Friday, June 24, 2011

Room 21: The Affair

I did not expect my interaction with you to lead beyond anything other than causal talk. I did not expect you to be so charming. I did not expect you to be so...available. More unexpected than all this, I never thought my heart would step aside and allow impulse alone to drive me into your arms. I am a happily married woman with a beautiful daughter and loving husband waiting for my return. Back home in the states, where my life can be sometimes complicated, things are generally warm and complacent in their simplicity. I had no other reason, selfishness always being a constant struggle within me, to turn my back on my husband, my family...myself.  There is just something about you that the hard working mother and caring wife inside me deemed an acceptable risk to take. There is Something I can not quite place a finger upon that keeps me up late at night for the past five years trying to understand. How dare you enter into my life and turn it upside down!

I am sorry. I should not direct my anger and shame and humility toward you. It was I who brought you literally in from the rain into my hotel room, sheltering you from the elements and creating a quiet storm within me. It should have been nothing more than a temporary delay in your travel, wherever it is you had planned on venturing. I should have been the one to tell you then that someone was waiting on me back home. I should have bid you good day, after the lovely chat we shared over a cup of hotel coffee. Till this day, it was the best tasting cup of Joe that has ever come across my taste buds. Delightfully sinful it was, embarking down a path of error head first without regard to others. Still, my love, I did a terrible thing to those who loved me so.

I still reflect on that rainy morning. You looked me in the eye with those baby blue heart-breakers and asked, with a strong French accent, if I was in Paris for business or pleasure. I could not possibly have known at the time that it would be both, telling you that I was there on business, leaving out the part about being married. I regret not keeping my ring on, for it may have saved so many long hours of hurt and tears, but I never travel with those possessions I could never bare losing. Still, I wonder, did you notice the discoloration around my ring finger as we made love and, if you had, would it have made a difference? For me it would not have been a distraction, for I made love to you and never consider the love I had made before you. You broke my heart in two, and I allowed you.

After we made love, we laid in bed for most of the afternoon. You told me about life in Paris and I complimented you on how well you articulated your words in near perfect English. I recall how free and open you were about life. How you never allowed a past event, no matter how big or small, to impact the rest of your day. At first, I thought this to be a smug "French" attitude bleeding through that rugged exterior with the best looking five o'clock shadow I had ever seen on any man, but would learn how gentle of a man and lover you really were. I can still taste that Merlot from Cotes de Francs on your lips, and import a bottle now and again, when I want to whisk myself back to that day. It was an affair to remember and, no matter how hard I try, one I cannot seem to forget.

It was how you touched me, I think, leaving the most memorable impression. It was soft, as though running a feather along my skin, gentle, like smoothing out the wrinkles in the finest silk, admirably, focusing all of your attention on every inch of my body one caress at a time. No one has ever touched me like that, and likely never will again. When you held me, after we made love, it reminded me when I was a girl lying in bed at night, snuggling up to my favorite blanket. I felt secure. I felt as though I were the most important thing in your life, even though I am quite sure I was just another flavor in your mouth. You have left me crushed in your wake of passion and I am adrift in a sea of adultery, praying that my indiscretion not lead me to further temptation.

And even now, as I write this, I know my words will never reveal themselves to your eyes. Perhaps this is just another way for me to confess my sin, or maybe I am being gullible in thinking I could ever see you again. It's been five years since I have seen you, but each year I have come back to Paris, to this Hotel, to this room and left you this letter. I do not expect much to come from this trip. Perhaps once I had hoped for some fairy tale ending that never came. I guess I am reliving a memory to myself as I sit down in the lobby cafe, sipping on a cheap coffee, while writing this letter, and waiting for that symbolic glass of Merlot to come to my table. You should know, however, that this time it is raining outside. I find myself checking the window as a wave of umbrellas rush past, hoping one of them is you. I cannot lose the hopeless romantic in me. Not since you introduced me to her years ago. 

Tomorrow I will leave back for America. And, like today, I will return here again this time next year and another letter will be left for you, my love. I will continue to dream and hold my fairy tale close to my heart. Never lose sight of the magic we created together and the passion we shared. Wherever you are, know that you are loved, still. You gave me something that I cherish, and like those things which I hold dear, I leave here with you, until my return next year. 

With Love,
Your Sara

She took the letter and carefully folded it, placing it inside an envelope and sat it on the table next to the glass of wine her waiter had brought her. She reached for the wine glass and placed it against her lips. She savored the smell of the wine, and then she drank it. One continuous sip after another until the wine was gone from her glass. She then casually got up from her seat, placing the money for her drinks on the table underneath the wine glass. She hesitated for a moment more, and then she walked out from the cafe, the lobby of the Hotel and out into the drizzling rain, without an umbrella. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Genesis Seed

When it finally came upon the world, the sky was chaotic and beautiful all at once. The land was cast in shadow and no longer made of sand, but filled with silhouettes of trees and high hilltops that masked the events in the distance; it felt like the truck had been quietly removed from the road and transported to another place in time, which unbeknownst to its driver was exactly what had happened. The truck came to a slow lethargic crawl. Father John Writhe bent over the steering wheel, looking up at the night, paralyzed by the fear and bedazzled by the spectacle unraveling overhead. The black funnel rose from the fires that erupted from the volcano on the ground, high into the atmosphere, spreading like trapped smoke from an upturned bottle over a candle flame. The thick black and grey smoke covered the world as far as the eye could see. John watched helplessly as the base of the volcano spewed fire and brimstone, his attention caught by the sudden explosion from the mouth of the volcano. Hot white whips of lightning shout out from the base of the smoke funnel, destroying everything that it touched, fueling the cloud with an electrical charge that swirled up into a torrid whirlwind. From high atop the funnel, more lightning licked at the swirling cloud in large burst of orange colored electrostatic discharges that reached deep inside the funnel from the pooling darkness above, charging what could only be described as a tornado born from the fire pits of hell itself. Adding to an already impressive sight, a dozen more strikes of pink and red colored lightning zigged and zagged from the west that appeared to zero in on unseen targets with each individual bolt. Father John Writhe heard himself admit that what he saw was the epitome of All Hell Breaking Loose. And that was the moment his eyes were flooded by an intensely hot light.

The heat from the light warmed against his scruffy cheek, still smarting from the backhanded slap from his interrogator. The light moved from his face and concentrated back onto the blood spattered plastic bag sitting on the table in front of him. His body ached, matching the sore throbbing of his face, and his mind still fluttered with images so strong that he physically cringed after each vision. Sitting to his side was a white male, dressed in an old brown suit and tweed jacket that smelled of old crime scenes, coffee and cigarettes. His bald head shimmied beneath the light, and he appeared to smirk as he stroked his goatee glazing over the thick file before him. The second man, the one who had introduced the back of his hand to the side of his face, stood smug just to the side of him, dressed in a uniform that had no badge that he could see, rubbing the sting from his hand. He could tell he was in some kind of interrogation room from the cliched two-way mirror along one wall, the use of a hanging lamp and the smell of dried urine in the room from interrogations. The use of physical violence came as a shock, but, then again, he wasn't entirely sure where this interrogation room was.

