Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (6 page)

“He’s special,” Mulvehill finished for her. “He’s very special.”

Linda could only nod vigorously in agreement as emotion filled her eyes.

“I want to do more, but . . .”

Mulvehill found himself going to her, placing a comforting, supporting arm around her.

“I know there’s only so much we can do for him.” He squeezed her tighter, hoping that they could somehow support each other then.

“Where is Francis now?”

“He left a while ago,” she told him. “He went to get the physician, to bring him back here.”

“Okay,” Mulvehill said, taking the info and processing it. His eyes kept going to Remy, lying there so still. It didn’t seem right for him to be this way. He was a force to be reckoned with, and to see him so defenseless filled Mulvehill with an unnatural panic. What did this mean for the rest of the world? Who was keeping the boogeyman from the front door?

“He’s going to be all right,” Mulvehill suddenly blurted out, looking to Linda for backup. But she just stared. “He has to be.”

There was a noise from the kitchen, and they both looked in that direction, while Marlowe barked and bounded from their side, ahead of them, to check things out.

Linda followed him. When they noticed that Marlowe had come to a complete stop just outside the kitchen, hunched and growling, hackles raised, they stopped as well.

“What is it?” Linda asked Marlowe, about to go around the animal.

Mulvehill wasn’t sure, but instinct made him grab hold of her arm, preventing her from going any farther as he reached for the Glock holstered on his belt.

Pulling her behind him, Mulvihill entered the kitchen. The back door was open, moving lazily in the gentle breeze finding its way inside. Marlowe’s unease had intensified, the dog barking crazily, his gaze fixed on a corner of the kitchen.

All he saw was a patch of shadow, and he was about to tell the dog to be quiet as he checked out the yard, when something moved in the corner of the room.

It dislodged itself from the shadows, a vaguely human shape wearing a tattered cloak that seemed to change color as the figure pushed off from the wall to come at him.

Mulvehill knew exactly what he was facing, having killed one of the creatures in his own apartment only hours ago. He aimed the pistol, firing on the assassin as it drew its own fearful weapon from beneath its cloak, a gun seemingly made from the skeleton of some freakish animal. The creature was fast, ducking beneath his shots as it aimed its skeletal gun.

He caught sight of Linda, frozen in the doorway, and screamed something unintelligible, hoping she would understand and run for cover. Mulvehill fired again, buying them some time, praying that he might kill yet another of the monstrous assassins, but from the corner of his eye he saw the still shape of Remy Chandler—an angel warrior of Heaven, laid low by one of these very things—and realized that his luck had likely run its course.

The creature flowed to one side, easily evading his shot, the bullet burying itself in the plaster wall behind it, as it aimed its own grotesque weapon and prepared to fire.

Marlowe lunged with a guttural growl, hitting the killer like a runaway freight train, throwing the weight of his eighty-pound body into the assassin’s side, causing the skeletal weapon to spit its shot into the ceiling.

The creature screamed something in a foul-sounding tongue as it recovered its footing, lashing out at the attacking dog. Marlowe did not let up, showing a ferocity that Mulvehill would never have imagined. The Labrador sank his teeth into the assassin’s wrist, holding on and shaking the limb violently as the creature flailed. Mulvehill brought his weapon up, wanting to take another shot but afraid he might hit the attacking Marlowe.

There was a flash, the glint of light off something metal, and Mulvehill saw that a knife had suddenly appeared in the creature’s hand. He screamed the dog’s name in warning, still trying desperately to aim his gun, but the shot was not there, and he watched in horror as the assassin prepared to use the knife on its attacker—

But instead the hooked blade fell from his grasp.

Mulvehill was stunned, even more so when the assassin pitched forward and fell face-first to the floor, an axe buried in its back.

From behind, a short, squat figure climbed out of a patch of shadow as if climbing up and out of a hole.

“Sorry I’m late,” the grotesque little man said as he stomped over to the body of the assassin and pulled the axe from its back with a horrible squelching sound. “But I always have a bitch of a time pulling myself away from
Law & Order
marathons.”

