She's walked a long way to get there. The black woods was a place that she never enjoyed coming but this is where she knew she could find him. Ariel was always afraid when she came to this place. This place was a dark place. The animals never followed her in here...even the most brave of them. This is one place they wouldn't go.
The shadows had surrounded her as she went. They moved quickly never staying in one place for too long. They were more nervous today then usual. It scared her watching the shadows but she knew they would never harm her. Not so long as Leviathan ruled in this place.
The voice was his. Her love's voice. She would do anything for him or so she thought. She had escaped the other angels as fast as she could to come here and see him but now that she was here she didn't know what to do.
“Leviathan. Leviathan...I missed you.”
“I'm here now.”
He held her. He had a powerful stance and his arms surrounded her. She had felt comfort in this arms. So many days she was without him and now that she was with him things just didn't seem the same.
“I escaped them,” she told them.
“Where are they?”
“Back at the office. They were fighting.”
Leviathan looked back at her, “Yes. I feel something different. Something has changed over there. The time is close. Something has changed back there. Maybe I could go back.”
She didn't know what he was referring to so she just guessed, “Maybe it's Michael. He's angrier. They are saying you killed his mother.”
Ariel looked up at him. The way here she kept thinking about it. Michael's mother. Leviathan had killed Michael's mother. She had been meaning to ask this to Leviathan as soon as she saw him. She didn't get it. No matter how much she tried to connect the dots it never made sense to her.
“For you...of course,” he replied.
“I didn't want her dead. She was innocent.”
“She laid with the archangel who cast me out of heaven. She was far from innocent,” he corrected her, “She was a part of this too.”
“You said only Michael had to die. What changed?”
“Michael must still die.”
“They said you were with him. They said that you had him right there in front of you...but you didn't kill him. I don't get it. You wanted all of this to end. You said no one else would have to be hurt but Michael. Why didn't you do what you said? Why hasn't this ended?”
Ariel didn't mean to sound aggressive with him. He had made her all these promises though and it seemed like all of those promises didn't make sense at this moment. Why had he been lying to her?
“Are you questioning me?” he asked her.
“I turned against God for you. I turned against the angels...for you. The most you can give me is an explanation. Why didn't you kill Michael?”
“I never wanted Michael dead.”
The truth had come out now. Her heart was beating. It was beating faster and faster. She had assumed that had to be the truth. How dumb could she have been this entire time? Leviathan lived with Michael. He was right under Michael's roof. If he wanted Michael dead he would have killed him a long time ago. No. He didn't want Michael dead. She knew the answer to that even before she asked. That wasn't the true question that she was trying to get at though.
Before she knew it she took a step away from him. The shadows were all over her. They crept around her making her feel so uncomfortable.
“Then why did you ask me to kill him?” she asked.
Birds. A flock of birds circled overhead. They seemed to be looking down for her. She didn't speak to the animals in the way that you would think. Her connection with the animals was more about emotion. They comforted her when they were sad. They helped her when she was in need. They felt sorry for her.
He looked over at her. His once welcoming eyes seemed to be full of menace. For the moment she couldn't recognize him.
“What do you think? Why would I ask you to kill Michael if I didn't want him dead? Think about it hard, my love, think really hard at what motivation would contribute to that request.”
It was the one piece of this that never made sense. She had stayed in the room locked up banished from the other angels thinking. She had been all alone and that was her one fear. Her one fear in the world was being alone.
“I don't know...”
“I knew you couldn't kill Michael, not with his power. No. What I wanted---was him to kill you----”
There it was.
Her heart broke at that moment. Her heart broke into pieces. He had been using her this entire time. It was clear and now he had no more use for her. Michael hadn't killed her like he wanted. She was still alive. She could see so much intention in Leviathan's eyes at that moment. She shouldn't have come here.
The shadows. The shadows were swirling...around and around. They were going to come for her. They were going to finish what Michael didn't.
She was about to die here...in the darkness. Alone.
The thing that she feared most in the world.
“This is all your fault,” Raphael stated.
