18
Jun
16

Just. One. Book.

Throwing Chanclas

Just. One. Book.

I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV.  Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mines closed, then mills–nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries.

The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the “check outs” for old books are in the 1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It’s an uninviting place. There hasn’t been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren’t allowed. The…

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24
Aug
12

The New Trinity- Chapter 21: Demons are a Girl’s Best Friend

“Close your eyes, Cas,” Gabby smiled. “I got a late Christmas present for you.”

“Really? I never had a Christmas present before. It ain’t like we celebrate Christmas in our Worlds since we know the Christ part is bullshit.”

“Just shut up and close your eyes, dude.” Rash told me.

I gave Rash the finger before closing my eyes.

We’d been back at Gabby’s house for a week just hanging out. Lilith and Batty were there too, taking a well deserved break after all our globetrotting.

Gabby was so happy to be home she didn’t even care that the house was still trashed from when Nathanael’s boys had kidnapped her. It just gave her an excuse to redecorate.

It was still a beautifully gloomy little goth house, of course. But Gabby had a lot of fun shopping for new stuff with Lilith and Batty to replace everything that had been broken.

Gabby took the news about Henrich Hedin being her real father pretty well. She said Joe Bianco would always be Dad to her, but after hearing how Henrich had given his life trying to save her, she thought he couldn’t have been all bad.

The first thing she’d done when we got back was chuck the Virgin Mary outfit Nathanael had dressed her in straight in the trash. It was a good thing she’d been disguised like that every time Nathanael had dragged her out in public though. A few people had already mentioned to her that she looked an awful lot like the Virgin Mary on TV. But now that she was back in her usual black with her knee high boots, black eyeliner, eyebrow ring and skull jewelry, nobody knew it had really been her.

She even had the two locks of hair framing her pale, pretty face dyed purple again.

As for all the Livies who had flocked to Jerusalem expecting a miracle- they’d all gone home extremely disappointed. At least the ones who’d been able to get home. Thousands were still clogging airports around the World.

It had all been put down as the biggest hoax in history. The people on the news had spent the last week dissecting everything that had happened and talking about what kinds of tricks and special effects Nathanael must have used to fool everyone. And the sightings of angels, demons and a giant dog in Jerusalem were considered just more of Nathanael’s tricks.

The people who had followed him were pretty pissed. He was lucky he was already dead, because the whole World wanted to kill him. His disappearance in the end was all a big mystery.

“Okay. You can open your eyes.” Gabby said as she re-entered the living room.

She held out the big black and silver guitar with the grinning f-holes I always played around with at the Trash Bin.

“That’s mine? Wow! Thanks, Gabby!” I beamed as she handed me the guitar.

“You’re welcome. It’s the least I could do after everything you went through to save me.”

“Hey! I went through a lot to save you too,” Rash said. “I got a few ideas of what you can give me.” He wagged his eyebrows as he ogled Gabby’s body.

“Go to hell, Rash.” she smirked.

“Already been there. And I ain’t plannin’ on goin’ back!” he replied.

Gabby laughed.

I loved being able to hear that sound again.

“Oh! Speaking of Hell,” I said, fishing a hand in my pocket. “The Big Guy sent you something, Gabby.”

She looked quite taken aback.

“The Devil sent me something?”

She sounded like she wasn’t sure she wanted to know what it could be.

I pulled out a small scroll of parchment and handed it to her.

“Oooh! What is it?” Batty asked eagerly.

Lilith and I gave each other a grin.

We knew.

Gabby unrolled it and stared in shock.

“This is my Mom’s handwriting!”

“Go on. Read it.” I said.

She began reading the letter aloud for all of us to hear.

“’Gabby. I’m so sorry for all that you’ve been put through the past several months. I know it was all my fault. I did many evil things and dealt with evil people in my life, and my sins came back to haunt you. It’s just one more thing I have to pay for in Hell.

My one source of happiness in this horrible place is that you are alive and will never have to be punished as I have. Maybe one day I will finish paying for all the evil things I’ve done, and when you get to Heaven, I’ll be waiting there for you.

I am so proud of you, Gabby. I love you…Mom.‘”

Gabby didn’t look up for a moment.

She wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand and gave me a hug.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”

“Heh heh. Don’t thank me. It was the Big Guy’s idea to let your Mom write something to you. She did help us out after all.”

“By the sound of it, your mother is well on her way to getting out of Hell, Gabby,” Lilith smiled. “I’m sure you’ll see her again.”

“I’d like to see Julia again,” Rash said with a dreamy smile on his face. “Too bad Vassago couldn’t come back here with us.”

“Vassago has invited us all to the grand re-opening of the Thirteen 13′s once it’s all fixed up,” Lilith said. “You’ll get to see Julia and the others then.”

“As long as it’s not next Sunday,” Batty chimed in. “Don’t forget, Leonard invited us all to the farm for Sunday dinner.”

“I wouldn’t miss it,” Gabby said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know Leonard and Vassago. They seem really cool.”

I gave Gabby a mischievous grin.

“Dinner at Leonard’s is Sunday though. You sure you don’t wanna try going to church again?” I winked.

“I already met both God and the Devil,” she laughed. “I don’t think I’ll ever need to go there again!…Besides, I’ve had enough religious shit to last a lifetime.”

“Heh heh heh! Ain’t we all, sister. Ain’t we all.”

21
Aug
12

The New Trinity- Chapter 20: Resurrection

The Old Man hobbled up to us with a vague smile on his face as his glossy eyes surveyed the demons and angels arrayed before him.

It was a wonderful sight.

And it was a sad sight.

I’d never thought I’d actually get to see him again. But now that I saw what had become of him…I kind of wished I hadn’t.

He didn’t look anything like I remembered.

In the old days, he’d looked, well, younger, stronger, much more robust and full of life.

Now?

Now he looked frail and weak, a shriveled and withering shadow of what he once was. The spark that had once been in his eyes was gone.

What had Nathanael said once? ‘The lights are on in Heaven and no one’s home’?

That was the sense I got looking at the Old Man as he stood there on the desert sand, leaning with both hands on his cane.

It was heartbreaking.

Gamygyn went to the Old Man’s side and carefully guided him by the arm the rest of the way over to us.

“You can all get up,” Gamygyn told the kneeling angels. “I really don’t think he recognizes anyone anyway.”

They all rose and stared in saddened disbelief. But if the Old Man realized he was the center of attention, he didn’t show it.

“I’ve been trying to get him to talk to me,” Gamygyn said. “But he just doesn’t seem to understand a word I say.”

“Wait. You’ve been with him?” Gabe asked. “For how long?”

“Since just after I helped Casmiel defeat Scirlin last summer. I went to Heaven as a soul and found him alone in an orchard. I tried explaining what was happening with Nathanael, but he never gave any response. He did give me my angelic body back. I think it was the only way he remembered me so he did it because it was familiar to him, but I’m not sure. I’ve been visiting him in between spying on Nathanael ever since.”

The Old Man shuffled over to where Batty still knelt with Rash’s head in her lap. He looked down at the body like he was trying to figure out what it was.

Suddenly the Old Man jabbed Rash’s body hard in the ribs with his cane.

“OWW! Motherfucker!”

Rash sat bolt upright rubbing the spot where he’d been prodded with a pissed off look on his face.

“Jesus Christ! What the fuck do you think you’re doin’, ya old fart?!” he said.

“Um, Rash-” I said.

“What the hell’s he doin’ pokin’ me like that? The senile old geezer!”

“Rash, you really shouldn’t-” Gabby tried to tell him.

“That fuckin’ hurt! I oughta take that cane and shove it up your fuckin’-”

“Charles Rashkowski!” Batty said forcefully, slapping him on the shoulder.

“What?”

“Tell the man thank you.” she said.

“But-”

“Just do it!”

“Thanks.” Rash grumbled.

I was so happy I couldn’t even bring myself to call him an idiot.

“Your real name is Charles Rashkowski?” I snorted as I helped him to his feet.

He blushed.

“I told Batty when we were at Vassago’s.” he mumbled.

His face got even redder when Batty, Gabby and Lilith, laughing, each gave Rash a big hug.

“Hey. What happened to all those other guys? Where’s Nathanael?” he asked, looking around in confusion.

“He’s dead,” Gabby said. “And so were you!”

Rash looked even more confused now.

The Big Guy approached the Old Man. Everyone watched in tense silence to see what would happen.

“Father? It’s me, Lucifer,” he said, gently taking the Old Man’s hand. “Do you remember me?”

