Thursday, October 18, 2012

Carry the stone

I enter the bar and uncerimoniuosly take my usual booth. To call this place a dive would suggest it had some sort of charm which keeps bringing me here day after day. It doesn’t.

The tables are all coated so thick with grease that if you were to run your finger across their surface you’d pull it back black. It’s been decades since the windows had glass in their frames. They’re boarded up so tight that, even though it’s just before noon, they let in no sunlight. The other patrons plant themselves in stools held together with duct tape and a prayer. When they do get up and move around the air is so thick with dust and smoke it’s more akin to walking through mud than an open room. The jukebox is broken and only plays Hey You by Pink Floyd, but no one ever has the energy to walk over and unplug the damn thing.

Yes, there are other places for us to go; ones filled with celebrations, laughter and long anticipated reunions. Sometimes a particular crowd will get so loud their jovial songs are able to permeate these molding walls. But, no, those aren’t the types of environments for people like me. You could say it’s this bar’s utter desolation which beckons me.

After a few minutes the waitress walks over, sets my drink before me and slinks away without a word. I chug it down with purpose and return it to the table empty. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and look at my fellow patrons. Occasionally you’ll have a guy or one of the more adventurous parties pop in for awhile, but it doesn’t take them long to realize they don’t belong here; not like us regulars. We’re all of us looking for something. You can tell by our constant glances at the door; searching for an arrival which never shows. For as long as I’ve been coming here none of us have uttered a single word; more content to try and drown away our demons in silence.

The waitress brings my second round and, as always, I try with futility to get drunk. The drinks must be more water than ale, because every day I hammer them back from open to close and never achieve so much as a buzz. But I keep trying, because anymore it’s all I know how to do.

Hours pass, though time really is just as meaningless as the alcohol I consume. One of the gentleman at the bar begins to wail loudly and I busy myself with my newly filled glass. The bell above the entrance chimes and after forty long years my wait is over.

There she is standing in the doorway.

Her eyes scan the crowd and when they meet mine she gasps with enough force to cause the dust to dance around her. Her smile causes my eyes to leak and, suddenly, she’s sitting across from me.

“I…” her voice breaks. She looks away and takes a deep breath and begins chewing on her thumbnail. After several moments she clasps her hands on the table in front of her and returns her gaze to me before trying again. “I was hoping I might find you here.”

“Yeah…I figured I’d have ended up in the really bad one too.” She nods and blinks away a tear. “My God, you’re so beautiful.” is the only thing I can bring myself to say.

“Really? I’d asked them to make me look like you’d remember.” She says through the sheepish smile which makes me melt every time.

“Not that I’m not ecstatic to see you, but why are you here?” I ask.

“Isn’t it obvious? I was looking for you.”

“But why? I figured you moved on a long time ago.”

“I got married. Had two kids.” I’m unable to hide a pained expression at the last revelation. “I lived a long life, though that wasn’t something one can simply move on from.”

I nod before saying, “Tell me about your kids.”

“They’re wonderful.” She beams. “A boy and a girl. He became a pharmicist and she teaches fifth grade. They even blessed me with the most amazing grandchildren.”

“And your husband? Did he treat you right?”

“Yes. He was a good, kind man. We were happy.”

“That’s great.” I tell her with as much sincerity as I can muster. “I’m so very happy for you.” Then I look down at my hands. She reaches over and takes them in hers. After a beat she turns them over so my palms face the ceiling and begins to stroke my wrists. “I’m so sorry.” This is when I break.

“Shh…, it’s okay, baby.” She tells me as she places her right hand under my chin and lifts it until my eyes meet hers. She swallows hard before saying, “I was upset with you for a long time. Then I was just so angry.”

“I understand.” I tell her and try to look away, but she grabs me and pulls me back.

“You owe me this.”

I nod and don’t avert my eyes again.

“I know now it didn’t have anything to do with me, but it fucked me up for a long time. No matter who I was with, even my husband, I still thought about you and wondered ‘what if’. We never even got a chance and I felt cheated. I couldn’t believe you just…” This time it’s her eyes which wander and they stop at the open wounds running up my wrists.

I get up and sit down in the booth beside her. For the first time ever I take her in my arms and hold her tight. We weep together until neither of us have any tears left.

“How did you…” I start to ask as I hand her a napkin.

“Cancer.” She takes it and wipes her eyes. “I battled it for two years until one night I went to sleep and was just gone.”

“I’m glad it was peaceful and you’re not hurting anymore.” I tell her.

