A teaser to keep you over while I help someone move today...
From the Desk of Minus Three:
Yup, this again; http://soundcloud.com/lacerated-wax/devastator-320
Sorry for the little tease here today, I’m helping a very good friend move and don’t have as much time to write as I usually do. That’s why I gave you all two chapters yesterday. If you read them both at once don’t blame me for not making your cookies last. All the same, here’s a little teaser to fill the gap a bit more. See you all tomorrow.
I’m the Thorn in Your Side, I’m the Devil in Disguise…
“Hey Sam?” I asked in his mind as we flew through the sky over Los Angeles towards my condo by the beach. “I just thought of something, and I don’t know if I like it or not.”
“What‘s that, then?”
“All the stuff the mortals have written about us to try and make sense of our existence; the bible, Enoch, the Talmud…all of it. It’s all happening, man.”
“Not exactly,” he thought back. There was a tone I couldn’t put my finger on. Hesitation? Apprehension? Doubt in his own words? I didn’t know. “The same could be said about almost any religious book at almost any point in history.”
“No, man. Think about it. The great rebellion, the fall of the angels under a leader bright as a star, temptations of the flesh leading the heavenly host astray. It’s all happening right now, Sam. It’s us.”
“Serielle, are suggesting the bible is a prophecy and not a poorly written history?”
“Not just the bible, all of it. What if the Seraphim handed all that stuff down to the mortals way back then so that we wouldn’t do this now?”
“Then that makes us evil demons, Serielle. I won’t accept that.”
“That’s not what I mean either. What if they just made it look like this sort of thing was evil so that well before the fact we were all scared and warned of it? You and I and all the rest of us know that most of that stuff didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t see it coming. They know the ‘truth’ apparently, right? What if that means they can see the future coming as well?”
“Then we’re fucked, yeah? Because they know what we’re going to do before we do it.”
“No they don’t,” I replied. “I could tell, man. Ephra was pissed at me, Samael. Really, really pissed. He wouldn’t have been mad if he knew it was coming. And if he saw it coming then why didn’t he just stomp me back in Germany? It means they don’t know who is who, just that someone would come along and fuck with their plans at some point. And they needed the mortals afraid of the ones that would go against them when it came to pass so that we wouldn’t have allies.”
“You could be on to something, you know?” Samael thought. “But if so…so what? How does any of that help us? If what you’re saying is true…well…in the bible we lose and are cast into hell, Serielle.”
“Have you looked around Sam? Turned on a TV? Aliona was telling me, before we left, that her sister Avrielle doesn’t accept that there’s no heaven and no hell. She thinks that there is, just inside of us. We make heaven and hell here and now by what we do with ourselves.”
“I still don’t know where you’re going with this, cupcake.” His thoughts were confused, scattered. “Again; so what?”
“Well, they kind of dictate what’s true and what isn’t, and use us to enforce it. Part of that is hiding for some reason, not letting the mortals know we exist so that they have the illusion of choice. We’re trying to give them real choice though, right?”
“Avrielle already started it, being caught on video. That was huge. You’ve continued it by going on TV this afternoon. Maybe we don’t have to destroy the Seraphim? Maybe we just have to change everyone’s minds about what is true and what isn’t? Don’t you think that the truth that we’re real and here for them would give them hope?”
“Okay,” he thought to me. “I’m catching on. You’re suggesting that the reason the Seraphim keep our existence a secret on one hand, but hint at it through religions and all that on the other, is so that the mortals rely on them but don’t believe in them. The invisible hand as it were. None of this is new though, love. It’s the reason we’re fighting them in the first place. Because what they’re saying and doing isn’t true at all.”
“That’s my point, man! If it’s not true a Seraph simply can’t say it. They can only speak the absolute truth. So they’re either right, and we know that’s bullshit, or they’re lying. If they’re lying they can’t be Seraphim, can they?”
“What then?” he asked me as we drifted from the sky and onto my pation to the shock of a few of my neighbors in the parking lot below. “Balseraphim?”
“No, silly,” I said out loud now that we weren’t flying. “If they were Fallen then they wouldn’t have wings.”
“I’m afraid your logic is defying me, love. What are you on about, Sara?” Samael asked with a smile as he opened the door and gestured for me to go in first. I loved him; such a gentleman.
“Seraphim can only tell the truth. Balseraphim believe their own lies. We already know the Council is full of shit, so nothing jives. Nothing lines up.”
