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Angels and Heathens

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Angels and Heathens

Postby Chaeronia » Fri Aug 24, 2007 1:33 am

The angels fight above me as a I walk: a torrent of brutality lighting the dulled-silver skies with shocks of colour that fall as celestial showers and ruin my clothes. Their proximity should scare me; I have been witness to their terrible power more than once today. The streets are quiet and still with fear or reverence, families locked away in their transient homes whilst the calamity rages above them. The lure is strong, though, and some cannot help but watch from windows, faces pressed against panes, eyes sucked up into their sockets.

An hour ago it had been different, when it began. The roads and streets had been ripe with watchers. Traffic had stopped unashamedly and shops were left unmanned. The initial flourishes of car horns and managerial complaints were quickly silenced as word and whisper spread, and faces turned to the skies: an inescapable black hole of human interest.

I had watched, too, transfixed, as tumescent clouds bubbled and coalesced, uniting and dividing like confused cells. Growing darker. Building to something.

'The heavens have opened,' a woman next to me said. She was half right.

'Not just the heavens,' I responded, but she gave no impression of having heard me.

I thought of Marie, then, a thought not inspired by the heavenly (or anti-heavenly) happenings which I now knew were taking place, but by the woman who seemed to ignore me. I saw myself in her, however unfair that was on either of us, when Marie first told me what was going to transpire.

How do you react when someone tells you the Angels are coming? When that someone isn't a faceless internet *beep* up, but a person so intrinsic to you, to the way you do things and the way you think, what then? She never gave me the chance to mock or laugh at the idea; she was insistent and scared from the beginning. My whys and whats and hows were met with noncommittal shrugs. She didn't know why or what or how, she just knew.

'It should be enough,' she said.

She loved me so she persisted. I loved her too, I still do, but she was consumed by her knowledge and talked of nothing else, or didn't talk at all. She was so persevering, so suddenly removed from the person I knew. Her epiphany had taken her somewhere I could not follow. And when I realised that I preferred her obstinate, personal periods of silence – which, I'm sure, she soon noticed and couldn't fail to see as perfidious – when I came to treat them as times of relief, I knew it was over.

She watched me with her wide, brown eyes as I packed my bags, arms wrapped around her skinny knees. One word even hinting of contrition and I would have stopped, unpacked and put the kettle on. We could have talked. Any kind of give in her relentless zeal and I would have stopped. She loved me, though, and she wouldn't acquiesce.

She was crying as I left, which was so very nearly enough, but I needed words. My stupid *beep* pride needed words and they weren't forthcoming. My heart broke to the sound of a closing door.

I never entertained the idea that she was right, and I've still to decide whether or not that was unforgivable of me. It probably was, is.

But she was, and I knew as soon as I saw the clouds starting to swell and gyrate. Building to something. Despite the esoteric meteorological movements the readiness of this acceptance honestly surprised me. To so easily accept such a panoply of preposterousness, the theological ramifications, the knowledge that many had been right about this...

Maybe I had believed her all along. I didn't like to think about that.

One hour ago.

Their appearance was met with shrieks of horror, amazement, even vindication. They were spat from the billowing clouds, their black limbs and wings flailing with an epileptic ferocity that would have snapped any human body into a crumbled heap of unnatural angles. They were quick to right themselves, hands and feet pawing at nothingness like ethereal synchronised swimmers, and finding balance as their giant wings unfolded to full, terrible glory.

They filled pockets of the sky, swarming amongst each other until they seemed to mesh as one, like clots of the sky. The shocks of colour began, bright flowerings of cherubim fallout. It took some time before I realised that they were fighting, that these explosions were the result of landed blows. It was hard to distinguish individual actions amongst the throng of them, but even so it was clear. They were fighting, as Marie said they would (fighting like children, like men, and I couldn't shake the disappointment). Others soon picked up on it, pointing, shouting, hissing at one another in fervour. The fear increased, but it remained outweighed by fascination.

Then one of them fell.

Good or bad I couldn't tell, they all looked the same. And even if they didn't how could I tell? It plummeted, a piece of debris, cocooned by broken wings. It fell close to us so that we could see its form more clearly and yet it was still featureless. My eyes seemed to slip from it when trying to focus, as if it was covered in an optic grease. It remained merely a black thing with wings.

