Chapter Fourteen

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Apparently, Purgatory has seasons. It's a novel experience for me—cooling weather, changing leaves, and days that grow shorter to accommodate for longer nights—but one I thoroughly enjoy. I get to wear a coat, for Satan's sake! A deep red garment made of wool, I feel like I'm strutting down a runway every time I put it on.

The one aspect of Purgatory's version of Autumn that sucks? Cold weather and dark mornings make for terrible running conditions.

After enough nudging from the universe, I've taken the hint that I need to add more cardio to my daily routine. So, every morning, before the sun is visible in the sky, I lace up my sneakers and run laps around the realm.

I trip, a lot. My eyesight is poor in the absence of light and I can't see obstacles—plant roots, tree stumps, branches—so I end up with scraped knees and hands more often than not.

It's still worth it, though. Only two weeks in and I can already tell a difference in my physical shape. Each day, I run a little faster and my breathing comes easier. I also no longer collapse onto the dirt when I finish, so there's that.

Today is the chilliest yet. I swapped mesh shorts for lycra pants, the fit tight enough to contain my body heat and provide some level of warmth. My shoes pound on the packed soil of the farmland, my hair swishing in its short ponytail. Wisps of hair cover my face, the sweat on my skin sticking them together.

I'm a hot mess, emphasis on the mess.

Birds chirp nearby, their morning song hopeful. It's a nice way to begin the day, even if it comes along with fucking cardio.

I'm always alone with the melodies, alone with my thoughts, alone on this winding path of sand, dirt, soil, and grass. Sometimes it's like I'm the only person alive on a deserted planet, but I never actually feel alone. It's a strange thing.

Curving along the footpath, the environment morphs from one of plants and grass to boulders and sand. The desert is my least favorite section of Purgatory. Too much like Hell, in both the physical conditions and the presence of demons. I like demons and all, but there are many I'm trying to avoid with varying degrees of success.

Now, though, no one is around. It's just me and the cacti. I have this part of my route memorized if only so I can prevent falling into another cactus. Spiky spines hurt much worse than any other flora in this realm, and I'll be damned if it happens for a fourth time.

Am I already damned? If so, can I be damned again?

I make a mental note to add it to the list of things I'd like to discuss with Lucifer once I'm back in Hell. Cassie's got me on a positive mindset kick, so I'm acting as though I'll definitely make it through four years of this school alive and able to see Lucifer again. Manifestation, baby.

At least now, the sun's risen enough to allow for some measure of visibility. The desert stretches as far as the eye can see, the landscape rocky and without much life. 

This weekend, there'll be a Halloween celebration here. Aristotle extended me an invite, but I'm undecided on whether or not I'll attend. Eli's going and Killian's accompanying her, but other than the three of them, there's no one I really want to be around any more than I have to. Even Anne's on my shit list these days for being all buddy-buddy with Gwen. I understand her reasons for doing so, but I don't have to like them.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

I duck, lifting my arms to protect my head.

Pop. Pop. Pop.

Fireworks or gunshots. What's more likely in this land of blood-thirsty angels and demons?

Pop. Pop. Pop.

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