Satanic Teen Mom, Astral Children, or (Az)azel the Hyperactive Antichrist

Azazel

There is no equivalent of an astral condom.  Scratch that, maybe there is, but from over a dozen years of boinking demons and angels and gods, I’ve never so much seen a guy reach for an adamantine rubber.  I mean, don’t the gods, archangels, and archdemons have super jizz?  Look at all the poor ladies Zeus impregnated.  Look at Jesus Christ.  Wham, zam, Immaculate Conception!

I’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby, and ladies and gentlemen, Hail Adrian!  No really, what the fuck was that movie and book.  I love it to death, but does that mean all of Satan’s children are the Antichrist?  Samael has like a billion of them.  All the archdemons do.  They’re like an infernal Quiverful movement.  And how come my particular Antichrist is more concerned with rocking out to scene music, playing pranks, eating sugar, getting hugs, and bedtime stories than like, idk, destroying the world?  Raising Cain takes on a whole new meaning when you’re married to Cain’s father and, once again, astral condoms are not a thing.  Now I don’t know Samael from Adam, but I heard Eve had a hard time choosing between the Devil and a Deep Blue Pair of Eyes.  I sure do.  Joking aside, astral children are a very real shamanic thing, from witches in Europe to the spirit children of the Ainu.  A whole religion is based around the Son of God.  Mine would not inspire a religion.  My son would inspire earlier bedtimes and an infomercial about the dangers of having Satan spoil your kid.

I first met my son with Samael when I was 18.  He was already six… seeing as he ages like a human, that makes me a preteen mom at twelve, cue fridge horror moment.   The good thing about astral children is that pregnancy doesn’t have to be involved, and creating an immortal is more like, idk, bloop, a being of light is combined by mixing your energies in the aether, and bada bing bada boom, the stork arrives.

But back to my Adrian.  Hail Adrian! Hail Satan!

He was a little demon with pale skin, my blue eyes and Sam’s black hair and lean build.  His main concerns were hitting baseballs with his dad in the backyard and playing with little green army men.  He also liked to make exploding noises and eat sugar.  He clung to my legs, demanded hugs, and was already monstrously tall for a six year old.  I named him Az, after Azrael, in hopes he would turn out better than his father – more professional, polite, and less of a clusterfuck.

Six years later, those hopes were quickly dashed.

I was waaaay too young to be a parent, and seeing as the entirety of Heaven and Hell’s elite despite Samael are not fucking pedophiles with things for little girls, no one laid a hand on me until my early mid-twenties.  Needless to say, what Sam did was so not right, but when is it new that he’s an evil gross turd?  He is Satan, after all, and a manchild.  I love him despite him being the celestial equivalent of Kylo Ren.

Anyways, Az.  Azzy Az Az.  I admit it, I kind of forgot about him.  College and jobs and everything.  Then I turned 24.  That spring, the night of May 1st, I got the (mis)pleasure of meeting my sugar-high son again.  He had gotten into shapeshifting and playing pranks.  I didn’t recognize him, seeing as he was now twelve, had dyed his hair pink and blue, and had demonic yellow goat sideways slit goat eyes.  He kept hugging me, begging “mom” (me) for bedtime stories, love, affection, saying he couldn’t sleep because he lost the doll Sam had given him shaped like me (WTF), and said he wanted to be tucked in.

I summoned Michael and had him ground Az.

Az got taken away from me crying by Gabriel and Raphael.

“That’s your son, remember him?” Michael said gently.

“Oh shit, that is my son!  He’s a little spoiled brat.” I said, having just recovered from the surprise of it all.

Michael smiled.  “Be gentle on him.  Samael’s spoiled him rotten.  He’s never known discipline.  It’s taken all of Heaven and Hell to raise him.  We’re all very close to the troublemaker.  He’s been known to stir quite a lot of shit like Sam.  Maybe all he needs is your guidance.”

I cursed.  “Fuck, Michael, I just turned 24!  What the fuck do I know about raising a kid, much less a powerful prince of Hell that likes to turn the Underworld and Heaven into his play pen!  He’s like me at that age but with like fucking ADHD, high off sugar, and he’s fucking clingy!”

“He’s a child, Allie.  Your child.  Have patience.”

I woke up, reeling, then went back to sleep.

Samael and I were in an enchanted kind of Grand Canyon meets the Petra Cliffs, picknicking.

“There’s someone I want you to meet, Allie,” Sam said over a glass of his signature Cabernet.  He lowered his sunglasses, swilled his wine, and smiled like a shark as he bit into a bit of bread and cheese.