Raphael had been trying to heal Rag but we all knew it was pointless. We all knew Rag was dead. Raphael couldn't bring back people from the dead.
He was crying of course. I assumed he would be. He wasn't the only one but his tears were the most dramatic. He looked over at me with a pure hatred that I came to know from him.
I wasn't surprised when he blamed it on me. I was assuming he would. Cham was crying over Rag's dead body. Gabby was standing there looking down. She didn't show any emotion at all. Uri was just shaking his head. I wondered what he had thought about. It had been only about an hour since Rag had died but it seemed like a lifetime.
“It's not his fault,” Cham replied, “I told you guys to stop. I warned you all to stop.”
Raphael wasn't letting up. I don't think I ever had someone hate him in the way that he did, “He broke the window. He's trouble. I warned you fucking idiots that Michael was trouble!”
This had come from the strangest source. It came from Gabby. She had barked at Raphael so loud that a couple of us jerked forward. Gabby grabbed a sheet at that moment and went over to cover up Rag's body.
“Gabby---” Raphael stated, “You got to understand where I'm coming from.”
Gabby said shaking her head, “Michael held his own against us all. If there's one thing I can respect is strength. We came at him and we weren't good enough. Rag's dead. We are one man down. We may be needing him after all.”
She was talking as though this was some sort of logical thing to say.
I didn't have time to bullshit with Gabby.
“What makes you think I give a damn if you need me or not?” I asked her, “You idiots came at me. You betrayed me.”
“This isn't about you,” Uri replied.
He spat his words at me and caused the same sort of disruption as when Gabby barked at Raphael. I was surprised. Uri had even rolled his eyes at me and sighed heavily. The body language seemed to say it all. He was pissed.
“Excuse me?” I found myself asking, dumbfounded by his tone.
He didn't look back at me but he did reply, “This isn't about you. This isn't about any of us. There is a dead man. A friend of ours...laying on the floor because we couldn't get our shit together. What makes us any worse than the demons. We need to start sticking together or we'll all end up like him.”
“Man...what the fuck ever...” I found myself saying.
I was pissed. I was pissed and upset at the same time. I had walked over to a corner of the room. I was so angry and I didn't understand why. They had made me kill a man. They had forced my hand. Whether or not it was a mistake didn't matter. They made me break that glass. I didn't see where he was. Rag had made himself invisible to me. The way he died was haunting me even now.
I looked over at his body. I was shaking at that moment. I was so angry. I was lost. I knew Uri was right but I was angry at him as well. Why was he forcing me to stay in this situation? Didn't he see I didn't want anything to do with these people anymore? I wanted to go back to my anti-social bubble where I didn't have to speak or talk to anyone. I just wanted to be alone.
He was forcing me here without even forcing me here.
“I need to bury him,” Cham stated.
Cham had been crying the entire time. It was at that moment that I felt bad for him. I had just lost my mom. I wasn't sure how close him and Rag were but I figured he was closer to Rag then the rest of us. When I looked at him it seemed like he had the same sort of pain that I had.
“You should,” I said, “I can come, you know; help you. If you would like.”
That was the least that I could do. I had caused this accident. I was fighting back tears but it was so hard. I hadn't meant to kill him. The only person who seemed to blame me was Raphael but still it wasn't enough. He was dead. A part of me blamed myself.
Cham nodded, “I know a place.”
“That's not a good idea...”
We hadn't noticed the door to the office opening. We didn't notice anyone walking in until she walked in. It was Ariel. She stumbled into the room. She was breathing heavy. Her hair looked disheveled. She seemed confused and lost when she walked into the room.
“The traitor returns...” Gabby replied.
We all looked over at Ariel. She didn't have the high pitch to her voice like she usually did. She seemed to be talking like herself again. Her voice was deeper and more sure of herself. When she looked over at us she had this intention in her eyes.
“I've come to warn you guys,” Ariel replied, “Look outside the windows...”
