Another chapter with no sex in it. As much as that may disappoint some there isn’t much I can do about that. It’s not porn after all. The good news is there are two chapters posted today instead of one.
Fall Into Me, The Sky’s Crimson Tears…
I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke, and I don’t drink to excess. I don’t gamble unless you count this whole ‘us vs. the end of the world’ thing we had going on. I don’t have any odd obsessions unless you count my attraction to trying to save prostitutes from themselves. If I had even one vice it would be gum. Given the choice I’d take some kind of mint or other any day of the week, but I’m not picky. In a pinch any gum will do. My decision to just tell the truth and not try to be coy was based solely on this need; they’d taken everything from my pockets before putting me in the little room with the little table and the little chair and the little camera in the corner with its little red light flashing to let me know that no matter how alone I felt or seemed to be someone somewhere was watching me and making notes in a little book or on a little computer. With any luck they’d have a stick of fucking gum.
Police detectives don’t take too kindly to being put in their place by being told that you’re an ‘angel’ as they’d call it. They don’t like it when you calmly look at them and say ‘See? Watch…’ and snap the handcuffs for the second time. They don’t like being told what they’re thinking and they don’t like it when you try to prove it to them by explaining all the things that their love connects them to. Eventually they leave you alone in the little room while they retreat somewhere else to fume and plan and decide what the fuck to do with you next.
Myself? I don’t like it when I decide to put my protection on someone and then get separated from them. They wouldn’t tell me where Becca was, but just asking made them think about it and picking the answer from their brain was simple. She was in a hospital room somewhere guarded by two big strong police officers who had no idea what a Nephilim was, nor that said Nephilim would take their bullets gladly in service to the Seraphim, gritting their teeth and feeling fulfilled that they were able to die in service to the Council. They had no idea that they would just keep coming, their bodies piling on the floor like driftwood until one of them made it through and killed the officers with their bare hands in the most savage way possible; not because they were evil, and not because they were cold and uncaring. They were cold and uncaring, but that was hardly the point. They were downright implacable; more like a force of nature that came in wave after wave until their task was over. The word ‘uncaring’ almost makes it sound like they have the option to care, and the word cold almost makes it sound like they might have been warm in different circumstances. To the Nephilim there was only the task; they either succeeded or they died and they didn’t have an opinion either way.
You can try to tell this to a police detective but they won’t believe you.
You can break the third set of handcuffs and pull the door off and batter your way out of the police station; you can even do this without really hurting anyone. If you do though, you’re the bad guy. You’re the villain and the powers that be will come after you until they catch you. It’s that single minded determination, that need to get things done now that makes mortals so beautiful. They had what we didn’t; they had a vastly different view of what ‘long term planning’ meant because they didn’t have ‘long term lives’. It’s that single mindedness that made the Seraphim create Nephilim from them in the first place. I don’t think it was particularly ‘virtuous’ or ‘divine’ or ‘holy’ of them to do such a thing to create any size army they might need, but the Seraphim didn’t think like the rest of us. They had no empathy. No pathos. They didn’t feel like the rest of us, they just knew the ‘Truth’ and acted on it.
You can try to tell this to a police detective, but why bother?
We’d been at this for over an hour now and I still had no idea if Serielle was still alive. I loved her, and the Los Angeles Police Department was standing between us. In the good old days I’d have gone through the wall and just left. These days they had SWAT teams and fast attack choppers and automatic weapons. They had due process and interrogation rooms and if need be they had the National Guard. Even I couldn’t take round after round of Teflon coated shells to the chest and still stay on my feet. My vessel was just that; a container for my true self. Without it I wasn’t really much of anything and they had the ability to take it apart faster than I could put it back together. Failure by attrition. Like the Nephilim, the LAPD had numbers on their side. Beside all of that, I couldn’t just kill them and move on; they had wives and husbands and children and hopes and dreams and futures. You can try to explain to them that none of that mattered if you didn’t get out of this room right now so you could go back to saving the world so they had somewhere to live, but they won’t believe you.
“Oi,” I said, looking into the camera. “This coffee’s cold. I don’t even like coffee. Bring me some gum, yeah?”
