Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (27 page)

Simeon took the branch and brought it to his nose, sniffing it deeply.

“The Garden,” he said, almost euphoric with the overwhelming scent of the place.

“Take me there.”

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

R
emy stood beneath the buzzing neon sign, staring at the open door and the darkness beckoning him to enter.

He reached out and gave the heavy door a push. It creaked loudly as it swung farther inward, stale air wafting out to greet him like an eager puppy.

And Remy stepped into the cool darkness of Methuselah’s.

The first thing he noticed was the missing doorman. But as his eyes adjusted to the deep gloom, he found Phil in a chair not far from the entrance. The minotaur sat in the heavy wooden seat, mighty horned head slumped forward on his chest as if dozing, but Remy knew dead when he saw it.

Sadly, he wondered what could have felled the mighty mythological beast, then noticed the streaks of white and gray in the hair that covered the minotaur’s body. He had a suspicion that maybe the passage of time might have played a role in the doorman’s demise.

Remy moved into the room and stood beside the bar. Lights slowly came to life, as if awakening to his presence. The lights illuminated the barroom floor, and he noticed that all the tables had been pushed back against the walls to open up the floor space. At first he wasn’t sure what he was seeing there, the shapes lying on the floor looking like discarded bags of laundry, but on second inspection he believed that they were actually bodies.

What the hell happened in this place?
Remy wondered to himself as a string of Christmas lights hung along the top of the bar turned on, causing him to spin toward it.

Remy gasped at the sight of the large stone body—a golem—hunched over the bar, as lifeless as Phil and the sheet-covered bodies strewn about the barroom floor. The golem was Methuselah, the Biblical figure whose human form had grown so frail while alive for thousands of years that he had his life force transferred into the body of a stone giant so that he might continue to live. He was also the owner of the drinking establishment.

Remy touched the cold stone of the golem’s head, which was resting on the bar top.

“What happened?” Remy asked aloud. “Why am I here?”

He was removing his hand when there was a sudden spark, an arc of static electricity from the tips of his fingers to the golem’s head. Remy yanked back his hand, now tingling and numb from the shock, and gave it a frantic shake. And then Methuselah’s head began to move, slowly lifting from where it rested, eyes buried deep within their stone sockets blazing to life as if fires within the stone man’s skull had suddenly been stoked with coal.

“Remy,” the golem said in recognition.

“Methuselah,” Remy answered.

“You’re back.”

“Yeah, looks like I am.”

“It’s been a long time,” Methuselah commented. “Didn’t think you’d make it.”

The lights had grown increasingly brighter inside the bar, and Remy could see more of his surroundings. From what he could recall, the establishment had never been more than moderately clean, but now, in the light, he saw that it was covered in inches of dust, with so many spiderwebs that you’d think that the place was somehow being held together with strands of arachnid silk.

“Didn’t know I was supposed to come here,” Remy said, being honest.

The stone man studied him with glowing eyes.

“Okay,” Methuselah said, then turned away, going to the dusty shelf behind him. “Looks like you could use a drink.”

The bottle was covered in layers of grime, nearly masking the brown liquid that sloshed around inside. Methuselah found a dusty glass and held it out.

“Mind some dust?” he asked.

Remy shrugged. “The booze should clean it out all right.”

“You haven’t changed that much,” the golem said with a chuckle that sounded like two pieces of stone being rubbed together.

He poured the liquid to the rim and placed the glass deftly in front of Remy without spilling a drop. “Drink up.”

Remy picked up the tumbler and brought it to his mouth, quickly tossing it back. It tasted a little funky because of the dust, but other than that, it was a fine drink of scotch.

“Why am I here?” he asked.

Methuselah retrieved the glass and filled it again.

“You don’t remember?”

“Let’s just say I’m not the man I used to be.”

The golem studied him again, tilting his head from one side, to the other. “Care to explain?”

“I’ll keep it simple, but it won’t sound any less crazy,” Remy said as he reached for his second glass of whiskey.

“Try me,” Methuselah urged.