He tried to ignore the bald man speaking to him to gather his barrings on how he had come to arrive here handcuffed, he learned the moment he tried to move his arms, to a folding chair and shouted at as if he were some kind of monster. Where am I? How did I get here? Who are these people? His thoughts immediately returned inside the interrogation room with another sharp slap of encouragement from his captors.
     "My name is Mister White. My associate here goes by a name that most people only learn when they take their last breath. My job is to make sure that you answer my questions and keep my associates name a mystery to you. Do you understand?"
A flash came to him: He was inside a truck, speeding up a long hillside. In the distance there were...screams. Terrible screams that carried a great deal of burden across a long stretch of highway that seemed to grow louder the further out they went.
     "Argh! Yes!"
Mister White eyed his associate quizzically.
     "Is your name Wade Keller?"
A flash: A room in total disarray. Bodies lay in all corners of the room, with a pungent odor that was a combination of cigarettes and resin. There was just the faintest hint of death somewhere in the room.
     " John Writhe"
     "Funny. This picture of Wade Keller looks exactly like you." Mister White said pushing an old black and white photo in front of him. The man shown in the picture had much longer hair, but aside from that looked strikingly similar.
     "I...I don't understand. Who is this man?"
Mister White clicked the end of his ballpoint pen and began to write something onto a long tablet. He made sounds under his breath, sounds of accusation or mild interest such as "Uh-huh." or "Mmm, hmm." that angered John.
     "Listen, I know my rights! I want to know why I am here...handcuffed to this blasted chair as though I were some kind of criminal. I am a man of the cloth damn you!"
This brought a sneer to the face of the aggressor known as Mister White's associate. Even Mister White could not help his own accusatory smile, which was marred a bit by real intrigue.
     "You really do believe that, don't you?"

     "What in god's name..."
     "Enough with the God crap! You can play the alias card all you like Mister Keller, Father Writhe-" Mister White began to toss one photo after another at John, naming the victims of each one as he did so, "-Charley Harley, Kolby Kurtins, Venice Perez and three others I have yet been able to tie into you, but in time." He said flustered.
John sat silent and still. Slowly the pieces of twisted logic began to come together.
     "Zing! Now we are getting somewhere. Yes, the Motel."
John's words seemed to perk Mister White up, enough that he offered him a cigarette which he kindly refused.
     "It took us a little while to piece things together, but you made a crucial error in room 666. Fitting I suppose." He reached into a small manila folder and pulled out a gold bullet, sitting it in front of John. "Which came first, Wade. The guilt or the chicken shit?"
     "I don't know what you are talking about!"
His outburst did not go unnoticed by the lurking figure hovering over him. Again, John felt the unforgiving burn of the man's hand on the opposite side of his face.
     "Stop me if you heard this one, Wade. A man, one Wade Keller wakes up in a Motel room with a dead naked hooker on top of him, panics and, through a stroke of luck, finds another innocent man passed out in the room, setting up the poor bastard as the fall guy. He then gets away clean and ruins an innocent man's life, who then finds himself in a weak moment of guilt and confesses to his wife, who then threatens to leave him and tell the authorities about the dead prostitute. The wife doesn't get the chance to do as she threatens, because the husband follows the grief stricken wife to the nearest Motel and bashes her fucking head in, slitting her throat and arranging it all to look like a suicide."
The gaps were filling in John's head like flood waters on a low level plain. Was this all really happening? He was beginning to break out in a cold sweat, which was not helping his appearance or defense with the two men who already had him pegged being as guilty as a Fox inside a chicken coop.
     "My laptop...where is my laptop?"
Again Mister White perked up. He motioned to his associate who produced the laptop as though he had been holding on to it the whole time, waiting for it to be mentioned.
     "I am pleased that you mention this, Mister Keller."
The associate opened the laptop. John waited for the logo to appear. He waited for the insignia of the Holy Bridge. He waited for the thin green line to come online. Instead, the desktop loaded. There were the common icons on most laptops; The Recycle Bin; The IE icon; My Documents; My Computer and a few random files. There was one file however that was placed away from the others and named "Blog" that the associate moved the cursor over, clicking it twice.
     "When we opened this, my first instinct was that you were clearly displaying classic signs of a pathological liar who also suffers from PTSD, but upon reading I have added deluded sociopath to a growing list of mental illnesses."
John was beginning to fidget in his seat. The visions had ceased a bit, but when one flashed across his memory, it was as though he were propelled into the vision as an unseen witness to the horror unfolding around him.
     "Zombies?" He said with a chuckle.
     "It does suggest a possible method of disposing the bodies into the ground, along the same stretch of desert highway you have been traveling over the past month and a half, and then writing about your exploits through your blog, which is rather popular among the crazies."
John shook his head. Kolby Kurtains, event 36B. A struggling writer who found sudden success with a blog he had devised on a whim. His vehicle had been recovered by the authorities, but the body was never found. A missing person case that was destined for the cold case files. I am living a nightmare, he thought.
     "Fine. You have caught me. Considering my...mental status, perhaps then, Mister White-"
     "Please, call me Bryan."
     "-Bryan, perhaps you can tell me how you caught me?"
     "Unassisted Memory Recall. It's just a guess, but I figure we can add Alzheimer's to your mental issues. It's the only thing I can come up with, considering we had nothing to go on with your murderous rampage other than my own speculations. So you can imagine my surprise when you walked right into my office this morning with a full confession. I wasn't sure what to make of it, but that bloody knife there went a long way in convincing me that there was something to your...erratic behavior."

A flash: He found himself standing at the edge of a cliff. In the distance, smoke billowed from a nearby volcano that shook the ground to the point he had to stabilize himself and the knife he held inches from the throat of a man. He remembered feeling immense guilt and pain. He remembered losing all of his faith in all things, the moment the man spoke to him, his words however remained lost in the thunderous noise booming from the volcano, the heavens and the rumbling of the Earth. He remembered a third voice shouting to him, urging him to slit the man's throat. The voice was burdened by the request, but firm about its decision. He recalled the voice saying to him: "Kill him John! Now, before he has a chance to..." To what? He wondered.
The vision was beginning to blur, pulling in the reality of the interrogation room. He could hear Mister White speaking; however, he could not see him or his associate.

John began to seize, his eyes rolled in the back of his head, his arms and legs flung out to his sides. His wrist twisted, the skin tore against the metal ridges of the handcuffs and his teeth chattered loud enough to echo inside the room. The associate gripped him, holding him as best he could until the moment passed. This had not been the first time he had been thrown into protection mode, rather than be the enforcer. Mister White jotted down his notes and lit a cigarette, while waiting for the seizure to subside. John fell limp in the associates arms, placing his head down onto the table, checking his pulse. He looked to Mister White who made the decision to allow him time to recoup. This one had been worse than the others. Even with the evidence and the confession, he still needed to get it all on tape. He took his cigarettes and coffee and got up from his chair.