“I’m still not following, Serielle,” Sam flopped onto my couch and put his feet on the coffee table.
“We can’t create Love, right? We can only manipulate it and move it around. Brighten it and strengthen it. Elohim can’t create Emotion, they can only sense what’s there already, and do what we do with Love. If a Cherub falls then they play with hate. If an Elohite falls they start messing with the bad stuff and forcing it on people. At least that’s what we’re told. If anyone steps out of line they get their wings taken away and are called ‘Fallen’.”
“Right…but so what?” Samael asked again, clearly not following me. It wasn’t his fault; he was older than me and had more invested in the way of things as they had always stood. He might be in the rebellion deep, but these were old beings who had a sense of the status quo; they didn’t want to change it, they wanted to take it away from the Council who’d abused it. They knew they needed to stop them but didn’t have any real sense of what was going to happen afterwards; that much was clear during our short conversation with Aliona before we’d left her house.
“So what? Sam, you’re missing this totally. There’s no such thing as ‘Truth’, man. There can’t be.” He raised his eyebrow and pursed his lips in thought, waiting for me to go on. “Think about it Sam. Not as an ‘angel’, not as an immortal, just think about it for a second.”
“Then where does their power come from?” he asked. “We’re fed by our resonance. They’re stronger than any of us except Aliona, so they have to get it from somewhere. But if there’s no such thing as Truth, then where? What are you suggesting?”
“Why do we still have our wings, Sam? It’s the Council that takes them when someone falls, so why aren’t we all nasty and evil and wingless right now? And how do they have wings in the first place if all they do is lie?”
Samael’s eyes widened a bit and he took in a deep breath. “I hadn’t thought about that. Maybe they can’t take them.”
“Exactly. And how did Aliona take her sister’s Spark from her? And how did she get mine back and give it to me? Only Seraphim are supposed to be able to do that,” I went on, sitting beside him on the couch.
“She’s really old Sara. She’s one of the first created by the First Three; the first to take a vessel to walk amongst the mortals. But you’re right; it doesn’t make sense. I’ve wondered that from time to time and just chalked it up to power with age. I should ask her,” he was going for his phone and I put my hand over his to stop him.
“I don’t think we have to,” I said. “It’s because we believe in her. Her father, Aposophes, was one of the First, right? He believed in her. Raguel was one of the First, and he ended up believing in her too, right before he died. She might not even realize it, but she hasn’t gone off the path; she’s just plain making a new one the way they must have before any of us were around to see what they were doing.”
“Are you suggesting this is some Old Testament vs. New Testament sort of thing? Are you suggesting she’s the bloody messiah. I don’t know how she’d feel about that, Serielle.”
“Well, that’s what I meant about the bible being prophecy and not history, Sam. It seems you’ve been going about this like you could overthrow the Council so that we and the mortals could be free to choose. Maybe the mortals have to be free to choose so that we can overthrow the council. Mortals wrote the New Testament, it wasn’t passed to them by the ‘mouth of god’ or whatever like the Old Testament was. You told me yourself that the ones who want the job aren’t suited for it.”
“That sounds like it would take a whole lot longer than just destroying the Council. They still have to be overthrown, yeah?”
“Of course they do. They suck. And I want Ephra’s head on a pike. That’s not the point I’m trying to make, though. I don’t think we can do this. I think the mortals have to. When I was lying there, before Aliona gave my Spark back, I felt something Sam. I don’t want to call it desperation, but it was close. This desperate need to do stuff as soon as I could. If they all feel like that then they have such tremendous potential; and I think that is what scares the Seraphim. When you’re going to live forever unless you fuck something up you don’t climb mountains, you wait for them to go away. A mortal doesn’t have that option; they have to climb it to see what’s on the other side.”
“That explains why Avrielle has become so reckless and dangerous,” Sam said. “But it still doesn’t tell us what we should do.”
“We inspire them,” I said with a smile, kissing him on the cheek. “What else can we do? Do you want to get in a fist fight with the Council?”
“Good point,” he said with a shrug. “Isn’t that what we’ve been doing all along though?”
“Yeah, but we’ve been doing it for the Council, not the mortals. It looks at first like it’s the same thing; but if intention is everything, like you told me it was, then we’ve only been making the Seraphim stronger. We have to find the worst ones first. Blowing on the coals of hope in a good man’s heart is all well and good but if can get to the ones with the most vice and sin first then we’ll knock one leg out from under the Council.”
