Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (37 page)

CHAPTER
THIRTY-EIGHT

M
ulvehill’s bullets were gone, but that didn’t mean the gun was useless.

Holding the .45 by the barrel, he used the weapon as a bludgeon, cracking skulls and faces and any other appendages that might be broken with a solid strike from the gun’s grip.

He was painfully aware of the direness of their situation; it wouldn’t be long at all until they were overrun. He couldn’t speak for the others, but he could feel himself growing tired, his brain becoming fuzzy, his response time slowing. He chanced a quick glance at Ashley, seeing her stab the short sword into the throat of a Bone Master that was attempting to crawl into the room between the legs of another. It went down gasping, clutching at its throat, but still managed to make its way farther into the room. Marlowe leapt upon it, pinning the demon to the floor, and then Linda stepped forward, jamming the sharp end of a broken drawer into the Bone Master’s eye, taking it out for good.

It was good to see her back as well. If only Remy . . .

Mulvehill pushed the sad thought aside, returning to the moment at hand. They were like a well-oiled machine, he thought, watching a blood-soaked Squire hack limbs away with abandon, but he, too, looked as though he might be slowing down.

But he couldn’t think like that. They had to keep fighting—fighting for Remy.

He chanced another look over his shoulder to the bed, where his friend lay, wishing that he would miraculously wake up and save the day, but he knew that wasn’t about to happen.

About to turn back to the battle at hand, something caught his eye, and he hesitated. A shadow passed before the window in the corner of the room that looked over the small backyard. Mulvehill’s addled brain immediately began to search for what it could be: a bird, a piece of trash blown by the wind, a cloud formation drifting past . . .

The shadow was back, and it was larger now; then it crashed through the window in a shower of glass and wood.

“Fuck,” Mulvehill screamed, already on the move. “I’ve got this,” he announced to the others, who more than had their hands full.

He raced around the bed as the Bone Master assassin rose to its full height, a cord tied about its waist that it’d used to swing in from atop the roof. Their eyes met, and the killer smiled as it drew the six-inch blade from a scabbard on its leg and turned its attention to the unconscious Remy.

Mulvehill knew this killer. He’d spoken with it in the kitchen, before the siege on the Beacon Hill brownstone had begun.

And Mulvehill also knew that this one was here to finish the job.

•   •   •

It was absolute chaos, and it took everything Linda had to hold on. The room was filled with the stink of blood, piss, and shit, and the floor of the bedroom where there had only been the most lovely of memories—lovemaking, lazy Sundays reading the newspaper and sipping coffee—was now slippery with the blood of demons.

She was exhausted and not sure how much longer she could hang on.

The demons that managed to get by Squire and Ashley and Marlowe were her responsibility, the jagged piece of pine proving to be far more effective than she had thought it could be. She stabbed it into bodies again and again, even going so far as to grip the leg of one of the demons as it attempted to slither back out the door and drag it back, jamming the wooden spear into the back of its pale neck until it no longer moved.

A tiny, scared voice in the back of her head asked,
What are you doing?
Another, louder and far scarier, voice answered,
Surviving any way that I can.

It was like being in a dream, things seeming to move in slow motion. Looking up from her kill, she was ready for whatever would come at her next, and she glanced toward the broken door. Most of the panels were missing; only the actual framework remained. She looked into the hallway and saw with horror that there were still far more killers out there than there were already dead in the bedroom, and it seemed that more were heading up the stairs.

“Shit,” Squire said, obviously seeing what she did.

But the strangest thing happened. The Bone Masters at the door began to yell in some strange foreign language and turned their attentions—their fury—upon the newcomers.

“What’s happening?” Ashley asked, her pretty face spattered with blood. “What’s going on?”

Linda didn’t answer, transfixed by what was happening outside the door. The newcomers that she had mistook as Bone Master reinforcements were not that at all. In fact, they were attacking the Bone Masters with knives, guns, and clubs.

But who were these mysterious saviors?

Were they friends?

Or were they some new foe?

•   •   •

Mulvehill threw his empty gun, the spinning projectile connecting with the demon’s face and causing it to stumble back. Taking the opportunity, he dove, tackling the monster and driving it away from the bed.

