The Long Road (Part 3)

Creek was standing amongst a handful of spiny saplings on a small hill slope. I glanced back and saw we had excellent cover from the road, even thought I could still see my car lights flashing. Dry twigs and leaves, cracked under my boots, but I wasn’t trying to be quiet. I selected a spot nearby and slipped the hacksaw to the ground.

I felt Creek’s eyes on me, so I stepped a little further into the tree cover. An owl hooted somewhere and I could hear whooshing coming from the motorway as night lorries went by. This area seemed as perfect as I was going to get. Thank you, Mistress Moon. I tightened my grip on the handle of the shovel and walked straight up to him.

‘I’m all most done,’ he said as if guessing the question on my lips.

He zipped up and as he turned towards me, I raised the shovel. Aiming for the side of his head, I bought the full weight of myself down on top of him. There was a loud banging and grating sound. My ears told me something had gone wrong.

I looked and saw that the shovel had impacted the wet rocky soil. Creek’s left foot was next to it and he was lying, thrown across the ground. Breathing deeply, I yanked up the shovel and came at him again. He back crawled away from me, his hands desperately searching his pockets for something.

Following him, I tried to get into a good position to hit him, but couldn’t find one. I stopped and let him scramble to his feet. Getting his breath back, I expected a torrent of words, but instead he showed me the item in his hand. It was a long knife with a black handle. It looked sort of like the ones used in kitchens, but not. Creek held it steady and shuffled his feet on the slopping ground.

‘Neither of us can be trusted,’ Creek gasped out in-between breaths.

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ I asked.

‘I knew there was something off about you back at the services. But you never noticed there was something off with me too. You’re getting old,’ he ended in a short laugh.

I half lowered the shovel and took a good look at him. However, the dark cast too many shadows on his face and body. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be looking for anyway. A glimmer of myself?

He stepped more towards me, still pointing the knife in my direction. He seemed taller, mature and no longer the tried teenage I had mistaken him for. Control seeped out of him and there was a hungry in his face. Twigs snapped loudly under his boots and he began to circle me, as if I was now the prey.

Clutching the shovel pole to my chest, I ran through my mind what to do. It was odd through, as I began to think about it, I had never had anyone stand up to me before. My work was swift and clean, not sloppy as this boy had now made it. I could talk to him, districted him with some mundane or I could fight him.

Grinning, I let him get close then swung the shovel out at him. The iron edge caught him in the knee and he cried out. Rapidly, I went for a head blow, no longer caring if I did kill him out right. However, his arm shot up and his hand hit the shovel, blocking it. Grunting, I tried to throw him off, but he didn’t let go.

‘Yeah, you’re old,’ he hissed and began to tug the shovel out of my grasp.

‘Who are you, really?’ I cut in.

‘They call me the Ox Creek Killer. And you, I knew who you were the second I saw you. You’re the Slaughter Street Murderer,’ he declared.

‘Clever boy,’ I whispered and twisted the shovel from him.

He jabbed out at me with the knife, but I easily stepped backwards and wacked it away with the head of the shovel. A metal on metal chiming sound echoed, as if someone had just rung a bell to end the first fighting round. I came back again, swinging tighter this time and slicing across his stomach.

Creek doubled over, steeping back, hand across his middle, ‘you want to know something?’ he screamed, ‘I was thinking we could team up. Become unstoppable.’

I shook my head, ‘I already am. Unstoppable,’ then moved in and brought the shovel down on his head.

Creek crumbled to the floor, laying spread out and with the knife still in his hand. I breathed deeply and dropped the shovel. I looked down at him and waited for the normal rush of feelings to cloud me, but nothing happened. Rubbing my stomach, I sniffed and smelt the danger still in the air like the stink of a skunk.

There was nothing for it, I thought. I’ll have to just bury him.

Selecting a largish patch between the trees, I began to dig. The soil was soft and wet because of the rain, but still easy to move. I piled the top dirt off to one side. There had been a gap in the rain from when we had pulled up, but now I felt the first few drops hitting my head. I moved the soil faster, just wanting this to be over.

Something sharped poked my side and I went to turn around, thinking it nothing more then a branch.

‘Don’t move. Keep digging,’ Creek’s voice rushed into my ear.

I looked over to the where he had been laying in the ground and saw nothing but a flattening of grass. I became strongly aware of him behind me and the knife he had wedged in my lower back. My sweaty hands sort a better grab on the wooden handle. I could easily swing at him again.

‘Keep digging, Teddy,’ he snapped.

I lowered the shovel and did as he asked. I scooped the soil and dropped it on top of the small mound I was making. My mind turned, plotting. Creek’s breathing was harsh in my ears and as I stole some glances over to him, I saw a red line across his t-shirt. It also seemed like he was struggling to breath and there was a splodge of blood on the side of his cheek.

‘What am I digging for?’ I ask calmly, though I already knew the answer.

Creek sniggered, ‘You’re making my life easier. Maybe I’ll get all my next ones to dig their own graves too.’

‘This hole was meant for you!’ I yelled and swing the shovel around.

Creek brought up his hands to block and the iron point shot across them. I heard him curse loudly and he started jabbing blindly with his knife. I easily dodged his blows, but as I stepped back, the soil behind me loosed and I tripped into the shallow hole I’d made.

Before I could scramble out, Creek jumped on top of me, his legs almost wrapping around my middle and one of his hands on my throat.

‘I read about you and your pretty boys in the newspaper,’ Creek blurted, ‘is that what you were going to do to me?’

I didn’t reply, but a chocking noise escaped me.

‘I prefer ladies myself,’ Creek added and brought his knife close to me.

I felt the blade against my cheek and a tingle of pain.

‘Death is beyond us. For we are the bringers of it,’ he recited and slashed across my cheek.

Laughing, he scrambled off me and grabbed the shovel. I felt for something to grasp to pull myself up with, but there was only the damp soil. My cheek was wet with rain and blood.