We got up at that moment and ran to the windows. I didn't know what I was looking for but by the time I got to the windows it became clear. The day had become to night. I had seen this before. I had seen this the day that Uri and I came to this place. The parking lot of the office building was covered with dark shadows of people. There were more people out there than I could count. They didn't move. I knew what they meant.
As I turned to my side I notice Uri staring back at me. By the look of his own reaction Uri knew what this was too. The darkness was here. The demons had come.
My heart raced, “You lead them to us!”
“No. Leviathan knew where you were already,” Ariel replied, “I barely escaped with my life from him. Luckily a flock of birds were overhead when I met with him. They distracted him when I got away...”
“Does it not make sense to anyone that all of a sudden she's running from the person she was so in love with?” Gabby asked.
I hated to admit it but I agreed with Gabby. I looked back outside the window. The streets were littered with those dark figures. It seemed almost like this was some kind of set up. How the fuck could we trust Ariel especially after she tried to kill me. How the hell could I look at her the same?
All of us were looking at her. Raphael had remained quiet on the matter. He looked pissed still. Cham looked like he was still an emotional wreck.
It was Uri...of course, that defended her, “Since when are any of us perfect.”
“I'm telling the truth,” Ariel replied, “He was saying something about how something has changed here. He was talking about coming here. I think...I think he's coming to attack us.”
Raphael shook his head, “This place is sanctified. No demon can enter. It's been blessed.”
That would explain why the demons didn't enter the building last time they gathered around. Even now they were just standing outside.
“She's lying. This is a set up,” Gabby replied.
“I have no reason to lie. He says that something's changed.”
“She's not lying,” Cham replied, “Something has changed. A murder. Rag is dead. This place has been forever tainted...”
At that moment Ariel seemed to notice the body laying on the floor. Either she was the best actress in the world or she really seemed distraught by the fact that it was Rag laying there.
The next ten to fifteen minutes there were more tears. Cham started crying then Ariel started crying. They started going back and forth. Raphael started not too long after him. Uri was crying in silence. Gabby and I looked at one another with an awkward silence. I was probably closer to crying then she was. She must have thought she was way too tough to cry or something.
I wondered what my excuse for not crying was. I couldn't figure it out because every part of me just wanted to break down when I heard the others start sobbing.
“This is enough,” Gabby replied, “We need a plan---not tears. We're surrounded by demons. If what Ariel is saying is the truth then they will be here any minute. We need a plan.”
Raphael shook his head, “It's useless. We're all going to die. Just like...just like RAG!”
The hate that Raphael felt for me was probably just how annoyed I was with him. He was becoming such a negative person. His energy was beyond negative. The tears had turned to anger as he started walking up and down the office aisles flipping desks as though he had Gabby's strength. He was flexing his muscles and punching walls. The emotion he was showing seemed to just break Cham and Ariel down even more.
Gabby looked just as annoyed as I was at that moment and she actually caught eyes with me, “Michael. You're the only one who seems somewhat composed. Do you have one?”
Strange. I was surprised that Gabby looked over at me.
“Uri. The demons don't come near his flame. He can light candles at the windows...at the door. They won't come near it.”
“We just lock ourselves in?” Uri asked.
“At least until morning. Maybe they'll leave by morning.”
“Wait it out,” Gabby said shaking her head, “Not too bad of a plan. I must say. I don't see them being around in the daytime. Looks like you are coming in handy after all, Michael. Might be glad I kept you alive after all. Matter of fact. I have my stash. Be glad I drink like a fucking fish and kept some alcohol stored away. We can get wasted...”
Gabby walked away. I could tell by the tone in her voice that she was upset too. She was upset about Rag but she wasn't showing it like the others were. She seemed not get angry or sad. She seemed to just be desperate to move on and forget about this weakness.
As I looked on I could kind of feel this ability to relate to that. I could relate to the fact that she didn't want to appear weak.
“Can I have some?” I found myself asking.
Before I knew it Gabby pulled out a long bottle of vodka, “If you can handle it. The cherubim can't help you with this one, Michael.”