The Bone Master still held the knife, and Mulvehill put all his attention on that arm, taking it in his hands and using his waning strength to bend it back and away. But the demon was stronger, and Mulvehill felt the arm begin to come around. The detective reacted in the only way he knew how, driving his forehead down into the demon’s face. He saw stars from the blow, and felt a gash open in his face, but he did it again, and then again. For a moment, he thought he might have had an advantage, but that was short-lived as the Bone Master yanked its arm free, driving its elbow into Mulvehill’s throat.

The homicide cop began to choke, reaching up to his neck as he tried to catch his breath. His legs suddenly went out from beneath him, and he sat down hard upon the wooden floor. The blood from his head wound streamed down his face, obscuring his vision. Through a scarlet haze, he saw that the assassin had recovered and was making its way toward the unconscious Remy, knife still in hand.

Mulvehill tried to cry out to the others, but his voice was little more than a croak, and besides, his friends were already a bit busy. His eyes fell on the cord that trailed in from the broken window, the cord that was attached to the killer’s waist. He leapt on it, pulling the assassin back and away from its prey.

The Bone Master turned with a look upon its grotesque face that said it all. If the Bone Masters could kill with their eyes, Mulvehill would have died at least ten times over from the intensity of that gaze.

The assassin sliced at the cord as Mulvehill threw himself at it. The two collided head-on, flying backward onto the bed, where Remy lay. Mulvehill wildly threw punches, desperate to gain the upper hand, but the assassin ducked its head, then surged up, sending Mulvehill flying backward to the foot of the bed.

Mulvehill watched in horror as the assassin climbed upon Remy’s prone figure and raised the dagger high, about to finally silence Remy’s heart. Reacting totally on instinct, Mulvehill reached for Remy’s legs, pulling his still form from underneath the Bone Master just as the blade stabbed into the mattress.

Screaming something unintelligible, the demon turned, but Mulvehill was already throwing himself upon the assassin and attempting to wrestle the blade from its hand. As far as he was concerned, the only place that knife was going was up the Bone Master’s ass.

The killer managed to wriggle out from beneath him, and as Mulvehill reached to grab for it again, he was stabbed. The blade was sharp, and he really didn’t even realize that it had gone in until he saw the Bone Master smile and felt the warm rush of blood as it cascaded from the wound in his side.

“Aw, shit,” Mulvehill managed, his hand immediately going to the wound to try to stop the bleeding.

The assassin chuckled, then stabbed him again in the stomach.

Mulvehill tried to grab hold of the monster’s neck in a last-ditch effort—in a show of preternatural strength—but his gore-covered hand just brushed against the killer’s pale skin, leaving bloody streaks like war paint on one side of its face.

The Bone Master simply pushed Mulvehill’s body aside, making a show of licking the blade clean of his blood. “All for naught,” the assassin said, holding up the knife as it returned its attention to the unconscious Remy.

Steven Mulvehill wasn’t sure where he found the strength—an unknown reserve stored away in the human body for just such an occasion. And he didn’t really know what he was doing or why, but he managed to fling his bloody body across the bed, landing atop his friend, looking down upon his gray face.

“If there’s any chance of you waking up,” he said, blood dripping from his mouth, “I strongly suggest you do it now.”

•   •   •

Lost in the creation of a universe, Remy Chandler smiled, for he saw how it all fit together, and the part he would play in maintaining its order.

He was in control now.

He was the Creator, and this belonged to Him.

There was so much He had to do, so many details that had to be just right in order for . . .

He felt it at His back, a gentle caress of a cosmic wind. It captured His attention, distracting Him from His prodigious chores, and the being that had once been Remy Chandler turned away from the reality He was shaping to see something that reminded Him of what he was—
who he was
—and it drew him back from the brink of Godhood.

He saw a world that had been his home, a world that had provided him with so much.

A world that made him who he was and showed him the unlimited wealth of true humanity.

Remy closed his eyes, letting the remembrances of his time there and those who had helped him become . . .