Dirt flew at me, landing on my chest and bouncing into my face. I could hear Creek laughing wildly as he went for another shovel-full.

I tried to get out, but for some reason I had become like a turtle stuck on its back. Shovel-full after shovel-full of soil rained down on me and I began to accept my fate. I flopped over and tried to get on my knees, but I was all ready half-buried. I felt the dirt moving around me and decided to become still.

My lungs hurt to take a breath, but I remind calm and imagined I was in water and I could come up at any time, I just didn’t need to. I heard Creek yell out a goodbye and my shovel hitting a sapling. I couldn’t hear his footsteps but, I did hear the roaring engine of my car.

Without giving the soil time to consume me, I fought through it and back to the surface. Above me the clouds were black and weirdly, I wished my first view on re-birth had been of stars.

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The Long Road (Part 2)

At the car, I unlocked the doors and watched him studying my small pale blue Toyota. I opened the passenger door and popped the glove compartment. A collection of random things spilled out and I dug through papers, thin books, tissues, CDs and a torch before finding a small book of matches. They had come from a hotel or a pub once upon a time. I handed them to him.

‘I’m Ted, I said.

‘Creek,’ he replied.

I paused, ‘that a nickname or…?’

‘Suppose,’ he answered, lighting up and beginning to suck on the cig.

‘You want to put your bag in the boot?’

I left the passenger door slightly open and walked around the car. Unlocking the boot, I lifted it up and stared down into a mess of items. Quickly, I began moving things off to the side and creating some space. I heard him come beside me, the acid stink of tobacco and sweaty clothes.

‘You got a lot of shit in there. What you do?’ he enquired.

‘I’m a builder…well, a handyman now really,’ I responded happily, ‘there. It should fit now.’

He slipped the rucksack off and swung it into the hole I had created. Tools jostled around it as if eager to inspect the foreign body settling beside them. I slammed closed the boot and walked to the driver’s side. Opening the door, I looked over at him. He was taking long drags on the cig like a thirsty man and looking up at the sky.

The night and Mistress Moon had finally blessed me. This was going to be good, I could feel it in my gut. I got into the car and closed the door. I did my cockpit checks, seat in place, seatbelt on, keys in the ignition, mirrors and everything coming up fine on the dash.

Creek got in, flicking the cig butt away and blowing out the last lungful of it. He closed the door and relaxed into the seat. His long legs sprawled out in the footwell, he hugged himself and wrapped his arms around his stomach. His head and that mop of brown hair pressed against the headrest and he looked for a few moments like a tried teenager.

A splatter of rain hit the window and the drops began to run into one. Another handful pattered down then it began to rain fully. I turned my eyes away and they dropped between his legs. I licked my lips, tasting the bitter coffee stain and dry skin.

‘We going or what?’ he muttered.

‘Yes. Please put your seatbelt on,’ I stated, putting my hands to the wheel.

Creek snorted, ‘really?’

I nodded and with a growl, he put the belt on. I smiled broadly at him and started the engine. He gave me a hard disbelieving look before turning his head away. I teased the car out and followed the signs back to the motorway. Judas Priest came on singing Living After Midnight. I hummed along and speed up on the slip road.

‘I’m glad you decided to come with me,’ I said softly.

‘Huh?’

I glanced at him, he had his eyes half shut and seemed completely uninterested. I pulled onto the almost deserted motorway and hit the speed limit.

‘For company, I mean. I could really do with some. This trip has been pretty lonely,’ I explained.

‘Maybe you should get a dog?’ he suggested.

‘I’m not too keen on them,’ I shot back.

He shrugged his shoulders and put his head on his shoulder as if to sleep. I stole a few more glances at him, then kept my eyes ahead and in my mirrors. Driving became automatic, so my mind turned to other things. Where would the best place be? How to do it? When? I hummed along to the next song and carried on thinking.

A lorry over took me and then a coach. I came off at the next exit and went around a large roundabout twice reading the direction signs carefully.

‘Are you lost?’ Creek’s voice called out.

I jumped slightly and glanced at him, ‘no, no, I missed the turn that was all. Here’s the one we want. South Wales. That okay with you?’

‘Yeah, sure, whatever. I got to piss,’ Creek announced.

‘Right. I don’t see any services. I’ll pull up. I could go myself.’

I checked my mirrors and indicated, before pulling off to the side. I stopped under a streetlight and Creek opened the door. A cold, wet wind splashed against me. I put my hazards on and turned off the engine. The passenger door banged shut and Creek walked quickly around the front of the car, his legs lit up by the headlights. I watched him disappear in a patch of struggling scrub land. I glanced at the clock, the numbers flashed two fifty-six AM. A good time to die.

I got out, leaving the driver’s door open and went to the boot. Popping it open, I looked inside. I selected a long shovel and a hacksaw.

To Be Continued…

The Long Road (Part 1)

It was very late, I could see it in the dashboard clock as the numbers twisted into 1:01 am. The radio news and traffic announcement cut into my Judas Priest CD. A male disembodied voice muttered, almost incoherently, the already known news reports. I didn’t listen, but instead enjoyed the darkness licking around me.

Road signs flashed by in my headlights and one of them declared the next services were five miles away. The wanting to stop tugged at me. I checked my mirrors, indicted to the car coming up behind me and pulled into the left lane.

Lampposts lit the way off the motorway as if they marked a heavenly path. I directed the car towards them, getting into lane and beginning to drop my speed. The car that had been behind me sped off, a lone traveller in a star speckled void. I slowed down for the large bend and entered a football field sized carpark.

I parked as close to the double glass front doors as possible, three rows away in-between a green Land Rover and red Ford Escort. I cut the engine and let silence fill the car like a deadly gas. Ahead of me I could see two people smoking beside the doors in the picnic table area. There was a large motorbike before them, but I couldn’t see the make.

