Well, it’s certainly been more than a couple of days now, hasn’t it? What can I tell you; sometimes epilepsy is a bitch but I can’t break up with her. You ever have a roommate you can’t make leave? It’s kinda like that. LOL.
Here’s something for you; this band’s music was really one of the main influences for Pyre. Their newest album has one track on it that is simply mind blowing for those that care for heavy heavy business. The video makes me laugh every time I see it and all I can think about is Michael. Check it out if you want, but it’s gory and maniacal and heavy as fuck. They are hands down one of my favorite bands.
Live life hard,
Seek the Future in the Past…
Samael and Becca had a really nice place. It wasn’t almost palatial like where my mother lived with Mark and Lisa, but it was really nice. Most of these once-immortals had resources going back at least a few centuries, if not further, that they had freed up to make their lives easier once they had their Spark drained by Samael and my mother and dumped into me that day in Cairo.
Becca was a fiend of research. I’d never really known because I’d never really paid much attention. Their entire basement was a library of old books and scrolls and strange artifacts from times in mankind’s antediluvian past. As soon as we got to LA she poured herself into trying to find some answers. She was certain that by finding the source of the oil on the bullets that had actually been able to hurt me that we’d be able to pick up Ephra’s trail and find him. Part of me still felt that if we waited he’d come to us, but all waiting had done for us so far was get us ambushed in Miami.
I still hadn’t told any of the others about what Aposophes had said to me; that my death would be life for the many. That some dooms are unavoidable. I wasn’t willing to accept it myself so why would I go spreading that particular bit of dark wordage around? Fate my ass; I’ll decide.
So this oil on the bullets was some kind of ancient thing or other. Becca explained it all but I only really half listened. All I knew for sure was that getting shot by a bullet coated in it had hurt like hell and I didn’t want it to happen again. There was only one source for it; it was supposed to be in a museum in England. Bec had connections of her own and it didn’t take long for her to find out that it had been in that museum in England but it wasn’t anymore. It had been transferred to the US for research or study or some other bullshit made up reason. The guy it had been transferred to was known to her; she’d met him a few years back while working on her bloodline project.
Kansas? Kansas was the last place I expected any of this to take us. For some reason it seemed everything should be gritty and urban and ink washed a dismal shade of grey. A sunny little acreage didn’t seem to fit the profile. I kept waiting for Samael to make Wizard of Oz jokes so I could make fun of him, but he didn’t. Courage was in high supply amongst the four of us, but I was starting to suspect that I had no heart. Definitely no brain. Maybe Magda was Dorothy, except that she had no desire to click her heels and go home. What did that make Becca then? One of the witches? Was Sam the Professor? No…we were going to see the professor. He certainly wasn’t one of the munchkins. Maybe he was Toto. I laughed quietly.
“There’s no place like home,” I mumbled in the backseat as we pulled around the little gravel lane in front of the house on the acreage and Sam parked the car.
“What are you on about?” Samael asked, looking at me in the rearview mirror.
“Are you losing it back there?” Bec asked before getting out of the car. She looked at Magda who was looking at me. “Is he losing it?”
Magda shrugged at her and I shrugged at myself and said, “Let’s go talk to this guy, then.”
Sam and Becca were sharing an odd look, probably because of my behavior. I’d been in a bit of a funk to say the least and now I was mumbling quotes from movies. I suppose it was our lack of direction at the moment. It seemed to everyone else that we had a goal but I just couldn’t get into it. I wanted to smash an enemy. I wanted to break something. I wanted to do something. None of this felt like doing anything. Sure sure; sometimes to go forward you have to feel like you’re going backwards. For whatever it was worth though I felt like we were standing still. I’d gotten used to the constant motion, the constant fight, the constant blood. I’d tried talking to Magda about it the night before but she hadn’t been the best sounding board because she was picking up on my momentum and thriving on it as much as I was.
When Bec knocked on the door and it swung inwards on its own to reveal a bloody handprint, dried brown, streaked along the wall inside the hallway my heart felt like it started up again and all was right with the world once more. I pushed past her and Sam and stalked into the house with Magda behind me, her gun in her hand. My face lit up and Sam looked worried at that. No matter; he could question my stability later.
