Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (4 page)

“I have never sensed anguish so vast,” the angel had said. “Sorrow so deep. It drew me to you.”

Simeon remembered smiling with little humor. “Let’s say I’ve had ample time to accrue more than my fill.”

The angel had looked at him strangely then, tilting his head in that birdlike fashion they had a tendency to do. The Heavenly creature had yet to realize what he was actually dealing with.

“And you came to me to do what exactly?” Simeon had asked. “Soothe a troubled nature with a divine touch upon my furrowed brow?”

“I certainly could bring you some peace—yes,” the angel had agreed.

Simeon had laughed, a short barking sound. “It would take far more than that to assuage my tortured feelings,” he’d said with a snarl. “In fact, I doubt that all in Heaven could quench my wrath.”

He had walked toward the angel then, weaving his way through the chairs, feeling the rage growing within him—a rage that could never be satisfied. For he had been denied the joy of Heaven, had had it painfully snatched away as he was returned to a life eternal by the touch of the holy man from Nazareth.

“I am an emissary of God; let me help you . . . ,” the angel had stammered.

But Simeon had simply raised a hand, cutting off the angel’s words. “Bleed for me,” he’d said.

The angel had tilted his head left, then right. “I don’t . . .”

“Bleed for me,” Simeon had repeated, putting the power of Solomon’s ring behind each word.

The angel had struggled, but it was all for naught. The winged messenger of God extended one of his long, muscular arms, pulling back the diaphanous sleeve of his shirt to expose the pale, marblelike flesh, his gaze begging the forever man to reconsider.

But what would have been the fun in that?

Reaching across with his other hand, the angel had begun to dig the razor-sharp nails on his fingers into the exposed arm, grimacing as he ripped bloody furrows in the bare white skin.

“Isn’t that something,” Simeon had said, placing his hand beneath the drips of blood raining down from the wounds.

“Why?” the angel had asked pathetically.

And again, Simeon had given him that humorless smile, recalling a similar question he himself had asked of the Son of God so very long ago.

“To show that I could.”

A sound from the entrance to the room had distracted them then, and Simeon had turned to see the undertaker standing there.

“I thought I heard voices in here,” the middle-aged man had said, not yet noticing that he was in the presence of the divine.

Simeon watched his face, waiting for it to sink in.

“Oh my,” the undertaker had said dreamily, his eyes fixed upon the winged being.

“Be not afraid.” The angel’s voice had sounded like the first notes of the most beautiful of songs.

“Oh no,” Simeon had said, his gaze going from the angel to the undertaker. “I think he should be afraid.” He’d strode over to the man, raised his hand, and wiped the blood of an angel on the undertaker’s cheeks.

The man had simply stood there, stunned beyond movement. “Please . . . ,” he’d managed.

Simeon looked back to the angel. “You heard the man,” he’d said. “He’s begging you.”

The angel had tensed, his wings flapping furiously as he’d tried to shrug off the spell that had hold of him.

“Do it,” Simeon had commanded. “Kill him.”

And the angel had flown across the room, pouncing upon the defenseless undertaker, tearing him apart in a show of preternatural strength.

That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Simeon and Satquiel.

A friendship that had continued to this day.

•   •   •

“To what do I owe this unexpected visit?” Simeon asked the angel Satquiel, crossing his legs as he reclined comfortably in the wingback leather chair. He held a snifter of brandy, moving his wrist in such a way that the caramel-colored liquid swirled about, coating the inside of the glass.

The angel stood before the large window that looked out onto one of the Vatican’s many gardens, this particular one devoted to roses of every imaginable color.

Simeon’s associates in the Vatican had given him this office study to think and to collect his thoughts. If only they realized how hard he was trying to destroy everything that they believed in, but for now what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

“The Lord God has spoken,” Satquiel said, arms crossed behind his back as he looked rigidly out upon the rose garden.

“Has He now?” Simeon said, taking a sip of his brandy. “And, pray tell, what did the supreme being have to say?”

Satquiel appeared to grow even more uncomfortable, his body twitching uneasily.

“Michael has received a special message from the Lord God,” Satquiel said, turning his head from the garden view. He appeared to be concentrating on a patch of deep shadow in the corner of the room, near the floor-to-ceiling bookcases.

“Go on, Satquiel,” Simeon urged as he turned the ring of Solomon on his right finger, wanting to distract the angel from the pool of darkness.

The angel turned, visibly shaken by what he was about to relate. Simeon leaned forward in his chair, ready to hear.

“Lucifer Morningstar,” Satquiel said, his voice trembling.

“Yes?”

