Read A Deafening Silence In Heaven Online

Authors: Thomas E. Sniegoski

Tags: #Remy Chandler

A Deafening Silence In Heaven (8 page)

“I just want him to be comfortable,” she said quickly, refusing to meet his gaze.

“That’s fine,” he told her, but he continued to stare.

“I’m done,” she said, gesturing with her hands for him to step in.

“You love him,” Assiel stated flatly.

“I do,” she said, the words carrying a tremendous weight. “I love him very much.”

“And he loves you?”

She smiled and then laughed. “I think he does.” She stared back at Remy, remembering the times he’d kissed her face, and the passion they’d shared in this very bed. She flushed with a wave of heat at the memory. “Yeah, he loves me,” she said, sure of her answer.

“Interesting,” Assiel said as he approached the bed. “Being what he is and all.” He began to undress Remy, and Linda leaned in to help him.

“What do you mean by that?” she asked.

“You know what he is?”

“Yes.”

“He is an angel—a Seraphim to be exact,” Assiel explained anyway. “A servant of the Lord God . . . and in Remiel’s case, a great warrior.”

“Remiel?”

“That is his true name.”

“Remiel,” Linda repeated, letting the name roll off her tongue.

They removed his shirt and pants and tossed them on the floor.

“It is not common for one such as he to share such emotions with one such as . . . ,” Assiel began, then stopped.

“Go ahead,” Linda said, suddenly defensive. “You can say it. . . . Never mind, I’ll say it for you: It’s not common for somebody like Remy—Remiel—to fall in love with a lowly human. That’s it, isn’t it?”

The angel healer smiled, his teeth incredibly white in contrast with his dark skin. “I meant no offense.”

“None taken,” Linda answered. “I think Remy is pretty special across the board, angel or not. I love him and he loves me. So can we stop talking and start making him better?”

“I will certainly try,” Assiel said, retrieving his bag and setting it upon the bed.

“You’re an angel also?” Linda asked as Assiel sat beside Remy and began to examine his wounds.

“A fallen angel, yes.”

“Like Francis?”

“There are not many like Francis,” the angel said. “I’m very aware of my sins and am working toward amending them.”

“By helping other angels,” Linda added.

“By helping any in need of my talents,” Assiel corrected.

He took a cloth from his bag and dabbed at the first of the punctures.

“The wounds aren’t healing as quickly as they should be. I’m guessing there are still foreign objects inside his body.”

She was ready to ask what he was going to do, but he was already acting. He took his bag onto his lap and looked inside, removing what appeared to be a golden scalpel and handing it to her. “Hold this for me.”

Linda took the surgical tool from him, surprised by how warm and heavy it felt in her hand. She admired the knife, its thin body etched with beautiful markings that she was certain meant something.

Assiel removed a small metal sphere from his bag and gave it a quick shake. There was a faint, almost beelike buzz, and the metal ball began to glow like a miniature sun, floating in the air above Remy.

“Oh,” she said, mesmerized by the strange sight.

“It will provide me with the light I need,” he said, reaching over to take the scalpel from her.

She watched as Assiel leaned in closer to one of the stomach wounds. He reached up, took hold of the sphere, and moved it down a bit closer; then he placed the tip of the scalpel into the injury.

Linda wasn’t sure if it was a trick of the artificial light, but the surgical tool seemed to become liquid in the angel’s hand, flowing into the opening in Remy’s flesh. She looked up at Assiel to see that his eyes were closed.

“That’s it,” he whispered, then slowly drew back his hand. The scalpel’s end had become a three-fingered prong, and it held what looked to be a bloody piece of bone.

“What is that?” Linda asked, reaching for it.

Assiel pulled it away. “I believe it’s a tooth,” he said. “And I wouldn’t touch it; it’s highly poisonous.”

He set the tooth down on the bed beside him and placed the scalpel in another of Remy’s injuries.

“Did you know Remy . . . Remiel?” Linda asked, wanting to fill the silence.

Assiel’s eyes were once again closed. “I knew
of
him,” he said, tilting his head slightly to the right and carefully pulling back on the scalpel. “He was a force to be reckoned with . . . someone to fear on the battlefield.”

She laughed sadly. “I can’t really see that, but then again, after watching him fight that thing . . .”

“They say that the war—”

“The war?” she interrupted curiously.

“The war between God and the Morningstar,” Assiel explained. He dropped another tooth on the bed beside him. “They say it changed him.”

“Changed him how?”

Assiel shifted his position to get at the last of the wounds, pulling the floating miniature sun with him.

“They say that he was tired of the violence, and that he hated what Heaven had become. That’s why he came here to Earth.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” she said, desperate to know more about the man she loved, hoping she’d be able to ask him her questions someday.

