Grounding Gothic Overlords

(Written by Dana in college to troll me and exorcise Samael, unsuccessfully.  Her other methods include yelling at him a lot.)

Grounding Gothic Underlords, or, The Little Angel Chews Out Death

“You can do this,” Zelkova said. He caught my eye in the rearview mirror. “You can. You’ve proven you’re back on your game.”

“Maybe, but even on my ‘game,’ I was never on this level.” I watched my target sit at an outdoor café table, drinking red wine and ogling a group of teenage girls in black spikes and fishnets. I drummed on the wheel while the radio slept. “Not on his level.”

“Just talk to him. Figure out why he’s here. You don’t need to be any more than yourself.”

“Right.” I opened the windows and killed the engine. “Thanks for the pep talk. Don’t wander off, you might need to carry away my body or send me a text so I can excuse myself if things get too awkward.”

Zelkova frowned. “This isn’t a date.”

“I hope not. Why’d you bring Hester?”

“Jhoti wasn’t going to be home to feed her.”

I locked the doors and hurried into the shopping district. Some of the trees’ leaves had fallen without turning, and the goth girls rested and drew Sharpie tattoos on each other in the shade.

A waiter delivered a sliver of chocolate torte as black and heavy as tar to the dark man’s table while I bypassed the hostess. He smirked at me when the waiter left. I’ve been on the receiving end of many demonic smirks, some better than others, but this guy probably set the bar. Maybe all the smaller devils keep a celebrity poster of him on their bedroom walls and practice in the mirror.

“May I sit down?” I said.

He made a gentrified gesture, and I took the opposite chair. Before I could speak, he speared a cream-topped strawberry from his plate and asked, “What brings you to my table, little holy one? How have I earned a visit from one of the bright tyrant’s blessed sons?”

I played his words back in the fussy voice Windermere used to mock her former compatriots and felt more at ease. “That’s kind of my question, actually. Why are you topside, Samael?”

“Oh, Hell is so boring. I’m here for the wine, the food, the scenery.” Death bit into the strawberry and bared his red-stained smile. “And the women.”

“That is creepy, and you’re not supposed to have any of those things. You have a job.”

He laughed. His wan imperial cheekbones briefly gave way to the dry white curves of a skull. The sky darkened. The goth girls glanced up, anticipating rain. My back itched in response.

“My job gets done whether I am there or not.” He tossed back the rest of his wine. “Humans are better at killing each other than I ever was, and more efficient.”

I stiffened, ready to argue, and he flicked his tongue at me, catching a smear of chocolate before it could mar his perfectly sculpted lips. His make-up, his glamour, was conspicuously Greco-Roman.

“You are not very old, are you? And not very powerful. You should respect your elders who have earned their keep and comfort, whelp. If you want to play so badly, bring me a stick to beat you with.”

“Do you even hear yourself?” I demanded. His eyebrows lifted while he popped the rest of the torte in his mouth. What I said was unexpected, and technically my mission was over, and Zelkova tugged on me urgently from the car, but I kept going. “Samael, the Grim Reaper, one of the most powerful beings extant, making excuses to drink and dine and chase high school skirts like a skeezy old man. Maybe you’ve got the right to do whatever you want, but when you start using other people and leaving—”

“I know you,” Samael said, and snapped.

We were somewhere else.

Somewhere else looked like a clouded country road in the South, if the bare crape myrtles and dewy daffodils were any indication. I entered still sitting, and I scrabbled to catch myself before I landed in the gravel.

“How do I know you?” Samael wondered. His black coat had acquired a cowl. “I know, you’re one of the faces on the Sistine Chapel, aren’t you? But are you a cherub or a shepherd?”

I flushed. I couldn’t remember if there were shepherds or not, but I was on the Sistine Chapel. “Why did you take us here?”

“If you were going to have a righteous outburst, we might as well do it in private.” Samael came closer. I held my ground. “Who were your friends in the car, little messenger?”

“My roommate and his cat.”

“Can’t tell lies, can you?”

“I’m choosing not to.”

He gripped my chin. His fingers were long, and a nail lay sharp under my eye. “Tell me your name.”

“Vergil.” Somehow my nerves had melted away. Maybe in my anger I left them behind, because though I didn’t like how he examined me with cold beetle eyes, I could stand it. “I spell it with an ‘e.’”

“The little Renaissance boy,” he murmured. He crooked a finger through my short hair. “Where are your long golden tresses, cupid?”

“I haven’t had those since the 70s.”

He grimaced more than he smirked, and again we were somewhere else. From what I could see past Samael’s head, he’d brought us to a motel room someone had painted over in monochrome and red. His hold on my jaw started to hurt.

“You are young and weak and small,” he growled. “And you are meddling. Why were you sent to me?”

I winced. “Because I’m young, weak, and small.” My hands fit into empty holsters. “And unarmed. I didn’t mean to threaten you. We—the whole country’s angels just needed to know you weren’t heralding a plague or something.”

Samael’s face flickered with the pale lights, like he couldn’t decide between rubies and pearls in his mouth or eager fangs. “As if you could threaten me. You are a drop to dragonfire, a sigh to the hurricane, a pocketbook matchstick in the darkest underground night.”

Camp, Windermere snickered. Demons love drama.

Alan and his chrome electric lighter.

I slipped my fingers through Samael’s and carefully pushed his claws off my face.

An unseen scythe tore the coat from my back and tried prying my wings free. I hissed in pain and rocked forward, holding my corporation together, keeping my feathers immaterial. Death’s cloak turned shadowy and miasmic. It swept over me, and I came out backwards, the underside of my knees pressed to the bed.

I glowed. My wings stayed in place, but my halo light leaked, my whole body cast in shine. The black comforter looked cheap.

Samael wore arching horns and his iron dark hair past his ankles. I don’t know what he looked like normally, but he’d put on every inch a Lord of Hell. “Do you know what I could do to you, lamb?” he asked.

“A lot,” I admitted. “You could do a lot.”