“I’m not the same Remy that you knew,” he said, keeping the momentum going before the barkeep could tell him that he was full of shit. “I’m a different Remy, from another reality. I’m not sure yet why I’m here, but I’m working on it.” He downed the whiskey, strength for what he was sure would follow.

“Yeah, there’s something missing in the eyes,” Methuselah said, studying him. “You’re not as far gone as the other, but after what he went through . . .” The golem trailed off, sliding the filthy bottle over to Remy.

“You don’t seem at all fazed by my story.”

Methuselah shrugged. “In a place like this you see it all, and besides, Gerta hinted about something like this after you left. . . . Well, after the other you left.”

“Gerta?”

The golem looked over to the floor of the bar, at the covered bodies there. “Don’t tell me—you don’t remember them, either.”

Remy saw that the shapes beneath the sheets were beginning to move. The first to emerge was a strange-looking creature, its skin incredibly pale, its body thin. He knew at once that it was a child and that it was alive only because of him.

Images exploded in his mind, and he had to hold on to the edge of the bar so he would not lose his balance. Remy saw a vast underground chamber beneath a great mountain, and inside that subterranean room was a craft of some kind, the wood of its hull ossified by the passage of time.

It was a ship—no, an ark.

“I . . . saved them,” Remy said, remembering the creatures that had been excluded from Noah’s great ship when the deluge came. They were the Chimerian . . . the orphans . . . Noah’s orphans.

“You did at that,” Methuselah said. “And you saved them again after the fall of Heaven.”

Two more of the orphans emerged from beneath their covers, rubbing their eyes with clawed hands. And Remy was surprised to see normal-looking children poking their heads out as well, eyes used to the total darkness, now squinting in the light.

“Is it time to wake up?” asked one of the kids, yawning and rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“Who are they?” Remy asked. “Am I responsible for them as well?”

“You are,” the golem answered. “You’re responsible for saving all of them.”

A child, no older than six, crawled out from beneath her sheet and walked over to where he stood.

“Hello, Gerta,” Methuselah said.

Remy stared at the beautiful child in the Hello Kitty T-shirt and pink sweatpants, her hair a mass of pale blonde curls, her eyes the lightest shade of blue he’d ever seen. There was something about this child—something that made her as different as the Chimerian children.

The little girl leaned against the bar and stared up at him.

“So you’re Gerta,” Remy said, extending his hand.

She continued to look at him, ignoring his hand, the stars in her eyes twinkling strangely.

“You’re another him,” she said.

Remy was taken aback. “What do you mean?”

“You’re another him. Another Remy.”

She looked at Methuselah and smiled at the stone golem behind the bar. “Didn’t I tell you that another Remy might come?”

“You did,” Methuselah confirmed. “Although I wasn’t quite sure what you meant at the time.”

She laughed, a twinkling sound, and then looked back at Remy.

“You knew that I was coming?”

Gerta nodded vigorously. “I saw you in one of the windows.”

“Windows?”

The child seemed to become bored with the conversation and hung from the bar’s edge, dangling like some sort of monkey.

“Gerta’s gift is the ability to see into other realities—windows, she calls them. And since you’re one of her favorites . . .”

Remy couldn’t help but smile at her before turning his gaze to the other children. Suddenly, he knew that they were all gifted, with abilities that scared the archangels. His brain began to hurt with the realization as two realities—both of which he knew to be real—struggled to be only one.

The other children were the offspring of angels and Nephilim women . . . children who shouldn’t have been able to exist but did. In both memories, the archangels tracked them all down and believed they were slaughtered. In one reality, one of the children had used his special gift to make the angels believe they had succeeded when they had not.

But in another, harsher reality, most of the children were indeed murdered, the only ones to survive being the ones that he himself was able to hide from the murderous angel soldiers.

He’d brought them here. . . .

“I brought them here for a reason,” Remy said, staring at the special children.

“You most certainly did,” Methuselah said. From behind the bar he produced a bag of Cheez Doodles and presented them to Gerta. “Here ya go, sweetheart,” he said as she took the gift from him with a smile. “Probably a little stale, but how could you notice? Go share them with your brothers and sisters.”

Gerta ran off, proudly waving the treat above her head.

