An Angel From Hell story
By Christopher Leeson
Chapter 7, Part 1
By Christopher Leeson
Chapter 7, Part 1
The girl from Hollywood didn't have much more to say until the snow started falling.
“I enjoy snowy winters,” she murmured. “I used to walk in the park whenever the snow was falling. It was prettier than in summer.” She paused briefly, her face mirroring sadness. “I guess I wouldn't be allowed to do that anymore. Mom says there's a lot of drug dealing and assaults happening in the park lately. That's crazy. We aren't even a big city.”
The Watcher had just turned on the windshield wipers. She said, “That's sort of times we're living in.” Jezebel could have said much more, could have informed her about what was behind the chaos, and who was benefiting from it. But knowing more than she did wouldn't have made the ex-singer feel any better.
In mid-afternoon, they hit Omaha proper. An exit and five minutes of weaving between apartment buildings took them into a basement garage beneath the low-rent complex where Jill Arendel lived.
Jezebel led her guest into the nearest elevator that took them to the third floor. She unlocked her apartment door and entered first. Holly followed carefully, avoiding the clutter on the floor.
“It sure is a mess,” the blonde admitted as she set a bag of groceries down upon the kitchen counter.
“Yeah,” the singer affirmed quietly.
Jezebl claimed a spot on the couch that was vacant of misplaced objects, magazines, and empty boxes. Holly crossed to the easy chair, from whose cushion she removed a week-old newspaper.
“I feel like crying,” the latter remarked.
The Watcher nodded. “Housekeeping and I aren't on a first name basis.”
“No, it's just that I can't stop thinking.”
“About how bad things have gotten in the last couple days. And I thought I'd hit bottom in Manville. My name and my job have been stolen. I don't know how I'm supposed to live, or where I'm supposed to go from here.”
“The last part is easy,” said the other woman. “We're supposed to go to a certain Holiday Inn room tomorrow.”
“I wish I could tell my mother that I'm all right.”
Jezebel shook her head. “Like we discussed before, that wouldn't be a good idea.”
“I could at least write her a letter. From a different state from where I'm living, I mean.”
“Think about it. You'd have to say that you're being impersonated. You'd probably want to warn her that she's being watched constantly. You'd also have to explain that you're a fugitive, that the police can't help you, and that you can probably never come home. If you just say nothing, she'll go on believing that you're making a success of yourself in Hollywood and enjoying the high life. The worst thing you could do to a mother's peace of mind would be to let her know that her child is sad, afraid, and broke.”
“Why can't this be fixed?”
“Because it can't be. The power against you is too great. You've already done the only thing you could have; you ran away.”
Holly's glance dropped to the carpet. “You never asked why I ran away.”
The Watcher tossed her shoulders. “It was Hollywood. I can think of a thousand good reasons to run away.”
“I wish I could tell you how awful things were.”
“Would you feel better talking about it?”
Holly sighed. “I don't know. Mostly, I've been trying to forget. Do we have anything else we can talk about?”
“We can talk about how great its going to be having bananas for supper. Or should I say dinner? In the farm country, dinner was the mid-day meal.”
The waitress regarded her. “You're a farm girl? That's nice. Did you have a horse?”
“Not really. There were lots of cats, though.”
The topic didn't inspire any more discussion; moreover, something else seemed to be on Holly's mind.
“Can we be friends, Jill? You're not an easy person to get to know, but I've been lousy at picking friends. The industry people I knew either wanted me to do bad things, or else they wanted to do bad things to me.”
The angel decided to humor her. “Sure, we're friends,” she said. But Jezebel was not in a good mood herself. Occupying Jill's apartment was making her more depressed by the moment. If the dull ache she was feeling wasn't loneliness, she didn't know a better name for it.
“If it doesn't hurt too much, you can tell me whatever you want to,” she told Holly.
The girl looked unsure, reluctant to take the lid off a box of memories that contained so many horrifying objects.
She finally said, “I was supposed to kill a kidnapped baby at a party, and...drink its blood. They thought I should bite and chew, too, but that was optional. There was going to be maybe fifty people watching me do it. So many smiling faces; not one of them seemed surprised.
"Then I was supposed to smear the blood all over myself while they chanted. It was supposed to bring in a demon to possess me. Friends were saying me that it was a good thing, that no star ever stayed on top for long without a demon keeping him or her great. They told me that all the best people had demons, including the queen and king of cool, Ceyonce and Lay-Z.” At that point, she choked.
Jezebel waited, expecting more.
“You aren't even horrified?” Holly asked.
The Watcher held her face steady. “There's nothing that can surprise me. I know the kind of people you're talking about.”
Holly's stare was incredulous. “When you talk that way, you sound like a spy character in some weird horror movie.”
The angel held her eyes with her own. “Where do you think the people who write those movies get their ideas? It's not like they have imagination. It's from the things they've seen and the things they've done.”
“Why doesn't someone tell the president?”
