Luxifer

(NaNoWriMo, unedited) Between Heaven and Hell is a place only lost souls walk, alone, shrouded by grief and confusion and the knowledge and suspense that leads, hand in hand with eternal life and possible damnation. Between the bodies and scattered plans to escape to a world where their actions are not judged by a man without fault or knowledge claiming to be holy, a hero of sin rose. His name was Lucifer, and he would be the one to lead a revolution using hatred and hearts of wounds. He would be the one to let the evil rise.

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13. Names

When Bede had reached the village, it was like Fate had never seen her before.  He was sure that one their eyes met across the sweaty troop infested camp, he would run into her arms and beg her to force him to walk up a hill back to his bed, where was being harvested for the blood he didn’t know he had.

    But instead they stood there.  He stared at her, and she looked straight through him.  She was weak, ashy, and her figure began to turn to sand around the edges.  She looked tired, not lost, but just as hopeless as she had seemed when she was about to die before they had ever had to speak to another soul.

    In comparison, they fed him well.  He was no longer ribcages and collar bones - he was flat chested and big and walked as if people moved for him, because they did.  Hope had started telling him to wear his short, blond, baby-curls slicked back, and that raised his cheekbones, his blue eyes.  They were so different in every way.  Maybe this was how it felt when you didn’t need help anymore, so awkwardly big, and awkwardly tough.  He only wanted to hold her before, to cry in his home, but he was now a war lord, and she was a peasant village girl that was pulling away at the seams.  They were now strangers.

    “Bede,” he said, reacquainting himself.

    “And what should I call you?”

    Her eyes were uncommonly cold, and he paused for a moment.

    “Sorry,” she held her temples, “It’s all these enchantments, I get cranky really easily.  But it is a fair question.”

    “Hope wants me to say Fate.”

    “Oh, Hope?” she mocked, “How is he, our captain?”

    “Would our captain not be the pirate?” he laughed, not really happy but trying to see any reaction other than indifference.

    “I don’t know who that is.”

    “Oh.”

    They stood for a minute, time ticking on, people busy around them, not noticing a thing.  It was loud, but they were too busy in their minds thinking of conversation topics to hear any passing conversations.

    Fate noticed that he was much taller than before.  He used to be able to stare her in the eye without moving all that much, but not she was craning to see him.  He knew that it was because he was floating.  Like a fairy, he hovered just an inch from the ground.  He settled himself, solidarity feeling as strange as ever, and he sighed.  He noticed her as she watched him push his hair back, blond curls springing up from his sleek-backed, flat head.  

    “I’m sorry, Bede.  They shouldn’t have forgot you behind.  You’re more important here than anyone else.”

    “Ah, they didn’t forget me much.  I spent the time you were gone taking care of the angels anyway, so I didn’t have much time in the first place.”

    He remembered her face when she looked into his house and realised that he had left her too, and he knew she was lying, so he didn’t say anything more.

    Eventually she nudged him, “Hey, well done for becoming such a powerful angel, if I had known you were that strong I would have woken you up years ago.  I’m really proud of you.”

    She was lying again, so he decided to stop asking questions, “You never told me why you hid the fact I was an angel.”

    She opened and closed her mouth, taking in gulps of air lips a drowning man, “May-Maybe that’s a question for another day, huh?  I have one, where has your accent gone?”

    He touched his adam’s apple, not noticing that he had changed, “It must have been all that time with Con.”

    “Are you two spending a lot of time together here then?  The two angel boys.”

    “Oh, not really.”

    “Then who do you spend it with?”

    “I…” he looked away, his forehead creased, “I don’t know.”

After an uncomfortable moment of exchanging glances and shifting from foot to foot, Bede hurriedly started, “I’m just waiting for-”

    “Bede!” Faith ran up behind her and grabbed her by the waist.  Bede flinched, and Faith immediately froze, pulling away, half a chunk of ribs in her hand.  She shoved it in her pocket, hoping no one would notice, but they all had.

    “You need blood.” Fate said, not leaving that as a question either.

    “No, no,” she stopped for another breath, “I’ll ask Hope for help, I’ll be fine.”

    Aspir walked behind them, and he eyed Fate, implying something that he did not want to think about when so swamped with sin in that magical place.

    “Let me bring you then.”

    “Aw, let me spend time with my girlfriend.” she insisted, laughing as if her entire weight wasn’t against Faith’s small body now.

    “Faith?”