“You’ve come back for a reason, too,” the golem said to Remy.

The angel tore his gaze from the children and focused on Methuselah. “Why am I here?”

“I can show you.” Methuselah moved around from behind the bar. “Hey, Phil,” he called to the minotaur. “Hold the fort while I take Remy out back, will ya? Don’t let the little shits burn the place down.”

“But he’s dead,” Remy said as he followed the stone man. “Isn’t he?”

“Yeah,” the stone man said without missing a step. “But that doesn’t mean he can’t lend a hand.”

•   •   •

The Archangel Michael flew through the darkness of interdimensional space, peeling back layer after layer of one universe—one reality—after another as he searched for the missing piece.

The piece that would make Heaven complete—the Garden of Eden.

He held the piece from the tree out before him, feeling the pull upon the branch, a small cadre of soldiers close behind him.

The Garden had been separated from Heaven during the Great War to prevent Lucifer from using it in his attempt to overthrow God. It was said that Eden would never stay in one place again—restless—until it was allowed to rejoin its home, to reconnect with the Kingdom of Heaven.

That time had finally come, and it was up to Michael to ensure that all was safe for its inevitable return during Unification.

Michael followed the pull of the branch, flapping his wings in the cold darkness of interdimensional space, passing lifeless worlds and stars in the throes of birth. With eyes that could pick out the specifics of a grain of sand, the archangel scanned the nearly endless cosmos for a sign other than the tug upon the stick that he held.

And there he saw it.

Although not easily impressed, Michael had to admit that the sight of the Garden floating in the nothingness of space was something to behold. Another of the Lord God’s most wondrous creations; an enormous island of green floating amongst the stars.

It had been quite a long time since he’d last set eyes upon the paradise the Lord God had made for His human creations. He smirked, remembering how humanity had so disappointed the Creator, with Lucifer Morningstar proving how easy it was for the newly minted life-forms to disobey.

The archangel drifted down to touch upon the land outside the closed heavy metal gates. Cautiously, he approached them and peered through the bars at the overgrown jungle beyond.

It has been too long since someone last tended this garden,
he thought.

His cadre waited patiently behind him, their eyes darting here and there. They knew the stories of this place, how it had been corrupted by the Morningstar.

“Shall we go inside?” Michael asked.

The soldiers did not answer him but stood at attention, ready to do his bidding.

Michael approached the gate, sensing a divine power radiating from the lock. At the same time, he felt a tremendous pull from the twig of the Tree of Knowledge. He touched the stick to the lock, and a sudden surge passed through him.

A surge that told him he was welcome in the Garden of Eden.

The gates shuddered and then parted with a rusted shriek, the Garden beckoning them to enter.

But as soon as Michael passed through the stone columns of the gate, he felt the wrongness through the bottom of his shoes, something that tingled and writhed, as if the ground he walked upon was somehow . . . corrupted. He was about to turn and warn his soldiers, when the earth around them violently shook and then exploded upward in a shower of dirt and rock as something forced its way out from beneath the ground.

The vines moved as if they had minds of their own, like the limbs of some great plant beast hidden under the ground. His soldiers were seized at once, the vegetation so thick and aggressive that even as one vine was severed, four more surged from the ground to enter the fray.

Michael’s sword of fire was in his hand in an instant, cutting at the tentacles of vegetation that sprang at him from every angle.

This was why he had been sent to the Garden, he thought as he hacked away at the writhing vines that attempted to ensnare him. This was what he had been sent to prepare. From the corner of his eye, he watched as his angels fought, their bodies igniting with divine fire in order to burn the plants away, but instead the vines wept thick gouts of sweet-smelling fluids that actually dampened the fires of Heaven.

This is madness,
Michael thought, still wildly swinging his burning sword at targets that relentlessly came at him. He leapt into the air, spreading his wings in an attempt to climb above the tendrils, but the vegetation was too fast, ensnaring his ankle, holding him back. His sword bit into the skin of the vine as it seemed to grow thicker, entwining around his leg. Furiously he beat his wings, but the vegetation held fast. It wasn’t long before he was being drawn back down to the Garden, where even more of the writhing vines waited to grab him.

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