The Old Man just continued to grin without any indication that he knew who was talking to him. Satan turned to Gabriel.

“You told me it was bad…I never realized just how bad he really was.”

“Now you see why it was so easy for Nathanael to draw angels to his cause,” Gabe said sadly. “They just couldn’t accept the fact that the Lord is no longer able to run Heaven himself.”

Gabby looked between the Old Man and Gabriel.

“But if God’s not God anymore…What’s going to happen to Heaven?” she asked.

Gabe was silent for a moment. He placed a hand on Satan’s shoulder and one on Raphael’s.

“It’ll be up to us to make sure things are done the way he would have done them. Raf and Michael and I have been running things for almost a thousand years. Now that Michael is gone, I can’t think of anyone better to take his place than you, Luce.”

The Big Guy was taken aback by Gabriel’s statement.

“What are you saying?” he asked his old friend.

Gabriel shrugged.

“I don’t have the power to give you your angelic body back,” he admitted. “Only the Lord had that power. But I don’t see any reason to continue keeping you out of Heaven. Any of you. Now that the Lord is…Well, let’s just say I think the Argument is over.”

All of us from Hell stared blankly at Gabe. Even the Big Guy.

I suddenly had a feeling in my stomach like Lilith’s butterfly wings were doing loop-de-loops inside me. I gave a nervous laugh.

“Heh heh, it sounded like you just said we can go back to Heaven.”

“I did, Cas.” he replied simply.

Holy shit!

Holyshitholyshitholyshitholyshit!

After all these thousands of years, we’re finally going home!

“But like I said, you’ll still have your demonic forms, so you’ll have to use your Human bodies while you’re there,” Gabe said. “We don’t want to scare all the Human souls, after all.”

“I- I can see m-my Pharaoh?” Ammun stammered, unable to believe it.

“Absolutely,” Raf said. “You’re all welcome in Heaven anytime…As long as it’s okay with you, Luce.” he added quickly.

The eyes of every demon present turned hopefully to the Big Guy.

He took a moment to think carefully before speaking. We waited anxiously for his answer.

“We still have our job to do in Hell,” he began slowly. “Like it or not, there are still Human souls to be punished until they can learn true remorse…However. I suppose my creatures have more than earned the right to go home…At least for a visit every now and then.”

The cheer that erupted from all the creatures from Hell was tremendous! It was really happening! We could visit Heaven again!

Tears of joy ran down the faces of several demons. Ammun sat down on the sand and wept openly. Even Lilith had tears trickling from her brilliant green eyes as she smiled from ear to ear.

Gabby hugged me again.

“Congratulations,” she beamed. “I’m so happy for you, Cas. You deserve it more than anybody.”

I laughed. I didn’t even have the words.

Gabriel shook my hand.

“Thank you. All of you. Especially you, Cas.”

I shrugged.

“I had a lot of help.”

Gabe just smiled and rejoined Gamygyn and the Old Man.

“This is the start of a new era for both our Worlds,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do putting Heaven and Hell back in order.”

All the angels gathered to leave, except Batty who still stood holding Rash’s hand.

Suddenly, the Old Man pulled his hand out of Gamygyn’s and patted me lightly on the arm.

“Uh, hey, Pops.” I said, not knowing what to say.

The Old Man smiled at me.

“Good fucking job.” he said.

Everyone’s eyes went wide and shot back and forth between me and the Old Man.

“He-! But-? How-?” Gabe stammered.

Apparently the Old Man didn’t have anything more to say. He let Gabe and Gamygyn take his hands like he was ready to go home.

“Thanks, Pop.” I grinned with a wave as they all disappeared.

The Big Guy raised an eyebrow at me and shook his head.

“I still don’t know what I’m going to do with you, Casmiel,” he clapped me on the back and motioned for the remaining demons to follow him into the crack in the ground. “I assume you’ll want to stay with Miss Bianco for a while? I imagine you have much to talk about.”

“Yeah, definitely…If it’s okay with you, Master.” I quickly added.

“Take your time,” he grinned. “You’ve earned it.”

Lilith, Leonard and Vassago opted to remain in the Human World for now as well. Ammun agreed to return to Hell and help rebuild the Gates before paying a visit to his Pharaoh in Heaven.

We said our good byes and Satan led his demons back down the hole, leaving us alone in the desert with Gabby and Rash.

“So who the fuck was that old dude anyway?” Rash asked.

Gabby laughed and put her arm around me.

“We’ll tell you later. After we get home.”

19
Aug
12

The New Trinity- Chapter 19: Hell Unleashed

“So this is it then,” Nathanael sneered. “The last stand of the ‘Great’ Lucifer…You’re outnumbered.”

The Big Guy ignored the taunt.

“All those loyal to Heaven and Hell rally to me.” he said.

Everyone on our side of the gap lined up ready to fight.

Gabby stepped up beside me. Her eyes were red rimmed from tears and filled with determination.

“Gabby, get back. You can’t fight these guys.”

“They killed my Dad, Cas. They killed Rash and they tried to kill me. I’m not gonna just stand back and watch! I’m gonna get some payback or die trying!” she said defiantly, her voice cracking with emotion.

“He killed both of your Dad’s actually, but-”

“Both of my Dads?” she shot a confused look at me.

“Long story…But you can’t do anything against angels and demons, Gabby. It’s suicide!”

“Casmiel,” Lilith said softly from my other side as she bent down to pick up a small stone. “We either win together or we die together.”

The stone in Lilith’s hand turned into a sword.

I shook my head.

“No way. We can’t let her-”

“Cas.” Lilith said.

“It’s too fucking dangerous, Lilith! She’ll-”

“Just light it.” she said firmly, her iridescent green eyes glowing brightly.

I sighed.

It was no use arguing with either of them.

I touched my handful of fire to the sword’s blade. Flames spread the length of the weapon and Lilith passed it to Gabby. She gripped it with both hands, ready to get revenge for all she’d been put through.

“You’ve been a great friend.” I told her.

Gabby smiled.

“You too.” she replied and stood on tip toe to give me a kiss on the cheek.

“For Heaven!” Satan cried.

We leaped the gap in the earth and both sides charged into battle one last time. No one was being held back on the other side anymore.

The Big Guy brought the flaming blade of his scythe down at Nathanael. It was blocked by the firey sword of Michael.

Nathanael rematerialized into the center of his troops, screaming at them to destroy us all. A demon monk moved to attack him, but he shot a concentrated blast of air that sent the living skeleton’s bones flying in every direction.

Satan was quickly joined by Gabriel and Raphael. Fire and lightning flashed and sizzled as the trio fought Michael.

Unfortunately, Michael was powerful enough and clever enough to hold his own, even against three of the strongest fighters on the field. His icy blue eyes glared fiercely as he blocked their attacks.

Lilith and Batty joined forces against Persephone who was beginning to show signs of weakness. Her blood red butterfly wings beat nervously as she tried to defend against both women.

Vassago and Ammun were locked in battle with Caim and Isacaron while Leonard booted away anyone who came near him with his big heavy hooves. Gamygyn swatted at enemies with a gleaming silver staff.

“Leonard! Guard Gabby!” I shouted and he rematerialized behind Gabby to watch her back. “Gamygyn, come with me!”

Gamygyn nodded and we started fighting our way through the crowded battlefield trying to get to Nathanael.

The angel caught sight of me and, with a vicious sneer, hurled a small, densely packed blast of air. The blast missed me as I rematerialized to the side and instead caught one of Nathanael’s own demons in the chest. It punched a hole right through the rebel demon like a cannon ball.

“Whoa! Did you know he could do that?” I asked Gamygyn.

“Nope.” he said with a wide eyed glance back at the dead demon.

I threw a fireball at Nathanael and he simply blew it aside with a wave of his hand. He shot another air ball, forcing me to disappear and reappear on Gamygyn’s other side.

Off to the right, Lilith suddenly cried out as Persephone tripped her with her forked tail. She landed hard, face down in the sand.

Whack!

Persephone’s wings slammed Batty to the ground as well, stunning the angel. Lilith tried to get up, but her former friend planted both knees in her back between her green and black wings. Persephone deftly grabbed both of Lilith’s snakes by their necks with one hand and yanked backwards.

“Ahhh!” Lilith cried in agony as her head was pulled back.

Persephone gave a high pitched laugh as she brought the black blade of her brimstone knife to Lilith’s exposed throat.

“You…wouldn’t!…We…were…best friends!” Lilith choked.

The red headed she-demon cackled again.

