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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14. Stuck In My Head

“Let me go!” Afriel screamed, trying to pull her arms back.

“Say it, girl, or you’ll live like this for all time.”

She grunted, winning back her arm and her footing, “I want to live like this, let me go!”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Leave me alone!” she cried, desperately trying to claw at all the arms holding her back, but where she scratched, a scab, then scar, the clear skin formed like magic in a matter of seconds.

“This is best, we need you for this, Afriel.”

Each voice that spoke was a different one.  All of the people held her back.  Pretty, old angels with blond ringlets and icey-eyes.  They could have pleaded with her to fill their request, but instead the took her by the elbows, and dragged her off to the border.  Her back hurt, where they had tugged at her wings to keep her from running off.  Black stained her dress where they had pulled to hard, and she began wailing as they plucked feathers from her, in an act they claimed was an accident.

“I won’t do it!” she said, determined to run.

“This is ridiculous,” a tall man, with greyed hair and no opinion on the matter, a man she had seen since she was put in the world and taken to only be a leader, appeared from the mist.  He walked to her, grabbing her face with his fingers.  With her lips comically puckered, and each one of her limbs tied behind her with strong grips, she could be nothing but stubborn.  Especially not with something so mysterious and dangerous.

“Why won’t you do it, girl?”

“I won’t.”

“And why not?”

“Tell me why I should?”

The man rolled his eyes, and pinched her face until she heard her tooth pop where it moved in its place, “You are doing God’s work.”

“I am betraying a friend.  Someone you cast down to Purgatory, because you’re now deciding sin, you vile old man.”

“You’re a feisty one, aren’t you.”  He didn’t phrase it as a question, and as she gathered spit and mucus in her cheeks and aimed for his eyes, he reached down as swiftly and unclipped her prosthetic.

“Wh-What are you doing?”

He pointed her own leg at her, “Good girls get God’s gifts.  Say it.”

“No.”

He leaned forward.  She could see his open pores, his veiny eyes, the red blood on the corner of his cracked lips, his nostril hairs that shook when he said, “Say it.”

“No!”

He pulled back, “Drop her.”

He still didn’t care when he watched her fall to the floor, like a butterfly with its wings pulled off.  She struggled, but he held hand up, preventing anyone from helping her.  She leaned on her stump leg, and tried to find her footing, but it was no use, and she ended up back on her hands and knees, breaking her nose as she fell.

“Now, he can’t see that.”  the man clicked at the blood was gone, but they pain seemed to only get worse as the magic grinded along her broken skin, “Will you do it?”

“I’d rather you send me down there to him.”

“He’s a shame, but you more so.  We can’t have anyone in Purgatory seeing an angel like you, there’s enough call to arms as it is.”

She tried to stand again, holding her tongue to prevent it from swearing.  She finally got to her knees, but she was already out of breath.

“This is getting out of hand, do you people not deal with these angels?” the angels around him looked away guiltily, so he tutted, and dragged Afriel up himself.  He was stronger than he seemed.

“Let go of me!”

“Enough of this,” he pulled a mirror out of his robe pocket, and ran it over her quaking stature.  On front of her, like a live shadow, a girl was born.  A girl who looked like her in every way, connected with strings.  When the man told the girl to move, she did, dragging Afriel along behind.  She realised that she was now the shadow to a smiling, vacant angel, controlled by this disgusting man.

“Who has well legs?  You.” he picked a confused, and rightfully threatened, woman from the crowd, and scanned over her leg too.  He turned to the empty girl, and pasted a healthy leg onto hers, where it had ended above the knee.  It was slightly browner, but it worked.

“Run,” he said to the girl, “And tell the boy what he needs to hear.”

With that, the girl ran, dragging Afriel too.  They ran into the light, and no matter how blinding, they kept running.

Finally, from the blankness around them, someone emerged.  Brighter than the void, and so afraid.

She wanted to scream for him, let out his name in a cry, but she couldn’t.  The only one that wanted to speak was the fake angel, the statue.

“Come home!” it began saying, “Come back to me!”

The boy jumped when he say her.  For a moment, he seemed relieved, but the further down her body he looked, the more he backed against the invisible wall of this world.

“I need you!” it screamed, and Afriel cried.  She did need him.  She needed to hold him, to fight for him, to love him again, but more than all of that - she needed him to be free.

Despite the mirroring, there was one mistake.  Afriel couldn’t keep up with the pace, not even when dragged, and eventually she fell, stopping the girl in her tracks.

The boy looked down at her on the floor, confused and afraid of the light that engulfed both of the young, hopeless angels.

She knew if she called to him, she may never see him again, but watching the lies of their world wipe away his tears as he was made immobile by it, she knew what she had to do.  He had to keep fighting.

“Lucifer!” she yelled, “Lucifer!  Lucifer!

He looked at her, and then disappeared, as if nothing ever happened, and she was left, alone in the void.

She wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve and took off the mirror’s leg.  It fitted onto hers nicely, and would at least bring her home.  With her teeth, she cut the strings that connected them like puppets - like his puppets - and she walked away, leaving her own mangled corpse behind.