“You’re still the same.” She says as she touches my cheek another time. “I came here to tell you two things. One: I forgive you.” She leans in and presses her lips against mine, filling my body with a warmth I’ve been lacking since I first came to this place. She breaks the kiss and leans in closer until she’s right against my ear and whispers, “Two: I’ve got a room nearby and we have so much catching up to do.”

We don’t say another word as we exit the booth and make our way to the exit. As I open the door and hold it for her I notice the cuts which once marred my wrists and forearms have vanished without so much as a scar. Before I cross the threshold I glance back at the regulars. I hope some day soon this door opens for them to find their angel which will lead them out of the Purgatorio and grant them peace.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Something Like Happiness

This whole thing began,
with a conversation on a dimly lit screen.
I listened to your thoughts on love,
You goals and everything in between.
The sun is about to rise,
And I’ve not yet been to sleep.
But as I close my eyes I smile,
Knowing you’ll be in my dreams.
I love the sound of my name,
As it passes through your lips.
I start to ache for,
A gentle caress from you fingertips.
Just thinking of you,
Makes my heart beat like thunder.
Even though I don’t know where this’ll lead,
I can’t help but wonder.
End Chorus:
I awake with new feelings,
That’ve yet to be defined.
My thoughts return to you,
So sweet, loving and kind.
As I brave the world outside,
There’s a smile on my face.
I’ve got this new spark inside,
And I ain’t gonna let it go to waste.
Chorus: 1x.
If you’ll just take my hand,
We can leave the past behind.
You can fight off all your demons,
Knowing I’m there by your side.
Right now I’m not gonna worry,
About what might come from this.
All I know is that you make me feel,
Something like happiness.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Surprise Visit.

(Knock knock)


No, it's not that, exactly. I just wasn't expecting you to drop by. It's been so long...

Yeah, I guess you can come in. Have a seat. How have you been?

Look, stop right there. I was just trying to be a good host, I don't really care.

Don't take the hostility so personally. I'm not really a fan of anyone these days.


So, what are you doing here?

You missed me?

Yeah, it is a little hard to believe. I hate when people say that to me. It's all I ever hear from anyone. "I miss you". But then they never call. Never stop by. Then, just when I get used to not having them around, to handling things on my own, that's when I'm missed. So take the longing or whatever you want to call it and shove it up your ass. I don't need it.

Don't bring that up. You have no right to talk about the good times. Not anymore.

Yeah, I do sometimes.

Well, I miss how it felt to be around you, when it was still good. I felt like there wasn't a thing in the world that could touch me. Turns out you could. It took me down hard. I'd give anything to feel invincible again.

It's fine, really. I am over it. Doesn't mean I wanna try to make a run with anyone else. I think that part of me is gone.

I don't know how to care anymore. I just feel so fucking numb and I don't know how to stop it. Don't look at me like that. It's really not as bleak as it sounds. I'd have to feel something to be depressed, right?



I did for awhile. Just started again last month. OK, what have been up to? I was an asshole earlier, I really would like to know.

Oh. Did he treat you alright?

I guess that's why you talked about him in the past tense. When did it end?

Wait. It just ended three days ago, and now you're here? What's this really about?

You've said that already. I didn't believe it then. You just miss being with someone. Especially someone who didn't do what the other guy did. Well, fuck you. I'm not picking up the pieces this time.

Oh, it's not? That's how we got together in the first place, remember? Some guy dumped you and I was the rebound that just stuck around long after your use for me was over. I'm not going through it again. I wish you the best of luck and all, but I want no part of it. It's probably best if you'd leave right now, it's going to take a long time for me to get over this again.

Yeah, I know. You never do. last time.

(an embrace)

(lips meet, tongues explore)

(faces linger an inch apart)

See? I don't feel a thing. Have a good night.


Harbinger Ch. 10

We Interrupt This Broadcast

Do you want to know the secret of a long lasting, happy marriage? The answer is really quite simple; it’s finding perfection in the banality of the day to day. Take tonight for instance. When I got off of my shift my wife and I cooked dinner together, talking of our days and ate at the table in relative silence. Afterwards, we cuddled up on the couch and watched hours of bad TV before retiring to bed.

Now, you may say that doesn’t seem like much, but it’s having this to come home to that gets me through the day. It’s what I live for. She’s sleeping soundly next to me and I smile. I lay on my back and take it all in. Her scent still hangs heavy in the air from when we made love hours ago. It intoxicates me. I lay on my back and listen to the rhythmic sounds of her breathing. This is the closest to heaven I ever want to be.

