Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
~ Maya Angelou ~
When the Angels attack, there’s NO REST FOR THE WICKED.
Father Montgomery, an elderly priest with a secret past, begins to investigate after his parishioners come under attack, and with the help of Jones, a young businessman with an estranged child, Montgomery begins to track down the origin of the Angels.
The Angels are naked and androgynous. They speak in a dreadful harmony with no clear leader. These aren’t biblical cherubs tasked with the protection of the righteous – these are deadly creatures of light that have the power to completely eradicate.
When Jones himself is attacked, Father Montgomery knows he has to act fast. He speaks to the Angels and organises a final showdown where he’s asked to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Chapter One – Angels
They grew out of the darkness; mysterious shapes formed from the night, hiding in plain sight in abstract mockery of the senses. Naked, but you couldn’t tell – eyes were unnaturally drawn to their powerful, aquiline faces, their high noses and intelligent eyes that changed with the seasons. Anyone who dared to hold their gaze would swear they had black holes for pupils; an eternity within. The leader was fearless. Awesome, with the face of a twenty-year-old that belied the intellect of ages. They were different sexes, but like a mob – when one spoke, they all did. The figure at the front stood tallest, and it was he that gave the orders.
In the living room of a dingy city flat, tall and proud and shimmering in the air like a mirage in a B-movie, they stood, shining through the darkness; the only other light a flickering television set that broadcast white noise to the sleeping occupant.
A shared voice echoed around the room like a piano in a cathedral, as powerful as independent thought. None of them moved – they just shook with anticipation. A heap of dirty clothes on the sofa began to move and an ashen face emerged. It belonged to a tired-looking man in his late-forties, who looked around the room in a sleepy daze. A matted beard framed his sunken eyes – grey on grey. He smelled like a pub before the smoking ban – nicotine and whiskey; an unpleasant cologne. When he saw that he wasn’t alone, he climbed unsteadily to his feet.
‘Who are you?’ he asked, shading his eyes to look at them. ‘What are you doing in my house?’ With every passing second, his eyes adjusted and grew wider.
‘Our identity is unimportant,’ they replied, their voices in perfect harmony. The eerie unison was astounding, both incredible and terrifying. ‘We are defined by our purpose. You should already know what we are.’
‘Angels,’ he replied, avoiding their ferocious stare. ‘I’ve heard of you. But you’re not real.’
‘Are you?’ they asked, and he frowned.
‘I’m more real than you are. You’re just rumours and hearsay, a hallucination.’
‘Does that matter?’
‘If I rub my eyes, you’ll disappear. You were never here in the first place.’ He closed his eyes and pinched the thin skin on the inside of his elbow, but he felt the pain and didn’t wake up. When he opened his eyes, the Angels were still there.
‘Eric Solomon,’ they boomed, in a voice that demanded attention. He looked at them imperiously.
‘You’re real,’ he whispered, awestruck.
‘We know that you are a sinner. You have wasted your life by drinking away the nights, bloated with lust for actresses and glamour models. You have worshipped false idols, from musicians to cartoon characters. You have lied, cheated, stolen and swindled your way through life.’
Solomon raised his hand to interrupt them, but they continued to talk as if he wasn’t even there. The Angels didn’t raise their voices – they just refused to be unheard. It was as though they were talking silently and he was listening with his soul.
‘You have committed each of the seven sins and an endless amount of others. Your day of judgement is here – your apocalypse is now. Do you have anything to say in your defence? Will you repent? Will you kneel and beg for forgiveness before the sheepdogs of the Lord? Justify yourself.’
‘Why should I?’ he cried.
‘If you do not, you will be purged.’
‘What happened to a fair trial?’
‘We are a fair trial. Speak.’ It wasn’t a command, but Solomon felt compelled to answer.
‘I’ve enjoyed myself, isn’t that the point? I’ve led a happy life and been nice enough to the people I’ve known. I’ve never been violent and I’ve always worked hard, I’m just down on my luck at the moment. There’s a recession.’
‘We know – we know everything and more.’
‘Then you already know what’s going to happen?’
‘Correct. But knowledge of the future is not meant for you. Do you have anything else to add to your defence?’
‘I’m not afraid to die.’ He sighed and stood tall, a fraction of his former self. Without seeming to move, the Angels grew nearer and Solomon was surrounded. He could feel the heat from their bodies and see the wall-mounted clock through their translucent flesh. He stared at the second hand – a second later, the Angels stepped through him.
Solomon shrieked as white hot pain passed through him, and he whimpered as he smelled his own burning flesh. For a second, the pain was unbearable; then, it intensified. The Angels were strengthened by his imminent death, and their bodies started to solidify. Solomon slipped into an unconsciousness that he’d never wake from, and the Angels caught his falling body with ease.
As they held him, lying across their arms like a battered rug, he ignited. None of the Angels flinched; they stood, staring at the fire, with an inscrutable expression on their androgynous faces. In the distance, a car horn honked impatiently. Seconds later, it sounded again; the flames began to die down, Solomon’s body reduced to dust and ash.
‘You lied, Mr. Solomon,’ they said, scattering the powdered remains across the floor. ‘You were afraid to die.’
The Angels walked towards the wall, passing through it with a purpose as if it, not them, was the insubstantial apparition. Behind them, the widescreen television continued to broadcast static, and the eerie sound kept the ashes company.