You can talk to the camera, but it can’t talk back. It just stares at you and the little red light blinks and you get angrier and angrier and have to force yourself not to act on the instincts that make you who you are.
“Oi!” I snapped, louder. “Remember me? Sitting in here? Hey!”
The door opened and I wished I hadn’t said anything. Maybe being alone in the little room with the little table and the little chair was better. She stood in the doorway with one hip cocked out to the right and her arms crossed over her chest. Her grey suit, her dark hair in a bun, her glasses perched on the end of her nose, her skin tone; they all reminded me at first of the Seraph Serielle and I had seen outside of the grimy downtown chapel. Maybe I still had some luck left though; she was just another detective. Or maybe they had sent a psychologist to determine exactly what kind of crazy I was so they could fill it in on a form before trying to shoot me up with something to keep me calm so they could get the straight jacket on and take me off somewhere out of sight and out of mind. I hoped not; drugs don’t really agree with our vessels.
“So you’re the angel,” she said, her voice a practiced sort of grim that left little hope in me that I could bend this one with her hidden desires and get out of here. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement of fact.
There was a fine scar on each of her cheek bones, another from the right corner of her mouth almost to her chin. They were barely noticeable until she stepped under the little light and towards the little table with careful limping steps.
“Samael,” I told her through my tightly clenched teeth. If I could grow hair on my arms and neck it’d be standing up with the charge of wrath inside of me. “My name is Samael.”
“Samael,” she repeated like she was trying to word on for size. “Samael like the Samael in the Talmud?”
“Actually, yeah,” I said. She wasn’t really as right as she thought. Most of that stuff was made up. You can tell them this, but they don’t care. “The very same.”
“You do know that makes you sound crazy?” she asked me, looking at the camera and nodding her head once as she let the door close behind her. The little red light went off.
“What’s crazy is you’ve got me in here while the things I need to get done are out there, yeah?” I told her. You can tell them but it usually doesn’t matter.
“You’re not the first to make a claim like this, Mr. Samael. Ever since a couple months ago the city’s population of angels seems to have increased dramatically.”
“Some of them might have been telling the truth, love. Now what about my gum?” I asked her as she sat in the other little chair across the little table from me. She had a manila folder in her hand and set it down; opening it, flipping through it, closing it.
“No phone call? No lawyer? You just want gum?” I nodded, saying nothing. You can repeat yourself, but it’s all on tape somewhere. They could just rewind it and watch it again.
“You look tense,” she said. She had an edge, cold and honed. There was no love in her either, which was rare. There was a blank spot where it might have once been, but it was gone now. I normally would have been sad for her but I really wanted some gum and she was getting on what was left of my last nerve. It was getting harder by the minute to hold it together and not just smash my way out of there. “Any particular reason for that tension?”
You can explain it all for the fourth time if you want. I didn’t want to. “Just that the stress of the day is finally getting to me, yeah?”
“My name is Bethany Day and I’m a criminal psychologist. Have you ever heard my name before Samael?”
Shit. Of course I had. She was Gavin Day’s wife. Ex-wife probably; when your husband rapes you with a rag soaked in drain cleaner and wrapped around the handle of a screwdriver you tend to give up on love. You tend to file papers and try to move on if you can. I put my fingers on my forehead and leaned forward with my elbows on the table.
“So you have heard of me.”
“Look, love, I can’t change what happened to you but for what it’s worth I’m sorry,” I told Bethany.
Her tiny grin was patronizing and didn’t contain an ounce of mirth or happiness. “Save it. I don’t need your sympathy.”
She took a pack of gum from her pocket and slid it across the table with tip of her index finger.
“Right then, Beth. What now?”
“Bethany. My name is Bethany.” Cold, hard, firm. “Now we’re going to have a little talk about angels and demons and what the hell you all want from us.”
I let out a long breath as I chewed and leaned my head back with my eyes closed. I focused my entire world down to the minty goodness in my mouth. I took another piece and popped it in, chewing the two together into one little wad of calm. “I want to make sure that what happened to you doesn’t happen to anyone else. I want to get out of here and make sure that the people I’ve promised to protect are safe. We take that sort of thing very seriously, yeah?”