“The presidents have all known. Ngugi wa Nazizi, George W. Beans, Bill Skragg, and H.W. Beans all knew and didn't care. They actually hosted parties worse than the ones you were at. Take it from me.”
“The new one, too? Champion?”
“It's too soon to know. Bad people hate him, though, so maybe that's a good sign.”
Holly shook her hanging head. “It's like I've ended up on an alien planet. Why would anyone want to go on living in a world like this?”
“Because the alternative is so much worse?” Jezebel suggested.
Holly sighed. “I feel like Alice in Wonderland. Is there any way out of this rabbit hole?”
“None that I know of.”
The brunette looked up. “Am I going to have to be alone from now on? Will I have to go into a witness protection program?”
“Maybe we'll find that out tomorrow.”
“Jill, if we're friends, please tell me who and what you are! You never seem afraid of anything, and you fight like a soldier. You frightened me at first, but you've been risking your life to get me out of trouble and I don't know why. I'd almost think that you're from the government, except you don't seem to trust the government.”
“I've had a selfish reason to help you. But, no, I'm not from the government. Not your government, at least.”
The girl in the chair met the angel's glance. “Are you a...Russian?”
Jezebel gave a weak smile. “No, but I can pull off a pretty good Russian impersonation. Do you want to see it?”
Holly seemed on the edge of crying in earnest.
“Look...Susan..., the angel said, “you're here because someone wants help you. It's not that you deserve help. You made some bad choices and trusted some bad people. Despite all that, there's somebody who thinks you can amount to something if you change your ways and figure out what's really important. If you do, he's going to keep on helping you.”
The looked girl looked incredulous. “Who? Is it somebody I've met?”
Jezebel looked away. “I'd rather not say.”
“If I started spilling secrets, you'd want to know more and then more. You'd keep us up all night. I'm not good at answering questions; it makes me cranky, and you don't want to see me cranky. Anyway, I used to think I could have it all and it made a mess out of my life. I don't think that I'm the best person to set you right.”
“Right about what?”
“About the way the world really is.”
“Then who can set me right?”
“I hope we can find that out tomorrow.”
The Holiday Inn was located at the western fringe of downtown. The note they'd found in Alliance hadn't given any special time of day, so the Watcher drove Holly to the address right after breakfast. She parked in the visitors' lot and led her ward through its glass doors.
Having reached the fourth floor, Jezebel tensed. She realized that if hostiles lay in wait, she'd be very vulnerable. She had gone into bed early the night before,even though it would have been wiser to have gone to a pick-up bar where she could have gotten recharged with lust-energy. She worried that she had experienced one of those emotional reactions that made human behavior so erratic. Even a young and vital mortal body like Jill Arendel's apparently had severe limits.
There was a sign down the hall from where the girls stood. It read, “Stairs.”
“Holly,” Jezebel told her ward, “hide behind that stairway door and wait for me to come back. I don't know who or what we'll find up here. We we need to play it safe.”
“Will you be safe?”
“No, I won't be.” She handed the girl her purse. “Take this. If I don't get back in ten minutes, or if something happens that frightens you, head out of Omaha. Take the car. Maybe go into Iowa.”
“Then you're on your own.”
Holly looked dismayed.
“If I'm able,” Jezebel promised, “I'll try to find you. I'm good at finding people. I have...connections.”
The Watcher then advanced down the hall like stalking hunter. She arrived at a door displaying the number 432 and braced herself. In Jezebel's right coat pocket nestled her Walther; it was all she had to depend on. With her finger resting lightly on its trigger, she knocked.
The door opened quickly, as if the person on the other side had been waiting for someone to arrive. A young woman was looking out at her, while over the girl's shoulder stood a middle-aged man wearing suspenders and a white shirt. No weapons were in view, nothing seemed materially threatening. But the sight of the girl put Jezebel aback! She glowed violet like a Nephilim, and possessed the face of a dead woman.
A particular dead woman.
Diana Spinster, Princess of Wales!
With speed, Jezebel shoved her welcomer into the room, twisted her bare right arm behind her back, and quick-drew the pistol. This she held aimed at the man's breast.
“Who are you?” the male asked, stepping back until his legs touched the still-unmade bed.
“I'll ask the questions,” the angel said. “Who are you and why are you here?”
“My daughter and I are vacationing?” he said cautiously. His accent was upper-South.
“In Omaha in January? Yeah, I bet you're having a wonderful time. Did you know your 'daughter' isn't human. Or that's she's wearing the face of a deceased member of English royalty?”
“How can you see that?” the man asked with apparent amazement.
“You do the answering first. And be careful. I'm pretty good at picking out lies.”
The Southerner, looking perplexed, lifted his stare to the ceiling. Jezebel quickly glanced upward to see what he was looking at, but noticed nothing out of the ordinary. The male's brows were tensed, as if listening to something. Then he began nodding, like one who was receiving instructions.
Jezebel took the risk of weakening her hold on the girl while she shut the door behind her and locked it. The Nephilim didn't make a break-away attempt.
