The Angel From Beneath
I fell into a deep sleep last night, fueled by a lengthy study session for my Philosophy final coupled with a few more drinks than was appropriate for the last week of spring semester. Save the festivities for next weekend, Patrice. It’s not worth getting worked up about Ian until you have the emotional space for it. That’s right, my boyfriend of 2 years decided he needed some ‘space’ just a week and a half before summer break. I didn’t know his ex from high school was named ‘space’. But all of that was twenty-seven years ago now. I have a husband and young daughter who was blind from birth. None of this last week of junior year would have been truly memorable today if it weren’t for what woke me up. For that reason, every moment of it haunts me today.
My eyes wired shut and my mind fell dreamless at around 3:00am against the dim glow of my laptop and a mostly finished second Truly. I lived alone in my last year of school, but never before had I felt it in such an unforgiving manner. It was the first time in my three years away from home that I experienced what pure silence sounded like. It’s a soft screeching in the ears, as if an opera singer was holding the highest note imaginable but indefinitely. It was easy to sleep to, but was more a reminder than a sound. I almost began to miss Ian’s rustling in bed while I tried to cram 16 weeks’ worth of material into a couple sittings. I even missed his unconscious grab for the full comforter leaving me cold and bare while I attempted to fall asleep beside him.
My eyes blasted open. A nearly sonic boom rang and rattled throughout the townhouse. I woke in a daze, attempting to identify the culprit of my semi-consciousness. Sooner than I could open my eyes fully, the lamp by the bedside took one final swing and shattered against the floor. I screamed instinctively and grabbed my chest. My chest rose and collapsed quickly, repetitively. My neck snapped towards the window – a bright red glow torched the rolling and smoking air outside.
I stood from the bed, hardly finding the courage to balance with my own two knees. They wobbled as my feet curled and twisted towards balance. I reached out and grabbed the end table for support. I felt a thin glass shard penetrate the arch of my foot. I let out a sharp hiss. My mind was too preoccupied to feel it, rushed with adrenaline. I cautiously wrapped my shaking fingers around the pull cord of the window shade. I braced myself with a deep breath out and closed my eyes for a moment as if to cleanse my optical palette. I yanked the cord, the blinds shot upwards towards the ceiling and then – there it was.
Horror, but beauty all the same. The glow was blinding but I couldn’t look away, not physically nor mentally. I couldn’t believe what laid before my eyes. It was a…hole. Yes, a hole in the yard, but not the size of a burrowing rabbit or even a groundhog. It was a hole large enough for a human or three. The hole was at least ten feet in diameter and immeasurably deep. All I could see from the bedroom window was the dirt wall of the hole dusting with debris. My heels sunk into the ground, no doubt filled with glass and dripping blood. Despite its vastness, horror and ominous red glow, something drew me towards it. I wished it had not.
I turned towards the bedroom door still in my Hello Kitty shirt and Iowa Hawkeye sweats. I raced through the kitchen and unlocked the backdoor – an inexplicable reaction as I tell it now. The screen door swung open and slammed against the frame behind me. I slowed down, cupping my mouth and nose. If not when I saw it or heard it, I should have known when I smelled it. A rancid, acute scent, like a thousand various animal corpses rotting simultaneously. It was not dissimilar to the smell I’d imagine from unearthing an entire cemetery. I gagged, my eyes watered, yet even still I grew closer.
Only around two feet away from the hole now, I still could not see the bottom. I was beginning to wonder whether there was one or whether the hole was of a childhood dream that led through the earth to China. How much closer could I get? What was at the bottom of that hole? Reduced to a wary shuffle I continued. One step closer, another. All I could see was more dirt wall, more hazy red smoke. A low heat from the hole’s epicenter caused my skin to drip. I wiped my brow with one arm, and held myself steady with the other.
I stopped shuffling closer as I was only inches from the edge now, the bottom still out of sight. Although waist up I could still feel the intense heat, my legs and feet were mysteriously chilled. The dirt nestled between my toes and welcomed me closer to the edge. And then – smack.