    She nodded, understanding at least that, and she dragged Bede away.  Before she disappeared in the ever-growing forest of tents and hammocks, Bede flashed Fate the saddest look he thought he had ever seen.  Puffy eyes of a lost and trapped soul.  Someone who needed more than they knew they could ever need, if only he could reach out…

    Jegudiel....

    “Woah, woah, are you okay?” Aspir caught him under his wings and began lowering him onto a fallen tree.  He couldn’t see, but he could feel the bark under his fingernails, the scratches in the headboard.  He could taste the stale morning coffee, the alien blood on his lips.  He was okay, he knew he was okay.

    “Lucifer, open your eyes.” he said, desperately, but Fate was stubborn, and not planning on moving for the world, any of them.

“Man, please,” he sounded panicked, but he could fathom why, “Dad!”

His eyes snapped open, “No, no, please quieten up.”

“Woah,” Aspir’s blurred outline stretched out one of Fate’s eyelids, “They’re black.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Why?”

He laughed, “Your guess is as good as mine.  I blacked out for a moment.  I’ve been sleeping on the bottle recently, it’s kept my dreams at bay, and I suppose they’re following me into the day.”

He leaned forward, “You drink yourself to sleep?”

Fate pulled a small liquor bottle out of his top coat pocket as an example, squishing the wine contents, and nearly proud of the sound.

Aspir looked as if he was about to grab it, so he put it back swiftly, “You shouldn’t do that, Fate.”

“You always call me Fate when you have pity on me,” his nails scratched the bottle’s sheen, he was used to having claws put on now, “Why shouldn’t I?”

“We all turn to sin here, I’ve killed more people than I have members in my family, and some o’ them were people in my family.  You hear my, Fate?  Don’t turn to that, you’ll become something worse that a dark angel.”

    “And what might that be?”

    “Someone who leaves their friends behind in the Waiting, forever.”

    He gulped, still wishing it could have been mixed with alcohol, but Aspir was right, and the thought alone made him guilty.

    “Aspir!” his headless father shouting from their home-tent.

    “Coming!” he turned back to Fate, his young face lined with concern, “Try to dream, Fate.  We need you thinking for us up there, and your friends need you most of all.”

    “Boy!”

    “Coming!  I’ll see you, Fate.”

    He was left alone, surrounded by hundreds, and still thumbing the hidden flask.  He had never felt so alone, and Bede had made him realise (as she usually did when she was around) that he was alone in that place, but spending his time planning and drinking and sleeping through entire days, as to not notice the void that lingered around every crowd.

    Someone jumped away, “Oh, Christ!”

    Half of their foot had been mashed into the planks, and it dripped onto the ground beneath, as black as night.  Fate backed away, noticing that the ring he stepped in was a part of the darkness that had consumed Fate, the stealer of light.  Apparently, it drained life from things, including a poor passer-by’s limb.

    “I’m so sorry,” he said, blushing and watching the light fade the more embarrassed he was, “Can I help?”

    “Keep away!  Someone, please!” they struggled to pull away, but it was as if they were Peter Pan’s shadow, stitched to the floor.  No matter how they pulled, they didn’t budge.

    “But… M-My blood?”

    “It’s okay,” Con ran to them, skinning his thumb with a needle, “Here, drink this.”

    The person didn’t question it, and instead took the entire thumb into their mouth.  The more blood they sucked, the more their wound healed, and finally they were free.

    “Thank you so much.” they sighed, relieved to be mobile again.

    “Don’t worry about it.” Con said, letting the person on their way, with smiling faces congratulating his dead.  He waited for them to move on, when he flopped onto the bench beside Fate.  He moved away, far down the bench.

    “We shouldn’t be near each other, I’m too dark,” Fate felt like crying, but Con didn’t look at him.  Instead, he grabbed Fate’s collar and pulled him back close.  Neither of them burst into flames as Fate expected.

    “You’re not dark, Lucifer.  Don’t let them tell you that.”

    Con wasn’t exactly shining, but sitting beside him, Fate stopped stealing as much of the light as before.  He realised he had been alone for a while too long, so he was just glad to have the slight warmth of another person by his side.

    “I haven’t seen you in a while.”  Fate said.

    “How long has it been?  Weeks?”

    “It could have been an hour.  Time isn’t real here.”

    “Time isn’t really anywhere.  Of all people, we should know that.”