“Who, your dick?  I’m not gonna fuck you in the desert, Sam.  Sand in uncomfortable places, y’know.”

Someone, a tiny ball of strength and fury, jumped onto my back and squeezed me.

“HI MOM.  DID YOU MISS ME? I GOT OUT OF TIME OUT!  MOM, GUESS WHAT?  I JUST TURNED TWELVE!  DAD LET’S ME GO ON ADVENTURES WITH HIM, LIKE THIS ONE.  MOM, CAN I HAVE SOME DESERT!  THAT LOOKS LIKE STRAWBERRY SHORT CAKE.  THAT’S MY FAVORITE.”

The literal demon child did cartwheels and beat-boxed after he ate the. Entire. Cake.  All before I could stop him.

Sam laughed his ass off.

“Sam!  How the hell have you been raising our kid?” I whispered angrily to Corpseboy as Az played with a demonic fidget spinner that looked like a torture device.

“Oh, Azazel?  I tend to take a laissez-faire style of parenting like I did when you were young.”

My fury chomped at the bit.  “YOU NAMED MY SON AZAZEL!?!”

Samael smirked like, well, Satan.  “You did name him Az.  And he is half my child, after all.  The hyperactivity and irritation factor and short attention span may be your genetics, but he inherited my powers.”

“Fuck you!”

Az looked up from his beat boxing.  “Umm, mom, dad, why are you arguing?  Can we play hide and seek!  Please oh please oh please!  Then you can read me a story!”

We played hide and seek.  Az was very good at hiding.  Sam got pissed at how good at hiding he was.

“Azazel!  Come out!  Your mother wants to play with you now!” Samael hollered, drunk.

“OKAY.  I WON!” Az screamed, jumping onto Samael.  Samael laughed and began wrestling him.  They wrestled for a good ten minutes, then it devolved into a tickling match.  Az lost.

Az jumped onto me next and started roughhousing me.

“Kid, I’m breakable!”

“Be careful with your mother, Azazel.  She’s a delicate flower of femininity.  Gentlemen aren’t rough with girls,” Samael said, voice smug as a bug on a rug.

Az settled down a bit.  His lips quivered as he buried his face in my neck and began crying, hugging me hard.

“I’ve missed you mommy.  I have so many nightmares.  Dad can’t even make them go away.  Will you write me a poem so he can read it to me?  And get me a doll of you to sleep with?”

Az conjured up an illusion of the kind of doll he wanted – a rag doll of me with blonde hair in a red dress, Sam’s favorite dress for me.

There were tears in his blue eyes.

“Umm, sure thing, kiddo.”

I woke up, and well, I wrote this.

I was not very happy to suddenly find out I had a clingy son named fucking Azazel.

Azazel kept appearing in dreams and was quite cuddly.  He played with my psychic’s dog and children.  He would cuddle with me before bed and demand stories.  I got pissed off at Sam for how he was letting our kid grow wild like Tarzan and handed his rearing off to Michael.  Michael is a much better child-raiser, whereas Sam is a hellion raiser.  Az has settled down a little bit now that he is thirteen, but not much.  He’s growing more independent, pushing limits, but he’s so fucking adorable it’s hard to resist spoiling Az.

I refuse to call him Azazel out of principle.

Having a fully immortal son that exists out of time is kind of weird.  I recently met his adult form, who is quite a handsome Dionysian demon with clear blue eyes, long curling black hair, wears leopard skin and leads revels and festivals.   He fits into the Carnival King archetype, and is much more disciplined and egalitarian than Samael, thanks to Michael, he learned how to be a king.  There’s a kind of Lucifer-like chill and calculation about him, masked under Dionysian frenzy and revelry.  He likes wine like Samael, but Azazel is all lord of hosts, legion.  I view him as the leader of the Seirim, the Demons of the Wastes who goats were sacrificed to on Yom Kippur in order to avert the gaze of Samael from the Jewish tribes.  He is a Scapegoat, and a trickster.  A potent demon king that will lead Hell in his own way.  An Antichrist of sorts, I suppose.

But for now, he relates to me mostly as a tween that likes scene music, arm bands, hair dye, and above all, cuddles.

Most importantly of all, he is protective of his sisters.  All my girls with Sam end up blonde.  They are beautiful, wicked, ethereal, and much more inhuman than Az.  They look like Norse Sadakos.  They creep me out.  I love them anyways.

Az tucks them into bed and reads the girls stories.  He watches over them with a steel gaze.  He’s grown in responsibility by having younger siblings exponentially.   And he’s even eaten more green vegetables now that Michael has started him on Michael’s signature boring, bland health foods.

All Hail Azazel!

