Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (7 page)

“You know what I wish you to know,” Simeon replied. “You and your entire brotherhood are but pieces—cogs—in the great machine of my eventual revenge.”

“Revenge? Revenge against whom?” Adolfi asked, fearing that he already knew the answer.

“It has been a long time coming,” Simeon said. “And with this Unification, perhaps we are finally about to bring the game to an . . .”

Adolfi sensed that the moment was now and made his move while the forever man went on about the culmination of his plans. He moved as quickly as his old bones would allow, darting toward the wall, extending his arm and reaching . . . reaching. . . .

Something had stopped his progress, and he came to the sickening realization that he was hanging in the air as if by the presence of some invisible tether. He saw that Malatesta had stepped forward, staring with great intensity, fists clenched by his side.

“He’s a tricky one,” the possessed Keeper said. “Can’t be a leader of the Keepers without being at least a little tricky.”

Adolfi twisted in the air but was held fast by tendrils of invisible force.

“If any of the man I knew and trained is still to be found in that body, please come forward. . . . Wrest control away from the demonic entity that plagues you and . . .”

“And do what?” Malatesta asked.

“Help me,” the priest said. “Help your faith. . . . Help the Lord God almighty and all His servants to—”

“Kill him,” Simeon interrupted.

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Malatesta said, moving his head from side to side, stretching out his neck.

“Constantin, please,” Adolfi begged. He managed to lift his hand, which still held the sacred talisman.

“What’s that supposed to do?” Malatesta asked, raising his own hand and splaying his fingers.

Adolfi felt the icon ripped from his fingers and watched it shoot across the room to Malatesta’s hand.

The former Keeper closed his fingers around the coin, as an oily black smoke started to seep out from between them.

“That hurts a bit,” he said, concentrating on his fist and the leaking smoke.

The old man watched the smoke as it started to collect in a roiling black ball above Malatesta’s burning hand.

“Will this be messy?” Simeon asked, a hint of boredom in his tone. “I prefer that it not be.”

“It won’t be messy,” Malatesta promised, opening his fingers and dropping the blackened talisman.

Adolfi struggled in the grasp of demonically controlled magick, sensing that if he wasn’t able to do something now, then . . .

Malatesta blew upon the roiling ball of smoke, sending it spinning across the brief expanse of space toward him—toward his face.

The old man tried to turn away, but the magick that held him grew taut, preventing his head from moving upon his neck.

The smoke collided with his face, losing its shape as it struck, tendrils of the foul-smelling vapor flowing into his mouth, nose, and eyes.

“Oh . . . God,” the old man managed, as he felt the smoke moving inside, coalescing within his chest. The pressure began to build as the smoke slithered about his inner self.

Simeon put a hand to his ear in a mock gesture. “What was that?” he asked. “Who did you call for?”

The pain was incredible, and Adolfi found his body starting to convulse as he began to cough and wheeze, gasping for breath.

“I wonder if He sees your situation,” Simeon asked, stepping closer to look him in the eye. “Or is He too busy elsewhere to hear the plaintive pleas of His loyal servant, perhaps distracted by the coming . . . Unification.”

The Patriarch felt his consciousness slipping away as darkness filled him, choking the life—and the light inside.

“If you see the Almighty,” he heard Simeon say from far off in the distance. “I want you to tell Him that Simeon says hello, and that we’ll be seeing each other very soon.”

And with that, Patriarch Adolfi left the mortal world, passing into the darkness of death.

•   •   •

“Does this look all right to you?” the hideous little man asked, his grotesque features eerily illuminated by the interior light of the refrigerator.

He held a wedge of mold-covered cheese out toward Mulvehill.

“It’s cheese,” Mulvehill answered. “It always smells like shit.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” The creature took an enormous bite from the wedge and slammed the refrigerator door shut.

“Who . . . who are you?” Linda asked.

Marlowe had come into the kitchen as well, standing close by, wagging his tail as he watched Squire eat the cheese.

“I’m Squire,” he said as he chewed. “Francis called and asked if I’d keep an eye on things here, y’know”—he glanced to the body of the assassin on the floor—“just in case. And it looks like his concerns were justified.”

Mulvehill looked back to the body and felt a chill run down the length of his spine, the hair on the back of his neck prickling with fear.

“They must know that he’s still alive,” he said, almost dreamily. “Sent more to finish the job.”