Hours had passed into the night. Gabby was the first one to pass out in a drunken stupor. It was almost hilarious that someone so strong couldn't hold alcohol so well. I would have sworn with how she talked she would have been the last one standing. She wasn't the most girly of girls. Not like Ariel at least. She'd thrown up a few times, punched Raphael in his face, made Ariel lock herself up in the conference room, cursed almost everyone out and then cuddled up underneath her desk.
I turned over my shoulder to see Cham standing there. I was surprised to see him walk up to me. He had been drinking as well and I could smell the alcohol on him as he sat next to me. He damn near stumbled.
“I should ask you that.”
“Ok. I can't hold my liquor like you. I'm a light weight. I got to admit,” Cham laughed.
I was the only one still drinking. My hand cuffed the bottle. I wished I had the ability to get drunk as fast as they could. I didn't though. My tolerance to alcohol had grown over the years from a young age. I spent a lot of time being comforted by alcohol. I knew that Gabby's bottle wouldn't be enough to get me where I needed to be tonight.
“I wasn't talking about the alcohol,” I replied, “I was talking about Rag.”
I nodded over to where Rag was. We were in a corner but I could still see where Rag was from where we were sitting. Raphael was sitting over him. Raphael was praying.
“He knew what he signed up for. He believed in this like the rest of us do.”
“You believed in dying by the hands of someone who should have been his ally?”
Cham sighed at that moment, “You blame yourself?”
I sighed at that moment. I took a long sip of alcohol. Raphael was praying so hard over Rag. I wondered if God heard Raphael. I wondered if he listened to him. Maybe Raphael was praying for me to go straight to hell. Maybe God was listening. I wondered if God had a plan. I wondered if this was in the plan. What kind of sick ass joke would that be?
“I should have just stopped.”
“He should have as well,” Cham stated, “Look at me. You're a good dude. I see it. You can lie to the others but you can't lie to me. I see your third eye. What happened today was an accident? Ok?”
Cham put his hand on the back of my neck. He leaned over at me in a drunken slur. I found myself resting my head against his head. For some reason I felt close to him. It was one of those rare moments. I knew if he was sober I would never have let him so close in this intimate position.
“What if I'm not? What if I'm like Raphael says?” I asked him, “What if I'm a murderous seducer---”
Cham looked over at me, “Come here. Put your face close to mine.”
“Just do it.”
I turned my face close to Cham. Cham looked over at me. He stared down at my lips for the first few minutes. He was such a clown even when he was stupid drunk that I couldn't help but laugh. He held my face close to him. We were so close that I could feel the hot alcohol on his breath brushing up against my lips.
“Boy you're drunk. What the hell are you doing?”
“I'm trying to see if you can turn me gay,” Cham replied.
“Raphael said you turned him gay,” Cham replied, “I'm trying to see if that works. Here. Let me get closer. Closer. Yep. No. I'm still straight. You're not a seducer. If Raphael is attracted to you it's because of him. Not you.”
I nodded. That made a lot of sense. Cham was a clown a lot of the times but through his stupid laugh and corniness he did seem to have a somewhat wise soul.
“Well you should probably go talk to Uri. I just saw all these waves of negative energy coming this way...” Cham replied.
I looked over at Uri. He was lighting up a few more candles at the front of the office. His eyes had been caught staring at us. I didn't need a third eye like Cham to see the negative energy. He crossed his eyes away from me so quick that I was shocked. He looked pissed.
“I'm pretty sure Uri probably thinks your gay now,” I stated shaking my head.
“Well he's a new gay. His gaydar is a little off. You got him all fucked up.”
“He likes me for whatever reason. I don't know why.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“Are you serious? That's a horrible thing,” I replied shaking my head.
“You care about him too though,” Cham told me.
“Take your ass over there,” Cham replied, “And talk to him. I'm not trying to get burned alive by Uri's flames tonight. Nothing against gays but I passed my test.”
I couldn't help but laugh. This was ridiculous. I had no idea how I got into this situation. Still I got up and walked across the office. The office was huge and by the time I got over to where Uri was Cham was already laying down pretending to fall asleep.