Taking the keys from the ignition, I opened my door and got out. Stretching, I closed the door and locked the car. Orange lights flashed against me then I walked away. I took the shortest route to the doors, stealing a few glances at the two people, but they seemed disinterested in everything going on around them.

Warm recycled air hit me as I opened the door. I wiped my soft souled shoes on the welcome mat and headed straight for the gents. I passed three shuttered shops on my left and a large open canteen like area on my right. The toilets were placed at the back, inconvenient for the desperate travellers, but secretly planned out by the architect.

I opened the door and stepped inside. A dripping tap tocked like a clock and stale urine inflamed the lemon scented space. I paused and checked I was alone, before going up to the last urinal. I unzipped my black trousers and eased my manhood out. With a quick glance at the door, I wanted this to be a private moment, I relieved myself. After, I washed my hands twice and used some paper towels.

Walking out, I went over to the canteen area. Behind the counter at the end was a sleepy teenage girl, leaning against a cream wall and looking more like a mirror reflection. Before her were rows of empty blue and white plastic table and chairs. Four of the tables had a single occupants sat at them and the men seemed so far separated they were in parallel universes.

I picked up a brown school like tray from the stack and walked down the line. There was a select of four sandwiches in one section and a bowl of fruit next door. I choose mild cheese on white bread and a browning banana. Sliding the tray along the metal track, I came to a stop before her.

‘Can I have a coffee please? Milk and sugar,’ I asked.

The girl stared at me with distant eyes as if I was a figure in a dream.

I tapped the tray and fixed a smile on my face.

‘A coffee?’ she repeated and turned to the machine behind her as if she had never seen it before.

Nodding, I put my hand in my pocket and pulled at my wallet. Acting as if I was searching for money, I watched the girl make me a coffee. She reminded me of an automaton, just doing as she had been programmed and not caring at all. She plonked a white mug down on the tray and tapped away on the till.

‘Four-eighty, please,’ she stated and held out her hand.

I give her a five pound note and waited until she had dropped twenty pence in my hand. Turning away, I walked to the table closest to the doors and facing them, sat down. I peeled the wrap off the sandwich and selected a half. Raising the food to my mouth, a heard the door open and looked up. A young man with a brown leather jacket, dark jeans, black boots and floppy dark hair walked though and pushed the door back into place. He had a large rucksack strapped to his back and seemed to be more of a walker than a motorist. With a swift glance and grin at me, he walked towards the toilets.

I took a bite my sandwich and chewed on blandness and crustiness. Looking out of the window, but not watching anything, I let my mind churn over. So far, the night had not offered me what I was seeking. Maybe I would find it before dawn or maybe Mistress Moon would be unkind to me.

Sipping the coffee helped to wash some of the dry taste away, but left a bitterness on my gums. I finished the half and went for the other. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the young man repeating my trial at the canteen. It seemed he did no better than me with the automaton girl.

I watched him still as he carefully walked around the tables and choice to sit at one close to me. I ate my sandwich and sipped my coffee with my eyes wondering over to him every now and again. Scenarios began creating themselves in my mind. Somehow, I could get his attention and maybe offer him something. It didn’t matter if he didn’t swing that way, everyone still awake after midnight is lonely. These night-time searchers always hungry for something alive, something just out of reach.

He sped through his meal and was on his feet, before I had fixed a plan. I couldn’t help but watch with longing as he took his tray to a bin and abandoned it. He slipped through a gap in the metal barrier that separated the area and opened the door. He let himself out and a blast of air in, before disappearing.

A missed opportunity.

I finished up, the banana going down easier than the sandwich and the coffee grains cooling in my mouth. Abandoning my table, I left and stepped outside. Cold, damp air stroked me as if I was a lover returning to bed. I took a deep breath and let it refresh me. I noticed that the two men and motorbike were now gone and in their place was the young man. And he was waving me over.

‘You got a light?’ he called, a cig dangled between his lips.

‘No,’ I half-shouted back, ‘I might have some matches in my car though.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ he responded and turned away.

I wondered closer as if I had meant to walk that way anyway, ‘where are you heading?’ I asked casually.

‘Nowhere. Wherever I can get a lift too,’ he added.

‘I could give you one. A lift to the next town, if you wanted,’ I suggested.

He eyed me and I knew he was weighing up my crumbled suit and open gestures.

To Be Continued…

Today

It was raining at the bus stop as Eric stood waiting. He held the large neon orange umbrella over his head and listened to the pattering noise. Eagerly, he checked the timetable bolted to the bus stop pole again. The numbers blurred under a cover of raindrops. With the sleeve of his leather jacket he smeared the water away. The bus should have arrived by now, if the printed digital numbers and his wristwatch were corrected.

Eric stared up the darkening countryside road. It had been awhile since he’d last seen a car or another person go by. He tried not to worry over that thought and instead began reflecting on his day. It had been a big one as life events go. He recalled waking up in the small B and B bedroom and looking out at the cracked window at a pretty new day.

Morning light had brightened up hills and the village’s rooftops, which had been shadows when he had arrived late in the night. A car drove lazily passed followed by two older children in school uniform. Eric had gone down to breakfast in last night’s traveling clothes and had ordered fried eggs on toast. The hostess had tried to offer him more food, but his stomach was already starting to somersault.

Then after doing everything that had need to be done, he set off through the village and into the outskirts. He remembered the way from the internet map and though he had a print out in his small briefcase he didn’t need it. As he walked, he thought the village was oddly quiet, but many of the houses were currently uninhabited. The internet had said it was a summer retreat and most of the houses were holiday rents or peoples’ second homes. Eric thought that was a bit of a shame, but he knew how hard life must be around here now.