“I’ve waited thousands of years for this,” she gloated. “I always hated you, Lilith!”

“Hey! Up here, bitch!”

Persephone’s eyes shot upward to see Gabby standing right in front of her.

“Get the fuck off my friend!” Gabby shouted.

The flaming sword which Lilith and I had made for her flashed through the air and Persephone’s head went rolling across the ground, crumbling to ash as it went.

Nathanael stared in shock as Gabby and Batty helped Lilith to her feet and brushed Persephone’s ashes off of her.

“Persephone?…No!” he roared.

The angel threw out an uncontrolled blast of wind in every direction that knocked down everyone near him, including me and Gamygyn.

“You know I’m not strong enough to beat him.” I told Gamygyn as we got back to our feet.

“Neither am I.” he admitted.

“And the Big Guy is too busy with Michael to help us out…” I said, thinking aloud.

I shot Gamygyn a look.

“I got an idea!” I said. “But I’m gonna need a favor, buddy.”

Gamygyn looked at me with his gray eyes and a dawning expression came over him. He knew what I was thinking.

“It worked with Scirlin,” I shrugged. “What do you say?”

He grinned.

Gamygyn stepped inside my body.

It was the weirdest fucking sensation I’d ever felt!

When he’d possessed me before, Gamygyn hadn’t had a body of his own, and I’d been paralyzed by Scirlin’s poison, so I hadn’t got the full feeling of being two people at once.

My vision tunneled slightly and the sounds of battle came a little muffled in my ears. I looked at my hands. They were perfectly formed angelic hands, one holding my ball of fire, the other holding Gamygyn’s silver staff.

Nathanael looked astonished to see me turn into an angel right before his eyes, but the look was quickly replaced by burning hatred.

I threw a huge fireball the size of a van at him. He simply waved it away again.

“I’m not Scirlin, Casmiel!” Nathanael’s voice echoed in my ears. “Angel, demon or both- you are still too weak to defeat me!”

He charged at me and we locked in battle. All the other demons and angels gave us a wide berth as we threw everything we had at each other. I shot flames with one hand and swung the silver staff with the other. It felt like Gamygyn was controlling one arm while I controlled the other.

Nathanael continued to hold his ground, blocking every move I made. He kept rematerializing all around me so fast it was like fighting four or five of him at once.

But, much to my surprise, I was keeping up with him! With Gamygyn’s power and senses added to my own I blocked and dodged and countered over and over again.

There was a flurry of movement to my right as I sliced through another cannon ball of air with the staff.

Michael was backpedaling as the Big Guy, Gabriel and Raphael took it to him all at once.

Gabe rematerialized behind his former friend and shot a lightning bolt. At the same time, Raf made a geyser of sand shoot up from the ground at Michael’s face. Michael parried a slash from Satan’s scythe and twirled his flaming sword around, blocking the bolt of electricity and slicing through the sand blast, scattering it in the wind.

Some of the sand caught Michael in the face. He blinked the dry, gritty dirt out of his eyes.

The Big Guy seized the opportunity.

Satan made an arcing upward slash with the firey scythe. The blade entered the angel’s hip and exited out his opposite shoulder.

Michael’s face was stricken with horror and disbelief. He tried to swing his sword, but it was too late. The angel collapsed into a smoldering pile on the desert floor.

All the angels on the battlefield stopped fighting. They gaped in shocked silence at the death of one of the most powerful angels in all of Heaven.

Except Nathanael.

He roared in furious frustration. Wind began to swirl around him, quickly growing into a tornado which lifted Nathanael high up in its center to tower over everyone.

Demons and angels from both sides scattered, covering their faces against the relentless sand whipping and lashing in the whirlwind.

“No! No! No! NO!” Nathanael screamed from atop the tornado. “I will rule Heaven and Earth! You will NOT stop ME!”

I tried to push forward towards him, but the wind was too strong. All my muscles- and Gamygyn’s too, I imagine- strained against it to keep from being blown away.

Even Satan, Gabe and Raf were struggling to keep on their feet and to shield their eyes from the stinging sand.

Nathanael was more powerful than I’d ever imagined! Right up there with Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and the Big Guy!

The tornado darkened the sky, growing ever stronger.  Sand blocked out the mid-day sun. The noise of the wind rose in a great howl. It grew louder and louder, until…

Until I realized, it wasn’t just the wind howling!

ARROWROWROWOOO!

The enormous black form of Cerberus came bounding through the sandstorm straight at Nathanael’s tornado.

The giant Hell hound leaped playfully into the base of the cyclone, just like the swirling dust devil’s he’d been chasing across the desert.

The funnel cloud was disrupted almost instantly. The wind dropped off drastically and Nathanael began to fall.

“Now, Casmiel!” Gamygyn’s voice cried inside my head.

My hands seemed to move on their own, touching my fire to the silver staff. Flames spread up and down the gleaming rod and I hurled it like a javelin.

Nathanael’s wild eyes glared at me in surprise as the staff passed through his chest a split second before he hit the ground and burst into smoking cinders on the sand.

Everything was silent.

I was still braced for another attack. It took a few seconds before it registered what I’d just done.

Nathanael was dead.

Both armies stared in shock at me, standing in my old angelic form in front of the ashes of the rogue angel.

Gamygyn emerged from my body with a sensation like walking through thick cobwebs. I didn’t have to look to know I was back in my demon form. I could just feel it. My hearing became clear again and I heard footsteps running up behind me. A pair of arms were flung around my neck.

“You did it, Cas! I knew you could do it!” Gabby cried gleefully, hugging me and planting kisses all over my face. She was laughing.

Man, I’d missed that sound.

I gave her an embarrassed squeeze and she stepped back, beaming at me.

“You’re blushing, Casmiel.” Gamygyn smiled.

Well, everybody was watching.

Nathanael’s forces were scattered around the battlefield, their mouths still hanging open in shock. Their numbers looked to have been cut in half and their leaders were all dead. They didn’t seem to know what to do.

Eight of the demon monks had survived. They began rounding up the rebel demons and ushering them over to the Big Guy. The monks hid their skulls beneath black hoods once again and waited silently for Satan’s orders.

“Take them to Hell,” the Big Guy said. “I’ll deal with them when I get back.”

The rebellious demons were terrified and quailed under the powerful, piercing gaze of their true master. Some even began begging Satan for mercy as the monks pushed them into the big crack in the ground.

“And take Cerberus with you,” the Big Guy added. “We can’t have him running loose in the Human World.”

I reached up and scratched behind the giant dog’s ear and gave him a grateful pat.

“Thanks, Cerby,” I said. “I owe you whole fucking truckload of Milk Bones.”

The elephant-sized dog loped over and followed the demon monks into the hole, which he had to dig a little larger with his big paws to fit inside.

Only a handful of Nathanael’s angels were left.

Their eyes flitted fearfully between Satan, Gabe, Raf and me. After witnessing what we’d done to their bosses, the angels didn’t want anything to do with us. One by one they disappeared to go into hiding. Guess they figured self-imposed exile was better than whatever we might do to punish them.

The Big Guy stepped up to me and shook my hand.

“You did wonderfully, Casmiel. I’m proud of you.”

Suddenly everyone was shaking my hands and patting me on the back. The smiling faces of Gabriel, Raphael, Asmodeus, Aluriel and everyone who’d shown up with Gabe and the Big Guy were congratulating me left and right. Even Vassago, Ammun and Leonard came over, looking a little worse for wear, to clap me on the shoulder and tell me “Good job”.

It was a little overwhelming.

I mean, come on. It ain’t like I fought the battle all by myself!

I started looking around anxiously.

“Wait. Where are Batty and Lilith?” I said, worried.

“Over there.” Vassago pointed.

They knelt on the ground beside Rash’s body. His head was lying in Batty’s lap.

Everyone followed me over to them.

Batty wept silently, her shoulders shaking with sobs. Lilith had an arm around her consolingly.

Gabby knelt down with them and looked hopefully up at Gabe.

“Can’t you do anything for him, Gabriel? You can heal him can’t you?…Please.” she begged, tears glimmering in the corners of her eyes once again.

Gabe shook his head sadly.

“I’m sorry. We can heal, but once the soul is gone…There’s nothing we can do.”

There was a shuffling noise behind us and I whipped around, expecting to see the rebel angels returning for revenge.

It was a scrawny old man, stooped and wrinkled, slowly walking with a cane.

He wore ugly plaid pants and a light blue jacket zipped up to the collar. Tufts of flyaway white hair stuck out from under his gray tweed driving cap.

