Sabel- My War
It’s typically every man’s dream to journey to Amsterdam. The sex, the drugs, and the excessive alcohol attract tourists from around the world to this extravagant location. If it isn’t any of those stereotypes, then it’s the symbol of freedom and independence that draws them in.
And I’m stuck in the freaking airport.
Lexie, Joshua, and I landed in Amsterdam after an eight-hour flight from Detroit. It’s four hours until our next plane arrives to take us south to Kenya. It shouldn’t be such a hard thing to accomplish, waiting in this stunning terminal but an airport’s an airport. I can only get so much satisfaction out of little gift shops.
I slouch low in the chair, playing with the lightweight cross hanging from my neck. I observe Joshua as he pulls out little ear buds attached to an IPod. He appears so small curled up in a massive fur coat that nearly swallows him whole. If it weren’t for his tiny hands and his head, I’d think a black panther somehow crawled up in the chair.
He looks over at me but says nothing, sinking further into his coat, attempting to fall asleep. He slept the entire ride here yet he’s still sleepy. I want to scold him but I’ve never been dying of AIDS so I can’t understand what it is like waking from your deathbed and getting on a plane to save the world.
I flick my gaze to Lexie. She swings her small legs back and forth sitting on her hands. Her black lacy skirt sways and the corset she wears reveals too much cleavage as she leans down to stare at her feet. I can hear her humming and she begins to swing from side to side, her long disheveled hair tossing about with carelessness.
I crack a smile.
This is it, I tell myself. We’re the chosen Prophets, hand-picked by God Himself to save the human race from the Devil’s war. Is anyone else wondering what the hell He was thinking?
As the leader of the Prophets, I’m unconfident about this renegade crew. One of them has only been healed from certain death less than twenty-four hours ago and can barely withstand the sun and loud noises. The other one was picked up from an insane asylum and hasn’t been a part of normal society for three years. And we are currently flying to Kenya to pick up the next Prophet who is an apparent murderer.
I know it’s not my place to question God but this is really a deranged set of people. How are we going to save the world?
“Sable.” Lexie calls, “Five three.” She nods her head to the left, scratching her arm typing in the series of numbers along the scars embedded into her black skin.
I turn to look but it’s simply a human with a donated Soul. Their light is deformed and sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between someone like them and someone who has stolen Light and stitched it to their own.
I stand up, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
Joshua groans, “¡Déjame en paz.”
Lexie jumps next to me with excitement, “Eighty-two! Let’s go.” She darts off before I can stop her.
“She’s taking off again.”
“That girl is loco. You can’t get her excited.” He rolls out of his chair like a sloth, slouching as he follows me. “It’s freezing here.” He adjusts the beany cap over his baldhead. “People are looking at me like I’ve the plague. Never seen a guy with no eyebrows before?”
“They’re looking at your coat. It’s ridiculous. That thing weighs as much as you.”
“It didn’t used to. I used to look like you, a meaty guy that could tear a phonebook in half.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Not the point, amigo. I haven’t been hundred pounds since I was eight years old. I’m healed aren’t I? Why do I still feel and look sick?”
Exiting the building, we find Lexie squatting down beside a flower bed. I hear her whisper numbers from the distance and I look to Josh. “At least you’ve got all your marbles.” I attempt to pull her away but she whips out her diary from a small purse at her side and begins writing her figures with a velocity I don’t want to interrupt.
Josh sits on a bench beside us. “Never thought I’d see this place.” He sniffs, gaining my attention. “My brother is going here on vacation.”
My fingers twist my eyebrow piercing. Leaving home was the easiest thing in the world for me. My ex-girlfriend was the closest thing I had to family and aside from random texts to let her know I’m okay, no one else seems to care that I’ve dropped off the face of the earth.
Joshua had to leave behind a dozen or more family members and lie straight to their faces.
With the hospital staff involved by some mental mind-warp that Met is capable of doing, the whole family was convinced that Joshua is going to a hospital overseas to get a special medical procedure that might save his life. But it will take a few weeks or months depending (upon the war) upon the reaction his body has to the medication. In that time, he won’t be able to speak to his family. They all humbly agreed, again thanks to Met’s mental discombobulating. It doesn’t take away Josh’s guilt however.
On the plane ride here, when he wasn’t sleeping or complaining, he went over in detail every aspect of each family member, presenting pictures on his phone.
I try to be reassuring, “Victor’s graduating college, what better gift you can give him than returning fully healed and having just saved the world? They wouldn’t understand if you just miraculously got out of bed and left. This is better for them.”
“I know.” His eyes catch sight of something and he takes off. Lexie had drifted during our conversation and currently is in the face of the human from earlier that she described as a ‘five three’. Her fingers reach out to touch his befuddled expression when Joshua seizes her hand, apologizing profusely.
I stick my hands in my pocket as they come back toward me. “Let’s get a taxi before she does anything else to attract attention.”
I notice a limo pull up to the entrance and any movement I planned to make ceases. A sigh escapes my nose and my shoulders sag. Joshua questions me and throws his gaze toward the vehicle.
The driver hastens to open the door and Heinrich steps out. Buttoning up a white-striped suit, his bejeweled fingers glitter in the sunlight. Each ring is fat and heavy on his black fingers. He fixes the gold cufflinks, checking the diamond studded watch on his thin wrist as he walks toward us with a heedless air.
For the past two weeks, I’ve lived with this Angel: Heinrich Von Wexler. He owns an extensive estate in upstate New York and maintains the Museum of Biblical Art.
A flock of attendants forms a line behind him, all zealots and well trained dressed in black plain suits. A clear wire extends from their ear so they can communicate as a unified team. I’ve seen them work, I know how practiced they are in their profession.
