When They Called Her Home [Flash Fiction]
Three days without sleep was the least of my worries. The three dead bodies on the floor? They were a worry. The three cops who bust into the apartment and found me ankle deep in said bodies? Considerably higher up my list of concerns.
They do say these things always happen in threes.
Unfortunately for me, the cops were human. Killing them was off the cards. I couldn’t explain to them why I was standing in a room with recently slaughtered corpses, either. Discretion, I’d been told. Cluing in the mortals… they wouldn’t have believed me. Tell a man you’ve killed an angel, he’ll think you’re nuts. Tell him you’ve killed three, he’ll think… well, the same, but with an added mass murderer bonus.
“Drop the weapon!” one of the cops yelled.
I dropped the Sword of Damocles.
“Get down on the ground and put your hands behind your head!”
“Please,” I prompted.
They also say that manners maketh man. It’s not true. Men are rude. Instead of asking politely, the shoutey cop made a jabbing motion with his gun. His two friends tensed up. They didn’t need an excuse. Tensions were already high. A sword-wielding black woman standing ankle-deep in eviscerated white boys? I wasn’t about to add that fuel to the fire. I did the knees thing. The hands behind the head thing. I got read my rights—such as they are—and then I did the handcuffs thing. Not for the first time, but never for this reason.
Two hours later, I found myself in an interrogation room, awaiting a visit from a lawyer. While I waited, I watched the eternal struggle between life and death.
In the corner of the room, near the world’s smallest window, a spider had set up shop. Done alright for himself, too. Caught himself a couple of flies, all bound up for later snacking. And a butterfly, borne on the trailing edge of some fellow butterfly’s hurricane, was blown into the web. There, it struggled, its instincts telling it to get the hell out right now.
Beautiful creatures, butterflies. Bright, delicate, elegant… like the outsides of angels. But on the inside? Angels are more like the spider that hurried towards the struggling butterfly. They’re dark and predatory and patient. God, so patient.
The door opened, and my lawyer stepped in, a briefcase clasped in his hand. I saw a familiar pair of eyes looking out from behind his mortal peepers. Same eyes I’d seen every time I crossed a name off the list.
The lawyer took a seat oppose me at the table, and my mortal jailer left us alone. For a long moment, the lawyer stared at me, and I felt like the butterfly beneath the spider’s gaze. Sure, he had pretty blue eyes and floppy blond hair, but he was a spider, no doubt.
“You and I need to redefine the meaning of ‘discretion,'” he said.
I bowed my head. Aimed for contrite. “I’m sorry, Gabriel. If I’d known they had a panic button, I would’ve come up with a different plan. Next time, I will be more careful.”
The spider looked at me from behind the mortal eyes. I hadn’t seen this body before; probably some local, somebody familiar to the police.
“Next time? There’s talk from the others that you’ve had too many chances already. Some are suggesting we… terminate… your agreement.”
Pain blossomed in my palm as the nails on my curled fingers bit into my skin. I willed the pain away, forced myself to meet Gabriel’s gaze. “Have they found a better solution?”
He didn’t quite manage to hide his grimace. “No. But they believe you’re a liability.”
“And you?” I leant forward, painfully aware of the cuffs around my ankles and wrists, and how exposed, how vulnerable, I was. “What do you believe?”
“I believe you’ve crossed eleven names off the list in six months. That’s more than we’ve been able to do in six centuries. I also believe you’re getting sloppy. Complacent. You allowed mortals to interfere.” The latter was said with a sneer.
“You can fix this, can’t you?”
Of course he could fix it. I knew it. He knew it. The whole Heavenly Host knew it. But whether he would… that was another matter.
“I’m not sure I should,” he said. “The media has already caught wind of this. Even if I can erase the evidence, your identity may have been made.”
“I’ll find another body.” This one was starting to get a little worn around the edges, anyway. They say most humans are only good for a couple of years, and I’d been wearing mine for eight. “And I’ll be more careful. I promise.”
Gabriel studied me for a long moment, and I wondered how much of what he’d said was a bluff. He was honourable, as far as angels went, but some of the others wouldn’t hesitate to renege on a deal, especially with someone like me.
At last, he sighed. “I can’t stay in this body any longer; the human is too aware of my presence. I’ll erase you from the minds of all who’ve seen your face. I’ve already taken care of the security cameras in this precinct; the media will take a little longer.” He stood, and dusted a fleck of dust from his lawyer suit. “I’ll leave the door unlocked. Wait thirty seconds, then walk out. The Sword of Damocles is in the secure lockup at the back of the building; you’ll find the door open. Find somewhere quiet to ditch your human body, and find another quickly. This will be the last time I’m pulling your ass out of the fire.”
“Wait.” For a wonder, he did. “Like you said, I’ve scratched eleven names off that list of yours. Is that enough?”
“To erase the mark of banishment from your soul?” He shook his head. “Not even close. You killed two of our brothers, Astaroth. For that, you must atone, and your payment must be made in blood. So long as even one of our Fallen kin walks the Earth, Heaven’s gates will remain barred to you.” He winced in pain as his control of his human body started to slip. “Do your job. When you have cleansed the world of all who followed Azazel, we will welcome you home. Until then… discretion.”
Gabriel left, and I began a silent count in my head. Not for the first time, I cursed myself for my foolishness. I should’ve known following Azazel to Earth would lead to chaos. Should’ve known getting back into God’s good graces wouldn’t be as easy as hunting down a few fellow fallen angels. Should’ve known better than to hope for forgiveness from my brothers and sisters.
As I neared my count to thirty, I turned my attention back to the cobweb in the corner of the room. Ironic, how life for one means death for the other; and how death feeds life. And, for the most part, we’re powerless to affect the outcome.
But not today. Today, I blew a little hurricane of my own into the corner of the room. The silken trap tore. I watched the butterfly escape the spiderweb, and I laughed
Today’s story has been three weeks in the making—go check out some of the other stories popping up on Chuck’s blog. I took a little liberty with this story; Astaroth is actually a Duke of Hell (rather than a fallen Grigori, like Azazel), and you can read all about him in the Lesser Key of Solomon. If, y’know, you’re into that sort of thing. Which I’m not. Hey, look over there at that thing.
*Waves hand vaguely in other direction*
Picture from Pixabay. Pixabay contributors are awesome, and I bought them coffee. If you agree, why not buy them coffee too?