     "Have a medic check him out. He isn't going anywhere."

The two left and the light switched off, leaving John in the darkness of the interrogation room.

John was awake but dead to the world. The pain, the hopelessness, the insecurity of the unknown. These things suddenly left him. All things had left him, leaving just his soul to linger within the confines of total darkness. From the shadows of his subconscious, a bright light opened up and grew into a being without features, just a brilliant light that took the shape of a person. John heard his voice echo in the darkness.
     "Why have you forsaken me?"
     "He has not forsaken you, John."
He could feel the presence of the Angel nearer to him. A warm gentle hand was felt.
     "I am sorry for your struggles John. There wasn't much I or anyone else could do...then. So much has happened my friend. The world you know suffers. Hell has brought forth its destructive hand and Heaven simply stands idly by, without word from the Our Father. I do not understand it, nor can I wrap my mind around it. Especially since..."
The Angel hesitated. John could hear there was something more, something crucial and perhaps perverse with its words.
     "What is it Grigori?"
     "I will lose his grace if I say anything to you, you know that."
John had never been one to lose his temper, until this moment. He knew his path would be devoid of assistance from God or his blasted Angels of Mercy. He knew his journey would be a lonesome one, and he accepted that. But he was a broken man without direction, further shattered by the events, the Motel and now his displacement, it seemed, in time.
     "Goddamn you Grigori! You know something. You have known something since the day we first met. I saw how you looked into her eyes, and I have seen that same look before. What are you not telling me?"
The light swelled more intensely, so much that John felt as though he were on fire. He forced his mind's eye to remain open, witnessing a women step out from the light that dimmed to a low radiance behind her. She was naked from head to toe, with perfect olive skin that shimmied in the dull glow. Slowly, her wings unfurled from behind, reaching around her thin shoulders covering her chest and waist.
     "It is my duty to serve you as your guardian, but do so without interfering with God's Plan. Appearing alone is enough to banish me from Heaven. How can you ask me to do any more than I have already?"
     "Because you are more than my Guardian. You are an Angel of Mercy and part of God's army. You saw the same thing I did, that volcano was not just an eruption it was the coming of a new age. The age of Dominion, the Genesis Seed! This is much bigger than anything I can address, and you know this. I am but a man!"
The Angel considered this. All signs had pointed to the coming of Lucifer's Son. Enough time had passed, and Hell was a patient place. A slow burning flame, fueled by the sin of man, waiting for the right time to explode. It was as John said, the Age of Dominion. And God was clearly not listening to the prayers of mankind, or those of Heaven. Even Michael went unheard. Her decision was not an easy one; but, a necessary one.
     "I want to tell you a story," Grigori began, "About the day I became an Angel, when I was just a dreamer."

There was a feeling of uncertain consternation shared among John and the Angel. The time lines did not coincide with Grigori's transformation and the accident. How was it possible? How was anything possible? When asked, Grigori explained, as best she could, that time was a boundless oasis of possibilities. For humans, time was a measurement. It was the passage from one action into another that shaped the world, giving it meaning. For Angels, time was not a measurement of movement, but a calculated method of travel through space at any given timeline that did not need meaning in order to exist. It was similar to how they now communicated within John's subconscious. Physically, he was inside the interrogation room, but his spirit had lifted up through the walls and out into the open space. If he wanted, and if he understood what it meant to be Of God, he could open up doorways within himself that could take him to any numbers of places in time. The Motel was the physical manifestation of the infinite unknown. The bible called this, Faith; but, Angels knew it as God Grace.

     "Once I had reached the pinnacle of my faith, when all of my inhibitions and fears and doubts had been removed, and when I finally looked inside myself I knew the words spoken to me were not random, but spoke directly to me. 'The Son of Man will send forth His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom, all stumbling blocks and those who commit lawlessness.' God had called for me. And I answered him."

There were varying ways to interpret God's call, John thought, but becoming an Angel did not fit into his list of enlightenment's he ever studied. He had learned very quickly, within the past few days, that because he did not believe did not make things so. It was time, he realized further, to start asking questions instead of pursuing speculations.

     "Tell me, what did you see that day?"
It wasn't the request that provoked an answer, it was the love she felt that procured insight into her vision. The Angel had kept a secret of its own, a secret that nearly sent her spiraling into the depths of Hell. She never questioned God's will, nor did she stray from the plan that He had provided to all. On that tragic day, however, for reasons that were still a mystery, God's plan was altered by something other than the LORD.
     "I saw a child." She began. Her words quickly soaked with tears as she told John more of her vision. "She was the most beautiful being I have ever laid eyes upon since..."
     "Since what?" John asked apprehensively.
The Angel's lips dreaded each syllable, pursing around the words in contempt, trying to reel them back inside her mouth and failing.
     "I saw the Messiah John...even....felt Him. That is why Baphomet made his deal with you. I did not quite understand, at the time, why he would want your soul; but, he didn't want your soul...did he?"
John's subconsciousness had grown suddenly cold, like opening the door to a giant freezer and feeling its winter kiss steal the warmth from one's face. Grigori could also feel the pain swelling in his eyes, the regret as well as the act that had started it all.
     "Delaina survived the wreck. My legs were crushed beneath the steering column, which kept me from reaching the release button on her seat belt. The car was upside...upside-down and the belt caught around her neck. There was nothing I could do, but watch my fiancee and unborn child suffocate less than an inch from my fingertips. Had I not been drinking, I would never have lost control of the car...or my temper that forced it from the road...Baphomet played my guilt perfectly."
There was a disturbance within John's mind. It was a sense of urgency, trying to pull him back to reality. There was little time left.
     "John, I cannot help you escape, nor can I assist you with your battles. You made a deal with the devil and it is strictly up to you to save face with God. Know this, John Writhe! You are not an ordinary mortal man. Your bloodline is shared with that of the Messiah, and God flows through your veins. Remember that!"

