Siegel der Doppelseele
Seal of the Twin Soul
Thursday, September 5
Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t such a nice person. Then, perhaps, I wouldn’t be
cursed as I am now. Or at least, only half as cursed as I am now. This may not make any
sense to you, and it may never. I found this old book in the attic (I’m surprised I haven’t
found the lost Watergate tapes and Jimmy Hoffa stuffed in one corner), so I figured as I
might as well use it. That way, if one day, if I meet someone with a knowledge of my
condition, or better yet, someone the same as me (hah!), we can compare notes. And so
begins this wonderful tale of Lind Ross, age 19.
Anyways, getting back to the nice person bit. Last week, Eric, a friend of mine
(not best friend by any means, but he’s been around all during school) was involved in a
traffic accident. A hit-and-run traffic accident, because another car slammed into him
while he was stopped at a stop sign, at a measly fifty miles per hour, before backing up
and peeling off. Eric was shaken, but fine. The passenger, a buddy of his named Ian
Evans, was equally unhurt. Ian’s sister, Meria (odd name, isn’t it?), was sitting in the
back seat. She died almost instantly. Forgive me if I sound unsympathetic. I’m a very
straightforward person. I might have expanded on it had it not been what happened next.
Today I was walking through my neighborhood (a classic somewhat-out-of-the-
way New England settlement of turn-of-the-century Nouveau riche before land values
went insane, but I again, I digress) through the mist and almost-rain when I came across
the now-cleared intersection where the accident happened. Now, really, I didn’t know
exactly where it had happened, but I figured it out fairly quickly. It was the wailing. Not
really wailing mind you, but behind the wind was an odd combination of whispering,
wailing, and crying. I had heard it before, so I went for closer inspection; I saw
something shimmering very faintly near the opposite side of the intersection. I wasn’t
about to take my glasses off unless I was sure I wasn’t dreaming. I wasn’t. There was
the shimmering outline of a vaguely human shape with puddles leading in a line from it.
I took off my glasses. The shimmering outline instantly became solid (I consider almost-
but-not-quite opaque as solid), and resolved itself into Meria Evans, sitting, legs
sprawled, her face and limbs covered in blood. She had a half-dazed and half-sad look on
her face (it’s always a combination of the two) as she sat there, the rain simply going
through her. The puddles, as I expected, were also blood. This is probably the fifteenth
time this has happened—by which I mean I’ve noticed ghosts, (M. Night What’s-his-face
can drop dead, as far as I’m concerned) not the fifteenth time Ian’s been in a fatal
accident involving his younger sister.
So, I asked why she was sitting there. She first went through the requisite “you
can see me?” routine followed by me nodding my head, in the rain. I probably should
have gotten an umbrella. Turns out that she wanted me to deliver an “I’m okay” message
to her parents, and had refused to leave until it was delivered. So, I got out a notebook
and copied down the details (this too, is nothing new to me), along with a note about
some inside joke about penguins from elementary school. I promised to give it to her.
She got up, livened (as much as a dead person can be), and hugged me. Then she said
she’d be leaving, and waved goodbye. Then she waited, and complained that she was
stuck. Oh, brother. Taking off my glasses is risky enough, but sending souls on their
way is something I try to do sparingly. Then again, I’m not the kind of person to allow
someone to linger between this world and the next. I was raised better than that. So I
grasped her on the shoulders, and chanted a prayer:
Oh, heavenly Father,
Give this wandering one her [also “his”] recompense,
So that she may join You in Your kingdom without further lingering.
Yeah. It may sound corny. It may even sound cornier that it literally pops into my head
every time I go to do it. Meria smiled and disappeared in a flash of light. Just like
always. Then, I felt that discomforting tingling feeling, just like always, which told me,
“put the glasses back on, stupid.” I did just that.
Sunday, September 8
Now, before I continue, I figure that I might describe myself to a degree. My full
name is Lindsay Ross. No middle name. I’m 19. A freshman college student. And if
you hadn’t figured it out, I’m male. My parents figured that “Lindsay” was one of those
wonderful catchall unisex names, so I got stuck with it. I would have preferred “Shawn”;
at least something a bit less skewed toward the feminine side of things. That’s why I go
by “Lind”; to make people think my name is “Lindon”. I’m a perfectly average 5’7”, and
I have dark blond/light brown hair, a somewhat light-frame, and a mostly-misleading
gaunt appearance. Some of my more anime-inclined friends have described me as “an
older form of Kei Kusanagi with different hair”. I don’t appreciate it, but it’s somewhat
accurate. My hobbies include reading and being mistaken for an average person. I’ve
always been comfortably above-average academically, but no one expects very highly of
me, which gives me some comfy leeway. My parents were the above-average upper-
middle class, living comfortably in a house long paid for (though with the property tax, it
didn’t seem like it). Notice I said were. My parents went on their twentieth anniversary
trip when I was 10 and promptly went missing, presumed dead. I live with our(my)
housekeeper, Ms. Shannon Barringer, once-divorced thirty-something, on the dividends
and interests of various stock holdings, a trust fund, and a couple of bank accounts.
Here I am, adjusting my glasses again. I’ll get to them in a minute. Did I
mention that I am in no way normal? I’ve been called a witch, a Satanist (actually, I’m
Episcopalian, but the people who call me a Satanist don’t care), a mystic, one of the
Nephilim, and a holy man, in no particular order. I suppose I was at one point normal,
but I’m really not anymore. I’m not really introverted or really extroverted. I’m
comfortable in either regard, but people tend to avoid me. The first thing most people
(paying somewhat-close attention) notice is that I have what appear to be tattoos on my
forehead and on my wrists. Imagine taking an Iron Cross and splitting it down the
diagonal, and spacing it apart so that’s a collection of closely-spaced triangles. The top
and left parts are on my left wrist, and the bottom and right are on my right wrist. And
when I say on my wrist, they’re actually on the top of my hand, just in front of the joint.
There are also two, somewhat-small sideways-orientated diamond (think kite-shaped)
symbols at my temples. These “tattoos” are kind of an off-blue, and if I pinch my skin,
they don’t appear to move at all. What’s more, if I cover them, say with a sleeve or with
a hand, the symbols suddenly appear on top of it. It’s somewhat creepy. I can’t explain
them. Sure, I suppose I could make up some story involving an acquaintance getting me
drunk in a Hong Kong tattoo parlor, but I’ve had these things since I was six. I just woke
up one morning, with the strange tingling feeling (which since then I have been very
accustomed to feeling) and they were there.
My parents and Shan were as (slightly) disturbed as I was, but eventually they
dropped their concerns when we decided that these markings don’t actually do anything.
Since then, I’ve taken to wearing long sleeves—not tight fitting long sleeves, since the
symbols would just appear on top of the sleeves—along with allowing my hair to grow
out long in the front. It’s not a devilock or anything weird like that. I just have fringe
bangs over the width of my face down to about my eyebrows, while the rest of me is
modestly clean shaven. Ever since then, I’ve had strange things happening to me.
Nothing overtly evil or anything, just odd. Seeing things I shouldn’t, occasional
premonitions, performing the laying on of hands to instantly close wounds, despite the
fact that I’ve never received instruction on how to do it—that sort of thing. Now, I may
sound like I’m not concerned about how fantastic all of this is, but when it becomes
regular, routine in some cases, I don’t make a big deal of it.
However, like everything in life, there’s a catch. There’s always a catch. The
catch is, every time I do something fantastic, I think it changes me ever so slightly. I
don’t know how to explain it, really, but I get this inexplicable feeling of weirdness (for
lack of a better term) that only slowly goes away. The changes in question have been so
minor up to now, I haven’t really noticed, but it seems that both the number of times I’ve
had to use my powers and the actual severity of the changes had gone way up in recent
months. For example, I noticed that after the incident with Meria, my eyes had changed
from a deep, grey-blue to almost an aqua blue when my glasses are off. So far, that’s the
biggest change, so really some of the other stuff I just suppose is retroactive conjecture.
This is where the glasses come in. I found a pair of antique, 19th-century wire
framed eyeglasses in the attic, little more than a week after I got the news of my parents’
disappearance when I was ten. They have rectangular lenses, and when I say rectangular,
I mean rectangular. Most “rectangular” frames are really rounded rectangles or in some
cases ovals. The lenses in question aren’t rounded and have square edges. Not sharp,
mind you, but it’s still not a good idea to poke your finger on an edge. My attic really
isn’t that large, and I had never noticed them before, but I dusted them off, and took them
downstairs, and showed them to Shan. She cleaned them off, which is when we noticed
two things—the lenses have no prescription; they’re just plain glass; also there is a small
embossed emblem on the front part of both earpieces. Imagine a thin circle with a thin
“X” running edge to edge, and then plop a large double-dagger cross (‡) on top of that.
So, on a whim, I put them on. It was like aspirin kicking in on a nasty headache. I
suddenly felt better, and the “weirdness” left me. The only theory I have is that the
glasses seal away the changes and to some extent, my abilities. The only exceptions are
the blue markings on my wrist and face. For example, if I have the glasses off, my eyes
are aqua. Put them on, they instantly change back to blue-grey.
The real question, however, is what these “sealing” glasses were doing in the
attic. Now, I’ve read that one’s eyes are “the doorways to the soul” so the idea of
eyeglasses restricting one’s ailments makes sense on a symbolic level, but actually
finding out where the silly things came from would be nice. I’ve been going through old
records and family genealogy since my parents vamoosed, and there’s no history or
mention of anything like I have. No weird tattoo symbols, no seeing dead people, no
magic eyeglasses. I also exhausted the public library looking for books on my
“condition”. No luck. Now, the college’s library is a world unto itself, so I may have
better luck there. Right…
Saturday, September 14
Today I spent fourteen hours at the library, if one includes my breaks in the coffee
shop on the first floor. Looking up curses and transformations and such in nonfiction
only got me to werewolves and Wicca and so on. And a few cases of stigmata. Nothing
remotely like what I have. Everything I found on curses described those that, for lack of
a better term, were unholy. I figure, if anything else, just because of the “things” I do
from time to time, it might be a holy curse. Sure, it might technically be a “blessing”, but
I still don’t want any part of weird markings or eyes changing colors. It’s still a curse.
Two curses actually. The second one’s a bit different, but it hasn’t been bothering me
lately. I’ll get to that later.
Anyways, the library is huge. As in, nine floors, four of which are underground,
with enough shelves and tight spaces and must to give one claustrophobia and hay fever,
but not in that order. I skimmed the titles of eighteen racks of books before I came up
dry. Then I almost got lucky. At another Frappucchino-sponsored break on 1F, I came
across the library’s biweekly flyer. The main article talked about the hermetically-sealed
section of rare books. Now, I knew the library had things along the lines of some original
Galileo’s, but they also mentioned having one of the, if not the largest collection of 15th
through 19th century manuscripts on sphragistics. That’s nice. What the hell is
sphragistics? Reading a bit more, it mentioned that the common name for sphragistics
was sigilography, the study of seals and symbols. I tapped my glasses. No idea what the
symbols on the sides of my glasses meant. I had a place to start. This would be easy.
Unfortunately, it took seven hours and several calls to an old history teacher to get
official access permission, a timecard, and an escort to get into the aforementioned
section. Three full (old) books on Japanese inkan seals. Nine times that many on papal
seals. A few on medieval seals. I was busy getting light-headed from the room’s low
oxygen concentration when I found at the end of the last manuscript a hand-drawn list of
“seals of unknown origins”. Third to last was the circle/X/double-dagger cross. Bingo!
It listed (and I quote): “Unknown significance from a treatise of mediæval
angelology/demonology.” Yes, the æ was there. So, after thanking the professor who put
up with me (the glasses probably helped in making me appear more scholarly; it’s a
stereotype, but it works.), I went back down the keyed, black iron elevator and dropped
off the timecard. So, back in the regular collection, I looked up angelology. Two books
on angelology, but not really. They were modern (1955 and 1961, respectively) books
which merely discussed the “impact of medieval angelology on medieval Europe”. I
learned nothing. Several discussions over arguments over the hierarchy of angels,
nothing on kabalistic symbols. Great way to spend a day, really.
Thursday, September 19
Well, I made a possible milestone today. I was in my history elective (‘The
History of Warfare’, taken not for a requirement, but just to balance and provide sanity
relief from my major) taught by Mr. Jennings, one of my favorite teachers of all time.
He’s the one who helped me with the library, and besides that, he’s one of the few
college professors with both a life and a grip on reality, which automatically gives him
kudos in my book.
His lecture hall in McMillan Hall is a classic, amphitheater-shaped room of
almost-but-not-quite ridiculous size with almost-antique wood desks and non-mounted
wooden chairs (comfortable enough to be comfortable but not comfortable enough to
sleep in, despite the usual after-lunch lurch). Well, about forty minutes into the hour and
a half lecture, I started feeling uneasy. Not sick or queasy or anything, but just a bottom-
of-the-stomach feeling of wrongness. Then my wrists and forehead began their
mentholated tingling. I thought crap. I had barely escaped the prospect of an entire week
spent being normal. So, against my better judgment, the glasses came off, my eyes went
aqua (the guy next to me actually noticed the eye thing a bit later), and I noticed
something that I hadn’t seen before. There were two Mr. Jennings. The “new” one was
every so slightly translucent. While the original continued with the lecture, the second
Jennings stood still, blinking occasionally.
So, Mr. Jennings was in two places at once. What’s the name for it? Bilocation?
