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Monday, May 1, 2017

The Falling Star, Chapter 2, Part 2

By Christopher Leeson

An Angel from Hell story

CHAPTER 2, Part 2

by Christopher Leeson

Holly neither frowned nor smiled.  “It will be about fifteen minutes, if you're staying.”

With a swift grab, Jezebel took her wrist.  “We're out of time.  We have to speak, outside.”

Holly looked irritated.  “Let me go or I'll poke you with my pencil.”

The blonde leaned closer, whispering.  “I know you're Pelopia Wittke.”

The waitress's arm jerked and she stammered, “N-No!  I just look a little like her.  People tell me that.”

“We don't have time for this.  You're in danger.  Have you ever heard of the Cabal?”

From her expression, Jezebel guessed that Pelopia Wittke knew and feared that name.

“I'm not going anywhere with a stranger!” the girl informed her.

“Listen – I'm with the...people...who helped you escape from your so-called friends.  I've been sent to take you to a safer place.”

Holly stared.  “W-What are you talking about?”

“I said cut it out!  I know that you were locked up by the Cabal and rescued by an angel.”

The waitress seemed beside herself.   “I thought I was imagining things.  How do you know so much?”

“Some...people...are looking out for you.  Here's what else I've found out.  You called your mother on an insecure phone.  The Cabal is tracing it; they might already have somebody sitting at one of these tables.  I don't know how much time we have, so we'd better leave while we still can."

The waitress looked ready to bolt for the door.  Fine, outside was where Jezebel wanted her.

The waitress looked ready to bolt for the door.  Fine, outside was where Jezebel wanted her.

“Miss!” some one called across the room.  “Can you bring my check?”

Holly glanced back.  “I'll be right there!”  Then she squared off with her blonde customer.  “How do I know that you're not Cabal?”

“You can't.  You'll just have to take my word for it.”

Holly tried to back away, but Jezebel held on.  “I-I've got to deal with that customer,” the waitress said.

“Let the bakery lady do it!  No histrionics.  I'm not here because I like you.  I've been sent because somebody else does like you -- Heaven knows why.  If I don't bring you to safety, it's on my head, so don't make make things hard for me."

Holly looked overwhelmed.  It flashed into Jezebel's mind that she should offer reassurance, but human feelings had never been important to the angel.  Threats were more her style; compassion, not so much.

The brunette looked toward the far end of the room.  Jezebel tensed, wondering if she was going to yelp for help.  “Stacy!  There's an emergency outside,” Holly said.  “Can you take care of my customers for a few minutes?”

The blonde, taking that as a cue, got up and, still gripping the girl's wrist, led her to the exit.  The latter dug in her heels next to the coat rack.  “It's c-cold out there,” she jabbered.  Scowling, Jezebel let her dress for the weather and then herded her through the exit.

“We're not going back in there.  We don't dare,” the Watcher said.  “Get into my car.”  She pointed.  “The cream-colored one.”

“Where are you taking me?”

“I don't know yet.  My people will have to contact me.”

Holly permitted the Watcher to lead her to the passenger of her Honda Civic.  The waitress got in.  She had seen that expression often, on the faces of the trapped and hopeless.  “Don't act like you're going to the gallows,” Jezebel told her.  “It isn't my job to hurt you.”  As soon as these words were out, Jezebel was left to wonder whether they had come from her or from Jill.

The fallen angel got in on the driver's side, and was relieved that Susan – Pelopia, or Holly, whatever – didn't use that opportunity to bolt back to the café.  She supposed that the girl's easy capture had so demoralized that she was just giving up.

Jezebel steered out of the drive way.  “I don't want to follow the main route,” she said.  “That would be too obvious.  Is there another road back east?”

The brunette nodded dispiritedly.  “We can go a couple miles west, and then turn off on County Road 378.  That goes north to a secondary road.  I don't remember its number; it runs toward Nebraska.”

“We'll try it.”

“Who are you afraid of?”

“The Cabal.  Haven't you been listening?”

“Can't we stop at my room?”

“What's so important there?”

“Not much.  But I could use a warm pair of pants.”

“Too much risk.  I got some things packed.  We're about the same size.”  Jezebel accelerated to the speed limit.  It wasn't long before the turn-off for 138 came into view.

Jezebel found herself asking:  “Why do you dress like a Tyrian whore?  I'd suppose a fugitive wouldn't want to attract attention.”

Holly grimaced.  “I got the idea from a mystery novel.  The heroine...she had to walk through a room full of villains who knew her, so she'd rigged herself  so that they'd be looking at her legs and boobs, not her face.  I've been making myself look as plain as possible.

Holly shifted and began staring at the bleak scenery, like a man waiting for the gallows would cast his dead gaze out the cell window.  She gave a miserable smile.  “I still looked like a girl-next-door on the cover of my first CD.  But my handlers kept nagging at me to loosen up, to get with the times.  I did, and before I knew it, I stopped being embarrassed about wearing almost nothing.”

The blonde considered those words and frowned.  What she was describing sounded like the effects of a Jezebel spirit.  Deadly sins, including pride, vanity, and lust were as effective as bread crumbs for drawing in the little demons.  They would make all the victim's weaknesses worse, until the day came when his or her persona would be entirely defined by them.  “Did you start having a lot of sex, too?” she asked.

“Mind your own business!”

The Watcher smirked.  “The touchy girls are the guilty ones.”

Holly raised her chin.  “And I guess you've been with a lot of girls?”

“I guess I have."

