Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (10 page)

•   •   •

Simeon had been so busy of late that he hadn’t had the opportunity to watch much television. Reclining upon the king-sized bed, he pointed the remote control to a wall of flat screens and turned them on.

There were twenty monitors in all, and on each was the image of a hospital room, a single bed in the center of the frame.

Simeon had no interest in commercial television, preferring instead his own special brand of reality TV. He’d had cameras secretly installed in hospital intensive care units throughout Las Vegas so that he might observe the struggles of life, and in most cases the inevitable deaths.

It was the deaths that he couldn’t get enough of, living and dying vicariously through each patient. One day he hoped to have such an experience again, to know that peace and euphoria and not have it savagely yanked away with an unwanted return to life.

His eyes scanned the screens. Some were alone, while others had family rallied about them. Simeon did not recognize any of the subjects from the last time he’d observed the ICU; that crop had likely already left this world behind.

There was a flurry of movement on monitor seven, where family gathered about a frail old woman who appeared to be having convulsions. Simeon used the remote to focus the camera on the woman’s face. Her eyes had rolled back to expose the whites, and her teeth were clenched in a skeletal grin. He had seen this countless times before and knew it was only a matter of time before she was gone.

He crawled to the end of the bed, as close to the image as he could get, remembering his own death convulsions as he observed another’s.

“That’s it,” he whispered. He could practically see her life force collecting in the center of her being, preparing to leave the diseased body that had been her prison.

He studied every aspect of her features, the sweat upon her brow and lips, the yellowness of the whites of her eyes, the steady flow of bubbling saliva from the corners of her withered mouth.

She was almost there. . . . Almost . . .

Nurses and doctors rushed in from the left, swarming around the bed, pushing the family members back.

“No!” Simeon bellowed at the screen. She had been so close. He wanted to reach through the screen and grab the doctors, pulling them away so that she might be free.

The bodies were blocking his view as he paced before the screens, his entire focus devoted to the happenings on monitor seven. The doctors and nurses were working furiously, running to and from the room.

They thought that they were saving her, but they were only preventing her from moving on—from escaping her mortal confinement and entering the embrace of the ultimate source in the universe.

The stuff of creation itself.

Things finally seemed to settle down a bit in the room, and as a man with a dark mustache, wearing blue scrubs and a white lab coat, stepped to the side, Simeon saw that the woman had been placed on a ventilator.

Keeping her alive.

Keeping her prisoner in this cruel, cruel world and denying her the glory of Heaven, as the Nazarene and the Almighty had denied him.

He had half a mind to go to that very hospital and pull the plug himself. The woman’s family were crying and hugging each other, thanking the doctors and nurses for all that they had done.

If they only knew what they had just denied their loved one.

Frustrated, he climbed back onto the bed and picked up the remote, turning off all the screens at once. There was no use in trying to relax now; his thoughts had turned to more nefarious things.

He felt a sudden tremble in the ether that usually heralded the return of one of his demonic lackeys to the nest. Throwing open his bedroom doors, he strode out into the sprawling living room in search of information.

“Tell me,” he said, eyes locking onto Beleeze, who had been chatting with fellow demonic servants Dorian and Robert. “What did he say?”

The demon seemed nervous, which was usually a precursor to something displeasing him. Simeon did not care to be displeased—ever.

“He said nothing,” Beleeze said. “Remy Chandler is near death at his Boston dwelling.”

“Near death?” Simeon repeated. “How could an angel of such great fortitude be near death?”

“I found the angel surrounded by caretakers. It appears he was critically injured by an assassin . . . an assassin of the Bone Master guild.”

“The Bone Masters.” Simeon made a face. “A nasty bunch indeed.”

“Chandler is being cared for by an angel of healing, while his friends stand watch.”

“Hmm,” Simeon said in agreement while gnawing on the nail of his thumb. “That’s actually a good idea. The Bone Masters don’t give up until their target is dead.”

“One friend was questioning a Bone Master and attempts to somehow put a halt on the contract.”

“A friend?” Simeon questioned, suddenly curious. “What kind of friend?”

“An angelic friend,” Beleeze answered. “He had the stink of one fallen about him.”

“A fallen angel. Interesting.”

“And he carried a weapon the likes of which I have never seen,” Beleeze added.

Simeon’s curiosity was piqued even more.

“A weapon? What kind of weapon?”

“It was a pistol, but I could sense . . . I could sense that it was so much more than that.”

