I:The Dead Man Walks Free

It’s a perplexing place, the void, to both describe as well as experience. It is an ever-twisting amalgamation of what has been and what is yet to be. Its form, limited to what our minds are able to experience can only be summarized as an ever impermanent realm of pearl light, binding together the dying remnants of memories and semi-opaque windows into the three realms. For it is this void which acts as a space in between the known planes of Heaven, Earth, and Hell and much of it remains a mystery even to us Angels.

Only those disciplined through special means can traverse the largely uncharted space for its tempting and distant prognostications of worlds to be leaves the foolish traveler lured into the maddened trap of mysterious light. Even with such prowess, only a very narrow set of passageways are deemed safe and each step must be calculated carefully in order to pass between each world intact. In good fortune, I had gratuitous experience achieving just that as I must have passed through this wild nether millions of times throughout the ages. Even though it had been millennia since my last endeavor it still was second nature.

Raggedly my soul, now free of the chains that had bound it since The Fall, drifted quickly through the cosmic paths. In my wake, I could see a brilliant golden light erupt creeping across the horizon in my pursuit. It did not take long for my brothers to detect my escape but I was not worried, for amidst the ruinous memories of my past, smoldering around me in a heap of gore, agony, and despondency lay the road to Hell where I would find sanctuary.

I passed through the warning remains of battles such as the fields of Vinnius-tem where the Archangel Michael was first disgraced by our insurgency. It had been a long time since I had experienced any memory other than that of The Fall’s sorrowful wailing. Thousands of Angels were felled on both sides forming heaps of silver like bloody piles of ore plucked from the ground. I could still hear his ravenous, vengeful call whisper across the blood-soaked fields. Pride filled me for it was a glorious day indeed when the reign of my brother would finally meet its end and the upper echelons of our once glorious society would crumble into arrogant dust.

I floated through the marbled streets of a Heaven long absent and entered into the illustrious congressional square whose verdant hedgerows trimmed the low walls about its perimeter and the faint scent of poppies and roses still drifted on the forgotten winds. Looking over all of Heaven was a vast acropolis with immaculate marble and granite steps ascending to its thick doors which presented themselves as a gateway to gnosis and glory. The frozen images of my brethren, intellectuals from all across our domain were locked in a respectable and noble stride decorating this blissful place with soon to be fleeting dignity.

Soon this too was gone and I saw the burning of the Low Cities. I saw silver plated devils prey on innocent horned civilians frozen in eternal agony like a ghoulish collage. They had no right to cleanse the lower streets in the way they did, they had no right to burn these people alive in their homes! I winced because I knew I could never save them and that their terrorizing cries would forever go unanswered. I felt my soul weep for this impermanent moment where I wished I had not been so weak, so indecisive…

I knew then that Hell itself must be close, for to see its images so clearly meant that I would be amidst my allies soon.

However, calamity seems to follow in my wake for amidst the remains of a lower Hell street, A golden light erupted on the horizon in front of me creeping between the ebony buildings whose smooth, mirror-like finishes refracted the overwhelming glow into a distorted mixture of shimmering rods. In a rare moment of shock and awe I recoiled and for a moment I had become unsure of my next action. A brief moment as it was, I was perturbed perhaps because the millennia of isolation which had dulled my wits or perhaps I was finally becoming predictable. Yet what was more harrowing were the conclusions by which were drawn by the Angels to be dwelling amidst the fragments of Hell, would that not mean they were in Hell itself? If they were in Hell itself then…what of the Demons?

A cryptic feeling plagued me and without much discourse I exited the area, drifting off into the Pearl nothing towards Earth. I began to see strange, drab buildings rise around me, loud clamoring sounds like horns and metal crunching echoed through my panic. I drifted amidst filthy streets and callous crowds.

I knew that without the aid of my demonic brethren I would need to take a vessel to evade my brothers. The crowd around me was great but unworthy. Empty, narrow minds and broken spirits while easily manipulated by the likes of me ultimately yielded weak vessels. Then I heard something amidst the cacophony of industrial madness. It was a voice, inarticulate by any means but its cadence drew me to it. It was a desperate sounding prattle, its tone invoked a strange degree of sympathy and dread as I drew closer encapsulated by its tragic pitch.