A force much stronger than gravity dragged me to the ground, my toes in the sky and my face pointed towards the stars. My hair slammed into the mud and I yelped hopelessly, sure nobody would hear me or be stupid enough to get close to the shadowy hole. I propped myself upon my elbows and saw a set of long bony fingers, tightly grasped around my ankle. I screamed even louder.
My shouts turned to a screeching wail with my mouth swinging wider open. My chest burned and sunk, I dug my palms into the dirt and pushed away from the hole. But the harder I pushed, the more it pulled, the more the freezing bony hand squeezed at my ankle. I kicked and hollered. My palms slipped, my ankles now inside the brim of the hole. I allowed the hand’s pull to prop me upright where I could resist with more force. I kicked harder against that icy grip. I made sure not to squander my minimal progress, inching further from the edge. My ankles exited the hole and I could see them once more – one with the hand still wrapped around it.
Beneath my screams and fervent resistance, I heard a low voice utter something indiscernible. I paused my screams and listened briefly. “Wait stop,” it said. “Help me.”
“Let go,” I hollered back, suddenly in the dominant position.
“No please, I’ll fall,” it answered, shrill and fearful. “Don’t let me fall even further.”
I was no longer as fearful as I was concerned, perhaps wrongfully so. With my right hand I reached down towards the bony white hand. The hand released my ankle and grabbed onto my wrist. I tugged and groaned, raising it from the hole. For a moment I thought my hand was to freeze off from the grip’s arctic fingers.
As the full body slowly ascended, I noticed the man’s frail and elderly complexion. His ribs were as bony as his fingers, as were his arms. He looked at me with a smile and bright white eyes – even brighter than the rest of him. His body emitted an overwhelming white bioluminescence, as if his skin was made of fluorescent bulbs.
Although his body was mostly above the hole, I still felt an unusually massive weight keeping him down. Beyond his face I saw his back, fitted with wings. Two giant feathery masses haplessly flapped against the dirt wall whirling dust behind him. Each spanned at least eight feet in length, and curled from the bottom of his spine to a straight line across his shoulder blades. “Help me,” he repeated.
I pulled harder, attempting to not lose focus in the presence of those wings. He utilized his arms now, and grunted as he raised himself towards the surface. “I’ve got it,” he exclaimed. One knee after the other, he completed hoisting himself out of the hole, revealing his two-foot tail dragging in his wake. He looked at me once more and bore his pearly fangs in a smile before falling limp on his back.
“You’re – you’re an angel,” I muttered, eyes wide, body caked in mud. I shouldn’t have brought him inside. I never should have.
For 6 days I wondered how one would go about disposing of a dead angel. Finals came and went, and I had to explain to my parents I was “staying with a friend to help him with his startup”. They of course asked what the company did and my mouth refused to complete the lie my brain attempted. Instead I said, “it won’t take long”, and hung up as soon as I could without forcing a callback on their end. In reality, I had no idea how long my predicament would last and had even less of a clue how it would end.
I tried to wrap his wings in tapestries to keep them from molting. For the first day or so he was losing feathers at what I assumed was an alarming rate, but who was I to judge the biology of an angel. But most of what I assumed came from a bizarre concoction of my limited knowledge of birds and the male body. I fruitlessly collected each feather and stuffed it into an IKEA bag I originally intended using for moving out. Before stuffing the first feather into the bag, I examined it thoroughly, still not believing he was an angel – no men are. Perhaps he had pasted a poor swan’s feathers to giant paper mâché supports just to woo me with a pickup line as old as time about falling from heaven. But they weren’t a bird’s feathers. A bird has tough, but partible feathers – flimsy but rough, with a stoic stem. Bird’s feathers were no more than a foot in length. These were much more variable in size – some only a few inches when they fell from his shoulder blades, but some were up to four feet long when they fell from further down the wings. They were softer than a bird’s too. It was almost like fine human hair, but shaped firmly as individual feathers. For a moment a strange jealousy overcame me. I wished my hair could be as perfect as his feathers. But then again, he was bald.