“One of the Pitiless weapons, I’d imagine,” Malatesta said, coming out of one of the bedrooms, where he’d gone to rest after returning from the Vatican.

“The Pitiless,” Simeon said. “I heard rumblings that they’d been reclaimed by their master.”

Malatesta seemed to think about that a moment, accessing the information that had been taken from the volumes in the Vatican library.

“They had been lost to the ages until recovered by Remy Chandler. It was said that they had found their way back to the Morningstar, but recently there have been reports—sightings of a golden pistol . . . a golden Colt .45 Peacemaker in the possession of a fallen angel assassin.”

“Remy’s ambitious friend, perhaps?” Simeon suggested. “And do you by any chance have this fallen angel’s name?”

Malatesta again paused, his eyes blinking wildly as he searched the countless pieces of information that now took up residence inside his mind.

“His name before the fall was Fraciel,” Malatesta said. “But here on Earth he goes by Francis.”

With Remy Chandler out of the picture, Simeon’s plan was missing a critical piece. He was amazed at how solutions to problems often presented themselves seemingly out of the blue. Almost as if some higher power were attempting to help him.

That thought made him smile, and he wondered what kind of a higher power would have any interest in the end of all things.

“I think I would like to have words with this Francis,” Simeon said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to find that we have some things in common.”

CHAPTER
NINE

R
emy finally felt confident enough to stand.

The ringing in his ears had stopped, and the painful aching in his joints had quieted to a manageable roar. Using the cold, damp wall of the cave, he pushed himself into a standing position and waited for the vertigo to clear. Sure that he could stand without holding on, he did just that, losing his balance for only a second or two before it all seemed to stabilize.

There was a tightness in the flesh of his belly, and he opened his shirt to examine the puckered remains of wounds there. Who would have thought that hellhound spit would be so conducive to healing?

Concentrating so that he did not stumble, he walked the length of the chamber and out into the natural corridor. He could hear the sounds of people talking and was drawn toward the source, the passage opening up into a larger chamber where the children of Samson waited. From the shadows he watched them, young men, at least ten of them, and one woman—the one who had given him the sword to defend himself—waiting for what was to come.

Once again, he tried to remember the mission they’d shared thus far, and once again, he was met with a sucking void. Frustration welled up inside him.

Remy left the shadows in search of the hound, hoping the demon dog would have some answers, and nearly ran into the young woman. It was Leila, Samson’s daughter.

“Sorry,” Remy stammered, attempting to move around the dark-haired beauty, who smiled at him slyly.

“I’m surprised to see you up and about so soon,” she said. “It’s not easy to walk away from a beating like that.”

“I’m still feeling it a bit.” Remy returned the friendly smile. “But I think I’ll be all right.”

“Baarabus wanted us to kill you, but the Fossil stopped us. Said you were still needed.”

Baarabus,
he thought.
Is that what the demon hound is called?

“The Fossil?” Remy questioned. He remembered the dog talking about somebody who thought he should live. “Who’s that?”

“The old man,” Leila said with a shrug. “That’s who he is.”

“Does he have a name . . . ?”

“The Fossil,” Leila repeated. “That’s all I’ve called him since I was a little girl.”

“So he’s been around for a while.”

She nodded.

“Friend of your father?” he asked.

He could see the mood change in her eyes. “I’m not sure if he knew my father,” Leila said. “I can barely remember him myself.”

Remy couldn’t help himself, the need to know urging him to pry, to toss aside the rubble of his memory and see what waited for him beneath.

“What happened to him—your dad?”

She looked at him funny, cocking her head slightly. “You should know more than any of us, I’d think.”

Remy slowly shook his head. “If I knew I wouldn’t ask.”

“I barely remember him, but I’ve heard my brothers talking about this amazing day when the world was supposed to change and everything was going to be incredible.”

Leila stopped, looking over to where her siblings prepared for something he had yet to understand.

“Dad was called upon and went off with some of my older brothers to be part of this amazing event,” she finally began, then stopped again.

“I’m guessing that something went wrong.” Remy prodded, desperate to know but dreading the information.

“And then the world as we knew it came to an end, and he and my older brothers never came back.”

“And nobody knows what happened?”

“Some of them might know more,” she said, looking at the other members of her family. “All I know is that we had to struggle to stay alive . . . after
it
fell from the sky.”

“Heaven . . . when Heaven fell from the sky.”

“Things were totally crazy after that; angels, their skin burned black, and stinking like the pits of Hell, hunting us down like wild dogs. It was as if they’d lost everything when Heaven fell, and they blamed us for it.”