I found, looming amidst the street a pillar of light, golden just like that of my brothers with the exception that it did not aim to pursue me, it simply stood still uttering its incomprehensible dialect. I could make out that it was not trying to speak, no! Its mysterious language indeed turned out to be a pained sob of which the lost soul choked on. I pondered the oddity of its presence; surely one of the reapers would have come along in order to escort this soul to its proper domain? Why did it loom in the void like a child lost in a crowd? I stood over it, the dreadful feeling an uncanny power waft from its essence captivating me with an additive, masochistic pain.

“Help…me” it whispered quietly in a loathsome hiss. I remained silent, perturbed by what I was witnessing. The soul soon disappeared and in its place, a small building with white clapboard walls and a peaked roof appeared. An oaken rampway in a tapering zig-zag rose up to a modest doorway of which I scaled curiously, the soul’s leaking despondency overwhelming me.

I forced open the door, its cold brass handle stinging me as I turned it. As the portal opened a bright pearl light erupted like a flash of lightning and blinded me with its stunning brilliance and in that moment I felt myself become sucked in.

I awoke in a dark, cramped space and I could hear a faint murmuring like the scratching of rats in a ship’s hull. The body which I had by no direct choice of my own claimed was stiff and below its flesh, a repugnant, writing sensation lurked. Slowly I worked each joint loose so that I may feel around my mysterious domain discovering a plush, silken texture to the walls. I reached for the ceiling and pushed, feeling an entire segment of it shift uncomfortably. With another, more clumsy thrust I was able to dislodge it, forcing it to pivot open so that the world outside leeched in a harsh artificial light. I quickly scurried through the opening, thrusting myself over the polished lip of the wooden container.

Suddenly the murmuring ceased and I stood before an audience of patrons dressed fancifully. I did not take too much time to absorb the scene for I needed to mitigate the risk of my brothers pursuing me into this realm but I did realize I was in a hall of decorative flowers and photographs all featuring the same grim-faced youth. I passed by a whirring horde of make-up smeared faces and mournful scowls all of whom recoiled in uncanny horror. I washed through them awkwardly carrying myself on still stiff legs and left out the very same drab door by which I entered.

The streets were dark and filthy as I had seen prior, Earth’s moon loomed sullenly over-head waxed so far as to look like a sleeping eye. Cold winds echoed through the cracked streets bounding off of dusky storefronts and townhouses. I ran down the street, breathing channeling my focus as I calibrated myself in this vessel feeling every tendon and sinew become loose with each stride. I bore down on my concentration feeling a strange energy thrum through me, a maroon aura burst from my right hand before quickly vanishing.

“Come on, come on” I hissed lowly as I continued to run. Finally, I felt a sustained jolt in my chest and closed my eyes. I felt a gust of air, followed by a feather-like sensation overtaking my body adding to the cocktail of strange discordant sensations I was subjected too. With a moment’s passing, I had traversed several hundred feet down the road. “Weak,” I said, knowing well it would take time to fully recover my strength after executing my escape.

I paused for only a moment as I caught my reflection in a stores window, faint as it was. Having exhumed this body I figured it would have been someone of an elder disposition but it was disturbingly youthful. The boney face that looked back at me was smooth and tight even bearing a few unsightly blemishes above it brow. It glared at me gruesomely as if cursing my presence inside it as its sharp analytical eyes observed me. Its implications were harrowing, disturbing and otherwise morbid.

I had caught sight of a strange mark beneath the black lines of the blazer sleeve I wore. As I rolled them up an unsightly array of long, painful lesions, sewn together with thick stitches marked the wrists. I looked back up to reflection, looking deep into my vessel’s eyes. All I could see beyond their brown irises was the moist, shimmer of pain which seemed to twitch under their crystal expression. “Help me!” they cried, yet I knew not what I could do for the poor soul, except alert a reaper to its plight…

Suddenly a great exhaustion wracked this body, and I stumbled into a nearby alley, slumping over by a filth-encrusted dumpster. It had been a long while since I had rest of any kind and finally if only for a little while I may rest. Others would be looking for me I knew, but I took solace in my prior position and knew well that certain members of that search party were not trying to destroy me. It would not be long until I found one of them, for they are many here on Earth.

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