The odd stranger wiped the blood-covered blade on the sleeve of his jacket as Marlowe again began to growl.

“So, got anything to eat? I’m fucking starving.”

CHAPTER
SIX

The Vatican

N
ormally Patriarch Adolfi would have had one of his Keeper assistants drive him from his apartment across Vatican City to the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana—the Vatican Apostolic Library. But today the seventy-eight-year-old leader of the Keepers decided that it was a beautiful day for a walk.

For the first time in many months the holy man had slept well. Instead of the nightmare of an approaching apocalypse that had plagued his sleeping hours of late, last night, he had dreamed of a single word, spoken in the languages of the world. A single, special word repeated over and over again in every language spoken, or ever spoken, upon the earth.

Unification.

And he’d awakened refreshed and rejuvenated, with a sense that something wonderful was going to happen.

“Good morning, Patriarch,” the guard at the door of the library said in Italian as he bowed and pulled open the door.

“Yes, yes it is,” Adolfi agreed, feeling the muscles around his mouth stretch as he smiled for the first time in a very long time.

It was a good morning.

Adolfi passed through the doorway into one of the oldest libraries in the world, the smell of ancient texts—
of knowledge
—permeating the air of the beautiful building. He mourned the day that the priceless information contained in one of the most significant collections of historical texts would be stored within a computer. He doubted very much that a computer could produce an aroma so enticing and filled with promise.

Not wanting to taint his mood, he pushed aside the concerns of the future library and strode across the meticulously maintained marble floor, beneath high, curved ceilings adorned with Renaissance art. He spied people at heavy oaken tables here and there, perusing texts and making notes in their pursuit of wisdom.

The Patriarch walked from one building to the next and through a security checkpoint into an area of the library where the Holy See’s most sacred and secret writings were stored. At the back of this room was a nondescript wooden door, and that was where Adolfi stopped. From the waistband of his cassock, he produced a key, inserted it in the lock, and turned it, hearing a muffled click.

The door swung open, symbols of ancient power carved into the doorframe glowing white in response to Adolfi’s presence. He thought briefly of the recent fate of a reporter who’d been attempting to do an exposé on secret organizations within the Vatican. He had found his way to this very door, managing to pick the lock with great expertise, but the poor inquisitive soul was struck dead by the security spell infused within the frame of the door, his mortal form reduced to ash. Adolfi believed that a votive candle was still lit in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the man’s honor.

The heavily reinforced door slammed closed with finality behind the Patriarch, and the intensity of the light thrown by the sigils over the door softened but still provided ample light to guide his way.

He headed toward an elevator at the end of the sharply inclined corridor, feeling another security spell wash over him, before the metal door slid open to grant him access. Stepping inside, he positioned himself in the center of the cab as he always did, and waited for the journey, miles beneath the Vatican Library, to begin. The magick of the place flowed around him, like the electrically charged atmosphere before a summer storm. This was a place of great power, and that was why the Keepers had been assigned to police this great and often forbidden arcanum.

Every day Adolfi came to the Atheneum to expand his knowledge, lording over tablets, books, and scrolls, collating and translating the ancient writings of some of the world’s most powerful magick users. But today he had another purpose.

Unification.

The elevator came to a stop, and he waited for what seemed like an eternity—it always seemed like an eternity—for the door to slide open into what had been his primary domain for nearly sixty years. The light of a Tiffany lamp, a gift from the United States’ ambassador to the Vatican, shone from the desk in his study. Despite his exuberant mood, he felt a sudden spike of anger as he saw an open notebook with a pen resting atop it on his desk. Few members of the Keeper organization were actually allowed access to these archives, and certainly none were welcome at his desk.

The old priest headed toward the rows of shelving where many of the Atheneum’s special texts were racked. He was going to call out but decided instead to catch the culprit red-handed.

He heard the sound first, a gentle sigh, filled with the weight of so much sadness. The wave of emotion from this simple exhalation was so great that it threatened to darken Adolfi’s mood, wrapping him in a heavy cloak of malaise and dragging him down into the shadows. He could not imagine who within his Keeper fold could contain such misery.