Heinrich halts in front us and through his black rimmed glasses, observes Joshua with his usual smugness. “Hmmm, I was thinking someone a little more…robust.”
Joshua is clearly a little sensitive about his weight. “I was sick, cabrón. Who is this guy?”
I have trouble coming to Heinrich’s defense. We don’t get along to well. “He’s our guardian. A Hikmah Elder Angel”
Heinrich pursues his lips, “You are still missing your Soul, I presume.”
“Yea.” Josh murmurs. “Sorry.”
“But you understand what I am? A Hikmah Elder is a superior breed--”
I interrupt, “I taught him a bit.”
He rests his heavy, judgmental gaze on me. “Sable, sire, I thought we spoke about your accent.”
Mumbling, I nip, “I’m workin’ onit.”
“It does not sound like you are working on it.” He aggravatingly enunciates. “No one will follow an uneducated street rat. You must assume the role of leadership with the air of a director. You need a proper voice. Find that voice, sire. And please, remove that degrading piercing. Now, I cannot have you leave here. Please return inside.”
Joshua attempts to protest but I know it’s a lost cause and head in. He curses in Spanish and plops in the chair, disappearing inside his fur coat.
“What’s it like?” He questions suddenly.
“What’s what like?”
“Having your Soul.”
“You have your Soul. You are just missing a piece of it. When we arrive in Africa, you’ll get it back.”
He shrugs, “What’s it like?”
My fingers play with the cross at my neck again. This is God’s gift and I can’t stop thinking about the day I met Him. He asked for my help and here I am, half a world away with no idea on what I’m really doing or what I’m supposed to do, but I’m moving. Everyday, I’m closer to my goal. Or, at least, I think I am.
“It’s clarity. Everything makes sense.” I shift uncomfortably, having trouble talking about something so personal, “All that’s happened. There’s a reason for it. And instead of being bitter or upset, you’re content and relieved.”
“That’s hard to see right now.” Through the pale of his skin, I notice his cheeks redden with hidden rage. “Four years I was sick. How do I get over that?”
I shrug. “You just do.”
Lexie suddenly walks up and sits beside him. Her tiny hands brush along the coat, soothingly. “Two two three, Joshie. Two Two three.” She rests her head against him, curling into his side. He looks down at her crazily but it isn’t long before he snuggles back and closes his eyes.
Heinrich’s squad encircles us. They attempt to be covert, hiding behind columns and giving us enough space to avoid eye contact yet their appearance is anything but casual. I head over to him. He sits across the length of the pathway amongst the circle of humans waiting for their plane or family members to arrive. When I close in, he ends his phone call tucking it into the interior of his breast pocket.
“Yes, sire, what can I help you with?”
He preens at my inquiry. “He is busy.”
“I was under the impression that he would be here.”
“He is going to meet you in Kenya. Understand that he is a very busy man. If I could reveal to you who he is if only to demonstrate your lack of respect is repulsive, I would but instead I will say this. Show him only adoration and esteem.”
“He’s a loony old man, what’s there to adore?”
Heinrich presses his fingertips to his temples. “You should work on your studies. Concentrate on leadership skills and management tactics. On the IPad I’ve given you, I’ve downloaded several references of famous speeches. You will one day, have to make a speech, sire. Unless you wish to embarrass yourself, I suggest you do some research.”
“Isn’t that what you’re for?”
“No.” He nips ignorant of the fact that I was joking. “I’m here for your protection because the Darkness is a wanton thief always scouring for a way to snatch your succulent Soul. I’m here to educate you, to broaden your mind to a world that would drown you and destroy you. I’m here because I’m getting paid good money to be. None of this requires me to fight your war.”
His phone rings.
With a slight wave of the hand, he dismisses me. “Another time, perhaps.”
I keep looking over my shoulder as I walk away. What would make Heinrich call this ‘my war’? Why wouldn’t he be included?
Over the past two weeks, I’ve learned the entirety of Angel history. From its government systems to its social principles, I’ve read dozens of books and learned hundreds of names. There’s a good chance a bunch of it didn’t stick but with flash cards in my book bag, I keep going over it. There are people in history that continue to resurface. There is no chance that I can ever forget Angels like Ariel or Dane Monte, the Transcending Erelims that shaped the Angel community.
What I haven’t been taught are the underlying betrayals, the secret anecdotes, the hidden agendas. No one has spoken of the Fallen Hierarchy or about the Devil and the reason he’s choosing to take over the world. Therefore, I can’t understand Heinrich and his comment. He’s not taught me enough about the world of the Undead to comprehend its meaning.
Perhaps that’s the way he wants it.
I need to do my own research. I won’t be considered an idiot just because I’m human. I’m going into battle against an unknown foe. I require all information and if he won’t give that to me, then I’ll have to find my own ways of getting it.
“You got a girlfriend?”
I snap my head up. Joshua grins up at me, holding his phone in his hand.
I scratch the back of my head. “I had a girlfriend. It didn’t work out.”
He shoves the screen in front of my face with eagerness. A gorgeous girl with brown eyes, black hair, and smooth model skin that normal girls are jealous of smiles at me. “This is Cresencia. She’s half-Puerto-Rican like me. We met back in our freshmen year of college but we just recently found out we like each other. She’s really awesome.”
“Oh yea?” I take a seat and rest my head back. “You don’t look Puerto-Rican.”
The jibe sets him off. He proceeds to go on wild tangents in Spanish. He spits and spews before stomping off in some random direction, getting lost in the crowd. Lexie stares at me with brown eyes. I’m sure I’m full of numbers but I don’t care.
I stare across the hallway, fixing green eyes on Heinrich. He speaks on the phone but meets my gaze. A grin breaks out across his lips. His secrets are going to catch up with him. I pull out the Ipad determined to figure out what he had meant by ‘my war.’