    He tutted, frustrated.  His head felt so crowded recently, and his back always hurt where his wings had regretted emerging from his shoulder blades.  He hadn’t slept well in days, and he was struggling to even stay alive recently.  The committee found he was most useful when he was making speeches or watching over training.  For the first few days, they hoped by sleeping he might remember something from Heaven, just a little more than his name, but he never could.  Instead he had the worst nightmares that he could never remember.  They said he clawed out the Captain’s other eye in his sleep, and opened Betty’s stomach, but she didn’t mind at all, and instead made him a pie to show to him that he couldn’t be guilty.  It had riddled each innocent thought he had had since, but he was as curious to how she made a pie in that place.

    “I’ve noticed the drinking.” Con said, seeming to be reading his mind.

“They told me it would help.”

“They told me that too, to get this name out of my head, but when were the “they” ever right?  I know you haven’t seen how the Earth has wound up, but people thrive on fear, I’m not sure if listening to scared people ever is the answer when they just need someone to save them from what they’re afraid of.” Con sighed, and leaned his weight against Fate.  His body was always slouched over now, and he slept 20 hours a day.  Whenever he woke up, he could smile again, but it only took one trip of him disappearing to a back room with Hope and other crumbled members of their army for him to come back drained, his eyes drifting closed and bloodshot.  In the past week, Fate had watched him die twelve times, and usually people walked past him, Fate himself included, since he was always being pushed from one spot to another by the board.  They promised they’d go and take care of him, but that evening he watched Con wake on the same side of the road as before, his eyes brimming with tears.

When he leaned against him, he really say how small he was.  A boy who was still growing, but old enough to see the poisons that built these worlds.  He was small, and weak, and it made Fate’s eyes focus again, his mind humming.

Jegudiel…

    He jumped awake, not realising that they were both nearly drifting off, both angels supporting their bodies on one another.

    “What’s wrong?  I was about to die.”  Con said, rubbing his eyes.

    “Sorry, I just…”

    “Just?”

    “Con,” he turned to him, his eyes black enough that Con was a shimmering reflection in his vision, a winged boy with his skin like the night sky, and his own eyes and smile like the stars, shining through the puddle that was Fate’s lenses.  He wanted nothing more than to protect him whenever he smiled like that, coughed up blood in his mouth and ready to finally rest, “Did you say before that there was a name in your head?  When you slept I mean?”

    “Yeah, I thought you knew that?”

    “I did, but I… I don’t know.  How did you remember that dream, anyway?”

    “Well, I dreamt it first, then it lived on the tip of my tongue for a long, long time.  Sometimes it would get louder, like it was screaming in my head, y’know?  At Faith and Bede’s - well, not wedding, but wedding - I heard it so loud I blacked out, missed the whole after party.  All the dancing, would ya’ believe.  But uh… They were the good times it came.  When I first came here with Hope, down the hidden path, and I met the committee, and…” every word out of Con’s lips seemed like a struggle, a burden to get over to keep speaking.  He didn’t cry, or stress.  It was as if it was a story from long ago he was only now trying to piece together, and when he saw what the picture was, he wanted to stop, but selfishly, Fate asked him to push on, and he did so without hesitation.

    “And Hope first showed them my use, I heard it then when I was dying.  But I still couldn’t remember it, that was the funny thing.  It was still just hanging back in my head, but they all wanted to know what I heard.  A long time went by, a lot of Hope starting to get drunk.  Do y’know that alcohol's a poison?  The worst kind, kills millions of humans, but they still think they need it.  He got bad, living out here, using more and more of the angel’s powers, trying to find meaning.  He hurt a lot of people.  He used to make me drink so when he drank from me, he’d get that rush.  He couldn’t live with seeing his past life.  He said he used to be powerful, rip those around him down.  Lost a lot of money, lost his daughter, his wife, his best friend.  He once called me his best friend, and I realised why someone who was called that on Earth might leave.  Is that awful?”

    Fate wrapped his arm around Con, he was covered in goosebumps, “Not at all.”

    “Well, he brought me to the opening.  He pointed up at it, as hammered as hell.  This was before a revolution was born of old ideas, hatched and crumbled things long before I was here, like pillars of Samson.  He wanted to be free from the way Heaven had plagued him with his memories, and even then made him our leader.  So when he pointed to it, he said “That’s your home,” and I knew what he had planned, but that didn’t stay in my head,

    “Instead I heard something.  He yelled as the light took over my body, thinking the light would bubble me up too, but it didn’t.  Instead, I heard someone telling me…”

    He began to laugh hysterically, rolling his head back, sliding into Fate’s lap.  He held his hands away, hoping he wouldn’t die, not now.  Instead, a moment later he finished laughing.  The tears of joy became hysteric sobbing.  He screamed into his sleeves, and Fate could only watch him do it.