“No way,” I whispered, amazed. “It can’t be.”

Gabe and all the other angels gaped in wide eyed astonishment at the old man before dropping to their knees.

Gabby got up and threw a confused look at the old man and at all the kneeling angels.

“Um, who-?…Is that who I think it is?” she whispered to me.

I nodded slowly.

“If you mean is that God?- It sure is.”

17
Aug
12

The New Trinity- Chapter 18: Armagideon Time

A million terrified and really confused Livies gaped as we rushed south out of the city. Rash and Batty rode on the back of Cerberus, while I flew above them carrying Gabby alongside Lilith and Raphael.

“I’m going to get Gabe and anyone else in Heaven who will help,” Raf said. “Don’t do anything until I get back.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I don’t fancy our chances with just me, Lilith, Batty and an overgrown pooch.”

Raf gave me a smile and wink before disappearing on his way to Heaven.

“Wait. What did he mean ‘anyone who’ll help’?” Gabby asked. “Doesn’t every angel left in Heaven want Nathanael stopped?”

“They do, but a lot of them are waiting to see how it plays out. The Old Man ain’t been himself lately, you see…”

“Yeah, I heard from Nathanael. He said God is senile and powerless. What about the Devil? He’s coming to help, right?”

“The Gates of Hell were destroyed,” Lilith explained as she flew alongside us. “We don’t know when or if Lucifer can dig his way out.”

Gabby stared at me for a moment, her mouth open in stunned silence.

“Cas! Nathanael’s got tons of demons and angels with him!” she said. “You can’t fight all of them with just a handful of friends!”

“I know, I know. But we gotta try. We can’t let him take that army to Heaven. Even without millions of souls overrunning the place, he’s got enough creatures that he could make a serious grab for the Throne. Especially now that he’s got Michael on his side. If we don’t do something now, Heaven could still fall.”

We were nearing Nathanael’s camp.

Lilith and I touched down behind the rocky outcrop where we’d spied on Nathanael’s rally speech the day before. Cerberus trotted to a stop, panting happily. Batty and Rash casually slid off his back. The giant dog suddenly took off in the opposite direction of the camp, playfully bounding after a dust devil whirling across the desert sand.

“Cerby? Cerby, heel!” Rash called, but the dog didn’t listen. He ran out of sight.

“Let him go,” I said. “It’d be kinda hard to hide a two ton mutt anyway, you know.”

We carefully peered around the boulders to see what was going on below in the camp.

The army of demons and angels was gathered in front of the long metal building with all eyes expectantly facing back towards Jerusalem. Nathanael paced back and forth in front of his troops. Michael and Persephone stood behind him, watching him pace.

“Where’s the explosion?” Nathanael shouted angrily. “We should have seen and heard it by now!”

He continued to pace, agitatedly dragging his fingers through his long blond hair. His eyes were wild.

“This country should be swarming with souls! WHERE ARE THEY!”

The creatures in the ranks shifted uneasily, wondering what was happening.

There was a quick shuffling sound behind me.

“What the fuck?” Rash cried.

“Cas!” shouted Gabby.

I whipped around to see Isacaron and Caim tightly holding Gabby and Rash.

The ram horned Caim bore his fangs in a malicious grin.

“One wrong move and these two die,” he said in his raspy voice. “I think Nathanael would like a word with you.”

“Move!” one of Isacaron’s two dog heads barked. “No tricks!” growled the other.

The two demons marched Lilith, Batty and me down the rocky hill to the flat desert plain where the camp lay.

Fuck!

Hurry, Raf. Please, please hurry!

Caim and Isacaron stopped us in front of Nathanael, whose wild, angry eyes were focused directly on me.

If looks could kill, I’d be one dead motherfucker.

“What have you done, Casmiel?! What did you do to my bombs?!”

“Bombs? What bombs?” I said, feigning surprise. “Oh! You mean the two teddy bears and the box of breakfast cereal you tried to blow up the city with? Yeah, I don’t think that worked.”

Whack!

The angel smacked me hard across the face with a swift backhand. He was practically shaking with rage. A muscle in his cheek was twitching uncontrollably.

“Who?” he growled. “Before I kill you all, I want to know who told you. Henrich didn’t know where they were placed. Who’s the traitor? Who told you?”

Nathanael threw an enraged glare at his troops, wondering who among them had helped us.

But a voice came from behind us.

“I did.”

I turned to look for the source of the confession.

Isacaron and Caim’s heads cracked together. They dropped Gabby and Rash and were thrown over our heads. The demons landed in two stunned heaps at Nathanael’s feet.

An angel stood behind Gabby and Rash with a smile on his face.

He had long shiny black hair and gray eyes that matched the gray tipped feathers of his white wings.

“Hey! You’re the dude from my dream!” Rash exclaimed.

My mouth hung open in shock. I couldn’t believe it.

I blinked my eyes a few times, just to be sure I wasn’t seeing things. But he was still there.

The Mystery Angel.

The same guy who’d been helping us since Fatima was…

“G-Gamygyn?”

He gave a slight nod and smiled even bigger.

“Hello, Casmiel.”

“But- How?”

“It’s a long story.” Gamygyn said, a little wearily.

“Wait a minute,” Nathanael said with a perplexed look on his stubbly face. “I had you killed. Scirlin killed you! I know he killed you!”

Gamygyn nodded.

“Yes, he did. And it was the best thing he could have done for me,” Gamygyn started ticking off points on his fingers. “It allowed me to re-enter Heaven. It gave me the opportunity to spy on your operation. It let me help Casmiel destroy Scirlin. It made it easy to remain anonymous while I slipped messages to Casmiel through his Human friend…It was actually quite convenient being dead.”

Wait.

What did he say?

“Hold on. Back up a second. What was that part about helping me destroy Scirlin?” I asked.

“I was still a soul then. Well, perhaps something more than a soul. I’m really not sure,” Gamygyn said curiously. “Anyway, I knew Scirlin was trying to kill you and Gabby. When it looked like he was about to succeed, I possessed you…At least, I suppose that’s what you’d call it. I entered your body and gave you some of my power to stop him.”

I shook my head in disbelief.

All this time Gamygyn had been alive! More or less.

And finally I knew the truth!

I’d turned back into an angel last summer in Joe Bianco’s apartment because of Gamygyn! My not-so-dead friend had given me whatever power he still possessed as a demon soul.

Just knowing felt like a weight had been lifted in the back of my mind somewhere.

I wasn’t some freak with a weird power no other demon had. I was just Casmiel.

“It doesn’t matter!” Nathanael spat. “You are still only two demons, two angels and two stupid Humans against my entire army!”

“Oh, I didn’t come alone, Nathanael.” Gamygyn said.

Figures began to appear all around.

Raphael and Gabriel, along with about a dozen of their fellow angels, were suddenly standing with us.

I recognized a few of them.

The chubby, balding Uriel. The two child-like blond twins, Jahoel and Jaoel. The dark skinned, afro wearing Samael. The lanky, spiky haired Hadriel.

“It’s nice to see all the old familiar faces again,” a voice at my shoulder said. “We never get together like this anymore.”

I turned to see Vassago grinning at me in his bronzed demonic form, still wearing his round rimmed sunglasses. The big, falcon headed Ammun stood beside him bearing his huge spear.

“I thought you said you were a lover, not a fighter?” Lilith said.

Vassago’s spear tipped tail flicked eagerly behind him.

“Ah, my dear Madame Butterfly, sometimes a lover must do what a lover must do.”

In front of Nathanael’s army, Michael suddenly laughed and stepped forward.

“So this is all you could find, Gabe? In all of Heaven, this little ragtag group of misfits is all who would defend the Lord?” Michael shook his head, still smiling. “You are a fool, Gabe, as always.”

Gabriel stared sadly back at his former partner.

“No, you are the fool, Mike. You’ve turned your back on your friends. You’ve turned your back on the Lord. And for what?”

Michael’s smile morphed into a scowl.

“God is insane! He is mute and senile and useless. I won’t be a slave to a powerless God anymore!” he shouted, a thousand years of frustration in his voice. “It’s our time now. And if the old God can not or will not step aside, then we’ll just have to make him.”

One of the angels I didn’t know with Gabe had heard enough. The angel charged across the sand at Michael with a glowing golden staff in his hands. He swung the staff directly at Michael’s head.

In a single fluid motion, Michael pulled his flaming sword, deflected the blow and sliced cleanly through the body of his attacker. The dead angel collapsed in a pile of ashes at Michael’s feet.

