“I don’t get how an abandoned city could relate to me,” Eva said walking along the broken street. “I live in the suburbs. I always go there for fun. I would never imagine a city this way.”
“That may be true,” the jackal replied, “but a city is more than just a place of entertainments. All manner of souls have their own opinion on such a place; not all of them are positive. You’ll find that things will get more personal as we make our way through.”
“But why imagine a place so awful?” Eva asked, “Nobody would want to end up in a place like this! Why can’t everyone here imagine something better?”
The jackal was getting frustrated with Eva’s lack of understanding, “I told you, surroundings here are created consciously and unconsciously. Souls are drawn to the place that suits them the best, with other souls that are very similar to them. They can imagine a better world, perhaps even desperately want be in one, but they are incapable of residing in such a place.”
“You’re saying that people are forced to come here when they die?”
“No,” he said, “They need to. They come here because they are drawn to an environment that is perfectly suited to them. Not a pleasant one, naturally, but then they are not pleasant souls themselves. They will toil and suffer here until they understand why and want to make amends. Change will come when they realize it is their own awful nature that traps them here. It is only when they desire to become a better individual that they will be able to go to a place better suited to their new nature. Those who stay as they are, are doomed to stay where they are.”
“So this is hell?” Eva asked. It seemed like a dumb question with the answer so obvious, but she had to ask. It made her stop dead in her tracks.
“Hm?” the jackal asked as if he were unfamiliar with the term. “Oh-well if that what you want to call it, it can be.”
“I’m in hell?” Eva asked. “I’m stuck in hell?” she asked again as her voice cracked. The true horror of the situation finally sinking in. “What could I have possibly done to make a bunch of demons drag me to hell before I even died?”
“That’s a difficult question to answer,” the jackal explained, “Can you think of a reason?”
“No!” she cried, “I’m only sixteen! There’s nothing that a kid like me could have ever done to send me to a place like this.”
“Oh?” the jackal asked incredulously. He obviously didn’t believe her, “You must think of it sooner or later. It’s the only way you will ever get out of this place. Best to start before the sun goes down.”
Eva’s body felt slack as her mind got a grasp on the jackal’s explanation. She looked around at the ruins and saw one of the straggling wandering, mindless wisps that passed by her and the jackal. Would she too become a lost faceless thing like that? Or would she suffer something even worse? Most importantly, why was this happening to her of all people, when she never did anything wrong?
She stared at the jackal’s face, noting his calm, unconcerned expression at her dismay. She knew that the jackal cared little for her predicament, and probably thought that she deserved whatever terrible thing that could befall her here. A boiling anger began to grow within Eva, and before she could stop herself she moved to strike the jackal as hard as she could.
“This is your fault!” she yelled as she flailed after him. “I’m going to die and be stuck here, and you can’t even give a shit!” She followed the jackal as he bounded into the middle of the empty street.
The jackal was much too quick and nimble, dodging every one of Eva’s attacks. “How can I express pity when you have no remorse?” he asked as Eva attacked him. “You don’t even realize that you have done something terrible. Continue with your anger and willful ignorance, and you will never see the light of a mortal day again.”
With skilled precision he dived between Eva’s legs. She nearly tripped as she whipped herself around to face him.
She gasped for breath as she stared the jackal down, and the jackal calmly stared back. Her attacks weren’t of much use. He was quicker than she expected, and his bored expression showed that he was not surprised by her outburst or attempted assault. Despite her rage, she couldn’t help thinking that the jackal probably dealt with this kind of anger so often that he didn’t have any real reaction to it anymore. It was just part of his daily routine.
“Are you done now?” the jackal asked, exasperated.
Her anger hadn’t subsided much. She was even angry at herself for her own impotent effort to hurt the jackal. “You know this isn’t fair!” Eva managed to scream.
“No,” the jackal stated, “but at least if you do die you’re in the right place. That is fair.”
She mulled over his response for a moment. “Well, there’s no way I’m giving you the satisfaction,” she stated. “Better get going.”
Still, Eva’s anger quietly bubbled as they both continued on. The streets and the city hadn’t changed very much since they had started to become dilapidated, but she cared very little about that at the moment. She just wanted to keep moving for her own sake. She still felt something nagging at her though. She wasn’t sure what was bothering her until she found herself saying it out loud.
“Don’t you have a name?” Eva asked coldly.
“I didn’t introduce myself? How inconsiderate of me!” the jackal said in a sarcastic tone. “And why would you care what the help is named?”
“So I know who screwed me over,” Eva replied. “When I find your boss, he’s going to hear about how awful you really are.”
The jackal sighed and shook his head. “If you think it will help,” he said, “my name is Anubis.”
“Good,” she said, turning away from the jackal and making her way further down the street. “Not that you care or anything, but my name is Eva.”
“Hm, very well then,” Anubis said. From the sound of clicking dog nails behind her, she could tell that he was following.
Anubis, Anubis, Anubis she repeated the name in her mind. She was determined to have that name branded into her brain forever. If there really was a Spirit of Death like he said, and she failed to make it back home, she was going to do everything in her power to find him and tell him all about this awful jackal. However, the more she thought about it, the more that name sounded familiar to her. It took several minutes of silence for Eva to realize where she had heard it before. “Are you like an Egyptian god or something?”
“No, Miss Eva. I am not a god, I was merely named after one.”