“Okay,” Sam said, leaning forward to put his elbows on his knees with excitement and understanding dawning on his face. “I get it now. They need the wicked the scare the pious, as it were. They ned them to prove that the mortals need them.”
“Right!” I said.
“I’m not old enough to have met Jesus, but this is what he was doing, yeah?”
I laughed loud and hard at that. “Yeah, and look where it got him. He didn’t have a famous anchorwoman in his debt though; and he didn’t have the internet, did he?”
“Are you suggesting we ‘take the show on the road’, Serielle?”
“That’s exactly what I’m suggesting Samael. I don’t think that Cassidy Swanson has any friends left at her job anymore though. We need someone who doesn’t care about what people think about them to help us.”
“She doesn’t anymore. But she’ll need a cameraman, yeah? I don’t know anyone like that,” Sam said, his face screwed up in thought and disappointment. “This seems really a stupid thing to get hung up on when you’ve come up with such a good plan.”
“Actually…you do Sam,” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. He must have picked up what I was thinking from my thoughts because he looked at me with a look of disgust and disbelief on his face. I looked in his eyes so he’d see how serious I was. “Can you think of anyone more perfect for the job? Wouldn’t that be a really awesome first step?”
“I have to find him first though, Serielle,” Samael told me, opening his phone and taking a business card from his pocket. “And then somehow make him say yes. I don’t think he’ll be too open to the idea.”
“Don’t be so sure,” I told him, putting my hand on his cheek. “Some people will do anything to get out of hell.”
Who’s the Artsy Anarchist? Who’s the Magic Masochist?
Of course she hadn’t wanted to think about him anymore than she had to, but she also didn’t care enough about his memory anymore not to tell me where they had him. Her voice was terse and to the point on the phone despite her brief verbal pauses when she’d heard his name.
Twin Towers was a hulking big structure in downtown Los Angeles, attached to a county jail. With her recommendation, called in before me and Serielle arrived, it was easy enough to get in to see him. We’d managed to drag Cassidy away from Becca’s side, assuring her that there wasn’t anything she could do to protect her daughter that Avrielle and Christopher couldn’t do with their black bags of hardware. She’d cleaned up well, though not going so far as she would have to be in front of some corporate camera. She’d opted for flats instead of heels, slacks instead of a business skirt, a blouse instead of a suit jacket. Her makeup was done for the street and not the lights of a studio.
Avrielle had wanted to come, but for obvious reasons we hadn’t let her.
We could see him through the mesh lined glass strapped into a padded chair, shackled and hobbled with a grilled mask over the lower half of his face. He reminded me of every despicable psychotic monster of a man from every movie I’d ever seen; except that he was real and the things he’d done had actually happened. Mortals had the potential for almost anything in the right circumstances.
“Only you though,” said the doctor, flanked by two huge orderlies. “No women. He cannot handle the presence of women.”
“I think I can handle it,” Cassidy said incredulously.
“The answer is still no,” the doctor said firmly.
I’ll admit I was afraid of him. His image in the Choir was a black sinkhole where a man should be, not much different from Raguel. He had become in the last days of his life as a free man his protégé after all, honed and shaped into an instrument of pure torment and pain. I could hear his thoughts from here as he nodded his head slightly up and down while looking at us with a blank stare through the window. Pain, hate, pain, anger, pain, lust, pain. I knew Serielle could hear it too, and she put her hand on Cassidy’s shoulder.
“Not yet,” she said. “We can’t go in there until Sam tries to get through to him.”
“What are all the restraints for? Can’t you just keep him drugged?” Cassidy asked the doctor.
“He doesn’t respond to the anti-psychotics. We’ve tried every safe dose of every single one of them, but whatever pushed him over the edge is too deep for therapy,” he explained to us. “He’s not just damaged; he is broken. He firmly believes he is in hell and that all that’s left is the mutal torment of himself and those around him. I assure you that there is nothing human sitting in that room you’re about to go into. I question why you’d even want to speak to him.”
“There’s always hope,” I said quietly. “There has to be.”
“Optimism is a nice quality but for some patients it’s not an option,” the doctor said grimly. “There are rules Mr. Samuels. Do not discuss religion, do not discuss mythology, do not discuss what he did to arrive here. Do not touch him or step near him. Do not raise your voice. If he begins to act out your interview with him will be over. We will be right here and the orderlies will be ready should you need them.”