Despite that, however, there’s this nagging sense of dread that I can’t seem to shake. Something in the back of my mind is screaming for acknowledgement, but it’s impossible to define. It’s like chasing a white rabbit through a blizzard; I can only get a glimpse of it before it disappears again. Something bad has happened, but why can’t I remember it? My wife shifts at my side, her breathing becoming erratic.

Then the TV at the foot of our bed kicks on. On its screen rhere's an old, white man in a suit behind a news desk. There's absolutely nothing remarkable about him save for his hands. They are crimson and oozing all over the table. He smiles at me. Not to the camera. He smiles at me.

"Good Evening Jerry." The man in the TV says to me. He then looks to my right. "Mrs. Delange, you look absolutely radiant."

At my side, my wife lets out a giggle I've never heard before. I turn to look at her and I can only process what I see in fragments.

First, she's laying on her side with her back to me. The long auburn hair that should be resting past her shoulderblades is absent. This is because her head is turned 180 degrees and facing me. Her eyes are opened wide, painfully so because tears are flowing down her face. This a stark contrast to the smile stretching from one ear to the other. From the TV's glow I can see teeth wet with blood behind the cheshire grin.

"Hey, Jerry. Can I have your attention?" The TV man beckons my gaze back to him. His hands are stretched out, reaching for me and dripping gore. My wife begins laughing hysterically at my side.

"Now," the TV Man says. "Lady and gentleman..."

My wifes laughing becomes so loud I feel like my eardrums are about to burst.

"...I proudly present to you..."

I glance over at her, still facing me and still laughing. Blood begins to seep from her every pore. I look back at the TV.

"...The end of the world." The TV cuts off. I look outside and the sky erupts into flames.

I sit up lean to my left and throw my guts up into the trashcan by the bed. I'm back in the hotel room. Not at home. Rain beats down on the windows. No fire. I look to my right at the empty space next to me. I'm all alone.

It was just a dream. Just a bad, bad dream.

The angels are gone. I don't need to check my surroundings for them, I can simply feel their absence. The security and complacency I felt at their side is gone now. More urgent things suddenly come to mind. Like my wife.

I reach for the phone on the nightstand and punch in my wife's cell phone number. Straight to voicemail. I try the home phone. No luck. This isn't right. My partner's dead and I'm missing. There's no way she wouldn't answer. Something's wrong and I need to go home.

I get dressed and drink two glasses of water. I grab my gun and tuck it in the waistband of my pants and my last clip into the front pocket of my jeans. I place the knife Gabe gave me into my boot and I call a cab. I leave the angels a note that says "Fuck it" before I walk outside to wait for my ride in the rain.

Harbinger Ch. 9

A Very Rude Awakening

It always starts out exactly the same way, with total darkness. I can't see anything, but the dins of war are overwhelming. Metal scrapes against metal. Thousands of wings rustle together in flight. Battle cries and screams of anguish can be heard from all directions. Then, there are the wet sounds of liquid splashing across the ground, always followed by a heavy weight. I open my eyes and gasp.

For millennia, we've lived in peace. There was never so much as a harsh word spoken between any of us. That's all over, now. After tonight nothing will ever be the same again. The fighting stretches far beyond my eye's capabilities to follow. The sky fills with the sounds of heavy sobs.

Father is crying.

Something heavy strikes my right temple, sending me to the ground. I drop my sword and my assailant kicks it away before I get a chance to retrieve it. My head is filled with a blinding white light that makes it impossible to see who is standing above me.

"Do you want to live?" The voice asks. It's him.

My vision kicks back in. His blonde hair flows in the wind behind him. His light blue eyes gleam with hatred. His golden armor and perfect face are stained in red. The point of his sword is at my throat. He started all of this.

The Morning Star.

"I'm only going to ask you this once more, Uriel." He says. "Do you want to live?"

"Yes." is all I can say.

"Then denounce Him."

I was more than thankful for the thunder that brought me out of my nightmare. We have them every night to serve as a reminder. I sit up in my bed that's soaked in sweat and wipe the sleep from my eyes. The glowing red numbers on the alarm clock read 9:17 pm. Just as well, I needed to get up anyways.

I stand up, stretching my arms and wings as I make my way to the window. The rain is coming down hard. It mixes with discarded motor oil before it reaches the storm drains. It's getting to the point that I can't even remember what this world was like before it became sick, back when it was still clean and untouched. Before men.