There were no signs of robbery or other foul play on the main floor of the house; I hadn’t actually expected there to be. The type of people we were dealing with now didn’t root through drawers looking for cash. They didn’t take your TV. Upstairs we found the guy’s study, the guy’s books and knick knacks…the guy’s body. He was nailed to a chair by the window, metal spikes through his hands and shins keeping him there. A wound in his side, small and precise, stained his shirt brown. The smell was terrible and the flies buzzed around in a lazy cloud. Magda covered her mouth, trying not to vomit, and left the room. Bec took one look and followed her. Sam and I stood there looking at him.
“Well fuck,” I said. “Now what. Bec! Now what!?”
“Geez, Michael,” she said from out in the hallway. “How should I know?”
“We should have expected this, yeah?” Sam said, fingering through some of the things on the cluttered desk. “If he had the oil, and now the Nephilim have it, we should have expected this.”
“Yeah,” I mumbled, transfixed by the body. This was the sort of thing we did to people if we thought they had earned it. It was different seeing it from outside of all that rationale. “This is fucking grim, dude.”
“Nephilim are like that, you’ve seen it,” Samael told me, putting his hand on my shoulder. “Come on, Michael. There’s nothing here for us.”
I pulled away from him. “Fuck that. We didn’t come to Kansas to turn around and leave again. Tell me Sam…do these Nephilim love anything?”
“Love? Nephilim? Love?” he asked me incredulously, cocking his eyebrow and looking at me like I was stupid or crazy. Stupid and crazy. “You’ve met a few, you tell me.”
“So what drives them to…this sort of thing,” I asked. “When we do it there’s a reason, so what about them? Is it fear of Ephra and what he might do? Is it duty? What?”
“What are you driving at, friend?”
“What motivates them? They’re off the edge crazy, sure…but why?” I asked him, pulling one of the metal spikes from the professor’s hand with a meaty tearing sound. The flies weren’t happy about it, but they got over it pretty quick and went back to their buffet.
“What the hell are you doing with that?” Sam asked, narrowing his eyes and leaning back from the mess in the chair.
“Someone who really cares about their job left this here. I should be able to follow them back with it, but I need to know why they did it to begin with.”
“You’re macabre,” Samael said to me. “You know that, right?”
“Look who’s talking, Mr. Angel of Death,” I said, looking at him.
“Okay, fair play,” Sam said, shrugging. “Mostly they’re driven by duty. They truly believe in what they do.”
I closed my eyes and held the spike in my fist, trying to listen to what Aposophes had shown me. The Choir. It took a second but I could hear the faint shimmer, the jingle and jangle, all my sense getting the information mixed up between them. I could smell the colors, I could taste the sounds, I could hear the light. Slowly an image formed in my mind of the one who’d driven it home into the guy’s arm. A manic grin, a swing of a hammer, a scream of pain that made him revel in his mindless adherence to orders. In that moment he formed a strong emotional attachment to the spike itself and what it represented to him. In that moment the spike became a symbol of all that he held holy. As long as he remembered what he did here he’d be hooked to it, linked forever by a vast sense of accomplishment.
“Let’s go,” I said, turning and leaving.
I went past Bec and Magda, down the stairs, out to the car. He wasn’t far. He and another. As the others caught up to me I could sense their place in the Choir as well. I could feel, hear, touch, whatever, their movements. Not so much their movements, but why they made them. How they made them. I felt pleased to know that Sam, Becca, and Magda were all driven by love. Love and duty. It was the same sense of duty that the Nephilim who’d done that terror upstairs had felt, but the love colored it a different shade.
“You okay?” Magda asked as she got in the back of the car with me and Sam keyed the ignition.
“Yeah,” I muttered. “Just looking at something.”
She glanced at the spike in my hand, dried blood caked on it, then back up at me. I could feel it and hear it in the Choir without even reading her thoughts. She had no doubts, just a bit of revulsion.
“Where to?” Sam asked.
“Go back into town,” I told him. “The ones that did this are nearby. Probably to wait and see if anyone shows up and starts poking around. So let’s go poke around…”
Becca was putting shells in her shotgun, Magda was double checking her sidearam, Sam was driving. I could see and hear in the Choir the way he used it to know where to go. It was uncanny. He probably thought he couldn’t even do it anymore now that he was mortal, but once you learn something it’s hard to stop doing it. Becca had her own special little rapport as well; a thin tendril of light and sound that connected her to the rest of the Choir. Probably because she was descended from a Nephilim bloodline. It was like a vein or a nerve, information flowing up and down its length. She turned and looked at me after she pumped the action on her now-loaded shotgun.