Room 2: The Motel 

The slap was harsh enough that his cheek had welted on its way to swelling twice its size; but, John remained unconscious. There was a shared amount of concern in the room with voices like faint whispers spoke of him possibly being dead, and others that argued that the medic had confirmed otherwise and to try and "stir" him with another backhand. Finally, he felt a rush of frigid air flood his lungs, yanking him from his psychological retreat. John's eyes snapped open, spitting ice water from his mouth.
     "Ah, there you are. You nearly had me worried."
The chill from the water felt nice against the burning of his cheeks, still questioning if he had been speaking with Grigori or if it too was just a figment of his imagination. He was certain of one thing, the man eyeing him was very much real, as were the shots from his associate who took far too much pleasure in others pain.
     "Perhaps we can continue then?"
John eyed the associate, his face shadowed in the background, his thick sausage-like fingers massaged the back of his hand awaiting the order to strike him again. Mister White had lit another cigarette, stirring his coffee as he pushed the recorder closer to John.
     "What is your name?"
John focused on the two way mirror beyond Mister White's bald head.
     "Father John Writhe."
The mirror seemed to ripple, like a wild wind against a flag from one corner to the next. John blinked the dryness from his eyes and looked again. And again, a ripple crawled across the mirror. He could now hear a low humming all around the room. He had heard it before, but could not quite recall where.
     "Did you murder your wife, Sharon Keller?"
He felt his breathing calm. He could feel the hum now in his feet and hands and head. The ripple of the mirror steadily increased. For whatever reason, John realized where he was. Somehow, he had been transported back to the Motel.
A flash: John held the knife close to the throat of the man, begging for his life to be spared. He then felt the hand of some one grab him by the neck and whisper: "Return"
     "No." John replied.
     "My associate and I do not like wasting our time."
The associate slapped John again hard across the mouth. He could feel his bottom lip exposed, tasting blood seeping in from the corner of his mouth.
A flash: The vision was clearer now, the pain searing through his brain like a electrically charged spear. The man held at knife-point was dressed in a dress cassock with the emblem of the Holy Bridge on the front and back. It was Bishop Verrelli pleading for mercy, and the angel Grigori shouting to him to end his life, but why? Again, he heard the voice: "Return."
     "Are responsible for the deaths at the Motel!"
John's head felt as though it were about to burst from the pain, the humming, the assault by the associate and the shouting from Mister White. He tried to return back to his vision, but the voice kept repeating the word over and over again. It was like he was being held prisoner in his own mind, as well as body and spirit. The mirror no longer rattled and the rippling had stopped, but the surface did not reflect. It was now the color of opal, like the mirror had been inverted so that the other side was now seen and with it, the truth was revealed.
John could see the edge of the mountain, the volcano spewed hot molten fury into the air in the distance. Grigori stood in front of the mirror, fear and dread riddled her perfect face, plagued by the unknown thoughts processing inside her.
     "TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO HEAR!" Mister White demanded slamming his coffee cup onto the table shattering it.
Between the second or two it took for the associates fist to bruise John's cheekbone, which, for reasons he could not explain, changed everything.
Grigori shouted muted warning from behind the mirror, reaching inside the glass, pushing through the unstable reality that separated the interrogation room from the rest of the outside world. Her long slender hand looked like a stick trying to push through a balloon, stretching the surface of the glass well beyond its breaking point. This went unnoticed by Mister White and his associate, who both looked suddenly shocked by the force behind the associates punch as it did not do what each had expected. Instead, John spat crimson onto the floor, wiping his bloody lip onto his shoulder, and looked up to the associate.
     "I know you."
This brought pause to the room. John was no longer in control of his person or his thoughts. It was though he were watching a movie from the back of a dark theater, hanging on to every word spoken as the plot unfolded before him. The associate moved like a striking cobra from the darkness, grabbing John by the throat and squeezing, before he had the chance to react. He fought futilely, his tiny fingers no match against the thick fist of his bald attacker, who wore some kind of robe beneath his clothing. Mister White calmly smoked his cigarette, watching his associate with sick pride. He looked through the watering of his eyes, beyond the broad shoulders of the associate to the hand slowly reaching for him. It reminded him a lot of a time long ago, when his own wife needed a helping hand that came just short of heroism. Knowing he would not be able to reach, he simply gave in and relaxed his breathing. If he were to die, he would do so at peace with himself.

Grigori reached across the gap in front of Mister white, who was too transfixed on the murder to notice, grabbing the knife from the envelope and steadying it in her hand. The Angel knew that interfering would lose Grace with The Father, but she was not going to stand by and watch another crucifixion not when there was so much riding on the man she was given the task to Watch Over. Grigori plunged the knife into the associates side. He immediately released his grip, stumbling back against the mirror, feeling the powerful arms of Grigori wrap around him, pulling him through to the other side. Mister White watched in horror, turning to John, still smiling sickly, and then abruptly melted down into a wet pool of goo in his chair. The whole of the interrogation room shook, the walls cracked and peeled, and the humming had reached its sonic crescendo that shattered the handcuffs into shards of glass on the floor. The wall opposite him had crumbled, revealing a door with the number 12 that also crumbled, then another door with a different number that also fell to the ground in chunks of distorted reality. This seemed to go on forever, each door revealing a new number set. Am I in the Motel? He wondered.

Grigori called to him. John turned to face the mirror. The interrogation room was seconds from total collapse, and the only way out seemed to be through the crumbling exit doorways. Much was happening around John. Had he been in the Motel the entire time or was he somehow transported back to the Motel? The air of confusion was still too thick to decipher. Grigori had told him that the blood of the Messiah flowed through him, what did this mean? He looked to the mirror, which had started to crack along its surface. "Please, John, there isn't much time!" Grigori pleaded with him. It was clear to him that the Motel was fading as it had so many times before, wherever it was now and however he had come to be here was only going to leave behind more unanswered questions. John decided then to make the most of his role in whatever Hell was being unleashed, turning for the unstable doorway. He ran as quickly as his legs could carry him. The sound of Grigori's voice faded in the distance between him and the room.

As he ran, the reality of the Motel continued to further diminish. The floor was becoming unstable, like trying to run along a waterbed while balancing one's self enough not to fall over. If he could reach the door, before it had a chance to crumble away, maybe it would lead him down the right path. He worked his feet along the ground, gaining momentum with each thrust of the leg, knowing he had turned his back on what was likely the end of the world behind him. Whatever the Genesis Seed was, it had come and it had done so with the fury of a God. What good were his efforts against a God? Now, however, it was exactly how he had promised to be, spontaneous and unexpected. Before reaching the door that had materialized in front of him, a final thought weighed heavily on his mind. The associates hands were cold, but familiar. Familiar in the same way one knows the sound of another voice in the dark. It was a thought that shook him to his core.

John Writhe stood before the door, humbled by its simplicity, stirred by its numbering and cautiously optimistic about what lay beyond it. A thought managed to crawl into the recesses of his beaten and battered mind. In order to move forward, one must venture back in order to understand. He took a deep breath and reached for the doorknob.

Room 1: The Genesis Seed. 

A hole opened in the middle of the world. From it, a man dropped a great distance down into the open mountainous terrain. The impact was thunderous, sounding like a thousand sticks of dynamite exploding at once. Once the smoke and debris cleared, a hand reached up from the crater, followed by another, pulling itself up from the depths of the world and stood. Mighty wings the color of milk and soft as satin unfurled from the man, reaching far out to his side. In front of him, the world was slowly dying. The volcano screams warning in the distance and lightning scattered along the night sky, threatening harm to any who came within reach. The man reached at his shirt and ripped it from his chest, tossing it onto the ground beside him. His wings readied, lifting him into the air several feet above the ground, hovering for a slight moment. It dropped a rosary from its hand, and then launched itself higher and higher into the dark clouds overhead. On the ground, the shirt rolled with the wind, hanging for a brief moment with the words Holy Bridge emblazoned on the front, and then fell into the deep crater.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Omega Room: Dark

 "No, please God, NO!"