 

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Burning the Midnight Oil

Chomp at the bit while you’re dizzying me up with wine and poetry.  I’m nibbling your fingertips, splayed across your lap like an otter bobbing on the ocean with a pearl.  It’s us alone in luxury, us alone in the ruins of morals, and the falcon highs of Hell are only as worthy as the exhilaration of your majestic wings breaking.  We fall – into pace, out of time, from memory, but most importantly, into love.  Here you are as a cold spot under my ass, moving through me like a ghost as your sinuous hands entwine in my hair.  I always said you had pianist fingers, and you play the piano often, but sometimes you just sing, and the seasons stop turning and all Heaven is in mourning for losing its most beautiful voice.  I could say you are my better angel, or my Byronic Hero, but really, you’re just a scared boy clinging to cunts and tits because that’s the closest thing to mother you ever had.

Read me more of your poetry black soul.  Smash the windows, break the lamps, cry in my arms and bite my head off.  You like to tear me limb from limb and swallow me hole, then suture me back together with your putrid heart in the cage of my ribs and have my stitched drunken limbs dance like an automaton.  Somehow it always comes back to Eve’s choice – the Left Hand Path or the Right Hand, Yetzer Ha Ra or Yetzer Ha Tov, Michael or Samael, the Knight or the Dragon.  The Spin Doctors did this nineties song about Two Princes, y’know, and sometimes it gets stuck in my head.  She chooses the penniless poet at the end, but I can never guarantee I would choose you.  You’ll only ever be second-best, but you were first, so I suppose there’s that.

You fuck me real gentle that night.  My photo is on your bed stand, or photos should I say, from birth to toddlerhood to childhood to maidenhood to young womanhood.  There’s black and whites of my past lives too – I’m taking tea with Lilith in Victorian dresses, I’m swimming in the beautiful red Styx, we’re together in the 70’s at some hippie concert.  How much is fallacy or fantasy or lies is just like your fangs – translucent at time and hidden behind bleeding gums, other times out in the open and ready to devour.  I ask you to drink my blood so you do, sinking canines into my neck and I give into the ecstasy, I trace infinity on the small of your back and Christ, I love you so much I hate you, or is it hate so much I love you.

Michael said it is better to hate or love than to feel nothing, for in the end they are just polarities, just masks we wear.  Sometimes I remember you two before the War.  The War this, the War that.  Both of you are soldiers.  As I’m writing this, you form a cold spot that swirls lazily around my head and heart as I’m in a blanket and jacket.  I always wear my jackets inside, I’m in need of constant warmth.  Your seed is warm, your heart is cold, and you are a canvas of blank.  Is blank okay to call you?  Void with red demon eyes.  Abyss.  The Deep.  You move through me like rain on glass, just skimming the surface yet so thorough I run down your planes like tears.  Maybe I’m just another one of your moon maidens, oh fuck, here you are again, holding my hand across transdimensional space.

You said I would be Queen of the Aliens.  You said I would be the phoenix to rise from Ragnarok in a New Age.  You said I would be your savior, burying you below the Tree of Life – or was it Death? – to cleanse the mem from your name to make you Sael, the Purity of God.  Samech Mem Aleph Lamed.  The S and M Angel.  That’s my stupidest joke.

Oh Samael.  What can I say to you that I haven’t already articulated over this past quarter century, then all the lives after and before?  I’m old and I have tired words.  It’s past my bedtime.  You cherish me, and that is enough, but I know you are evil.  Can evil things love?  Can the most wretched of creatures know anything more than possessiveness and animal urges?  Snakes are snakes, not men.  You may put on the pretenses of humanity, but I know you are cold-blooded reptillian.  True, you have chthonic fire, but you are Death, and Death is Nothing.

Blank.

The Night I Met My Demon

I was perhaps nine or ten, imagining places in far off galaxies, like some Will Wheaton tucked into bed with space ships and fairies. Why God picked my imagination to become Hell, perhaps I’ll never know. Do angels sift through souls above and choose the ugliest to inhabit the fragilest of shells, tithes to the demons below? Do they cast the strongest ones down as playthings, hoping they’ll emerge from the Pit?

Disease is a strange thing. It takes on a life of its own. Dreams are no exemption.

I felt like a castaway curse. I dreamt of strands of bone and the very pits of Hell. There were crushed deserts of marrow sand, dead suns that hung high above, writhing cliffs of flesh that oozed blood. Balls with high lords that feasted on flesh, where humans were herded like chattel. I danced with them by moonlight, tripping on serpent tails:

“Blood for blood,” they told me. “That is the law of Hell.”