That was all it took.

Everyone charged. Fire and lightning flashed all around while winds kicked clouds of dust and sand into the air.

Ammun bellowed an eerie roar that sounded like a cross between a lion and the screech of a falcon and charged into battle, his great spear aimed at the four armed demon Isacaron’s heart. Isacaron swatted the spear head away with his extra arms while his two dog heads snarled and snapped at Ammun.

“Batty! Get Gabby and Rash out of here!” I shouted over the din as I pulled out my handful of fire and turned it into a tennis racket to volley an incoming fireball back at the demon who’d thrown it.

But Batty was too busy to hear me.

The angel Machon was flinging white hot shots of electricity at her. Batty danced around avoiding some bolts while her hands waved about making geysers of sand erupt from the ground to block the rest. Gabby and Rash stood a little behind her, their mouths agape in awe at the battle unfolding in front of them.

Lilith and Persephone fought each other to my right, spinning and kicking, punching and blocking like a couple of martial arts masters. They moved so fast they were little more than a blur of black, red and green. The two were so evenly matched that neither seemed to be able to get the upper hand.

I continued to block attacks with my fire while looking around frantically for the guy I really wanted to fight- Nathanael.

I had to duck as Michael side stepped close to me, swinging his flaming sword where my head had just been. I raised my hand to throw a fire blast at him, but Gabe and Raf moved in front of him as they battled two on one.

Something heavy slammed into me and knocked me flat on my back. Sharp claws dug into my chest.

A cat-like demon named Sytry, with leathery leopard print skin and claws like steak knives, crouched on top of me. He raised his arm to slash at my throat.

A bronze spear attached to a serpentine tail stabbed through Sytry’s head and he crumbled all over me.

“Thanks, Vassago,” I coughed as I got up brushing ashes off myself. “I owe you one.”

“You owe me many, Casmiel,” Vassago said, spinning around to slash at an attacking angel with his sharp bronze fingernails. “But who’s counting, eh?”

Vassago grinned and gave me a quick wink before whirling off to fight more rebels.

That’s when I saw Nathanael.

He was perched atop the long metal building with his arms folded over his chest and his crisp white doves wings tucked neatly behind him. He surveyed the battle below with a smirk twisting his stubbly face.

And Nathanael wasn’t the only one just watching.

The majority of his troops were standing back observing the fight.

So that’s why we haven’t been overwhelmed yet. He’s holding back, reserving his forces for the assault on Heaven.

A fierce looking red headed angel with a goatee appeared near me and sent a wicked blast of wind my way. I rematerialized out of its path and threw a blast of fire in the angel’s face.

I’d made a mistake.

The angel was destroyed, but the gust of wind meant for me had shot past and blew Batty off her feet!

It was the opening Machon needed.

Before Batty could brush her blond curls out of her face, Machon fired a blazing bolt of lightning at her.

“Batty, move!” I yelled.

I wasn’t the only one who yelled.

Rash charged forward and shoved Batty out of the way.

The bolt struck Rash in the chest. He fell to the ground beside Batty with a burn mark the size of a fist smoldering on his t-shirt.

Gabby’s scream ripped through the noise of the battle as she stared horror struck at Rash’s limp form.

I rematerialized beside him.

“Rash! RASH!” I yelled, shaking him by the shoulders.

His eyes were still wide open. But he was gone.

Machon was laughing.

Batty stared in disbelief at Rash’s lifeless body, her lips trembling as tears poured down her sweet face.

A change suddenly came over her.

I’d never imagined Batty capable of the glare of complete rage she was giving Machon!

With an anguished scream, she slapped the sandy ground with both hands.

There was a brief rumbling and two giant hand shaped slabs of rock thrust up from the earth on either side of Machon. The hands clapped together with a horrible crunch, crushing the rebel angel before sinking back into the earth, taking the dead angel with them.

A massive wave of wind like a hurricane suddenly swept the battlefield and knocked our forces back on their asses.

The noise of battle died immediately and was replaced by the sound of Nathanael laughing.

He stood several yards away at the head of his army, gloating gleefully.

Gabby knelt beside me with tears trickling down her face. She reached out a shaking hand to gently close Rash’s eyes.

I glanced around and took stock of our forces.

Vassago was to our left, standing guard over Ammun who was having a bad cut on his arm healed by Gamygyn. On our right, Gabe and Raf helped an injured angel to sit up against a boulder. Raf’s long strawberry blond hair was singed at the ends and he had and angry red burn on his cheek. The child-like Jahoel was busy healing his twin Jaoel’s broken wing. A smoldering pile of ash lay where I’d last seen Uriel fighting.

“I’ll give you one last chance,” Nathanael called out to us. “Give in. Accept my rule over Heaven and nobody else needs to die here. Or, I can unleash my entire army and you can all die. It’s your choice.”

“Never!” Gabe shouted back.

Nathanael shrugged.

“Fine by me. I’d rather kill you all anyway…Any last words?” he said, smirking at me.

“Fuck you!” I growled.

“Yeah, that’s about what I expected from you, Cas. So predictable, right to the end-”

He stopped short and looked down with a puzzled expression.

Everybody did.

A low rumbling was coming from the ground and getting stronger. The vibration made small stones dance across the sand.

I looked at Batty.

It sounded like what she had done to Machon, only much, much bigger. But she looked just as confused as the rest of us.

The rumbling grew more and more powerful, knocking demons and angels off their feet. Nathanael had his arms held out to steady himself. He looked like he was surfing the sand.

The vibration got so strong I felt myself slightly bouncing off the ground where I knelt beside Rash’s body. Gabby had to hold on to my arm to keep from falling over.

CRRRAAAAACCKK!

The earth split apart between us and Nathanael, leaving a four foot wide gaping crevice at least fifty feet long.

The rumbling stopped.

A screeching wail came from the hole so bone chilling it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Gabby clapped her hands tightly over her ears trying to block it out.

A dozen black figures erupted from the hole and launched into Nathanael’s reserve troops.

Black robes flapped and swirled as skeletal hands bearing knives of bone slashed through rebel angels and demons like a chainsaw. Their hoods had blown back to reveal bleached white skulls.

“The demon monks!” I cried in astonishment. “Holy shit! I’ve never seen them move like that!”

They were like a band of ninja grim reapers, silently mowing through Nathanael’s extra forces.

My heart soared as I saw more figures burst out of the whole and begin lining up on our side.

Aluriel with his flaming bull’s skull.

The powerful, goat headed demon, Asmodeus.

Leonard shot out on his leathery wings and landed beside us!

“How ya doin’, Cas?” he grinned. “Need a little help?”

“Holy fuck, am I glad to see you guys!” I said.

A couple dozen more demons flew out of the crack in the earth and arranged themselves on our side.

Finally, the Big Guy himself rose up out of the hole and landed in front of us. He held out his hand and a ball of fire formed in his palm. Closing his fist around it, the fire slowly stretched itself out to form the flaming scythe. The end of the staff burned the sand where it touched the ground, leaving a tiny patch of glimmering black glass.

“This ends now, Nathanael,” The Big Guy said, his powerful eyes flickering with red light like there was fire behind them. “You will not leave this field alive.”

15
Aug
12

The New Trinity- Chapter 17: Hound of Hell

“Okay. Maybe it’s not so bad,” I said as I stared across the room at the giant angry dog with the nuclear bomb chained to its neck. “He’s from Hell. Me and Lilith are from Hell. Maybe he’ll recognize us and let us take the case.”

“Good idea,” Lilith said, not taking her eyes off Cerberus. “Go try it.”

“What?! Me? Hey, I said both of us!”

“Oh, fine!” she said, not at all happy about it.

The two of us slowly moved towards Cerberus.

“Um…Hey, Cerby. Good doggy,” I gulped. “It’s Casmiel. R-remember me?”

ERROWROWROWROWROW!

The big dog’s deafening bark echoed around the chamber as he jerked forward at the end of the chain holding him in place. His huge jaws snapped at us and a blast of fire shot from his mouth.

Lilith and I both jumped back to the doorway.

“Okay. So he doesn’t remember us.”

“Come on,” Rash said. “You guys must see him all the time in Hell. You oughta know how to handle him!”

“Cerberus isn’t a demon- he’s a Hell hound. And he’s, well…He’s kind of temperamental,” Lilith explained. “Even demons normally stay as far away from him as possible. I can’t imagine how they managed to bring him here.”