The shout reached out from the mangled car that had spun out of control on the wet pavement, swerved around an oncoming car, rolled onto its side several times before wrapping itself around a tree that cut through the vehicle like a hot knife slicing through warm butter. The back of the car erupted in flames, licking at the falling  raindrops and hissing. Fuel poured from the gas tank spreading throughout the wreckage, along the roadside and into the front end of the twisted metal that once had been the family SUV. Amazingly, the two occupants inside the vehicle were still alive. Very much in distress, bleeding heavily from the shattered glass windshield, the airbags deploying and shards of debris, but alive. The driver, fading in and out of consciousness, unbuckled his seat beat, but found that his legs had been crushed by the steering column and could not move. His passenger moaned and muttered something from her lips, but then fell unresponsive to his calls. Adding to his disorientation was the fact the chunk of metal was laying in the middle of the road on its roof, fighting the urge to pass out, he reached for the latch of his passenger's seat belt to try and shore up the pressure of the belt around her neck, but his fingers came a half an inch short from freeing her, and being crushed by the steering column there was no wiggle room. 

     "No, please God, NO!" He shouted as he tried to stretch his arm, wishing he could dislocate his shoulder in some way to provide the needed length.
He could only watch as his fiancee was slowly strangled by the safety belt that initially saved her life, only to prolong her suffering and steal it from her later. 
The hissing grew louder in his ear, seeing that the rest of the car was beginning to catch fire. Not having long to make peace with himself and to ask hid God for forgiveness, he shut his eyes and began to pray. 

     "He can't hear you, John." A voice said outside the busted driver side window. 

John opened his eyes and turned his head. Outside, a figure stepped through a waist high wall of fire and sat down outside the burning car. The intense heat had already dried the blood on John's head and he could smell his own hair burning, as well as the flesh and clothing of not just himself, but also of his passenger. Curiously, he did not feel any pain, perhaps become the impact had numbed him or maybe shock had already set in from his crushed legs. The nightmare continued to unfold, knowing he would never wake from it, John spoke to his hallucination.
     "He hears all."

     "Trust me, Mister Goody-Goody has much more going on to worry about than to listen to the pleas of one meat bag and his-" the figure leaned down and looked beyond John to the woman whose flesh had started to bubble and peel back from the bone. "-increasingly ugly plaything." 
     "Go away and leave me to die!" 
     "John, you know as well as I that you do not want to die now or anytime in the near future. Which brings me to my point. I want to give you back your life. Turn the wheel of time back an hour or so, and let you make the right choices to avoid this...unfortunate scene. All I ask is that you forfeit a life of servitude. Which, I promise you, will be a lot longer than the current one you have."
     "You're a figment of my imagination. A result of my dying brain triggering visions to assist me as I burn alive. You're not even here..."
Suddenly John felt the burn against his skin, his scalp and face felt like someone slowly tore away the skin, stretching the nerves until each one snapped individually. It was the worse pain he had ever felt, and it shook him from his diluted frame of mind long enough to realize whoever it was that sat outside the vehicle was not only effected by the blaze, but seemed to enjoy it, even cupping a flame into his hand as he waited for a reply to his request. It was then that John knew God might have heard his prayer, but someone far more nefarious had answered it. 
     "Please, make it stop!" 
     "Would love to John, but I first need an answer from you."
     "Yes! Yes, goddamn it. Just make it stop!"

The being was pleased with this, but his pleasure would not last long one the rain ceased to pour and the flames stifled by an unseen presence. The being hissed like an angered Viper and faded into the darkness. The pain returned to John, cringing and writhing in uncontrollable fits of agony. The new being stood as he heard the pleas emit from the smoldering vehicle, "Why! We had a deal! We. Had. A. DEAL!" 

The Angel spread his wings and pushed frigid air across the wreckage. The air burned his face and arms and ragged legs for a moment, and then he was numb once more. Pain free and able to clear his mind from the wreck, the being he spoke to, the anguish and regret he felt for all of it happening in the first place. John felt himself lift out from the seat fade through the underbelly of the overturned vehicle. He floated above the crash site, looking down at a bright ball of light with the faintest outline of a being inside its luminous aura. He watched as the being of light knelt down on the passenger side and looked inside. He could hear the air escape in the form of a gasp from its lips, along with the words, "Ava Miracula".

John felt whole again. He was surprised to find that he was no longer trapped inside the car. In fact, he was no longer as the scene of the accident or even in the same area where the accident had taken place. His body had been transported and was now encased within a cast mold inside a room that, as far as he could tell, was surrounded by mirrors. Mirrors on the ceiling, mirrors on the floor, mirrors on the walls and other devices made with reflective surfaces like the bedside table and the wardrobe closet. Seeing himself laid up in a hospice bed in various angles of the room made him uncomfortable, but it was something his eight month stay would eventually get used to over time. 

The first month was the hardest. No one came into the room. His food and water were provided intravenously and his bandages and bedpan were changed while he slept, sometimes against his will but fighting a constant morphine drip was always going to go against any attempts made to stay awake. Twice a week, his cast was filled with an ice cold heavy liquid that covered his entire body and face, never to the point of not being able to breathe but, when wrapped in bandages and trapped inside a hardened body cast, one could easily feel a little claustrophobic and begin to panic. John chose to remain silent, it felt better and in a sense provided him with a kind of cryptic living coffin of melancholy that he thought was more than deserved. 

Inside this four week personal journey, he found solace in the events that lead to his current debilitated state. He forgave himself, to an extent, for what he had done on that night, how he and he alone had murdered his fiancee and unborn child. He had already promised himself that he would never again drink another drop of alcohol and, provided his body did not become addicted to the morphine, lead a life of the straight and narrow. He had also decided to live a life of celibacy, falsely labeling himself as too immature and insecure to hold a meaningful relationship as a way to cope with the loss of Delaina and too further punish himself. He looked up to the cast shell of his body in the mirror above and decided then that John Writhe was dead. He had died alongside the woman he so loved and the child they were to share together, and when he was able to move freely on his own again, he would be someone else. Like the mirrors that surrounded him, he would become a reflection of his former self.

Late one evening, John woke to a vibrating hum in the room. He could see from above a being rise up from the mirrored floor around his bed and approach him. He was not afraid, because he instantly recognized the Angel and his beautiful wings. It was also the first visitor he had had since the accident and could use the company, regardless of who or what it was.  The Angel stepped up to the bed and placed his hand onto the cast. 
     "Hello again, John." The Angel said. 
The Angel's wings spread out as it sat on a cushion of air, hovering with each powerful thrust of his wings. 
     "You no doubt have many questions and I am afraid that I can not answer any of them, at least not to your liking. If I may speak the truth, even now I am breaking my oath by appearing to you. And I want you to know that, had you been anyone else, I would have remained hidden from you and allow your life to play out as He intended. However, I can not stand idly by and watch what is coming and not try to aid you."
John listened and allowed enough silence to pass to properly relay his confusion to the Angel. 
     "Aid me...with...what." John struggled. He had almost forgotten the sound of his own voice. 
     "With finding God, John...before it's too late."