I looked over at Uri.
He was trying to ignore me at first but I took a few steps closer.
“On to your next victim?” Uri asked.
“Victim. Wow. Really?” I asked, “You do realize Cham is straight right...”
Uri shook his head, “So then what is your thing. Putting your face that close to him? Are you trying to turn him out like you did Raphael?”
“Whoa...Uri calm down...”
“Fuck calming down!” Uri replied immediately, “All you do is play with people. People like me. The next guy you fuck how about you don't do it near me.”
“You think I'm trying to make you jealous.”
“I don't get fucking jealous,” Uri replied, “Kid.”
He had me confused. Uri walked away from me at that moment. The way he said kid was so demeaning. He was really trying to piss me off. The truth was I understood it. I wasn't the best thing to him. I knew I wasn't.
He stopped. He didn't turn back towards me but he stopped. He just waited at that moment. I looked at him in silence. My heart was racing as I looked at his back.
“Were you trying to get with Cham just now...or not...”
I wanted to tell him that I loved him. I wanted to tell him that everything I did was because I loved him. I loved him and I knew he wasn't good for me. I loved him so I wanted to keep him away from me. I loved him but everything I touched was damaged.
Uri was too good to be damaged. He was too good for me.
Uri was an angel.
Instead of saying all of those things I just shook my head, “Goodnight.”
The pain in his heart was something that Uri had never experienced. He had never allowed one person to stab him so many times. He felt like he kept coming back for more. He didn't know what it was about but he feared maybe Raphael was right. Maybe these feelings were just unnatural. He wanted to like Michael but he'd found himself being more and more angry all the time.
He turned to see Ariel walk into Rag's old office. Her hair was wet and she barely had on her old clothes. She looked at him with a wondering look.
He sat on Rag's old desk.
“I heard a banging noise.”
He'd been punching the desk in his anger.
“Just in a bad mood,” He replied.
He was changing so much. All the time he was angry now. He couldn't get his mind off of Michael. He didn't understand why Michael played him like that. He remembered seeing Michael sleeping with Dwayne. He promised himself that he would never speak to Michael again after that but he couldn't help it. He couldn't help it even a few minutes ago when he saw Michael almost about to kiss Cham. Michael was a whore to him. He never dated females that got around like that. Why the hell was he even considering Michael.
“Love is a hard thing isn't it?” Ariel asked.
“Oh please. Everyone knows you're in love with Michael. If not love at least a really aggressive form of liking him,” Ariel replied to Michael, “All the good men are gay.”
Uriel shook her head, “I'm not gay. It's just...maybe. I don't know. I'm fucking confused. I've never felt like this and I just keep getting hurt over it.”
“It won't stop.”
“Thanks. That makes me feel better,” Uriel stated.
Uriel looked over at Ariel. She was laughing. She at up at the desk, “I'm sorry. I can only speak the truth. It won't get better. It'll only get worse. You'll only keep thinking about him more and more. Trust me. I know. I was in love with a bad boy too.”
Uriel raised an eyebrow. He had probably spoken the least to Ariel out of all the others. He didn't know too much about her. They didn't have much to relate on. He was more of a masculine guy who loved sports and things like that. Ariel was a girly girl who loved nature, animals and fashion. They didn't have a lot to relate on.
“Yeah. I'm not anymore. He hurt me. I mean it literally took him trying to have me killed for me to realize he wasn't the right one.”
“Maybe that's what Michael will have to do for it to hit me. Maybe Michael will just have to try to kill me before I can finally hate him.”
“Hate is a strong word. You'll never hate him. I still don't have Leviathan,” Ariel replied, “No. Never that. You'll get numb to it all. You know. That's the best you can hope for with true love even if it's unrequited. You can hope to get numb.”
“I don't think I'm that strong. I mean. I am strong mentally and I'd like to say physically but with him. I'm weak.”
