Chapter Nine; Sweet Dreams
July 16, 2017 – Timmins, Ontario
The outside air was drenched with humidity, with scents saturating the mist-like area of the darkened forest. It opened its mouth, revealing a mouth covered in blade-like teeth with a snake’s tongue slithering out with a hiss. The creature slid inside of a window, dropping onto a white-tiled floor and leaving a trail of clear slime as it slithered through the room. A noise escaped the creature’s mouth that was quiet enough for only a mouse to hear.
The body slowly rose, revealing four legs of a vicious beast with claws of a lion. Its tail flicked with quick motion as the ear of a horse picked up the sound of a sleeping human. The sound was whimper—he was sleeping. He was vulnerable. The tongue of a snake’s hissing sounded with satisfaction, it padded through the room and stopped before a small, mahogany door with a golden handle. Salt lined the bottom of the door, almost like small, glinting crystals that reflected from the moon’s bright light.
The creature stretched its long, black nails as it slowly clasped the handle and turned it, hearing the slightest sound of a click from the door. Its red, wolf-like eyes flickered slightly as its eyes adjusted to the dark, enveloped room from the lack of light. The creature slowly crept forward, its nails clicking against the tiled floor as it reached the queen sized bed with blood-red covers.
Carefully, it reached over his side, touching the fragile hand. Gasping awake, the man awoke with wide, blue eyes with fear lacing his breath. “Please,” he whispered, and the monster’s mouth opened to reveal hundreds of sharpened teeth that reflected the man’s face.
“Don’t hurt me,” he begged. “I-I’ll do anything…”
“Mortuus…” the monster replied, and it’s mouth opened wide, consuming the man whole.
July 17, 2017 – Timmins, Ontario
Jay Mauser gasped awake, sweat beading atop his brow as he patted his body, making sure that everything was in place. Ears, eyes, his mouth and hands… Good. Not even a single scratch—which was a surprise.
“Bad dream?” a female voice asked, and Jay jumped slightly, and then reached over to the nightstand where he had left a blade. When did he put that there?
“Protection,” she said to him. “I thought you’d need it.”
She revealed herself from the darkened shadow beside the front door, and Jay sighed with relief as Shannon sat at the edge of his bed. Looking over, Jude was still asleep like a baby.
“Where did you run off to?” Jay Mauser asked the angel.
She offered him a lazy shrug. “Heaven,” she replied. “I go there to find… comfort from the likes of you.” Her eyes didn’t darken, but there was something clever in her gaze. “You weren’t kind.”
“Humans think stupid things,” Jay replied, and there he was finally feeling that guilt that was somewhat lost. “Me especially,” he added with a long breath.
Shannon smiled at the youngest Mauser. “I can tell.”
“And you’re saying I’m not the kind one?” he inquired.
“Anyone can be mean, Jay Mauser. Anyone can say something to hurt someone; they might even think something that someone you’d think wouldn’t hear. But angels, you see, listen to every prayer, every thought, every song…”
“Can’t that get… overwhelming?”
Shannon looked over at Jude and watched him as he dreamed. “Sometimes,” she admitted.
Jay followed her gaze. “What is he thinking right now?”
“Is it my decision to tell?” she asked rhetorically.
“Please,” he asked.
With a defeated sigh, she nodded and thought for a long moment. “Loss,” she replied. “From a long time ago. There’s a single crib with a child sleeping, and there’s a boy with his mother and father, smiling at the child.” Him and his family. “He messed up, he believes. He went to bed and woke up to a scream, and now he’s running down the stairs.”
Jude whimpered slightly under his breath.
“He was too late, the door closed… But he saw enough—the death. He haunts him because… because he believes he could have saved them if he hadn’t of gone to bed.”
“It wasn’t his fault,” Jay whispered. “It’s only the demon’s fault.” The damn curse that haunts their family’s lives.
Shannon looked at him sadly. “But he doesn’t believe that, Jay. I think you should talk to him—make him realize there’s more in life than just to sulk over something when you were only a child.”
“I understand his pain,” Jay said to her.
She was silent for a moment. “I saw your dream,” she said.
“Yeah? What did you see?”
“A monster that’s coming. You’re afraid, and you know that at some point, he’ll get you.”
Jay fidgeted slightly. “He won’t,” he whispered.
“I won’t let it,” she promised him. “I won’t let those demons take another Mauser.”
“But it’s my fate.”
You cannot change the past, and you cannot change the future.
She shook her head. “It was the fate of one woman, but not the generations to come.” The mistake of one idiot that so happened to be in their bloodline.
But what could they do? They couldn’t run forever, nor could they hide.