The Omega Room: Darkness falls
In the conference room sat a long table that stretched from one side, all the way to the other side of the room with two chairs at either end. A red satin tablecloth ran the length of the tabletop, filled with a variety of orderves; kebabs; a dozen kinds of meats; soups; souffles; salads; breads; rolls; fruits; desserts and a main course dished at each end of the table of a full roasted boar spread out among a gold platter with a slightly charred apple in its mouth. On the end closest to the door was the honored guest, dressed in robes stained with a thousand years worth of bloodshed, and at the other end the host who kept to the shadows as much as he could, wearing a vested tuxedo complete with diamond encrusted cufflinks that provided a spark of light at his scaly wrist when none was available. The two were very powerful and motivational beings in human history, although often misquoted or poorly portrayed by some of the most inspirational hands in modern art. One figure, who spoke with a slight lisp, even considered selling the soul of Raphael to one of Lucifer's Doppelgangers in exchange for two gold coins; but even the devil knew better than to trust the soul of a man who could capture another spirit inside the walls of a deep cavern, such as Raphael.

They each engaged the other in small talk as they sampled one dish after another, sizing each other up as they waited for the remaining panel of deities to join them. Slowly, a new face would materialize at the table and patiently await the right opportunity to join in the conversation, until the entire table had been lined with Demons, except for one. This Guest was unlike the others. He was not a Demon nor a God, but very powerful and often storied throughout many books in human history as the general to one of the greatest armies in the known cosmos. He wore a rusted iron chest plate, a clothed shirt beneath it and chain mail leggings that ended at tipped steel toed boots. He took a handful of grapes and ate them as he listened.

     "What of the Genesis Seed?" The Host asked.
Someone answered: "He will rise as planned."
     "And of the Priest?"
Someone said: "The Bishop has initiated a response."
     "Did he not do that already and fail?"
Someone said: "The Assassin was sent in."
     "Really?" the Host said with surprised interest. "Is he really that much of a presence that a Demon is needed?"
Another raspy voice answered: "Hesss been chosssen by The Lamb persssonally. He isss more than a sssimple man."
     "So I have heard. Very well then, eat, drink and devour in our approaching victory. In less than a week, the Genesis Seed will rise and bring with it a new beginning. We will finally take back what should have been ours from the start, and there shall be no offensive from Him this time around."
One of the guest who blended in with the others, without appearing as one of them, made a faint motion with his hand that brought the attention of the table solely upon him, even that of the Host who was not surprised by his visitation.
     "Because He is not among you, doesn't make him any less a presence nor foe against your unholy transgressions."
     "Ah, Michael." the Host said standing and bowing respectfully. "How nice of you to join. I am afraid, however, this matter does not fall within your jurisdiction. The meatbags have forsaken you and your God for a more familiar one whom they can all relate. A fleshy leader of men, with godlike grace and modern appeal. This realm no longer requires the likes of your kind."
Michael smiled and drank from his cup.
    "Haima Oinos, is it? Do you still procure it from the lips of virgins or just extract it from any animal you can place your claws on, Hades."
The God of the Underworld sprung forward from his chair, erupting into vicious flames that extended out from each side of him. Hades spat hellfire from his lips as he reprimanded his uninvited guest.
    "You shall show respect while in my presence Archangel!"

Michael jumped back from the table, his wings opening behind him, sweeping him from the ground in a great rush of wind.

    "You're more of a myth than your replacement, Hades. I fear not this place or anyone within this room. The LORD is my Shepperd, and my weapon which can not be defeated by the likes of demigods and demons."

    "Lucifer is a pawn with a chip on his shoulder! The Genesis Seed will correct that and return my well as the throne of your King. Speaking of which, Where is your God now Michael?"

    "Listening." He said lifting higher into the air, absorbing through the ceiling, hoping like hell that his faith was stronger than his beliefs.

    "We shall see."

The table became a haven of chatter. Demons consorted with other Demons as their masters spoke with Hades who listened from his shadowy place among the table. But it was the words of one that whispered louder than all the rest, echoing inside his mind and controlling his thoughts as though he were a puppet to its will. It was the true threat, the actual God, the King of Kings...the Alpha God.

"None of them know. Not even the Archangel. What will befall the heavens and the earth will come as a thief in the night. Let them have their hero, for when the Genesis Seed sprouts, all will kneel before their one true God."

The voice faded as if it were part of a dream in which Hades could not quite remember, but knew had happened because the emotions, the fear and the worry, remained heavy on his black heart. The rule of rumor had dominated mortals and immortals and when the rapture of the Genesis Seed was finally upon them, the slate of time would be wiped clean...of everything.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Alpha Room: Light

Long ago someone cracked the code to the cosmic safe that allowed Infinity to share its secrets. The method will always be lost inside the mind of the all powerful being who discovered its complexity and mastered its make up in how all things are and always will be. It is said that The Supreme Being is not understood, meaning it does not have to be in order to know it is there. Organics for example (the living and the known lifeforms both discovered and yet to be discovered) must have one, if not all, of its sense in working order, for the body to live and accept life, whereas The Supreme Being's only focus is on creation. The elements, those that needed to blend in just the right way to create life, stirred in the cauldron of space and brought with it Existence. Pleased by this, the Supreme Being continued to create. It is as though The Supreme Being mothered life, made sure it hatched, gave it plenty of food and water, taught it to survive through instincts and pushed it from its cosmic nest. The important part then has been foretold already and tested time and time again-Its name is life.

It is not known why life is or the purpose for such a wonderful gift, but there have been numerous people who have studied just this, and there are equally as many who have tracked just the opposite-Death. The Supreme Being gave life, this much was understood; however, why was death just as important a process? So many questions with so few answers, why, one could spent a lifetime trying to work out the reason for just one tiny fact. Why Am I? Then there is the question of is there an afterlife? Death has become an easy study. You live and then you die. This fact over time changed, perhaps due to its gloomy ending or Matter-of-Fact abrasiveness, but, nonetheless, nowadays the question has become what is life like after life. And that is where the Motel comes in.

Father John Writhe has spent the better of three decades in pursuit of knowledge. A faith based knowledge has provided some answers to him, but nothing concrete. Not even the knowledge of Grigori and other Angels whom have visited him in the past few years ever satisfied the thirst for truth in all of the lies he has uncovered over time. This is partially due to all Angels creed to the father, which states "He who desecrates the Oath of the Lord, shall fall from his grace." and the Oath has never been disclosed to Father Writhe. Even if Grigori were to share this with him, the language would fall on deaf ears. Other than the Oath, it is the hatred that all Angels share with Organics. Not the same hatred humans so often display towards one another, but a kind of jealous hatred that is a double edged sword. On one side, there is the love He has for the Organics, and the other that is their freedom of choice. Angels, though powerful, are as all things prior to The Supreme Being a thought. They are created, just as the Organics, but without Free Will.
They must serve Him. They do so knowing Him and having godlike abilities, where humans only know of Him  and strive to be like Him.