“The Morningstar is to be forgiven his indiscretions,” Satquiel at last said, the words spilling from his mouth like vomit.

“The deuce you say,” Simeon reacted, slowly bringing his drink to his mouth and draining the remainder of its contents in one gulp.

“Rather than involve the forces of Heaven and Hell in another war that would most assuredly spill over to Earth and humanity, the Almighty has decreed that the Son of the Morning be exonerated from his crimes against Heaven.”

Simeon reclined farther into the chair, the gears inside his brain already beginning to turn, the repercussions of this decree immense.

“My, my, my,” Simeon said, the scenarios that he was imagining too numerous to count.

“Michael,” Simeon stated, capturing Satquiel’s attention.

“Yes, what about him?”

“How is the archangel taking the news?”

“The Creator has spoken. The Archangel Michael, as well as us all, will bathe in the glory that has been bestowed upon us with His holy words and prepare to carry out that which has been—”

“How is Michael doing?” Simeon asked.

Satquiel’s posture sagged. “Not well at all,” he said.

“Wouldn’t think so. Can’t even imagine God’s number one commander against the forces of evil kissing and making up with the adversary. Ouch.” Simeon paused, continuing to let the information wash over him. “Poor bastard. Must be so hard for him . . . hard for you all, really.”

“You have no idea,” Satquiel said. “But God has spoken. We have no choice . . .”

“I get it, and there’s that whole working-in-mysterious-ways thing He’s known for.”

The angel stood before him, the troubles that he’d just related appearing to have taken their physical toll upon the divine creature.

“It is for the good of us all.”

Simeon smiled. “Of course it is,” he said. “That’s what a loving God is all about.”

Tired of the angel, and wanting to think further about the situation, Simeon ordered Satquiel away.

Needing another brandy, he rose from his chair, approaching the bar in one of the room’s other corners to help himself.

“Did you hear?” Simeon asked as he poured.

He looked toward the patch of darkness where the angel’s attention had been drawn earlier. The black moved like liquid, and a shape, followed by three others, emerged to join him in the study.

Constantin Malatesta stood just outside the shadow, while Simeon’s three demon lackeys moved to the opposite side of the room.

“The sound was a bit distorted within the shadow,” the Keeper agent of the Vatican said. “Did he actually say that God is ready to forgive Lucifer?”

Simeon could not help himself and began to giggle. No matter how long he lived this wretched existence, the unexpected happenings of the day never ceased to amaze him.

“He did,” the forever man answered, taking a sip from his fresh glass of brandy.

“Perhaps there’s hope for us all, then,” Malatesta said, suddenly doubling over in pain as the thing that lived inside of him—the Larva—again tested the constraints of his body.

“Hope isn’t something that the infernal really care to hear about,” Simeon told him.

Beleeze, Dorian, and Robert watched in amusement as the Vatican sorcerer struggled with the diabolical entity that had possessed him since childhood. Simeon’s demonic helpers didn’t really care for the newest addition to their dysfunctional family and enjoyed his suffering whenever possible.

Malatesta slowly straightened and from the look upon his face Simeon could see that the Larva had once again regained a modicum of control.

“Personally I’ve always believed hope to be overrated,” the Vatican magick user said, his words tainted by the malevolence of the demonic parasite. “It’s so easily taken away.”

The Larva smiled behind the mask of Constantin Malatesta.

“So here’s the question,” Simeon then proposed, the wheels inside his mind spinning even faster, tossing off sparks of fire that only served to ignite more thoughts on the situation. “How do we best use this to our advantage?”

CHAPTER
FOUR

S
omething moved in the sky above the ruins in the distance.

It writhed like smoke, rising up from the crumbled citadels and towers, but it did not drift as smoke would upon the heavy winds that moved across the bleak desert landscape. It collected en masse, like a swarm of locusts, flying over the desert, heading toward the mountain.

“We need to get out of sight,” the demon dog announced.

Samson’s son was instantly on the move, the dog right behind him, using his large paws to pull down the tent.

“Must have been another scout we didn’t see. We’ll head to the caves and hold up there until the Filthies get tired of looking for us,” the dog said, his paws far more dexterous than Remy would have believed.

Filthies.

The word exploded in his brain, images like jagged pieces of shrapnel tearing through soft tissue, memories flowing like blood as he turned his eyes to the dark, living cloud spreading over the desert toward them.

Remy blinked away the nightmarish vision to see the great demon beast staring inquisitively.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” the beast asked.

“Those are angels,” he said, squinting his eyes, now able to see the twisted mockeries of something once divine as they approached, their disease-ridden wings beating the dust-filled air. “What happened to them?”