Remy remembered the angels they’d encountered outside the caves and tried to imagine what could have made them that way.

“But you survived,” Remy said.

Leila smiled at him then. “We certainly did. We survived with the help of an angel who came walking out of the ruins with a devil dog by his side, who asked if we wanted to take down those who were responsible for doing this to the world.”

Somehow, Remy knew she was talking about him, but the memory still was not there.

“And I’m guessing your answer was . . .”

“Fuck yeah,” Leila said with a sexy curl of her lip. “We’re going to make those fuckers pay.”

•   •   •

Methuselah’s was the place to go for the most unusual information, and they had a halfway decent bar selection.

It was opened by the Biblical figure himself, Methuselah, who’d used his amazing longevity to create an environment where the citizens of the weird could go for drinks, the latest gossip, an appetizer, and maybe even a meal. The meat loaf was pretty damn good.

The ancient establishment wasn’t actually constructed in a specific place, it was built between the here and the there—the now and the then. And not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry was allowed inside; one had to be special member, in possession of a special key that would always take you to the establishment’s door.

Francis used to have one of those keys, but he’d lent it to Remy. Thankfully, now that he was in the employ of the Morningstar, a special key wasn’t the least bit necessary.

The Son of the Morning always had an open reservation at Methuselah’s.

All Francis had to do was find an abandoned structure, pass through any of its doorways, and he would find himself where he needed to be.

The stone alleyway glistened wetly in a source of light that, no matter how hard he tried to find it, Francis could not quite locate. He approached the large rounded wooden door, gazing upward at the red neon sign that told him he was where he wanted to be.

He didn’t even have to knock. The door swung inward, and the minotaur stuck its large bull-like head out to see who was there.

“How’s it hanging, Phil?” Francis asked, already making his way inside the bar.

“Hey, look who it is,” Methuselah’s doorman—
or would it be doorbeast?
—said, patting Francis on the back as he passed by the eight-foot-tall creature of myth. “Didn’t think we’d be seeing you here, considering what’s going on.”

Francis stopped in front of the bar and looked around the dark establishment. It was completely empty. He reached inside his suit coat pocket for his pack of smokes and tapped one out, then pulled out a stool and sat down.

“What’s going on?” Francis asked, taking some matches from an ashtray on the bar and lighting up.

“Don’t tell me you haven’t heard?” the minotaur said, following him to the bar. “It’s gone out all across the ether. . . . Unification is on the horizon.”

Unification?

Francis looked at him quizzically, then shrugged, exhaling a stream of smoke. “I’m not following.”

“Your boss,” the minotaur said. “It’s finally going to happen for him. . . . He’s going to be allowed back.” The beast man gave Francis a congratulatory slap on the back.

“Are you fucking kidding?” Francis asked.

“I know, right?” Phil nodded his large, horned head. “It’s about freakin’ time.”

Francis immediately considered contacting the home office but then remembered why he had come to Methuselah’s.

“It went out on the wire this morning,” Phil continued. “The Heavenly Choir, broadcasting to anybody with the ability to listen. Sent some serious shock waves through the place, as you can see.”

That explained the emptiness of the usually crowded establishment.

The door to the supply room came crashing open and a great stone figure emerged carrying two old crates.

“Hey, Methuselah,” Phil yelled to the golem. “Look who’s here.”

Methuselah stopped and set down the crates. “What the hell are you doing here?” the golem asked.

When Methuselah had finally reached the end of his life span, he’d come to the realization that he really enjoyed this living stuff and never wanted to die, so he’d had his soul transferred into a stone body specifically built for him.

So far it had worked out pretty good for him.

“I was hoping to get some information,” Francis said, taking a pull on his cigarette and letting the smoke stream from his nostrils.

Phil used that as his cue to return to his seat by the door.

“What can I get you?” Methuselah asked Francis.

“Scotch. The older the better.”

“No cheap shit for you,” the stone man said, taking a dust-covered bottle from the back of a row. With thick fingers he deftly pulled the stopper and poured some of the dark, golden liquid into a tumbler.

“Thanks,” Francis said as Methuselah slid the glass within reach.

“So?” the bartender asked.

The scotch was good, really good, and went down his throat smoothly. Francis could only imagine how much this stuff cost by the glass.

“Not sure if you’ve heard, but Chandler’s been hurt pretty bad.”

The red in the golem’s eyes seemed to burn a bit brighter. “No, I hadn’t heard. What happened?”