“What are you doing?” she asked, looking straight in my eyes.
“Hard to explain,” I said shortly, going back to concentrating on the spike and how it resonated with the feelings of the one that had pounded it through flesh.
“Try me,” Bec said.
Instead of saying anything I thought it. I put the image of what I saw in my mind and let her pick it up. I could see it happen, I could see her actually reading my mind; like little motes of light the thoughts and images went from me into the Choir, and from the Choir into her.
“Surreal,” she breathed.
“What’s that then?” Sam asked.
“You never told me it was so beautiful,” she spoke in a hushed tone, looking to Samael. “How could anyone give that up?”
“Oh, I think I see,” he said, shrugging. “Not hearing it after centuries is as amazing as when you see it for the first time if you never have.”
“What?” Bec and I asked at the same time. Magda just looked confused, maybe a bit left out.
“When I gave it up…the silence…it was deafening. It was fucking amazing, yeah?” Sam explained.
“What’s everyone talking about?” Magda asked.
“I’ll show you later,” I told her, putting my free hand on her leg. “I think that’s it up there.”
I was pointing at a gas station with a diner attached to it on the highway at the edge of the sleepy little prairie town. Samael pulled in and killed the engine.
“Is there a plan?” he asked.
“They’re inside. Two of them. I can feel it,” I said, glowering past Magda through the window at the diner. “They’re waiting. Watching. There’s people in there too, normal people. Staff. Three of them. A cook and two waitresses. Two customers. One drives that truck and he loves it, I can see it. The other…that’s his bike there. We need to get them all out of there.”
“We’ll go in the back door over there,” Samael said, pointing. “You and Magda go in the front. We’ll get the staff out the back while you do your thing. Try not to kill them, yeah?”
“What?” I asked. “Oh. Yeah. We only need one of them.”
When we got out of the car I could feel them tense up inside. They had seen us. Sam and Bec went around the back of the building as Magda and I walked in the front door. The waitresses were nowhere to be seen…in the kitchen, I could feel that. The trucker was at the till, waiting to pay. The other guy was at the counter eating pie. The Nephilim were at a table near the window. One had his hand under the table and I could feel him thinking about his gun in his hand. It’s hard to read a Nephilim’s thoughts, but his intention was all over the Choir; he may as well have been holding up a sign that said ‘I’m going to shoot you as soon as I have a clean line’.
I took a wad of crumpled bills from the pocket of my black pants and tossed it on the counter, talking over my shoulder to the trucker and the cyclist. “It’s on me guys, get the fuck outta here…now.”
“Say what now?” the cyclist asked, looking at the bills then at me. The trucker didn’t seem to even notice.
“Get out!” I yelled as I saw the Nephilim with the gun moving up out of the booth.
Magda had her Glock out fast and pulled the trigger; she’d had enough practice at that lately. Nephilim are faster though. He was on his feet and grabbed the cyclist, pulling him in front of himself as the bullet flew through the air. It thumped into the guy’s chest and his eyes went wide as blood spat from his mouth and Magda shrieked. Two bullets came from the Nephilim’s gun towards her and I stepped between, swatting one from the air and taking the other in the chest. I glanced quickly over my shoulder; the trucker had run out the door with his head down.
“Motherfucker!” Magda yelled, her voice a mix of sad and mad.
The other Nephilim, the one with his back to us, grabbed the back of the bench seat and pulled himself over it towards us through the air. Magda put two bullets into him and he fell on a table top, writhing in pain as he tried to get up anyways. Sam and Becca came through separate doors, one on either side of the diner counter, their guns leveled at the Nephilim holding the dead cyclist as a shield. There was a panic on his face, but it couldn’t override his zeal.
“Drop it!” Sam yelled at him.
The Nephilim fired and as Sam dove behind the counter for cover Becca blew the back of his head off with her shotgun. He and the dead cyclist dropped to the floor in a heap. For a second my heart stopped as Bec wheeled on me with the shotgun, then I glanced over my shoulder to see the trucker had come back in and was about to shoot me with a small revolver.