The road to the next destination, the Motel was supposed to appear, was a long one. He would not arrive for another nine hours, this after driving already for much of the night. His eyes had grown heavy, feeling like tiny anvils had been hung from his eyelids. Coffee no longer had any effect on the extreme tiredness in his body that was felt down to the bone. Not knowing when the event would happen, he desperately searched for a means to continue down the empty highway; but, he could no longer drive safely. He was just about to pull over to the side of the road, when he passed a sign that promised food and rest within three miles. Father Writhe opened his laptop. The cab of the truck lit with a blue hue. He pressed a button and the screen changed to one that displayed a symbol.
He then moved the cursor over the symbol and clicked on it.
The screen then faded to black. A thin green line moved across the center of the screen.
     "Hello John."
     "I have gone as far as I can, anything beyond this would be foolish and harmful. I am going to sleep for a few hours and then continue before sunset."
     "You are human, John. We do not expect you to place yourself in harms way."
     "I expressed my concern to the Bishop. I hope he passed it along."
     "The sentiment is noted. The Lord Be with you."
     "And also with you." He replied dryly.
The green line thinned and the symbol returned. Father Writhe now had anger pressing him onward to the Motel where a much earned pillow waited.

Room 20 
Clearly, it all was a dream. There were reasons this assumption was accurate. First, the players performing their roles to perfection were dead, had been for ten years now. Martha Jenkins, his mother to those not familiar with the name, was sitting at a dinning room table, filled with an assortment of foods, his father Daren sat next to her and across from him was DelainaDelaina to him.

The next clue was the scene itself. It was Thanksgiving and the last time he ever saw either of his loved ones alive. The event that forever altered his destiny, losing those he loved most, which took him to Vatican City and given an audience with the Pope, his advisers and an unknown figure who took to the shadows like A Cockroach exposed to the light. Part of him wanted to focus on the dark figure, but the sequence of the dream would not allow it. Whisked back to the dinner table, he listened to the words that had haunted him for more than a decade now.

     "So-" Martha was saying, "-Have you set a date yet?"
Theirs eyes met with a smile drawn across each of their faces.
     "I was thinking June." Delaina replied.
     "Oh? Daren and I married in June, you know."
     "Yes mom. In fact, we were thinking the 16th."
The table fell silent. There was a sudden rush of excitement. Martha beamed and smiled ear to ear. June the 16th, the same day she married her husband of 35 years. There could not have been better news for her.
     "There is something else."
     "Yes. We...John and I are going to be parents."
Martha blushed heavily at the news. Her only child had blessed her with her first grandchild. And just when she thought things could not get any better.
     "Well done, John." His father said standing and raising his glass. "To my son John and his beautiful fiancee Delaina!"
They all raised their glasses and toast to one another. "Na zdrowie!"

John then heard the sounds of a baby crying in the distance. He opened his eyes and found himself on the couch inside a hospital room. He rose from the couch and noticed a woman, flooded in hot white light from a nearby window, tending to a baby inside its crib. He felt cold. He could see his breath steam from the end of his nose like he had awoke inside a large freezer rather than a hospital room. He stood and carefully approached the woman who held the same stature as Delaina. Her hair hung down her back and held a magnificent sheen just as he remembered. He reached for her and was about to speak when another deep growling voice called out to him from behind.
     "Hello, Father."
He turned to the demon perched atop the end of a chair, his tail curling around the back of the chair like a viper in search of prey. His mighty wings covered his arms and chest, hugging him securely as he rest on the chair as though he were a bird on a wire. Beautiful horns protruded from the top of his head and curved at the ends into fine points, and he held a curious marking on the side of his face. He knew exactly who this was and it frightened him to his core.
     "Baphomet! You cannot harm me demon, and I banish you in the name of-"
     "Spare me with the jargon Father. Your words and their meaning have no effect on me here."
     "My dreams are my own!"
     "Indeed. However, I was not speaking of your dreams meat puppet."
Father Writhe considered this. It would explain the alteration of events. It also explained how the demon was able to tempt him in the unconscious state, which meant...He was not where he thought he was.
     "I stopped at a motel along my way. There is no way, that is not possible."
     "Why fight it? Look at her John. LOOK AT HER!"
Baphomet's words pierced through him like jagged spear tips. He turned and faced his fiancee, her face mauled and disfigured in ways that brought him to his knees, vomiting as he controlled the pain from rising up from his stomach.
     "I could have saved her. You could have saved her...and your...Daughter."
     "Shut up! She was only 8 weeks pregnant when..."
     "Does it matter? Look who the informant is, John. I do not need fancy technology to know the results ahead of time." Baphomet smiled at this.
The flashes had begun to work there way back. Quick shots of rain soaked roads, poor vision, too much alcohol and celebration...the...discussion that took place during this. There was nothing he could have done. It was, after all, an accident.
     "You think you can break my will demon. You have tried before, and you failed. Just as you fail now."
Baphomet leaped from his perch. He walked over to the woman and ran a sharp claw under her chin, licking it clean.
     "Do you remember that night? When you sat trapped inside that car, Delaina unresponsive to your calls, smelling gasoline charge up into your nostrils. Do you remember the smell of it, John? How it caught flame and  threw the tail end of the car into a ball of gorgeous fury that engulfed both you, your wife and that lovely unborn child."
Father Writhe charged after Baphomet, who held out a hand and stopped him dead in his tracks without ever touching him.
     "DID IT HURT FATHER? I RECALL GUT-WRENCHING HOWLS FOR YOUR GOD AND HIS MERCY. TO SPARE YOUR LOVELY LITTLE WHORE AND CHILD FROM THE PERILS OF DEATH AND TAKE YOU INSTEAD!" Baphomet took a deep breath. His growl rattled through Father Writhe and sent the charred Delaina to her knees in fear. The child's cries grew louder now. Each sob echoing off the walls in the room.
     "I can still give it all back to you. I can take away the pain and give you back those lost years, remove you from the services of the Creed and that godforsaken city. It will burn, John. You know this deep inside. There is nothing to stop the approaching tide. You have seen it. You are living it now. Just ask, and I will give back what you desire most in life." Baphomet reached for John's hand.
He eyed the scaly hand before him and looked to Delaina, begging him to accept the offer and free her from the dread, the pain of her wounds, the constant screams of their unborn child tearing at her insides even now.
That was the thing about Baphomet, his promises were ironclad. He could do exactly as promised. He could give him back Delaina and their unborn child. He could bend time and space and place him back into that dinner table as if it were the first time...and it would happen all over again. Not even God could undo what time carved out in the cosmic blueprint of life. This knowledge, given to him by Grigori many years back, before the flames burned away the last remaining life in him was key to Baphomet's delusions of grandeur. It was the only element of God that John actually understood. The Alpha (life) and Omega (death) were one in the same but separate in function. Once gone, there was no coming back. There was just the next step in his cosmic plan.
     "Go to hell Baphomet!"
Delaina screeched like a banshee, lunging for him with nails like spikes and teeth sharp as tacks. Father Writhe jumped back and started to run, but there was no place to go. It was just as Baphomet said. The Motel was uncommon ground. Anything was possible. So, instead of running, he simply placed his hands together and started to pray.