“Isacaron,” I said. “Remember, that dog headed fucker has been with Nathanael. He’s this overgrown chihuahua’s handler…You know, I wonder if that’s why Humans think Cerberus has three heads?”

“Vee are running out of time!” Henrich said nervously checking his watch. “Do something!”

Lilith took a deep breath to steel herself for action.

“Okay. We’ll try and distract him. Raf, you and Batty fly at him from the right. Cas, you take the left. While he’s focused on you guys, I’ll rematerialize and grab the case.”

We each gave a curt nod.

“Now.” Lilith said.

I took to the air and zoomed at the dog’s left. Batty and Raf flew at him from the right.

ROWROWROWROW!

Cerberus’ angry barking shook the chamber.

In a split second, he’d snapped at all three of us, barely missing my leg.

Lilith appeared between his massive front paws.

Fwhooom!

Just as she’d appeared, the dog’s fang filled mouth shot a blast of flame at her like a dragon. Lilith rematerialized out of the way just in time.

“Motherfucker, he’s fast!” I exclaimed as I dodged another strike from his deadly jaws.

Cerberus barked flames at Raf who squealed like a little girl as he dove out of the way. Before the fire had completely left his mouth, the big dog was already snapping at me, Lilith and Batty again.

“Pull back!” Lilith shouted.

We rematerialized back beside Rash and Henrich at the entrance.

With another loud bark, Cerberus shot a blast of fire, but we were out of range again.

“He’s too fast!” Raphael said, gasping for breath. “We’ll never get close enough to grab the bomb!”

Henrich looked at his watch again and swore in German.

“It’s eleven-thirty! There is no time for this! Vee haff to save my daughter!”

Eleven-thirty!

The fucking bomb hanging from Cerberus’ collar was going to go off in only half an hour!

“Give me your watch, Henrich.” I said.

He pulled the expensive looking gold watch from his wrist and handed it over, confused.

I passed the watch and the map to Lilith as another earthshaking bark echoed around us.

“If it gets too close to noon, and you still ain’t got the case, get Rash as far the fuck away from here as possible. I’m gonna take Henrich and try to get Gabby before it’s too late.”

Lilith looked like she was about to protest, but she stopped herself.

“I understand.” she said.

Then she did something I never would have expected in a million years.

Lilith gave me a kiss on the cheek.

“Good luck.” she said before returning her attention to the giant fire breathing dog.

“Uh,…You too.” I muttered in absolute shock.

Lilith had kissed me? And it wasn’t even an excuse for her snakes to get close enough to bite me.

We must really be screwed.

I shook my head and grabbed Henrich’s arm. We had a job to do.

“Come on. There was an exit tunnel just back a little way.”

Henrich and I ran down the passage using my fire as a flashlight and turned down a narrow tunnel that branched off sharply. About a hundred yards from the turn, we found ourselves at the bottom of a shaft with a rusty metal ladder leading up.

I climbed up first and lifted the heavy manhole cover at the top just a crack so I could peek out.

Several Livies were all running down the street in the same direction.

I moved the manhole cover to the side and changed into my Human form before emerging onto the street, followed by Henrich.

More people ran past, most carrying Bibles or rosaries.

“Party must be starting already.” I said and motioned for the German to follow me.

We headed in the direction everyone else was going until we came to a solid wall of Humans clogging the street. Everyone was clamoring anxiously to get closer to what was happening ahead, but there were just too many people.

I looked around us.

There was no good place to get out of sight, and the people coming up the street would soon have us completely surrounded.

I shrugged.

“No time to worry about appearances, I guess.”

I took my demon form.

The people closest to us screamed in terror.

“Oh, get over it!” I said. “I know I’m ugly.”

I put an arm around Henrich’s waist and lifted into the air. We landed on top of a tall building with a good view.

The city sprawled out before us, and everywhere the streets were packed with Humans. There had to be over a million Livies crowding every available space, all trying to get a glimpse of their “Savior”.

And he was coming.

A huge wave of humanity moved slowly through the streets in the direction of the Wailing Wall, last remnant of the old Jewish Temple. In the center of the Human river was Nathanael. He and Gabby rode on the back of a donkey through the throngs of cheering worshipers.

“’He vill enter Jerusalem on an ass…’.” Henrich said, referring to the supposed prophecy.

“Yeah, but the real ass is the one on top.” I scowled.

We watched as Nathanael arrived in front of the Wailing Wall. To the amazement of his followers, he put his arm around Gabby and they floated into the air, landing atop the wall.

“My people,” Nathanael’s voice boomed out across the city, rippling in a dozen languages. “You are the Chosen Ones. On this day, you will be received into the Kingdom of Heaven where you will live in peace for all eternity!”

The cheers and cries that went up from the Humans were like nothing I’d ever heard. A roar like a hurricane echoed off every building in every street.

“Get me over there!” Henrich cried, an anguished look on his ruddy face. “I must get to him! I must tell him not to let her die!”

I grabbed him and swooped over the adoring, jubilant crowd whose cheers turned to screams at the sight of me in my Hellish form. We landed on the wall near Nathanael and Gabby.

The angel glared at me, his mouth twisted in rage.

But then he gave a humorless little laugh.

“You’re a little too late, Cas,” he smirked. “There’s nothing you can do to stop me now. I mean, what are you gonna do? Tell them all to go home?”

Henrich fell to his knees beside me. The German clasped his hands in front of him and pleaded with his former partner.

“Please! I’ve changed my mind! I do not vish the Bianco girl to die! Spare her, I beg you! Do vhat you vill vith them,” he motioned at the sea of Humans. “But, please, do not let her die vith them!”

Nathanael and the Persephone-possessed Gabby stared, bewildered, at Henrich.

“What? But that was all you wanted. Everything you did to help me was so I’d help you get your revenge on the Bianco’s.” Nathanael said, confused.

“I know! I know!” Henrich begged. “But now I am asking you to spare her. Please!”

Nathanael regarded the German for a long moment, unable to understand this sudden change of heart. Meanwhile, Persephone kept checking and rechecking the watch she wore on Gabby’s wrist, aware that they were wasting time they didn’t have.

“Nah,” Nathanael said blithely. “I don’t think I will. But you’re more than welcome to die with her.”

Henrich’s face turned bright red and his eyes filled with rage. He sprang to his feet and charged at his former partner with a roar of anger.

The Humans below screamed their outrage at the attempted attack on their Messiah.

But Henrich was no match for an angel.

With a casual wave of his hand, Nathanael sent a gust of wind which blew the German off the wall. He landed face first on the pavement at the base of the wall with a sickening crack.

Henrich Hedin was dead.

The crowd cheered.

“The followers of Satan will never defeat the power of Heaven!” Nathanael shouted to the crowd, pointing an insinuating finger at me.

I rematerialized behind Gabby and threw my arms around her.

“Urgh! Get the fuck off me!” Persephone’s voice hissed from Gabby’s lips.

“Such language from the ‘Mother of God’. You should be ashamed of yourself.” I teased her.

Nathanael sneered at me.

“You really think this is going to help, Casmiel? It’s over! I’ve won! In a few minutes your little girlfriend is going to die and I’ll be leading my army into Heaven.”

Persephone struggled in my grasp.

“Nathanael. The time! There’s not much time!” she said.

She sounded scared.

“That’s right,” I growled in her ear. “You can’t rematerialize away in this body. But you can die inside a Human.”

“Nathanael!” she said, her voice rising.

“Why should he give a shit if you die too, Persephone? He didn’t care about losing Halpas or Zophiel or Scirlin.” I said.

Nathanael seemed to be debating what to do.

“Fine,” he said, finally. “Go. Make sure the troops are ready.”

The struggling in my arms stopped and the red headed form of Persephone emerged from Gabby’s body. She disappeared the instant she was out.

“Cas? Cas! You did it!” Gabby said as she became herself again and realized what was happening. “You saved me!”

“Not yet,” Nathanael smirked. “It’s about time for this party to end with a bang. Good bye, Casmiel. Have fun watching your friend die.”

He floated out over the crowd of Humans and called out to them in the ripply voice.

“It is time, my believers! Follow me to Heaven!”

He vanished.

At that exact moment, Lilith, Batty and Raf came zooming over the Dome of the Rock towards me and Gabby.

“Lilith! Did you get the case? Wait…Where’s Rash?” I asked as the three of them landed on the wall, all looking terrified.

Lilith pointed a trembling finger out across the crowd.

“There!”

ARROWROWROWROOO!