“Stop!” Bec yelled, pumping the shotgun, the empty shell bouncing off the floor. “You want this, man!?”
He ducked behind a booth. The Nephilim on the table to my right was moving again, rolling over. With a wild shriek Magda grabbed the metal spike from my hand and drove it with both her fists wrapped around it through his arm, pinning him to the table’s stained and laminated surface. He let out a yell and grabbed at it, trying to pull it free. The trucker popped up, his little pistol pointed at Becca. Sam popped up too and shot the trucker in the leg, dropping him.
“Fuck, Sam!” I yelled. “What the fuck!?”
This had all gone savagely wrong. I stepped over to the trucker and kicked his gun across the floor, crouching beside him. I put my hand over the wound as he tried to push himself away across the floor. He called out in pain as I drew the bullet from the wound and closed it.
“Go!” I said. “Get out!”
He had a wide eyed look on his face, his eyes going from me to where the wound was, and then back to me. His mouth moving as he tried to say something. I told him to go again and he stumbled out the door, running for his truck.
Magda had dropped to her knees beside the dead cyclist and the Nephilim with the crater for a head. She was pumping on the cyclist’s chest, trying to start his heart. Becca had come around the counter and put the barrel of the shotgun against the remaining Nephilim’s forehead, Sam was moving to her side and covering her with his big handgun.
“What did I do, Michael?” Magda said quietly with tears pouring from her eyes as I knelt beside her and gently pushed her away from the body. “What did I do?”
“Come on man,” I mumbled, trying to restart the cyclist’s heart with my hand on his chest.
I couldn’t even draw the bullet from the wound. I guess dead is dead, even for me.
“Fuck,” I muttered.
Magda was crying. Sam and Becca were yelling at the Nephilim to stay still. He was daring them to shoot him. I stood in a daze, stepping quickly over to him and grabbing the spike pinning his arm. It went between the bones of his forearm and I wrenched it back and forth, twisting it around as he screamed.
“Where’s Ephra!?” I yelled into his face.
“Go fuck yourself!” he spat out, sneering.
I took the spike out with one hard yank and rammed it back in. It caught the bone this time, breaking it and driving through. He screamed again but his face quickly went back to that disturbing mask of manic glee. In the Choir I could hear his unyielding intent.
“Tell me!” I yelled, jerking the spike out and slamming it home once more. He just laughed like an insane person.
I grabbed Becca’s shotgun and put the barrel against his elbow and pulled the trigger. His shriek of pain was high pitched and wild. I grabbed his throat and groin and heaved him through the window to the parking lot outside, leaving his arm pinned to the table with the spike. Dropping the shotgun I jumped through the window after him, landing beside him in a crouch and driving my fist into his stomach. Between bloody coughs he laughed in my face.
“I can do this all day,” I grated into his face through my tightly clenched jaw.
“So can I,” he wheezed, his own blood on his lips and teeth. “Until you kill me at least.”
“Fucking zealots,” Sam said behind me. He’d come outside, Becca close behind with Magda in tow, crying still at what she’d done.
“Bec!” I called out, standing and pinning the Nephilim to the ground with my boot on his chest. “Is there anything thatdoesn’t kill these fucks if you keep doing it?”
“Anything that doesn’t kill them? Most people have tried to figure out what does kill them. It’s not easy short of emptying their heads. You can hurt him all you want but he’ll just laugh until he dies.”
“There has to be something,” I said to her. “Something that won’t kill him.”
“The Seraphim made them…made us…pretty resistant to fire though. To keep them from being burned at the stake too easily in the old days.”
“Traitor!” the Nephilim yelled at her.
I pushed down on his chest with my foot and felt his ribs cracking. He choked out a yell of pain. Sam covered his squirming form with his handgun and I stepped to the gas pump. I took the hose and squeezed the nozzle, covering him in a flood of gasoline.
“Grab that,” I said, pointing to a tangled garden hose at the side of the station.
Sam pulled some of its knotted coils loose and joined me. I was still hosing the Nephilim down with gasoline as he struggled to get away in the gravel. I stomped on his leg and broke it at the knee.