That wasn’t quite the word I was looking for. When Mr. Jennings paused for a drink of
water before changing PowerPoint presentations, the double started moving. It stayed
perfectly silent, but started clutching its (his?) head, before pointing to it and then doing
some sort of squeezing and opening gestures with its hands, like it was trying to
pantomime something. Then, it curtly bowed and evaporated. I went to raise my hand.
“Mr. Jennings, do you feel alright?” I looked at the left side of the room.
Someone had beaten me to the punch. “Have you had any problems with headaches or
anything of the sort?” Mr. Jennings tilted his head in question, and after briefly
consulting the rather monumental roll sheets, answered the girl on the other side of the
room. “No, Miss Connelly, why do you ask?” The girl shrugged and sat back down.
And then she put a pair of glasses back on her face. HA! It was time for me to become a
certified stalker…sort of.
“Excuse me.” The young woman looked at me as she packed up her things from
class. “Yes?” “Did you see the…thing…the second Mr. Jennings?” She turned her head
and thought a moment before the gears apparently clicked. “Oh…yes, the
doppelganger.” The gal smiled before pulling a double take. “Wait…you can see it!
Splendid.” I held out my hand. “Lind Ross.” “Izzy Connelly.”
She was slightly shorter than me, with deep brown hair cut shorter than mine.
There was something about her, though, that just seemed…out of place. Not sure exactly
what, though. She was wearing what appeared to be eyeglasses of the same age and wire
frame style as mine, though the lenses were oval-shaped. Piercing emerald eyes stood
behind them. I asked her, “Do your glasses do anything special?” “Depends on what
you mean by that.” I frowned (somewhat). “Watch my eyes.” I took off my glasses,
waited a few seconds, and put them back on. The girl’s eyes widened. “Sealing
glasses…? Do yours have no prescription and a symbol on the side?” “Yes.” “Sort of a
double-dagger/universal no design?” I nodded. “Exactly. What do you see when you
take off your glasses?”
“I’m not sure exactly. Truth, I think.” “Truth?” Izzy nodded. “Listen, I’ve got
another class to go to.” She took out what looked like a fountain pen, and jotted down
something before handing it to me. “Here. Call me after three and we can discuss the
glasses and the doppelganger.” I accepted it.
Isabella “Izzy” Connelly
(802)-642-2…[the last three numbers had smudged]
4321 Harcourt Drive
My frustration over the ink smearing when I touched the card was quickly
overshadowed by the two other thoughts in my head: the first was this was an occasion
worthy of the Little Black Book™, hindered only by the fact that I didn’t keep such a
thing. The second was that the address sounded disturbingly familiar.
Thursday, September 19 (Again)
I knew it! God does have a sense of humor! And it’s very dry and laced with
annoying amounts of irony. Harcourt Drive is the street one over from mine. To make a
long story short, the house this girl lives in is the one directly behind mine, so that our
back fence is the same. Since I couldn’t (now that I think about it, doesn’t it seem like
“couldn’t” should be pronounced something like “cold-int”?) call her, I decided to visit
her in person. The house of was of similar age and style to mine. I rang the doorbell.
After a pause just long enough to be awkward, the door opened, and I was met by a pair
of rather intense emerald eyes. “Oh, I’d figured you’d merely call.” I took out and held
out the note. “Well, the ink smudged.” Connelly, who was now dressed in a plain black
skirt and a green blouse, took off her glasses and briefly examined it and then me. She
replaced her glasses and opened the door. “Hmm…you are telling the truth. Well, come
in and sit down. I’ll grab some refreshments.”
Glancing from the couch, the inside of the house was very different from the
outside. While most of the houses in my neighborhood had been made to look old
(mainly on account of architecture) and were very modern (circa 1965), the inside of
Isabella Connelly’s house…looked old. Well, not in the musty, aged sense. It was if the
house itself was in a little corner of the nineteenth century and thus the décor was newest
thing at the time—the furniture and household items were either perfect replicas, or
hadn’t aged a day. Beneath the camel back sofa (one of two) and the marble coffee table
was a Persian area rug that under closer inspection had the characteristic single
purposeful flaw (which happened to be directly under my left foot). A pine cone chain-
driven cuckoo clock that looked as if pulled straight from Schönwald was mounted on the
wall across the room from an equally antiquated grandfather clock. A nearby desk held a
manual Remington typewriter whose metal gleamed in the lamplight, as it sat next to a
slightly-too-recent Depression-era candlestick rotary phone (A General Electric Model
202, according to the phone, which was still plugged in). A Damask lamp on the end
table completed the look.
Thus, when Izzy returned with a tea tray, her modern clothing looked very much
out of place. Of course, my collared shirt didn’t help things. She set the tray on the
coffee table between the two couches as the ticking of the two clocks kept an eerie stereo.
She sat down on the opposite couch. Even if her clothing didn’t match the decorations,
her manners certainly did. Some part of me wanted to call her a Goth, but that would
have been grossly inaccurate and probably insulting.
“Well, I apologize for not having the time to talk to you, Lind…was it?” I
nodded. “Lindsay Ross.” Izzy nodded before blinking several times. “Wait…Lindsay?
As in, the girl’s name?” She laughed. I frowned. This scene had happened several
(thousand!) times before. Izzy sighed as her diaphragm relaxed. “Hum…I figured your
full name was ‘Lindon’ or something like it.” “It’s my parents’ fault. Though I can’t
really blame them now; they’re dead, or at least presumed so.” She blinked, staring at me
with her eyes. It’s like her Green Spheres of Doom™ only came in one intensity—
piercing and deadly. I continued. “Actually, I live in the house just behind this one, with
Ms. Barringer, a friend of my parents and our former housekeeper.” “Curious.” I looked
at her. “Curious?” “How old are you, Lind?” “Nineteen.” She countered, “Twenty.
You see my parents passed away four years ago in a car accident…head-on collision with
a drunk driver.” Her tone was still very matter-of-factly. The phone rang. It was the
candlestick model on the desk. “Excuse me.” She got up, answered it, and briefly ended
“Now, would you mind if we discussed our pairs of glasses?” I shook my head
and replied, “Not at all.” “Well, then, Lind, I shall go first.” She got up off the seat
slightly and began pouring the tea into two cups. “By the way, this is Earl Grey. Black,
with milk and sugar.” I accepted the cup. “Did you ever live in England?” She shook
her head. “No, although my parents once did, briefly. My parents…loved antiques. Not
necessarily because of age or value, but simply because they picked items that they liked.
Actually, I was sort of influential on their decisions, naturally. That explains this house.
I’ve actually only been living here two years, and I sold the old house and bought this one
with some of the money my parents left. I tried to decorate it as they would have.” “I
“Now…I believe I said earlier that without my glasses stopping me, I see truth.
Well, a better way of putting it might be that I see things as they truly are. I see things no
one seems to notice, I can see behind masks and costumes, and I can ghosts. And
sometimes, I just get thoughts in my head…not really a voice or voices or anything…just
‘hunches’ that are much too accurate and detailed to be hunches. I’ve had
this…ability…this ‘true seeing’ or ‘second sight’ or whatever you want to call it as long
as I could remember. In fact, my parents, when I was little, used to think I was just
imaginative, telling them fantastic things. Well, back then, I was so little, I couldn’t tell a
living person from a ghost; they looked the same to me and talked to me. I could even
touch them…but I really couldn’t help them. It used to make me almost sick, seeing dead
people crying and begging for help when I really couldn’t do anything.” Izzy paused,
taking a breath and removing her glasses, eying them calmly. “The other thing is that if I
leave these glasses off for more than about twenty minutes, I start to get a headache.
Nothing major, but the headache is constant and blurs my vision. When I was kid, it
confused ophthalmologists and my parents alike why glasses wouldn’t improve my
vision. Well, my mother brought home an unusual pair of eyeglasses one day…these
glasses. They didn’t have any prescription in them, but when I put them on, my vision
instantly cleared and my headache subsided. And a trip to the eye doctor told them that
with the plain lenses on, or with them off for short periods, my eyes were 20/15. I also
noticed that I couldn’t see ghosts with the glasses on, so I figured that the glasses are
some sort of seal on my ability.”
“Well, not to burst your bubble, but I’ve actually helped ghosts pass on, several
times, in fact. When I was six, I woke up one day and had these.” I parted my hair back,
and pointed the backs of my hands towards her. “What…exactly are they?”
“Tattoos…sigils, something like that. One thing I know is that they don’t come off, and
watch.” I placed my left hand over my right wrist, and without feeling anything, the
triangular patterns appeared on my southpaw. “That’s why I wear my hair long and
normally have long sleeves. As long as I cover them without actually touching them,
they stay where they are.” “Interesting.” “Well, I can’t say as I see truth or anything, and
I don’t always see ghosts. Most of the time I do. I’m done of all sorts of odd things.
I’ve prayed for ghosts, performed the laying on of hands and instantly closed wounds.
One time our family had to move to a different Episcopalian church because I somehow
transmuted the communion wine into blood. It scared the heck out of everyone, and I got
called quite a few colorful names.” Izzy chuckled. “I bet.”
“Well, my parents found these glasses just stuffed in the attic, although it was in
one of those spots they’d passed by hundreds of times. They went missing and are
thought dead when the charter airplane they took for their second honeymoon went
missing on the way home. Anyway, stuff has happened so frequently, that well, even
though most people consider me blessed, I think it’s more of a holy curse. An annoying
one at that. Two, actually.” Izzy turned her head. “Two? Two, what, curses?” I
nodded. “Well, holy things aside, the first is that every time I do something with my
powers, as in, more than just noticing things…I think it changes me somehow.”
“Changes you?” I took off my glasses. “Notice how my eyes go from blue to well…a
freaky aqua color?” “Yeah. I did notice that.” “Well, that’s the biggest thing I’ve
noticed so far…but I’m pretty sure it’s not my imagination when I say that I sleep and eat
slightly less than I used to.”
“So, what’s this second ‘curse’, then?” I shrugged. “I’m not totally sure. I have
what I call ‘lost time’.” “And what is ‘lost time’?” “Well, rarely, I’ll be walking along
or sitting or whatever, and I just black out. I wake up anywhere from thirty minutes to
three hours later in a different location, and I’m pretty sure that each incident like that
furthers my transformation along further.” “Transformation into what?” “I…I don’t
know!” I threw down my hands. “Part of me doesn’t want to know, and another part of
me dreads the inevitable. Even if I stopped helping ghosts and such, the ‘lost time’ jumps
are still going to get me in the end.” I finally tasted my tea. It was down to lukewarm.
Izzy frowned, though I’m sure it had little to do with the way I chugged through her
Izzy took off her glasses, and stared closely at me. Her eyes seemed
almost…soft. That in itself was freaky. “You look normal to me. But then, these glasses
look normal to me, and I know they are supernatural in nature. I can’t promise anything,
but the fact that we have two near-identical pairs of ‘magic’ glasses seems much more
than coincidence. It may sound silly, but would mind being my friend? With my visions
of things, most people tend to be interested short time but avoid hanging out with me. I
don’t know if I can do anything about your curses, but if I can…I shall. And please, call
me Izzy.” I was three steps below tears. I got up and shook her hand. “Thanks, Izzy.”
“You’re welcome, Lindsay.” Izzy snickered. I grimaced.
Tuesday, September 24
Well, as it turns out, despite that fact that I’m a Physics major (how’s that for
crazed and masochistic? Physics is incredibly easy for me and comes almost naturally,
which I feel is suitably ironic for a person with haphazard supernatural powers.) and Izzy
is more an English gal; we somehow share the same two electives at the same two times.
I actually hadn’t seen much of Izzy since I met her at her house, but that sort of changed
today. You see…Mr. Jennings passed away.
I was on my way to McMillan, where there was a crowd of people was bunched
around the outside of the door. The crowd was shoved aside by a team of EMTs
wheeling a stretcher. I could hear a woman giving them information as they passed by on
their way outside. “He is comatose right now, and I’m guessing it was asymptomatic. I
am certain it is a stroke caused by a class four or five hemorrhagic cerebral aneurysm.” I
recognized the voice. “Izzy!” She turned around. “A bit late, are we?” “I’m five
minutes early to class.” “Whatever. Come on.” After another extremely detailed
sentence of information, one of the medics turned to face Izzy. “Miss, if this is
asymptomatic, how in the world do you know this stuff?” Izzy smiled weakly and
shrugged, before replacing her glasses. The man took a deep breath. “Well, thanks
anyway. We’ll do all we can.” One of the EMTs got inside the ambulance as they
started guiding the stretcher towards the van. I felt the funky tingle again. I took off my
“Izzy.” I tugged on the sleeve of her blouse. “Take off your glasses…right now.”
She did as I had asked and then she gasped. There was man in the middle of the EMTs
who clearly did not belong with them. He touched Mr. Jennings’ face, before turning
towards us. The man was somewhat tall, a little over six feet, I’m guessing, with silvery
eyes and short near-white platinum hair that was combed forward and upward, like some
odd, gravity-defying long buzz cut. He wore long robes, like a monk’s habit, though they
were slate-grey and emblazoned and embroidered with a number of elaborate patterns,
and edged in red and black. The most disturbing part about him was that there was a pair
of large, folded-back feathery wings coming out of shoulders. And every single feather
was soot black. The man looked at us for a moment. He gave a polite nod of
acknowledgement before he instantly disappeared without further warning. Izzy and I
had just traded stares with the Angel of Death.
“You know Izzy, I hate to say this, but I think Mr. Jennings is already dead.”