At the end of a single road, he had seen the outline of a farmhouse and out buildings. Picking up his pace, he had almost run up to the gate. He noticed the sign, which welcomed him to Green Farm Hotel. He recalled opening and stepping through the gate, going to the door and being greeted by a woman. After that though, everything seemed to blur together. He had been given coffee, but he’d hardly drunk it. There had been more handshakes and introductions to people, the interview itself, of which Eric could just about remember some of the questions. Then it was over and he’d been shown out.

That morning, he had thought it had all gone well and they would offer him a job. In high spirits he had toured the village, had lunch, visited all the shops and go for a hike into the hills. He had then returned to the B and B, packed, sorted his bill and left to try and return home. Eric came back to the present and realised that he should have known by now about the job.

He checked his mobile phone, but there was limited signal. He had had no missed calls or messages though. Returning his phone to the pocket of his jeans, he looked out for the bus once more. He still couldn’t see anything going from either direction. Pulling a face, he ducked into the stone shelter, dipping his umbrella down.  He had left his suitcase and briefcase tugged in the corner to stop them getting any wetter.

Eric collapsed the umbrella, shook off some of the water and rested it at his side. There had to be a bus at some point, he thought, the timetable said every half an hour then every forty minutes up until ten pm. It had only just gone four. He lent his shoulder against damp, weed covered bricks and watched the rain falling. There was a dim streetlamp next to the shelter and then a darkened house.

The road curved sweepingly upwards then ploughed straight through the village with smaller roads like the roots of a plant leading off from it. There was a handful or two of lights coming from that direction. Eric wondered if he was at the wrong bus stop. He had seen maybe three in the village and then one close to the Green Farm Hotel.

He patted his pockets and pulled out a piece of crumbled paper. Viewing it in the dim light, he read the instructions and decided that he was at the right bus stop and the one he had had gotten off at yesterday was just a little bit further up. Slipping the paper back again, he heard the grumbling of an engine.

Gathering his things, he opened the umbrella and stepped out again.

Bright headlights like the eyes of large monster lit up the road and Eric flagged down the bus. There was a slight squeal of the brakes and the bus over shot the stop and become still a short distance away. Eric jogged over, feeling his briefcase hitting his leg and water splashing into his shoes. The driver let him on and after juggling everything, Eric showed the driver his ticket and dropped into the first seat.

The door hissed shut and Eric collected himself. The bus pulled away, leaving the semi-deserted village behind as well as Eric’s chance at a new life.

Floating

floating

Confidence

You enter the shop and a heavy waft of cinnamon and sandalwood hits you. For a few seconds you debate backing away and closing the door, but you’d look foolish. So, sheepishly you finish climbing the step and go inside. A collection of small bells sings your entrance then clash together as the door closes.

You look around, feeling like you shouldn’t be here. For some reason, you are painfully aware that this is someone’s house. Yes, it’s a shop, but someone has converted the lower floor to make it so. In front of you is a staircase with a baby gate locked across the bottom. A white signs reads; staff only. To the right of you all the walls that had divided the small terrace house living room and kitchen have left a large space. Well, it would have been a large space, but it’s cramped full of bookcases, shelving units and large objects.

Deciding that you’ve changed your mind you go to leave, but as you turn a voice calls out. You turn back, hoping that voice wasn’t directed at you, but knowing it was. There’s a woman behind a large counter. She looks to be in her thirties or forties, a lot younger then you were expecting. She is wearing a black gothic style dress with lot of bead work and lace.

You think of witches and vampires, wondering if she was possible one or the other or either.

She beckons you over and you have no choice. Your feet pad across the floor and when you arrive before her, you can see her many facial piercing and thick makeup. As she begins to make enquiries into what you want, you tried hard to come up with something.

You could be honest and say you were just curious. That you are on holiday here and that due to the wet weather, you came inside for cover. Or you could just lie. You could just make up a story, say you need a present for a friend who’s big into witchcraft. Or say you’re thinking about getting into it yourself?

No, you think. Not that. The truth then? No, that’s really not a good excuse. You could have gone into any shops or café’s along this road or the next. Why did you walk into here?

The woman looks at you, questionability. You looked to the left, across the counter top in search of inspiration. There you see an incense stick burning and a cardboard tray of small glass bottles.

You turn back and tell her you’d like some incense. Which is the one she is burning?

She tells you it’s sandalwood and that there’s an offer on this week. Buy two incense packs and get one free.

You nodded your head and move down to study the line-up of packets. You choose; sandalwood, sage and jasmine. Holding the packets, you can feel the paper pressing against your skin. The faint scents of each catch your nose for a moment. You inspect the bottles. They are spell bottles. Each has a tiny cork stopper, a scroll of paper and an instruction sheet.

The woman asks you if you are looking for anything in particular?

You reply no.

Then because she seems a little put out and you have become more comfortable here, you tell her that you have just been put in charge of planning a large meeting. You explain that your boss has asked you to invite the bosses and co-persons of some smaller companies over. You also have to do a presentation and a few other things. You are nervous. You believe that if you get anything right you might get a promotion. And you badly want a promotion.

The woman nods and tells you that the self-confidence and self-esteem spell bottle is what you want.

You find it and pick it up. Inside you can see dried plants, they are purple and pink. Juggling the incense sticks, you studied the label and see that the plants are lavender and roses. A few more ingredients are listed but you don’t recognise them. There’s also instructions to cast the spell. Spotting the price sticker, you decided you can afford it.

You place everything down on the counter and watch the woman tills up. For something to say, you talk about the weather.

She tells you she has been trying out a new spell to bring the sun back.

You almost make a joke about weather forecasters, but think about it. You pay on your card and she hands you a small plastic bag.

You thank her and leave, your eyes wondered around the shelves as you do so. Outside the rain is still falling. You start walking back to the hotel and decided that you will give the spell bottle ago. What could go wrong? You ponder.

Church (Chapter 5, Part 4)

Angel

(Continued from Church Chapter 5, Parts 1, 2 and 3)

I thought about arguing further with her, but decided against it. My story wasn’t as long as her’s. Fixing my eyes to the ceiling, I tried to recall back to that day in the Heavenly Realm when I had received my orders.