The Patriarch rounded the corner of one of the great bookshelves and nearly collided with the mysterious Simeon. He was holding an old volume, one that Adolfi was pretty certain had been bound in the flesh of an infant from the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland—a recent acquisition that was said to contain the names of all the children murdered at the home and of the Earthbound demons to whom they had been sacrificed.

The pale, dark-haired figure looked up from the open book, his eyes filled with an anguish as deep as the ocean. Adolfi did not know this man’s story, other than the fact that he had walked the Earth for a very long time.

“Simeon,” the Patriarch said simply.

“It’s missing names.” Simeon snapped the book closed, an old and disconcerting smell wafting up from the volume.

“Missing names? I don’t . . . ,” Adolfi began in confusion.

“The book,” Simeon said, practically shoving it in the old priest’s face. “It’s missing names of children as well as the demonic. It’s incomplete. Tell your bloodhounds if they want to find a better version they need to keep searching where the home once stood. If my memory serves me there are all sorts of goodies buried there.”

Adolfi took the book as it was shoved into his arms.

“Thank you, Simeon,” the old man said, not really sure how to respond. “I’ll be sure to pass the information on.”

“You do that,” the man said, continuing to peruse the shelves.

“I didn’t expect to find you here,” the priest said, looking for a place to set the flesh-bound volume down.

“I needed to distract myself from some recent news, and thought I’d lose myself in rows of forbidden knowledge,” the man said, his dark eyes scanning the titles before him.

Adolfi carefully placed the book upon a wheeled cart with other books waiting to be returned to their shelves.

There was a loud and sudden laugh from somewhere close by, and the old priest turned to see the familiar face of one of his Keeper agents, Constantin Malatesta, who walked toward him, reading a text on the rites of exorcism. The former agent looked up from the book, and a shiver ran down the Patriarch’s spine. This was not the Malatesta he had once commanded on so many Keeper assignments.

“Have you read this, Priest?” the thing wearing Malatesta’s body asked. “It’s hysterical what they believe works.”

Adolfi reached into the pocket of his cassock for the blessed talisman he always carried as protection against evil.

Malatesta was cackling wildly as he flipped through the yellowed pages.

“Simeon,” Adolfi called out. “Stand beside me,” he ordered as he withdrew the talisman that was said to have been blessed with the blood of the first Pope, the founder of the Keepers.

Simeon walked to the end of the aisle, unaware of the danger.

“Excuse me?” he asked.

“Step to my side, please,” the old priest commanded.

The thing wearing Malatesta’s skin was paying attention now, and Adolfi was no longer sure that he could guarantee Simeon’s safety.

“And why would I be doing that?” Simeon asked.

The dark-haired man turned his gaze to look at Malatesta. The possessed Keeper just smiled.

“Should he come, too?” Simeon asked in reference to the possessed man.

“Come away from him at once, or I cannot guarantee your safety,” the Patriarch proclaimed, raising the talisman so that all could see and feel its power.

“Guarantee my safety?” Simeon questioned. “From him?” He pointed to Malatesta.

“I will attempt to suppress the demonic forces possessing my agent, but I am afraid that—”

“You’ll do no such thing,” Simeon stated. “That so-called demonic entity is working for me.”

Malatesta grinned a grin that seemed far too wide for his human mouth.

“It works for you?” the holy man asked, shocked.

“The demon as well as the man it possesses,” Simeon explained. “They work in tandem most of the time.”

“Have you read this?” Malatesta held out the book of exorcism.

“Complete rubbish,” Simeon commented. “Not worth the parchment it’s inscribed upon.”

Malatesta let the book drop to the floor, then opened his mouth, spewing a stream of green steaming bile upon the priceless text. The book began to smolder and burn. “It offends me,” he said with a shrug, wiping the corner of his mouth.

Adolfi stood stunned, unsure of what his reaction should be as Simeon stepped from the aisle of books, careful not to tread upon the smoking text.