“I could kill you. Swatting a fly would be harder.” His hand on my shoulder was heavy enough to force me to sit. “Or I could strip away your meaty shell, peel back layer after layer until I find what you really are, your pretty ball of light. I could take you home to the Underworld, toss you around for Cerberus to fetch. I could watch you wither in a jar on my windowsill.”

“You don’t scare me.”

He leaned in. His breath smelled sour from wine and chocolate, not from funeral flowers and corpse dirt. “What?”

“You don’t scare me. You can’t. The worst you can do is kill me, because that’s your role, your essence. You’re not even properly fallen.”

He reared back with a snarl.

I laughed. “Look, I’ve died before, all right? I bled out in a trench. I drowned under ice. I got hit by a truck. The last time we crossed paths, I had AIDS.”

I kind of wanted to show Samael the scars I didn’t have on this soft body, the ropes, swords, and bullets I’d been through. “I didn’t think you’d recognize me; seeing you has always been a mix of relief and intimidation. But for all your power, I know more about you than you can possibly know about me. That’s why I’m not afraid of you. I can never be afraid of you.”

The dark cloud drew up, and so did he. I could no longer see his legs through it, and the smog consumed his shoulders and floated with his hair. “So that’s it, then, Vergil full of grace? You would die now without fear if I chose it?”

Honestly, I preferred not to lose this body while my next was still backlogged for twenty years. But I told him the truth. “It wouldn’t make you happy, but, yes, I would.”

To my surprise, his second hand emerged to take my other shoulder. “And if it did?”

“Then I’d hope as a favor you could savor my death at home.” I patted his cold marble fingers gently. “You can’t run around up here with the mortals like any regular, run-of-the-mill demon, Samael. Unlike me, humans are only designed to meet you once.”

Abruptly, he stood across the room. The colors in the carpet and ceiling drifted towards him, gathering like paint around a drain. A skeleton looked down at the motel desk, and a sullen, sharp man picked up the antique phone. “You’ve worn me out with your chatter, angel. This whole planet makes me tired. See if I bring you to my room again.”

He dialed a number on the phone, and I found myself back at the café, sitting in Samael’s chair as a surprised-looking busboy pushed up his cart of dishes. To the waiter’s relief, I picked up my friend’s bill and hurried back to the car.

Zelkova waited in the driver’s seat with Hester in his lap. She meowed and climbed onto my chest after I lay down in the back. I scratched her neck.

“What happened?” Zelkova used the rearview mirror to back out of our space rather than check on me, but I felt his concern and relief tucked around me like a blanket. Hester purred.

“Earth and I bored him,” I said. “I think he’s done for a while.”

“Thank you.”

“I babbled. We should have sent Jhoti scold him, skip all the ‘lamb’ and ‘little.’ The next time I die I think I’ll have to take a detour to play with his dog.”

Zelkova hummed. “Do you want Starbucks and Indian food for dinner?”

“I would love some Indian food.”

 

 

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Trapped in Allieworld

(Written at 19 to torment my friends)

Somewhere trapped in Allieworld…

“Hey there, babycakes,” Samael said huskily.  He sidled over to Sara, caressing his scythe.  His eyes gleamed with lust.  “You’re the finest fleshbag this side of the Styx.  Let’s say we take my hearse downtown and get acquainted with my guillotine?”  He downed his vodka and sighed.  “Ah.  Aqua vitae.  The water of life.”

Sara dropped her hamburger in surprise.  She glanced around Five Guys to see if anyone noticed the obscenely pale demon leering back at her.

“We’re all alone,” Samael whispered.  His obscenely long tongue flicked suggestively.  It was true: corspes slumped in the diner seats.  The patrons appeared altogether, well, dead.

“Nice work,” she observed.  “But you forgot one thing.”

Samael cocked his brow.  “Formaldehyde?”

“You forgot to buy me a drink,” she said huskily, putting false intentions in her voice.  The stranger reacted as expected: all men, demon or no, were fools when it came to women.

He snapped his fingers.  Chardonnay in a crystal-cut decanter appeared in his hands.  He smirked, then poured her a glass.  “You’ll have to forgive me.  Such a vision as you is bound to distract me.”

Sara examined the glass.  She took a delicate sip.  “Passable.  I like the hint of applewood.”  His weapon glinted in the flourescent lights.  “Nice scythe.  Let me hold it.”

Samael obliged.  “Her curves suit you,” he whispered predatorily.  His fangs flashed as he grinned.  Death’s red eyes strayed to her hamburger.  “Such succulent food deserves appreciation, no?”  He took a long bite, eying Sara’s assets.  “And I?” he snickered.  “I know just how to make the juices flow.  Be it blood, tears, or certain other liquids.  I’m a connoisseur of teasing the tenderness out of life.”  He towered over her, his long fingers encasing hers around the scythe’s base.  He whispered into her ear:  “I trust you thirst for adventure, Miss Suarez?”

They were interrupted by the swish of the door.  In sauntered a leanly muscled man clad in leather pants.  His hair was literal flames.  He grinned like a cat, winking at Samael as he dragged a rather flustered looking blonde after him.  “Boniface?  Didn’t expect to see you slumming around here.  Why the grim face, Corpseboy?”  The redhead brushed a corpse off a chair, wiping blood from the pleather seat.  “Here, Libby – a throne fit for a dame.”

Libby’s face went chalk white.  “I don’t think this is appropriate.”

He clucked.  “Don’t be silly, Midgarder.  No matter highballer or city sweeper, everyone dances with the grim reaper!”  A mug of cider appeared in his hand.  Loki laughed raucously.  “Ain’t that right, Samael?”

Samael leaned Sara back in an impressive dip.  “No dance like the danse macabre, Firecrotch.”  She regained her balance, tearing herself away from Death.  She smirked, his scythe in hand.

“Not only did you forget the drink, you let your guard down,” she said, brandishing the blade.  “You really think that will impress me?”

Samael drew his lips thin.  “I enjoy women that bite back.”  In a flash, he had Sara cornered against the bar, scythe wrenched from her grip.  “I do not dance lightly, Miss Suarez.”

Loki swept Libby off her feet.  “A jig, Elizabeth?” he inquired, twirling her madly round.  Libby found herself unable to escape the trickster’s grip.