His eyes opened wide, a raw, ragged vision of an ungodly act he did not understand slicing its way into his view of the world he’d been taken from.

“Steven,” Remy said, feeling the spatter of warm rain upon his face.

Something was wrong; he could feel it—a disturbing tremor in the ether. And feeling only a hint of guilt, he turned his back upon Godhood and all that it entailed.

To begin his journey home.

CHAPTER
THIRTY-NINE

T
he strangers appeared like a swarm.

Squire had no idea who they were, why they were there, or where they’d come from, but he did not like what he saw.

They’d come loaded for bear, and shotguns and pistols blasted at the demon Bone Masters. And here he’d thought the place had been total chaos before.

The hobgoblin made his way out into the hallway, Linda, Ashley, and Marlowe close behind him, and they joined with the strangers in the chaos against the demons.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend’s brother’s half sister with the incredible ass, or something to that effect,
Squire thought, believing for a moment that they might actually survive all this.

But his hope could have been a bit premature. A Bone Master demon that appeared to be wearing some sort of protective gear suddenly appeared on the stairs, lugging what looked like some sort of bazooka.

“Get the fuck out of here,” Squire screamed to Linda, Ash, and the dog, pushing them down the hall toward the guest room. He heard the rush of air as the projectile was fired, and then the hallway exploded in a rush of smoke and flames.

Squire and the girls were thrown to the floor at the end of the hall, but many of their strange allies didn’t fare as well, their bodies and pieces of their bodies littering the hallway.

“You guys all right?” Squire shouted over the beeping of smoke detectors. He quickly looked them all over to be sure they weren’t bleeding. Even the dog looked to be all right, but they had lost their position outside the bedroom, and now all he could think of was Remy and Mulvehill. “Gotta get back to the room.”

He fished for his axe on the floor and was starting down the hallway when he noticed the next wave ascending the staircase through the thick, writhing smoke.

“Any chance you guys want to lay low?” he asked, motioning with his chin toward the guest room behind them.

“Not a one,” Linda said, readying her improvised spear.

Ashley still had her sword and was staring straight ahead at the shapes moving in the thick gray clouds of smoke. She didn’t answer his question per se, but she didn’t have to; her attitude said it all. Even Marlowe had decided to stick it out, lowering himself to a crouch and growling menacingly.

Squire guessed that it was now or never and started down the hallway, using the smoke as cover. They were going to need all the help they could get if they were going to get back to the master bedroom.

The noise from the first floor was thunderous, and for a minute Squire thought the Bone Masters had found another piece of heavy artillery, but he quickly realized that what he was hearing was a voice—a scream, really: a bellow of rage.

And it was coming closer.

Squire held out a hand, stopping Linda and Ash. The banister had been destroyed in the explosion from the bazooka, and they were careful not to fall over the side as they peered down at the first floor.

Whatever was coming—
w
ho
ever was coming—was causing quite the commotion; everyone, Bone Masters included, was focused on the staircase.

A large and powerful figure appeared in the downstairs hallway. Bone Master assassins hung from his back and arms, and the enormous figure plucked them from his body, smashing them to the floor and against the staircase wall as if they were only a minor inconvenience.

“This is interesting,” Squire muttered as he watched the bellowing giant ascend the steps.

The assassins began to fire their weapons, but they didn’t seem to have any effect upon the bear of a man, who quickened his pace to reach them. He roared as he grabbed hold of one and swung it around by the leg, using it as a weapon against the others. From where Squire was standing, they didn’t have a fucking chance.

The behemoth with the long, flowing hair and thick beard was an unstoppable force no matter what the remains of the Bone Master assassins threw at him. And behind him, racing up the steps, were even more unknown allies, cleaning up the stragglers with rapid gunfire.

The giant finished off the last of his attackers, throwing one over the side of the staircase while nearly breaking the other in two by slamming it savagely over his knee.

Squire kept his back to Linda and Ashley, trying to protect them, as the large man stood still and looked around. And then the hobgoblin noticed the man’s eyes and the milky film that covered them.

He was blind.