“That’s probably what Francis was thinkin’, too,” Squire said, taking another bite from the moldy cheese wedge. The little man looked past them into the living room.

“Shit,” he muttered. He leaned his battle-axe against the kitchen cabinet and moved toward Remy.

“You say he’s still alive,” Squire said, studying the body.

“Yes,” Linda was quick to answer. “Francis said that he was.”

“Looks dead,” Squire said. “If not, then close to.”

“He’s still alive,” Mulvehill emphasized. “That’s good enough for right now.”

“Yeah,” Squire agreed. “Let’s hope that Francis gets back here soon, ’cause I think the clock is tickin’.”

“He said that he was going to pick up a doctor, or at least somebody who would know how to take care of somebody like . . .” Linda stopped, staring intensely at the unconscious Remy.

Unexpectedly, Squire saddled up alongside her and put a short, muscular arm around her waist.

“Chin up, girlie,” he said. “Ain’t over till the fat lady gets her sandwich.”

“What happened to her singing?” Mulvehill asked.

“She ain’t singing till she gets her sandwich,” Squire explained. “Buys us a bit more time.” He chuckled, a horrible gurgling sound that made Mulvehill think he was going to spit something onto the floor.

“All this heavy emotion has made me parched,” Squire then said, licking his lips. “Do you know where he keeps his whiskey?”

Mulvehill was about to suggest that maybe they should lay off the whiskey when there came a grunt and a scream of rage from behind them, and they all started to turn.

It all happened in an explosion of action, the assassin—whom they’d believed to be dead—was swaying in the doorway, Squire’s battle-axe gripped firmly, and ready to strike.

“Oh shit!” Squire exclaimed as Linda let out a short squeak of surprise, and he watched as she threw herself across Remy’s body to protect him.

That one’s a keeper,
Mulvehill found himself thinking about Linda, at that strangest of moments, turning toward the charging assassin as he pulled the Glock from its holder again and raised it to fire.

The subsequent gunshot was like that vicious crack of thunder from a particularly angry summer storm, a sound that seemed to vibrate through the skin, and into the bones. A sound that seemed to temporarily freeze time, until the searing flash of lighting moved it along once again.

But the sound had not come from his gun.

Mulvehill found himself still paralyzed by the sound, dropping low to the ground as his eyes remained riveted to the assassin, who now pitched forward in the doorway to the living room, giving Mulvehill a view of the kitchen behind him, and of the two men standing there, one of whom still held a smoking Colt .45 that looked like it was made from gold.

“Drop the gun!” Mulvehill commanded on instinct.

The man did not drop the gun but lowered it ever so slightly.

“Mulvehill, right?” the man asked.

“Yeah,” he answered, but his aim did not waver.

“Francis,” he said, sliding the pistol into the inside pocket of his suit coat. “And what the fuck did I have you come here for?” he then shouted, obviously addressing Squire.

“I thought he was fucking dead,” the squat figure bellowed as he threw his arms into the air.

Francis and another man stepped over the body in the kitchen doorway and into the living room.

“Is that him?” Linda asked. “Is that the doctor?”

“Yeah, name’s Assiel,” Francis said grimly, staring down at Remy’s body.

Marlowe came to Francis, nuzzling the man’s hand with his black snout.

“I know, pal,” he said to the dog. “I’m worried, too.”

Assiel knelt down beside Remy’s body, placing a small duffel bag on the floor next to him. He pulled back the blanket covering the angel, then reached into the bag and removed a bronze canister. He twisted the lid open. A thick, almost musty smell suddenly filled the room, and Mulvehill saw inside his mind’s eye a lush, tropical jungle, the imagery so powerful and distinct that he could have sworn he was right there experiencing its primitive splendor.

“What is that?” he asked aloud. “It smells like . . .”

“A jungle,” Linda finished, meeting his eyes.

“A garden,” the doctor corrected as he dabbed his fingers into the dark contents of the canister and began to apply the muddy substance to Remy’s angry wounds. “The soil of Eden. This will stop the infection from spreading any further.”

“Is that the problem . . . an infection?” Linda asked, kneeling down to join the mysterious dark-skinned doctor.

“It’s one of them,” he answered, his voice low and timorous. “I am going to need to examine him further to determine the extent of his condition.” He looked up at Francis. “Is there a place where I can take him?”