Wednesday, October 2
Well, I had enjoyed being normal for slightly over a week. Of course normalcy (I
hate the word normalcy…why can’t people just use ‘normality’? It just sounds better.)
had to come to a crashing, screeching halt. And with the way things have been going this
year, I was almost expecting it…sort of.
Today, like ‘odd’ days of the week, has a higher load than compared with
Tuesday/Thursday. Just before lunch is Physics. Nothing special, just mechanics at a
2000 level, since I got a three on the corresponding Advanced Placement test and they
don’t accept below a four. It’s a large class, since it includes people from quite a few
other math, science, and engineering majors, but it still uses slightly less than half the
Anyways, I was early, like always, with my notebook and pen ready to go. At
roughly two minutes until class, I got a blinding headache, which only lasted about
twenty seconds…because then I blacked out entirely. I lost more time.
When I woke up, I checked my watch. Fifty-one minutes had passed. The other
odd thing was that I was one seat to the left of where I was when I passed out. Actually,
that’s fairly mild, considering that in previous episodes, I’ve lost three hours and ended
up in strange buildings across town. That was not what concerned me. The fact that I
had missed the lecture entirely (the professor was packing his things and some people
were already leaving).
I looked down at my paper, and suddenly got a cold chill. There were two pages
of notes, in my pen, covering the lecture, which as about as much as I would have
expected. Except…it wasn’t my handwriting.
The script was more orderly than my somewhat-sloppy scrawl, yet it wasn’t
cursive. Above all, it was somewhat…perfect, which was creepy. The actual content
covered about what I expected in the same internal “voice” I would have used. So, I’ve
come up with two possible explanations: I’m crazy, or…I’m cursed and crazy.
Personally, I’m hoping there’s an option C.
“Excuse me.” I stopped the person next to me. “Did I do anything strange? Did I
borrow someone’s notes?” The guy, probably a year older with a golf shirt, looked at me
like I was using some anecdotal illicit substance. “Dude, you went up to go the bathroom
about halfway through, but you took notes and stayed awake the whole time.” “Sorry.
I’m like this sometimes. I’ll just forget what I’ve doing the past hour or so.”
“Whatever.” He walked off. I gave a relaxed sigh, and made my way out of the
classroom. Upon passing a glass display case, I realized something. I was missing my
They were in my right-front pocket. Actually, come to think of it, whenever I
wake up from one of these ‘lost time’ things, my glasses are always in my pocket. I
checked my face for anything out of place. My eyes were aqua, but that was it. It may
be paranoid, but I figure, whatever mystical force messes around with me in such subtle
ways probably also has enough power to alter reality so that even if I turned into Julia
Child, the guy next to me probably wouldn’t have noticed. And there actually was
something different. My hair, which thankfully was still its normal can’t-decide-if-it’s-
blond-or-brown color, was longer…by about two inches…on the top, sides, and back.
Just not in the front. My symbol-covering bangs were untouched. I put my glasses on,
and I could feel my hair tingle. And it was back to its original length. At least the rest of
the day was fairly mild.
Wednesday, October 9
The Good News: The past week and Physics went without a hitch. I even hung
out with Izzy for a few hours this past Saturday. She is improbably good at Scrabble.
I’m not kidding. During the expected banter of taunts and insults that comes with any
good game of its sort, I started to get a better grip of whom and what Izzy is. Well, not
really. Although she wears skirts, modern clothing, and all that jazz…some part of her is
as dated as her house.
Exhibit 1: Some of her words in Scrabble included coddleshell (spelled on a triple
word score, of all things!), rantipole, unto, wittles, and bilbo. And the reason that’s not
capitalized is that it didn’t refer to a Hobbit. It meant “short sword, esp. those made in
Bilbao, Spain”. All and I mean all of those were listed as “archaic” in the dictionary. In
retrospect, I simply broke out my mental collections of freakish, but current adjectives to
rack up the points: raptorial, genethliac, euxine (where else was I going to put the ‘x’?),
and tintinnabulary (Blame Poe. It just barely fit, of course). She still won.
Exhibit 2: Her musical choices. She has an mp3 player, and a turntable. Also, a
bunch of not eight-tracks, but four-tracks that she’s digitizing on her free time. As it
turns out, her hearing is as good as mine (I’ve never met another person capable of
hearing CRT buzz when you turn on a TV or monitor), so she claims that records have
better sound fidelity. From what I’ve read, she’s right. Anyway…her favorite
instrument? Harpsichord. Closely followed by the pipe organ. Apparently she can play
both, but owns neither. She’s still looking for that perfect harpsichord. In the
meanwhile, she has full permission to sneak into the music hall and play their multi-
million dollar, multi-story organ without further authorization and has even played
backup for a few concerts. None of this surprises me.
Exhibit 3: She sometimes doesn’t use contractions in places where the majority of
the public should. I’m theorizing that this only tends to happen when she’s tired. So, it
may be just a weird side-effect of sleep deprivation. To that the effect, please ignore this
Conclusion: Goth is totally incorrect. Instead, I faced her and said, “Sorry for
saying this, but the only way I can accurately describe you is…” “Is?”
“…anachronistic.” “Anachronistic? What’s that supposed to mean?” “I really don’t
know. It’s accurate, though.”
The (Long Delayed) Bad News: Today’s Calculus class set a new standard for
weird. Seriously. Sadly, I actually dislike ‘straight’ math, as opposed to ‘applied’ math,
so Calculus III is a rather dislikeable class. My section is the “leftovers”, a nearly empty
class created because the other sections ran of out desks when there were still desks left,
and thus it consists of fourteen students (including me) and one professor who thankfully,
actually knows what’s he doing. The class is a perfect 1:1 ratio of guys to girls, most all
of which are relatively intelligent. You see, it’s only the material that inhales vigorously.
To my left sits Jacob, and to my right, Lauren. I can’t, for the life of me,
remember their last names. The prof is Mr. Patterson, since has a Masters. The actual
‘bad’ news portion happened during a slight lull in the lecture. Mr. Patterson turned to
me, looked at me, and started to get a twitchy eye. “Mr. Ross, are feeling okay?” “No
weirder than I usually am.” “Well, your…your…” “My?” Lauren poked me in the right
shoulder. “Lind, your arms are glowing.” I should have mentioned that Lauren has the
profound gift of stating the obvious in a neutral tone that is neither insulting nor stupid-
sounding. And, naturally, she was right. I looked down, and involuntarily made some
sort of outburst, probably akin to “egh~!”. I should also probably mention that I was
wearing a heavy T-shirt, since most of the people by this time in the semester had come
to disregard the odd, tattoo-like markings on my wrists.
It’s rather hard to explain what was going on with my forearms. Well, take the
off-deep blue color of my half-cross sigils, throw in a bit of glowing-white, and turn that
into a network of half-glowing, opaque lines (think half veins and half circuit board)
elaborately going from my fingertips to halfway up my forearms, stopping a few inches
above my watch. And somehow, they ran into/out-of the symbols on my wrists, the latter
having picked the glowing-white undertone. “This is…weird.” The rest of the class was
staring at my hands, which was okay, because I was doing the same and too weirded out
to notice. It was then that my tattoos started that feeling of weirdness/menthol tingle
effect, except it was not just the triangles on the corners of my face and wrists. The
whole network of lines had that sensation.
Well, I had hoped that my hands were the only bit of eeriness going on, so I
looked up and was just going to say that I was fine and that we should get back to the
lesson when my glasses popped off my face. Actually, it was less popping and more
being catapulted off my face like they hit with an explosive charge. They flew a good ten
feet towards the front of the room and lightly hit Mr. Patterson in the chest. In a reverse-
haircut sort of feeling, I knew my hair temporarily gained its extra two inches. And then
I noticed the nasty, invisible things lurking in the corners of the room. I knew math was
allied with a higher (lower?) evil.
In the front-right corner of the room was a trio of…things. Imagine a mix of
imps, gremlins, evil sprites, and a very PO’d gnome. Now make them off red-brownish,
three feet tall, ugly as who-knows-what, and give them short, impractical-looking wings,
fang-like teeth, and claws. This group of beasty things had been minding their own
business. Then, they noticed me as I noticed them. Apparently, my glasses had been
doubling as a “please ignore me” sign. They started lurking towards me. I tried not to
trip when getting up from the swing-bar chair. I jumped the one additional row of desks
over an empty seat and looked around for something blunt. Mr. Patterson looked at me.
“Mr. Ross, what in the world are you…?” Only one object would sort of work. “Excuse
me sir, but I need to borrow the podium.” “What?” Without waiting for a response, I
grabbed the empty four-foot tall wooden contraption. I should mention that by this time,
the impish things were only a few feet away (the room is rectangular, and we only use the
left third of the room), so I had plenty of adrenaline…and glowing hands.
Gripping the podium by the top slanted surface, I rammed it into the first imp. It
connected, and the impact knocked the creature over and back quite a ways. It was then
that the second imp swung its claws at the podium…and cleanly diagonally bisected it.
“What the hell?” Rather than answer the professor’s question, I tossed the top half of the
podium in the imps’ general direction. One of them hop-fluttered up on the room-wide
desk and promptly tripped over someone’s arms. The girl looked around briefly.
Apparently, the things couldn’t see, or at least ignored normal people, but normal people
couldn’t see them. Great. The only thing that beats a monster is an invisible one.
So by now, I was backpedaling—running straight backwards, actually; I’m quite
good at it—and barely stopped before I reached the end of the room and smacked my
head on the wall, and a folded metal chair. Yes! Folding steel chair! Well, the imps ran
straight past the very confused Mr. Patterson. I grabbed the chair. Someone blurted out
something to the effect of, “Are you on angel dust or something, Ross?” I wasn’t quite
sure if that’s verbatim. I was occupied, you see. Well, I was cornered, watching two
imps slink slowly toward me as the third walked the first tier of aisle, tripping over a
backpack, but still making its way to the corner of the room.
It was then that I did something that at first may seem incredibly stupid. I
dropped the chair. Well, you see, I had an odd thought. The thought was actually
straightforward. It just felt very…foreign, for lack of a better term. The notion was this:
“Drop the chair, use my hands.” Buh? My hands started tingling in overtime, and on
sort of a half-hunch, I put my right hand, palm down, over my left, so that the two half-
symbols made a disconnected Iron Cross. The veined/circuitous pattern also ‘jumped’ to
up to my right hand. There was a very distinctive sound, sort of an ascending, capacitor-
charging windy tone. The symbols went from blue with white to white with blue. Then
there was a slight gasping, shrieking noise. The imps stopped moving and merely stood
So, on another hunch, I held my hands in the now glowing white configuration
and walked up to the first imp. I placed my hands on its head. It gave off a shriek that
sounded suspiciously like grinding soup crackers together combined with a firecracker.
The imp flashed white before exploding in a shower of multi-colored glitter. Not actual
glitter, but some sort of glitter-like ethereal substance. The class collectively gasped.
Next. The imp went poof in the same fashion when I touched it. By the time I reached
the third imp, it got its thoughts about it and fled up the long-tiered steps towards the
door…where it properly ran into someone in the doorway and fell backwards. “Well,
you’ve reached a new level of weird, Lindsay.” Some part of me went, “yes!” as I looked
at the person. It was Izzy Connelly, with her glasses off.
Well, I managed to touch the last imp as it fell, disintegrating it into another
sparkly poof. Izzy smirked at me. “Busy, are we?” Jacob spoke up. “Okay, Lind, what
the hell were those things?” I put my hands down to my sides. Before I could answer,
my forearms started their tingling again. The lines and sigils reverted to blue and the
lines began quickly retracting inward to the sigils. Once my hands were back to normal,
the hand tattoos stopped glowing. I was then wracked with pain, mostly around my
upper chest and neck. I suppose holy smiting powers that are probably several levels
above my normal tricks could be expected to be rather tiring. I leaned against the wall,
slid down to the floor and finally came up with an answer.
“The imp things? I have absolutely no earthly idea.” The class continued to give
me rather glassy stares. Another girl (I managed to forget her name entirely; I do
remember her face though) spoke up. “Um, Lind, your…” Izzy reached into a pocket
and stuffed her glasses onto my face. I suddenly and understandably felt much more
normal. Then she faced the teacher. “Excuse me, Mr. Patterson, was it? Might I have
Lind’s glasses?” The professor took a deep breath and picked them off the floor. Izzy
stepped over me (I closed my eyes momentarily, as she was wearing a deep blue skirt; I
may be miraculous, but I’m no lech) and retrieved them. The sound of stampeding
footsteps came from the hallway. My last class of the day was thankfully over.
Izzy returned with the glasses. “We’ll be right back, sir. As soon as we track
down another podium. And Lind…you’ve seriously violated the weirdness limit for the
day.” She helped me up, and after we left, she handed me my rectangular frames. (The
oval ones were seriously weird to look through.) I hovered my pair over the ones I was
wearing, and managed to switch glasses without unsealing anything. We then set off for
a storage room to hunt down a replacement podium.
Thursday, October 10
Much to my chagrin, the imps are turning out to be the least disturbing element of
yesterday’s incident. I’m currently sitting on my couch writing this, trying to shake off
the last of a case of the jibblies. Thus, rather than go backwards, I figure it’s better to
backtrack a bit and go forwards.
I’m fairly convinced that one of man’s foremost and primary emotions is that of
awkwardness. To the effect that life is essentially a slow train wreck of awkward with
dashes of other emotions mixed in. I know this isn’t going to win any prizes in
philosophy, but I felt like that train’s conductor when Izzy and I returned to Mr.
Patterson’s classroom yester afternoon with a spare podium out of the nearest storage
room. We had had to track down and get someone to open the room first, naturally.
