Azriel: Black Wings And Burnt Hearts

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Chapter 2: An Alley, Its Citizens and Her Result

Soundtrack:

English: AC/DC- Highway To Hell (https://open.spotify.com/track/2zYzyRzz6pRmhPzyfMEC8s?si=71b98bf60b7f4c8c)

Weeaboo: SiM- Devil In Your Heart (https://open.spotify.com/track/3w8qOAwbHF6zYeYT7pj7DI?si=27a88a2066fa4e69)

December 25th, 2028

DOAA Transmission Logs

Subject: The Anomaly

AGENT FRANCIS: Are… are we even capable of taking care of this?

AGENT MONDAY: Well the reality is, if we aren’t, then our country’s massive catalog of missiles are. We know it bleeds, but bullets can’t finish it off… probably.

AGENT FRANCIS: Have we considered larger bullets?

AGENT MONDAY: We’ve stuck the largest caliber bullets known to man into the son of a bitch and it’s still walking its way towards the city. So yeah Franny, we considered it.

AGENT FRANCIS: What, did Uncle Sam layoff our entire HR team to pay for the damn bullets? I told you to quit calling me Franny.And regardless, the missiles are what I’m worried about. The Anomaly is… rather unique, and our government isn’t very…

AGENT MONDAY: Creative?

AGENT FRANCIS: Yeah, creative. So I think they’ll see big anomaly, see big shiny red football and use said football to blow up said big anomaly.

AGENT MONDAY: And us in the process?

AGENT FRANCIS: And us in the process.

AGENT MONDAY: Along with a city of thousands?

AGENT FRANCIS: ‘National Security’ above all else daddy’o.

AGENT MONDAY: Maybe you’re right, but--- wait, what the hell is that?!?

AGENT FRANCIS: What, that’s the anomaly. Big, dumb, scary…

AGENT MONDAY: No look, some guy’s… what is he doing?

AGENT FRANCIS: His best?

AGENT MONDAY: I thought we had a solid perimeter dammit! Move! Move! Move!

AGENT FRANCIS: Wait… where’d he go?

An anomalous explosion of light destroyed all surveillance equipment in a ten mile range soon after.

Agents John Francis and Sasha Monday are MIA, with a zero percent chance of being retrieved by the Anomaly.

The families have been informed and the burial sites have been dug.

Transmission End Point

Last Transmission Received: 21 Days Ago.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Melas, you fuckin’ twerp. Now shut the fuck up.” exclaims the bitter old coot trying to sleep under a towel and some damp newspaper.

“Don’t need to be a dick about it man, I’ll be going now.” I impart to him, before taking a single step forward… and stopping in my tracks.

CRUNCH

Glass shatters under my foot and a shiver comes over my spine. Not because of the cold, nor my lack of layers in the face of said cold, but because of the realization firing through my confused gray matter.

I’m not wearing any shoes.

“SHITFUCKOWOWOW!” I scream into the sky as I grab ahold of my foot, causing myself to fall backwards into the pile of cardboard I called a bed.

The previously bitter vagrant now laughs at my suffering as every single homeless man, woman and child looks at me with confusion.

“Look kid, SOME PEOPLE are trying to sleep through their suffering here. So either you take these and leave, or I push you into that fire barrel over there and we call it a day.” the bum demands, taking off his shockingly white shoes and throwing them at my injured feet.

“These are MY shoes.” I express as I pick the small shard of syringe glass out of the heel of my right foot. “Hope I don’t have any diseases.”

“Hey man, you’re the one who agreed to share em’ until the shelter opens up on monday. Well, it’s monday. Not that you remember any of this exchange, obviously. Now scram.” The callous old man smelling of whiskey and shattered dreams demands. So I acquiesce, preferring not to freeze to death in this alley.

Returning my shoes to their rightful place, a large red blot damaging their otherwise pristine image covers the toes.

Hatred.

Anger.

Pain.

Metamorphosis.

“What a weird coincidence.” I snicker to myself. Blood on my shoes in the dream, blood on my shoes in my waking life… how funny.

They fit snug as a bug, and so begins my tiptoeing through empty whiskey bottles and suspiciously present syringes. During the treacherous 100 or so feet, I nod and smile at the homeless using this alley as an address, but none of them smile back.

Life has kicked them in the nuts too many times for them to be able to smile.My life was like theirs once, and then… actually, what changed?

Nothing, right? I ended up here in a drunken stupor and will find a bus home. Graduation is 6 months away… wait, didn’t I miss midterms? Ah, here’s hoping they have make ups.

A sharp inhale and a shake to the head clears the unnecessary thoughts from my mind. My focus should be on not freezing to death, first and foremost.

After a couple minutes of carefully avoiding tetanus or catching rabies from the denizens of the alleyway, I make my way out to the sidewalk.

“Shit, my eyes…” I exclaim, trying to view the city street through a faint opening between my fingers, as light assaults my eyes.

THUMP

“Hey douche, watch where you’re going!” a pedestrian demands of me after we collide.

“Sorry dude, can’t see too well.” I reply in earnest, not knowing if the collision was my fault or not.

My eyes eventually adjust to see a brown haired dude about five years my elder with a winter coat and uggs on. “Which way is the train station? Gotta get back home.” I ask him, trying to get to the orphanage as quickly as possible.

“You don’t even live here? How drunk did you get, little man?” he asks the obvious question.

“I don’t know, I didn’t even know that drinking is something I do. Can’t remember shit all. Just tell me where the bus is so I can get back to the orphanage dude.” I demand of him, only for the passerby’s face to drop.

He looks at what I’m wearing, my school uniform, and his confused expression turns into anger.