‘I’m listening,’ Rain cut in.

I smiled, ‘my General called me. He told me there was a hard mission they wanted me to go on. It involved the hunting and slaying of a manipulating daemon. It sounded easy enough, but they told me the daemon had gone to ground and I’d have to track it down. No one else had been able to.’

Rain hummed to show she was still awake, so I carried on, ‘just before I set off, another General, who was soon to be retired, came to me. He told me that there was something I needed to know that everyone else had refused to tell me. The daemon was manipulating fallen angels and making them kill any angels they could find. The Generals didn’t really know what the daemon’s ultimate plan was, but it had to be stopped.’

Rain shifted slightly and I thought she was going to roll over. Instead, she pulled a blanket over her shoulder. I glanced at this before turning my eyes back to the arched ceiling. There was a spider building a web up there that I hadn’t noticed before.

‘What did you say?’ Rain spoke.

‘I would still go. It was my duty,’ I replied, ‘he then told me that the last warrior angel to face the daemon had been one of his Lieutenants. He had been killed, the daemon had taken his power and grown stronger. They feared the same thing would happen to me. But they currently didn’t have anyone else they could send.’

‘What was his name? The warrior who died?’ Rain cut in.

‘Jarad. I think, I didn’t know him. The daemon has a name too…it’s Bane.’

There was a pause. Rain rolled over and looked up at me. I kept my eyes to the ceiling, trying to think about what else had happened.

‘See? You’ve always known what you had to do,’ Rain’s voice whispered.

‘I’ve been putting it off. Trying to believe I couldn’t find the daemon,’ I explained, ‘it doesn’t scare me. It’s my duty, but I…perhaps, I’ve been enjoying my time here too much. It’s been years since they last give me anything to really do.’

There was a moment then Rain asked, ‘Blaze, how come you’ve only just remembered all of this?’

I took a deep breath, ‘I don’t really know. I guess because you made me think about it.’

‘Do you want me to help you?’ she suggested.

I looked at her then. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and her eyes looked wet. Her hair was scattered around her and she looked so childish. So innocent. She had her hands under head and was almost curled into my side, just like before.

‘I couldn’t ask you…it’s not your job,’ I replied.

‘I’m not asking,’ she said quickly and I realised that something else was going on here. ‘It’d be better. I’m good at tracking things,’ Rain carried on, ‘I’d let you kill it of course.’

‘You knew,’ I responded and sat up.

I crossed my legs and put my hands into my lap. I dropped my head and glanced at her. Rain hadn’t moved. She had been lying to me all this time. I shook my head and tried to control my anger. I had the urge to shake her and demand she tell me everything. No more secrets.

‘I…suspected,’ she corrected.

‘You could have said something!’ I snapped.

‘No, I couldn’t.’

I grabbed her shoulder and shook her, ‘why not?’

‘Calm down,’ she said sternly and put her hand on my arm.

I felt a small electric shock travel up my skin. I stopped shaking her and tried to look for the source. I felt Rain move and her other hand pressed against my cheek as she sat up. She turned to turn my head so that I’d meet her eyes, but I refused. I clenched my teeth, swallowing words I wanted to shout at her.

‘We…can’t talk about it here,’ Rain spoke out, ‘there’s too much listening.’

I felt her grip tighten on my arm and the electric charge growing. I give into her wanting to turn my head and our eyes meet. Her’s looked different. There was power shinning out of them. I loosed my hold on her shoulder and felt a slight stickiness of sweat on my fingertips.

‘I’ve my reasons for staying quiet,’ Rain picked up, ‘you’ll just have to deal with that.’

‘And if I can’t?’ I shouted. I felt the need to re-press my fingers down then grab her other shoulder. The anger swelled inside me, like a balloon about to pop. A small part of me wasn’t sure why I was reacting like this. It felt as if something else was puppeteering me.

‘Then you’ll fail and die just like Jarad,’ she concluded.

His name jarred me back and quickly I pushed away my anger. Rain wasn’t the enemy, she was making herself my aid. Yes, she had kept all this from me, but at least she was telling me now. I didn’t have the right to behave like this.

Taking a deep breath, I heard a voice hissing in my ear, ‘You can’t let this go, Feathers. She betrayed your trust. You should punish her. She lied and deceived you. No one should be able to do that to an angel like you and get away with it.’

Get out of my head, Haku or whatever your name is, I thought back.

There was a lash of laughter and I saw a black mist in my mind’s eye. The laugh faded and was replaced by more chilling words, ‘she’ll never tell you the whole truth about anything. You think she’s helping you? She’s just doing it all for herself.’

That doesn’t make sense. This daemon isn’t the kind she vanquishes. I’m not listening to you.

I imaged a wall and put it up. The voice of Haku sniggered then faded. I looked at Rain. From her expression, I knew she had heard that conversation. I removed my hand from her shoulder and rubbed her face, trying to erases the pain across it.

‘You have to keep fighting him,’ she breathed, ‘believe what you want. It’s probably all true anyway. Though, Haku only lies when he wants something.’

‘He want’s my soul,’ I stated.

Rain nodded. She put the hand she had had on my arm on top of my hand, which was on her cheek. Her fingers stroked my knuckles and she kissed my palm. I felt tiredness pulling me to sleep. Without saying anything, I gently pulled Rain against me and lay down. I held her and put my chin on top of her hair.

‘He’s a danger to you,’ Rain mumbled, ‘but I’ll defend you.’

I kissed her head and tried to tell her I was sorry, but the words stuck in my throat.

Rain nestled against me, her hands curling up on my chest, just below her head. I listened to her falling asleep, before finally giving in myself.