Luckily, Patterson isn’t the type that grills you on why you disrupted the lesson;
he simply asked what the heck had gone on during the previous hour. I gave him the best
answer I had, the truth, which of course, involved talking about invisible imps that were
after me. Mr. Patterson nodded, apparently trying to humor me. I don’t think he believes
me, but in the same respect, I don’t think he totally discounts me as being crazy.
As we once again left the classroom, Izzy addressed me. “Lind, I think you
should know that you seriously creeped me out…and it wasn’t just the imp creatures. It’s
best that we discuss this later.” “Alright. When?” She rolled her eyes in thought.
“Well, I have things to do this afternoon, what about tomorrow afternoon?” “Tomorrow
afternoon, my house for a change?” “Well…would that send the wrong message to your
housekeeper? I don’t wanting her to assume things that aren’t.” I shook my head. “Ms.
Shan is very cautious to assume anything. And as I far as you or I go, as long as I’m
unhurt and still vaguely human, that’s good enough for her. She learned long ago not to
let my abilities and unnatural idiosyncrasies bother her too much.”
Well, plans were made, and we parted ways. There was one other thing of note
that happened yesterday…or today, I’m not sure. I had a rather odd dream. Now, I
should explain that despite the odd things while I’m awake, my dreams are quite average
and within the acceptable Freudian/Jungian bounds for such unrealities. Except for the
one recurring dream I have, naturally. They started when I six. It might have been just
after I got the markings, or several months later.
In real life, there was a girl about my age with distinctive, flax-colored hair. I
only saw her once on a playground, and I’ve never seen her since. Looking back, she
was probably a ghost. And if I was any way like Izzy, I might not have been able to tell
the difference. Well, in the dreams, the girl is there, just standing…and on fire.
Just…not burning…in a Moses-and-his-shrubbery sort of way. And, just to make things
more convenient, owing to the dream nature of it, I either can’t make out her face or just
can’t remember when I wake up.
Today, school-wise, passed without a hitch, and since it’s on the
Tuesday/Thursday rotation, it was fairly light. At 4:25 Izzy rang the doorbell and was let
in by Ms. Barringer. Introductions and tours (I’m sorry to say, but my except for the
empty master bedroom, my house is entirely mundane) were done, and it only took Shan
a glance to size up our glasses—differing shapes but the exact same style. Shan had
errands to run, after which she’d be working for the evening. Thus I was instructed to
cook for myself and take care of whatever dishes I dirtied.
“And miss Connelly is welcome to stay as long as she pleases, provided it’s okay
with her parents.” “Actually, ma’am, I don’t have parents…anymore.” Shan nodded.
“That sounds dubiously familiar. Well, Lind, I trust in your judgment. Work on being a
decent host. See you later.” I closed the front door. “So, then, what’s up? You wanted
to talk to me? About what?” “Well, I feel a bit better now that Ms. Barringer is gone.” I
looked at her. I’m rather poor at reading emotions, but I was detecting rather obvious
looks of embarrassment…mainly because her dagger-like green eyes were rather…dull.
“Now, what is it that you couldn’t tell her? Does this bother you?” She shook her head.
“Actually, if I’m correct, it will bother you.”
I lowered my shoulders. “Okay, fess up.” “Well…yesterday, after the imp
things, did you feel uncomfortable at all?” My eyes bounced around. “My lungs and my
neck hurt like hell for a good ten seconds. That was it.” “Take off your glasses.”
“Pardon?” “Take them off, Lindsay Ross.” I resisted the urge to grumble and did just
that. Izzy fiddled with something in the pocket of her skirt. “So, why on Earth was it
urgent that I take my glasses off?” Izzy said nothing…but her eyes grew to the size of
dinner plates. It was then Izzy said a most unladylike word that I won’t bother repeating.
“Jeez, Lind, listen to yourself!” She meant it literally. Izzy retrieved the gum-package
sized white mp3 player from her pocket and fiddled with a few buttons. “So, why on
Earth was it urgent that I take my glasses off?” It then hit me like a sack of bricks, with
some mint garnish on the side. That wasn’t me talking! The voice was two, maybe three
times higher and sounded…well…girly. Actually, the scary part about it was that it was
just low enough to not be entirely mistaken for a girl’s voice. Which made it
androgynous…horrifying androgynous. I, quite understandably, shuddered.
“What…the heck…is this?” Now, the way one’s voice sounds in your head is
significantly lower than what it really is, and when I actually paid attention to it, even my
voice sounded horrifically high to me. Izzy closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“That is the voice of a countertenor, if my musical training serves me. You’ll have to
excuse me, but I took choir a long time ago.” “Not a problem.” “Actually, with the way
your voice sounds even without singing I might go as so far to say that with your glasses
off, you may be an altino. Rare and effeminate.” “I hate that word.” Izzy smirked.
“Some say androgyny is a state of mind, though in your case I think it’s more curse-
related. To be honest, though, with your normal speaking voice up an octave and a half,
it makes me wonder about your testosterone levels. Can you sing?” I put my glasses on
and cleared my throat. “No.” My hair and voice (and presumably, my eye color) had
returned to normal. She nodded. “Good. I could probably think of dozens of conductors
and rock or pop groups that would kill to get a male alto who wouldn’t need falsetto.
Rather scary if you think about it.”
And it was rather scary. Scary enough that I unconsciously kept touching the side
of my glasses, just to see if they were still there. Izzy stuck around for dinner, simply
because going home would mean cooking anyways, so she figured it was more efficient
to mooch off me. She went home, and I picked up the pen, and like a good noir detective
novel, this entry ends where it begins.
Tuesday, October 22
Something rather interesting has been happening for the past couple of weeks.
And by interesting, I do not mean midterms. Egh…midterms. I’ve been hanging with
Izzy lately, whether studying for the two classes we share, History of Warfare, and
Practical Psychology for Non-Majors, or simply chatting and theorizing. She apparently
had a deprived, video-game-less childhood, of which I’ve been trying to correct.
Connelly has picked up Super Smash Bros. Melee rather quickly, and also seems to like
traditional RPG’s. Some days, I’ll come home from class to find Izzy in the family room,
holding a controller, with Shan acting as coach/backseat driver. But since she actually
went out and bought a memory card of her own to play on, I can’t really complain all that
But, I digress. The point of this is that the ‘hanging out’ is apparently starting to
rub off on other people. Some of Izzy’s classmates who only saw her as a distanced,
gimmicked psychic see her talking to me and figure, “Hmm…she’s with a normal
person.” (Insert snickering laughter over me and the word “normal” here.) Even more
thrilling is that the converse appears to be true. The other people in my Physics and
especially, Calculus classes now actually speak to me. I’m not actually antisocial; it’s
just that people categorize me as weird and then try to avoid me. Izzy ended up meeting
Lauren, whose last name is “Cox”, and the two have hit it off rather well. I even ran back
into Eric Moore and Ian Evans, both of whom I had lost track of, albeit through unusual
After finishing a rather brain melting test in Modern Warfare given by the new
teacher, (I still think Mr. Jennings was the better prof) I stumbled across campus. I was
done for the day, so I was heading towards my car. My house (and thus, Izzy’s house) is
only six or so miles away; it’s far enough that it’s theoretically within walking distance,
but more comfortable to drive. On my way across one of the grassy malls, there was a
My opinion on street evangelists is much the same as my opinion on street
protests. I don’t mind either, (that much) unless they’re blocking traffic and disrupting
my day. Now this speaker had himself a short ladder, a booming voice, and a damning
fire and brimstone speech. The basics, really. He was using the catchphrase
“sleepwalking into hell” as loud as possible. (I wonder…do they have fire and brimstone
street preacher conventions? They should. I mean, you’d have comparisons of monthly
irritability and loudness quotas, panels on trendy damnation catchphrases, and pictures of
Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield hung up around the convention hall.)
Now, this self-appointed holy man and his listeners took it upon themselves to
grab my arm and attempt to drag me towards his temporary pulpit. That was the last
straw. I just…didn’t get very far, because then I passed on almost instantly.
When I woke up, there was a singular thought in my head: tree. “Tree?” I was
sitting with my back against a large tree (deciduous, but other than, I couldn’t tell what
kind). Sure enough, my hair and the bridge of my nose told me my glasses were off. I
checked my watch. Twenty-three minutes had passed. That had to be a record for
shortest period of “lost time” ever. The other obvious thing was that the preacher and
associated crowd had all but vanished. I then noticed, standing roughly twenty feet away
from me was Eric Moore. I got up. “Eric? What happened to the preacher?” Eric
looked at me, and just…stopped. I think I accidentally blew his mind, or at least, a major
“Li…Lind?” I nodded. “When…did you dye your hair?” Ian took that
opportune moment to walk up to his friend. “I didn’t dye my hair.” Ian looked at me.
“Dude, that and…what the heck is up with your voice? Laryngitis?” I answered,
“Curse.” While Ian blinked and frowned slightly, Eric whipped out his cell phone,
fiddled with a few buttons, waited a few seconds, and then handed it to me. “You’re
telling me that you didn’t dye your hair?” On the screen was a badly pixilated but
otherwise recognizable picture of me. My hair was its two-inches longer than
normal…and bright silver—not the sort of grey you get with age—an almost metallic
I reached into my front right pocket and thankfully, my glasses were still there. I
put them on and cleared my throat. Both my acquaintances jumped half a foot into the
air. “That’s better. So, what’s up?” Eric shrugged. “Well, we um…apparently lost your
phone number. Either that, or you like changed it.” I shook my head. “No, it’s still the
same.” “We tried looking you up on the online directory, but apparently the thing’s
screwy. It couldn’t find anyone named ‘Lind’.” “That’s because my first name is
Lindsay.” Ian silently nodded. “Mind if I add my number to your phone?” “Sure.” I did
just that and handed the clamshell cell phone back to Eric. It’s interesting that despite
never owning a cell phone, I know more about them than most of their users. “Hey, Ian,
how are you and your parents doing?”
I was met with a bear hug. I should mention that Ian, though not necessarily
large, is rather tall, and last I knew, played rugby as a hobby. Thus, my lungs felt they
were going to be going squeezed out of my body through my mouth. “Thanks,
man…thanks.” Ian was on the edge of tears. “My mother told me the whole thing.” Ian
finally let go of me. I coughed twice. “So, you’re a…psychic like Sylvia Browne or like
that Edwards guy?” I shook my head. “Not really. My abilities aren’t that dependable.
They come in spurts and are more annoying than useful. Hey, Eric, what happened to the
preacher that was over there?”
Ian smirked. “You didn’t see that?” “No.” Eric shrugged before he relayed the
tale. “Well, around twenty minutes ago, his crowd was getting a bit pushy. Then, out of
the crowd, this woman steps up, and the whole crowd just kinda shrinks back. Long
golden blonde hair and really intense eyes. I mean, the preacher guy may have been
noisy, but I guess he was kinda charismatic. Well, this chick just oozed charisma. She
was quite the babe, too, but something about her just screamed like…like ex-military.
Anyway, she started talking back to the preacher, taking apart some of his arguments. He
got angry at her and started spouting bible verses at her, but she’d just calmly name two
or three more back at him, and then argue against the wrong use of the ones he’d said. I
mean, I’m no debater, never was…” He paused and his hands had taken the gestures of
two squabbling sock puppets…minus the socks, of course. “…it was just sorta awesome
watching. Finally he denounced her as being possessed or working for the Devil or
something…and she grabbed him by the collar and whispered something. The guy
turned frickin’ white in the face and apologized, packed up his stuff and left. Just like
that.” Ian nodded. “A few people grumbled, but the majority almost cheered her. Before
anyone could really ask her, the chick just bowed, and walked off.”
“Huh. That’s cool.” It was a neat story, but something bothered me…that little
voice in the back of your head that adds together whole numbers and somehow gets pi.
“So, what was this woman dressed like?” Ian thought for a moment. “Sort of a long-
sleeved blue shirt and car…go…pants.” That happened to be exactly what I was
wearing. Eric and Ian probably said something after that. All the blood and
consciousness rushed out of my head too fast for me to pay attention.
Friday, November 1
I should have listened. I should have acquiesced. I should have simply agreed to
go shopping. More on that later. This year had Halloween on a Thursday, which meant
that Trick-or-treaters came both yesterday and today, but most of the parties and
festivities are/were tonight. Shan will be up to her usual yearly tricks. Having gone to
bed early for the past week to adjust her schedule, she’ll be handing out candy until
11:00, after which she turns the lights out, and goes out the second-story window with
dark clothing and sets up a sniper’s nest with a paintball gun to deter pumpkin smashers
and TP-ers. It works surprisingly well, and with the amount of effort and fine detail she
puts into our pumpkins, it’s almost understandable. So, I was told to either be home
tonight at eleven or not return until Saturday at sunup, or else I might get a red paintball
or three to the chest.
Jump back a week or so. It took me a couple days to relax about the events of two
Tuesdays ago, but I finally got over the anxiety of having an alternate personality who
isn’t even the same gender as I am. I made two rationalizations. One, said person isn’t
evil. Two, there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. In hindsight, position two is a
poor place to be.
The other thing is, shortly thereafter, Izzy apparently kicked into costume mode. I
didn’t even know she had a ‘costume frenzy’ setting. As for me, I grew out of dressing
up and going door to door at a rather young age, and it stopped altogether when I didn’t
have a dad to go along with. At first, Izzy considered that with her extremely short (for a
girl) hair, she would dye it pink and go as someone named “Tonks” (no idea what that
meant; still no clue), but she quickly decided against it to instead do something that
required a bit more effort. She wanted to be a witch. There’s some irony here, I know it.