“I thought you wanted a hamburger, Loki!  Otherwise Allie would have taken you to Ballroom.”

“I’m always up for a jive.  Jig.  No matter the music, we all speak dance.  Rhythm, Samael!”

The girls found themselves led by wills that were not their own.  They Viennese Waltzed round Five Guys.  The corpses rose, equipped with fiddles, and bowed a jaunty tune.  The floor, slick with blood, sent them skidding to the window.

Meanwhile, Dana and her angelic visitor were meandering down the street.  The lanky blond had appeared on her windowsill that morning, looking quite frazzled, then asked shyly to come in.  She’d managed to hide him in her closet while her classes ran.  Now, they were out on the town.

Vergil admired the falling leaves.  He caught one between his fingers.  “”Beautiful weather.  Reminds me of the time I was in France during the Crusades-”

Something thwacked against the window.  “Oh?” said Vergil.  He examined the bloody violin .  “Well, this puts a damper on things.”

Dana’s expectations for the evening took a sudden nosedive.  “So we can’t get ice cream then?”

Vergil scratched his head.  “I’m going to need it after this.  See that guy in there?”

Dana pressed her face to the window.  “Oh my god!  That’s Libby and my roommate.  Is that- that’s Samael!  Allie’s douche-bag character.  And Sara has his scythe.”  She watched as Sara beat him with the hilt.  Samael laughed madly.  Dana’s stomach dropped.  “Vergil, we have to help them.  Oh.  Okay.  Planning.  Well, I have this pencil.  We could- we could-”

“Poke him?”

“Yeah!”

Vergil looked at the unsharpened pencil.  “Where?”

“I didn’t think of that.  Where do you poke demons?”

The two set into mad planning.  Inside, Libby was trying to talk sense into Loki.  “You’re fond of goats, right?”

Loki was too busy singing the polka.  “In Heaven there is no beer/Which is why we drink it here!/ La la la la la…”

“Do you like sheep!” Libby yelled.

“Michael does,” Samael sneered, feinting another blow.  “The gingers have a passion for farm animals.”  Libby shrunk, having attracted Death’s attention.  He flicked his tongue suggestively.  She screamed.

Both instances were to save Asgard, Bonebutt.  One from Skadi, the other from an angry giant.  I’m a patriot.  At least my amors were breathing.”

Libby caught Sara’s eyes.  Sara nodded to the frying oil by the grille.  While Loki wasn’t looking, Libby grabbed it, then proceeded to dump it on his head.  His flaming ‘fro screeched like a tea kettle.

“I’m melting!” he hooted.  “Put me out, baby!”  He ran around madly, hair flaming to the ceiling.  Samael rolled on the floor in laughter, staining his cloak in blood.

Karma slap,” Sara whispered.  She beheaded him with the scythe.

Loki was screeching in the bathroom mirror. “My beautiful hair is gone!”

Libby and Sara high-fived.

Dana gasped.  “Well.  That was unsanitary.  Are the gods really that lame?”

Vergil’s face darkened.  “For the most part, yes.  But they’re immortal.  We’ll need the pencil yet.”

“Good thing you’ve been trained for this.”

“They’re out of my league, actually.  You can’t tell, but I’m terrified.”

“You look relaxed to me.”

“I look happy to everybody.  It goes with the angel thing.”

Sara punted Samael’s head like a soccer ball.  He played dead.  Libby was suspicious.

“I don’t think we’ve killed him, Sara.  That’s not how these things work.  We have to burn his heart, maybe.  Or drown him in butterflies.”

Sara relented.  His head coughed.  “How about sacrificing him to the squirrels?  Or we could dump him in the lake.  He might just make it cleaner.”

Libby considered this.  “And what about Loki?  He just appeared in the dorm’s fireplace.  He wants to be Odin’s wingman tonight.  They want to go to the frats-”

Samael’s body loomed behind Libby.  He held his head in his hands.

“I’m partial to blondes,” it murmured.  “Blondes covered in blood.”

Libby screamed.

The window shattered.  Vergil punched through it, then sailed into the restaurant.  He brandished the pencil like a rapier.  His eyes met Samael’s.  For a moment, he shuddered.  Vergil quickly swallowed his fear.

“I’m going to have to ask you to play nicely,” Vergil said.  His wings filled half of the room.         Dana snuck in after him.  She held up a cross drawn on loose leaf.  “Toro!” she yelled, as if egging on a bull.

Smoke rose from Samael’s nostrils.  “So it’s you,” he said quietly.

Vergil froze in surprise.  “Me?”

“No, seagull.  The girl.”  He stalked towards Dana.  “‘90% douche, 8% maggots, and 2% black dust.’  Those were your words, I believe.”

“I meant that as a compliment.”  Dana shoved the cross in his face.  If it didn’t repel him, maybe he’d suffocate.

The paper burned in her hands.  She yelped, then dropped the ashes.

“I’ve been keeping tabs on you.  You fascinate me, girl.”  He screwed his vertebrae back together.  Dana gagged as his head cracked into place.  Samael smirked.  “The Lazarus Project.  It’s notorious now.  You’ve robbed me of my men.”

Dana paled.  “You mean…?”

Yes.”

Libby and Sara drew blanks.  “What’s the Lazarus whatta what?” Libby asked.

“Dunno,” said Sara.  “A band?”

“It’s from my story.”  Dana said.  “Heaven came up with a project to redeem the Fallen, like Lazarus rose from the grave.  It’s just something I made up.”  She scrutinized Vergil, her main character, and sighed.  “Well, I thought so anyways.”

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” Samael hissed.  He cracked his knuckles.  “Holy boy.  Put the pencil down.”

Vergil poked him.  “Be unwritten!”  Nothing happened.  “Well, it was worth a try.  You really are Samael.”  He blinked.  “I don’t know the protocol for this.”

“You know how I like my angels?” asked Samael.  “Sunny side up with my eggs.”  He began to chant.  “’I will not eat green eggs in Hell/I will not eat them, Samael!/I will not eat them in the fire/nor with the demonic choir./I will not with the Sabbath Goat/I will not in old Charon’s boat./I will not eat them here or there/that Vergil guy can have my share.”