It wasn't a surprise that a rock star would have a problem with Jezebel spirits.  The Watcher herself was developing a visceral dislike for those little demons.  The night before, at a fast-food drive-in, some men in line had started giving her the eye.  They were locals, louts to be ignored, but their visual fixation on her backside was impossible to ignore, like a lover's lascivious touch.  Mortified, Jezebel would have reacted badly, except that the pair didn't push things to disaster.  Maybe it had been that homicidal expression that she'd tossed back at them. 

“How did you know that you were rescued by an angel?” she asked the girl.

“How do you know it was an angel?” responded Holly.

"I talk to the angel crowd.  Honestly, do you think you have any secrets?"

There was a pause.  “Are – are you an angel?”

The Watcher kept her eyes on the road.  “Do I look like angel?”

“No.  But the one who saved me didn't look like angel either; she looked like a party girl.”

Jezebel nodded.  “They can look like anything they want.  Did she actually come out and admit to you what she was?”

“Not really.  But things happened that made no sense.  And I'd been praying really hard  just before she came in.”

Jezebel, without really caring, asked, “Then what happened?”

The girl sighed.  “She told me to hold her hand and not to let go.  Then she led me right through the party.  No one looked my way, or her way, even though we were both pretty hot.  It was like they couldn't see us at all.  When she got me to my car, she told me not to go home, but to head out of town quick.  She also said I shouldn't keep using my own car or even a rental, because GPS tracking would get me caught.  Then she put my purse into my hands; I'd forgotten it, but she hadn't.  Before the girl left, she warned me not to use any of my plastic to buy things or get cash, because 'the Cabal' could trace that, too.

“I took a bus toward the east, and then bought some new clothes as soon as I could.  I got on another bus going north and, up in Utah, switched routes again.  I wanted to hide where the entertainment crowd never goes.  That meant the sticks.  I was ready to do anything rather than get caught.

"When the bus was braking for Bixby, I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I couldn't believe it.  It was the girl from the party.  She told me to get out, that this was where I should stay for a while.  The stop was at the café.  They had a 'Help Wanted' sign in the window.  I didn't have a lot of money left and couldn't run much farther anyway, so I applied.  Renting a room left me flat broke.  I had to sink to drinking tap water and eating leftovers on the sly before my first check was ready."

Then her voice fell.  “After all that, you still found me.”

“I saw that video you made,” the Watcher said, “about the party at the dark house.”

Holly nodded dejectedly.   “I've been to a lot of parties like that.  They were the early, mild ones.  But as time went on, they got worse.  More and more, the hosts and guests started acting like monsters, like characters right out of The Vampire Diaries.  After a while, they started pressuring me to attend Satan rituals.  Blood started flowing.  There were parties where they brought in scared kids, too -- preteens.  I started to think that everybody in show business was crazy.  I wanted to call the police at first, but my so-called friends kept telling me not to.  They said that the big shots were too well protected, that any cop I talked to would probably be in on it.  Even the FBI was supposed to be covering for them.”

“Did you ever believe that they were serious about worshiping Satan?”

“After a while...I did.”

“Well, maybe you aren't as dumb as that video made you look.”

Holly shot her a hard look.  “Are you going to kill me, or are you going to let someone else do it?”

“Neither.  Like I said, I'm saving you.”

“Yeah, well, everybody lies.”

“If you're so sure that I'm Cabal, why didn't you fight me harder?” asked Jezebel.

The waitress sank down into her seat.  "I thought that there might be more of you, that people in that people in the café could get hurt.  Anyway, my life is ruined, my career is ruined.  I don't have any real friends, and I'll probably never be able to see even my own mother again.   I'm sick of living.”

Jezebel shook her head.  “Don't say that.  What comes after death is a...a Hell of a lot worse than any kind of living.”  No sooner were those words out than the Watcher clenched the steering wheel.  Had she actually given some honest advice?

Suddenly, Jezebel noticed a car kicking up dust behind them.  “Do locals usually drive that fast on crushed rock?” she asked her companion.

Holly took a hard look back. “That Dodge looks familiar.  I think it's the same Challenger that was sitting in the parking lot at the Tumbleweed.  We don't get a lot of expensive models stopping at our little place.”

“Not good.  There's a T-intersection is up ahead.  If they turn our way, I'm going to floor it.  Is that vehicle fast?”

“It's a muscle car!” said the brunette.

“So it's fast?”

“Of course it's fast.  Are you a foreigner or something?”

The turn was just ahead.  The two-way was blacktopped and Jezebel thought that she could gain some on the other vehicle before it left the gravel.

“Do you have a gun?” Holly asked anxiously.

That question sounded sensible.  As a warrior angel, Jezebel usually preferred to solve serious problems with violence.

“No, I don't.  Hold on.  This could get bad.”

Jezebel took the turn east and accelerated.  The other car gunned it also, but the driver seemed unused to loose gravel.  The angel had no had a doubt about what the situation was.

“Look!” she suddenly said.  “We'll be curving around that wood-stand up ahead and they won't be able to see us for a few seconds.  When I slam the brakes, you can get out and run for cover.”

“What about you?”

“I'll lead them away.”

“What if you're caught?”

“I'll kill them all.  Now, go!”  She skidded to a stop.  Holly exited with rabbit-like nimbleness.  Jezebel took off again.

She glanced back and saw the silver-blue Dodge surging at high speed past the woods.  That much was good. 

Good for Pelosia Wittke, but not for her.

End of Chapter 2

To Be Continued...