They would drink your veins and sanity, then drain you even more, until nothing was left but a husk. How many intestines could you stand wrapped around you? How many screams? I learned to fear the night, to loathe sleep, and lionize my tormentors. I wrote stories to make light of my nightmares, tried reimagining horrors with happy endings.

In the end, it never worked. I thought I’d joined their ranks. My art became morbid: girls plucking their eyes out, skeletons starved of love, hanged women with legs chopped off.

All screaming out for help. Poetry pleading for release.

I was neck deep in shit. And no adult gave a damn.

The circles within circles of hell became a seven year labyrinth to navigate, until they made me want to take my life. My mind raped itself. That is the tragedy of disease. Nightmares offer no escape. I still sleep under the covers, head below the pillows, so the darkness cannot touch me. The macabre became my home, and I owned it, humiliated it, beat it until it was a pulp. I tried to find humanity in the unthinkable, in the starving raped messes.

I was nine the night I met the monster. Guts covered fields of slain cherubim. My angel stood beside me, sword in hand as he screamed in rage. He’d levelled a whole regiment of demons single-handedly. I knelt beside him, weeping. He stumbled over the corpse of a friend.

He collapses, shrieking in pain.

“What’s wrong?” I cry, senseless.

His skin grows pallid. His sky blue eyes and goldenrod hair change. Red swallows the iris, his hair tars to black, and with a voice like grinding chains he laughs hideously. He rips open the stomach of a demon, steaming intestines fall to the grass. I scream. He gnaws at them, fangs sprouting from his teeth, bat wings replacing his pinions. He spits at the ground beneath me. The vegetation shrivels under his acid tongue.

“What?” he taunts. ”Are you frightened by me?” His laugh shattered any innocence I had. The guts dribble down his chest like sausage rolls. He smears the blood over his skin like paint, basking in the stink. His eyes become black holes.

I shriek. ”Please stop. This isn’t you.”

But he is too far gone into the madness to hear me. He is broken by pain.

I cannot run away, as he is my only protector.

So I stay with the beast. I hug him. He weeps, perhaps chases me away.

Even angels are victims of war. But then, I can only suppose.

Watchdog of Hell

I invented plagues for you, biting monsters that bore
a grim resemblance to your charred heart, your granite
hair, villains for you to crush, adamant angels while
all along, I should have been running from my demon
instead of straight into his arms. Satan has lips like
bloody stardust, teeth like poison, a mouth like wine.
Bitter dregs he sprung from, fungus fucosal, blackened
windswept grapes on a barren hill his vintage press.
My man is antique leather, old grimoires, Martian sigil.
My man is an onyx cloud I drown in, walking shadows.
Those beings that haunt battlefields, freaks of the night
they all cower at his name, and honey, my dog bites.

Casting Stars

samael__skoptsy__by_isklive-dbm26gt

“Decay tastes like honey.”

One-shot written in college about Samael and Shannon, whose story has not stopped since I first started writing their story a dozen years ago at twelve.

The rain fell like a bridal veil, so soft, onto the sidewalk, mixing with spilled gasoline to form oil rainbows in the gutter. A willow bent over the country street, skirting a peeling white picket fence, branches dancing in the wind. The quaint houses sprung like flowers from the ground, paint fading around screen doors left open in the summer heat. One door flapped open. A young, willowy woman in a red and white plaid sundress and combat boots stepped out, her smile illuminating the drizzle. Her dark, rosy hair spilled like snakes down her shoulders, loose curls like Titian red seen through sunglasses. She yawned, stretched, and ran a hand through her hair, watching the rain pool on her stoop.

“Bloody dreary morning. I’ve seen days in Hell less gloomy than this,” came a deep, rich voice from behind her. A skeleton dressed in a black bathrobe and shades stepped into the door frame, towering over her. He glowered, clutching a cup of coffee in his bony hands, and grumpily sipped it.

The girl sat on the step under the eaves, sheltered from the rain. She laughed, watching a bus barrel by. “I think it’s beautiful. Maybe you need contacts. Or eyeballs, for the matter.

He scoffed. “My vision has nothing to do with it. I loathe tame rain. Where are the wild gales? The clashing thunder? The spears of lightning? Storms should either be tempests or not exist at all. This drizzle is putting me to sleep.”

“Mmm,” the girl said dreamily, dangling her legs over the step’s side and watching a snail inch up the concrete. She plucked it from the steps and cradled the mollusc in her palm. Its radula scraped her hand, tickling her skin, and she laughed. “Someone woke up on the wrong side of the coffin.”

The skeleton growled. “Just because I’m Death doesn’t mean I sleep in coffins like a common leech.”