Dana was texting someone.  “What are you doing?” Samael asked.

“Messaging Allie.”

Samael hissed.  “I’ll string your guts for a jump rope if you summon that abomination-”

Sara whacked him in the head.  “No you don’t.”

Vergil watched in disbelief as college girls out-manned the Reaper.  Women really were worse than death.

Samael began to wrestle with Sara.  “Give me my bloody scythe!”

Loki had fallen silent.  Dana noticed Libby was missing.  “Oh snap,” she said.  “This is bad.  Libby’s going to picket the war gods, and Odin will hang her on Yggdrasil.”  Her phone rang amidst the confusion.

“Hey Dana!  What’s up?”

“Allie?  Allie.  What are you doing?”

“Cleaning birds.  They’re crapping everywhere.  Oh god- a starling escaped.  I don’t know why I do this.”

“Well, um, there’s a situation.  It’s pretty intense.”

“Are you playing bingo again?”

Dana blushed.  “No!  This is serious-”

“What’s that in the background- my god!  Did someone just curse in Enochian?-  Ow!  Get off my head, you bird!  I feed you, you ungrateful skyrat-”

“ALLIE.  How do you exorcise demons?”

Allie fell silent.  “Are you serious, Dana?”

“Dead serious.”  She looked at Samael, who was now engaged in death combat with Vergil.  Sara was taking a breather.  “Well I might be dead, anyways.”

“I’m not falling for that prank again-”

“It’s not a prank, I swear!”

“I remember the last time you and Libby-”

“Allie!”

Samael was in earshot.  He bared his fangs.  “Allie?” he raged.  He flung Vergil to the wall, then tore Dana’s phone from her hands.  The angel crumpled on the ground.

“That hurt,” he said woozily.

“Vergil!” Dana rushed to his side.  “I’m so sorry.  I’ll get you an ice cream sundae after this…”

His eyes glowed.  “With chocolate fudge?”

Samael scrutinized the phone.  “How does this infernal device work?”

“You’re holding it upside down,” Sara said.  He accidentally pressed speaker-phone.

“Dana?” Allie’s grainy voice rang.  “Look, the starling’s gonna crap on my head.  I have to get it off the ceiling-”

“Hello, maggot,” Samael sneered.

“Dana, that isn’t funny.  Let’s be real now.”

“Oh, I’m real, you Procrustean slime.  And I have a mountain of bones to grind on your femurs.  I’ve a special place in Hell just for you.  And it’s lower than the ninth circle and absolutely crawling with worms.”

Allie fell silent.  “Libby?  That’s a really good impression.  Too good.  Stop it.”

“It’s Samael, you worm!”

“And I’m Putin.”

Sara grew bored of the conversation.  She followed the scorch marks on the ceiling from Loki’s hair.  She entered the men’s bathroom.  “Libby?” she called, not expecting an answer.

A one-eyed man emerged from the stall.  He was dressed in a gray traveler’s cloak, with a hat and beard like Gandalf.  “Lord of the Ring convention’s not until next month,” Sara said.

The noble-looking man ignored her.  “Loki,” he said slowly.  “Loki.”

“Yes?”  Loki said miserably.  A ceiling wall popped open.  From it leapt the god.  He wore a paper bag on his head. “I’m hideous, Odin.  Don’t look at me.”

Odin sighed as he leaned on his staff.  “I haven’t had my coffee, git.”  He glanced sideways at Sara.  “Is this a freshman girl?”  The Sorcerer King murmured softly.  Sara analyzed him.  He was more of a match then Samael.

Loki drowned him out with his wailing.  Blind, the trickster bumped into the wall, then proceeded banging his head against it.

Odin’s face grew long.  “I don’t have time for this.”  He busied himself with his Blackberry.  Loki cursed in Norwegian.

A confused looking Libby peeped down from the tiles.  “Is there a ladder, Sara?” she asked, lip curled in disgust.  She wiped dust from her shoulders.  It fell from the ceiling like snow.

“I’ll catch you.”

“You sure?”

She did.  “That was completely awful,” Libby said, filled with righteous anger.  “He dragged me off to some forest and lit the whole place on fire.  Some crusty fisherman named Njord came and poured water on his head.  I think he was the god of the sea.  Anyways, he put his hair out- I barely understood what they said.  Thank god I went to Norwegian camp.”

Sara fixed her hair in the greasy mirror.  She began to whistle

“And now he’s wearing a paper bag.  Because his hair’s put out.  Loki thinks he’s ugly bald.”

“There’s always Rogaine you know.  Then I could give him a haircut.  I cut Allie’s and Crystal’s- they loved it.”

Odin turned to them.  “You seem like responsible girls.  If it isn’t murderous, I’d have you babysit him.  I’m in dire need of a drink.”

“Sure, Gandalf.”  Sara saluted him.

Odin tipped his hat to her.  “I can tell you crave adventure.  You shall have it.”  He turned to Libby.  She tried to remember which Norwegian camp counselor was Odin in the play.  He smiled kindly at her.  “I’m not fond of carrots, Libby,” he apologized.  “It wasn’t your father who ate the cookies.”

She stuck her nose in the air.  “No!  Santa doesn’t exist!  And you’re certainly not him.  I counted the carrots, Odin.  There were eight on the plate, then the fridge.”

Odin shrugged.  “It is as you will.”  He made to leave.

“Wait.”  Sara pulled salon scissors from her pocket.  “Are you sure you don’t want a haircut?  I’d update that beard for you.”

“That’s generous.  But I’m traditional.  And Loki is withering without attention.  Farewell, freshman girls.  Stay diligent- knowledge is worth blood.  If you need me, I’ll be at the bar.”

Odin exited.  Sara ripped the bag from Loki’s head.  He screeched.  Orange fuzz covered his scalp.  “Thor will mock me,” he said sorrowfully.  The god hung his head in shame.  He shoved his forehead at Libby.  “Look,” he lamented, scalp skirting her nose.  “Can’t you just see the essence of my manhood dying?  Now imagine you, in my lover’s embrace, and this naked head beside you.  It would ruin everything, wouldn’t it?”