“What the fuck kind of sick joke is this? Gonna post this on your socials or something, you freak?!? Where’d you get the uniform anyway?” He keeps asking questions that don’t make any sense in the context of the situation, his face getting redder and redder every time.

“I had to bury my dad you asshat!” he screams before throwing a punch at my skull.

But he whiffs.

No, that isn’t right.

I ducked.

“Ok, bye.”

Then, from a ducking position, my feet, feeling like they’re floating, take off running away from my nonsensical opponent.

“What was that all about?” I whisper to myself.

As I desperately try to find the nearest corner to turn down to escape my attacker’s gaze, the attention and anger of the populace I pass turns to me. Dirty glances, mean words and disgusting saliva spewed at me gives greater reason to escape. There is one common denominator in all of this.

My uniform.

“Creepy Cosplayer!”

“Murder Freak!”

“Why are you wearing that?!?”

Finally, mercifully, a corner to turn down catches my eyes. And with it, a quaint indie bookstore to hide in.

“Welcome to Books In A Nook. Are you picking up or browsing?” the near-comatose teenager wearing gothic lolita garb with a pair of faux glasses on her pale head asks with all the enthusiasm of a hostage.

Rather than answer her inquiry given to me with minimum wage effort, I ask one of my own. “Why is everybody mad at me?”

“Like, in general, or?” she replies snarkily.

“No smartass, everybody walking outside wants my head once they see my outfit.” I respond, my desperate seriousness a stark turn from her aloof snark.

With a roll of her eyes, she stares me down head to toe, having to push her lensless glasses up her nose as she silently judges my nearly spotless shoes. “Well you do look vaguely homeless, but the people in this city should probably be used to that by now, so it isn’t that.” she answers honestly, putting in a shocking amount of genuine effort.

Suddenly, with an impassioned smile and a snap of her fingers, the book store cashier exclaims “You’re dressed like you went to that school! Right! Why?”

A deep sigh escapes my teeth. “Why is everyone… you know what, fuck this.” I declare, throwing my hands in the air, turning on my heels and grabbing a firm hold on the door handle so I can blow this popsicle stand.

“You’ll never be able to outrun it, ya know.” She states so matter of factly that I’m unsure she’s even to one who said it, until I turn back to the cashier to see a determined stare. “Whatever it is, that’s causing you to not want to face your truth. You can’t outrun it. So hurry up, nut up, shut up and figure out what’s next.”

“You’re just some weirdo in a bookstore who dresses like she’s just come from a punk-ska concert whose frontman is addicted to heroin. What in the actual fuck do you know!?” I scream at her and the mountain of well kept books surrounding us.

“You came in here and asked me a question.” she rightfully replies with a scowl, before adding “And Jimmy kicked that habit last year. Can’t hit the low notes as well though.”

Another sigh, one far more reserved than the last, escapes my lips. “I’m uh, sorry. I’ll let you get back to work in a sec. Just, uh, could you tell me where the bus station is?” I ask hesitantly.

She simply tilts her head to the right and answers “Two blocks down.”

“Uh… thanks.” I tell her.

“This store isn’t for people who can’t face the facts, it is for people who want to read about em’. So GTFO.” she demands. I comply, turn back around and exit the quaint little book store.

“What a little adventure we’re having Azriel. Pissing off the homeless AND the goths. Once I get home and Sister Caroline sees my sorry ass, I’ll’ve hit the trifecta for the day!” I whisper to myself.

Dejected, I walk my now entirely 100% grass-fed sorry ass to the bus station without incident.

“Hello, welcome to IronBeagle. All of our buses are canceled for the foreseeable future, for obvious reasons. What brings you in today?” The vibrant booking agent informs me with a toothy, if not entirely fake, smile on her face.

Ok, there’s a lot to unpack there. Obvious reasons? What the hell is going on? Was there some kind of terrorist attack? And what does the foreseeable future mean? How long is that?

“Look, I don’t know what’s going on. Could you look up the number for the St.Florian orphanage? I lost my phone somehow. Need to get home.” I plead.

A small crack in her fake visage forms, but she maintains her composure to tell me “Well sir, due to the… um, incident, at that location a couple months ago, I’m afraid that nobody is going to pick up if I call.”

Both of my palms slam into the granite countertop separating us and my rage can be quelled no further. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE ALL OF YOU PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT? ALL DAY, IT’S BEEN A BIG GODDAMN SECRET. NOBODY WANTS TO TELL ME WHAT’S GOING ON? HOW ABOUT I COME ACROSS THIS SHITTY LITTLE COUNTER AND GET A STRAIGHT ANSWER BY FORCE YOU STUPID---”

“Well sir, if you look at the TV to your left, you’ll get some answers.”

Seething, I crane my neck to the left, as instructed, to see a 70” TV stuck on a local news station.

My vision goes blurry. My knees unsteady. It isn’t true. I refuse. They weren’t the greatest caregivers in the world. Hell, they weren’t even good. But they were---

THEY ARE PILES OFF MEET

FLOATING ON A SEE OFF BLODD

THEY’RE FACEES R ETCHED WITH PAIN

AND ON YOU’RE LEFFT HAN

HER SKULL

The ticker of the news program reads LOCAL ORPHANAGE SLAUGHTERER STILL AT LARGE, ONE SURVIVOR.

Slowly, I look down at my two hands. They’re covered in their blood. Metal fangs, claws, whatever you want to call them, extending from my knuckles, hold her face. It’s smiling. Smirking.

‘Do it’ she said to me.

I did.

I did it.

It felt good. Great even. Years of pain, gone in an instant. No longer will the flames of that smoldering church be my burden.

But.

But.

But.

But.

Why?

“Why am I crying mam?”

CHAPTER 2 END:

2/8/22 11:11PM

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