“Tell me where Ephra is,” I said calmly. “This is your last chance before I bring the real pain.”
“Fuck you!” he yelled, blinking and squinting through the gas he was soaked in.
“Fine,” I said.
As I flicked my zippo and dropped it on him Sam and Becca and Magda flinched back from the burst of flames, covering their faces with their arms. I just blinked through the heat and light and stood there, looking down at his writhing form as he burned and screamed and burned.
“Tell me!” I yelled. “Tell me and we’ll give you the hose!”
“To…betray the Fold…is to sin!” he screamed through the flames.
His flesh was bubbling and burning and cooking from his bones. I shot another stream of gas onto him, shaking the flames from the nozzle as I cut it off.
“Tell me!” I yelled again.
I let him burn for a minute or two. It was shocking that this didn’t kill him. Nephilim don’t go into shock though. Their bodies will shut down under enough blunt trauma, and blowing their brains out stopped them dead…but this? This was almost too much even for me. Who would make a servant that would live through this? Who would gladly serve under these conditions? Magda and Becca had turned away. Sam was trying to but he couldn’t take his eyes off the twisted and blackened husk crawling around on the ground trying to just die and get it over with. As the flames died down the charred remains still struggled to pull themselves away through the gravel.
“Tell me,” I said once more, a small blast of gas making the fire jump again. “Tell me and I’ll make it stop.”
“New York,” he rasped out through his lipless face. “Cathedral…St. John…Divine…Cathedral.”
I gestured at Sam who sprayed water from the hose onto the Nephilim’s husk.
“This is…Michael…we…” Sam was saying.
“Did you have a better idea you were keeping from me?” I asked.
“No…but wow, Michael. We just…”
“I know. It had to be,” I said grimly. “Give me your gun.”
What was left of the Nephilim was still struggling. I put the gun to the top of his skull and pulled the trigger. This was one of those things my mother had warned me about. One of those things I’d never be able to sleep through again. Sam and I stood looking at the blackened gravel and the charred thing lying in the middle of it. Becca had gotten Magda to the car. The staff of the diner were looking out the broken window with their hands over their mouths or eyes, peaking between their fingers at something that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
“Come on,” Sam said, putting his hand on my shoulder. “We have to go, yeah?”
“Yeah. Fine. Whatever,” I said, handing his gun back to him.
We were all numb in the car and no one spoke as we drove. I touched their minds in turn; Sam thinking about things he’d done in the past, Becca about how ashamed she was of her own lineage, Magda about the cyclist and the look on his face as her bullet took him in the chest. She played the image over and over in her mind, an endless loop of self torment. I put my hand on her leg and she flinched, looking at me with eyes that had gone hollow and haunted again.
“Don’t touch me,” she thought. “Monster.”
I couldn’t tell if she meant me or her. Either way I took my hand from her leg and she slid her eyes back out at the sunlit fields and rows of beautiful wildflowers along the side of the highway we raced down.
I’d Rather Live Than Live Forever…
Ditching a car in Kansas should be hard. In the end it all comes down to connections, which we had. Skipping over the border and away from the things you’ve done is the easy part; the hard part is living with yourself afterwards. The hard part is sleeping. The hard part is looking in each other’s eyes, so we didn’t. Not at first. Not for awhile.
5am. Me and 5am have never been friends. 5am is that point where the night before becomes the morning after and you’re all alone with botched attempts at happiness and the memories of the things you tried and failed. 5am is for regrets and laughing in the face of hope. If you’re me, 5am is for another bottle and another pack of cigarettes. This morning, 5am was for sitting on the roof of another shitty roadside motel trying to figure it all out. I’d been trying to ‘figure it all out’ for so many years that it was just mental short hand for ‘wallowing in how I couldn’t’.
I sensed her before I saw her, a pulse of light along the connection I had with her telling me she was coming closer. Magda pulled herself over the edge of the roof and walked towards me, holding her arms around her body to keep herself warm. She had on her boots, unlaced, and one of my black button up shirts. That was it. She sat on the back edge of the roof beside me with her knees pulled up to her chest and leaned against me and watched the horizon for some sign that the sun would come up. I thought maybe it never would again.
“You haven’t been to bed at all yet,” she said quietly after a moment or two.