“Cherubs keep their promises,” she said firmly. “I’ve been doing some homework in the last few months.”
“Seems you have, love. So I’ll say again; what now?” My voice was tight and lean, I was almost done here. Time was wasting.
“I’m the only friend you have right now, Samael. Stay calm and work with me here.”
“If you know what’s the what, then you know I can’t be here right now. We were attacked, we were the victims. I really need to get out of here.”
“The officers on scene said there was another with you. A woman. Where is she right now?”
“I really don’t know, and that’s part of the problem, yeah?”
“So you were attacked. By…demons?” Bethany used the word hesitantly, like she didn’t want to accept it but knew it was what it was.
“Not really, no,” I told her.
“Not quite. Look, I don’t have time for a genealogy lesson right now love. Time is of the essence as it were, you see?”
She leaned forward menacingly and for an instant I was actually afraid of her. Mortals were physically frail compared to us, but they had just as much ability, if not more, to stare daggers and make it sting. “You’re not going anywhere until I have some answers, mister.”
“They’re called Nephilim,” she was writing in her little folder as I spoke. “And they are about the worst thing you can imagine.”
A haunted look passed through her eyes and her upper lip curled into a sneer. Her voice shook slightly as she tried to contain a bubbling wrath of her own. Images flashed across her surface thoughts; terrible images of hate and pain and torture. It was downright medieval and I cringed visibly. “I can imagine more than you might think.”
“Right, so you can,” I said quietly, biting my lips and nodding. I looked into her eyes and tried to find something good, something clean and happy. All there was though was a hard blank slate. I recognized it.
“Say something Samael. Make me believe and I can get you out of here.”
“I can do better,” I said to Bethany. “I can show you. Give me your hand.”
She calmly held it out to me, palm up with her fingers pressed tight together. Her pinky finger was bent slightly and I knew why. I’d seen it in her mind a second ago. Her hand was as cold as her eyes when I took it in mine.
“Hold tight,” I said, and she nodded once.
I let her have it. I let her see as I had with Serielle. She kept her eyes open the whole time and I saw her pupils snap open wide when it hit her. Her hand was shaking and she gripped her fingers tightly around mine. When it was over she let go and leaned back hard against the little metal chair, taking in a deep breath. That would have knocked most mortals to the floor, unconscious and straining to keep their soul in their body. Bethany just blinked and shook her head to clear it.
“I can get you out of here Samael, but if you end up back here again I can’t make any promises.”
“Thanks,” I said grimly. I wasn’t trying to be an arse, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Serielle and Becca. One was alone and running and the other was vulnerable in a hospital bed somewhere.
“Make me a promise?” Bethany said.
“You’re taking advantage now,” I told her as she opened the handcuff keeping my right wrist attached to the little table. “You know that right?”
“Save it, I don’t care.” I nodded at her to go on, making a beckoning gesture as I stood up. “Promise me you’ll make a difference. Don’t make me regret this.”
“That I can assure you,” I told her as she pushed a button by the door. There was a little buzzing sound and a little click and the door opened as the little red light on the little camera started blinking again. “You have a number in case I need anything?”
Bethany handed me a card, and I winked at her. There was a small flush of feeling in her, warm and bright in the darkness. A series of images flashed across her mind as fast as light; love, hope, happiness, regret, boredom, fear, pain. A slideshow of her life with her husband. Her eyes were hard and cold again in less than a second. I put my hand on her shoulder and caught her eyes with mine, holding them there. She tried to look away but couldn’t. “We’re not all like them. Some of us give and give with no expectation. You’ve seen. You get it now, yeah?”
“Thank you,” she said, fighting against the tear trying to form in the corner of her left eye. She lost, the tear won, it rolled over her cheek and she slapped the back of her hand against it to wipe it away. “Now get out of here and keep your promise.”
I smiled at her and for another brief second she softened. It was really rather brief, but it was enough for me. Without hope there was no point in any of this.