Finally, around 1:00pm on the sixth day, his eyes fluttered, but his body briefly remained still. Stumbling and stiff, I backed away from the couch and towards the kitchen, keeping him in view. I readied my hand near the utensils drawer to grab a knife if needed. Much calmer than myself, the man sat upright and let his giant legs stomp into the floor. Another feather fell between his bony toes. He looked at it for a moment in disbelief and then attempted to look behind his back. Even more confused, he finally turned towards me. My heart leaped to my throat.
He leaned forwards and shook his shoulders. The tapestries drooped in heaps on the floor, revealing his wilting wings. They flapped once, then again, one hitting the ceiling fan. His eyebrows sharpened and he looked up to hiss through those razor-sharp fangs. To his surprise, the fan continued spinning. “Wh- what are you?” I stammered.
His neck whipped, bright eyes focusing on me. He lowered his wings and stood simultaneously. His chest rose and his long fingers extended. I couldn’t tell whether he was going to lunge or answer. His throat croaked harshly as he began to speak. “My name is Luke,” he bellowed. Though loud and overpowering, it seemed a whisper by his standards.
“Are you…an angel?” I sheepishly asked, eyes shortened and focused.
He paused for a moment, as if unsure. “Yes,” he finally said, somewhat hesitantly. “angel.” So, it was true. My horror shifted to awe, but fear still rout my mind. With that answered I had no clue what came next. I had six days to prepare for a conversation with this angel and all I had thought of is to ask him his species and name. “And your name – Patrice?”
“Y-yes. How did you know?” Another stupid question Patrice – he’s an angel.
“I was sent here to help you,” he began. “I was sent for a broken soul by the name of Patrice Knowles whom had lost all hope and more importantly faith. I, Luke, son of God, journeyed on Earth to fulfill the soul’s deepest desires no matter the price and restore her faith. You mustn’t fear my presence.”
His words were perfect as his species. He said nothing less and nothing more than exactly what I needed to hear. I knew I was in a rut but not enough for an angel to descend from the heavens to save me. Sure, I blew my finals, the love of my life left me, my friends were all headed to De Moines while I was bound for Elkport for at least the summer, still unemployed, but – well maybe it was worse than I considered. I was alone, and my guardian angel had come to set things right. “I don’t fear your presence at all.” I answered, now fully honest.
“Good,” his voice boomed once more. “What troubles you above all my child?”
“Above all? Well, I don’t know,” I scoffed. “You’re the angel, shouldn’t you know?”
“I may know a vast amount of personal information including sin, biases, and questionable actions in an individual, but I cannot harness the complexity of a human’s current thoughts.”
I nodded. “Okay then… above all.” I took some time to think of an answer while enamored with Luke’s compliment about the complexity of my mind. “And you can do anything, fix anything?”
“That is correct.” he stared intently at me, cocking his head every now and then as if in a nervous twitch.
“In that case. I don’t think my finals went as well as I wanted,” I gave him a half smile, somewhat embarrassed by my lack of creativity. I could have asked him for a cure to cancer, my grandma to come back, a million dollars – anything. And all I could muster was my grades.
“The examinations are tomorrow.”
“No, finals ended four days ago,” I corrected him. “You were out for six days.”
“Six?” he roared, this time louder. His wings fluttered and hit the fan once more. “In that case, time is running short.”
“Running short for what?” his speech was poetic yet confusing.
“The examinations, my child – what do you require of them to fulfill your deepest desires.”
“Um…an…an A would be nice,” I said, bewildered and frightened by his urgency. Was I going to die soon? I was beginning to feel like a celestial ‘Make a Wish’ child.
“Granted,” Luke thundered and closed his eyes. A whirl of wind surrounded him. Papers lifted off the coffee table, the lights flickered – but only for a moment. He opened his eyes once more and stared deep into my eyes, inquisitive yet bothered. “The soul is not cured, child.”
“The marks have been adjusted to the alphabetic symbol ‘A’ for each of Patrice’s enrolled courses, yet the soul remains broken.” He bent forward and snarled, baring his teeth, staring into my chest.