“Leech?”

“Leech. Vampire. The scum I wipe from my shoes after my morning walks with Cerberus in Hell.”

The girl quirked her brow. “Oh really.” Gently, she placed the snail onto the rose bush bordering the steps. “And what, pray tell, sets you apart from the bloodsuckers?”

“The fact that I actually pose a threat.” The towering skeleton set his coffee mug down on the table chest beside the doorway and pulled a Cuban cigar from his bathrobe pocket. He lit it with a silver lighter and miraculously smoked it. “Anyways, I’m a barrel of laughter compared to those pallid mosquitoes.”

The girl smoothed her skirts. “Really? Because I could have sworn your attitude kills all pleasantness.”

He took a drag from his cigar. “Kills all pleasantness, eh?” The skull grinned. “I am terminal, I suppose.”

“Only the Grim Reaper would be proud of being a pain.” She rolled her eyes, plucked a rose and crushed its petals between her fingers, bringing the rich scent to her nose. “Tell me, Samael. Can you even smell in that form?”

“What I’m lacking in senses I make up for in sheer charm.”

“That didn’t even answer my question.”

“I don’t need smell to appreciate the beauty of a rose.”

“Or touch, or sight, either, apparently,” the girl muttered. She set to lacing her combat boots tight as he puffed smoke into a ring. The smoke writhed and curled into the shape of a serpent. Samael tapped his slippered foot, as if impatient to start the day. He eyed the clock beside the door.

“Come in for breakfast, Shannon” he urged, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. She wrinkled her lip in disgust.

“Get your corpse hands off me. I’m trying to enjoy the storm.” But her stomach rumbled tellingly. She sighed, relented, and came in, shutting the door. “God, Sam. Why do you insist on prancing around the house as a skeleton? If the neighbors saw you…”

“But they don’t,” he smiled, gleeful. “To them, I look like a perfectly normal human being.”

“In a bathrobe. Only losers appear in public in bathrobes.”

“I’d hardly call a door frame public.”

“Drivers and passerby can see you.” Shannon made her way up the stairs, Samael gazing intently at her derriere. She caught his gaze and glared. “Aren’t you coming up, death in the morning?”

“Appreciating the view. Don’t mind me.” He tilted his shades down and grinned.

Shannon proceeded to walk up the stairs backwards to spite him. “I will not be checked out by a pile of bones. Change your aspect, now, or I’m feeding you to the local dogs.”

Samael stubbed his cigar on his robes. “And you said I kill all pleasantness. Pot calling the kettle black much, dear?”

She was about to reply but, off-balance, tripped on the final step and landed squarely on the derriere Death so admired. She cursed, wincing. “The only thing black about me is going to be my behind. I think I bruised it.”

“I’ll check for you.”

“I’ll pass.” He helped her up. “Stop grinning, damn it. This isn’t funny.”

“I can’t stop grinning. I’m a skull.”

“Well then don’t be a skeleton.”

He remained decidedly calcified. A loud peal of thunder shook the foundations of the house. Shannon massaged her rear end, leering. “I give up,” she said, marching off to her room in the small two-story house she rented for college. She slammed the door closed.

Samael was hot on her heels. He may have smirked (it was hard to tell) and began to dissipate, becoming a fine black mist that wafted under the door’s crack and into her inner sanctum. Shannon found herself caught in a thicket of darkness, the cheery light of her room drowned out by his demonic presence. She sighed, staying firmly rooted in her spot instead of stumbling about.

“Cute, Samael.”

Now we’re both black, came his disembodied voice. The darkness swirled round her in a disorienting manner. It pressed against her skin, feeling as the ocean might, rubbing against her in a calming manner. She felt her eyes grow heavy-lidded as the blackness bore her up off the ground, onto the softness of her bed. The pain in her tailbone receded at its silky touch.

“Is this supposed to mimic conditions in the womb? Because I’m claustrophobic, and it’s creeping me out.”

This is a world without sight. Isn’t it soothing?

The rain picked up outside, beating a staccato rhythm on the roof.

“I guess,” she admitted, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. The blackness filled her lungs, moving through her like the tide. Samael stretched inside of her, settling into her neurons and rooting himself in her brain. She squirmed beneath the weight of it all. “But aren’t you the least bit squicked out by what we’re doing?”

Possession? he hummed.

She flinched. “I hate it when you call it that. Like it’s something demonic.”

He cackled. It is.

“Fine, yes, possession. It seems unholy. Unnatural.”

But you enjoy it.

She shifted uncomfortably. “Maybe,” she muttered.

Then why should it be a sin? I’m just trying to ease your pain.