Nathanael’s worshipers screamed and stampeded out of the way as the giant black dog bounded toward us- with Rash riding on its back, holding on for dear life!

The suitcase was still swinging from Cerberus’ collar.

“Oh, fuck.” was all I could say.

The dog skidded to a halt at the base of the wall.

“Hey, guys!” Rash called up to us with his big toothy grin. “It’s okay! He’s friendly enough.”

I put an arm around Gabby and we all flew down to land in front of the happily panting dog.

“What-? How-?” I stammered.

Rash shrugged.

“Oh, he’s just a big baby. All he wanted was his belly rubbed. Isn’t that right, big doggy?” he said, reaching down to scratch behind Cerberus’ huge ear. “By the way, are you gonna do somethin’ with this bomb or are we gonna wait to blow up?”

I snapped out of my shock at seeing Rash riding a giant Hell hound and quickly reached up and opened the suitcase, revealing the digital timer on the bomb.

5…4…3…

“Shit!”

I slapped both hands on the bomb.

It turned into a box of my favorite ‘magically delicious’ breakfast cereal just as the timer hit 1.

Hey, it was the first safe thing that popped into my head.

I staggered back and leaned against the wall with my hand over my pounding heart.

“That was too fucking close!”

The giant dog licked my face, drenching me in slobber, then snatched the box of cereal out of my hand and swallowed it whole.

“Well, I didn’t have any milk anyway.”

Batty and Raphael were jumping up and down, hand in hand, and laughing ecstatically.

“We did it! We did it! We won!” they shouted.

Gabby leaped into my arms.

“Oh, my god! Thank you! Thank you, Cas! I can’t believe it’s finally over!”

I patted the back of her head with a smile, but I cast a meaningful look at Lilith.

Lilith wasn’t ready to celebrate yet. And neither was I.

“It’s not over,” I said. “With or without the army of souls- we can’t let Nathanael’s army invade Heaven. We gotta stop him for good.”

13
Aug
12

The New Trinity- Chapter 16: Countdown to Armageddon

Lilith, Raphael and I rematerialized back at Avi’s shop to start searching for the map while Batty flew back carrying Rash.

We were knee deep in junk by the time Rash stumbled in looking white as a ghost, followed by Batty who seemed just fine.

“That was the worst! Never do that to me again, Batty!” Rash said breathlessly.

“I’m sorry, but I had to make sure we weren’t seen.” Batty replied.

“Rough flight, Rash?” Lilith asked without looking up from the papers she was rifling through.

“We flew in super fuckin’ high! And then- ZOOM! Batty shot straight down full speed into the alley around the corner!” he explained, looking a little green around the edges. “I’m never ridin’ a roller coaster again.”

“That’s nice,” I said. “Now get over here and help hunt for that map. It’s about three foot by two foot, shows all the tunnels under the city and it has a couple of red X’s on it.”

We dug through piles of scrolls and parchments, books and old magazines, we even emptied the entire contents of Avi’s desk. I didn’t even realize it was a desk until I got down through several layers of papers and cardboard boxes and found the old roll top desk underneath.

“How the hell does Avi find anything in this place?” I wondered aloud.

“I suppose he has his own system for storing things,” Raf said, looking curiously at a weird tribal mask before tossing it aside. “I guess if you live in this mess, you get to know your way around it.”

As the sun set, Rash fell asleep sitting on the floor with his head resting against a box of Buddy Christ figures- cartoonish plastic Jesus’ giving a wink and a smiling thumbs up.

I let him sleep. The poor guy had been awake over twenty-four hours since we’d left Vienna.

While Rash snored away, I was painfully aware of the minutes slipping away from us.

Every so often somebody would get excited and go “I found it!”, only to take a closer look and mutter a disappointed “Never mind”.

Avi had a lot of old maps stashed around the shop. I’d mistakenly picked up the same one three different times before I finally stuffed it inside a Bible just to get rid of it.

Time felt like it had sped up. Before I knew it, it was midnight. Then is was one thirty a.m. Then it was already three o’clock, Christmas morning.

I could see the strain on Lilith, Batty and Raf’s faces. We were running out of time. Every second that ticked away on the clock was another second ticking away on the bombs hidden somewhere beneath us.

“You don’t think Avi sold it do you?” Batty asked nervously as she brushed her curly blond hair out of her face.

“I doubt it,” Raphael replied. “Avi hardly ever has any customers. He only makes his living selling the few real artifacts he finds to the bigger dealers.”

Batty and Raf’s voices must have woke Rash up, because he suddenly stood and walked over to a table piled almost to the ceiling with books, boxes and junk.

Rash hopped up on the table and started scaling the pile like it was a rock climbing wall.

“Watch it, Rash! You’re gonna knock the whole pile over.” I warned him.

He didn’t answer. He just kept climbing.

“Please come down, Rash,” Batty said, concern on her sweet face. “You’ll get hurt.”

That’s when I noticed…

His eyes were still closed.

What the fuck?

“He’s still asleep!” I said in disbelief.

I rushed over through the shit we’d been chucking aside to pull him down before he came crashing down.

Rash stretched his hand up to the top of the pile and pulled something off.

He woke with a start.

“Whoa! How the fuck did I get up here?”

His foot slipped and he fell into my waiting arms.

“You were fucking sleepwalking!” I said as I set him on his feet. “Or sleep climbing, I guess.”

Rash looked confused.

“I was dreamin’ ’bout Gabby,” he said, his eyes still a little out of focus. “She was yellin’ at me for bringin’ all this shit into the Trash Bin…Then some dude with long hair told me to climb up on the counter and get somethin’.”

Rash finally realized he had something in his hand and held it up.

My jaw dropped.

“The map!”

I grabbed the piece of parchment out of his hand and laid it out on top of Avi’s desk.

“It’s the one!” Raf squealed, peering over my shoulder. “It’s the same one Avi showed us!”

Batty started bouncing up and down on her bare feet excitedly.

“The man in your dream! It had to be the Mystery Angel! What do you remember, Rash? What did he look like?”

Rash shrugged.

“I dunno. Just some dude. All I remember is he had long black hair almost down to his ass.”

“That doesn’t matter right now,” I said, waving away his half assed recollection. “It’s almost six in the morning! We gotta get down in the tunnels and find these fucking bombs!”

I rolled up the map and we hurried out of the shop and down the street towards the closest tunnel entrance. The one where we’d captured Henrich.

And speaking of Henrich…

Just as we reached the alley with the gated doorway, a shiny black car came speeding up the street and slammed on the brakes right next to us.

Henrich himself got out of the car.

“There you are,” he said. “Did you find it? Haff you got the map?”

I held it up for him to see.

“Yeah. Thanks to Rash and our guardian angel. Come on. We’re gonna need all the help we can get.”

We made our way down the alley and through the gated entrance.

“Gonna need some light, guys.” I said to Batty and Raphael.

“You got it, Cas.” Raf replied.

He and Batty’s wings appeared, spreading a warm glow from their undersides on the rocky walls.

Once we’d descended the stairs and navigated the long, snaking corridor, we arrived in the big chamber full of crates. I laid out the map on top of one of the boxes.

“Okay. The bombs are here, here and here,” I said, pointing out the red X’s.

“Judging from the scale of this map, they’re pretty far apart,” Lilith said. “It’s going to take some time to reach each of them. The closest one is down that tunnel on the left. Let’s go.”

We moved as quickly as we could through the tunnels in the direction of the first bomb. It took a lot longer to get there than even Lilith thought it would. Of course, it didn’t help that I accidentally held the map upside down at one point and had us going in the wrong direction for about twenty minutes before I realized my mistake.

“Cas, you idiot!” Lilith shot at me. “If we don’t get to all of them because you can’t read a fucking map, I’ll rip your wings off and shove them up your ass!”

Once we finally got going the right way and started getting close to the site of the first X, the rocky walls began to take on an eerie reddish glow.

We found out why when we rounded a curve in the tunnel and saw the first bomb.

It was packed inside a large suitcase tucked into a niche carved into the rock. And in front of the niche was a curtain of flickering orange-red flames.

I tentatively reached my hand out to try and grab the case through the fire.

“OW! Motherfucker!” I cried as I jerked my hand back.

I’d barely touched it with the tip of a finger, but it hurt like a son of a bitch.

Lilith shook her head.

“It’s demonic fire, Cas,” she huffed as if I should have known. “We can’t touch it.”

“That must be why Nathanael had his demons and angels place the bombs. So they could set up traps around them.” Raf said, worry creasing his boyish forehead. “Oh, this is bad.”