“I know you’re there,” the giant roared, craning his head ever so slightly, listening. “I can hear the three of you”—his shaggy head tilted in the other direction—“four of you breathing.”

“Not bad for a blind guy,” Squire said. “Can you guess our weights, too?”

The big man stared for a moment and then started to laugh. It was as big and loud as he was.

“You’ve got to be one of Chandler’s friends,” he said. “The guy always seems to surround himself with wiseasses.”

“Who the fuck are you people?”

A dark-skinned man suddenly appeared from around the giant, assault weapon in hand.

“We’re friends,” he said. “Sent here to help with Remy’s . . . assassin problem.” The man came forward, extending his hand. “I’m Lazarus,” he said. “And the big guy is Samson.”

“Of course he is,” Squire said. “And them?” He nodded toward the heavily armed men who had made short work of the remaining Bone Masters.

“Them? They’re Samson’s children.”

“Lazarus and Samson?” Linda questioned, a trace of hysteria in her voice. “As in
the
Lazarus and
the
Samson?”

“Our reputations precede us,” the big man said as he poked at a bloody bullet hole in his shoulder, squeezing the wound like a zit until the bullet popped out.

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Linda said, and she seemed to sway a bit.

“Where is he?” Lazarus asked. “I heard he was in a pretty bad way, and . . .”

The scream was sudden and earsplitting, emanating from the room at the end of the hallway.

“Let me guess,” Samson said, turning toward the sound.

Squire pushed past them, rushing down the corridor, doing his damnedest not to trip over the bodies of the dead felled in their little war.

Desperate to reach the mournful wails coming from the end of the hall.

•   •   •

Ripper of Souls grabbed hold of the expiring human and carelessly flipped him from atop its prey.

The Bone Master positioned itself over the angel and stifled the urge to spit in his pale, comatose face. This was merely business, it reminded itself, a nasty bit of business that cost the lives of many young and, yes, it would have to admit, inexperienced assassins, but it was still a contract that they’d agreed to fulfill.

And a Bone Master always fulfilled a contract.

It raised its knife, ready to finally complete the job that had cost them so much.

Not even Heaven itself could stop them.

It thought of all the places the blade could enter its prey; directly into the heart would kill the angel instantly, whereas a slight deviation would nick the muscular organ, and although it would eventually produce the same outcome, it would most definitely cause more pain.

Such thoughts were not permitted to Bone Masters. All feelings—all emotions—were supposed to be suppressed, tapped down so far that only one focus remained: to extinguish life, fulfilling a contract.

But in some instances, emotions did manage to rise to the surface, their buoyancy providing a little more pleasure to the task at hand. This was one of those times. To think of so much life lost to one assignment.

Ripper of Souls studied its prey. Was the life of one divine being worth so much? The answer, of course, was yes—but Ripper of Souls still had its doubts.

It imagined its journey back to the home world, when it would have to explain to all the mothers and fathers that their children had met their end attempting to complete a contract for which they were not yet prepared.

One did not send the uninitiated to deal with an angel of Heaven, but that had not been Ripper of Souls’ decision. It would be the Broker who bore the brunt of that decision.

It decided to be merciful, bringing the blade down directly into the angel’s heart. But the point of the blade had barely broken the angel’s skin when the fire erupted from his body. And then it all happened in an instant: a powerful hand suddenly clutched about its throat, alive with flaming divinity, the orange fire hungrily consuming the flesh of its face.

The assassin screamed, a song of agony announcing the angel’s return to the waking world.

•   •   •

The burning demon flailed in his grasp, but as soon Remy saw Steven’s body lying bloody and still upon the floor, he tossed the shrieking killer across the room and went to his friend.

“Steven,” Remy cried, his voice dry and cracking. He recalled the divine fires as he carefully pulled Steven’s injured body into his arms. “Steven—it’s me. Hey . . . I’m back. Please . . . please say something. . . . Please be all right.”

Remy could feel his friend’s life force dwindling away. He placed a hand against one of the wounds to stifle the flow of blood, but it continued to pool on the floor beneath him. He remembered what it had been like to be God, knowing that then he’d had the power to stop this—to keep his friend from dying.

