereshkigal's abilities to control this reality are far beyond giving you endless time to build that facility. Now watch, as this is the beginning of Ereshkigal's servant's next run through his one year destiny."

Punishment and Pleasure

Time resumed as Mendes finished his sentence, and the three at the table began speaking again. Jackson tapped his fingers on the table is succession, looking around the area slowly.

"Do you want me to go buy you something?" Joseph asked Jackson, while eating the nachos he had ordered.

"Don't worry about it." His tone was solid, and filled with aggression.

Joseph was off-put yet again by the way Jackson had been acting for the past week. Still attempting to show hospitality, he ignored the tone.

"How about you have some of my nachos? I'm sure Natalie wouldn't mind you eating some of her fries, either. I've been having a few this whole time!" he said, letting out a quiet, yet obviously forced laugh. Natalie smiled and slid her french-fry container over a few inches towards Jackson.

Jackson simply starred forward, completely expressionless..

"Either of you two do anything lately?" Natalie asked, attempting to kickstart conversation.

"Just sitting around waiting for tomorrow. It'll be great fun for all of us."

"You're not going to keep up this attitude, are you?" Joseph cut in with a mix of sarcasm and seriousness.

"Only if you're as loud and annoying as you've been since birth. But, no, I plan to enjoy myself tomorrow, thank you very much."

Joseph had to refute. His nice and calm appearance was cracked and chipped away with each sentence coming out of Jackson's mouth. It was painful to not yell back.

"Why have you been so hostile, lately? We didn't do anything to you!"

"Microaggressions aside? You make me fucking psycho sometimes, you know that?"

Natalie seemed more insulted than Joseph.

"This entire week, you've been pushing us away and insulting us! We've done nothing but try to deal with it this entire time, but you just won't stop! No matter how much we try to ask you what's wrong, you just keep up this attitude!" she screamed. It would have made a scene, if anyone else was around. Well, that could do more than just observe.

Jackson wanted to take a fork from inside and stab it into the both of them, but he remembered the very specific plan he was told to follow. He also remembered how important Natalie was. She was chosen to be a mother, after all. Jackson had went through this situation hundreds of times in his head, but he wouldn't ignore the importance of Enki's will.

In his mind, it was his perfect mission. He'd already murdered in Enki's will before, but never had he been instructed to harm his "friend" Joseph- but he couldn't wait for his opportunity. Enki's cycle was coming to an end- humanity was destined for death. Jackson was enthralled to be taking a part in that process. Sentient life as a whole, be it animal or human, he saw as a toy to manipulate as he pleased, like a child set loose in a toybox. Nothing mattered but his lord- but more so, himself. He would complete his mission, or die trying.

He shambled together and stood up, brushing dust off of his pants.

"I'm going home until you two realize how much you miss me. Tomorrow we're hanging out, right?" he asked, angrily pointing to Joseph.

Joseph was furious on the inside at this point, and was about ready to break his show of kindness.

"Sure," he muttered, with an excessive amount of snarkiness.

Jackson turned away and began walking away from the store, hiding a smile from the two.

"One of your places!" he shouted as he walked away.

Natalie turned and questioned Joseph.

"Are you really going to hang out with him tomorrow?"

Joseph could only attempt to stay calm, with his anger breaking through his voice.

"Yeah, we'll go. If he keeps acting like this, I'll talk with him."

Torment Comes in a Passing Moment

"Seems like a bunch of angsty pricks," Michael said to Mendes.

Mendes paused and looked into nothingness. Simply looking straight forward, they were no longer paying attention to Joseph and Natalie's senseless rambles.

"If only you could see what was within Jackson's soul..." Mendes softly whispered like a drone, before coming back to reality. Well, at least this version of it.

"When will I be needed again?" Michael asked, disregarding his cryptic comment.

"It may be soon, it may be years. You must always remain of faith, and always be ready to come with me."

"How do you know their future, Lord? How do you know of the cycle and the events surrounding it when they haven't happened yet?"

Mendes bent his back to the point that his eyes stared into Michael's eyes. His jaws hardly hanging on to the rest of the skull, he answered without moving his mouth.

"Because Ereshkigal, or as you called him, Enki, and I assure certain events happen. Though he is stronger than myself, I am the recorder of all knowledge, be it hidden or not understandable by your lesser minds. We control all we desire, my servant. Enki has bestowed the knowledge of the already passed future upon me, so that I would pass it to you."

In silence, the shadows enveloped Michael and Mendes, and the two disappeared from this reality.

Written by ShawnCognitionCP
Content is available under CC BY-NC

Transition Connecting the Prequels to the In Torment series

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