“I don’t need to sleep,” I mumbled.
“Everyone needs to rest,” she said, even quieter. “Do you want me to go? To leave you alone?”
Part of me did. Part of me wished she’d never got hung up with me in the first place. Another part of me was glad she’d come looking for me. The rest of me was still numb. “No. It’s cool. Stay…”
Magda squeezed closer to me, linking her arm through mine. I put my arm around her and she took the bottle of whiskey from me and drank from it. She took my cigarette and took a drag and handed it back.
“What are you thinking up here?” she asked me softly.
“A bunch of shit,” I replied. “Too much, probably. We did what we had to do. That doesn’t make it any easier.”
“Maybe for you. Maybe you did what you had to do. I don’t know. ”
“So you don’t think I’m a monster?” I asked her, an edge on my voice that I didn’t intend.
“What?” she asked, looking over at me. Her voice got quieter, sad. “I was thinking about me, Michael. Not everything is about you.”
“Sorry,” I said, feeling stupid. “I’m not very good at that I guess…reading minds and all that shit.”
“I’ll tell you anything, you know. Just ask me. You know that.”
“You’re not a monster,” I said to her, holding her close. She took the bottle again and had another drink.
“Can you tell me something?” she asked. I nodded and she went on. “Did he have a family?”
I thought back to the guy in the diner. There had been something, strands connecting him to other people or places. Other things. I didn’t know what they meant though so I lied. “No.”
Magda must have seen it on my face or heard it in my voice; the lie. Her body shook under my arm and I heard her suck in a short breath and choke out a little sob. She drained off the last of the whiskey and threw the bottle into the night. I offered her a cigarette and lit it for her with a wooden match, the flare of sulphur lighting up her sad face and reflecting from her tears.
“This is real now,” she said in a shaky whisper.
“It was real to begin with,” I replied. “Now it just sucks.”
“Don’t say anything else,” Magda said to me. “You’re not making it better.”
She finished the cigarette in silence then looked over to me again. She held my gaze for a long time with her soft brown eyes then kissed me. It wasn’t the heavy passion we usually shared with each other, it was gentle and prolonged. She pulled back from my face and looked at me again, looking for something. Whatever it was she must have found it, she kissed me again and I wrapped my arms around her. She was fumbling with the opening of my pants and pulling my cock out with her trembling hands. In her thoughts I could hear her hoping to feel human again, to feel like a woman and not a monster. I pulled Magda over onto my lap and she guided my cock into her with one hand while grabbing the back of my head with the other and kissing me harder.
I wrapped both my arms around her and held onto her tightly while she slowly rocked her hips back and forth with me deep inside of her. She had her fingers tangled in my hair, holding me as tightly as I held her. Her moans grew louder and I could feel her gaining some peace in the raw physical act of love. Slow and steady and sensual she moved around, minutes passing as she found in our love making what she had lost in the diner that morning.
It went on and on, both of us tangled together; physically and spiritually…I could see the strands of light pulsing and flaring between us and wished she could see it too. I touched her with it to let her experience it as I had once before, gently this time instead of forcefully. As the image drew itself in her mind she gasped and cried out. Seeing what I saw, she lost control and began yelling her pleasure into the night.
Suddenly there was a new light, a light of this world. Sitting on the edge of the roof at the back of the motel we were in a small circle of white light from below us.
“Hey! You two! You have a room! Use it!” a voice yelled from below.
I squinted against the light and could just barely make out the man holding the flashlight.
“Sorry!” I yelled down to him, laughing.
“Get off my roof!” he shouted, then turned and left.
Magda looked embarrassed at first but my smile infected her and she nervously started to chuckle as well. She climbed off of me and I put myself back in my pants and zipped them up. She still had tears in her eyes, but the smile on her face balanced it out.
“Should we finish this inside?” I asked her.
“Uh…yeah?” she said softly, then laughed out loud. “Come on, let’s go.”
I helped her back down the other side of the roof and we went to our room and made love until the sun came up and it was time for us to leave another motel behind. 5am might be for regrets, but it could also be for renewal. If you don’t repent then you can’t forgive yourself. If you don’t regret then you can’t change. When you lose hope it just means that now you can find it again.
We’d lost it together. We found it together. We slept together in the car the next day as Sam drove.