“All I did was fall on my ass.”

The darkness, somehow, snorted. You know there are deeper pains within you than that.

Shannon shuddered. “You had to remind me.”

Suppressing them does nothing for you, girl. We can find comfort in each other. I can help you face your fears, if you’ll only allow me.

“Are you trying to put me off breakfast?”

Suffering goes well with coffee.

Shannon relented. “Fine, hit me with your best shot.” She burrowed under her covers, letting the blackness take her away. Samael riffed through her mind- she felt him like a pressure on her temple. Images flashed behind her closed eyes: the war in Heaven. The carnage of battle. A desolate Eden left to waste… Samael chose a moment and settled on it.

Shannon watched Samael fall, limbs mangled, from a battle on high. She ran, screaming, through the Fields of Asphodel, as Azazel laughed on high, victorious. Throngs of Grigori pursued her.

“Damn you bastards!” she screamed, firing shots from her blessed Colt revolver. Bursts of ether hit the Grigori pursuants. The ones hit stumbled and fell, but there were too many. They were closing in.

“Samael!” she called, desperate. He lay broken, bleeding ichor onto the plain white flowers beneath him. “We need to escape. Now.” She holstered her gun and unlatched Samael’s scythe from where it was held at her back. Swinging it in a mad arc, she summoned a portal to Pandemonium, Hell’s capital. Samael groaned, in pieces.

“My head,” he choked. “Take my head. I’ll regenerate the rest.”

Shannon took the severed head and cradled it in her arms, staining her battle tunic in black blood. She rushed through the portal, scythe in hand. Samael choked out a word in angelic to seal it. The cries of the Grigori army echoed after its closure. Shannon collapsed, in some cobblestoned street in Pandemonium’s, the capital of Hell’s, lethal streets. Cries of pleasure and pain indicated they were in the market district, where every service imaginable was sold. The night hung heavy with jasmine and spice as Shannon leaned against a wall in the slim alley, breath ragged. She held the severed head to her chest, traumatized. Grisly bits of ribboned flesh hung from his neck and snapped spine.

“Blood. I need to feed,” Samael rasped.

Shannon obliged, jaded to the process. She was Samael’s lifeline in this state. The blood of Eve flowed through her, mother of mankind and keeper of the Fruit of Life. The Fruit was a metaphor for her blood, she the stout trunk of the Tree of Life, for what better place to hide immortality but in a woman? Eve was the Tree given life, and Shannon, as her reincarnation, possessed her powers.

She held Samael to her neck- he sunk his viper fangs into the soft skin beneath her jaw line, sucking at the providence of the blood. Shannon cried out at the pain as the liquid beneath her skin welled up, flowing between his lips. Samael sighed, pain abated. In a flash he was whole again, sated by her rejuvenating blood.

“Blood is the life,” he murmured, sagging against her.

“Stop quoting Dracula, idiot,” she breathed, exhausted. They clung to each other, Shannon shuddering. “I hate this. This half-existence we’re eking out. Neither one of us whole. I had to carry your head, Samael. It’s disgusting.”

“War requires sacrifice. And we are two parts of a whole. Live with it.”

The vision ended.

“Why are you showing me this?” Shannon demanded. She beat against the blackness, forcing it out of her. She coughed as it left her lungs. The darkness swirled like a storm cloud, condensing into a severe black robe. Samael appeared, fully human, save for a pair of majestic raven wings, his pale skin shining in the morning light that poured through the window. He fixed the collar of his robe and looked at her intently.

“Because you’ve been repulsed by me ever since that happened.”

She looked away from him. “I knew, in theory, what I had to do. I just never… never thought it would be so gory. So horrible.”

Samael softened. “It doesn’t have to be. We are two parts of a whole, the snake and the maiden, the serpent and its tree. I bite your heel and you bruise my head, but the curse that’s between us is sweeter still.”

“You know I hate it when you quote cryptic Biblical verses.”

Samael glanced out the window. “Sometimes old, tired words are the best ones. But truly, Shannon. You are weary. So weary. I could feel it in your soul. Yet you hide it so well. Sometimes I forget how fragile you are…” He glided over to her, sitting at the edge of the bed.

Shannon frowned. “I’m anything but fragile, Sam.”

He stroked the bit of her leg that poked out from under the quilt. “All humans are fragile. Even you. If I could, I would swaddle you like a newborn and protect you from the world. But I can’t…” His eyes lingered on the faint scars on her neck that would be gone in a week’s time. He hung his head in shame. “I wish there was another way.”

“Don’t, Sam. I’m glad I can help you, that I can serve some purpose in this godforsaken war. It’s just trying at times. It feels so unnatural, like everything we do. Like I’m being preyed upon.”