They were so utterly screwed.
It was presumptuous to think that they could just do something without knowing this curse could be altered. Detained, slayed—broken.
The Amulet of Redemption. How could have he forgotten? With everything going on, he forgot that this was their purpose of the journey to wipe out the entire race of demons.
“You cannot tell us the location, can you?”
“I’ve told you before… It’s impossible,” she said quietly.
“What if you went against them?” he asked. “What if you betrayed the angels and helped us with this act of justice.”
She let out a laugh of amusement and tears lined her eyes at his thought. “You think it’s that simple? I’m an angel on a contract for my life. One mess up, I’m dead. They’ll strip my wings and I’ll become one of them.”
Jay Mauser rubbed at his chin, closing his eyes. “And if they didn’t know?”
“I suppose there’s… There may be a way to cover it up, but there are spies everywhere. They watch everything.”
“What happened to free will?”
“Free will doesn’t exist in Heaven, Jay. Humans are the only ones with that privilege.”
No freedom, no will… It sounded horrible.
“How can I help you?” Jay then asked her, and her expression when from sad to aghast.
“Help me?” she inquired, her brows furrowing. “Why on earth would you do something like that for me?”
“You saved my brother and I,” Jay said. “You deserve that.”
She looked away from him, her finger tapping against her knee. “How would you… help me?”
“We run,” he replied. “We make them believe that you’re not coming back and, well, you can be free.”
Jay Mauser let out a small laugh, shrugging to her. “Nothing’s impossible if you believe hard enough.”
Fireworks boomed across the ocean and enveloped the sky with beautiful and glorious colours as Jay and Jude Mauser sat on a field that was freshly cut, watching the sky glitter with sparks of fire and stars.
It was a beautiful night. A night where their anger had died down, and Jude promised Jay he wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.
No more drugs, alcohol… Nothing. Jay wasn’t sure if he could believe him.
But today wasn’t the day to think about that stuff. So they sat there, watching the fireworks as they almost ignored each other.
Jay Mauser said under the sound of a loud boom, “I’ve never seen fireworks before.” It was true; this was the first Independence Day that he’d gone to.
“What, did the President forbid you to come?” Jude mused over his shoulder.
Jay shook his head. “Melanie and Paul would never let me go out… You practically forced me outside the house.”
“Hey, I’m your brother,” Jude said to him, shoving his shoulder playfully. Jay smiled warmly, and the fireworks shone in his eyes. “I’m gonna have you defy those assholes anytime.”
“They’re not that bad,” Jay said to him.
“They prevent you from doing anything fun, and they make you clean the entire house like you’re a freaking slave, Jay.” Jude shook his head, letting out a bitter house. “Did you even go to Prom?”
Jay Mauser flushed at the thought. “I was going to—“
“You didn’t go?” Jay shook his head as he cut him off. “See what I mean? They treat you like a child slave!”
“I really don’t care—“
“I know you better than you know yourself, Jay,” Jude interrupted him again. “And I know you hate when people tell you what to do. Especially our Foster parents.”
“Yeah…” Jay sighed, closing his eyes as he felt the distant warm on his face from the fireworks. He listened to the constant booming from beyond, and he inhaled a sharp breath.
“I would have made you go,” Jude said, “but, y’know…”
“Yeah, I know.” Drugs. Always drugs.
“I can only bring you so far,” Shannon said to the Mauser brothers. “There’s a long road with polluted skies that will bring you to the Gate.” Lighting split the sky… His dream. The long, dark road where his brother had... died. “It’s dangerous, and demons patrol it with high defense. If you’re sure you want to do this, then I’m willing to help you both.”
“I just don’t get how Jay convinced you to help us,” Jude said to her, and then cast his brother a prideful look. For once… there was that look. He’d never seen that before.
Not from him. Never from his brother.
“I have to admit,” Shannon said to them, “it wasn’t easy.”
Jay smiled at her, and she smiled back at him. He never expected this—for an angel to come and help them. For her to be his… guardian.
It was strange, really, and he didn’t think that he deserved her. Most likely she thought the same thing, and as he looked at her again, the look of melancholy crossed her eyes, but she quickly looked away.
No. She didn’t think so; he knew it.
He was a broken man that was in desperate need of replenishing, and Jude was a sophisticated dick that needed counseling.
But really, who was he to judge? He himself could be a stubborn asshole at times, and he was most likely the bad guy of all of this… Maybe Jude wasn’t as bad as he thought. He tried hard; he brought him to movies, let him drink at fifteen, and taught him how to defend himself.
He just wished he were like that all the time.
Things he wished… things he expected—
Things he had to let go of, because that’s not who his brother is.