I stepped back, again unaware of his next move. “You fixed…my grades?”
“Correct. But what of the soul?”
I lunged towards my laptop and flipped it open. My fingers flew across the keyboard logging into the student portal. I scrolled viciously through each page and impatiently waited for the next to load – until…all As. “You… did it.” Sure enough, each grade was modified to an A. I knew for sure I had somewhere around a 79 in my Film class, but not anymore – that was likewise an A. I turned away from the computer, dazed. “You did it,” I repeated.
“But child, what of the soul?”
“You fucking did it.”
I inexplicably extended my arm high in the sky with my palm faced out and said “Up top,” like a moron to a celestial being. Luke examined it, puzzled. He unsurprisingly did not meet my hand. I lowered my arm. “Right. Anyway, thank you so much. You’re a life saver.”
He scoffed and twisted towards the coffee table. He grabbed it with his bony white claws – they were claws now: much less human, less dainty. Each digit was finished off with a razor-sharp talon. I stepped back, suddenly disturbed by his reaction. Luke tilted the coffee table upwards until it was only standing on two legs with his icy palms – his icy palms began freezing the table. The wood darkened slightly before becoming coated in a white frost. “The soul, child. What of the soul? It remains…broken.”
“Stop, please. Luke,” I begged. He looked up from the table. His pale eyes flickered and glared at me. He paused for a moment then set the table down. A frozen hand print remained. “Thank you,” I said more calmly. He snorted and looked away. “I’m no angel, but I need to know what it is you want.”
“I must heal your soul,” he explained. “by any means necessary.”
“Any means?” He said it again, this time more concerning than the last. “Okay. Well – once again, I’m no angel – but I imagine it takes more than a few grades to heal my soul.”
“Then what do you seek?” Luke demanded, hissing once more. “What is it that you desire above all?”
“Love,” I blurted. Looking away from him, I caught my breath. I had said it so forcefully, without hesitation. Despite coming out of my mouth, it surprised me the most.
His elderly head reared in my direction again, this time with a friendlier expression. “Now child, this will heal the soul?”
I nodded, “I think so.”
“Excellent,” he frowned with eyes drawn to my chest. His fangs rattled. “But child, there is already love in your soul.”
“There is?” I asked, almost genuinely perplexed. I didn’t believe he could see love inside me. But who was I kidding.
“Yes, most certainly. However, it is not true,” Luke elaborated. What a relief – my soulmate wasn’t Ian.
“Then we have to go find my true love, right?”
“Soon, child, soon,” he replied, shaking his head. “However, to realize the object of one’s deepest desires, she must first eradicate imposters.”
I stammered. “I – I swear, Luke, if – if we find my true love I’m not going to care at all about Ian. You have my word, I’ll be totally over him.”
After a long pause, he began pacing in a strange, angular pattern around me. “No.” My shoulders tightened while his giant hunched form stomped around me. “She must eradicate imposters. There is no room for frauds in a quest for veracious love. Eliminate. Only then, may you love.”
“Eliminate –,” I said, astonished. He was beginning to sound less like an angel. “You don’t mean…kill? You don’t mean kill, do you Luke? You can’t.”
He rubbed his sagging chin with his left hand, lengthy fingernails swaying along. He then pointed out the window with one outstretched finger. “To realize the object of one’s deepest desires, she must first eradicate imposters.”
“No, you can’t,” I insisted. “You can’t murder Ian, he did nothing wrong. He doesn’t deserve to die. If that’s what it takes to find my true love I’d rather die alone.”
He chuckled in a deep, raspy voice, revealing his fangs. “I will not eliminate the being, my child. You will.”
“But of course,” he hissed.
My mind jumped and hurled, taking my stomach along for the ride. I’m no murderer. My eyes welled. “I can’t, I won’t do it.”
Luke nodded and reached out a hand for my shoulder. His wings relaxed towards the floor. He ruffled the feathers, as if they disturbed him. “For every insertion there is a deletion. For every action there must be a reaction. For every healed soul, another must vanquish. My child, think of the soul.”