Thus, she asked me to accompany her to the mall and various fabric and hobby
stories for the requisite supplies. I didn’t know she had a sewing machine, but knowing
her, there’s probably a Singer from the Pre-Columbian period stuffed in her house
somewhere. Well, I have a low tolerance for shopping, (I’m a ‘tactical’ shopper: get in,
find what I need, rig the explosives, and exfiltrate myself) and even the dangled carrot of
milkshakes was insufficient. So I weaseled my way out of the dangerous commitment.
While Izzy is normally quiet, though not as much so around people she knows, I have
since recognized a very dangerous and mischievous facet to her that’s connected to a
grin. At first the grin in question appears almost sheepish, but with the way her lips curl
it’s very catlike. This is the grin that informs people that there is going to be hell to pay.
Lauren had invited me to her house for a Halloween party, and, before anyone
complains, both her parents were there, and they happen to be sticklers about keeping the
inebriety in their household to a minimum. So, having been burned out by a full week of
school without the luxury of curse-based interruptions, I was tired. I rarely nap, and
when I do, it’s rarely for more than two hours. I plopped down on the couch, face-down
(that’s always how I sleep, by the by) and was soon asleep.
However, the manner in which I was awoken was rather disturbing. I was
grabbed…by four people at once and hoisted into the air. Despite my squirming, I was
being carried like a log towards the front door. I mentioned that I’m almost gaunt, right?
Well, I’m not the strongest of men, and I found out later that three of my kidnappers were
members of the university’s women’s volleyball team. As I was convoyed toward the
front door, there was a familiar face. With her legs apart and bracing both her arms on
the doorframe was Izzy, with the catlike grin on her face. And she was entirely
acting…and dressed like a witch. I didn’t get a good look at her, nor much of anything.
A voice came from the other room. “Miss Connelly, please watch out for Lind this
evening.” She answered sweetly, “Of course, Miss Barringer.” Shan had sold me out!
Past the front steps and lawn was the Chariot of Damnation or as I like to call it,
Izzy’s old-but-quite-serviceable sedan. The trunk was open. Does it really take a genius
to figure what happened? I was tossed in like a sack of potatoes, and managed to hit my
head on the side of the interior, which meant that I was initially too dazed to react. I
finally stretched out my arm only to yank it back to prevent my fingers from being
crunched. The trunk latched. The car was of course a decade before pundits even
considered an emergency in-trunk release handle. The sound of four doors closing in
sequence came through the lining. I checked my watch. No luck. Since I had slept with
it hidden from a light source, the luminous dials were dark. Then I realized my shoulders
were on something. I leaned up slightly, smacked my head on the ceiling again, and
pulled what felt like some sort of silky clothing out from beneath me.
Roughly five minutes later, the car stopped and trunk was opened. The two girls
who opened it (friends of Lauren) were met with a very unhappy me. I extricated myself
from the car, stretched (with a few loud popping sounds that didn’t sound very healthy),
and glanced at the sky. Despite being mid-afternoon, the atmosphere was becoming
increasingly overcast. I zipped my jacket up and then I noticed Izzy. Her outfit consisted
of a rather form-fitting top, a long skirt, tall boots, and gloves that went to her elbows—
all in black. A presumably antique, coverless gold pocket watch on a chain hung around
her neck like an oversized necklace, the white face’s second hand visibly ticking. This
was topped off by a rather expensive-looking wide-brimmed conical hat that sat above
the oval lenses of her glasses and the cat’s grin on her face. As a whole, it
was…incredibly…attractive. “Did you enjoy the ride, Lindsay?” I scowled, which was
actually quite difficult to do while eyeing her. “Oh, come now, Lin-Lin, we need to get
you in you costume. You’re going to be a bishounen.” The small extent of my
knowledge that extended to anime subculture informed me of the horror, or at least, the
grievous irritation the word wrought.
I stood my ground. “You’re an evil lady, Izzy. Why are you doing this?” She
gave a rather natural smile, accented by cherry lipstick that I had apparently overlooked.
Then cocked her head in false self-questioning. “Well…first, you did snake your way out
of shopping with me, and I really could have used the help. Secondly…it’s fun!” I
rolled my eyes and put my right hand up to my head. “So, what if I refuse to dress up?
Lauren said costumes were optional.” Izzy became feline again. “I…figured you’d try
something like this.” She slunk towards me. “You see, Lauren happens to be quite the
photo buff. She just happened to have her SLR and a motor drive out when she noticed
you a couple of weeks ago.” No good could come of what she was saying. “And well,
she was going to take a picture of the crowd, but noticed you stumbling, and her finger
slipped. So, she kinda spent twenty-three shots recording you falling unconscious and
catching yourself before you hit the ground. Do you realize how feminine your other self
is? And well…if noncompliance is your game, those pictures might just end up in the
school newspaper.” I wanted to pop her like an imp. “You’re a decidedly evil lady,
Izzy.” She nodded. “I know. But come on, it’s not as bad as you think.” She looked up.
It was starting to sprinkle. “Anyway, we best get inside. It’s going to rain.”
Izzy was correct, not only on the weather, but the severity of her blackmail. The
clothes I had scrunched in her car turned out to be black slacks and a teal silk shirt. And
when I say silk, I mean the natural, expensive variety. I was introduced to Mr. and Mrs.
Cox and filched some pumpkin sugar cookies with homemade frosting. They
were…exquisite. Even though Lauren’s house was just on the boundary of campus
proper, the party was much smaller than I expected: just a dozen people, give or take.
The much more awkward thing is that I was one of the three males at the gala, one of
which being Lauren’s father. The other, Jason, was a significant other to one of Lauren’s
girlfriends. That certainly increased the awkwardness to barely tolerable levels.
I had just emerged from the downstairs bathroom in the shirt and pants when I
was met with Izzy, who was holding a brush in one hand and a comb in the other,
gripping them like knives. I backed up into the bathroom and soon found my hair being
groomed. Five minutes and one container of styling gel later, my hair was expertly
combed. The part was perfect; my bangs were separated, lifted, and exaggerated,
specifically leaving the diamond-shaped symbols on my forehead devoid of any hair-like
camouflage. Izzy grinned, still uncomfortably close to me. “Almost done. One last
thing.” “What’s that?” “This.” She took the glasses off my face. I should have seen it
coming. Really, I should have. Somehow, even with my hair instantly growing two
inches longer, (well not in the front, but I’ve been over that) the gel still held; apparently
it was lightly held in most places to allow just such a change. And Eric had been
right…my hair was silver. (What? You think I would’ve actually taken my glasses off
and looked in a mirror since then? Why would I risk that?) I tossed a bang around. Even
though no longer in my normal light-light brown, the hair had still kept the same pattern
of natural highlights and shadows, although instead of blond and dark brown, they
became light silver and dark grey, respectively. It was a very odd color, if you think
about it. My hair was a lot deeper in color than the silver grey that comes with age. The
creepiest thing is that it didn’t look dyed—it looked exactly as one would expect to find if
silver was a natural hair color.
Thus, I was re-introduced to the party in “costume”, while Izzy entrusted my
glasses to Lauren under the condition that I was not to receive them until the end of the
party. “Um, hi.” Mr. Cox dropped his (thankfully empty) punch glass at the sound of my
voice. The majority of the room looked at me. Stared at me, actually, their eyes quickly
darting small distances. I had the uncanny feeling I was being sized up like a piece of
meat. Lauren looked at me from the couch. (She has dark brown hair cropped to
shoulder-length, for those keeping score.) “Lind, is that you?” “Yeah.” “Does your
appearance have to do with what happened in math class?” “More or less.” I still
couldn’t get over how weird my voice sounded…to me. “I pity you.” Lauren had
switched to her trademarked tone, and as such, I couldn’t tell if she sincerely meant it or
if she was just being sarcastic. Perhaps it’s both.
Lauren slapped the couch next to her. Despite being dressed as a vampire (no
plastic fangs, though), her face told me that she might be the only girl in the room not
looking to bite me. I walked over and sat down next to her as Lauren picked up her
earlier conversation with one of her chums. The rest of the female population kept
leering at me. It was both impressive and intimidating. Actually, screw impressive. It
was downright creepy. Izzy was standing in the corner giggling. She checked the pocket
watch on her neck. “Hey, Lauren, I’m going to go move my car. I think I’m still
blocking your driveway, so I might as well park it in the school lot at the end of the
street. That, and I’m grabbing my camera bag out of the trunk. This is priceless.”
“Alright.” Izzy grabbed an umbrella and was out the door.
A few awkward minutes later, I went up to refill the bowl of chips from the larger
supply of snackage from the kitchen. I had to dodge attempted hugs and pats on the back
in the process. Lauren started asking about school, probably attempting to distract me
from the half-lustful stares from a good portion of the room. “Well, I’m majoring—.” I
was cut off because one of Lauren’s friends, Melanie, had taken it upon herself to reach
across the couch and hug me from behind. “Sorry, he he, just couldn’t help myself.
You’re just too cute.” She hastily added, “…and pretty.” I turned towards her. She was
still hugging me. I opened my mouth to say something…and utterly failed. Lauren
checked her watch. “Izzy’s been gone for a while now. Does it really take six minutes to
park her car three doors down and across the street?” Melanie answered, still without
letting go. “Well, maybe the parking lot was full and she had to find somewhere else…or
maybe she stopped to talk to someone.”
Well, the conversations continued and the topic was quickly forgotten. It was
past eleven and I should have been hungrier or maybe slightly tired, but I wasn’t. My
glasses were off, of course. But something…some part of me told me that something
wasn’t right. It wasn’t my powers, by any means, more of just instinct. That’s when I
heard it. “Lind!!” Something was no doubt horribly wrong. That…and it’s just my luck
that no one else was paying attention. Crud.
I pried Melanie off me, jumped off the couch, over the coffee table (tripping over
the popcorn bowl in the process), and ran towards the front door. “Mr. Cox, I’ll be back
in a bit. Don’t let anyone leave until then.” With that, I opened the front door and ran
out into the cold night rain (still downpouring).
I’m a moron. I mean, it’s November, and I was running down the street through
heavy rain without a raincoat, an umbrella, or even a jacket. It was a good fifty degrees,
with enough wind to bring the rain down at a good angle. I covered the few houses to the
south that separated me from the parking lot in question in what seemed like no time at
all, made a cursory glance for traffic, and dashed across the crosswalk. I spied Izzy’s car
under an unusually dim streetlight.
Once over the foot-high brick wall that bordered the lot, I saw Izzy…on the
asphalt next to her car. Above her was something much more unquestionably evil than
the imps. This thing was roughly human-shaped, on all fours, and had a rather long tail.
More disturbing was that it looked like it was made of congealed smoke, and when it
turned towards me, two glowing, pure red eyes stared at me. This “smoke wraith”
absolutely reeked of evil. And it was standing over Izzy like a lion above its fallen prey.
“Get away from her!!” Really, I’m not sure why I said that. The shock hadn’t
even kicked in, and yet, I found myself instantly enraged with what seemed like
supernatural passion. I felt my forearms tingle. The veined circuit pattern quickly spread
out from the symbols on my hands, and as the pattern turned to glowing white, it
illuminated the area around me. This beast had no facial features except the eyes, and on
its four-fingered arms and legs were claws as big as steak knives. It stared at me. I
walked towards it.
And with that…it fled. It flew (actually, I think it jumped, but there wasn’t much
of a difference, and I don’t care) off, the street lamp instantly brightening as the creature
left. A few seconds later, I noticed it fleetingly at the top of a building several hundred
yards away, and shortly after, another streetlamp at the horizon momentarily dimmed.
My arms quickly reverted to their normal, non-glowing variant.
“Li…nd…?” I looked at Izzy. She wasn’t dead, and partial consciousness was an
asset. “That’s good!” However, in the light of the nearby lamppost, I could see how
badly she was injured. There were huge, raking slashes across most of her abdomen,
slightly shallower scrapes across her neck, with another deep wound across her right
thigh. She was still wearing her glasses, which had been shattered—the left lens was
missing altogether, while a jagged half of the right lens had stayed in the frame. “This
totally sucks!” Somehow, the pocket watch was totally intact. It was still cold and
raining, so even if Izzy’s wounds hadn’t been serious, she still might have risked
hypothermia (now there’s a party for all!). So, having made my assessment, it was time
to break several large rules of first aid by removing the victim.
Since Izzy’s wounds were mostly on her chest, I was worried about using the
standard, over-the-shoulder one man carry. So I improvised, placing one arm below her
upper thigh and another under her shoulders, and then hoisted her up. (Remember kids,
lift with the knees, or else your back with make funny, painful popping noises!) I then
found myself half-instinctually running at full speed back to Lauren’s house. How
exactly did I manage to carry a woman in excess of a hundred pounds (though the actual
difference is a well-guarded secret, I’m sure) through pouring rain, all at a sprint? I
certainly didn’t inquire about the process while I was doing that, because that would be
like Wile E. Coyote again realizing the existence of gravity. In hindsight, I probably had
enough adrenaline in me to temporarily bring an elephant back from the dead.
I got up to the front porch…and the door was locked. “Open the damn door! It’s
Lindsay. I’ve got Izzy, and she’s badly wounded!” The door was unlatched and swung
open, courtesy of Mrs. Cox, whom I rushed past. I heard Lauren say, “You’re getting
blood on the carpet.” It was probably in her neutral voice, but I was too frenzied to care.