    “I heard someone say that I was finished, that I had proved myself.  He told me to come home, back towards the light.  Do you know what it’s like seeing that after living in this grey landscape for decades?”

    Fate pressed his lips into a thin line, and slipped his hand into Con’s.  He squeezed it as if he were in pain, his dry hands cracking with his own strength.

    “It was so warm, and so familiar.  I remembered more than I ever had before.  My friends, Afriel, I thought I saw her in the distance.  The only thing in the blank land.  I started crying, and the light wiped my tears away.  But something was wrong.

    “She ran towards me, her arms wide, and her own eyes overflowing.  She shouldn’t be able to run like that.  Whoever said God never made mistakes was a dirty liar, and she was the greatest of all the things he had gotten wrong.  The kindest angel, missing half a leg and half of the goodness from all other’s taken and put into her soul.  So why had God fixed her?  And if she was able to run again, had he taken her kind heart in exchange?  I couldn’t stop thinking that, and I cried harder.  I started backing away, but I hadn’t realised that the light was everywhere, all around me.  I couldn’t move, I thought I was going to be stripped from everything I had known and thrown straight back to the cloudy pit that I came from, surrounded by others who knew how different I was, and Afriel pretty and perfect enough to leave me behind.  My only friend in the world after my friend on Earth had died.  I should have been there for him, but the other angel’s kept me away from getting to him until he had thought I left him to, and he…”

    He took a deep breath, and sat up, picking at a black spot in his own wings, “Anyway, Afriel was still there for me.  She stopped running, and she split into two.  One, was the perfect girl I had never known, and the other was the better one.  She fell to the floor, missing her prosthetic, and she screamed at me as if there were a beast about to take off my head.  She knew when she said what she did that she may never see me again, but she kept yelling, and for that I am still here, still fighting this war.  Do you know what she said, Fate?”

    He first took his wrists, pulling Con close.  He stopped, and for what felt like hours, they held each other, not crying, nor waiting.  Just shining bright, their wings turning black.  They were surrounded in a halo once more that stopped the sin from that dreadful place, and when Con pulled away again, he smiled brighter than he had since Fate pulled him up from the fire-take rubble.

    “She said to me, “Lucifer”.  Just that, not directions, no nothing.  She shouted Lucifer until the light faded away, and I crashed against Hope, knocking him off of his feet.  He’s said ever since that I’ve glowed, and he’s right.  I don’t know what you are, Lucifer, but you were made to be great, no matter what that means.  I was sent to purgatory for no other reason, other than the face no other angel wanted me there.  I never hurt another person or angel or soul, but they said I killed my friend on Earth, so they told me to rot here.  Lucifer, we need you.  I don’t believe your a dark angel anymore, you’re a God, that part is true.  We’ve been waiting for you a long time.”

    Fate held him again, his wings beating like their collective hearts.  The name thumped in his head, but he was no longer afraid of not being the angel they needed, he just had to be the friend Con and Bede - and even Hope - did, then he could rot into purgatory, and he would be complete.

    “I think I dreamt about you once, Con.”

    “Really?  Did you catch a name?”

    He grinned, “No, but your story sounds familiar.”

    “It is to a lot of us.  Try be inclusive, people will find a way to end you.  Why did you ask me about the name I dreamt of, by the way?”

    “Because I have a name of my own in my head.”

    “Really?” he seemed excited again, “Do you remember it?

    “Not much, no.  It was a Jeg… J…”

    Con shook his head, “It’s not familiar to me either, it doesn’t sound like a name I’ve heard before.”

    “It’s driving me crazy.”

    “Well, it could have been the name of that man who sent me down here.  He’s nearly the ruler of Heaven, honestly.  Long faced guy, tough, old.  He’s always unsettled me, and I’ve never even heard his name.”

    “Who’s that?”

    Con shook his head.  He didn’t seem to be listening to what he was thinking aloud anymore, he was too busy taking down Fate’s claws, “Oh, nothing.  I’m just thinking.  Good luck with your name, I should find Hope.”

    He stood up, but Fate grabbed onto his arm before he could turn away, “You’re okay, aren’t you, Con?  With Hope, I mean…”

    Con smiled, and knocked Fate’s head a little, “You don’t worry about me, war hero, I’m doing just fine.”

    And as he walked away, Fate saw the same desperate look Bede had given him before, but this time, he felt he was ready to finally do something about it.  He was ready to join the war, whether he was the angel they thought he was or not.

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