The two huge men on either side of the doctor looked ready for anything. They had stun batons and looked more than willing to use them. I’d just been warned not to talk about all the things I’d come here to talk about. It was looking like a worse and worse idea with every passing second but Serielle was right; if we could start with the worst of the worst we’d make more progress faster. How we would get him out of here to help us was beyond me, but I’d long had a bad habit of going off half cocked and letting things sort themselves out along the way. The fastest way from one point to another was the straightest line possible; still, it might have been the craziest thing I’d ever attempted.
“He’s pretty well restrained, yeah? What’s the worry here?” I asked.
“He has freed himself from his bindings before Mr. Samuels. Some psychotics harbor a great amount of strength. There are staff who will not even work in the same ward as him since his arrival here; and with good reason. He is violent and loathsome and relishes nothing more than the pain of others, preferably inflicted by his own hands. He is violently self destructive as well, so the bindings are as much for his own safety as anyone else’s. Are you sure you want to go in there Mr. Samuels?”
“Yeah, believe it or not I am.” I took in a deep breath and held it, letting it out slowly. “Let’s do it then.”
His eyes snapped to mine as I stepped into the room and the door locked closed behind me. The rest of him was perfectly motionless and still. The darkness in him was almost tangible and it hung between us like ink in water. I’d met many people in my long, long life; but no one had ever seethed with raw angst like he did, not even most demons I’d crossed paths with.
“Have you finally come for me then?” he asked quietly, his calm belying the frantic thoughts speeding through his mind so fast I couldn’t keep up with them. I felt sick. There was an undertone of viscious sarcasm despite his low volume. “Come closer so I can see into the eyes of my deliverance from torment.”
“Mr. Day, my name is Sam and I’m…”
“I know what you are,” he said softly. “Have you come to taunt me?”
“No, I need your help,” I said to him.
“Haven’t I done enough for your kind already?” Through his mind flashed all the things he’d done and all the things he would do to himself if he could get free.
“It’s not like that, Gavin. I’m not one of them. I’m here to help you, too.” He still hadn’t blinked, he was still and his body was relaxed but his thoughts betrayed the awful truth lurking under the surface.
“Help me?” He let out a small dry sound; barely a laugh, more of a short wheeze. “No one can help me now. I’m in hell.”
“It doesn’t have to be like that though, yeah?” I said nervously, taking a step closer to him. I heard a tap on the glass and looked over my shoulder to see the doctor shaking his head and index finger at me.
“Yes it does,” Gavin replied. “We sin and we burn and then some day we die.”
“I can’t forgive you for what you did, but you have to know it’s not your own fault,” I tried to explain.
“That’s not what she said when she left me to the flames of perdition. I did this.”
There was a click and the doctor’s voice came from a speaker in the small room. “The rules Mr. Samuels? Mind the rules.”
“Don’t worry about him,” Gavin said softly. “He doesn’t know where we are. He thinks things still matter.”
“They do matter,” I said into his mind. Through the metal grill on his face I saw his mouth twist into a little growl.
“Nothing matters now except my torment.” The voice in his thoughts was snarled and grating, at odds to his calm outward behavior. “We all punish ourselves and each other here. Tell me what you want so I can tell you how you’re wrong.”
“I need you to get sane again, friend. I need you to pull it together so we can try to get you out of here to help us.”
“HA!” his thoughts barked at me. “Sane? Do you know what I’ve done?”
I did, but it all flashed through my mind anyways as he recalled it, over and over in vivid detail. It was worse than I’d imagined and I felt dirty and grimy and my stomach lurched. I could see his growl had turned into a jagged grin under the mask. In his own twisted way he was enjoying how he was making me feel.
“You couldn’t get me out even I wanted to leave,” his thoughts rasped and hissed at me.
“Don’t be so sure, friend. We’ve got friends with friends in high places. It’s already arranged if we can get you thinking straight. You started this with a video, yeah? You’re going to help end it with some too.”
“I’m retired,” he said it calmly and out loud.
“I can get you out of hell, Gavin. I promise,” I told him. Fuck. Now I’d done it. I’d said the P word. In for a penny in for a pound I guess.
The speaker clicked on again. “Mr. Samuels, I will not warn you again.”
“You promise do you? Look what you’re up against you fool…”
Then he opened up his mind and let me see it all. Every last terrible thing inside of him; all his fears and pains and hates and torments unwound from his mind into mine.