Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chapter 4

It’s a well known cop rule that things will go wrong both when you do and don’t expect them too. The only difference being that worse and deadlier things happen when you aren’t expecting them. Turns out being an Angel doesn’t change any of that. In fact, it’s even worse when you’re an Angel because so many more things can go wrong on a much grander scale. The biggest problem we have as Angels is that unless it’s supernatural, we cannot affect the world directly; that is, we are not allowed to directly change human behavior. Heavenly Angels can, but even they don't as much as they used to, at least, that's what the rumors are.

No matter what we do to try and show someone the right way, they have Free Will. It’s God’s greatest gift to his children. The Heavenly Angels don’t have it, and many say that is what finally drove Samael to fall, though there are as many different theories for The Fall as there are years since it happened. We got outside to see what the matter was, and, of course, the victim, Jean Martinez, was on top of the building. In a second we were up there with her. We have permission to intervene as much as possible when it comes to preserve the most valuable and precious thing in the Universe; life. We do this through a basic Angel gift, Mind Speech. You know that little voice that told you to stop walking right before that truck blew through the stop sign when you were busy staring at that girl’s ass? Yeah, that was us.

This is too nice a night to kill yourself.
Dramatic scenes like this usually take place someplace high up. Well, that part was established; we were on the roof of the 12-story building we had just been in the basement of. But everything else was all wrong. The wind wasn’t blowing dramatically; in fact it was unnervingly still. The sounds of the city wafted up from below us, as well as the sound of the police rushing upstairs to try and save the young woman who now was standing on the edge of the roof. There was no lightening and thunder either; the sky was clear as a bell. In fact, if it wasn't for all the blood and horror, it would have been a beautiful night. The lack of dramatic music to accompany the scene also left me with the feeling that something was absent. Real life often lets us down in so many ways, but there was the life in danger, and that’s all that mattered.

"You have to stop, this isn’t what you want to do”, I told her, “You have a lot to live for, and you can make it through this. You’re a strong woman and you can survive what has happened here.”

“No I can’t”, she said aloud, “It’s all my fault. I killed him. I made him hurt me. If I was better, it wouldn’t have happened. I should have been stronger. I was a bad girlfriend, and I deserved what happened to me. I made him do it, and now he’s dead because of me.”

“She‘s still under the effects of the ritual.” Chike had a plan,. I could see it in his eyes. Thank God he did, because I hated talking suicidal people down, even though I had had some success with it, it took too much out of me. I usually don’t sleep for a few days afterward. “Mary Beth, you know the Dispel Gift, right?” She quickly nodded her assent. “Good. If we both concentrate, perhaps we can reduce the power of the Ritual enough that Joe’s words can have some effect. Are you ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” She took a position on Jean’s right, and Chike was on her left. In unison they chanted “Ayin, Samekh, Waw.” As they performed the hand seals the air around Jean began to shimmer, and bits of reddish energy emanated from her and dissipated into the air. I knew it was now or never.

“Jean, listen to me; you are not going to jump, this is wrong, you KNOW it is wrong. Before all of this happened you were a functioning, strong-willed girl. If you do this, it’s permanent. It... that down there... was not your fault, there’s nothing you could do. Before, there were forces at work that were entirely beyond your control. But right now, this, THIS you can turn around, THIS you can control, you can live your life. You can reverse all of the damage that’s been done. Listen to me, it’s not your fault!”

“It is my fault. I’m the reason he’s dead. I don’t deserve to live.”
“You do deserve to live! God gave you the gift of life, which mean’s you deserve it! God doesn’t make mistakes!” Man, I hoped she was religious; I hadn’t had time to check beforehand. Chike and Mary Beth chanted harder; they’re faces showed the strain of their exertion. Whatever this ritual was, it was powerful, more powerful than the combined effort of two Angels.

She tottered on the edge, staring down at the ground, longing to join it. “All my fault, all my fault… I don’t deserve to live, I shouldn’t live. I want to end it, I can’t live this way….”