I tried to shrug his hand off, but it was too strong, too cold. Vehemently shaking my head, I croaked, “No, it’s not worth murder. If I die a broken soul at least I won’t be a murderer.”
Luke remained strangely sympathetic, but I could feel a certain anger developing in his long nails. If it was there, he was hiding it quite well. “A broken soul will damn you to hell – eternal damnation. We cannot have that now, my child.”
“And how will murder heal it?”
“To dig a path for a new road, one must destroy the old,” he said. “The subject of your love remains in an agent of evil. It must be destroyed.”
“Ian? An agent of evil?” I revolted. “What does that even mean?”
“I know you saw it too. I can feel it within you,” Luke bent his head and drew closer to me with the pull of his claws. His tongue flickered in my ear.
I tried to pull away again, but failed once more. Without looking, I wondered if my shoulder was freezing like the coffee table had. I was almost sure of it. The more he held on to me, the more I considered his proposition. To this day I cannot explain why, but his reasoning slithered into my head and intertwined with my thoughts. I have always wanted to blame my changes in thought on him and some sort of mental manipulation, but I live in fear that I cannot so easily attribute it away.
Sure, Ian was an asshole. He hardly ever wanted to hold my hand, changed his personality around his friends, never introduced me to his parents – but murder? He was always short-changed at the few restaurants we did go to, probably because he used his parents’ money on drugs. He demeaned my friends and was always quick to get jealous whenever a male came within ten feet of me. Despite the little effort he put into our relationship, he always seemed to want sex on demand. “Luke?” I finally said.
“Yes, my child.”
“Isn’t lust one of the seven deadly sins?” I loosely recalled covering that in my intro to film class a few semesters ago.
“Of course, yes. Lust, gluttony, sloth, pride, greed, wrath, and envy,” he replied enthusiastically.
It was strange hearing an angel recite what I assumed to be religious bogus for so long. I thought about each sin in relation to Ian. I’d already recalled his lust. I could almost cover gluttony and sloth at the same time in his persistent drug use. One could even say he expressed a certain amount of wrath after a late ‘Saturday with the boys’ at the bar without me. That’s already five. My palms began to sweat. Perhaps he was an agent of evil. But he wasn’t ever that bad, or was he? I clenched my teeth and shook my head. “No,” I began in denial. “No, it can’t be.” I spoke in a mutter; not sure Luke could hear me. Deep in my own head, I almost forgot he was there, freezing my shoulder.
I do deserve happiness, don’t I? How could I live a life with a broken soul? I thought back to the sins – what was left? Greed and envy. He did always want the newest phone, the coolest gadgets, the flashiest clothes – none of which he could pay for. But in that case, weren’t we all ‘agents of evil’? In the grasp of a celestial giant it was difficult for me to discern modern materialism from sinful greed. But did any combination of sin justify murder? Of course not. “No, no. I can’t,” I spoke louder. “I can’t kill him just because of a few commonplace sins. I’d have to kill everyone if I did that. Aren’t you supposed to be an angel anyway? What angel justifies murder.”
“It’s too late my child, you must exterminate the imposter.” He released his grip from my shoulder and slowly drew his eyes upwards towards the ceiling. A loud thump and then a muffled groan resounded from upstairs. “Let us proceed.”
“What?” I demanded. “What is up there?”
He smiled and started for the stairs. I chased after him and his long strides. The steps creaked and bent as he climbed. His wings dragged against both the ceiling and the floor at once, shedding feathers almost every step of the way. As we drew closer the thumps grew louder. I heard a mumbling and what sounded like hammers smacking into the wooden floor above. “Luke?”
He didn’t answer and kept walking. He quickly reached the top of the stairs and stepped aside, his clawed hands opened, palms faced invitingly upwards. “After you, my beautiful child.”
I cautiously rolled into each step. My heart performed a flying trapeze act within my chest. My head felt light enough to fly off like Luke should have when he landed in the yard. I reached the top of the stairs and rounded the corner towards my bedroom. The groans and banging grew louder. It sounded like a muted dog, readying for its death. I stopped walking, briefly unable to continue. “Luke…”
“Proceed, my child.”