When she walked from the light, she grinned, complete.  The man clipped the back of her head, knocking her back to her knees.  He grabbed a fist full of hair and brought her ear to his lips, and although angels gasped, the didn’t move as he screamed so loud, blood trickled down her earlobe.

“What was that?  What did you say?”

“I said Lucifer.”

He pulled her hair back, and she kept smiling, “Why, why on Earth?”

“Because that names been stuck in my head a long time, sir.”

“We needed him.”

“Why?”

He slapped her, and she fell to the ground.  Blood stained the clouds like candyfloss, “We needed him to never meet Lucifer, Afriel.  And you’ve ruined Heaven, you heretic.  I have a right mind to send you to Purgatory to rot.”

She laughed out loud, no matter how it hurt.  Without disputing this, she rolled onto her back, and began pulling on her own leg.  The silver was cold against the scar, and without speaking, she bowed her head to each angel present, including the man, and she walked away to the gallery to rest her eyes after so long in the light.  Where she walked, black rose petal bloodstains followed in her path.

“Be safe, Hael.” she whispered her wish for her friend.

 

    The next day, when he woke up in his tent, nothing had changed.  He had only slept a few hours, since he had spent the night and half of the morning speaking to Con on a cold log on the outskirts of town.  The grey sky shone through the gaps in the tent, and he spent all the time he had watching it.  He knew he should get up, wash himself, eat something, find Hope to start training, but he couldn’t.  All of the sleeping angels that could have been woken were in the village now, so the world was a little brighter than before.  All of the potions and enchantments had been mixed and melded, and all knives, swords, and arrows had been filed to a sharp point.  All that was left was to begin training for the war.  They would spend the next few weeks learning to punch, kick, and stab someone right where it mattered.  Angels were nearly impossible to kill in Heaven, so it was all about bidding yourself time, or at least that’s what Hope said.

    He tucked his hand behind his head.  The mattress was lumpy, and his hair was tangled, but he was comfortable with his nails now.  They were small and well-filed, thanks to Con, and it felt good to be soft again.  He had missed the light, although he hadn’t known it.

    He watched the light.  How it didn’t bend, but it could shape the world around it.  It was something each person said they could control, but where it came from, no one could say for sure.  He held up his hand, letting it stream through his fingers like intertwining digits, and he was grateful for the warmth, regardless of how washed-out it had become.  It all felt familiar to him.  Not in the way that names or dates or feelings felt like something he had known before, it missed that longing.  Instead, he felt like he belonged with it, as if it was shining out a part of him.

    There was a knock on his tent, but it sounded more like a slight, soft drumming.

    Before he could answer, Bede stuck her head through the flap.

    “Well, hello, warlord.”

    “Good morning, Ms. Ironic-Name.”

    “What?”

    “Ironic name.  Like it’s obedience, but you’re not very… Obedient.”

    She sat at the end of his bed, handing him an apple, which he grimaced at, so she gave him her peach instead, “You may be the most powerful angel on all planes, but you are not one for stand up comedy, you.”

    “I know,” he laughed, taking a bit and realising he had probably died last night he was so hungry.

    “Did you dream?”

    He rubbed his head, “I think so?”

    “It’s a blessing to be sober, huh?”
    “I’d rather not live in a perpetual state of confusion, honestly.”

    She tossed her head back, her coiled hair catching against the static in the tent as she laughed.  She’s light up a world herself, he thought.

    “Well, that makes two of us.  Speaking of confusion, where is the bastard?”

    “Who?” he said, finally recognising a word.

    “Hope,” she spoke through a mouth of apple, “I thought he was picking you up for training?”

    “Please don’t mention training to me this early in the morning.”

    “It’s afternoon, Fate.”

    “What?”

    She pushed the apple in his grimacing face.  It was yellow and bruised on one side, “These are evening apples.  I guess he let you sleep in, Con must have persuaded him after your chats late last night.”

    “I always worry about Con.” he said, absentmindedly.

    She tossed her apple core under the tent flaps, and leaned her head against his knees.  He rubbed her forehead, and the bead of sweat that stuck her her eyebrow, “We all do.”

    “Do you still have your doubts about Hope?” he said, trying to bring up a conversation lightly.

    Her temples tensed when her jaw clenched, playing it off as a smile, “I more hope that you’ve stopped blindly following him.”

    “I never even followed him.”

    “Is that why you left the village, left me, for a week without looking back once?  You trust Hope when he brings you to what you want, like a shepherd, but when there’s a disaster in this disastrous place, you already respect him so you let him blame it on the sin.  Did you ever think that maybe we were all born with sin, Fate?”
    “After I fell asleep in the tavern, I woke up a week later and the first thing I did was send back Aspir to find you.  But not before walking to the village and finding you.  But since I was still invisible, you only looked back when I called your name, but you kept walking.  You seemed sad about something, Bede.”