Biblical met secular as the angel was swallowed by the skyline's industrial maw. We lost sight of it as it fell behind a row of office buildings. I could picture where it fell, though: a crossroads close to the underground tube that I take every working day. A convergence of human activity. And as we heard the explosion that rocked even us, a thousand metres away, and forced a gasp from all present, I pictured a hundred charred, concentric bodies lying in the fallen angel's wake.

Each flying, heavenly host scrapping in the skies was suddenly revealed as a potential bomb blast. They *beep* ran then.

An hour ago, when the world changed and I began my walk. It was obvious where I had to go, and I'm not far now.

I want to walk, despite the dangers and because I picture the tubes as seething cauldrons of fear, excitement, preaching and perhaps last-minute conversions by the occasional priest with a captive and subservient audience. Good luck to them, but I never believed in God and it will take more than a host of angels fighting for my eternal denouement to convince me.

So I continue my journey along streets that remain largely devoid, faces still at panes, eyes still sucked into sockets.

Some do brave the outside, though, streaked as I am with rainbow detritus: couples looking at each other rather than on high; single souls sporting broad smiles and something to drink. These are the people who have been waiting for this, and I can't help but grin in turn as I pass them, offering nods to those who meet my eyes. They nod back, every one, and I am delighted. As they teem above us like rats, threatening an end and, worse, a beginning to all things, we raise our glasses, imaginary or literal, in toast. Morituri te salutant!

And suddenly I'm here. Number 12a, Bay Lane, where Marie lives. Where I used to live until a month ago. Is that how long it's been? Already? I should have called.

I pause before her green door, looking up at her bedroom window and hoping to see her fragile face looking down at me like she used to do, waiting for me. (You arrogant, arrogant wanker.) But there is no welcoming committee and nor do I deserve one. I just cannot believe I didn't call.

I knock before realising the door is already open and a hundred movie clips flitter through my mind, none of them good. I enter with false bravado, trying to trick myself that nothing, besides the blatant, is wrong. The trick is quickly revealed.

I walk into a maelstrom mess: distended bin liners blot the room like tumours; unwashed clothes lacquered in cigarette ends and ash and books – so many books – and newspapers and empty bottles of vodka. Her kitchen plants are dead and I fear for her cat. Our cat. In the room's corner the hard drive flickers its dormancy and I picture her scouring multitudinous websites. The room is oppressively warm and it stinks, and it's everything I imagined it to be.

I reach the stairs and call her name again as I begin to climb, expecting no answer but wanting to assure her that I am not some opportunist thief. She's probably drunk, comatose against her prophesying. She might not even know. She might be...

I take the rest of the stairs three at a time and burst into her bedroom without protocol. She's there, sitting on her bed, upright and alive; she's there but I cannot focus.

My eyes keep slipping from her.
'There's a vampire, dad. It's trying to get me.'
'I know, son,' he said softly. 'I saw it.'
'You saw it?'
'Yeah. I broke its bloody neck. I won't have no vampires in my house.'
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Postby clknaps » Fri Aug 31, 2007 1:47 am

WOW. I have no critique to offer other than....WOW. And post the rest of the story!

It was gripping immediately, the imagery was perfect balanced, I don't know what else to say, except I that I really, really liked this.

Cheers!

CLK
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Postby RHFay » Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:44 am

Yes, indeed, a very good start. It seems to build internal tension just like the growing storm and developing battle. An interestingly different take on angelic beings as well: otherworldly, powerful, and extremely dangerous.
"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did. I'm going to recite poetry!" Andrew of Armar.
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Postby Chaeronia » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:41 am

Thank you both for your comments. I do have more of this story, but I am leaning towards leaving like it as it is. It feels kind of finished. It's also now on the backburner as I have another short I'm working on, but maybe I'll come back to this at some point and see if I can add to it.

Thanks once again, your comments really were appreciated.

Chaeronia
'There's a vampire, dad. It's trying to get me.'
'I know, son,' he said softly. 'I saw it.'
'You saw it?'
'Yeah. I broke its bloody neck. I won't have no vampires in my house.'
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Postby berry » Fri Sep 21, 2007 5:38 am

I have to echo Clknaps,
Wow.
It's great. It could stand on its own or be the beginning or end of a story.
If you decide to continue I'll be waiting...
Outside of a dog, a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
Groucho Marx
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Postby Ariel » Fri Sep 21, 2007 5:20 pm

That was great! Sorry I didn't read it sooner. :)
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Re: Angels and Heathens

Postby Ariel » Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:43 pm

I enjoyed your story. Is there more???
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