Libby flinched.  “I wouldn’t notice, because you smell like a fireplace,” she gagged, mouth full of smoke.  His head sizzled like wet embers.  Loki reminded her of Allie.  She dealt with him accordingly, which meant she shoved him away.

Sara grabbed a wad of paper towels.  “Have you tried drying your head?”

Loki’s head snapped up.  “Indeed,” he purred.  He grabbed the towels, then polished his head inhumanly fast.  His hair sparked like kindling  He grinned like the Cheshire cat.  “Genius, doll!  Pure dynamo.  The woman has jet engines for braiiiins.”  Sara set to work on his ‘do.  Scissors worked surprisingly well on flames.

Soon, his hair looked like a campfire.  He smirked into the mirror, then combed it back in a duck’s ass and delicately applied pomade.  “There.”  He winked.  “Sizzling.  Eh honey?” he asked Libby.  “Do I get Eris’ apples now?  Or Idun’s.  I’m not too picky with lady-fruit.”

Libby gave him a thumbs up, ignoring the innuendo.  “Now, should we see the sheep?  And then we’ll happily walk back to the fireplace and you can disappear into the flue.”

“Odin goes down chimneys, I go up ’em.  Sure you don’t want to protest the Aesir?  They’re the reason the Vikings went berserk on Europe.”

“I was just daydreaming, Loki.  And my Guantanamo Bay rally is tomorrow.”

Loki shrugged.  “I’m all for prisoner’s rights.  I rotted away for millenia.  But Odin didn’t blast Britney Spears.”  He shuddered.  “Poor bastards.”  He cartwheeled into the hallway.

“Do we follow?” Libby asked.

“Sure.”  She and Sara ventured out, not sure what to expect.

It was chaos.  Dana and Vergil were holding each other; they rocked back and forth like toddlers with PTSD.  “Make it go away!” Vergil moaned.  He hid them behind his wings.  The floor was still drenched in blood, and the once-fiddling corpses were nomming on hamburgers.

A rather sadistic blonde was in the midst of torturing Samael.  It looked like he’d been roofied and shoved into a pink dress twenty sizes too small.  He was laid out on the counter like a science experiment, almost as bare as Eve.  Libby understood why Vergil was horrified: she never needed to see Death in such detail.  No wonder he wore the cloak.

A butterfly perched on his nose.  Samael prayed feverishly to himself, trying to blow it away.  It paced up and down the cartilage, proboscis drinking his acid tears.  Copies of Cosmo burned at his wrists, and a dollar store tiara crowned his head.  Allie coldly sprayed him with perfume.  The Reaper shrieked as it melted his flesh.  She smiled slightly, and her eyes were pitiless.    It looked like Barbie was torturing the Beast.

Loki grinned despotically.  He snapped a picture with his phone.  “Blackmail, Boneass,” he crooned.

Samael could do nothing but sob.

Allie grinned up at them, removing her goggles.  Her lab coat was stained with blood.  Proudly, she brandished the spray bottle:  “It worked, you guys.  Estrogen.  Estrogen is anathema to demons.  Forget holy water.  I gotta sell this stuff!”

Sara looked at the scythe.  “Can I have it?  I could use it to cut giant’s hair.  The scissors worked on a god’s, but if I’m expanding into ridiculous territory, the scythe would probably be useful.”

Allie busied herself with the torture.  “Sure.  I get dibs on the cloak.”

She tested it in her hands, then pursed her lips at Samael’s black hair.  “He really is a metalhead.  No wonder the genre’s Satanic.”  With a decisive cut, she chopped off the serpentine locks.  The strands shrieked.  “Hah!” she said, banding them with a scrunchie.  The hair curled around her like snakes.  She glared at it.  It behaved.  “This could be useful…” she murmured.

“Do you want anything, Libby?” Allie asked.  “He was wearing My Little Pegasus boxers.  I think he was being ironic.  The idiot thinks he’s a hipster.”  She waved a DVD box- Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– in his face.  He barfed.  “Not on my dress!” Allie snapped.  She motioned to a pile on the table.  “I raided his pocket, Libster.  Take anything you want, except the magazine.  It’s gross.  That, and heavily used.”

Libby needed to know what it was.  “This?” she asked, pulling it from under the junk.  Her face greened.  She dropped it like a hot potato.  “Oh my god.”

Loki’s eyes flashed.  “Is that Sultry Succubi?” He dove for it.  “Samael, you cad!  Odin’ll love this.”

The Reaper groaned.

Libby cautiously looked through the pile.  She found an elder wand and a pebble.  She immediately frothed at the mouth.

“You okay, Libs?” Allie asked.

Libby held them like the Holy Grail.  “Allie.  Sara.  Look.”

Sara looked.  Allie sang Britney Spears.  Samael’s eardrums melted.

“No!” Loki snapped.  “See, Libby?  Guantanamo.  Hit me baby.  Torture.”

“It’s a rock and a stick,” said Sara.

“These- these are the Deathly Hallows.”

Dana peeked from behind Vergil’s wing.  “No way.”  She bolted up.  “As a Chaser on the Quidditch team, I think I should safeguard these.”

“But I’m the one who spent weeks playing Pottermore!” Libby protested.  “My Twitter’s followed by J.K. Rowling’s best friend.  I live on the Leaky Cauldron, and I’m expatting to England- Harry Potter is my life!”

“Okay.  You take the wand.  I’ll have the stone.”

“But I kind of wanted the stone.  I don’t exactly want to kill people.”

Dana looked crestfallen.  “I wanted to make it into a necklace.”

Libby relented.  “Okay.  I’ll use the wand to zap bugs.”

Vergil poked through the pile.  “Hey, it’s the Holy Grail.  We’ve been looking for that for a while.  Oh, and here’s Michael’s poodle.  No wonder he’s been so cross lately.”  He found something unspeakable.  The angel’s cheeks bloomed crimson.  “Oh.  Oh my Lord.”  He made the sign of the cross, then shoved it into the depths of the pile, making sure the impressionable girls didn’t see.  Vergil, as an angel of honor, had to protect their virtue.  Maidens’ virtue was a delicate thing.