Church (Chapter 5, Part 3)

Angel

(Continued from Church Chapter 5, Parts 1 and 2)

I stood up and collected my sheathed great sword. Oddly, I knew it wouldn’t be much use right now, but just holding it made me feel better. I turned to Rain, she was still sat on the trunk lid. Her head was down and she seemed to be fighting something in her mind. I went over slowly, my bare feet hardly making any sound on the wooden floor.

‘It’s your sword isn’t it? I asked softly, ‘there’s a spirit trapped in there.’

Rain’s head shot up. Puzzlement swept the concentration away on her face. She nodded once, ‘Normally, it takes a lot longer for people to get that. And even longer for them to understand it,’ she explained, ‘I had no doubts about you though. I’ve not met a more powerful angel than you in a while.’

‘Then why didn’t you tell me sooner?’ I pressed.

‘There was no point till he started affecting you. Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to block him out.’

‘I want to know,’ I started then paused, remembering what she had said about secrets she had to keep.

Rain looked up at me almost shyly and embarrassed from under her hair.

‘About him, the spirit. And how you ended up with that sword. Can you tell me that?’ I finished.

‘Only, if you tell me the reason why you were sent here. You must remember some of your mission,’ she countered back.

‘I’ll try,’ I responded.

Rain dropped her head and took a deep breath, ‘the legend goes that there was a great Japanese samurai in the medieval period and he lusted after power. He enjoyed killing and death. He went against the samurai code and let himself become consumed by greed. He went insane, perhaps he gave his soul to a daemon, but it’s unknown.’ She shrugged.

‘When he was finally killed, it was decided that he had to be punished further. His soul was fused to his katana and his line cursed. At the time, the samurai had no male relatives, so the curse fell upon the women. Thus, the katana has been passed from mother to daughter, sister to sister, aunts to nieces. Never breaking the line.’

‘And they…all used it?’ I broke in to question.

Rain shook her head, ‘in the early days they kept it hidden and only told the story on their deathbeds. Then, one day a mother used it to defend her daughter from a rapist. It’s claimed that act woke the samurai’s soul. Since then, he has grown and grown in power. People have tried to stop him, but nothing has worked. He can’t be locked away or destroyed or released.’

‘How could humans have wielded such power?’ I mused.

‘They couldn’t. The Mestemalum Senātus, The Reapers Of Death To Evil Senate, sensed the power and went to studied it. They decided that the katana was too dangerous and they tried to remove it, but the woman at the time, my great times four grandma, didn’t want to let it go. She made a bargain with them. If they would train her and her daughter to control and harness the katana, she would carry out any task they give her.’

‘And they agreed,’ I slotted in, ‘and that’s come around to you now?’

Rain paused, her face saddened. She looked at her boots then at me, ‘my story is different, but she and her daughter created my first destiny.’

I tried to digest everything she had told me, but I had never heard a story like it. Clutching my sword, I went and sat down in the chair. I felt Rain watching me, but I just wanted a moment to reflect. It felt like she had told me so much and yet she was avoiding the true point.

I heard her getting off the trunk and coming over to me. Gently, she took my sword from my hands and carried it over to its place against the wall, as if it was a child’s teddy bear.

‘No one can lift that sword but me,’ I gasped, turning to face her.

‘It’s bonded to you, yes,’ Rain said in a low tone, ‘and it has the powers of Heavenly Light, but it would let anyone use it to do good and defeat evil, because that’s its purpose. But it’s not alive.’

I frowned, trying to grasp her meaning.

‘Haku is,’ she stated simply, ‘no one else can touch him. If they do, he gets inside their heads and convinces them to kill themselves. He feeds off souls. That’s how he gets his power.’

‘I understand,’ I answered reflectively.

Rain sat down on the bed again and drew her black pants up. Underneath, her skin tight leather boots went up to her knees. She began to unlace them. I watched, but didn’t take any of it in. My mind was on what that whispering voice had been saying before.

‘Is that his real name?’ I asked aloud.

‘No one knows. It’s the name he gave me. Sometimes it’s different, or so I heard,’ Rain responded. She placed her boots slightly under the table, then started undoing a silk belt around her stomach.

I glanced over at the trunk then back at her. Questions drifted into my mind, but I didn’t give voice to any of them. Instead I pushed it from my mind and watched Rain taking off her top.

Underneath, she had on a black vest, which revealed her shoulders, but covered the rest of her upper body. Her breasts were now clearly defined. She lay down, arranging the pillows and blankets.

‘Why the trunk?’ I muttered to take my mind off her.

‘Huh?’ Rain yawed.

‘Why put him in the trunk?’ I repeated.

‘It helps to contain him. It won’t fully stop him from reaching out though. The more you think about it and open your mind to it, the more he can get in. Don’t think about it. Come to bed,’ she added and patted a tossed aside blanket.

I nodded and stood. I went to take off my robe then thought better of it. I walked over, stepping over her and knelt down to make a space for myself. Rain had rolled over and curled her hands under the pillow. I settled down, laying on my back with a single blanket covering my lower body. I put a hand behind my head and looked at her bare shoulder.

‘Tell me your mission,’ Rain muttered.

‘Later. You’re tried,’ I pointed out.

‘No, now,’ she mumbled and rubbed her cheek against the pillow.

‘All right, I’ll tell you want I remember.’

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 5, Part 2)

Angel

(Continued from Church Chapter 5 part 1)

I felt the words on my lips, but couldn’t get them out. My thoughts tumbled and I was back in the alley with those thugs and that poor girl. Rain had seen everything, but I didn’t seen or sensed her. My eyes were frozen on her’s as my mind tried now to work out what this staring look was. Rain didn’t seem pleased or concerned. It hadn’t bothered or fazed her either. Pity, I decided. That was what her eyes said, I pity you.

‘What did you say?’ I finally forced out.

‘Nothing. I didn’t reveal myself. I couldn’t risk the exposure. Too many reapers know me or are aware of me. I didn’t know him though,’ Rain explained.

