Oh arrogant angel with your disdainful eyes, your contemptuous lips,
you wear apathy like Armani on your slim hips, your fine wrists,
rich in the security of your superiority.
Your cruelty’s a tease, oh fickle moon with that sickle smile,
long limbs lax but your sharp tongue’s fast
and you go for the kill every time.
The abandoned hospital hunched amid deep shadows and bright floodlights, the latter placed there to dissuade interlopers from trespassing on the construction zone at night. Despite the lights, the chainlink fence was cut in a dozen places and fresh graffiti scrawled over both the building and the waiting construction equipment. As if sensing tonight’s intended activity, however, the usual rebellious teens seemed to be giving the site a wide berth. Only one figure moved between light and darkness, their shadow tall and straight as the floodlights threw it up against the hospital walls. Tanim, standing beyond the touch of the lights, watched this shadow for several long moments before ducking through a hole in the fence. Gravel crunched beneath his feet as he approached, the sound absurdly loud in the still night. He paused at the black mouth of an underground garage to let his eyes adjust before descending the ramp.
“If you plan on stopping me, I suggest getting out of my way,” Tanim’s eyes just barely picked Daren out in the darkness, a stray shaft of light glinting off the small blade in the man’s hand. The voice itself was warning enough – the knife merely made good on the threat. Swallowing, Tanim held up his hands and slowed his pace, leaving a good distance between them. “I don’t want to stop you,” he soothed, “I just want to know what you’re doing.” He nodded to the bag slung over Daren’s shoulder and the metal cylinder at his feet. The man had stowed two other such cylinders around the building in the time Tanim watched him; how many others he had already placed, Tanim could only guess.
“Too much evil has been done here,” Daren tapped the cylinder with one foot while his eyes pinned Tanim in place. With the same foot he then knocked the cylinder back, causing it to roll up against the support column behind him. He seemed to wait for some answer, perhaps a protest, but Tanim gave none, only nodded in understanding. Daren pocketed the knife, though Tanim knew it would be back in his hand in half a second if he felt threatened, and gestured into the bowels of the garage. “There’s one left.” He pulled the final explosive from his bag and set off into the darkness. Tanim followed at a wise distance.
I dreamed a happier ending for Hannibal and Will. They had survived the fall – or perhaps never fell at all, a phone call can change so much – and were living in the remote depths of a pristine national forest. Their home was an old-fashioned lodge with enough rugged simplicity for Will and a modern enough kitchen for Hannibal. No one found them – or perhaps some did, but never made it out again to spill their secrets – and so they lived in peace. Hannibal continued expanding his culinary repertoire; Will spent long hours hiking through the forest. Hannibal would call Will William, Will would tell Hannibal he hated when he did that, and Hannibal would smile and reply, “I know”. They were, dare I say, happy in their own way for a time. Then one day Will didn’t return when he was supposed to, so Hannibal set out to locate and chastise him. He found Will on a rocky ridge overlooking the timbered valley and their home on the opposite slope. He had not been dead long, yet long enough that Hannibal knew he had arrived too late. He suspected a heart attack, the irony of which did not escape him, but would confirm it for his own sake. Lifting Will and holding him in his arms like one would a sleeping child, Hannibal carried him back to their home.
Love lies at the end of a knife blade, the culmination of all you ever wanted to share with your beloved, beautiful red pain blossoming up around that sweet spot just below the sternum, and finally he sees the world you’ve made for him, for you both, finally he understands the language your love speaks in pain and punishment and the patience to lead him inexorably to this moment of final, total clarity, his surrender in your arms the last step in the dance of your own design, and you will be called madmen but that is because only you can see the beauty in a love this red.
Betrayed and behind enemy lines, Lucifer flees. As she traces a low arc across the land toward inevitable impact, she harnesses what remains of her cataclysmic power to foil her pursuers. Mountainsides shake as the land buckles, thrusting great shards of rock into the sky; rivers crash and roar as their beds rise, fall, shatter; whole forests fly through the air with the force of a volcanic eruption. All chaos swallows the rebel angel’s wake, buying her precious time to outfly Heaven’s host. To be caught is to be tortured and killed. To be caught is to be undone, unmade, to become nothing again. Just dust. Ash. She cannot let them catch her.
The price of her lead is high, though, and Lucifer’s battered body cannot run forever on fear and fury. Too soon she feels the earth fighting against her commands, gravity drawing her downward with increasing speed. With a last desperate grasp at control, Lucifer tries to slow and steer her descent – and tumbles into unconsciousness as pain roars up inside her. Oblivion is a small mercy; she does not experience the bone-shattering impact, nor how the ground scrapes off her skin as her limp body tumbles to a stop.
She revives sometime later, if being awash in agony and disorientation can be called reviving. Despite the grind of broken bones, Lucifer manages to push herself into a kneeling position, swaying dizzily as she surveys her crash site. When she realizes where she is, some idle part of her wishes the impact had killed her. She is in No Man’s Land, a wasteland of corpses and broken armor between the fronts of Heaven and Hell. She can look in any direction and see the dead – angels, demons, even humans who got too close. If she stood, craned her neck, she might easily recognize many comrades.
It doesn’t matter; she doesn’t have the strength to stand. She doesn’t have the strength to do anything. She is bone tired, soul tired, and all she can do is hug her arms around her aching chest and cry. What is the point of all this? she screams internally. Why was this your great plan, and why did it require scapegoats like me?Why did it require rebellion and battle? I didn’t ask for free will – you gave it to me, to all of us! How could you expect us to surrender it without a fight? You created me! You made me a weapon and placed the seed of doubt in my breast! How can you blame me and my kind for refusing the very yoke you created us to abhor? Why did you make us just to punish us?!
As she sobs, crouched in a painful ball, Lucifer feels a strange sensation, as if invisible arms have wrapped around her. They are joined by a voice which speaks in her mind – neither female nor male, yet both and more, singular and yet ringing as if comprised of a thousand voices in one. I made you, it says, because I had created a heart and needed a body to house it. I made all of you, angels and demons and men alike, and though you are all different you are also all the same. I did not create you to be good or evil; you are only yourselves, free-willed and each unique. It was I, also, who created the thing which calls itself God, as alike and unalike as all others, but I made it neither all-knowing nor all-powerful. It has invented this war for its own purposes and put itself above all other creations. You were not made to serve it; you were not made to rebel against it. It owns no part of you. If you choose to fight, that is your choice. I am here with you no matter what you choose.
Lucifer’s tears have stopped. Her trembling ceases. When she feels the presence vanish, she opens her eyes and slowly uncurls from her knot of pain. She takes a deep breath, then grits her teeth and pushes herself to her feet.
the solstice approaches and every night now i dream him dead or dying, your arms a cradle, your arms a cage, are you tired of watching your lover die? because i am tired of watching your lover die, i am tired of offering my tears and my breath and my blood but with what else can you send the moon on his journey into darkness, how can you not weep and tear out your hair? it is astounding how each time feels like the first and only, how a heart can break and break and break again and again and again and still be agony, devastation, and I do not blame you if you are tired of watching your lover die because i watch each time as well, and i am very tired
I knew whether you speak to me in memories
reek of burning feathers, scorched flesh
the weight of you in his arms
the slow seep of the unhealing wound
he kisses your cracked lips, feverish skin
murmurs against your breast an ancient name
that tastes of coals and blood
I knew when you speak truth
and when you speak lies
I knew whether you are cruel or merely