The bitterness in the room faded, replaced with a warm gentle glow that rained down over Father Writhe, Baphomet and the tortured soul of Delaina. Although it all happened within the blink of an eye, Father Writhe could see the events unfold one by one. Delaina instantly stopped her pursuit, the moment her charred skin felt the light, her face showing the hurt and the anger and the forgiveness that she never had the chance to give. Baphomet could only watch, unable to interfere, powerless with his malcontent and helpless in recovering what had been stolen from him. There were rules within rules. The Motel was impartial to good and evil, which Baphomet took advantage of. The trap had been set and the Rabbit caught. It was clear, with the interference of the Angel, there was much more to the priest than even he had thought.

     "Regardless of your protection, priest, you can not avoid the inevitable darkness that looms on the horizon. You cannot fight sin with sin. Even you know this." Baphomet spat onto the floor. The spittle changed into a handful of worms that bored into the floor.

Baphomet spun into a cloud of darkness and, like his plans, dwindled away into obscurity. Father Writhe unshielded his eyes and looked into the face of Delaina. Her face was no longer a reflection of death, but the vibrant beauty he remembered from long ago.


She smiled. It was all that he required from her. Had she have spoken it would only been regretful tears. This would be permanent for them both. The singed face of death had been removed, replaced by the face he had loved. The crying child had been lost to the radiance of her presence. He knew then that her tortured soul had finally been released. As she blended into the aura flooding them, he knew he would see her again...someday. Father Writhe then woke from his sleep, the sheets saturated with his sweat, and cupped his face into his hands. He tried to fight it, but lost the battle and wept.

     "I'm sorry you had to go through that." The voice of Grigori said.
The Angel sat on the side of the bed. His eyes looked eternities away from being in the room. They did not sparkle as much as they gleamed with a constant sadness about them. His words were heavy and his heart an anvil of responsibility.
     "You told me she was not suffering."
     "Yes. I did. And I can only ask for your forgiveness in lying to you. It was...necessary."
     "Seems the Lord works in deception, while working in his mysterious ways."
     "If that were so, He would not be the only one."
Father Writhe looked to the angel: "What do you mean by that?"
     "Baphomet mentioned fighting sin with sin. What did he mean by that?"
Father Writhe pushed off the covers and rolled out from the bed. He stepped into the bathroom to shield his face, knowing Grigori already knew more than he was supposed too, trying to look at the man in the mirror as he explained.
     "Baphomet made a bargain with me, prior to you arriving. I was desperate to save her, to save our child...I...have something he wants and was about to return it to him, but then you appeared."

Grigori rubbed his chin thoughtfully. He then said: "And this...something you speak of is important enough to bring a Doppelganger to the surface. What are you not telling me, John?"

Father Writhe grabbed his backpack from the floor and turned for the door. Upon leaving, he turned to the Angel with a stern gaze. His words crisp and laced with spite that Grigori was not clear on who the spite was meant for.
     "The Clergy too work in mysterious ways, my friend."

Father Writhe slammed the door of the truck and sat fuming behind the wheel. He unpacked his laptop from the backpack and opened it. When the emblem faded and the green line crawled across the screen, he spoke: "According to my data, I am at the location of the event. The troubling part of this is that I do not remember getting here. Last night, after my communication to you, I pulled off at a Motel nearly a hundred miles from the coordinates you gave. According to my readings this morning, I am not where I thought I had been. What in the hell is going on?"

He waited for nearly two minutes under the hot morning sun for an answer.

     "Were you able to log the event?"
This was not the response he had expected. He spoke before he had a chance to edit himself: "I was the damn event!"
     " can confirm the existence of the Motel?"
Father Writhe looked up from the screen and noticed that the Motel he had just emerged from was no longer there. Gone within a blink of an eye, leaving no trace of its being behind, no imprints in the ground as far as he could tell, the Motel never was. If he had not seen it and experienced it for himself, he would have denied it ever being there just as he did several times before.
     "John. The Motel, is it there?"
     "Not anymore."
He clicked off the screen and raised the next set of coordinates. Once his path was marked, he turned on the truck and sped back onto the road in a cloud of dust. There was nothing but road in the rear view mirror, and the faint dust cloud where tire found pavement. As the truck hurried along the highway, a thought came to mind. He recalled an old conversation between himself and the Angel, Grigori had mentioned "The Supreme Being mothered life, made sure it hatched, gave it plenty of food and water, taught it to survive through instincts" that he did not quite understand until now. Instincts. Like faith, instincts was raw and driven solely by emotions and impulses. Considering this, he slammed his foot on the brake and sent the truck into a wild spin that took it off the road nearly upended it inside a trench. There were two more events remaining, each one two hundred miles from the other. He had been running to each one in order, never at random and always at the order of his superiors. He closed his eyes and there she was, Delaina, smiling happily. Within this moment of peace, a choice was made. The truck pulled out onto the road and barreled in the opposite direction. For the first time, John Writhe was acting on instinct alone.

Far from the events of the desert plains, a voice spoke from the darkness: "That cursed Angel reared his blessed head again! I recall something about "guaranteed" success the last time we spoke, Bishop Verrelli."
The Bishop dropped to his knees. He eyed the partial hooves jutting out from the shadows, swallowing his fear and, ironically, praying this would not be his last moments.
     "I can only offer my apologies, My Lord. We did everything we could to mask his presence from the Guardian."
     "If you are to make Archbishop, you might give more attention to detail." The voice said, "The knife remains with him, and now his bitch has been released from her rotting bed of purgatory. His faith no doubt rockets off the charts. See to it that this high of his does not impede upon our main goal. In a month, my son will walk among them all, and chaos will spread throughout like prolonged napalm. The world will burn and not one goddamn soul will see the light at the end of the you understand me?"
     "I will see to Father Writhe, personally."
Bishop Verrelli felt the intense heat against his face, a reminder of things to come if he were to fail again. Behind him a bald man stood silently, dressed in brown robes holding a briefcase in one hand. There were words tattooed on both sides of his neck. On one side, "In Hoc" and on the other, "Signo Vinces" Words that have shaped the world for thousands of years.
     "Father Writhe has become a thorn in the side of progress. See to it that you surgically remove it."
The man nodded slowly, and then promptly left the room.
Bishop Verrelli looked out the large oval window that gave way to the statue of Saint Andrew and the grottoes. Everything he knew would soon change. It would change for the ware, and all who did not serve the Dark Prince would forever burn. He knew firsthand the power of Lucifer and his doppelgangers. Unlike God, he had been visited by several incarnations of the Fallen Angel. And like Adam and Eve, he had become tempted by his presence and his promise. It was hard to deny that which stood before you, and harder to ignore its wishes.  He took his rosary and wrapped them around his hand, kissing the crucifix on the end. Even in the darkest of times, he still found himself clinging to old habits.