“They say the sky is the colour of blood,” Shannon then said, snapping him back into reality. “Dangerous, isolating and consuming… I’ve never seen it myself, but; maybe soon we can all see it together.”
“I wouldn’t consider that as a good thing,” Jude said to her.
Almost it was like disappointment that shrouded her. “I suppose.”
“At least we’ll be together,” Jay added to it, hoping it would lighten the mood of the trio. “Nothing better than two bad ass hunters with an angel on their shoulders,” he added with a slight chuckle.
Shannon sat up and nodded. “This will be a good adventure, and a good vacation.”
“This is a vacation?” Jude asked rhetorically with shock.
“I mean it’s not like I’m working alongside the angels. I’m helping two immature humans on their justice crusade.”
Way to put that bluntly. “Whatever you say…”
“I’m thinking about pancakes…” Jude suddenly said. “And bacon with sausage.”
“You’re disgusting,” Jay muttered to his brother with a cringed nose.
Shannon snorted a gross sound. “I don’t understand how you can eat God’s creation.”
“Hey,” Jude said defensively, pointing his index fingers at them. “God gave us this food to eat.”
Jay rolled his eyes. “I won’t argue it.”
Jude smirked with triumph. “Meat eaters, one point.”
If you could call that a win, then whatever. They had their own opinions, and there was no point on fighting about it; he was done with arguing.
“I wouldn’t mind pancakes, though,” Jay then said.
“Have you ever tried American syrup?” Jude asked him.
“No…” Jay replied with furrowed brows.
“Don’t. It’s disgusting.”
Jay let out a laugh and nodded. “I’ll take your word on that.”
“Are you boys done fooling around?” Shannon interrupted them, pointing at the door. “There’s an angry mob of demons ready to tear your pretty heads off when you’re not even looking.”
Jude crossed his arms. “We weren’t fooling around.”
With a sigh, Jay said, “She’s right, Jude. At some point they’ll take us at our full vulnerability. We have to be ready for anything.”
“I won’t let them hurt you, Jay,” Jude said.
“And I would never doubt that.”
Shannon shut the blinds and pulled a chair up against the door. “I’ll watch over you both.”
Jude grinned at the female. “Ah, gonna watch us sleep, eh?”
“Don’t get any ideas…” the angel muttered.
“Oh, please. Me? I would never.”
Jay held in his laughter. “Now, I could never believe that.” Remembering their conversation from earlier, Jude would love to have a female angel, especially Shannon, to be watching them all night.
“I never a sexy angel—“
She rolled her eyes with disgust. “I would hold your tongue, or I’ll hold it for you.”
He grinned even more. “Yum,” he said with a wink.
Jay’s eyes opened wide at the sudden change of topic. “Oooookay….” He said and hid himself under the covers. “Goodnight.”
The thought of their parents wanting to be murdered sent a shiver down Jay’s spine, even as he lay on his motel bed. He tried not to believe that they were targeted for something, or that they had done something to anger whoever had done this crime. It was too much to comprehend at the moment, and he resisted the thought of it all.
The scar burned on his skin.
He was targeted, and he couldn’t deny it.
Jay rolled over to his side, itching his wrist with nervousness. The pain was enough to remove these thoughts from his mind, and as he stared at his sleeping brother, he still felt this deep, wretched fire burned inside him. He was angry, just like Jude. He hated that he was raised in a foster home with only a brother that grew sadder and sadder every year. Could have it be his fault for Jude ending up in such a way? He had no idea, and he just hoped that wasn’t the case.
He listened to the traffic from the highway outside of the motel. Jay found it that the sound of cars was somewhat calming, even though it was part of the reason he couldn’t fall asleep that night—the other part from the cheap mattress and the anxiety that sickened his stomach.
Jay let out a frustrated sigh and hoisted himself off of the bed and stretched his arms. What was the point in lying on a mattress that caused knots in his back when he could run off his stress?
“Where are you going?” Shannon asked from the corner in a hushed tone.
“I need to… think.”
“I can join you,” she said, but he shook his head.
“Alone,” he whispered. Shrugging on his jacket, the male quietly left the motel room and headed down the side road. He wasn’t sure if the angel would follow, but at the moment, he was alone with complete silence.
After a while, the sound of the traffic could only be heard in the distance, and the sound of crickets and leaves brushing against each other were the only sounds he could hear. He let out a long sigh of relief as the cool wind brushed against his fingers. He felt happier in this environment—the feeling of being free and alone from the world. He only wished life was always like that.