Assiel removed the last of the poisoned teeth and again used the balm made from the soil of Eden to dress the wounds.

“Is that it?” she asked, as he cleaned the instrument with a cloth from the bag before plucking the glowing sphere from the air. He put both items away and snapped the bag closed.

“If only it were,” he said, his tone grim.

“What’s next?” Linda asked, not sure she really wanted to know.

“The foreign matter has been removed and the wounds cleansed,” he explained. “Physically he should heal . . . but that isn’t what I’m concerned about.”

“What is it, then?” Linda felt her heart begin to hammer.

Assiel reached up and pulled open one of Remy’s eyes. “He’s still alive, but . . . he isn’t here. Remy isn’t here.”

Linda felt as though she might throw up. “What do you mean? I don’t understand.”

“His life essence . . . the divine spark . . . what passes for an angel’s soul . . . It’s gone.”

CHAPTER
SEVEN

H
e exists in a sea of memory, pushed and pulled by the tides of past deeds, of successes and failures. His history fills him up, flowing about and into his being, forcing him to see even if he cares not to remember.

Surrendering to the onslaught, he allows them their victory, and, caught in the undertow of the past, he relives the times that made him what he was.

What he is.

They come at him with such force, showing him, reminding him, and yes, he remembers, and yes, he accepts histories created by his actions—or inactions.

It is exactly as he remembers.

Until it isn’t.

It is a herculean effort, but Remy manages to slow a particular moment in his timeline.
No, this isn’t how it happened at all,
he recalls clearly and grabs hold of his memory of the events as they transpired.

This is how it was. . . . This is what truly happened.

The Japanese island of Gunkanjima—Battleship Island—where the forbidden children of Nephilim whores and archangels were hidden, only to have been discovered after the brutal murder of an angel general by one of these very sires. Judgment had been called down upon these unwanted by-products of illicit couplings, and Remy remembers—remembers distinctly—how he tried to intervene, to save the children from a terrible fate at the hands of legions representing both Heaven and the reconfigured Hell.

He also remembers how he failed, and the sight of the children set upon by the two sects of angels, murdered before his eyes.

How could he forget such a thing? Or the events that followed?

For, nearly crushed by the brutality of his brethren, Remy was elated to find that the children had actually survived by psychically manipulating the legions of Heaven and Hell into thinking that they succeeded in their brutal task.

The children of Gunkanjima had survived . . . hadn’t they?

There were new recollections now, hungry memories that wished to consume and replace the old.

In these remembrances, the children did not reveal themselves to be alive; instead, their bodies burned, their ashes carried away by the winds of the storm-swept isle.

They were dead. They had to be in order to make things right.

To bring about change.

To bring about . . .

Unification.

•   •   •

Remy awoke with a scream, rolling onto his stomach and retching on the cold stone floor. He lay there convulsing, his empty stomach desperate to find something to eject but providing only painful spasms.

It took more than a moment, but eventually he was able to calm the contractions, gasping for breath, slowly acclimating to the fact that he was surprisingly still alive. As the fog cleared and the pain of his beaten body dulled, he recalled two memories of one event, one of them growing fuzzy and less distinct. The more desperately he tried to hold on to that memory, the sicker he became, his body on the verge of revolt once again.

“Something you ate?” a grumbling voice asked from somewhere nearby.

Remy immediately knew who the voice belonged to, pinpointing its location across the patch of inky blackness. “Something that I . . . remembered,” he said, pushing himself up on his knees.

“Not anything good, I’d imagine, to get that kinda reaction,” the great demon hound said. “Probably better to forget it.”

“No.” Remy vehemently shook his head. “I’ll hold on to it.”

“Suit yourself,” the great dog said with a shrug of his powerful shoulders.

Remy carefully sat, amazed that even his butt hurt. “Why am I still alive?” he asked, wincing with each new tweak of pain.

The beast was silent, and Remy was about to repeat his question, when the dog finally spoke.

“A difference in opinion,” the dog growled. “I thought you should be put down, while another—”

“Anybody I know?” Remy asked. “Never mind; forget I asked that. I’m not sure I know anybody in this fucked-up place.”

“Still sticking to that?”

“If nothing else, I’m persistent,” Remy said. “And since I’ve already put so much effort into lying to you, why start with something new?”

The hound made a sound like the rumble of a car engine before rising to his feet. “I’ll give you this—you’re certainly as annoying as my Remy is.”

“There’s a reason for that,” Remy said.

“As you’ve explained,” the dog answered. “I’m just not sure I’m willing to go for the ride yet.”

“So what will convince you to climb aboard?”

“Haven’t figured that out yet.”