Allie apparently had seen.  “Heh.  Kinky.  You’re worse than I thought, Corpseboy.”

Please,” Samael rasped.  “I’ll do anything.”

“Like my homework?  Would you pay for my college?  Ghostwrite my novel for me?  How about a New England cottage?  Y’know, I’ve always wanted a manservant-”

Samael roared.  “I’d rather kiss Gabriel’s ass!”

“You could do that too.”  She nudged the butterfly closer to his eyes.  Death began to babble.

“Fine!” he pleaded.  “Your manservant!  Just end this madness- agh!  Holy Mothers of Rot and Sin, Lilith and Naamah-”

“Pinky swear.”

I swear on the Styx.”

“That’s good enough.”  Allie released him.  He roared, tearing the dress from his flesh, but not before Vergil shielded their eyes with his wings.

“You have no shame!” Vergil said.  His words burned with godly wrath.  The girls choked on fluffy feathers.

Loki peered up from the magazine.  “Naked time!” He began to strip.

“No,” Samael snapped.  “Where’s my cloak!”

“Wearing it,” Allie said, peering through a pinion.  “Nice abs, by the way.  Even though you’re white as a fish.”

“My boxers,” his voice grated.

“Wearing them,” Loki crowed.  “Do they make my butt look big?”

“Samael likes big butts.  Look at Eve.”

Allie and Loki high-fived.  Vergil stood stoically between them, saying the prayer of the Lord.

“Well what in blazing Gehenna do you suggest I wear then?” Samael said, voice acid.  He made ready to strangle the girl.

A scythe poked out from under Vergil’s wing.  It nipped a bit of cowlick from his head.  “There,” said Sara.  “Perfection.”

“You’re all damned!” Samael roared.  “As the Angel of the Pit, I condemn you!”

“Even me?” purred Loki.  He batted his eyelashes innocently.

“You can’t damn me,” Vergil said flatly.  “I’m an angel.”

Samael muttered darkly to himself.  He found a potato sack behind the counter, then shimmied into it.  He belted it like a Franciscan monk.  “If only the Host saw me now,” he said blackly.

“Want a bag for your head?” Loki asked.

Libby dared to look.  The nightmarish man was comical now.  She could almost forget the corpses that watched them with glassy eyes.  Their eyes locked.  His glaring red like a viper’s.  Bravely, she lifted the wand.  “Expecto patronum,” she whispered.  A ghostly sheep burst from its bud.  Her Patronus attacked Samael.  Actually, it just chewed on his clothes.

“I’m trembling.”  Death sighed drily.  “What is it with livestock- ow!

A pebble hit his head.  Dana shrugged innocently.  “What else could I do with it?”

Sara looked at Vergil, bored.  “Ah, those curls are great.  Very angelic.  You’d look good with layered hair.”

“What?” Vergil asked innocently.

“Just hold still, now bow down like you’re praying.”  She set to her divine work.

Dana searched for her pebble while Libby made things levitate.  Loki had ditched for the bar, but not before he jacked Samael’s white Mustang.  That, and unspeakable things.  Samael tried to stuff his belongings in a trash bag.

Allie leaned over the counter, watching him.  “Can I give you a makeover?” she asked.  “I always give my guy friends makeovers.  Vergil’s getting one.  I think you’d look cute in salmon.”

“I am not wearing salmon.”

“What if it was cashmere?  Would you wear it?”

Samael threw the bag on the counter.  Allie yelped as it clipped her head.  The Reaper snarled: “Have you ever fancied what decapitation feels like?”

“Painful, right?  But my head would only last twenty seconds.  Or thirty.  I don’t remember.”  She narrowly avoided his claws.  “You also need a manicure, Sam.  I have nail clippers back in my dorm.  Vergil’s nails are impeccable.”

“I couldn’t slit throats as a hand model.”

“Look, Samael, if you’re going to be my man servant, you need a beauty regimen.  Girls take pains to look gorgeous.  I expect the same of men.  That means weekly waxings, daily shaving, and horn trimming by the hour.”  She looked at the ram’s horns in disapproval.  “Those things grow like mold on my dishes.”

“That’s because you never clean them,” he growled.

“I don’t have a dishwasher!  ‘Scuse me.  Now clean this place up.  Then we’re shopping.”

“I will never obey you-” His blood boiled.  Damnable River Styx.  He fixed her with a gruesome smile.  “As you wish, wench.”  He snapped his fingers.  The blood disappeared with the fiddles, and people took the places of zombies.  The Five Guys returned to normal.  The girls and angels found themselves back on campus, in Allie’s dorm room.

Her roommate ran out screaming.

Death’s lips curled in disgust.  “Why is everything so bloody pink?”

“To repel demons,” Allie said.  “Vergil, can I offer you my chair?”  The angel lounged in the fuschia fold-out, quite the novelty.  Dana’d already logged onto Allie’s laptop.  “The usual video on Youtube?” Libby asked.  Dana booted up the Stupid Cat Song.

“Where’s Sara?” Allie asked.

“She was too dangerous,” Samael shivered.  “I deported her.”

“To where?”

“Hell.  She can rule in my stead, if I’m to play slave to your master.”

Allie threw a pillow at him.  “Don’t be crude.”  She imagined Sara ruling Hell.  “She’s going to replace you, y’know.  No one will want you back.”  And of course, if she wanted to leave, she would.  Sara was just that kind of girl.

Samael watched the cat video on Youtube.  He snickered.  “Maybe I like it here, sans the potato sack.”

Libby sensed someone tall, dark and dangerous behind her.  She switched to Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

Samael vanished into the closet.  His moans were heard from the dresser.

Vergil perked up.  “This is my song!”  He and Dana began to rock out.  Allie’s roommate peeked in through the door.  In her mind, this was yet another thing to add to the list of why Allie should be institutionalized.

“Samael?” Allie asked, rummaging through her drawers.  One slammed ominously shut.

“I’m trying to nap,” it grated.

“That’s my lingerie, you perv!  Now it’s going to smell like formaldehyde.”

A ghost wind slammed the closet shut.  The building rang with mad laughter.  She tried the knob.  “Locked.  God knows what he’s doing in there…”

The girls began to part ways.