“That was my mistake. I used to let him think I was weak. I don't know where it came from that I felt like if I played the victim he'd love me more because Leviathan is so powerful. I figured...maybe if I pretend to be weak he'd love me more. It's useless to be like that, Uri. Take your power back. Be strong.”
“I wish I knew how...”
“I can show you...”
Just at that moment she put her hands on him. Uriel wasn't expecting it. He wasn't expecting her to start rubbing on his crotch at that moment.
“Wait. This is wrong. I don't...I don't feel anything for you.”
“I don't feel anything for you either. But look. We both are here with a broken heart. We should take our minds off of it.”
She was on her knees before he could stop her and by the time his dick was out he didn't want to stop her. He was thinking that maybe she had a point. It wasn't like Uriel couldn't perform. He had performed on girls a million times before. By the time she was sucking his dick he had leaned back on the desk. His eyes rolled in the back of his head.
She sucked on his veins. She sucked on his shaft. She made her way down over and over. There was a comfort in this that he didn't mind. His heart was racing as the blood rushed to his penis. He clutches the sides of the desk.
She seemed to be worshipping his body, stunned by how his physique was so fit. He had many people touch on him like this before. Uriel always believed he was a very attractive guy.
“Damn Michael, I mean---shit. Ariel. That feels good.”
Fuck. He knew what he called her as soon as it came out of his mouth.
“It's ok,” Ariel replied.
Her emotions weren't in this and it was clear. He tried to clear his head of Michael but it was so hard. He imagined it was Michael sucking his dick right now. He imagined it was Michael going down on him. That was what Uriel wanted. He wanted to be making love to Michael. If it was Michael he would have tossed him on this desk and made love to him all night.
Michael didn't give him the time of day though. As attractive as Uriel thought he was the only person he actually wanted didn't give a damn about him. What good were looks? What good were personality. What good was anything?
“Relax...” Ariel whispered to him.
He had been getting caught up in his own thoughts. Michael. Michael. Michael. Finally he was able to clear the thoughts when Ariel deep throat his dick on the desk. Finally he was able to stop thinking about Michael. If only for a second.
But soon that was replaced by smelling Michael. That faint smell of cinnamon and patchouli oil.
And Ariel had stopped.
“Please don't stop,” Uriel replied.
He had closed his eyes and he was trying to get his mind off of Michael. He needed to get his mind off of Michael. Then his eyes opened and he realized the reason that Ariel had stopped. Someone was standing there and this wasn't a dream. That person was Michael.
Michael's eyes were full of tears. Michael was just looking over at him. He didn't understand it.
“Something told me to come in here,” Michael told them, “I think it was my third eye. It always shows me things when I'm asleep.”
“Michael. I'm sorry.”
Uriel tried to pull up his pants. He tried to get as far away from Ariel as possible. He had made it to the other end of the room, dick flopping in the air. His heart was breaking. He felt like he was cheating even though they weren't a couple.
He didn't understand it. Michael never apologized for the shit that he did. Why did he feel so bad? Why when he turned back to Michael did he feel like taking a gun and shooting himself right there in the middle of that floor for making Michael cry.
Just at that moment something else happened though. Before Uriel could say another word to Michael something happened.
It was Raphael. Raphael had walked into the room to see Michael crying, Uriel adjusting his pants and Ariel looking like a deer caught in the headlights.
“Guys...you need to come see this...now...”
They hadn't had time to comprehend the situation. By the look of Raphael's face whatever he needed to show them was a lot more important. By the time they got outside they saw what it was.
“Rag?” Uriel asked.
The body was moving underneath the sheets. Suddenly it sat up. Raguel sat up underneath the sheets. Uriel's heart was racing. The room seemed to get so cold and all of a sudden a strong breeze flew through the open window.
All of Uriel's candles were extinguished by the gust of wind.
Raguel's face had turned to them. There was no soul behind his eyes. Something was wrong there. Something was terribly wrong.
It was Cham appearing from the other side of the room, “That is not Rag. Not anymore...”
To read the next chapter please go to www.crushedcrown.com