I got my things back and left. Turning my phone on I saw that I had missed three calls. One was from Christopher. One was from Serielle. The third surprised me though; Cassidy fucking Swanson. Christopher’s message said “in town, need my keys, call me back.” Serielle hadn’t left a message and my heart raced as I imagined her in the midst of a pack of Nephilim trying to speed dial me and dropping the phone as they swarmed her. Cassidy had though; “I’m at the hospital with my daughter and the things she’s saying are absurd. I recognized her description of you and you had better have some kind of fucking explanation for me.”
I sent Christopher a text message telling him where I was and that he should meet me at his condo in ten minutes; then I called Cassidy.
“I’ll explain everything when I get there. Stay where you are and don’t let anyone else in the room. Not the doctors, not the police; no one.”
“Don’t presume to tell me what to do you arrogant fucking Brit. Tell me why you had my daughter in a high speed chase and why she’s in a hospital bed right now!”
“No time, love. Hold tight and I’ll see you soon.” I was outside the police station, looking back and forth to see if anyone was watching me. There were some officers walking to the door, some more walking out and waving at the first, civilians on the sidewalk or in the parking lot. Oh shit, what did it matter now? I revealed my wings and spread them and everyone jumped back in alarm, looks of disbelief on their faces.
“No, you asshole! Start talking now! Do you know who I am? Do you know what my lawyers can do to you? Do you have any idea what kind of trouble you’re in? When I get my hands on you I’ll…”
I hung up on her. How had I ever fallen for that woman? Becca was right, her mother was a bitch.
I took to the sky and headed for Christopher. He was waiting outside his building when I arrived, a black duffel bag at his feet and his arms crossed over his thick muscular chest. They were in the city so he could meet with his paranoid friend Davis on business of his own. Things were getting hairy in the Middle East and they needed info only Davis could provide, which had prompted a fast flight back due to that strange little man’s distrust of anything other than face to face communication. They’d encountered the Nephilim over there as well and all hell was starting to break loose. Avrielle and Aliona were checking in on Aliona’s family.
I explained that I needed a favor first and Christopher agreed. He loaded a few loud and destructive things into a stout bag and we drove to the hospital so he could sit watch over Becca until I’d found Serielle. I knew I could trust him to turn anything that came through the door without a good reason into mist if need be. We’d all changed that day in the park when Aliona had destroyed Raguel. The walls of wind had held in his Spark as it had been blasted from his vessel, and though none of us had talked about it we knew it had to have gone somewhere. What that all meant we didn’t know yet; there’d be time to take stock when all of this was through.
It was odd to think about the End Times as ‘when all of this was though’; there I was thinking it anyways
Cassidy Swanson was a wreck. I’d never seen her like she was when we entered the hospital room where Becca lay asleep in the bed. No makeup, no power clothes, no fancy hair. I felt like I was seeing her for the first time and I didn’t mind what I saw. She looked…human. Christopher went about searching the room; checking behind the bathroom door, under the bed, sweeping the room with some electronic thing for bugs or other devices.
“What the hell is this, then?” Cassidy hissed through her teeth at us. “Who the fuck are you people?”
Christopher ignored her and went about his business like a machine. I took her by the hand and tried to lead her out into the hall. She pulled against me but I got her out anyways. “Calm down, love. We’re the good guys.”
“Good guys my ass!” she said, her voice rising. The cops at the door of Becca’s room looked on menacingly with the ‘is there a problem?’ look in their eyes. I waved at them and smiled and winked; they calmed visibly.
“Come and talk with me, yeah? This is all going to make sense soon enough.”
It might have been one of the stupidest things I’d ever said. The truth was things were probably about to make far less sense than they ever had for Cassidy Swanson. It was hard to keep thinking of her as a heartless bitch though, seeing her the way she was right now. I could see the tether of love between her and her daughter in the room we left behind as I tried to find a quiet out of the way place to talk.
“It’s a shame that it takes something like this to jar you types into loving someone,” I said to Cassidy as I sat her down in a little waiting area near an elevator.
“What are you fucking talking about?” she snapped. “Do you know who I am?”
I rolled my eyes and sat next to her in the uncomfortable stacking chair. “Yes yes, everyone knows who you are. But do you?”
“I’m Cassidy fucking Swanson,” she said meanly. I smiled. So we were both on the same page it seemed.