Steven’s eyes were barely slits, and Remy couldn’t tell if he was even conscious. He thought of all the things he might try to save his friend’s life, but knew that every single one would fail.

It was too late.

Steven Mulvehill was about to die, and there wasn’t a damn thing that Remy could do about it.

There had been another time very much like this one, when a homicide investigation had crossed paths with a missing persons case in the parking garage at Logan International Airport. The young detective had ended up gut shot and was fading fast. The private investigator who had found him, believing that the cop wouldn’t survive, had done only what he felt he should—he’d revealed his true identity as an angel of Heaven and helped the man to understand that there was nothing to fear from death.

That homicide detective had survived, and a powerful, long-lasting friendship had been forged.

A friendship that was drawing to a close.

•   •   •

Linda pushed past them all, climbing over bodies of dead assassins as she made her way into the bedroom.

She was met with the horrific sight of one of their attackers, its face melting as it burned. It picked itself up from the floor of the bedroom and threw itself through the front window. She wasn’t sure if it was attempting escape or ending its life, and she really didn’t care.

Remy was awake. He was awake.

He was kneeling on the floor at the foot of the bed, cradling something folded into his arms. She was so overwhelmed by the sight of him, by the idea that he was alive, that her brain didn’t process what was going on.

She ran toward him, an attempt at calling out his name ending as a mere cry, followed by tears as her brain caught up to her eyes and she saw.

She really saw.

“Steven,” she gasped, as she realized that Remy was cradling the body of his friend. She dropped to her knees near them as she heard the others charging into the room, ready for a fight.

But the fighting was over.

And one of their own had paid the price.

•   •   •

Remy closed his eyes and imagined them in a place where they could talk.

Where they could say good-bye.

“I don’t know what to say,” he said to Steven Mulvehill.

The detective didn’t look dead here, his clothes relatively clean, although wrinkled as hell, as they often were.

“Then don’t say anything,” Steven replied.

“I should have been there to . . .”

Mulvehill shook his head slowly. “No, you were where you needed to be.” He looked around. It was a place of nothing. . . . Nothing as far as the eye could see. “I understand that now—although I didn’t at first. I thought you were going to die.”

“I thought I had,” Remy answered him. “I was sent to see some things . . . things that might be . . . that could happen here.”

Mulvehill nodded, reaching into the pocket of his rumpled sports jacket and removing a pack of cigarettes. “Yeah, I get that now.” He put one in his mouth, then found a lighter and lit up. “You’ve still got some shit to clean up here.”

“Yeah, I know,” Remy agreed.

Mulvehill looked around again. “So, is this it?”

Remy stared at him numbly.

“Is this Heaven?” Mulvehill specified as he took a drag on his cigarette.

Remy shook his head. “No, this is just something I did so we could . . .”

“Say good-bye?”

“Yeah.”

Mulvehill seemed to be okay with that. “Good, ’cause I was gonna say, this is pretty fucking disappointing.”

Remy chuckled. “I guarantee you, it’s better than this.”

“Good.” Mulvehill puffed on his cigarette some more, seeming to really enjoy it. “Guess I won’t have to quit now,” he said, and smiled.

Remy was seriously going to miss that smile.

“Are you in any pain?” he asked.

Mulvehill shook his head. “I don’t feel a thing, really.”

Remy considered what he was about to say, debating on whether he would, but the words tumbled from his mouth before he could stop them.

“I could . . . There’s a chance that I might be able to . . .”

“No,” Mulvehill said firmly. “Let me go.”

“What if I don’t want to?” Remy asked with a touch of anger.

Mulvehill laughed, smoke streaming from his nose. “When has this ever been about you?”

Remy thought for a moment and then smiled as well. “You’ve got a point there.”

They were quiet for awhile, Remy not wanting to say anything to spoil what little time they had left.

Mulvehill was looking around again at the nothing, but it was almost as if he could see
something
.

“What is it?” Remy asked.

“It’s going to be something special,” Mulvehill said.

Remy wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

“Unification,” Mulvehill explained. “It’s going to be something special . . . if it happens.”

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