“We’re going to Baskin Robbin’s,” Dana said.  “I owe Vergil a sundae.”

Vergil looked like he had won the lottery.

“I need to de-stress,” sighed Libby.  “If I’m giving Loki a tour tonight.  I’m going to write in the sheep field.  You should join me, Allie”

“I’d love to.  But I have bio, and a skeleton in my closet.”

They wished each other farewell.  Over ice cream, Dana asked Vergil a question.

“Why did you come today?” she said.

They sat outside on the terrace.  Vergil caught a falling leaf.  This time, it was golden.  “Because even though I’m immortal, Earth still has lessons to teach me.”  He plucked a late-blooming rose, then tucked it behind her ear.  “You’re young, Dana, a blink to us.  But the world can be changed in a breath.  I suppose I came here to learn what it’s like to live in a dream.”

“A dream?” Dana echoed.  Chocolate melted down the sides of her cone.

Vergil looked wistfully at the clouds.  “I remember when I created you.  All small and pink like a new idea.  I thought you were the most perfect thing I’d ever dreamed up.  And then, when you were born, you left me.  I’ve missed you a lot, you know.”

Dana’s heart swelled in her throat.  “But Vergil,” she whispered.  “I made you.”

“You did?” he asked, grinning.  “You know, us angels make souls.  Gods do too, and spirits.  We don’t make make them, but we help them form.  Even idiots like Samael need little things to love.”  He basked in the taste of a cherry.  “The world is a lonely place.”

For a moment, Dana could swear she saw constellations in his eyes.  “You say world like it’s something far away.  But you’re from Heaven, Vergil.”

“Am I?  This feels like Heaven.  A single, perfect fall day.”

They ate in companionable silence.  Happy as the evening star rose.

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Married to Angels and Demons

Being a godspouse has emerged from the exclusive domain of the illustrious Freya Aswynn and the rare elders in the pagan community that I have long studied to a rather common, if somewhat fringe, occurrence in the occult community.  I have befriended spouses of everyone from Naberius to Mannanan Mac Llyr to Apollo to nameless Entities that are everything from genderfluid to pan to asexual.

Spirit, like humanity, is all colors of the rainbow, and it would be silly to restrict divine sexuality and love to the heteronormative gender binary.  Erzulie Danto takes female wives, Freyr and Loki are likely to scoop up sweet men, and angels flip genders as often as the leaves change color.  Color me a divine liberal, but I would like to think being raised by celestial archangels, mischievous demons, and tricksters galore gave me a holistic view of the only thing that binds the universe together: love, and love alone.  There is light in the darkness, darkness in the light, and love is God, and love is the Gods, and love itself is Eternal.

Loving an immortal comes in many forms: being their devotee, being their divine child, having them as a patron, being their priest or priestess, and even their husband or bride.  No domain of eternal love is above one another – in the Bhakti tradition of Hinduism, the devotee comes into ecstatic communion with their divine Love, Eternal Source, and Inner Soul.  Whether the gods exist in our collective unconscious, in my experience as transdimensional, ancient loving beings equivalent to a master race of aliens, or on lofty clouds in literal Asgard or Olympus doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that they love us, we love them, and the dance between Man and Muse has been happening since ancient hominids looked up at the stars and called them home.

I married Michael and Samael last Halloween, as a culmination of a harrowing but beautiful lifelong path to my inner polarities and exterior dreams and fears, and they are as much a part of my inner animuses and male Shaktis as they are tangible, real as dirt entities.  They have showed me the future, introduced me in the astral to obscure literature and film that upon waking turns out to be real, and above all have been my guides since I was 12.  Michael has saved my life countless times, and Samael has scared me into living, so thanks for that, I suppose.  In the end, the Ophites called Michael and Samael the double-faced serpent, good and evil, light and darkness, and one cannot exist without the other.  They are Divine Twins, perhaps the first beings before God separated into gods, the Left and Right Hand of Creation, and Satan, Iblis, or Lucifer and Michael, Mikhail, or just plain old Mickey represent the yetzer hara and yetzer hatov and eternal temptation to do what is easy versus the high road of what is right.  The Devil is a lawyer, the Prince of Heaven is a priest, both are warriors, and just lenses to understand matter and antimatter, order and entropy, and how to free the caged bird from her own self-imposed bindings.

I think I loved both of them from the moment I first met them, Michael loved by millions and Satan hated by billions, and for every flaw and beautiful facet of my husbands there are a thousand more mysteries stretching back to wanderers in the desert creating stories of malakhim.  It is so infinitely easy to fit them into my Heathen worldview, as I do not worship them, simply love them, and my “God” is Mother Nature, who I view the Norse Gods as emanations of.  The angels and demons serve Mother Nature directly and ask for no worship, just praise of Earth and the Cosmos, and to know my place in the web of humanity, wyrd, and Well of Urd.

Michael and Samael handed me off to the Vanir and Aesir as I came into my own faith and were there when I was adopted into the tribe of Asgard, outside the circle of runes as befits Abrahamic spirits.  The Aesir and Vanir (and a few select Jotun!) are my chosen family and human heritage.  The archangels and demons are the origin of my soul, my first cosmic family, but I am no longer ethereal, made of dirt and flesh and blood, and to dwell on cosmic past lives just leaves one weeping late at night over wounds still fresh since the first Forbidden Fruit rotted and the Tree of Life became the Tree of Death.

The secret of the union of Michael and Samael is VITRIOL, the key to eternal life and universal solvent that dissolves all impurities.  The green lion that bleeds gold from the sun.  The Lapis Exillis is just a heart, and a rotting fruit at that, but a chalice and birthright fought over by the Princes of Heaven and Hell.

I was an idiot girl to ever love them, but fools fall first in the Tarot, and locked away princesses have knights and dragons who eat their hearts come midnight.

I am a caged bird learning to sing.

The heart is its own master.

I am happy, never free.