    Fate sat up so she could hug him, and she squeezed him until he starting seeing stars, “Hope has a point, the magic drives me crazy here.  I really want to go home, Fate.  I had a few friends back there, not many that weren’t killers, but enough.  This place is making me go crazy.”

    “Me too.  And I think Hope as well, he’s never this bad.”

    “Well, what’s he doing now?”

    The thing was, Fate couldn’t say.  He’s snap at his men, but only when they forced the rest of the army to do something they couldn’t possibly.  He let the committee drag Fate anyway they felt they had the right too, but usually they just said they were trying to make him the war hero he was born to be.  The biggest red flag that nearly made Fate’s stomach turn whenever he thought about it, was the fact that was still gossip, Hope drinking Con’s blood.

    “Not much, it’s the rumors that get me.  He just seems impatient.”

    “Well, could you blame him, someone who’s been in this town for that long,” she sighed, “Maybe I’m too hard on him.”

    “Maybe we both are.  He does try.”

    “He does, and he takes such good care of his angels.”
    He gulped through his raw throat, “Yeah.”

    Someone knocked on their tent again, and a committee member sticked their head through.  She was the lowest class member, he believed, a girl who died without clothes, with her bleached blonde hair, and with two dozen stab wounds.

    “Lucifer?  Hope’s looking for you, he’d like you to start your training today, if that’s okay?”

    “That’s perfect.  Thank you.” he smiled enough to let her smile back, and she disappeared again.

    “I should go too.  Faith had to go back to the village, the enhancements made her cough up more blood than usual.  It’s weird, she doesn’t have a name or past life, and she still coughs up blood.”

    “But she remembers French?”

    “Because she never learned English.”

    “But you know French?”

    “She taught it to me.  Could hardly marry someone with that language barrier, now.”

    Those words in that context always confused him, but his best friend seemed happy, so he nodded and smiled for her.

    “Anyway,” she stood up, “We should go.  And if you ever have some time off, your war-lordship, I… I’d love to go home sometime.”

    He hugged her again, and her arms pushed up until the knotted in the space between his wings, “We will, I promise.”

    Fate pulled her hands back around, and took ahold of her fingers, noticing the missing forefinger on each hand.  She blushed for some reason.

    “Bede?” he was no longer scared for her, since he was around, but he tilted his head and smirked as if he were scolding her.  She looked less embarrassed after that, he thought.

    “The whole war thing got to me, okay?  It’s not that bad!”

    He pulled out her knife and pricked his finger, dropping half a drop of blood onto the rest of the peach that he hadn’t finished.  The committee were strict on what he ate, mostly feeding him beans and seeds that tasted of the ocean, although he understood that he had never seen the sea.  He pinched her thin arms.  They weren’t worryingly skinny, but she suited looking fuller he thought, she glowed more.  Not in an angel way, just as if she was happy, he liked that look on her, he had to admit.

    “Here,” he put the bloody peach in her hand, and she stuck out her tongue, but put it straight into her mouth, clearly grateful for the food and to be put back together again, “Stay safe.  We can meet up later maybe, and don’t let training get you down to bad.”

    She laughed with a mouth full of juice, and flicked him on the forehead, “You always sound like Con now!”

    Outside, the war looked as if it had begun.  Strong men with bare arms and no scars pointed to the crowd when they didn’t stab right, and people ripped shreds into mattresses shaped like men.  The swords were still blunt, a few even snapped in two, but the people were learning.  It seemed like Fate wasn’t the only one they were scarcely feeding, it looked as if the entire army was given fiber, protein, and not much else.  He had to admit, there were effects on himself, he looked as if he could swallow Bede whole now, but the army still dropped dead every now and again, but they fell onto the same mats as the ones they sleep on, so they just waited for them to wake up again, as if they were sleeping with stopped hearts and their eyes wide open.

    “This is hectic.”

    “Hectic for heretics, they say.  Anyway, I should be getting back to my tent.  Our side of the camp is starting with magic combat, and I’m teaching it for once.”

    “That sounds like something you’d be good at, especially with magic.”
    “More so with teaching, actually.  You don’t know this, but I used to teach the kids in the house.  It was nice.  Anyway, I’ll see you later, Fate.”

    He watched her as she walked off, facing towards the opposite side of the town, and Fate realised he might not see her that afternoon after all, “Bye, love you.”

    She turned around, nearly snorting.  She looked at him, but he didn’t exactly know why, so he stared back.  She sighed, glowing with life again, and walked back over to him.  She took his face in one hand, the peach in the other, and kissed his forehead.

    “You can tend to get so sentimental when you think something bad is coming your way, Fate,” she said, her accent growing thicker when she tried to stop chuckling, “I’ll see you when I do.  I love you too, and don’t be running into trouble, okay?  The committee has it out for you, you know.”

    She whispered the last part, but she didn’t stop smiling, so he paid no mind.  She walked away, finishing off her dripping peach.  She threw the stalk out, onto the desert floor, and three wandering souls had to drag away another man who pointed to it, saying that it fell from the sky.  They didn’t laugh, not out there in the open.

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