“He was supposed to kill three more people over the next two months before hanging himself,” the angel said, still freaking out about Alyssa defending herself. Like it wasn’t the natural thing to do.
Alyssa kept the angel in the corner of her eye as she stole a glance into the closet. Since the man hadn’t moved in about five minutes, she assumed that the angel was correct in that he was dead. Peeking around the corner didn’t reveal anything contradictory.
He had his back against the wall, slumped over uncomfortably on a pile of her mother’s shoes. Hanging dresses hid his head from view, but the rest of him wasn’t moving. One hand held his stomach with a little blood trickling out between his fingers. The other was palm up with a silver pistol just barely touching his fingertips.
Keeping her pistol trained on his body, Alyssa slowly moved into the room. As soon as she closed the distance enough, she used her bare foot to slide the gun out of his grip and across to the other side of the closet. His fingers didn’t even twitch. Even still, she did not stay near him for long and she did not aim her gun anywhere other than him. Not even as the angel walked into the room, still staring at her book.
“Do you even realize what you’ve done? He was supposed to go around, interacting with people and impacting their lives.”
“Well sorry for not lying down and letting him stab me forty times.”
“It was only thirty-seven! Your apology is most certainly not accepted,” she said, snapping her book shut and shaking it in Alyssa’s face. “Oh, what am I going to do?” Shoving the dresses over to one side, the angel stared down at the body.
Once again, queasy feelings welled up in Alyssa’s stomach. She pressed the back of her hand against her mouth to suppress a retch. It was worse, looking down at this man. His son had been lying face down with a mask over his head. This man stared up at her with glassy eyes, accusing her. Salt trails still lined his face and clear slime dripped from his nostrils over his stubble and down into his slack mouth.
“Maybe if I put your soul into his body, you can go around pretending to be him?”
Alyssa snapped out of her ill feelings to stare at the pale gray skin of the angel’s face. “I prefer my soul in my body,” she said, wondering exactly what was up with the strange being now that she wasn’t in immediate mortal peril. The longer she stared, the less she believed the so-called angel existed. Her personal beliefs didn’t include angels. Or anything, for that matter. That didn’t mean that she hadn’t been proved wrong about things she didn’t believe in the past, but an angel was a bit much.
She considered reaching out to see if she could physically touch the angel when those dark wings spread wide.
As before, the tips brushed against the corpse and flooded the closet with ankle-high fog. The chilly air turned to binding coils as it twisted up and around the angel in search of her mouth. In seconds, she had consumed every scrap. A bit of drool ran down the corner of her mouth, but she didn’t even notice. Her writhing and slight moans overpowered all sense of self.
“That was a good one though,” she said, licking her lips. Only then did she notice the trail of slime running down her chin. She wiped it away with a thumb, not drawing any further attention to it. “That anguish over his son. The pure dolor, fermented by shedding tears with his son in his arms.” A shiver ran from her hips to to the base of her neck.
Alyssa watched on, hoping beyond hope that the woman was an actual angel and not anything else. If her sneaking suspicion that the angel was a product of her guilt ended up being true, she might be in real trouble. “I’m going to need to see a therapist,” she mumbled to herself.
All traces of ecstasy vanished from the angel’s face. “You most certainly do not need to see a therapist! Do you not understand? You’re supposed to be dead! You’re not supposed to interact with anyone except as a corpse.” She pulled out her book again, looking over the runic symbols a few pages past the bookmark. “I wonder, maybe you could go kill the people he was supposed to kill. Would that be enough to set everything back on trac—”
“Just shut up,” Alyssa said. Realizing she was waving around a loaded weapon, she dropped her arms to the side while flicking on the safety. “Be gone, or however I get rid of you. I don’t need some guardian angel hanging over my shoulder. Neither do I need illusions manifesting themselves from my guilt over killing that boy. I shouldn’t even feel guilty! He broke into my house! Now you just disappear.” Alyssa waved her empty hand off to the side before bringing it back around to point to herself. “I’m going to call the police. Then I’m going to call my parents. Then I’m going to sign up for therapy or medication or whatever is required to make sure I get rid of whatever hallucination you are.”
The angel just blinked at the outburst.
For just a moment, the two simply stared at each other.
“You don’t need to call the cops,” the angel said, voice calm. “A neighbor already called them, reporting gunshots. They’re on their way… to find your corpse.” Her voice started to grow in volume. “Which isn’t here. Because you didn’t have the good sense to die!” She clutched at her head and ran her fingers through her long hair. “Iosefael is going to be furious.” Pausing her tugging at her hair for just a moment, the angel looked up between the strands of her bangs. “She is pretty adorable when she gets upset,” she said as an aside. “But what if she reports me to the Astral Authority? What if they notice anyway? I’m not ready yet.”
Alyssa didn’t answer. She turned and walked back into the bedroom. Indulging in her delusions couldn’t be healthy.
“Wait!” the angel called after her. “You can’t meet anyone.” Her tone shifted from panic to contemplative as she repeated herself. “You can’t meet anyone. That’s it!”
A bright light flared behind Alyssa. She spun to find herself face to face with the grinning angel.
The angel thrust a finger above her head. From the tip of her finger, four circles spread out. A line of text—the same lettering that the angel’s book contained—scrolled between each pair of circles, connecting the three outer circles into the shape of a triangle with the center circle connecting to each of the outer circles. Within the very center circle, a twelve-spoked star slowly rotated with four of its tips elongated into a cross. Each of the radial circles had their own elaborate symbols. A star, a crescent moon, and a large sun.
“Alyssa Meadows,” the angel shouted, still holding one finger overhead, “I claim thee in mine holy name. Commissioned by the Concord of Angels, empowered by the souls of the damned, thou art welcomed by the open arms of I, Dominion Tenebrael. Target: Alyssa Meadows. Stochastic evasion calculations… are a pain! Local space-world tether severed. Confirming existence of multiple universes. Nod confirmed. Beginning wide area Nod transference across Divine vector three-five-nine. Prepare thine self, Alyssa, for this world is not long for thee.”
The moment the words left the angel’s lips, Alyssa felt her strength give out. She fell to the ground, knees hitting first before gravity took hold of the rest of her. She toppled forwards and landed flat on the floor.
Unconsciousness settled in before her head hit the carpet.