Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (3 page)

CHAPTER
THREE

T
he angel’s woman.

The words were like a spear to the heart. It was Francis who had first noticed the attractive waitress named Linda Somerset, notice that had quickly transformed into a kind of obsession with the woman. That had been totally unlike him. Sure, he’d had human women over the centuries, but, with the exception of Eliza Swan, they’d been little more than playthings.

Linda Somerset was the first woman he had taken note of since Eliza, and he had even gone out of his way to point her out to his friend Remy Chandler.

Francis suddenly felt an odd sense of anger and betrayal wash over him as he looked down on the body of someone he’d thought had been his friend.
What the fuck were you thinking?

But he would never get the chance to ask that question if he didn’t move quickly. Francis could barely sense the presence of the Seraphim’s life force. It wasn’t much, but it gave him hope.

“He’s alive¸” Francis said to the woman. “But I’m not sure for how much longer.”

“We have to do something,” Linda said. “We can’t just let him die.”

“No, we can’t,” Francis said, pushing past his tumultuous emotions.

“What are we going to do?” Linda asked, panic in her eyes. “Is there someplace we can take him . . . somebody we can call?”

Somebody we can call.

Francis rose to his feet, taking his cell phone from his pants pocket. He scrolled through his contacts, looking for the number he hadn’t used in quite some time.

Physician.

He touched the number and put the phone to his ear, listening as an answering machine picked up.

“This is Francis . . . Fraciel,” he added, using his divine name just in case. “Call me back. It’s a bit of an emergency . . . a matter of life and death. Thanks.”

He hung up, turning to look at Linda, who was now sitting beside Remy, gently brushing the hair from his face, her gaze filled with love and sorrow. Francis felt a wave of anger and jealousy begin to rise within him and quickly tamped it down. Now wasn’t the time for this.

“Who did you call?” Linda asked.

“Someone who can help,” Francis replied, knowing that time was of the essence and hoping that a return call would come.

Before it was too late.

•   •   •

His true name was Assiel, but he hadn’t been called that in a very long time.

Darnell rhythmically dragged the broom over the old linoleum floor, picking up the wisps of dust that had formed since he’d last swept the hallway of Five South.

To anyone who was watching, it appeared that Darnell—
Assiel
—was just doing his job, keeping the floors clean at Saint Joseph’s Nursing Home, but in fact, he was listening, attuned to all two hundred and thirty-two residents. Darnell knew every man and woman who called this place home. He knew their aches and their pains, and he knew when it was time for them to abandon their deteriorating shells and rejoin the source of all things.

It was quiet here on Five South, the nursing home’s hospice unit. There were seven residents on the floor, all at various stages of dying, but one was closer than the others, and she called to him now.

Candace Ransley did not ring a bell or call out his name, but she summoned him just the same.

Darnell stopped outside her room and glanced down the hall to see if the nurse or any of the aides were watching, and, finding that they were otherwise occupied, he stepped in.

It was dark in the room, the curtains drawn to keep the sun away. The strains of fifties doo-wop played softly from a radio on the nightstand. Candace loved doo-wop. She’d often asked Darnell if he’d listened to it as a child where he’d come from—he’d told the residents that he was an immigrant from Nigeria. Occasionally he wondered if those he looked out for here—his patients—would have been in any way comforted to know where he really came from.

Many of them believed in a Heaven, but the reality might not have been as comforting as they wanted to believe.

The war was never far from Darnell’s mind, the atrocities he’d seen—and participated in—always there to remind him of his fall from grace. But he had paid the price for his betrayal of the Almighty, first serving time in the hellish prison of Tartarus, and now the remainder of his penance amongst humanity, where he hoped to do some good.

And eventually be allowed to once again bask in the glorious light of the Creator.

But did the Heaven that Darnell remembered even exist anymore?

He stood at the foot of Candace’s bed, clutching his broom, listening to the sound of her labored breathing. As he watched her, he could see how far her sickness—cancer of the lungs—had progressed. It would only be a matter of minutes before her physical form finally broke down and ceased to function.

Minutes normally plagued by pain, fear, and loneliness.

Normally.

Are you ready, Candace?
Darnell thought.
Ready to leave this moldering shell and join with the stuff of creation?

Her eyes slowly opened, and she looked at him. In response, he allowed her to see him.

To truly see him.

She watched him with tear-filled eyes as he moved around the side of the bed and placed his hand above her chest, his thoughts urging her to not be afraid. Beneath the cancer he saw what the Lord God had given her and all the others that made up humanity: a spark of the divine.

A piece of Himself.

And, wearing the guise of Assiel, Darnell performed the task assigned to him as a healer. He drew the fire of life that humanity called the soul up from beneath the mire of sickness and out of the frail, rotting husk that could no longer sustain it.

Candace sighed as the spark left her, and then she was still, a look of contentment upon her once pained features.

Assiel held the flame in his palm, a part of him not wanting to let it go. Of all the things that the Lord of Lords had given His human creations, this was what Assiel coveted the most.

This was what had so long ago swayed him to the beliefs of Lucifer Morningstar.

He watched the fire dance above the palm of his hand, holding it there with his will. What an amazing gift He had given them.

Candace’s soul felt the pull of the source upon it and began to panic, struggling to be free of his will. Slowly he released his hold upon it, watching as the flame leapt from his palm to disappear in a flash, leaving the material world to join with the Angel of Death, and eventually the stuff of inception.

Assiel returned to his human guise, taking one more long look at the empty casing that had once held something so wonderful before leaving the room as a song about a teen angel serenaded Candace Ransley’s corpse.

Outside the room, Darnell began to casually sweep again, working his way back up the hallway.

“Hey, Darnell,” a young nursing assistant greeted as she passed him on her way to Candace’s room.