“Joseph, it isn’t working, we are losing her. You have to join in. The three of us, maybe… Mary Beth is still tired from the Gifts she used before.” “Chike I suck at Soul Gifts. I would be more harm than help!” “You want her to have hope and faith in the future and you don’t have hope and faith in yourself?!”

Damn, I hate it when he points out my hypocrisy. It’s his most annoying trait. Behind us I could hear cops coming up the stairs. I knew their words would not be able to break through the spell, and she would definitely jump if they tried to approach her. We were running out of time. “Alright, but if this backfires, you’re taking the hit.” It took me a couple of seconds to remember the hand seals, then “Ayin, Samekh, Waw! Jean, snap out of it!” I unfurled my wings (man I will never get used to this) and focused on breaking the Demon’s hold on this girl. Mary Beth peaked an eye open and saw me helping out with the Gift. She seemed to get her second wind, and let her wings fly as well. Soon Chike did the same, and our combined effort started to have an effect on the girl. Bigger streams of red energy started to float from her like steam from a hot summer road. We reinforced each other, and the circle we made filled the troubled soul with the Light of God. After about 5 minutes of this, enough of the evil energy had been lifted for the poor young woman to regain some of her self control. She stepped away from the ledge, and fainted; right into the arms of a rather handsome young police officer.
“You see that” I said to Chike, “He’s falling in love.” Human emotions are as visible to angels as sunlight is to flowers. We can look at someone from 20 feet away and know how they’re feeling; it’s another one of those cool little innate gifts we have. And this guy was definitely falling in love with Jean, which was impressive, because she looked like hell right now.

Chike smiled his huge self-satisfied smile, “Yes, I see it. It will take many years, but together with that young man her heart and soul will heal from what’s happened to her today. We did well, we did very well. Isn’t that right Mary… where is she?”

We looked around and saw Mary Beth flat on her back, staring at the sky. I think I really did underestimate the incredible strain she had put on herself to help this case. She maybe an annoying know-it-all, but when the feces hit the fan, she left it all on the field. She was exhausted to the point where she had almost used up most of her Divine Energy. She laid there looking quite content however.
“Did we do it? Did we save her?”

I nodded in assent and helped her up. “Yeah kid, we did it. She’s alive.”
Good. I’m going to sleep for the next century, if that’s OK with the two of you. I don’t have enough energy left to be able to tell how many fingers I’m holding up right now.” Chike got her other arm and helped her up as well. “You’re not holding up any fingers child.” “See, that’s how exhausted I am. So what do we do now? We saved the day right? We can go home.”

I thought about this and then looked over at Jean again as the paramedics were working on her. Though we had saved her, she was still malnourished and had been through a hell of an experience. Her body was weak and she would need to spend some days in the hospital. I looked through her, to her spirit, and saw that after all she had been through it was still exceptionally strong and surprisingly pure for someone in New York City. Hm, I thought, she must be from Jersey. “Guys, we aren’t done yet. This woman has an exceptionally strong spirit, and I bet the Demon who did this was counting on collecting it when she eventually offed herself. I doubt he’s going to let it go this easily, especially after all of the effort he put into getting her.

Chike nodded, “I had noticed that as well. I think we should put in for Guardian Duty until we can get some other people on this. We definitely need backup.”

The greatest innovation humanity brought back to Heaven was technology. Now in the beginning, Angels invented technology, along with all of the other knowledge there is in the Universe. The University of Heavenly Knowledge is in the 6th Heaven, and it’s where all of God’s laws are researched and written down. They have lots of blueprints for technology that is thousands of years ahead of what humanity has thought of. But when Adam bit the apple, it merely gave humanity the ability to think, not the actual knowledge; that we had to learn for ourselves. The by-product of this is that on Earth, we think of what we need; in Heaven, they don’t really need anything, so they do research for research sake. So it had never occurred to Heavenly Angels to say, develop cell phone technology, because they didn’t really need it. When the EBA’s started to complain about not being able to communicate freely with headquarters and each other, a wise old soul named Alexander Graham Bell suggested that we utilize Angelic Technology to make cell phones that would connect the EBA’s on missions with the HA’s in headquarters. Long story short, we all have snazzy little golden cell phones to keep in contact with each other with. Who’s on an Angel’s phone book list? Wouldn’t you like to know?