Samael’s face looked pained. He sighed, lying down beside Shannon. She shifted to allow him space, curling up beside him. “It doesn’t have to be that way,” he breathed, threading his arms around her waist. “I can be gentle, girl. God knows I want to be.” He was intoxicated by her scent, like vanilla mingled with roses. Samael inhaled sharply, inches from her neck.

“You do?” she whispered.

“Yes,” Samael murmured, parting his lips. Lust bubbled up in his core and he ran his hands over her midriff, pulling her closer. Fangs instinctively slid down from his gums, the temptation too much. Shannon watched, intrigued.

“Won’t you spoil your breakfast, Vlad?” she teased, bringing her mouth to his and sucking on his lower lip. Samael moaned.

Death bristled. “I am not a vampire, worm.”

“All evidence points to the contrary.” Shannon laughed, running her fingers through his thick coal hair. She sighed, pressing against him. “I’ll admit, it would feel good, if I were relaxed. The god damn drugs your venom injects into me gives me a high better than, well, anything. It’s euphoric. I’ve never felt so blissful in my life. But it’s always at the wrong time, when we’re in dire straits. I’ve never gotten to enjoy it…” Thunder roiled outside and a true downpour began, darkening the room. Shannon grinned, weariness forgotten, a devilish glint in her eye. “Is it gloomy enough for you now, Sam?”

He glanced out the window. “Decidedly so.”

“Good.” She smiled, and with sudden force pushed him onto his back. His wings spread out beneath them.

“Ho, worm. What’s gotten into you?”

Lightning flashed, illuminating Shannon’s sleek body. She rose to her knees, straddling Samael. Her breasts hung like globes from her small frame, hidden by the demure collar of her dress.

“The storm,” she replied, bending down to kiss his brow.

Samael ran his hands over the ripe curve of her hips, smiling crookedly. He stroked her back with his wingtips, gently pushing her down with his feathers. Shannon trailed kisses down his sharp nose to his lips, sucking at his fangs so the sweet venom escaped and entered her mouth. She swallowed, letting out a soft moan at the taste.

“God, Sam. I’m literally addicted to you. Our relationship isn’t healthy.”

“It was never healthy to begin with.”

“True,” she whispered, licking the venom that wept from his hollow fang. “Mmm. You taste like summer and oases. Can I market this shit?”

“What? Demon spit?”

Shannon laughed. “I’d label it something more appealing. Devil’s Kiss. We could sell it on the black market and make a fortune.”

“You know it’s lethal to anyone but you, don’t you?”

Shannon paused. “What?”

“That’s right. It’s poison. I use it to separate souls from the body. My name means ‘gall of God’ for a reason.”

“Like what the Internet said about the angel of death dripping gall into dead men’s mouths…” Shannon said, her mouth opened in an O of realization. “I’VE BEEN DRINKING DEATH SHIT!?!”

Samael grinned like a shark. “You’ve swallowed worse.”

“Bastard!” She slapped him. Her hand ached from impact upon his adamantine flesh. Samael roared with laughter, shaking between her legs. His quaking lurched her forward, onto his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her with vise-like strength, crushing her to him so she couldn’t escape. “Let me go, you sick shit!” Shannon screamed.

“If I’m sick, you’ve been infected as well. You are what you eat, worm.”

“Shrivel up and die, you walking corpse.”

Samael did.

Shannon shrieked, in the clutches of a mummy. “I DIDN’T MEAN THAT LITERALLY!”

The corpse laughed, voice dry and unused. Shannon tore herself free of it’s embrace. “FUCK YOU, AND FUCK YOUR GROSS NECROPHILIA.” She attempted to bolt from the room. The corpse rasped a word in angelic, locking the door. Trapped, she turned, back against the wall, balling her hands into fists.

Samael laughed like the Crypt Keeper, rising from the bed like a zombie and trudging towards her on dead knees. He held out his arms, performing an over-dramatic, stumbling corpse walk. An ax materialized in his hands. “HEEERRREEEE’S JOHNNY!” he declared, referencing The Shining. Shannon, not a fan of Stephen King, and especially not a fan of ax-wielding corpses, dived toward her desk and grabbed the most likely weapon from it- a perfume bottle. She doused Samael with it.

He dropped the ax, rubbing at his eyes and hissing. “That burns! You know, as a corpse, I have no tear ducts, so it’s ten times worse. How inconsiderate of you.”

Shannon looked upon him grimly, arms crossed. “You’re calling me inconsiderate? You turned into a cadaver when we were making out, you freak!”