“The truth is, we were waiting for someone to join us,” the man said. “Might that be you?”
The Watcher had sized him up as harmless, but wasn't willing to bet her life on a mere physical impression. She asked, “What's the matter? Don't you know whom you're expecting.”
“We were told to await a young woman. But we weren't warned to expect anyone so...formidable.”
“Warned by whom?” Jezebel demanded, feeling as tense as a bow string.
“By one who wishes the our visitor well,” the male answered.
“What's the name of the girl of yours?” she asked.
“Her name is Frances.”
Who was he kidding? Frances was the middle name of Diana Spinster. Jezebel knew that many Nephilim were shape shape-shifters, but why would this one have chosen to wear a shape that millions would have recognized from television and tabloid covers?
“Listen, Buba,” said Jezebel, “I'm not asking who this masquerading bimbo is; I want to know who's the girl you're waiting for.”
“We don't know. The message only told us that she needed help and refuge. Please – no shooting, no violence. The Lord wants me to be frank with you. Ask us anything; there is no danger or guile here.”
Jezebel frowned and said, “Okay, tell me your name, where do you come from? Prove that...God...talks to the likes of you.”
The man took a second gander at the ceiling. “The young lady is asking for confirmation, Lord. What shall I tell her?” He again listened – or pretended to listen. A moment later, he looked at Jezebel and said, “The Lord speaks two names. I don't know what they mean.”
“Jezebel and Delilah.”
The angel blinked. Nobody on Earth, not even Holly, should have known those names. The easiest explanation was that the man really did have contact with the Son, but not everything added up. “Your so-called daughter is descended from fallen angels. What kind of a mother does she have?”
He signed, as if caught in a lie. “I am her guardian, not her parent. You are correct. She is a...Nephilim. Of her own free will, Frances has come from a place of darkness, renouncing evil and seeking salvation. There is no reason to fear or harm her.”
During this conversation, the angel had been looking through Frances' violet aura, but at that moment its color changed to silver-white.
Jezebel shoved the girl away, but continued to hold the gun on both of them.
“She's able to turn aura colors; what's going on?”
“What are you? Who are you?” the Nephilim suddenly asked.
“Shut up and answer my questions,” Jezebel snarled. The Watcher wasn't sure what to do. A silver-white aura betokened divinity, a high degree of refinement. It spelled out everything that a Nephilim shouldn't be. All of this might all be a trick. Experience had taught her that when in doubt, execute the enemies in front of you and make a fast getaway.
“I'm Orson Garland, Reverend,” the man said. “From Arkansas. My church is small, but I have an Internet ministry as well. This lovely young lady with me is...”
The Nephilim clenched her guardian's sleeve. “No, Garland. She might be an enemy.”
He shook his head. “Open your heart, dear Frances. The Lord is with us. See our visitor through his eyes. Your insight may be able to confirm for us whether she's friend or foe.”
“Princess Di” still looking unsure, did as told. “I've been under the protection of grace,” she told Jezebel.
The girl's accent had changed. Before, she had spoken with an Arkansas drawl; now she had the diction of an upper-class Londoner.
“You shouldn't have been able to see my aura or discern my real face,” Frances continued. “I've been under grace since 1997.”
“Yeah, well, maybe grace isn't all it's cracked up to be,” replied the Watcher.
“Is your name Jezebel or Deliah?” asked the reverend.
Jazebel's answering tone was cold. “Jill will do. I didn't pick those names, and I don't care for either one of them.”
Orman Garland smiled. “Our names are usually bestowed by those who love us best. Was that not true in your case?” When the angel stayed stony silent, he said, “But we shall call you Jill, if you like. Why are you seeking refuge, child?”
Jezebel still couldn't make head or tail of things. Why would the Father put a Nephilim in her path, unless she was suppose to eliminate it? “I'm willing to hear you out,” she said, “because this setup seems just too crazy to be part of any Cabalist con.”
Orman's brows went up. “The Cabal is involved? I did not realize that. This is very serious.”
“How much do you know about the Cabal?”
“What I know is little, but even that much is terrible. They work to prepare the world for the Anti-Christ. They seek to destroy the righteous. Every evil they will call good, every good they will call evil. They have already built many death camps for the faithful of God, using the peoples' own tax money.”
“Yeah, that's the package,” Jezebel confirmed. “Listen, I can't stay here. This could too easily be a trap.” She noticed a hotel-provided Omaha Visitor's Guide next to the television set. Taking it in hand, the Watcher flipped through the pages, while still keeping one eye on the couple.
“There's a fast-food place called Culver's. It's an easy walk southwest of here. Give me a twenty minute's head start and then buy a lunch there. Sit at the most private table available. I'll join you when I decide its safe, and then we'll talk things out. Don't bring any uncongenial friends along to murder me, because I'll know if you do.”
Then she lowered her Walther, just a bit, and evacuated the room cautiously.
TO BE CONTINUED in Chapter 7, Part 2