“Somebody put a contract out on him,” Francis explained. He took another drag from his smoke. “Ever hear of the Bone Masters?”

“I’ve heard of them,” Methuselah said. “Surprised Chandler is still amongst the living if they’ve been bought.”

“As of right now he’s still alive, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

“I hear they don’t give up too easy,” the golem said.

“Yeah, which is why I was hoping you could put me in touch with one of their brokers. I want to see if there might be a way to call off the contract.”

Methuselah had proceeded to pry open the wooden boxes behind the bar to reveal what looked to be bottles of champagne.

“As far as I know they don’t use the typical circles to make their deals, wouldn’t really have any idea who to get in touch with,” the stone man said as he reached inside the wooden case and extracted two of the bottles.

“I was afraid of that,” Francis said, finishing his scotch. “Any suggestions?”

Methuselah shook his blocky stone head.

“Afraid I don’t have anything,” he said. The golem then lifted the green bottles up so that he could see. “Can I interest you in a Veuve Clicquot champagne extracted from a ship that went down in the Baltic Sea in the nineteenth century?”

“Fancy,” Francis said, snuffing out the last of his cigarette in the ashtray.

“Yeah, knew I had a few cases in the basement somewhere—thought it would be appropriate for the celebration and all.”

Methuselah carefully set the bottles down atop the back bar.

“Your boss must be pretty excited,” the stone man said.

“I wouldn’t know,” Francis said. “Haven’t heard a peep about this Unification business. You sure it’s legit?”

“When you hear the sounds of the Heavenly Choir blaring inside your head you have the tendency to listen. Yeah, it’s legit.”

Methuselah reached for the scotch bottle and brought it over to fill Francis’ glass again. “It’s going to change things pretty dramatically, I’d imagine,” he said while pouring.

“I think you’re right.” Francis tried to remember what a unified Heaven looked like—felt like. It was almost distracting enough to take him off course, but Remy’s plight was much bigger than that.

He downed the fresh pour in one gulp and slid from the stool.

“Looks like I’m going to have to get my information elsewhere,” he said, pointing to his empty glass. “Boss’s tab?”

“Boss’s tab,” Methuselah agreed, his powerful body moving far more gracefully than it should as he returned the scotch to the shelf. “Tell him I said congratulations.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” Francis said. He grabbed the packet of cigarettes from his coat pocket and plucked another. Lighting up, he headed for the door, searching his memory for anybody else who might be able to help.

“Take it easy, Phil,” Francis said, pulling open the heavy wooden door, about to step out into the stone corridor that would take him home.

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” Phil said.

The door was closing behind him when he sensed that he was no longer alone and turned to see the imposing form of the minotaur standing there, the door partially closed behind him.

“What’s up?” Francis asked him. “Did I forget something?”

The beast man seemed to be thinking, his dark brown eyes practically boring into Francis’ skull.

“I overheard you with Methuselah,” the minotaur said.

“Yeah,” Francis responded, taking a pull on his smoke.

“Think I might know a little bit more than he did.”

“About the Bone Masters?”

The bull man nodded his massive horned head. “Methuselah doesn’t care for the assassination stuff, but I’ve been known to broker a deal every once in a while.”

“And you’ve done this for the Bone Masters?”

“They’ve got a guy.”

“And can you get in touch with this guy?”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Phil said. “But if you’re planning on talking to their guy and asking him to quit, it isn’t going to happen. Once they take a contract, they finish it no matter what.”

“Well, it can’t hurt to ask,” Francis said as he puffed on his cigarette. “Besides, I can be pretty persuasive when I need to be.”

•   •   •

His flesh seemed to be growing colder.

“I think he’s getting worse,” Linda said. She sat on the bed beside Remy, gripping her lover’s hand.

Assiel sat on the opposite side, his eyes closed. For the last hour or so he’d looked like he was asleep.

Linda watched as his eyes slowly opened.

“You’re right,” the fallen angel said.

“I’m right? I’m right that he’s getting worse? Shouldn’t we be doing something if that’s the case?” She could feel herself ramping up again even though she’d promised to keep herself in control. Losing it wasn’t going to do anybody any good at all, but she could feel her grip beginning to loosen.

“I’m doing what I can to slow the process, but there’s only so much that can be done given the circumstances.”

“There’s got to be something more we can do,” she said, running her thumb along the back of Remy’s clammy, pale hand. “You said his essence was missing . . . his soul. . . . How can we get that back? If we got that back, he’d be better, right?”

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