I yelled at her anyway. “You can replace the carpets. You can’t replace her!!” The
coffee table (which contained various dry snacks) and a couch (which contained various
dry persons) were unceremoniously kicked out of the way, courtesy of my foot.
I quickly placed the now unconscious and deathly pale Izzy on the floor, and went
on my knees. I fumbled with my pockets. Luckily, I had transferred my usual inventory
to my “costume” slacks, which included a miniature pocket knife of the sort that most
people only keep around for the tweezers. I flicked out the tiny, probably dull blade and
began slicing (more ripping than slicing) open the bottom of Izzy’s top, followed by the
entire skirt. I ripped the pocket watch off her and tossed it to the carpet. “Lauren, elevate
her legs.” She did just that, with a couple of stacked pillows.
The black fabric had managed to hide most of the blood. I was rather startled at
just how severely she was bleeding. The wounds on her thigh and neck were slowly,
constantly oozing a viscous and dark blood while the deeper wounds on her abdomen
were leaking a much more brilliant red that pulsed with every heartbeat. Venus and
arterial bleeding. This was not the sort of bleeding you get when cut your finger, or even,
if you cut your finger off. This is the sort of bleeding that kills a person in minutes. It
was rather amazing that Izzy had lived this long.
I placed both my hands on Izzy’s right thigh and pressed against it as hard as I
could, wiping my face on my soaked sleeve in a futile effort to remove the mix of sweat
and rainwater from my eyes. Mrs. Cox was already calling 911. Lauren turned towards
her mother. “Mom, don’t bother. She’ll be dead before the ambulance gets her.” The
comment struck something of truth, as I realized that the even the trusty “apply direct
pressure” was doing little. My hands were covered in blood up to my wrists, and Izzy’s
thigh was still bleeding. Jason walked up and hovered overhead. “We could use a
miracle right about now.” It then occurred to me: my glasses were still off! “You’re in
luck. I happen to be very good at them.”
It was time to change tactics. I removed my bloody hands, and placed them over
the center of Izzy’s chest, touching it lightly. I looked around. “Everyone, gather
around. Form a circle and hold hands.” “What?” “Just do it.” They complied. I turned
my head. Melanie was behind me. “Melanie, put your hands on my shoulders.
Everyone else, touch Melanie’s shoulders.” Melanie eagerly complied. “Now what?”
I closed my eyes and directed this weird impatience I still had towards heavenly
pleadings. I felt something warm other than blood, and I’m pretty sure that the ghostly
part of the Man Upstairs was somewhere in the vicinity. I heard people gasping…that
meant I was doing it the right way. I shut my eyes tighter and prayed harder. I was later
told that I had been glowing a whitish-blue, and that Izzy’s blood had started to flow back
into her wounds. Even the blood that dripped to the carpets flew back towards her chest
(though not without leaving a stain on the rugs). On top of that, the water on her skin,
hair, and clothes just…vanished. The slashes quickly closed themselves without leaving
so much as a scar.
When I felt the tingling that covered me subside, I opened my eyes. My hair
started half-burning and half-tingling and I felt it grow longer…and pinch together. Izzy
was now, essentially, dressed only in her underwear, gloves, boots, and a witch’s hat.
She woke up instantly, as if she’d been hit with shock paddles and bolted to her knees.
“Wha?” She quickly patted herself down and checked her neck. Her eyes were beyond
dinner plates in size…they were probably up to “giant squid” by now. She looked at me.
“Lind!?” “Yes.” The witch gave me a weak smile and hugged me for all she was worth.
“You…you’re an idiot, Lind.” She had already started crying. I smiled. “I
would rather be an idiot and have you alive than be a wise man and have you dead.” She
nodded, still hugging me. I felt my hair move. “Lind, you’ve got a ponytail now. I
mean, there’s even a band holding it together.” “That’s nice. I don’t care.” I didn’t.
Friday, November 1 (Late o’clock)
Luckily, my annoyingly heroic frenzy had subsided and been replaced with
seemingly unnatural patience, which was put to good use in slowly explaining what I had
done and what had attacked Izzy. “If it’s possible, I’d recommend that everyone stay
here until daybreak. I’m fairly sure the wraith-demon-thing is gone, but I’d be even surer
that something like it would hate sunlight.” It was just as well. It was past one and
everyone was beyond emotionally exhausted. Actually, thanks to the fact that I had left
my glasses off for this entire episode, I was barely hungry and only mildly tired.
I let Izzy borrow the cargo pants and shirt I had been wearing when I had arrived,
finding in the pockets this journal. The scary thing was, (for those keeping the “Let’s
Disprove Lind’s Masculinity” score tally) they fit almost perfectly on her. It was then
that Izzy got a piercing headache. “Lauren, can I have my glasses back?” “Sure.”
Lauren, who had since retired from the vampire costume, returned with my glasses,
which I promptly stuck over Izzy’s face. She sighed. Her face looked rather odd with
rectangular, instead of oval frames. “What are you going to do for glasses?” “Well,
these are out of commission, aren’t they?” I held up her broken pair of sealing glasses.
She nodded pensively. “Well, you need them more than I do. I can still go to class
without these, but if you’ve got a migraine 24/7, you’d be pretty much worthless.”
“Thanks.” “Sure.” “So, I kidnap you, and you return the favor by saving my life and
loaning me your glasses? You’re too good for me. What are you going to do long-term,
about the glasses?” I shrugged. “I guess I can start looking for a replacement pair for
you, or see if I can somehow get them fixed.” She shrugged before yawning.
Mr. Cox had retrieved extra sleeping bags and started the fireplaces, and the
nearby warmth was acting as a deadly sedative to the partygoers. I found an empty
couch. Lauren poked her head out from behind a pillow. “So, Lind, if your glasses are
off…what if that wraith thing comes in the night?” I smiled. “It won’t. And if you’re
worried, you can rip the onionskin pages out of one of those mini-Gideons bibles and
spread the pages around the house.” “What will that do?” I shrugged. “I’m not sure, but
you would have a rather long game of 52-Card Pickup.” She sniggered. My high-
pitched voice still sounded weird.
I found a pen on an end table and wrote the previous entry. Izzy walked up to the
couch with a rather long afghan and before I knew it, her head was in my lap. “Do you
mind if I stay like this?” “Umm…sure.” Within moments, she was silently asleep, and I
shifted to writing on the arm of the couch. I played around with my hair for a while,
discovering the disconcerting fact that if I removed the black band that held my hair
together, another was instantly in its place, and the removed band would quickly dissolve
in my hands. With a bit of willpower, concentration, and a lot of luck, I managed to
remove it totally, meaning that while my hair was still its normal length in the front, the
silver hair was now loosely falling to just below my shoulder blades. I set the black hair
band on the end table, and pulled my hair to the back of the couch. But, as of now, my
right hand is killing me, so I’m going to stop, and attempt to get some sleep.
Saturday, November 2
Well, I was up shortly before six, which, actually, at this time of year is
technically before dawn. I checked my watch and woke up the Izzy. We gathered our
things, and since I was the only half of our duo conscious, I was planning to drive home.
She was too burned out to complain. After setting off the house’s alarm by opening the
front door, and then apologizing for waking everyone up, I opened the passenger door to
Izzy’s car. She half-fell into the seat. “Wait here. I’m going to go grab what’s left of
your costume.” Mumble, mumble. Figures. After the gear was delicately tossed with
abandon in the back seat, I took the liberty to fiendishly readjust all of Izzy’s mirrors,
although, like the clothes, the seat was comfortable where it was.
I prodded Izzy to get out of the car once we were back at my house. I found my
keys, unlocked the door and walked into the house. “We’re home.” “Who is?”
“Lind…with my glasses off.” “I’m in the kitchen.” Izzy got out of the car. I locked it,
and we made our way to the kitchen. Shan was sitting on a stool at the island, drinking
an oversized cup of coffee. Though no longer in black, traces of camo paint were evident
on her face. “So, this is what you look like with your glasses off now, eh?” I nodded.
“Yep.” Shan took another sip of coffee. “I have to admit, the voice, the hair, and the
clothes threw me, but the face is right. You get half credit.” “Thanks.” “No problem,
“How’d the campaign go, Shan?” “Not nearly as fun as last year. I only had to
pop three people.” She looked at me, and then at Izzy, who was still dressed in what I
had been wearing when I had been abducted to the party. “Well, this is interesting.
Lind…her clothes…explain.” I did just that while Ms. Barringer prepared us two large
cups of hot tea. Izzy gripped for hers like a leech. “Ah.” Izzy basked in the coffee cup’s
warmth before chugging it.
“So, you mean to tell me her glasses are broken, so you’re loaning your pair to
her, and on top of that, you saved her life by using blatant faith healing?” Izzy waxed her
cup off and looked up. “Yup. Thanks for the tea.” Shan nodded. Izzy patted me on the
shoulder. “And by the way, Lind, these clothes are really comfy. Though, I haven’t
worn pants in a while. I just may keep them.” All three points were of course, quite true.
While my shirts and (former) hairstyle were selected to hide my tattooed symbols, I had
chosen my favorite generic brand of cargo pants because they were obnoxiously
comfortable. It was also true that I had added “Izzy wears nothing but pants” to my
checklist for Signs of the Apocalypse. And when she said she might want to keep them,
she was probably being quite honest.
Shan refilled her cup of coffee. “So, Lind, are you planning on going to class on
Monday looking like that? I mean, you’d give Fabio a run for his money in looks, and
you sound like a boy band soloist. Heck, if I was ten years younger, I might have tried to
seduce you.” There was a deafening silence only broken by the air conditioning kicking
itself on. “Right…well, if possible, I’m going to spend this weekend looking for a
replacement for Izzy’s glasses. Either that, or someway to fix them.” Shan nodded. “I
don’t have to work this weekend, so I’ll be holding down the fort. And you, miss
Connelly?” Izzy stretched. “I might take a shower or something like it. Then, well…I
don’t really have much to study, and considering that our princess is still in another
castle, I might find myself borrowing your video game systems for the weekend.” Shan
paused from her (at least) second cup of coffee. “Fair enough.” Judging from how much
Izzy I had seen in the past twenty-four hours, I almost suggested that she take the
Nintendo with her to her house. But, I realized, that even if she had a TV (did she?), such
a newfangled contraption would be heresy to the house’s décor.
So, I grabbed the portable phone and trekked my way upstairs to my room, and to
the not-quite-obsolescent computer that took up a significant portion of my desk. It was
time to say hello to everyone’s third-best mutual acquaintance, by which I mean the
internet. It allows one find to everything obscure except the specific obscurity you care
about. Or, at least that’s how the ad-hoc directories called “search engines” work.
Well, several hours, innumerable web searches, and quite a few phone calls
(mainly to antique dealers and churches) later, I had found a possible lead. In the town of
Westfield, there was a Catholic priest whose main hobby was collecting antique eyewear.
Now, ten to one says he’s never even heard of “sealing glasses”, but it’s worth a shot. I
called without answer, so I’m going to drive there tomorrow. It’s not too far, but
jeez…Westfield has maybe 500 people on a good day. Of course, the county’s shire
town has a whopping 1,500, so I can’t really complain…too much.
Sunday, November 3
Today begins with last night’s dreams, since they were weird without being the
repeated imagery of self-immolating children. I found myself walking over cobblestone
through a town built on the side of a large cliff. The town looked medieval, quaint, and
heavily forested. I found myself walking into a church and joining a free tour group.
Except…the tour guide, apparently a priest of the church, spoke in French and I was
speaking what sounded like French right back to him. Even cooler was that my hair was
normal and short, and voice was its normal self, French aside. No earthly idea what I was
saying. Well, the tour eventually opened to a cliffside terrace. The centerpiece exhibit
was a sword in a glass case…actually, scratch that. It was a small fragment of a sword in
a glass case.
I waited until the tour group had continued onward, walked to the edge of the
terrace that faced the vertical rock wall, and walked through it, apparently diagonally
forward and down. When I could see again, I was in a small chamber. Roughly circular,
it didn’t have any doors or entrances I could see, or even any skylights or light
sources…which begs the question of how I could see inside a perfectly dark, windowless
room. Go figure.
In fact, there was only one thing of note inside the entire chamber. In the center
of the room was a waist-high rectangular stone pedestal. And lying on top of it was a
sword. A very, very rusted piece of steel that looked like it had been exposed to the
elements for who knows how long. So, in typical dream predictability, I picked the
sword up. A skinny, vertical wave of blue light swept over the blade, starting from the
hilt and extending toward the tip. As the light passed over it, the portions of the sword it
had passed were restored. I looked at the sword and held it in my hands—it now looked
like it was forged a week ago. I looked at it further…and my alarm went off.
I got up and shut the alarm off, blinking a few times. Why does this dream
deserve mentioning? Because there was a sword, sitting in its scabbard, on my desk!
When you dream of winning the lottery, you don’t wake up and find a suitcase full of
money by the head of the bed. And yet, here, there was a finely crafted and highly
obsolete weapon of warfare calmly resting next to my computer in an embossed leather
scabbard with a sling.
I dressed, had breakfast, marveled at the fact that Izzy was still playing video
games downstairs, and packed up for my astounding short-distance trip to Westfield. On
my last trip to my room, I picked up the scabbard (the tip of which with inset with steel)
and without adjusting the sling, I put it over my shoulder so the hilt was behind and to the
right of my head. Naturally, it fit perfectly. I reached over my shoulder and withdrew
the blade, careful not to hit the ceiling.