The dog stiffened as he stared at him.

“What do you mean, what happened to them?” the demon hound asked gruffly. “
This
happened to them.” The dog looked around at their blighted surroundings. “The world is fucked, and so are they. Are you sure that you’re all right?”

Remy knew that to answer truthfully would have added another wrinkle, so he decided to play it safe and keep his mouth shut until he had a better idea of what was going on.

“I’m good,” he said, the swarm of Filthies even closer now. “We should get to the caves.”

The dog hesitated, but only a moment, then spun his muscular body toward a rocky incline. “Take the tent,” he ordered over his shoulder.

Remy snatched up the pieces of the disassembled tent and followed the animal down an embankment where others of Samson’s brood were quickly heading toward a mountain wall, surrounded by some heavy brush. As he drew closer, Remy saw the jagged crack that resembled a bolt of lightning. He was the last to enter, careful on the unstable, rocky terrain down into the earth. The passage grew uncomfortably smaller as it reached another crack that bisected a wall of stone and led into a much larger chamber.

Remy’s head buzzed with what he had just seen above, the bizarreness of this unfamiliar world wreaking havoc on his perceptions of reality. Was this all some sort of twisted hallucination, or was it—as he suspected—something far, far worse?

Setting the tent down upon the ground, he turned toward the gathering, searching for the demon dog, when he was struck savagely from behind, driving him to the floor of the cave.

Remy found himself gazing up into the sneering face of the dog, his eyes blazing as if LEDs had been placed inside his large blocky skull.

“The smell is just a little off. . . . So is the taste,” the dog growled, bearing his tremendous weight down upon Remy’s chest as he lowered his snout closer. “Almost began to think it was just me, but then I saw the look on your face when you saw the Filthies swarm, like you’d never seen such things before.”

The dog’s breath was awful, and saliva dribbled from the corners of his mouth onto the Seraphim.

“So who the fuck are you . . . and why shouldn’t I eat your face for deceiving us?”

•   •   •

Francis could feel the intensity of Marlowe’s eyes upon him as he knelt beside his friend, the dog’s gaze pleading for him to do something—
anything
—to bring his master back.

“I’m working on it, pal,” Francis said, looking away from Remy’s pallid face and into the Labrador’s deep brown eyes. Marlowe whined mournfully, moving closer to where Remy lay, the side of his black muzzle now pressed to Remy’s cheek.

Francis knew at once what the dog was doing, the physical contact perhaps allowing Marlowe to share some of his strength with that of his master. It was as good an idea as any, Francis thought as he reached down to take hold of Remy’s hand.

Linda appeared in the doorway, arms filled with pillows and a blanket she’d retrieved from the bedroom upstairs. “Is he . . .”

“The same,” Francis said. “Marlowe and I are just trying to help him out is all.”

“This will make him a bit more comfortable,” she said, kneeling beside Marlowe, gently lifting Remy’s head, and sliding two pillows beneath. She shook the blanket out over him and then knelt there for a bit, watching him. “I feel like I should be doing something, but I don’t . . .”

She started to cry again but sucked it up, wiping the tears away.

“This is fine.” Francis tried to calm her. “All we can do is wait and hope the physician gets back to us soon.” Just in case, he pulled his phone out again and checked for messages. There were none.

The silence in the room was deafening, and he felt his flesh begin to squirm, his muscles twitch, desperate for action—any action. Francis was used to dealing with things in a more physical fashion, but his predilection for violence had no place here.

He was about to look at his phone again, just for something to do, but Linda interrupted.

“He’s an . . . angel,” she stated, appearing to have some difficulty getting the last word out.

“He is,” Francis confirmed. “A Seraphim, to be exact.”

“From Heaven . . . He’s an angel from Heaven that has come to Earth.”

“It’s a little more complicated than that, but yeah, basically that’s it.”

“And you’re an angel?” she asked, watching him with a combination of fear and fascination.

“Yeah, but I’m of the fallen variety.”

“I thought that fallen angels were bad.”

“Who said I’m not?” The admission stirred more emotion in Francis than he would have expected after all this time. “I made some bad decisions a long time ago, and I’m paying for them now.”

“Is Remy fallen, too?” she asked, reaching out to gently run her fingers through his hair.

“Not at all,” Francis said, impressed with this woman. Most humans would have been quivering in a pool of their own piss by now. “Remy is one of the good guys. He came here by choice—couldn’t quite stomach the politics after the war and was looking for some peace and quiet.”

“The war?”

“The legions of God against the Morningstar and his armies.”