“Yes, of course you are,” I said with a tight grin. “That much is clear. But do you know who Cassidy fucking Swanson is, or is she just someone you paint on for the cameras?”
“Hey, fuck you!” she snapped at me. “What were you doing with my daughter!?”
“Keeping her alive, Ms. Swanson,” I explained. “Tell me about Trident Holdings.”
“What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Try harder. Think.”
“I think they own a large share of the station,” she said.
“They don’t,” I said back. “They don’t actually own anything.”
“Then why does one of their executives sit in on our content meetings?” she asked. “And what the fuck does this have to do with you smashing up my daughter in a car accident? My lawyers are going to eat you alive!”
She was getting more and more flustered. Her thoughts were getting more chaotic. Her eyes looked wild and scared. She looked vulnerable for the first time since I’d first seen her. I moved my head to catch her eyes with mine and winked at her. Her shoulders relaxed and she took a deep shaky breath.
“Feeling better now?” I asked her.
She took another deep breath and let it out all at once in a hard puff of air. “Somewhat. Give me some answers and I’ll stay this way.”
“I don’t know how much to tell you. I think I should just show you. Do you have any problems with your heart? Any history of heart attacks in your family?”
“What? No. What?”
I took her hand and showed her. I thought, at least we’re in a hospital if this doesn’t go well. She took it like a champ though and when it was over she was leaning against my shoulder. I put my arm around her and waited for her to come down from it all. Being touched by an angel is heavy business; we try not to do it unless we have no other choice.
“You alright in there, love?” I asked her after a few minutes.
“What…I think…I can’t…holy fuck, man…”
“Yeah, I know, shhh,” I calmed her, holding her close to me. She was opening and closing her left hand in time with her breathing and her back was shaking.
Cassidy looked up at me without pulling away, “This is the story of the century…”
I rolled my eyes again, but then I realized she was right. If we could get her on side with us this was the story of the century. Her credibility might suffer at first, but this was almost what I’d hoped for to begin with. Instead of working against us by debunking everything that had happened a couple months ago a the will of some Seraph behind the scenes we might have an ally in the media now. The word might actually get out; repent or perish.
“So that other woman…Sara…she’s one of…one of you?”
“You’ve got it,” I said to Cassidy, my arm still around her shoulders. “And like it or not, you’ve been working for the wrong side, love.”
“I didn’t know. I had no idea. I have to get to work!” She was pulling away, standing up, looking from me to the elevator and back again a few times. “This needs to get out! Will you agree to an interview? Can we go do it right now?”
“Whoa, hold tight love,” I said, reaching for her hand again. “You can’t go back there. They’re on to us now. You have to stay with me, or here with Becca where Christopher can protect the two of you.”
“Fuck that,” she snapped. “This is huge. I can call my cameraman and go live right now.”
“Live?” I asked. Maybe she was right. If she tried to do it any other way then it would get bollocksed up by whoever the Seraph was that was pulling the station’s strings.
Cassidy already had her phone out, she was already dialing, she was already talking to someone named Ron and telling him to get the van and meet her at the hospital.
“This might be a really bad idea,” I told her when she was off. “There are others, dangerous motherfuckers, people that are going to come for you as soon as that broadcast goes out.”
“What, are they going to attack us while I’m on the air? That’s just stupid, who’s that stupid?”
“Yes, they will. Yes it is. They aren’t stupid, the just don’t fucking care,” I told her.
“I’m a journalist. I have an obligation to the truth,” Cassidy replied. She meant it and I saw something else in her beside her love of power and fame, something that hadn’t been there before. A love of truth, long buried under the trappings of corporate media compromise.
I took a deep breath and wondered what Aliona was going to say about me giving an interview on live TV. There wasn’t really time to consider it though, was there? It was already happening. I couldn’t leave now; Cassidy would be in far too much danger if I did. I took another deep breath and called Serielle’s mobile.
“Hello? Hello?” a gruff and guttural man’s voice said.
“Who is this?” I snapped.
“You called me, who are you?”
“Where’d you get this phone!? If you’ve hurt Serielle I promise you’ll all fall at my feet!” I yelled.
“This is my phone now. I found it, it’s mine. It fell from the sky into my lap and now it’s mine. Don’t call back.”