He imagined running away from it all with Sarah, having a happy life and never have to think about the death of his parents ever again. He always wanted a white picket fence, two kids and a dog with her on the day he met her. He remembered it clear as day when he accidentally spilled his beer all over her white, cotton sweater at some college party.
“Oh my god, I am so sorry!” Jay exclaimed as his body collided with a young woman’s body. He quickly caught her as she stumbled back, and a shocked look was plastered all over her delicate and beautiful face.
It took her a moment to realize what was going on. Her green eyes met his, and she smiled a little. “No need to be sorry,” she said shyly, and she acted as if she didn’t even notice the yellowed stain all over her white sweater.
Jay set his drink down on the side table beside him. “Let me get you a drink,” he offered, and she nodded greedily.
“Please,” she replied and followed after him as he turned to walk the opposite way.
Jay smiled at the memory, and he felt himself—just for a moment—forget everything at all. But the thought of not being with her at this moment? It was more upsetting than he’d imagined.
“Oh no, so you actually ate so much cake you vomited all over your sister at her wedding?” Jay burst out into laughter at Sarah, the girl he had accidentally spilled beer all over her shirt.
Sarah laughed with him, and she waved a hand in front of her face. “It was an accident! Plus, she was the one that kept on making me stuff my face.”
“I wish I was there to see it,” Jay said without thinking. He immediately darkened a deep red.
Sarah pushed a lock of hair behind her ear, and she looked at him through her lashes. “You should have been there,” she said. “It would have been really fun.”
Jay looked at her for a long moment, and he just felt as if this were the first time he had truly been happy. “Have dinner with me,” he said quickly. “Tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” she inquired.
He nodded. “And the next, and the next, and the next.”
“Okay,” she replied with a laugh. “I will.”
It was a life he would never have.
And for the first time, he started to cry.
A hand touched his shoulder after who knows how long as he sat on the edge of the curb, and his face was dried with tears. Looking over his shoulder, Shannon stood above him with such clarity written over her perfected features.
Staring at him for a moment longer, she sat beside him, offering him a little space between them. He resisted the urge to scratch at the mark on his wrist.
“I lost someone once,” she began. “It was over a hundred years ago, year 1907 to be exact. He was a yellow-haired beauty with green eyes and olive skin. He was my child—and he was accidental. Impregnated by a man with brown hair named Nathaneal who abandoned me on my day of labor for a prostitute smoking down an alleyway. I never should have expected him to stay with me, nor should I have expected to keep the child.”
Jay eyed her with weary eyes, and he couldn’t help but feel sympathy for the angel. She had gone against the angels once, and now he understood why it was so hard for her to do it.
She continued, “The baby died the moment he laid in my arms, crying until his last breath died with him…” She shook her head and wiped away a tear. “It wasn’t fair to lose so much that night, and I cried to God, asking why me? And then I remembered. Angels are forbidden to love, to have children. That’s why he took it all away from me. Why I was punished.”
“I-I’m sorry…” Jay had no words.
She didn’t cry. He supposed all her tears were dried from a long time ago.
“There’s nothing to be sorry for, Jay,” she replied. “It was a loss, but it was a punishment for a mistake I made.”
It was his turn to put a hand on her shoulder, and slightly she flinched at the touch, but then she relaxed. “Life isn’t fair, is it?” he said softly to her.
“No,” she replied. “It isn’t.” She looked into his blue eyes, and as he looked back, he could truly see inside of her—that bright, glowing soul that illuminated from her eyes.
It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
“I shouldn’t have ever thought that I—an angel—could ever be happy,” she said, and her eyes flickered slightly.
White swirled within her, mixing with blues, yellows and pinks, expressing everything about her. Her loss, her pain, her joy and happiness—her anger. Everything that made her just like a human—maybe even a little more.
Sarah, he thought.
“Maybe one day you can be happy,” Jay said to her, forcing his throat to gulp.
And he could tell she saw it too—inside of him. Her expression paled, and something flashed there for only a moment. Darkness and fear. Everything inside him became transparent.
He’d never seen it before, never recognized it. He wasn’t sure if it were a luxury or damnation. And inside of him, he felt… uneasy.
He wanted to comfort her, to tell her it was all right, but then, as he realized their lips were only a hair’s length away, she moved away and stood up onto her feet.
“We should go back,” she said with a shaky voice.
“I didn’t mean to—“
“You didn’t do anything.” He knew she heard him—his thoughts. Every last word that ran throughout his mind, she heard all of it.
“You know I won’t believe that.”
She offered him a fake smile. “It’s okay,” she said weakly and walked off without looking back. It was his cue to follow, but also to not get too close.
She wasn’t Sarah, Jay told himself. She will never be Sarah.