And so, I did, on command off that soothing, gargantuan voice. As I write this to finally pen each step, I regret every one. It’s like recalling your first period in the middle of math class in 6th grade – except the blood dripped from the end of a saw-tooth knife. I laid my right hand upon the door knob. I took a deep breath in and only half let it out. I spun into the door frame and then stood still, as if movement was the only way I could be seen. “Ian,” I whispered.
He was tied to the bedpost with a foggy gray substance. It misted around him and danced menacingly, as if to taunt us both. Over his eyes and mouth were what looked like grafts of his own skin, molded perfectly into his face. All that remained uncovered were his ears and nose. The separation of his eye sockets and cheeks was indiscernible. “What the – Luke what is this?”
“The imposter,” he calmly responded.
“No, let him go. He did nothing wrong, I can’t do this. I need you to take him home and leave forever. I can’t do this.” In theory, murder had crept into the realm of viability, but in my allegedly shattered soul it still was not. Not yet.
Luke stepped closer and hovered behind me. He gently slipped the handle of an almost two-foot saw-tooth knife into my grasp. I had no clue where he got it from, but I hardly gave it a thought. “What is it you desire the most.”
My breath grew unnervingly calmer. “True love.”
“Yes, my child, yes, good. Finish what is necessary. You must allow space for the successor.” This time, he rested both hands upon my shoulders. I could feel his chilled breath cascading down my neck. His wings sounded with a flutter against the opposing wall. My nose flared against Ian’s rancid cologne.
The skin graft over Ian’s mouth dissipated to gradually reveal his lips. The one over his eyes remained. His moaning converted to words. “Pat, is that you?”
I didn’t answer.
“Pat what the fuck is this? I knew you couldn’t get over me. Please, just let me go. This is bullshit. What the fuck are you doing?”
I examined each whimper in his voice, his true nature, as his life was within my hands. I was no murderer. I am no murderer. Luke’s voice continued hissing in my head – you must allow space for the successor.
“I swear to god my parents are going to sue you for this, you psycho-bitch. God, Ken was right about you.”
Perhaps I am no murderer, but with the weapon in my hand and hate brewing in my stomach, it quickly became more likely. My feelings for him conflicted with his words, with who I knew he was.
He squirmed in the chair like a cockroach beneath my shoe. “Let me go, Pat. What the fuck are you doing? What the hell is over my eyes?”
I stepped closer. Luke remained in the doorway and released my shoulders. His approval spiritually stroked against my back. Ian was an agent of evil, an obstacle to my happiness. As long as he stayed alive, I would be forever cursed, true love would always be unattainable. My grip tightened. Even if I did let him go, my life would be ruined.
“Patrice Knowles, let me the fuck go. You god damn – ”. I’ll never forget that low, thwacking sound.
My eyes unfocused. I looked down to my hand: outstretched and white-knuckled. And at the end of it was the blade. The end of that, Ian’s gushing neck. I gasped and let go of the knife, covering my mouth with both hands. My body shook violently. I struggled for each breath. The knife held surprisingly steady in his neck without my supporting hand. I made a noise I’d never made before – some mix between a gasp and a stuttering whine. He attempted to say something, or maybe to scream, but it came out in a sputtering gargle. Blood sprayed from between his clenched teeth onto my shirt. I shut my eyes tightly, covered in my deed. “Ian,” I repeated, with nothing else to say.
The knife and Ian’s bonds wisped into the air and disappeared, but the murder had not. Without the blade stuck deep in his neck, Ian’s blood spurted from the wound, covering his neck and soaking his shirt, eventually dripping to the pooling carpet. He fell forwards, his head smacking into the wet rug beneath. I jumped and cried even after watching his descent in nearly slow motion.
“Good, child, excellent.” I heard Luke bellow from behind me. When I turned to see him, his godly white skin was not as pure as I had remembered. It almost seemed pinkish to me. With a limp ex-boyfriend behind me and an angel in front, in the moment I felt less regret than I should have.
“S – soul – soulmate,” I stammered, unable to coordinate my mind with my mouth.