“How the fuck do we get at it then?” I asked.

“Oh! I got this.” Rash piped up confidently.

“You got what? How’re you gonna-”

SPLISSSHHH!

The fire went out.

I shot an amazed look at Rash.

He stood there grinning his toothy grin and holding up a tiny glass bottle.

“And you said holy water wouldn’t be good for anything.” Rash quipped as he stuck the now empty bottle back in his jeans pocket.

“Heh heh. I stand corrected. Good one, buddy.”

I pulled the suitcase out of it’s niche and flipped it open.

The bomb filled the entire case. A digital timer was counting down on it.

“Do you know how to disarm it?” Henrich asked.

“Oh, that won’t be necessary.” Batty smiled sweetly.

She reached out a hand and laid it on the device.

It turned into a fluffy white teddy bear.

“That works.” I shrugged.

“Ooh! Can I have it, Batty? I collect teddy bears!” Raphael beamed.

“I’ll make you all the bears you want once we get outta this, Raf,” I said. “Right now, let’s just worry about the other two bombs.”

I checked the map and we headed off in the direction of the next closest X.

Lilith was right. It was a long hike from one bomb to the next. They’d been spaced out to cover the entire city so there were miles of twisting, maze-like tunnels to navigate.

According to Henrich’s watch, it was already after nine a.m by the time we entered the passage where the second device was supposed to be hidden. The tunnel widened out and the ceiling rose high up into the darkness. But when we reached the spot marked on the map, we found…

Nothing.

“Where the fuck is it?” I said, looking all around the empty tunnel. “It should be right here!”

“Are you sure you’re reading the map right?” Lilith asked, her voice full of doubt. “If you’ve got that thing upside down again-”

“Oh, give me a fucking break, Lilith! I’m reading it right. It’s gotta be here somewhere.”

The rough stone walls stretched off with no sign of any carved niche like the first location. I couldn’t see anything to indicate where Nathanael’s people had left the bomb.

“There it is!” Raphael exclaimed, pointing up into the darkness over our heads. “Ha! Sneaky bastards. They hung it from the ceiling!”

Raf spread his white wings and flew up to retrieve the suitcase dangling from a chain high above us.

“Good eye, Raf. Just transform it and we’ll-”

“Ahh!- Urgh! Uh-oh, I’m stuck!” he yelled down. “There’s something up here in the way.”

“Hold on. I’ll pull you loose.” Lilith said and she flew upward into the darkness. “Give me your hand, Raf.”

Lilith was just a dark silhouette in the light shining down from Raphael’s wings. She took the angel by the hand and started pulling him down.

Something wasn’t right.

Raf was moving, but very slowly. Lilith was pulling as hard as she could, her green and black butterfly wings beating furiously.

“Come…on!” she grunted. “Why…isn’t…it working?”

SPROINNNG!

Lilith had stopped pulling to get a better grip on Raf and they’d both sprung upward like they were hooked to a spring.

“Shit,” Lilith muttered like she was angry with herself. “It’s a spider web, Cas. Get up here with your fire…But DON’T get yourself stuck, please!”

“Coming,” I said, pulling out my handful of flames. “Batty, I’ll need your light. Just stay a little below me, okay?”

“Absolutely!” Batty smiled cheerily.

I spread my big black wings and flew up with Batty following close behind.

The silvery strands of a giant spider web spanned the roof of the tunnel, glowing eerily in the iridescent light from Batty’s wings. The strands were as thick as power lines and covered in sticky goo. The second suitcase dangled just on the other side of the web.

My fire morphed into a long flaming knife and I started cutting through one of the sticky cables.

I heard a long, raspy breath in the darkness above me.

“Uh, was that one of you guys?”

“No.” Lilith and Raphael both said.

Another dry, harsh sounding breath echoed around the roof of the tunnel, followed by an equally dry, cold voice.

“So, this was not such a waste of time after all?” it said. “Who is there?”

“Ron,” Lilith sighed. “I should’ve known.”

Ron- or Ronobe- stepped into the light, walking easily on the strands of the web.

From the waist up, the demon looked like a crusty, dried out mummy’s corpse with two long fangs hanging out of his mouth. But from the waist down, he had the fat, hairy abdomen of a spider and four long furry spider’s legs.

“Lilith? And Raphael, too.” Ronobe wheezed. “Fancy meeting you here.”

“Ron, you don’t want to help Nathanael,” Lilith said, calmly. “Just cut us free and give us the bomb. There’s no need for us to fight.”

While she tried to reason with the demon, I continued carefully cutting Lilith and Raf free as stealthily and quickly as I could.

Ronobe slowly shook his head, his expression was completely unreadable. Like he didn’t have any emotion of any kind.

“Yes, I do want to help Nathanael, Lilith. I am sorry, but I want to return to Heaven. Nathanael is the only way.”

“I know it might seem that way, Ron, but this isn’t the way to go about it,” Lilith said. “You’re not evil like him. Just let us go. We won’t hold it against you.”

Ronobe was slowly getting closer to Lilith, his expressionless face nearing hers. I was almost done cutting them loose.

“Who is that with you?” his cold, rasping voice asked. “Is that Casmiel?”

“Hey, Ron. How’s it goin’?” I said.

“Well, I never thought I would have to harm any of my brothers and sisters from Heaven and Hell, however…Some sacrifices have to be made I suppose.” Ronobe said.

His dried, cracked lips pulled back, bearing his long, venomous fangs.

“You won’t hurt us, Ron,” Lilith said, but she didn’t sound so calm anymore. “You’re a good demon. I know you are.”

Just a couple more cables to cut!

“I am sorry, Lilith,” he wheezed. “This will only hurt for a second.”

I cut the last strand holding my friends.

“DROP!” I shouted.

Lilith and Raphael plummeted towards the tunnel floor. Ronobe’s emotionless face showed no sign that he even cared that his prey had escaped.

“Sorry, Ron.” I said.

I balled up my fire and shot a blast of flame at the demon, being careful to only injure him- not kill him.

The giant web sizzled and burned away to nothing. Ronobe threw his arms in front of his face and skittered backwards on his spider legs, retreating down the roof of another tunnel. He had some bad burns all over his body. He’d be all right in time, but he wouldn’t be weaving any webs or biting anybody for quite a while.

I flew up, grabbed the suitcase and brought it down to the others. I opened it up and Raf reached out to touch the bomb inside.

It turned into another teddy bear. A bright, fluffy pink one this time.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Okay. Two down, one to go.”

We hurried as fast as we could toward where the final X was marked on the map.

The tunnels seemed a little wider than they had been, but they still twisted and turned like whoever had carved them out of the rock had no idea where they were going. As we passed a corridor that branched off to the right, I stopped and rechecked the map.

“This way,” I told the others. “It shouldn’t be much farther.”

Of course, that was kind of relative.

It didn’t look far on the map, but it felt like forever before we actually got close. And when we did get near our destination, I started to notice something.

A smell.

It smelled like burnt hair or something, and it got stronger and stronger as we rushed down the passage.

There was something familiar about it, too.

“Hey, didn’t you say you smelled something down here the day we found Jed’s ashes?” I asked Lilith.

She nodded, tight lipped. She looked nervous.

“I recognize it now,” Lilith said, leaning close and talking under her breath. “Think, Cas. You’ll recognize it too.”

The entrance to a chamber loomed out of the darkness just ahead. The smell seemed to be coming from inside.

“Do you guys hear that noise?” Batty asked.

A low rumbling, almost like a big motor was coming from the room and getting steadily louder.

Lilith shot me a meaningful look.

“Recognize it now?” she whispered at me.

I swallowed hard as we reached the entrance to the chamber.

“Oh, yeah.” I muttered back.

The light from Batty and Raf’s wings flooded the interior of the cavernous room as we stepped inside.

“Oh, fuck.” said Rash.

Henrich leaped backwards, his eyes bugging out of his ruddy face.

On the other side of the room, chained to the stone wall, stood an enormous dog the size of an elephant. All fangs, claws and singed black fur.

And he wasn’t happy to see us.

“Cerberus.” Lilith and I said at the same time.

Cerberus, the ultimate Hell hound. His fur, burned in spots from the fires of Hell, was what was stinking up the joint. The motor like sound was the deep growl coming from him as he bared his fangs at us.

As impressive and terrifying a sight as Cerberus’ huge form was, my eyes were locked onto the collar encircling his monstrous neck.

And the large suitcase dangling from it.




HIGHER HELL

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