“I told you that I recently learned something . . . something of a divine nature.” The pale man began to pace. “I came here seeking solace,” Simeon said. “Or at least some consolation from ancient scholars who have come before.” He paused as he gazed around the subterranean library. “But I’ve found no relief.”

Adolfi could not help but ask, “What is it, my son? What troubles you so? Perhaps there is something that . . .”

“They’re going to forgive him,” Simeon blurted. “The Prince of Lies. They’re going to forgive him.”

The Patriarch let the words wash over him, their meaning distinctly clear. “How is this possible?” the old priest asked.

“I asked the same question,” Simeon said, continuing to pace like a caged tiger. “But the divine being to which I spoke explained that it is the Lord God’s wish to forgive His once favorite creation.”

“An angelic emissary actually told you that Lucifer was to be forgiven?”

Simeon nodded ever so slowly.

“He did at that.”

And then it all began to make a kind of twisted sense.

“Unification,” Patriarch Adolfi said quietly. “Of course . . . I understand now.”

Simeon seemed to perk up at his words. “What do you mean?”

The Patriarch could not help but smile; it was wonderful.

“I believe it was the early Christian theologian, Origen, who first spoke of it. He called it the final reconciliation,” Adolfi explained. “But he wasn’t the only one to write of it—Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrosiaster, to name of few. If you’d like, I could put together a list and have someone retrieve the works from the archives. . . .”

The intensity of Simeon’s gaze stopped him cold.

“It was the belief that in the end, all would be forgiven and return to God,” he explained quickly.

“All?” Simeon questioned.

The old man nodded, wanting to restrain the smile that was upon him again, but he was unable.

“All. There would come a time when the Morningstar, and all the fallen angels that followed him, would be forgiven their indiscretions, and all would be as it once was.”

“This is the Unification of which you speak?” Simeon asked.

“I believe it is. My dreams for years have been plagued by visions of a Biblical apocalypse with the Kingdom of Heaven raining down from the sky; there wasn’t a night of late that I did not see the horrible sights of a great war between the forces of God and Lucifer, but last night . . .”

He smiled again, and it felt so very good.

“Last night I saw nothing of the sort but heard a word uttered in all the languages of the planet. At first I did not understand and came here to research it, but now . . .”

“And that word, the one you dreamed of, it was—”

“Unification,”
Adolfi said, barely able to contain his elation.

“And you see this as a good thing?” Malatesta chimed in.

“I do,” Adolfi answered. “All will be whole again. . . . Heaven will be whole again. When the Great War occurred, there was not only a split between the Almighty and Lucifer, but Heaven itself became fragmented.”

The Patriarch paused, waiting for the importance of his words to sink in. “What became known as Hell was once a part of the Kingdom, as was the eternal garden known as Eden. These places became lost to Heaven with the war, but now they’ll be returned.”

He watched the eternal man for signs that he understood the wonder of what could be about to happen, but Simeon just stared at the floor, as if attempting to bore a hole through the marble.

“This will not do,” Simeon then said, looking up from the floor. “It will not do at all.”

“You can’t be serious.” Adolfi was astonished. “If this is true, it will bring about a new golden age of peace and prosperity. . . . A unity in Heaven will spark a unity of the world itself.”

“And I can’t stand the thought of things being so . . . wonderful.”

“Surely you jest, my friend,” Adolfi said. “Just think of the joy our Creator will experience when all of His most divine creations are back with Him.”

“Our Creator’s joy?” Simeon questioned. “Do you seriously believe that I give a fuck about our Creator’s joy?”

Adolfi took a step back from the intensity of the words.

“In fact, I will do everything in my power to see that
our
Creator never experiences anything close to joy,” Simeon said, regaining his composure.

The Patriarch came to the sickening realization that he had been wrong about this ageless stranger, that he was in fact a force of discord rather than one of harmony. His eyes darted to the red panic button on the wall near where he stood. Once pushed, it would bring a squad of Keeper elite rushing into the Atheneum.

“Your words are surprising to me, but then I know very little about you—the mysterious Simeon,” Adolfi said.

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