“As promised,” he replied. He passed me, his barren wings bristling against my face, and grabbed the body with one hand. He casually swung it at his side like a handbag. “We must first dispose of this.” He spoke of the one I once loved like a bag of beer cans on trash day.
We exited the bedroom together with the smell of death lingering behind. Somehow, I could feel a deep connection with the angel I hadn’t found before. I could feel his soul as he could feel mine, complete, but damaged. It felt invasive, but I knew he was aware of my newfound strange abilities – I could feel that too.
In a daze I walked to the yard alongside him. We reached the crater Luke had made on his crash into Earth. I looked up at the heavens from whence he came, and wondered about the beyond. “What is it like?” I asked, shovel in hand.
“The heavens are a paradise of the unworthy,” he commented without an expected clarifying question.
Luke hoisted Ian’s pale rag-doll body into the infinite crater with ease. He took no more effort than I would to throw a heap of laundry onto the bed. Luke stared down in the hole with a sinister satisfaction. I never heard the body hit the bottom.
I looked down from the star-laden sky and scanned the yard. I dropped the shovel and spun around again – no debris. The little I knew about high-impact explosions was there would usually be a skid mark in the case of an indirect hit or debris, in this case dirty and rocks, flown into the air around the crash site. No debris, no skid marks, no broken fencing. My eyes finally ventured towards Luke’s. His fangs showed fully and his face lost all its pale complexion – he glowed a deep fiery red. “You didn’t crash here,” I stated harshly, shaking my head in disbelief. His haunting smile persisted. His wings flurried – he was enjoying this. “No, you didn’t come from the heavens at all. You dug up from…you’re a demon.”
“A harsh description for your true savior,” Luke rasped.
“You made me murder – no,” I attempted to process it. I had blood dribbling from my hands and a shovel at my feet. I dripped in greater sin than any superficial flaw Ian possessed. I was the one that should have been tossed in that hole. All in the name of love – but what is love if it is fueled by hate.
“No Patrice,” he said, his claws penetrating the dirt as he approached slowly on all fours. His eyes flared a fiery red. “You murdered Ian, I merely provided the means.”
I gasped. My eyes grew wet in hate, my body shook once more. “You’re no angel. I should have guessed it.”
“Do not fret, child,” Luke’s pointed tongue flickered, his voice growing harsher. “For your deeds have not been in vein.” I struggled to see his full form through my tearful eyes. I dropped to my knees before his approaching mass. “You killed because you sought true love, and true love you have found.” Luke supported his weight upon his goat-like hind legs, flapping his crooked wings a couple times to achieve the stance. He reached out a bony, blood-red hand.
“Yes, Patrice. I am flattered with your commitment to our future.” I continued to shake my head, unable to form any other response. When I opened my mouth to speak, a sobbing moan overtook me. “I am your soulmate, Patrice Knowles. Come home with me, child. Come home. Together our souls shall be healed.”
“No,” I cried. “No, I’ll never come with you. We aren’t –”
His fangs receded into his wide lips, his eyes ceased their passionate glow. “So be it.” Before retracting his open hand, he ran his freezing claw through my hair and around my chin. “I will see you soon, my love. Though tucked away in the depths of eternity, I will be with you always.”
With a full flap of his wings, he hovered over the hole briefly, then nose-dived down. The dirt walls collapsed in behind him and filled to near perfection. He left nothing but a muddy patch where his portal to hell had ended.
I remember when the doctors told us Cara would live her life in total blindness. As I sat in that old and weak leather chair, my husband’s hand in mine, eyes marred by tears, and mind fogging towards the past, I only remembered one thing – Ian. The skin graft covering his eyes as my blade pierced his throat – that thwacking, wet sound. The image has never left. Married with a daughter now I should be living my dream. But when I lie awake at night next to my husband, I know he isn’t mine.
I took him away from his true soulmate, somewhere out there. Mine – mine festered in a dark, icy cave in the nether regions of another dimension, torturing my victim for all eternity. But somehow, I would rather Ian’s fate than my own.