The sword was the basic cruciform knight’s arming sword you’d expect to see at a
medieval fair or museum, with a rather long hilt. The pommel was rounded and the
cross-guard was straight, but had spherical tips. The only unusual part was where the hilt
met the blade there was a diamond-shaped gem, the front half of which extended on the
flat side of the blade. The gem was a deep, translucent blue that looked suspiciously
expensive, and suspiciously like the few examples of sapphire I’d seen. I flipped the
sword over, and an identical blue gem was inset at the same point. All in all, despite not
having a notched portion on the center of the blade to reduce weight, the entire sword
was much lighter than I expected, and it had a very sharp-looking edge. Two of them,
Satisfied, I sheathed the sword, and decided that in the event that I was attacked
by bugly (big-and-ugly) things, it might be a useful thing to have. I took the scabbard off
my back, transferred the sword to its trunk-like prison, and I was off.
A little under an hour later, I was in the parking lot of the wonderfully grand
Church of St. Mary’s in Westfield, just as mass was being let out. I entered the church,
and spotted the priest, still in his vestments. “Excuse me, but are you Father Gregory
Wright?” My clothing was rather nice for my standards, and with my trademark collared
shirt, it was almost Sunday clothing. The bespectacled man turned towards me and
smiled. “That’s right, I am.” He laughed once. “Sorry, just a joke. How can I be of
service?” I nodded.
“I came to ask you about glasses.” The clergyman smiled. “Ah, of course. If
you’d like to look at my collection of eyewear, I would be happy to show you.”
“Actually, I wanted to inquire about a specific pair of glasses.” “A specific pair of
glasses?” I nodded again, and reached into my pocket. I pulled out Izzy’s shattered pair
of glasses, with just the jagged half of the right lens still in the frames. I handed them to
him. Father Wright slowly examined them. When he turned them over, he stopped.
“My word…just where did you get these?” “They belong to a friend of mine. I have a
similar pair, which she’s wearing now.” The priest stayed silent, but gave a slow smile.
“My word…there was another pair…just a moment.” “Certainly.”
The priest returned with a plain square, varnished wooden box. He hinged it
open, revealing a shaped velveteen lining. The broken glasses, with the hinges unfolded,
fit perfectly in the box. I was awestruck. Google had actually been useful! The Father
handed me the box. “You see, ten years ago, a friend of mine in the Holy See had sent
these glasses to me. He had found them, and since they were an antique, thought they
would a fine addition to my collection. He was right of course. Soon after, a family
came to me with a young girl. This young lady was ‘stricken’ with a number of visions.
Her parents said that she seeing ghosts, and that the girl could tell whether someone was
lying as well as sometimes see short distances into the future. And yet, because of this,
they told me the girl suffered miserable headaches. When I saw her, The Lord guided me
and told me the solution. I gave her the glasses, and though they were a bit too big, they
worked wonderful. The girl told me that her headache had instantly cleared. I was more
than pleased because God had shown me the glasses’ purpose. And the girl’s name…” I
could see where this was going from twelve miles away, so I took the liberty of finishing
“…Isabella Connelly.” Father Wright nodded. “I had found an almost identical
pair of glasses in my attic, although the lenses are rectangular. They have the same
effect. By any chance, do you know where your friend in the Vatican got the glasses? Is
there any way I could reach him?” The priest shook his head. “Unfortunately, he passed
on two years ago.” Just my luck. “So, then, do you know of any other pairs of glasses
like this? Do you know how to repair them?” The priest shrugged. “Sadly, I do not.”
“What did you say your name was?” Crap. I knew I had forgotten something. I
held out my hand. “Lind Ross.” “Gregory Wright.” He continued after we shook hands.
“So, tell me, Mr. Ross, how were Miss Connelly’s glasses damaged?” I tried to put the
truth in as plain terms as possible. “A demon attacked her.” Despite his best self-
restraint, Father Wright looked at me like I had just stepped off the Short Bus. “Here,
I placed my right hand over my left. Except for the symbols transferring to my
right hand to form a completed cross, nothing happened. A good ten seconds later, my
hands were filled with a mentholated tingling as the circuit pattern spread out from my
wrists. The glowing blue with white switched to its inverse color scheme. I just held my
hands there for a few moments before I separated my hands. The glowing instantly
stopped and the pattern quickly retracted back into my wrists. Wright nodded. Since
when had my abilities ever been this irritatingly convenient?
“So I see.” “So, Father, what is your opinion of Miss Connelly?” He sighed.
“My honest opinion? I would say the girl is a prophet.” I raised an eyebrow. “Now,
many would disagree with me…some might claim that the last prophet was John the
Baptist. I would like to disagree. If the scripture is living, then why shouldn’t there be
more representatives of God’s Word? I think there have been quite a few prophets and
even more false ones since the time when the Good Book was written. I simply think we
don’t pay enough attention to them.”
I thanked the priest for the information, and he was quite adamant about giving
me the box for the glasses. But, other than having a bit more information on Izzy and her
glasses, well…they still weren’t fixed. So, with an uneventful trip home, I stashed the
sword in my room and went downstairs. Both Izzy and her car were gone. Shan looked
at my face. “No luck?” I shrugged. “Well, the priest in Westfield had been the one who
had given Izzy her glasses. Still, he had no idea where they came from beforehand. He
even gave me the box.” Shan nodded slowly. “Well, was it interesting?” “I guess.”
“Then your time wasn’t wasted, was it?” It was true…it’s just that interesting and useful
rarely coincide. And when they do, it’s almost always accidental. Thank you, James K.
Shan had started tapping her finger, and after a good thirty seconds she spoke.
“Now, if I remember correctly, between your pair of glasses and Izzy’s pair, it’s only the
frames and the symbols on them that are identical, right?” I nodded. “Well, even if they
are antiques, I’m pretty sure that they must have had the lenses replaced at some time or
another. Maybe you don’t need specific magical lenses or anything…just lenses, period.
I’d say, take them to a lens grinder’s and give them an hour. You can’t be any worse off
than broken, right?”
A few minutes later, I opened a glass door and was met with the over-developed,
expensive electronic equivalent of the bell on the back of the door of the local one-hour
national chain eyewear shop. I was greeted from behind the sales counter by a junior
tech in a white coat that looked only a few years older than I was. “What can I do for
ya’?” “Can you repair eyeglasses?” “Well, if it’s just the screws, we sell these little
kits…” I shook my head. “What I meant was…say I want to keep the frames I have
now, could you simply put new lenses in the frames I have?” The tech’s index finger
tapped his cheek.
“I think so…let me check.” He popped into the back room, resplendent with
exceedingly plain and exceedingly large pane windows. The tech was back instantly.
“Yep. We sure can. Do you have the glasses?” I took the wooden case from under my
arm and set it on the counter, opening it towards the man in the manner one would expect
of an undercover agent presenting a suitcase full of cash to a drug lord. “I’ll take that as a
yes.” He carefully removed the lenses, holding them by the earpieces. “Now, did you
bring a prescription or know the necessary diopter?” “Zero.” “Pardon?” “Zero. I don’t
want any focal length; I’d like plain lenses.” The clerk looked at me like a cow looks at
an oncoming semi. “Okay…you do realize that it will be the same price, right? Are you
sure you want just plain glass?” “I’m sure.”
Satisfied, the tech took the lenses into the back room where the three other
employees stood ready. I sat down on a chair and waited…read a rather dull advertising
gimmick/artificial magazine…noticed the stares I was drawing from the sidewalk of the
strip mall. It seemed that every other convoy of teenage and 20-something women
walking past would either stop outside the glass storefront or at least crane their necks
toward me, accompanied by varying amounts of pointing, gesturing and chatting. I was
thankful that the glass prevented the sound from transferring. The net effect was that I
beginning to think that the stares at the Halloween party may not have been an isolated
incident. But then, how many young men do you see with naturally silver hair put up in a
ponytail? It’s a short list, I’m sure.
Well, sixty-seven minutes after the start of the off-and-on leering, the tech
returned with rather large eyes. I got up and looked at the glasses in his hands. The glass
looked slightly brighter and free of scratches, but otherwise identical to their pre-broken
state. “What’s the matter?” The clerk shook his head. “Nothing.” He added under his
voice, “No one will believe me anyway.” “So, I’ll believe you. What’s up?” He put the
glasses back in the box. “Well…when we were fitting the lenses…I could have sworn I
saw them glow for just a second.” Heh heh…Shan…that woman is a genius. “What
color was the glow?” The man paused, his brain hiccupping from receiving the “wrong”
response to his odd description. “Well, sort of a white color, with maybe blue.”
I nodded. “Then, thank you, I think you got it right, then.” The tech nodded
weakly. I wrote him a check. (Instead of using my check card? How devious!) He
blankly electronically registered it and handed me the wooden glasses case. I turned
around, picked up Izzy’s glasses with one hand, and put them over my face as I reached
the door. I could feel my hair shortening. I put the case under my arm, and turned
towards the man. “Thank you.” The tech was too busy making a gasping/gurgling sound
to respond. I had certainly made his day a bit weirder. My work here was thus done, and
I headed out to the door to the parking lot.
Saturday, November 9
I always knew the University Mall was a locus of pure and blackest evil. It’s just,
the evil turned out to be slightly different than I expected. Actually, the Hot Topic store
in it is still evil. I don’t even have to take my glasses off to notice it. I mean, the whole
chain is just asking for a smiting one of these days. And besides, if you think about it…it
caters to the individualist counter-culturist through mass replication and marketing. If
it’s a chain store and if it’s popular to a large niche of the teen population, then doesn’t
the style cease to be different, individualist, and unique? Oh, well, my fantasies about
committing varying forms of arson aside, some rather…odd things did happen today.
Even after I returned Izzy’s glasses to her, it still felt inadequate. After all, I have
the sneaking suspicion that the smoke wraith was actually after me, but opted for an Izzy
snack instead. So, I offered to take her shopping and take her up on the long-overdue
request. Her face curled into the cat-like smile when I asked her. I’m still debating how
much of a mistake that was. Luckily, I prepared. After digging through my closet, I
found a pair of heavily padded, open-fingered bicycling gloves. I brought them along
with me. Of course, when I put them on, the sigils on my wrists jumped to the top of the
gloves. At least they almost looked like stitched designs if you only took a brief glance at
Izzy can be scary. The whole witchy kidnapping incident (pre-party) was proof of
that. Yet, today, she unleashed a whole new type of scary to unsuspecting passers-by. I
drove my car with a frighteningly gleeful Izzy in the passenger seat…wearing cargo
pants…my pants, in fact. As soon as we arrived, she raided JCPenney’s. Not
surprisingly, Izzy’s shopping habits apparently are in-line with her personality instead of
her age group. She ignored the screen-printed tees and trendy fashionable teen areas
entirely, instead opting for the women’s section. More specifically, the unnamed sub-
area that would be called the “fashions that never go out of style mainly because they
never were in style but are considered classic anyway” section, if not for the unwieldy
As for the scariness, as soon as she entrusted the bags to me on our way out of the
store and towards the rest of the mall…she started skipping. Then she starting dancing,
twirling, and even pulled a cartwheel, much to the surprise of other patrons. I gave my
best impression of an ignorant bystander. She cleanly skipped The Gap and American
Eagle, opting to instead ogle at oil paintings, faux antiques, and Waldenbooks. I
managed to escape, but only after Izzy had collected $140 and forty pounds of books in
the process, skipping and dancing most all the way.
We were on our way to Kohl’s when I heard a polite sounding voice. “Excuse
me.” I looked around, but there was no one else nearby except for those persons in a
couple of nearby storefronts. I was then hit with an almost nauseating feeling of
wrongness. My entire body started tingling. “Izzy, stop. Take off your glasses.” I set
two rather heavy bags down on either side of me. Izzy folded her arms at me and spoke
in a voice of mock shame. “Shame on you, Lind. You’ve ruined our shopping trip,
haven’t you?” The voice came again. I still couldn’t make out who it was or what
gender they were impersonating. “I’m sorry if I’ve interrupted your day, milady.
Though, it would be quite easier to see me if you took off your glasses.” I took off my
glasses, still feeling queasy. And standing, where there had previously been empty space,
was a man of the same height as I was. And he was undoubtedly a demon.
The man nodded. “So that’s what you really look like. You must be
Lindsay…funny name, if you ask me.” He chuckled once and gave a mellow sigh. The
man had raven black hair, cut somewhat short and deep yellow eyes. Behind his
shoulders was a pair of red leathery wings that looked liberally stolen off a small dragon.
His clothing was rather unusual: a long, buttoned black uniform jacket with numerous,
small swirls and zigzag decorations (I didn’t have time to scrutinize it) that seemed to be
mixed with several decorative pieces of plate armor. Below the jacket were dark forest
green pants, with plate armor shin guards from the knee down that merged into armored
boots. He wore a number of plain metal rings (gold, silver, and what I’m guessing was
platinum) on his fingers, as well as a matching pair of teardrop-shaped jasper earrings.
Behind him, strapped diagonally at his waist was a two-handed sword—long, thin, red
over decorated, and with a small barbed hook on the tip. The whole outfit was rather
snappy, as horribly varied costumes go.
I was more disturbed with the demon’s face and looks. He was more effeminate
than I was (is that even possible?) and his voice was even higher than mine. Heck, had I
stood next to him, even with the ponytail, silver hair, and alto voice I would have looked
downright masculine. He was that kind of scary.