“You can take him upstairs to the bedroom,” Linda said quickly, pointing to the stairway beyond the living room.

Mulvehill made a move toward the doctor. “I’ll give you a hand with him,” he said.

“That won’t be necessary.”

And before Mulvehill could reach him, Assiel had gently lifted Remy from the floor and was holding him as if he were weightless.

“Okay, then,” Mulvehill said. “Looks like you’re good.” He picked up the physician’s bag and handed it to Linda as she headed toward the stairs.

“It’s this way,” she said, motioning for Assiel to follow her.

Assiel ascended the stairs behind her as Mulvehill, Squire, and Francis watched without a word. Marlowe looked at them with concerned eyes.

“Go on,” Francis said. “You can go on up, too.”

The dog trotted over to the staircase and began to climb.

“So,” Squire interrupted their thoughts. “Do you know where Remy keeps his whiskey?”

“Not sure about the good stuff,” Francis replied, “but I know he had a bottle of Seagram’s in the kitchen cabinet to the right of the sink.”

“Any port in a storm,” Squire said, walking past them and stepping over the body of the assassin in the doorway.

“I didn’t know that hobgoblins were such drunks,” Francis commented with a shake of his head.

“Hobgoblins?” Mulvehill asked, watching Squire in the kitchen. “Is that what he is?”

Squire had pulled a chair out from the small dinette set and was climbing up onto it to reach the upper cabinets.

“What’d you think, he was just ugly?” Francis asked. Then he kicked the corpse at their feet. “This piece of shit is a Bone Master.”

“Of course it is,” Mulvehill replied. “But knowing that wouldn’t have helped me kill the one that came after me any faster.”

Francis looked at him, reaching up to adjust his horn-rimmed glasses.

“You killed one of these?”

Mulvehill nodded. “Came at me in my apartment. It was close, but I managed to take it out.”

“Outstanding.”

“Thanks.” Mulvehill thought Francis might be looking at him with a new set of eyes. “So what do you think? Will there be more?”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Francis said.

“Found it!” Squire squawked from the kitchen. Mulvehill looked in and saw the hobgoblin cradling the bottle of whiskey like it was the Holy Grail.

“That’s why I had our goblin friend come by,” Francis said. “Think I’m going to need to do a little more digging to find out how bad things really are.”

He reached down and grabbed one of the Bone Master’s legs. “I’ll start by questioning this one.”

“But he’s dead.” Mulvehill felt foolish stating the obvious.

“Not quite.”

“Not quite? An axe in his spine and a bullet in the back of his head?”

“I asked the bullet to stop short of killing him,” Francis explained.

“You asked the bullet?”

“What, you don’t talk to your bullets?” Francis asked. “Help me with this,” he ordered as he began to tug on the Bone Master’s leg.

Mulvehill leaned in and grabbed the other leg; then the two dragged the body down the hallway, past the bathroom, and into a small guest room that Remy used for storage.

“Now what?” Mulvehill asked.

“Now you go have a drink with Squire.” Francis gently pushed Mulvehill back and started to close the door. “I’ll see to this.”

The door closed with a soft click and Mulvehill slowly turned away to see Squire standing at the end of the hallway, whiskey in hand. He raised the bottle and gave it a shake.

Why the hell
not?
Mulvehill thought, joining the hobgoblin.

•   •   •

Linda watched as Assiel laid Remy’s body down upon the bed.

Marlowe had come into the room, his gaze at what was happening to his master unwavering.

“It’s all right, boy,” Linda said to him. “Lie in your bed and you can keep an eye on us.”

The dog responded to the mention of his bed, going to a large cushioned square at the far end of the room and plopping himself down with a heavy sigh, his eyes fixed upon them as they moved around Remy.

As Assiel stepped back from where he’d laid Remy, Linda moved in, placing a pillow beneath Remy’s head and adjusting the blankets. Then she stood for a moment, staring at the pale features of the man she’d come to love—a man who wasn’t a man at all. She began to feel a weird sense of vertigo, as if the planet had started to spin faster and faster, threatening to send her flying into space. She took a deep breath and turned away, suddenly self-conscious as she saw Assiel watching her.

Other books

A Part of Me by Anouska Knight
The Best Man by Ella Ardent
Anita and Me by Meera Syal
My Soul To Take by Madeline Sheehan
Elizabeth Thornton by Whisper His Name
King's Gambit by Ashley Meira