A harvest moon hangs in the sky, never a good sign. My cell phone rings and I answer it. Gabriel's on the other end.

"Uriel?" He sounded panicked. He never gets that way. Another bad sign.


"There's been another attack. Man, they're getting more brazen."

"Calm down. What happened?"

"They got a convenience store this time. 9 people were inside when it went up."

"What kind of demon was it?"

"No. That's just it. It wasn’t a demon. It was..." his voice cracked, " the Fallen, man. They're here."

"That's impossible. They're not allowed to come up."

"Yeah, well, apparently things have changed. We saw them and they blew us all to hell."

"Them? How many were there? And do we know which ones?"

"There were two of them, Naomhan and Alya.."

"This is insane. First the cop and now this? What's going on, Gabe?"

“I don't know. Something bad is coming. Can you meet us at the usual place?" He sounds like he's on the verge of tears.

"Yeah. I'll be there in thirty minutes."

I hang up the phone, get dressed, grab my weapons and I’m out the door in five.

Harbinger Ch. 8

 Of Broken Rules And Shaken Faith

“You’re really quiet, Gabe. What are you thinking about?” Michael asks after almost an hour of driving in silence. Gabe sits in the driver seat with his right hand on the wheel, while he bites the thumb nail on his left hand. He only does this when he’s worried. Michael lets the question hang in the air for a couple of minutes before he presses further. “Come on, man. Talk to me.”

“I had a conversation with Jerry earlier.”

“Yeah, what about?”

“He just asked the questions any other human in his situation would.” He replies after spitting a piece of nail out the open window.

“And what’d you tell him?”

“I answered them to the best of my ability. It’s funny…”

“What is?”

“Just fifty years ago I could have answered them all and be sure of what I told him. Now it’s all changed. I’m starting to feel like I don’t know anything at all.”

“It’s not like that, Gabe and you know it.”

“Oh, it isn’t?” He takes his eyes off the road to stare at his partner for a few beats. “We’ve been down here off and on since, what, the beginning of time? How can you look me in the eye right now and tell me it’s the same? The last forty-eight hours alone should have opened your eyes.

“You just need to have faith.” Michael says in the softest tone he can muster through gritted teeth.

“And you need to be realistic.” He hides his anger with nervous laughter. “I guess there really is such a thing as blind faith. You need to look at the facts. This has gone far past what it all used to be. See, it used to be just a contest of influences between us and them, more or less. Now they’re turning it into a full blown war. Humans have gone from chess pieces to casualties of a fight they have no place in. Jerry’s life is over now just because he walked into the wrong house.”

“It's not as bleak as you're making it out to be.”

“That's because you're assuming that we're all still following the old rules when, really, it's just us. That's why we got caught with our pants down.

They've got Belith running around killing people. Why? Because they're not scared of us anymore. You didn't fight him, I did and he took me down like I was nothing.”

“So that's what this about, isn't it? You lost a fight and you don't know how to cope with it.”

“You're damn right! Belith is only they're second string. How do you think we're gonna do when they bring out the real heavy hitters?”

“It's impossible. They can't come up here.”

“And humans can't see us for what we are either, right?”

“I'm trying real hard to be positive here, Gabriel. So I'd really appreciate it if you'd...” Their hood catching on fire cuts Michael off in mid sentence.

“Beatrice!” Gabe screams as he slams on the breaks and jumps out of the car. He takes off his jacket and proceeds to swat at the flames. “It's gonna be alright, girl. Stay with me.” He puts the flames out in seconds, with only some minor damage. “Oh, man...just look at her.”

“Would you stop worrying about your fucking primer and look at this?” Michael screams in panic as he points to the gas station across the street.

“So, you believe me now don't you?” Gabe says as he joins Michael's side, where two figures stand on the roof of the gas station.

The first is a woman, who is strikingly beautiful if you look at her at the right angle. Otherwise, she's just striking. Her brilliant red hair is flowing in some places, singed patches in others, while scar tissue fills the gaps between the two. Her nose had been melted off, with burns covering the top of her face on the left side. The left eye milky white, the blindness being a result of the trauma she had experienced. Her right harm nothing but burned flesh which ended in a ball of fire engulfing the hand. Her left arm remained unharmed and carries an extravagant golden shield. She once had wings, but now there is nothing but a few bones jutting from her shoulder blades covered sparsely with blackened feathers. The flowing gown she wears covers up any horrors that may lie beneath.