“Muriel? It’s Chike. We have a big problem. We saved a soul, which is the good news, but the bad news is that we saved the soul from Blackwell. Yes, Elijah Blackwell. You’re sending Avengers? Is that Necessary? Ok, if you believe it is, then we will stay out of their way. OK, OK, yes, we’ll be on Guardian Duty until notified otherwise. We’ll report again in 4 hours.”

Chike closed his phone and sighed heavily. I knew exactly how he felt. “What’s wrong guys? I thought this was a happy time, we saved the day, right?” The three of us floated down to the ground again, where several uniformed officers were being chewed out by their lieutenant for letting the only witness in a brutal homicide case wander up to the rooftop of the building and nearly kill herself. I wondered too how the girl managed to get away from everyone’s attention, but that was a mystery for another day. Right now we had to concentrate on keeping this girl alive until we broke the hold of the ritual over her for good.

“It’s not that. HQ is sending Avenging Angels down because of Blackwell’s involvement. He must indeed be a badass if they’re sending Avengers. Have you ever seen them in person?”

We folded our wings back into our coats and waited for the girl to come downstairs. “No I don’t think I have. All I know is that they’re the biggest toughest Angels around right?”

”That’s not the half of it. Only the biggest, baddest, and meanest angels become Avengers. Michael personally trained all of the HA Avengers, and very few EAB’s have had what it takes to earn their way in. Tellingly, only those humans who were Navy SEAL’s or Army Rangers or some other kind of Special Forces have what it takes to be Avengers. They’re like the special forces of heaven, and it’s really in our best interest to stay out of their way. They have a tendency to treat us ‘civilians’ almost as bad as Demons. If they weren’t so effective against Demons, no one would ever deal with them at all. They’re crazy, spend all of their time in the gym working on their swordsmanship skills, only know martial and healing Gifts, and really have no time for anything that doesn’t involve training and/or fighting. But they hate demons with a burning passion, and that’s why they’re so valuable.”
“They are extreme”, Chike said, “but when it comes to Demons, that is what is called for. I have a plan; I will stay with the girl, Joe, you can scout out their path to the Hospital, and Mary Beth, you can check out the hospital and make sure that is clear. Anyone encounters any trouble, yell for help and the other two will be there in a flash. Sound good?”

“It all depends; Mary Beth, are you up to being on your own right now? You were pretty wiped before.”

She sighed and stoop up straight, with her brave-girl face on. If she wasn’t quite so dorky she’d be cute; like I said before, she was 24, about 5’4” and had vaguely Irish features. She had long brown hair which she always wore in a braid on Missions, and for the most part she had a pretty nice body, from what I could tell. Angels really aren’t supposed to be checking other Angels out on missions, so I got back to the matter at hand. “I think I’m OK now. I feel a lot better after the breather I just had. I can make it to the hospital, and if there’s any trouble I’ll come right back.”

“Ok then, Chike, your plan is a go. I guess you gave yourself the hardest task because you’ve been around the longest, but don’t be a Hero and try to take this guy on if he shows up, you come get us right?” I don’t know why I was asking; Chike was by far the most responsible among us, and he never broke the rules. I should have known there would be trouble as soon as I had that thought; as soon as you count on something in this world, it’s bound to change. “Me and the girl will go on ahead. I’ll show her where the hospital is, and then backtrack the route until I meet up with you. We’re going to Downtown Hospital.”
“Hey, ‘the girl’ has a name you know.”
“Yeah whatever, let’s go.”

Me and MB spread our wings and took off. I knew the routes the ambulance would most likely take to the hospital, so I hoped that I could get her there and back to Chike as fast as possible. I just didn’t have a good feeling about this.