This story is by Onassa Sun and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
My father was perfect. Ever calm, ever content, ever in control. Occasionally, he gazed upon me with something reminiscent of sorrow, but he treated me as tenderly as if I were a part of him. I loved my father dearly, and for that I could forgive him for raising me in isolation. I grew up on my father’s story of the seven sisters, who lived in an enchanted room which closed itself to none. He said most everyone wandered there at least once in their lives. For years, I desperately longed to meet them—the siblings whose lives accompanied me through my perpetual loneliness. When I turned sixteen, my pleas were answered, and the day arrived when my childhood wish was finally fulfilled.
I awoke on an unfamiliar bed; silk drapes of royal blue cascaded down in an opulent canopy. Beside me lay who my father described to me as the most beautiful creature in the world: Luxuria, the youngest of the seven sisters. I observed her with acute fascination, recalling that she could become whoever her seer desired most. She opened her eyes. Startled, I removed myself quickly from the bed, only to see she was smiling at a boy who just entered through the door. And then she changed. I could see the boy’s heart at that moment—a heart bloated black by a perverted passion for the maiden between the sheets. Only the voice was still Luxuria’s. Tell me… what would you do to make me belong to you and only you? I screamed. Before my eyes, some savage monster that slumbered deep in humanity’s heart ruptured from its prison, and as I fled I could hear Luxuria laughing to its ferocious roar. There was no boy anymore—only beast.
As I ran, the dark blue bed was swallowed by shadow, and I stumbled across a dining table I couldn’t recall seeing there before. Seated at its head was Gula—the sister who never stopped eating. I studied her warily. Even as she ate the food on her plate never lessened; some invisible force replenished it as soon as it was removed. She beckoned for me to sit. Fearful of the consequences of angering another sister, I sidled into the seat furthest from hers. Not once did she stop eating, but her voice echoed in my mind: Eat, drink, as much as you want. Don’t stop, dear—not until you’re sated. I obeyed. Truffle, duck, foie gras, lobster; the more I ate the more my hunger refused to surrender. The flavors blurred until I couldn’t tell what I was eating, when I tasted something distinct from everything else. I looked down and vomited disgust, revulsion, and shame. Half-devoured on my plate was a human heart still beating. I blacked out.
Both Gula and her demonic feast were gone when I finally came to. With my heart still pounding wildly at its cage of bones, I surveyed my new surroundings. I was in some cave carved deep into the walls of the room; only darkness was visible beyond the opening. Someone, or something had brought me here. And then I saw the treasure. Gold and diamonds and rubies coated the walls in a priceless facade. Suddenly, a girl with the golden eyes of an ancient dragon entered: Avaritia. The sister who would take and take until there was nothing left to take and then put it all back just so she could take it again. She smirked. Please, help yourself. It all belongs to you. Even if it doesn’t, just take it, and then it will be yours. Reluctantly, I reached for a blood-red ruby only for its original owner to flash before my eyes. It was a corpse. I hurled the gem away. Smeared across my hand like paint was fresh, crimson blood.
This time, I did not scream. Instead, I trudged slowly out of Avaritia’s cave—ignored her mocking gaze—plunged into the blackness. I was weary… tired… sick of all the horrors that inhabited this room. I wanted my father to rescue me from these demented sisters who were nothing like I imagined. As I wandered aimlessly into the endless oblivion of the accursed room, I saw Acedia. I was not afraid of her. She did no harm and she did no good—she never did anything at all. Come, love. Join me. Give up on this pitiful excuse of a life. There is no point anyway. And then she laid down where she stood and closed her eyes to sleep; I followed her lead. She yawned a light-blue yawn, and I found myself too tired to breathe. So I didn’t.
I didn’t die—that would have been too merciful—instead, I was picked up by a sister who happened to be passing by. I recognized her by her hair like flames, which was the last thing Ira’s luckless victims saw. Belligerent and subject to utterly unwarranted outbursts of fury, Ira dined on rage. The anger I felt towards my father for not rewriting this tale of woe, and the anger I felt towards myself for blaming my innocent father. Ira ate her fill. Licking her lips, she turned to me. When humans find their way to me they always start off afraid—afraid of the cruelty they never knew flows scarlet through their veins. But slowly, they become addicted to the power that I give them—the power to make another cry and scream and suffer. Tell me, will you take it? Then I remembered my father’s warning that, when people ran out of things to destroy, they turned their weapons on the only thing they had left—themselves. I barely eluded her.
Floundering once again in the ocean of shadow at the center of the room, I desperately searched for the exit. I had to escape. Rather than a door, I discerned a small throng of figures—humans. I drew nearer. And I saw they were gathered around a woman: Invidia, the sister who never overcame her sorrow. Who looked at others and saw everything she didn’t have, and whose desire only increased the more she saw it. I almost pitied her. But stronger than my pity was my grief for her sympathizers. Taking her lead, they would succumb to the desire to have what wasn’t theirs. But it would be a futile effort—only the owner could possess it. Then their love would turn into despair and then resentment and then they would destroy the man who had it in a wild tempest of sadness. The only thing better than having it is tearing down the one who does. There is so much ecstasy in a happier man’s agony. I shed a single tear for them.
All of the sisters were waiting for me when I tore myself away, and the last sister—Superbia—stepped forward to introduce herself. I stared back at her with hollow eyes. I suppose you recognize me too? Oh, of course you do. After all, it was I who taught my sisters everything they know, guided them as they wrought destruction in the name of our father—
The door to the room flew open, and we squinted through the blackness to identify the newcomer. It was my father. A great shaft of light dispelled the apathy that had descended upon my soul, and my spirits rose once more. He had finally come to save me! Before I could speak, Superbia exclaimed, “It is our lord and master—Satan! Come, sisters! Our father is here!”
I froze. What the hell did she just call him? Charging forward, I shoved her aside and snarled, “Stay away! He is not Satan—his name is Lucifer, and he is my father!”
I felt his hand rest on my shoulder. I looked up at him. “Don’t be so rough,” he chided gently. “I thought you were all introduced already. I explicitly arranged for you to meet all seven of your sisters, just like you’ve always wanted.”
My eyes widened. “My… sisters?”
Nodding, my father turned to them and said, “All of you were once part of me. At last, I can introduce you to your newest sister—Tristitia: sorrow and despair. Tristitia, these are your sisters—the seven deadly sins.”
I was the eighth.