Key Eleven: Tate:
He’s seen both the battlefield and the decaying city. It’s all the same to him. Both places stink. He took a sip of his flat booze and sneered. He should be used to it by now, but he hates it. He wishes that he could watch it burn. He ran his thumb around the top of the bottle. What did it matter anymore? Nothing was going to change out here. He had gotten used to that by now. It torn him up inside that Cricket still held onto his hopes. He thinks things will one day get better.
“Don’t you ever wonder what’s outside of the city?” the younger angel asked.
“No,” Tate said.
Cricket tilted his head. “Why not?”
“You can’t honestly think that anything is out there, can you?”
“I don’t know.”
Tate turned back to the dying landscape he watched day after day. He didn’t know why he had to look out the window at it so much. There wasn’t much to look at anyway. He guessed it beat looking at his fellow angels. Funny thing was they all reminded him of his dead comrades on the battlefield. Tate shook his head. He took another drink of his whiskey. Why does he keep thinking about the past?
His unit had been out in the field for seven months. He had gotten used to smelling blood around him every day. Funny how well it mixed into the dirt like so. Nothing fazed him anymore. This wasn’t his war. Why were they fighting for a pointless war? Humanity was fucked anyway. Fucked ever since that vile woman started walking the Earth again. Most of Japan was dead. How long would Asia be infected? It didn’t matter to him anymore.
Tate looked around at his fellow soldiers. Who was going to die today? Of course they couldn’t die, that only happened after they were eaten. He lost count on how many of his comrades he had eaten. To him, they had no taste. Meat was meat to him. Usually, it was against Heaven’s policy to eat their own kind. But, who’s really keeping track in this long, pointless war? Tate shook his head.
Look at them. Laughing and joking around. They are just scared on the inside. Why should they be out here fighting a pointless war? Why did they even exist at all? They all used to be human so they were told. Why were they even made anyway? Rumor had it that the original creators had been dead for quite some time now. Tate snickered to himself. How convenient! They create this mess and then check before they could be brought to justice. Then again, what would be the adequate punishment for turning them into this? Make them suffer the same fate they have? Somehow, that wouldn’t be so satisfying. Tate took a sip of his whiskey. Booze was the only thing that he could taste now. He couldn’t get drunk. No drugs or alcohol could affect angels anymore. All he had left was the taste.
That’s when something caught his ear.
“What is that?” he asked. Tate turned around. The sound was coming from the sky. His eyes widened as a burning object came hurling from the sky. He didn’t get a chance to warn his comrades. It felt like all of the air was sucked out of the atmosphere. They didn’t even get a chance to scream.
There was only fire. And then…
There was nothing.
He didn’t know how and why he ended up here.
When Tate woke up, the sky was a reddish-gray. The smell of rotting meat made his nose curl. The angel sat up and covered his nose.
“What the hell?!” he asked. Tate looked around once the shock wore off. He found himself sitting in drying mud. He couldn’t see any signs of life around him. The battlefields at least had tall grass and some trees in the background. Here was just nothing. He couldn’t even tell what time of day it was. The steel skeletons of buildings looked like they were going to collapse.
Tate pushed himself to his feet.
“Hello?” he asked. Only his echo answered him. His eyes shifted left and right. He could hear something charging towards him. Tate held up his hand and started to chant. But, something wasn’t right. When he opened his eyes and looked down, his heart sank.
“Where is my necklace?” he asked. The angel turned around when the charging became inches away. His eyes widened as everything turned red.
When Tate awoke, he could feel warm and sticky fluid running down his back. His body felt sore all over. He moved his hand to his head.
“What happened?” he mumbled. It was then he became aware of the warm, sticky fluid on his back. Against his better judgement, Tate reached behind him and wiped it up. When he drew back his hand, his eyes widened at the red liquid trailing down his fingers. Panicked, he felt around on his back again.
“No…” he said. “No, no, no, no, no!” Tate sat up, cursing himself.
“My, my, my,” a voice said in the sky. “Another angel without his wings.” He jerked his head upwards.
“Who’s there?” he asked. Tate took a step backwards. A sharp chill rose down his body. A sharp pain attacked his head. The angel sank to his knees, screaming.
“What… What… What is this?” he asked. Tate huddled up into a little ball. He could hear laughing above his head.
“Why is this happening to me?” the angel asked.
“What’s the matter, baby?” the voice asked. “Can’t handle it?”
“No!” he wailed. The laughter started laughing higher.
“Too bad,” she said. “Enjoy your new hell!” Tate screamed as the pain grew worse. Before he knew it, everything went black.
When woke up, everything felt so cold.
Cricket rested his chin on Tate’s back.
“Do you remember when you were human?” he asked. The older angel turned his head.
“No,” he said. Cricket tilted his head.
“How come?” he asked.
“I just don’t,” Tate said. He picked up his bottle and finished off the booze. The older angel tossed the bottle across the vacant room.
“How come you drink all the time?” Cricket asked. The older angel drew his eyes closed.
“I just like the taste,” he said. He reminded himself not to get too attached to the younger angel.
“Nothing good comes out of staying by me,” Tate said. “So don’t get so close to me.” He didn’t mean to sound harsh, but he only doesn’t want to end up hurting Cricket. He feels like he’s hurt someone in his life when he was human. Whether that was true or not, he didn’t care to know the truth. He just wanted to sleep.
Meanwhile, Cricket didn’t go away from him. Instead, he rested his head against his back and closed his eyes. Tate felt so warm despite being cruel.