‘But you saw everything I did?’ I pressed.

She nodded and helped me slip the left arm and shoulder guards off. They were added to collection on the floor. Rain stood before me and put her hands to my chest. Her fingers rubbed against the rough cotton of my under robe. She looked down, almost as if she was thinking of pressing her head to my chest too. I waited for her to speak, but she didn’t say anything.

‘Don’t you care about it?’ I asked desperately and grabbed her hands, ‘you could have helped. Maybe then…’

‘No. It’s human life. It’s nothing to do with me. I can’t save people…’ she trailed off.

‘You just take their souls?’ I ended for her.

‘I only take the non-human souls,’ she stated.

I let go of her hands, but they didn’t fall, she kept them against my chest. I pulled her chin up and noticed the determined look on her face. I had no idea what was going through her head, she was so closed to me.

‘Then why did you watch?’ I enquired gruffly.

‘Because…I felt sorry for you and have done since we met,’ she confessed, ‘you are doing tasks you weren’t meant to do and are blind to the job you need to do.’

‘Rain,’ I grabbed her shoulders, ‘do you know something about me? Do you know what I need to do?’

She shook her head and I badly wanted her to be lying.

‘You must tell me!’ I pleaded.

Rain pressed herself to me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and put her forehead to my throat. I could hear her breathing and warmth swapping between us. My hands slipped from her shoulders and wrapped around her upper back. I turned my head and put my cheek to her soft hair.

‘You have to concentrate on finding a way home,’ Rain began, ‘stop wasting your powers on things. Do you remember why you were sent here in the first place?’

‘Not really,’ I said aloud, then give it some deeper thought.

Rain rubbed her face into my robe before looking up at me. It looked like she was about to cry. I had the urge to kiss her.

‘You were going to tell me how you ended up here, remember?’ she recalled.

Keeping one arm around her, I brought the other hand to her face and rubbed her cheek between my thumb and finger. Her skin was soft and warm. A ghost of a smile appeared on her face, then flowered into a real one. She tiled her head slightly and kissed the side of my thumb. Her lips were softer than her cheek. My head emptied and I just wanted to kiss her.

‘Blaze?’ she hummed.

‘Yes?’

‘I think you’re getting distracted.’

‘You’re the one causing it,’ I pointed out.

Rain pushed away from me, breaking the hold I had on her. She walked over to the bed and sprawled out over the mountain of pillows and blankets, ‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t lead you on. I’m bad.’

‘No you’re not bad, Rain,’ I argued and went to sit beside her.

‘You don’t know me. What I’ve done,’ Rain muttered.

I looked down at her. She had shut her eyes and was clenching her fists as if the memories were too hard to deal with. Her hair was scattered out around her and the candle light was making some strands shimmer bronze. Her face scrunched up then relaxed.

‘Confess to me, Rain. I can forgive your sins,’ I said in a low voice, ‘I have the power to release you from them. Just like that man I let go in the alley.’

Rain shook her head, tousling her hair more, ‘you can’t. If the Mestemalum Senātus couldn’t, then nor can you or anyone else.’

‘Not even God?’

‘Not even Him,’ she whispered.

I paused and tried to think what the beautiful, fierce Rain could have done which was eternally unforgiveable. I heard her fighting back a sob and I grabbed her hand. Lying down next to her, I watched her eyes open to blink away small tear drops. I squeezed her hand and she rolled over into me and nestled at my side.

‘You could still tell me. We could find away together,’ I offered.

‘I can never walk in the Light,’ Rain breathed, ‘my path is darkness to the end of time. No one can save or stop me. I’m a lost cause.’

‘I won’t believe it!’ I cried and held her hard.

‘It’s okay, Blaze. I’ve all ready accepted it. And you’re going to have to too. Just like everyone else.’

Like the owners of the notebooks? Like everyone who stayed in the bedroom before me at the Paradise Garden? Surely, someone must have tried to help her? Or is this all recent?

I heard a small snicker, which I knew hadn’t come from Rain and that same hissing male voice from before crept into my head, ‘she’s completely right, Feathers. Nothing can save her. The only way to help her is to give your soul to me.’

‘Rain?’ I uttered.

‘Yeah, I know,’ she responded, ‘just ignore it.’

A sudden bust of cruel laughter filled my mind. I sat up too quickly and pain shot into my head. Pressing a palm to my forehead, I looked over at my sword and thought about grabbing it.

Rain moved from beside me and stood up in a graceful single movement. She walked over to her katana, picked it up and carried on walking. She stopped at the trunk, swept my robe off it and opened it up.

Before I could ask her what she was doing, she had laid the weapon inside and shut the lid. She sat down on top of it, balancing herself on the edge and crossing her arms over her chest. The laughter stopped, disappearing just as fast as it had come. My migraine vanished and I felt an ebb of power returning to me.

‘You do that again, Haku and I’ll slit you in two from bottom to top,’ Rain hissed at the trunk.

‘Ameya, Aijin. I can’t promise that,’ the voice whispered before fading completely.

To Be Continued…

Church (Chapter 5, Part 1)

Angel

Continued from Church Chapter 4

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze. He goes back to the church and reflects on Rain. Then he goes out and tries to rescue a human woman who is being attacked. Failing to save her, Blaze returns home to find someone has followed him.

Chapter 5

‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’

Matthew 7:7

 I turned fully and stared down at the figure by the lichgate. I hoped it was nothing more than a trick of the rain and shadows, or else some kind of spirit. My hand went to my sword. The figure moved forward and walked right through the padlocked gate. I growled, shuffled my feet and began to draw my sword.

I couldn’t tell what this figure was. I felt no energy or aura coming off it. The rain seemed to pass around it, as if there was an umbrella over the shadow figure. I walked out to meet it, my sword half-drawn.

‘What are you? What do you want?’ I shouted.