Samael sniffed, an awkward sound for a corpse to make, as they didn’t normally breathe. “I was just doing exactly what you told me to. I consider that very considerate.”

Shannon opened the perfume bottle, hurling its contents at him. She screamed. Samael, drenched, shook himself off, glowering.

“You have no sense of humor,” he muttered, shifting back into his fully fleshed, definitively alive form. He smelled overpoweringly of vanilla.

“And you have no sense of decency!” She kicked the ax out of her way, furious. “God, sometimes I just want to bury you out in the backyard where you belong,” she said coldly. “Six feet under where you can’t hurt a soul.”

Samael’s eyes widened. “You don’t mean that, Shannon.”

“Yes, I do!”

Pain flashed in his face. “I was only trying to make you laugh…” He licked his fangs self-consciously, wishing they would retract. He hated to admit it to himself, but seeing Shannon in such a state of passion elicited certain… reactions in him. That was partially the reason he terrorized her. He became aware of his groin straining against his robes and blushed.

Shannon glared at him. “Great. Boniface has a boner. The world’s sense of humor is cruel indeed. God damn you, you get turned on by this! You’re a creature of filth, Samael. Absolutely revolting.”

He winced. Samael shifted, trying to hide his erection. “Dirty talk so early in the morning, Shannon?” he muttered, eyes downcast in shame.

She snorted. “You wish.”

He dared not meet her eyes. Samael cursed himself. His blood flow was still heading southward as he watched the rise and fall of Shannon’s breasts. He couldn’t tear his gaze away…

“Stop staring at my chest.”

“Your face is too intimidating at the moment. I’d rather not bask in its vitriol,” he said, glum.

She sighed. “My god, Samael. You know I didn’t mean what I said. You’re not revolting, at least, not like this. Human.”

He shrugged, slipping his hands into his pockets. “You don’t accept me in all my aspects, though. I’m Death, Shannon, lord of decay. I have sides of me that are gruesome. And you shy away from them constantly-”

“Whoa! You expect me to hook up with a cadaver?”

“NO. But you don’t need to act so repulsed. You couldn’t leave my arms faster.”

“You were a CORPSE!”

“But they were still my arms. Just like it was still my head you cradled in the streets of Pandemonium. I may come to you broken, in pieces, but it will still always be me.” He shifted into his skeletal form, looking forlornly at her with hollows for eyes. “You recoil at my touch. How do you think that makes me feel?”

“Fuck, Sam. Yes, I’m highly uncomfortable around anything that looks like remains. I’m living. It’s natural. As for how you feel, don’t you realize that?”

“I do,” he said quietly. “But it doesn’t pain me any less.”

“I love you, idiot! Even when you’re a sack of bones!”

He glided over to her, dark tendrils of his robe reaching out to taste her skin. “You do?” he murmured. Samael loomed over her.

She took his bony hands in his. “Yes, Samael,” she said, lacing her fingers through his. “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to hook up with the Grim Reaper.”

He laughed, shifting back into his human form. “Fair enough.” Blush still tinged his pale cheeks. “I’m sorry I upset you.”

Shannon pulled him close. “Don’t be. But really. Here’s Johnny?”

Samael smirked. He enveloped her in a hug, erection pressing against her stomach. She looked down. “We should do something about that,” she said, grinning wickedly.

Samael’s core tightened at the suggestion. He let Shannon take control as she led him to the bed. She sashayed, smiling wildly, and tangoed with him to the mattress. Her eyes burned like cigarettes.

“Mmm…” Samael said in approval, following her down onto the bed. They met in a tangle of limbs, lips heated as their mouths joined. He groaned, grinding into her against the flimsy fabric of her dress. Shannon sighed in pleasure as he left smoldering kisses along her collarbone, trailing up to the softness of her neck.

“Now,” Shannon breathed.

Samael slipped his fangs into her flesh painlessly. Drunk off endorphins, Shannon cried out, closing her eyes as waves of bliss carried her away. She clutched him to her, breathing in the airy scent of his downy wings. Gently, Samael eased her out of her panties and slid inside her, pumping slowly as he drank her in. He moaned, letting the crimson drench his tongue. They made love softly, to the sound of the rain.

It was like casting stars. Sending your fishing line out to snag on the brightest one. Thunder boomed like the cries of the gods. The minutes spilled out like jewels between them, one after another until they seemed ceaseless. Finally, the line snagged, and the diamonds blossomed forth. Their moans mingled together like ribbons.

Spent, Samael collapsed in her arms, seeking her breasts as a pillow. Shannon sighed, cuddling against him.

“Breakfast?” she asked.

They laughed.