Whoever it was hung up on me. What the fuck was going on? I called it back and the same voice answered.
I reached through the phone and touched his mind. I saw a dirty alley between two tall buildings, garbage stacked high on either side making it seem narrower. He was dirty too, aware of his own stink. Hunger. Shame. Pride at having a shiny phone to call his own and regret that he had no one to call on it. Hope that maybe there was if he could just remember. There was a number somewhere deep inside he was trying to bring back but couldn’t find through the haze of time and hiding and cheap alcohol. I shook my head and dug in deeper and found the number.
“Hello. My name is Samael and I’m an angel,” I said to him. I heard surprise, but belief as well. Grasping at hope. This was why we were here. “Call your daughter old man, I’ll text you the number.”
I pulled it from his faded and cracked memories and hung up, then sent it to him. Sometimes the small deeds were as important as the big ones.
But where was Serielle?
Awaiting the Hour of Reprisal, Your Time Slips Away…
Where was Samael?
It had been well over an hour and I was terrified I’d lost him for good. There was no way to keep checking in with him, I’d dropped my phone from my shaking hands like a clumsy little girl after the first time I’d tried to call him and received no answer. I’d been too afraid to go to the ground to find it, knowing that it had probably shattered into tiny pieces anyway. Knowing that the Nephilim were down there somewhere looking for us. Knowing that unless I could find him soon I was fucked because it was only a matter of time before they found me. I was safe from them as long as I was in the sky, they didn’t have wings. There were other things to be afraid of though, things that could fly. Things were easier when all we had to worry about were demons because they couldn’t fly either; when they fell from the Fold their wings burned off into ash.
I soared around the city again, hoping for…I don’t know what. Maybe he’d fly up and look for me. Maybe Samael was watching for me. I’d only just found real love and now I’d lost it. I should have listened to him. I should have stayed calm and gone with him; he knew what he was doing. Instead I’d drawn the blood of a Nephilim and now they could find me no matter where I went. Yeah; I was pretty much fucked.
The blood draws the pack.
“It doesn’t need to be like this, Cherub.” The deep inhuman voice, low and distorted, shook every fiber of my being, in my mind and out. I turned to see him floating in the air a few feet from me, his long white hair flowing over his long lean body, naked in the wind high above LA with his wings spread.
Ephra. Oh fuck, it was Ephra.
“Father. I…I…” I stammered.
“You WHAT little Cherub?”
“This isn’t how it seems, father,” I said in a rush, my heart wanting to race but standing very still instead. “I’m not…I didn’t…”
“Didn’t rebel? Didn’t go against the will of the Fold? Didn’t cast your lot with traitors to the Choir? Tell me, Serielle. Tell me so I can hear the Truth of it in your words.”
“We’re not traitors!” I yelled at him.
“This is not Truth,” his voice boomed. “These are the lies of those that have deceived you. You have been led astray and now I must shepherd you back into the Fold.”
“I know what you’ve done, father,” I said, tears of fear in my eyes. “I know the truth you hid from us!”
“What do you know of Truth little one? What can you see with the styes of deceit in your eyes?”
“I know that you’ve tricked us! Manipulated us! Made us do your bidding all these years so that you wouldn’t become mortal!”
A boom like thunder rolled from him, an invisible explosion of force that hit me like the mortals must imagine the hand of god feeling. Pain wracked my body and for a second I lost focus on everything; I was nothing, no one, nowhere. I clung to what Samael had shown me on my patio, the Spark of the Lamb like the heart of a star, struggling to keep myself from being pulled apart by the will of Ephra, my father.
It hit me again, pulling at me deep inside. I screamed but couldn’t hear my own voice. I was spreading out, growing thin like mist. I let go of everything but the one infinite point of light Samael had planted deep inside of me when he had shown me the real truth of the Fold.
I was falling. I felt the air rushing past me and when I opened my eyes the city was rushing up to meet me. I tried to get my wings under me but they wouldn’t respond. They were gone.
And then there were arms under me, small but strong, and my descent ceased. I heard a little snapping sound and smelled cotton candy. A tiny voice whispered “I’ve got you cousin” into my ear.