The figure didn’t stop, but came right up to me on the path. Before my eyes it took shape into a masked and caped ninja. The body was wrapped in the blackness of the cape, which almost touched the floor. The hood completely covered the head and was drawn down over the top half of a face. A large black cloth covered the rest of the face, leaving only the eyes out. I saw they were mismatched in colour; one green, one blue. Instantly I knew it was Rain.

‘What are you doing here?’ I asked.

‘I followed you,’ she said simply, the mask not muffling her words at all.

I felt the rain stopping, but resisted glancing up. I could still hear heavy drops falling onto the headstones and tall grass. I slipped my sword back down and took her in again. Wondering what she really wanted. Did she know I’d taken the notebooks?

‘Are you going to invite me in?’ she asked after a few moments, ‘I was hospitable to you.’

I glanced over my shoulder at the church and felt uneasy about her question. I frowned a little and my mind went to suggest we find some other place, ‘perhaps we could go somewhere else? You’ve still not told me what you want.’

‘I got lonely after you left,’ she muttered.

‘It’s only been a day!’ I reminded her, ‘what do you really want?’

Her eyes tensed up and flashed with anger, ‘why would I want anything off you? I thought you wanted my help. Clearly I was wrong about you, Blaze.’ She turned and the back of her cape whished around her legs.

I felt the rain hitting me again as she took her first few steps away. She had her large katana stripped to her back in a fabric sheath. A whispering male voice, which I didn’t recognise spoke into my ear, ‘your loss, Feathers.’

‘Rain! Wait. I didn’t mean it like that,’ I called after her, ‘It’s a mess inside there. It’s been abandoned for so long and I’ve nothing to offer you. Not like your Paradise Garden.’

Rain paused and looked over her shoulder at me.

‘I just used it for a base. Unfortunately, it’s now become home. And…I wasn’t expecting to see you again so soon. You took me by surprise. You can come in, if you want.’

She half turned on the path, but I couldn’t make her expression out or read her eyes clearly.

‘Sometimes, reality is more beautiful than any dream garden you can create,’ she replied softly with an undertone of sadness.

I puzzled over her words as that same male voice muttered, ‘you are too easy, Feathers. Your soul looks pretty tasty…’

‘What?’ I hissed and looked around the graveyard. Somehow, I knew that voice wasn’t in my head. There was an malicious spirt watching us, I could feel it at the edges of my senses.

‘Be quiet, Haku. Stay out of his head,’ Rain whispered as she bounced the katana.

I put my hand to my sword and kept my eyes searching the graveyard. I heard Rain let out a deep breath and come over to me.

‘It’s all right,’ she said and put her hand on top of mine, stopping me from drawing, ‘Let’s go inside.’

‘You heard it, right? That strange voice?’ I questioned.

Rain nodded and put her other hand on to my arm. Slowly, she hushed me back under the church archway. She tried to push against the door, but it didn’t give way. Easing my arm away from her, I used both my hands to open the door enough.

‘It’s wedged,’ I explained, ‘there’s some fallen bricks.’

I slide easily through the gap and tried to open the door further for her, but Rain quickly followed me through. We closed it together and heavy darkness settled around us. I let my eyes adjust and was about to reach out for her, when a ball of white light appeared. I paused and watched the light growing in her hands.

‘I don’t like small dark spaces,’ Rain declared.

‘Watch where you step,’ I responded back and moved off.

‘How did you end up here?’ Rain’s voice called from behind me.

‘I’ll explain upstairs. What was that voice? Did something follow you?’

‘No. I don’t…it’s complicated,’ Rain sighed, ‘Don’t worry about it.’

I stopped and spun back to her. She was still by the doorway with the ball of light now floating in front of her. Her eyes came back to mine, from having been on the glass-less windows.

‘There are some secrets I’ve to keep from you,’ she stated, the words heavy, ‘you must forgive me for that.’

‘Perhaps, I can help you?’ I suggested slowly.

‘It’s my burden to bear.’

I turned and walked on. She followed me and I took her up to the bell tower. Leaving her in the doorframe, I lit some candles and shuffled the notebooks under the books on the table.

‘I’ve some food and water, if you want,’ I called over my shoulder.

‘Thanks. I’m fine. ’

‘There’s only one chair…here.’

I pulled the wooden chair out for her, indicting with my hand and looking over at her. She was touching the stone blocks and looked distant. I let go of the chair and unstrapped my sword. Placing it between the wall and desk, I then took off my top robe. I crossed over to the large trunk and dropped the robe on top of it.  I took off my boots and socks, before starting on my armour.

Rain stepped in and after a quick look around, sat down in the offered chair. She pulled the mask from her face and the hood from her head. Her light brown hair fell about her and settled around her rounded cheeks. Her expression was unreadable, though her lips crinkled slightly at the edges.

‘I’ve stayed in worse places,’ she said gently.

‘I feel safer here,’ I countered, ‘closer to my real home.’

Rain licked her lips and pulled the sheathed katana off her back. She balanced it against the table. Then stood and took her cape off. Draping it over the chair back, she came over to me and began undoing the leather straps of my shoulder guard. She was wearing a tight black top and pants that covered her as much as the cape had done.

‘You’d have a lot more movement without this metal,’ she said.

‘It’s all part of the uniform,’ I explained and tried not to laugh.

Rain pulled a face and I couldn’t help but smile.

‘I’m use to it,’ I put in, dropping the chest plate on the floor. I started on the other shoulder guard.

‘I’m sorry I surprised you. I didn’t mean too,’ Rain uttered as she tossed down the armour.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ I replied.

‘I saw what you did in that alley.’

I paused and looked at her. She was unstrapping my arm guard and I could feel the brushes of her warm fingers. Her eyes were fixed on the buckles, but as soon as she had pulled off the guard, she looked at me.

‘The reaper who showed up wanted to know what’d happened,’ she concluded.

To Be Continued…