“The Morningstar,” she repeated, the meaning starting to sink in. “You mean like the Devil. . . . He’s real?”

“Of course he’s real,” Francis said, unable to keep the irritation from his tone. “Why is it that you can accept that he . . . that we’re angels of Heaven, but not the existence of Lucifer?”

“I don’t know,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “Wishful thinking?”

“If it makes you feel any better, organized religion has had a field day with his story. Responsible for all the evil in the world? Not even close,” Francis explained. “Sure, there were some pretty heavy doings with the Big Man upstairs, but very little fallout ever made it here to Earth.”

“But the Bible says . . .”

“The Bible says a lot of things, but not much of it is all that accurate.”

Linda looked as though she’d been slapped.

“Look,” Francis said. “The Bible was written by a bunch of guys trying to explain what they understood of God’s glory and the ills of the world. It’s a helluva lot easier explaining why a guy would slaughter twenty innocent people in a McDonald’s when there’s a supreme boogeyman to lay the blame on.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Linda said.

“Happy to set things right for you.”

“You say that he’s one of the good guys,” Linda said after a moment, looking down at Remy again. “I knew it the first time I met him. . . . It just came off him in waves. I didn’t know how to describe it at the time; I just knew I’d be safe with him . . . that he would protect me.” The tears started again, pouring from her eyes to spatter upon the floor beside Remy’s head. “Who’s going to do that now?” she asked, looking imploringly at Francis. He was about to tell her that he would gladly do that for her, but then his phone vibrated.

“Is it the doctor?” Linda asked, the expectation nearly palpable.

“Yeah.” Francis stood and stuffed his phone back into his pocket. “I’ve gotta go get him.”

He headed for the kitchen but stopped. “Stay with him,” he said, turning back to gaze first at Linda, and then at Marlowe. “And you keep them both safe.”

The dog woofed as Francis stepped into the kitchen and out of sight, opening a passage to the physician.

•   •   •

Linda leapt to her feet, wanting to know if there was anything she should be doing before the physician arrived, but the kitchen was empty; Francis had already gone.

She had no idea how he had disappeared so quickly, but the air appeared to be strangely unsettled in a corner of the room. She moved her hand through the area of turbulence as it dissipated.
Angel stuff
, she thought.

She turned to go back to Remy and caught sight of Marlowe through the kitchen doorway, still sitting loyally by Remy’s side. It broke her heart to see the dog so distraught.

But there was no use fretting over something that she could do little about. She had to keep things positive. Right now, Remy seemed to be holding on. She only hoped it wouldn’t be too long before Francis returned with the physician, and then they would know.

Good or bad, at least they would know something.

She returned to the living room, staring at Remy’s prone form. If she didn’t know better she would say that he was just catching a little nap.

Do angels even sleep?
She tried to recall if she’d ever actually seen Remy sleeping, but her memories drifted back to the last time they’d made love. She couldn’t help but smile. How loved she’d felt since he’d come into her life.

The tears came again in scalding torrents, and Linda rushed down the hallway to the first-floor bathroom.

She turned the water on full blast, then caught her reflection in the mirror above the sink, horrified by the puffiness of her eyes and the blotchiness of her complexion. If Remy should awaken now and see her, she thought, he’d probably scream and crawl back into his coma.

Marlowe joined her, sitting down on the bath mat outside the shower stall.

“I wouldn’t want to be alone, either,” she told him. “Let me wash my face, and we’ll go back to him together.”

The dog’s tail thumped twice in response, and Linda bent forward over the sink, splashing cool water onto her face in the hopes of somewhat rejuvenating herself.

Then a sudden sound made Marlowe bark, startling her. Standing upright, face dripping, she listened. Marlowe stood in the bathroom doorway at attention, growling softly.

She wasn’t sure what the sound was, but thought she heard the creaking of a door hinge.

“Francis?” she called out, grabbing a hand towel and drying her face as she cautiously left the bathroom. “Francis, is that you?” she asked.

Marlowe was ahead of her, growling, the bristled fur on his back somehow darker than his normally black coat. He stopped outside the living room entryway, barked once, and then rushed into the room.

“Marlowe!” she cried, running to the doorway and stopping short. A man stood over Remy, and the Labrador sat next to him, staring balefully up at him.

“Hello?” Linda said tentatively.

The man slowly turned toward her voice, his face scratched and bruised as if he’d recently been in a fight, his eyes filled with emotion.

“I’m too late,” Stephen Mulvehill said, his voice quivering as he dropped to his knees beside the body of his friend.

“God forgive me. . . . I’m too late.”

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