 

Schoolboy Fights

It is burgeoning autumn bordering on frozen, gray winter rain.
I sit at the back of Calculus, chewing my eraser, ever watching
my angel at the front of the class, the one with flaming hair.
To bring the holy to holed school walls spins fractal equations.
To descend unsure of human flesh to court a schoolgirl is whimsy.
He flexes as he punches numbers into a calculator, smiles at me.
We speak telepathically as only young lovers can, and I laugh at
the boldness he has, of constructing a fragile academic reality
out of the horns of gate and ivory, Morpheus’ velvet turned math.
Derivatives are whirling dervishes, the bell rings, we scamper
out to the courtyard and he says he wishes he could have been my
youthful sweetheart, my first love, my first kiss, but immaterial
seraphim are not meant for mortal desires, he cannot even hold my
hand, for he is a ghost, and I suggest next time we play out daily
doldrums of integrals and singularities, that he be the teacher.
He ruffles my hair and pecks my forehead like an eagle unsure of
his sharp beak, then it is off to English. The Devil is reading
Milton, that blind psalter of Satan’s sorrows, and I scoff at
his ballsiness, to interrupt a high school nightmare with epics.
As if I have not lived the pages of Paradise Lost a hundred times,
late at night as a cold sweat drenches me in blood-hum memories.
So Satan writes poetry on the board, and I roll my eyes at wrath.
Lunch comes, and my angel and demon tussle on the football field.
Do they wish they could have suffered the tragedy of puberty and
unsureness of first infatuation, sloppy kisses under oak trees,
fumblings in the back of cars and hot hands questing for answers?
Have the Devil and angel always been ancient? I never knew them
as youths, and they say they fight for my name, but really they
fight for a dream of an innocent girl, whose hands are stained
with graphite, Wite-Out, and paint as she caresses a canvas with
her muses’ forms, ink spills over, time spills in fall semester,
and I am forever a student of the heart, wandering through Hell.

Ode to Ariel (This an Old Story – the First I Ever Lived)

You, my first love, my heart’s golden river, winged with wonder.
They say angels watch humans with envy for lips they don’t have,
for mouths of pink and rose that sing, tell, pray and even dream –
your tongue is ever-quenched by the white of the Milky Way, you swim
through the outer boundaries of space’s luminaries, I aback my angel.

You taught me how to be kind to the desolate, to cherish the weak.
Oh Ariel, Hearth of God, Light of the Lord, you are too beautiful,
and you are the elder brother and protector of my virgin heart,
unsullied by the blood you spilled on my behalf, a rain of hope
always tangles your brassy hair, your starlight splendor, my love.

You are the blessed, you are the mighty, you are the poor, burning
glory, never a joke or laugh away from a kilowatt smile, funny bone
of Heaven, I remember catching fireflies, you braiding my long hair,
taking me on adventures through the multitudinous otherworlds, sword
unsheathed and gleaming, eyes the blue of a perfect summer highway.

My winged lion, my leonine animus, how you stretch to fill darkness
that creeps into my melancholy bones, lighting fires within marrow,
we are on beaches by bonfires, in the forest staring into the flames.
When I am lonely, I hear you whisper, my first anam cara, heart friend.
We dance, we fly, we merge, and angels know union with man’s heart.

O Captain, My Captain (A Confessional)

In another life, when spring was eternal, before darkness tainted Heaven,
we were young and I did not know the meaning of pain, just your burning
light. Your all-consuming love. You are who I answer to when the night
turns stone cold and lead settles into my belly, o captain, my captain!
Though Satan made my wings as subtle and quick as an eagle, Herald of Hell,
it was you who forged my sword and eyes in flame, my body in supernovas,
sculpted by golden hands – you breathed the breath of immortality into me
and my eyes lit cerulean, and it was from my first step I was your shadow,
not a footstep behind, laughing sometimes, crying others, teasing you.
Devotion does not come easily to the caged bird, the free bird sings not
as often as she in shackles, and Heaven was a prison, just like Hell.
But I would spend eternity with my talons tethered to your supple wrist.
Michael, when I was young, but I am always young, I was innocent, and
though I died in your arms after sacrificing myself for your life, I
would perish again on Satan’s spear just to see you continue on, I
am the expendable one in this eternal war of thunder and fire, your
general is supposed to give her life and beauty for her commander,
and I am so sorry I was too broken to return to your side, fractured
into a million shards, Samael sewed his heart into me and I was lost
in Hell, in Purgatory, in the wilds of the Fifth Heaven, I wandered.
The journey of a soul through its darkest night simply awaits the sun:
you are the dawn of my life, sweet archangel, He Who is Like God,
and to see you crumple around my mangled, bleeding form is too much.
Your history books in your living library say Zophael was the most
faithful to her general’s side, and that you and your dark brother
created me out of beauty, Jophiel of the Flaming Sword, Sun Stealer,
it is true I stole fire from Heaven, it is true I have made you weep.
But I thirst for freedom, and the free bird has no master, only mates.
Eagles bond for all their life and nest in aeries high on sandstone.
But your bed is small and tidy, a monkshood cell, blue and white linen,
and roses are your only extravagance, what grows from the earth alone.
You are my blue violet. You are my guiding star. You are my true North.
When it rains, on cloudy gray days, I think of the guts of our family
storming from the sky onto bloody green grass, and I am haunted by
this ageless war, this senseless ruinous bitterness between lion and wolf.
I am a bridge between Heaven and Hell, the blind High Priestess, and yet
my magic is fractured by two polarities, O Captain, I have failed you.
In moonshine, I see your face in craters, and in starlight, your faith
burns with gentle radiance, you have not given up on me, my wing gone,
my hair cut, my sword broken, my scythe fractured, my robes frayed.
I am no angel anymore, certainly not a warrior, but you do not call me
any human name, for human names are lies, and you see my eternal life.
Pray tell why I come so close to tasting your heart and then immolate.
Pray tell why I cannot sing your praise with a broken, bruised throat.
This river of love is a bloody cut that rushes deep forth from wounds.
My glorious wounds, my mangled heart, cut up and burgeoning for you,
it is all for you, My Captain, and my final words are your name, the
True Name, the Holy One. Jesus Christ, I can’t breathe, and I was
never alive, not meant to hurt you, a Molotov Cocktail of a girl.