Her companion is a male about a foot and a half shorter than her, putting him just under five. His body horribly emaciated, making the baggy pants he wears hang off of him even more. Nothing covers his torso, revealing crisscross patterns of cuts that cover most of his bare flesh. His eyes have no lids and an endless stream of tears flow from them. The expression on his face is enough to break your heart. Sticking out of his back are two, long reeds. They both just stare at the angels in silence.

“It's the fallen...” Michael can only gasp.

“What do we do now?” Gabe asks, desperate for some kind of plan.

“I...I don't know.”

It's hard to tell how long this silence lasts, but it makes Gabe uncomfortable. “Hey, Alya!” he yells across the street, pretending to ignore the glare Michael is shooting at him. “There's something I've been wondering for a long time.”

Alya's body remains stoic.

“Did it hurt?”

Her eyes sharpen with malice.

“I'm serious, did it hurt? You know, when you fell from heaven?”

Her right arm raises, making her grimace in pain. The ball of fire engulfing her hand grows larger. Once it reaches the size of a basketball she hurls it in their direction, but it's going to come up short.

“She's a terrible shot.” Gabriel chuckles.

“She's not aiming for us, she's going for...” The ball of flame collides with the gas tanks 20 feet from them. The whole station goes up in one massive fire ball, the concussive blast sending Micheal slamming into the rear door on the driver side of their car and Gabe goes sailing through a store front window. Then nothing except for the sound of a few dozen car alarms.

When Michael finally manages to stand and look at the flaming store, there are no sign of their attackers.

“This sucks.” Gabriel says as he climbs out of the store, wiping glass out of his hair.

“You were right, Gabe. Things have gotten bad and we never even saw it coming.”

“Yeah...I don't wanna play anymore.”

Harbinger Ch. 7

One for the Road

“Why do we do the things we do? Does anyone know what it is that drives us, the true motivations behind our actions? I know most people don't tend to give into their more...animalistic urges. The majority of them have a conscience that helps them stay in line which, unfortunately for you, is something I've always lacked. Are they just better at keeping their demons at bay? Oh...don't worry. These are all rhetorical questions, I'm not expecting you to answer through all that duct tape.” Cade tells the young woman he has bound and gagged in the bathtub of his basement. Then as an afterthought, “I guess you'd need your tongue too, huh?”

At one point she had been beautiful, but the months of torture she has been put through have reduced her to nothing more than 120 pounds of meat. The irony of it taking some psycho cutting an extra 18 pounds off of her to finally reach her dream weight is lost completely. It's gotten to the point where she's starting to forget that she once had a life outside of these walls. Everyday a little more of her humanity is stripped away, leaving only pain and the desire for him to just finish what he’s started.

Cade has been doing this for a long time and he's gotten it down to a science. He acquires two victims a year. He sometimes goes shopping in other states to keep the disappearances from appearing to be related. Thousands of people vanish without a trace, what are two more a year?

When he gets them pack to his place he shaves them completely, giving him a clean canvas to do his work. He spends days with them; cutting, burning, removing parts, whatever pops into his head at the time. He will then patch them up using information he obtained from old medical journals, yielding sloppy results. They're given a few weeks to heal before the whole process starts over. This will usually last for a full six months, but he's growing tired of so much time with one victim.

Which brings us to the now. After he received that note this morning, everything changed. He stayed home all day, not sure what to do next. He paced back and forth for hours, growing increasingly impatient for his instructions. Then, he received another letter through the mail slot just before noon. Her read over it a dozen times, called his boss to tell him he quit, withdrew all the money in his bank account, rented a car and came home. Ever since then, he's been sitting with his guest in silence. When he does speak it's not directly to her, but not just to himself either.

“I have to say, I am a little disappointed. I was expecting another gift like the one the first came with. A letter through the mail slot is just kind of...anti-climatic. I'm almost hesitant to go through with this, but they're going to turn me in if I don't. Way I see it, might as well have some fun since I’ve really no other choice. Just thinking about it all makes every nerve in my body tingle at the possibilities.

My life here is over. Once I leave this house I can't come back. For the first time I’m not really sure what the future holds. That means I've got to put everything here to rest. I'm very sorry to tell you, that you're one of the things I've got to leave behind. I do want you to know how much I've enjoyed our time together. So much so, I've decided to do the right thing by you and not cause you anymore harm. You should be dead of natural causes in a few days.” He stands up and makes his way to the door. Just before he crosses the threshold, he stops to face his guest. “Goodbye, sweetheart and if anyone calls, tell them I'll be in Columbus.”