“And what about my mysterious benefactor?” Remy asked. “What convinced him that I’m not the enemy?”

The dog slowly sauntered toward the cave’s exit, his muscular tail swishing from side to side.

“Not sure that he is,” the beast replied. “But he does believe that you’re some version of Remy . . . and even a Remy that’s less than a hundred percent is better than none at all.”

“What do you want from me?”

The dog stopped just before the cave exit and chuckled like an engine revving its motor. “Forget all your bullshit,” he said simply. “And remember what we’re heading into the ruins to do . . . to find the one responsible for what happened to the world.”

“Humor me. What did happen to the world?” Remy asked in all earnestness.

The dog whirled around, fur bristling, fangs bared in anger. “Are you fucking blind, too? It’s dying . . . and it’s only a matter of time before—”

“All right, all right,” Remy said quickly. “We get to the ruins and find the one responsible. Then what? We fix things? We fix the world?”

The dog laughed again, or at least that’s what Remy thought it was. There was no humor in it, only cruelty.

“No chance of that. We’re done. . . . The world’s done. We find the one who did this,” the great beast said as he sauntered through the exit, “and then we kill the son of a bitch.”

•   •   •

The demon dog padded down the natural cave corridor, his large eyes having no difficulty seeing in the intense darkness. There was a small chamber just to the right of a bend that dropped off precariously to a sulfurous underground stream. For a moment the dog’s senses were overwhelmed by the hellish stink and part of him was reminded of another existence upon another world, so very long ago.

While another part recoiled in disgust at what it was forced to share.

“Baarabus, is that you?” an old voice called from the small chamber.

“Yeah,” the dog responded as he entered.

The old man squatted, completely naked, before a bowl. He dipped a cloth into the water, then began to clean his burned and blackened body.

The dog watched the old man scrub at the loose flesh of his spindly arm, hissing in pain as the dead skin sloughed away to reveal angry pink flesh beneath. Baarabus couldn’t recall exactly how many times he’d seen the old man perform this task, but he did know that it was a lot, and no matter how much skin was scoured away, he never seemed to heal.

“What can I do for you?” the man asked, dipping the stained cloth into water that had turned the color of blood-tinted mud.

“He’s awake,” the dog announced. The air was filled with the stink of rot and blood, and Baarabus felt his stomach gurgle with hunger. Remy wasn’t the only one who hadn’t eaten recently.

“And did you finish him off?”

“No,” Baarabus answered, lying down on the chamber’s stone floor. “But I wanted to.”

“Glad to see common sense prevailed for once,” the old man said, and he smiled, the charred flesh around the corners of his mouth cracking, a milky fluid bubbling up from the fissures. “Are you still convinced that he’s some sort of imposter sent to thwart us?”

“I don’t know what he is,” Baarabus groused, resting his chin between his paws. “He has no idea what’s happened to the world; it’s almost as if he—”

“As if it hasn’t happened to him—to his world—yet,” the old man finished, his eyes twinkling in the dim light thrown by the Coleman lantern.

“I can’t even wrap my brain around that idea,” Baarabus said.

The old man had moved on to his chest, the bloody cloth rubbing at the layers of black that fell away to reveal new flesh beneath. New skin that would soon blacken, and the process would begin all over again.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” the old man said, and began to laugh maniacally, his scrubbing becoming even more forceful, more violent.

“The Lord is dead,” Baarabus spat. “Or have you become too senile to remember?”


Our
Lord is dead,” the old man said, eyes wide. “Not
his
.”

“This shit makes my fucking head hurt,” the dog grumbled. He was quiet for a bit, watching the old man’s painful procedure.

“He asked about you.”

The old man stopped. “What do you mean? That shouldn’t be possible.”

“He asked why he wasn’t dead, and I said that somebody had spoken up for him.”

The old-timer paused before dipping the cloth back into the filthy water. “He’ll be asking more questions soon.”

“Can’t imagine he wouldn’t.”

Baarabus spied a hint of movement from a corner of the cave, a tiny rodent. His movements were a blur as he pounced upon the rodent, biting it in half before it could even realize that it was dead.

“I should think about introducing myself,” the old man said dreamily as he squeezed the foul water from the cloth and went to work on his spindly legs.

“Do you think he’ll remember?” the dog asked, crunching on the bones of his snack.

The old man thought for a moment. “If I’m right about where this Remy has come from, then I haven’t been seen in quite some time. Maybe he’ll be more understanding about what I did.”

“Let’s hope so,” Baarabus said. “’Cause if you’re wrong, and he isn’t so forgiving, he’ll probably try to rip your fucking head off.”

The old man smiled again, the skin again splitting and weeping.

“I suppose he would at that. Maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”

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