He smiled and nodded, counting the seconds until she left the room in a hurry, rushing by him to the desk to report what she had found.

After using a dustpan to pick up what he had swept, Darnell wheeled the gray barrel past the nurses’ station to the elevators. It would be quitting time soon, and he would return to his residence and to the other patients whom he had acquired in the tenement where he’d chosen to live.

Mr. Daron was quite close, and Darnell wondered if tonight might be the night.

As he waited for the elevator, he took out his cell phone and saw that there was a message. He wasn’t supposed to use his cell on the units, but curiosity got the better of him, and he punched in the code for his voice mail.

The doors to the elevator opened before him as a familiar voice spoke in his ear. It was Francis—Fraciel, to those who had known him in another time.

“Have a good night, Darnell,” the nurse called out as he stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the lower level.

He managed a smile, but it quickly dissipated as soon as the doors slid shut.

A good night?
He seriously doubted it, if Francis was to be any part of it.

•   •   •

The Archangel Michael lay upon the cold stone floor of the mountain monastery, pieces of his divine armor strewn, twisted and bent, about him, glistening like dew in the cold Eastern European sun.

It had come upon him so quickly, lifting him up with such force that he had not had the opportunity to react, the intensity of the interaction stripping the armor from his body. He lay there, naked in his human form, his perfectly muscled body shivering.

It took the archangel some time to recalibrate, to remember where he had been and what he had been doing. He had been contemplating his place in the world of man and had concluded that his legions were needed here. Even though there now existed a binding treaty, he suspected that the Morningstar would soon find a way to further exert his will upon the Earth.

And Michael, in service to God and Heaven, would have none of that.

He had been considering his options when the Almighty reached out to him.

It had been too long since he and the Lord God had last communicated, and he had forgotten the intensity of such interaction. One moment he had been there, in the abandoned holy sanctuary, and the next, he’d been violently torn from reality and in the Presence.

In
His
presence.

The memory of what he’d just endured caused his tremors to worsen, and for a moment he felt a kindred spirit with the holy men and saints of old who had lived in this monastery, imagining that this was how they must have felt when they received His blessed word.

Using the ancient stone wall for support, he slowly rose to his feet, collecting his wits as he steadied himself. The archangel wove a suit of clothing from the elements in the air to cover his bedraggled body. But it did not stop his trembling, for it was not only the experience that wreaked such havoc upon him, it was the message that had been delivered.

Michael suddenly realized he was no longer alone but surrounded by the legion of archangels that served him, who were watching him with dark, curious eyes.

It was his second in command, Satquiel, who finally had the courage to approach. “Master?”

Michael braced himself and turned to face his second.

“He has spoken, Satquiel.” The reverence in his tone was enough to drive his legion to their knees with bowed heads.

“And what did He say, my master?” Satquiel asked, eyes averted to the stone floor of the monastery chamber. “What has He asked of us?”

Michael could not speak the words. They were jagged and sharp in his throat, threatening to cut and render him speechless as they were uttered.

After a time, Satquiel raised his head to look upon his commander, eyes questioning his superior’s state.

Michael wrestled with the message, his mouth attempting to wrap around the malevolent words, afraid to set them free.

“The Lord God commands,” Michael finally began, his booming voice so loud in the enclosed room that it shook bits of loose mortar from the walls. But he continued to struggle, fighting the words that he had been charged to proclaim.

“What does He command, Michael?” Satquiel urged, his eagerness a balm, drawing the malignant words from Michael’s mouth. “Tell us.”

“That we forgive,” Michael stated at last. The words took his strength as they spilled from his mouth, and he dropped to the floor.

“Who, Michael? Who does the Almighty wish us to forgive?”

The name left his mouth like a stream of noxious bile.

“The Morningstar,” Michael stated, feeling a bit of himself begin to wither and die. “We are to forgive Lucifer Morningstar.”

•   •   •

Simeon remembered how he’d first come to entrap the angel.

He’d been attending the wake of one of his children sometime in the early forties. It had been late summer in the South, and the heat had been terrible.

He recalled the image of his son lying puffy in his quilted casket, one of the hundreds of children he had sired as he’d wandered the planet pretending to be a part of humanity. This one had lived close to ninety years, according to the undertaker who’d greeted Simeon at the door.

Simeon hadn’t told the dark-suited man who he actually was, for he looked no older than thirty years, thanks to the touch of that accursed Son of God. He’d chosen instead to say that he was just a friend from a very long time ago.

He had known next to nothing about this child of his, not even the mother, but sensing the death of something that had once been a part of him had drawn the forever man there.

How many times had he done something similar to this, bemoaning the fact that something that he’d had a part in creating was no more, and at the same time jealous that they’d had the opportunity to leave the world behind, to escape the confines of Earth and join with the Creator in eternity.

Something that had long been denied him.

As he’d stood above the coffin, staring into the face of the dead man, he’d felt the atmosphere in the room change, as if something of great power had been drawn to his moment of woefulness.

“Who’s there?” Simeon had demanded. He’d turned toward the back of the viewing room, where the air seemed to shimmer, and touched the rings that he wore on each hand—one giving him power over the demonic, the other the angelic. “Show yourself.”

“That’s it,” the forever man had said, practically giddy as the angel of Heaven took shape, ensnared by the power of the ring. “Don’t waste your strength. Solomon was very thorough with the magick he employed.” And Simeon had held up his right hand, showing off the silver ring that adorned his finger, the one that gave him control over God’s winged messengers.

The angel had continued to struggle, attempting to disappear from view, but the magick of the ring kept him there.

“Why are you here?”

“I was drawn to your emotion,” the angel spoke haltingly, as if trying not to speak, but the words forced their way out anyway.

“My emotion?” Simeon had begun to pace amongst the chairs that had been set up for those who would come to pay their respects.

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