“But then, most mortals I’ve met do have what I consider strange names.” The
demon examined his fingernails, which I could now see were a flame red-orange. “Oh,
I’m sorry.” He turned towards me, polite as ever. “I totally neglected to introduce
myself. My name is Asmodeus…member of the Qliphoth, head of the seventy-two
demonic legions of Golachab, and a king of Hell. My favorite month is November, and
I’m a very avid poker player.” The demon reached into a waist pocket, smiled a pleasant
smile, pulled out a deck of playing cards, waved them, and replaced them. “I really don’t
know why my employer put me up to this…this sort of thing really isn’t my area of
It was true, of course. “Asmodeus” looked more like an accountant from Venice
Beach, California than one of Lucifer’s lieutenants. The Devil must have had way too
much free time if he was sending this demon after me. Either that, or he was so busy, he
had to send the B Team. Still, I had the sneaking suspicion that even if he was Satan’s
stockbroker, he could still school me severely since, well, horrendously inopportune holy
powers are no match for high-level demons. This suspicion was also based on the fact
that my presumably holy sword was safely nestled away in the trunk of my car.
Asmodeus held out his hand as if to shake mine. I did nothing. He rescinded the offer
and frowned. “Oh, right, I suppose you probably don’t want to shake hands with
someone like me. Perfectly understandable.”
The demon turned towards Izzy. “Milady, I should ask that you may wish to
leave at this time. What’s your slang term…‘scram’, is it? I do fear this may get rather
messy.” Izzy said nothing. I knew what was going to happen. By leaving the sword in
my car, I had passed up the opportunity to get killed by mall security for being a nutcase
(insert crazed Highlander wannabe news reference here) so that I could instead get killed
by Hell’s dandy of an accountant. Figures.
Asmodeus reached behind him towards the unfeasibly large sword, and began
unsnapping the straps that held it in place. He smiled his same pleasant smile. “I’m
terribly sorry Lindsay, but I’ve been ordered to kill you.” A familiar pressure gripped the
inside of my head like a vice. Yet, it seemed slower than normal. I actually had time to
think “Crap. Not again,” before I blacked out.
I awoke to the smell of pizza mixed with Chick-fil-A. (which is probably a
registered trademark, but again, there’s a certain lack of caring about placing the ®.) No
tunnels of light, no dead relatives. And I’m pretty sure heaven has a severe lack of
chicken sandwich fast food chains. The combination of greasy smells and hard plastic
bench could only mean one thing—Colonel Sanders was really Jesus’s second
cousin…or maybe that I woke up in the foot court of the University Mall. Since I was on
my stomach, I got my gloved hands to my side and got up, smacking the corner of my
head on the side of the nearby table in the process.
“Finally, you’re up. Have any good dreams?” I sat up on the seat, still a little
light-headed. “None, actually. Every time I black out like that, it feels like I wake up
instantly.” Izzy, who was across from me at the booth, guarding her shopping bag riches,
nodded. “Huh. Well, I saw the whole thing. Would you like me to tell you what
happened?” “No, but tell me anyway.”
“Well, Asmodeus pulled out that sword of his, and you clutched your head once,
and turned into that girl. I think she’s an inch or two taller than you…anyway; she’s got
blonde hair that goes to her waist and boy, is she good-looking. Not really busty or
anything, but very…refined, like she just oozes class—.” I interrupted her. “Izzy.” “Oh,
sorry. I figured you might want to know what the other you looks like.” Her intonation
gave me the she wasn’t so much taken with the other me as much as she simply liked
messing with me. She is Izzy, after all. “Thanks, but I already know. What happened to
the dandy demon?” “Well, Asmodeus said something about not recognizing the girl,
adding ‘that form must be really confining.’ This girl shrugged, and holds out her hand,
and a sword in its sheath appears it in. She takes the sword out. Asmodeus’s eyes get
big, and he says he’s going to ‘make a tactical withdrawal’ since he mentioned that the
girl’s sword could actually kill him. Then he gave a polite bow and disappeared into the
floor. By the way, the sword’s under the table, it’s…” I finished for her. I had a very
good hunch. “Cruciform, with two blue diamond-shaped gems at the bottom of the
blade. It’s mine, I know.” “So, how did you get it?” “I picked it up in France, I think.”
I looked under the table and picked the scabbard up by the sling and set it next to
me. “So, how did I get here? What happened to the other me after Asmodeus blinked
out?” Izzy shrugged. “You changed back to your usual non-glasses self, though you
were still out of it. I dragged you to Kohl’s, and then down here.” She put an enormous
bag on the rounded-square table. “Wait…dragged me?” “Yeah. You were unconscious,
so I dragged you to a bench and plopped you down there.” I blinked. “What did people
say to that?” Izzy grinned. “Nothing much. I just claimed you had narcolepsy.”
I rolled my eyes and sighed, relaxing my shoulders. I then realized something:
my shirt felt a little tight. I unbuttoned the next-to-top button with little improvement. I
leaned back in the bench and flexed my shoulders a bit. Have you ever exercised heavily
and later claimed to have found new muscle groups? Well, I just actually had found new
muscle groups. As if I woken up one day and suddenly discovered the muscles to wiggle
my ears…except instead of wiggling my ears, I found I could move my shoulder blades
slightly. I felt over my shoulder. Speaking of shoulder blades, they also seemed to have
twisted slightly, so that one end was slightly sticking out of the skin more than usual.
“What’s up, Lind?” “Nothing much. I think this incident disjointed my shoulder blades
as a side-effect.” I reached into my pocket and retrieved my glasses. It felt so much
better with them on.
After I was done basking in normality, I asked Izzy what could have been the
most important question of the day. “So, what’d you did find at Kohl’s?” She reached
into the huge white paper bag and retrieved a single pair of khaki cargo pants that looked
like any of a near-dozen that I owned. “These are for you.” This didn’t compute.
Couldn’t she have just gotten herself a pair? “So…why are these mine?” She gave a
feline smirk. “Because, I told…I’m keeping the ones I’m wearing. These are just
replacements.” “Right…so why the huge bag for one pair of pants?” “Because I asked
for it. I figured you could hide the sword in there.” “Clever.” She nodded. “I certainly
try. Besides, Lind, don’t we have sort of a reciprocal exchange of saving each other’s
posteriors?” I nodded. “I suppose we do.”
Tuesday, November 12
Everyone harps on Monday, but I think Tuesday is a rather insidious day of the
week as well. It was originally named after the Roman god of war, and when the
barbarians invaded (it’s what barbarians do best, really) they plopped their patron of
destruction onto the day: “Tyr’s Day.” Clever. On top of that, the final fall of
Constantinople in 1453, the day when the actual Great Depression started being noticed,
and most recently, the day when New York and Washington were met with involuntary
aerial urban renewal all happened to be Tuesdays. I’m pretty sure there’s a proverb about
not getting married on Tuesdays.
Ranting about days of the week aside, my Tuesday was much more painful and
awkward than the average Tuesday. You see, besides the History of Warfare, the only
other class I have is Practical Psychology for Non-Majors. Practical and psychology
form an oxymoron, I know. It’s also the last class of the day (comfortably after lunch)
and the other class I have with Izzy. Lauren’s actually in it, too, now that I think about it,
since she’s been sitting with us for the past month or so. I sit on the aisle. It’s safer, and
if I get up or want to trip people, both situations are taken into account. The class is
actually only mildly painful; the material is straightforward, but Ms. Novak mumbles
It was a good twenty-three and a half minutes into the lecture…that may sound
anal, but it’s the sort of class that everyone can’t help but periodically check their watch.
Ms. Novak, with her sort of curly, sort of grey hair, just stopped. She sort of stared off
into space. Then she started backing up slowly. Ms. Novak levitated in the air slightly
and screamed. Izzy took off her glasses and gasp. As I watched, her eyes seemed to lose
focus and she starting babbling. The words made absolutely no sense, but there seemed
to be another voice that sounded exactly like hers—a sort of “echo” that was in perfect
English. It wasn’t so much freaky as annoying, since I could hear both simultaneously.
“Izzy?” I shook her shoulders as screams emanated from the front of the immense
lecture hall. She was still lost in her trance with no signs of recovering. Great. My
backup was now out of commission, busy speaking in tongues, so it was time to go down
the chain of command. “Lauren, watch Izzy for me.”
“Lauren?” She averted her eyes from the front of the room and turned towards
me. “Watch Izzy for me.” She hastily nodded. I glanced at the front of the room. Even
with my glasses on, there was something shimmering, a sort of half-visible giant that was
gripping Ms. Novak with a hand that was only the size of a large household appliance.
As I stood up, my glasses pulled their explosive self-removal trick, hitting some poor soul
two rows ahead of me in the back of the head. By the time I was in the aisle, I was
already my ponytailed self. The enormous pressure headache set in, but not nearly as bad
as last weekend. As I watched, the sigils disappeared off my hand as it lengthened and
narrowed. My hair also started tingling. I promptly dropped onto the slanted aisle like I
had been hit by a brick. “Great. Just great. Best timing ever.” I stayed conscious for a
few seconds while on the floor and then blacked out.
I woke up stiff and felt rather…odd. As in, downright weird. Much more than
normal, and that’s saying something. “You’re awake, I see.” The voice was Izzy’s, and
free of creepy languages and inner echoes. I was laying face-down on a blanket in what
looked like a brick storage room. The light was dim, probably provided by only a single
light bulb. There was heavy jacket on top of me. “You might want to stay where you
are, Lind.” That seemed rather foolish. “Well, even though I’m done for the day, I can’t
stay here forever.” “True, but after the other you fought the whats-it, well…we might
want to take this slowly. It’d be easy for even you to get freaked out.” “How could I
possibly be freaked out by anything? I mean, sure, that Asmodeus was going to kill me,
but that really didn’t phase me one way or another.”
I got up and sat cross-legged, the jacket sliding off my back. I then noticed I was
shirtless. “Say, Izzy, what happened to my…” She said nothing, but held up what
happened to be one of my favorite t-shirts, which appeared to been ripped out by the
seams. “Battle damage?” Izzy gave a weak grin. “Kind of. Lind, you might want to
take a deep breath and—.” She paused, so I took the opportunity to speak. “And what?”
I said, stretching my arms and shoulders. The odd thing, was that my hands apparently
touched both sides of the storeroom, which should have been impossible, considering that
although narrow (around six feet), it was a good fourteen feet wide. Then I realized my
hands weren’t touching the walls. I slowly turned my head to the right. Behind and
slightly above my outstretched arm was a large, unfolded, feathery wing. I screamed.
“What the heck is this!?” Izzy smiled meekly. “I told you it would be upsetting.
You might want to keep it down, though. Another class is using the lecture hall.” I tried
not to look over my shoulders. “Wait…if the professor was busy being smushed to tiny
bits by a half-invisible monster, wouldn’t the next class have noticed?” Izzy shrugged.
“Actually, not everyone fled. The girl that’s you summoned her slash your sword and
started attacking it, and a couple of guys from class actually grabbed the nearest blunt
objects and helped you out. She shook hands with them, and they left. Then you
transformed back to your normal non-glasses appearance, healed Ms. Novak, and
collapsed. Everyone had left, and the giant pretty much dissolved, so by the time the next
class started, no one had noticed anything odd, besides a few forgotten backpacks and a
severely dented trashcan.”
That was irritatingly convenient. Izzy paused to take a breath and continued.
“Lauren went and tracked down your glasses. About that time, you were still
unconscious, and you sprouted those things just about instantly, totaling your shirt in the
process. This is the projector room at the side of the stage. I had to unlock it, though.
That, and Lauren ran home and borrowed her dad’s bomber jacket.” “Thanks, I think.
Wait, where did you find the keys to here?” She looked away and grinned. “I
kinda…picked the lock.” Her hand reached into her skirt’s right pocket and removed a
small steel pen-like implement with a specialized wire tip. “I got this a couple of years
ago. I was tired of locking my keys in the car.” She unscrewed the tip, then the shaft of
the pen, and replaced it among numerous other attachments. Izzy is officially awesome.
Once my pulse dropped down to double digits, I took a rather long breath and
looked over my right shoulder. Sure enough, the wings were still there. And big. And
definitely feathery. Without really any effort, I moved some of the new muscles in my
shoulders. The after-effects of the mall run were unfortunately making sense. The right
wing folded forward. It was a brilliant off-white that seemed to slowly change to a deep,
bright cerulean blue at the tips of the feathers, which were easily as big as or bigger than
the largest eagle I’d ever seen. The top ridge of the wing had a slight curve and the
bottom of the feathers curved to give the wing a swallow-like scimitar shape, though just
As for the motor control, it was a rather strange mix between hands and feet. I
moved both new appendages slightly. Though devoid of fingers, the wings could bend a
great deal and fold forward, as well as folding up, which felt surprisingly similar to
making a fist, and it turned out to be a rather comfortable neutral position. Izzy reached
into her backpack and removed a small hand mirror and handed it to me. I held it up so
that the reflection went diagonally backwards. When folded, the tops of the wings curved
several feet over the top of my shoulders. The proportionality looked remarkably
familiar. “Well, Lind, I don’t think there’s much to guess on what you’re turning into.” I
smirked. “Really? And here I was thinking I was changing into a large albatross.” The
folded wings, except for the color, looked remarkably similar to those I had seen on the
angel of death.
“So, if Lauren found them, can I have my glasses back?” “One sec.” Izzy got off
the chair she had been sitting on (which was nestled between a sink counter missing a
sink and a very large cabinet). She walked over to my right, near the door. I felt a cold
chill go up my spine. “What the heck are you doing, Izzy!?” She had hugged the right
tip of my right wing. (“My” used with “wing” sounds funny. It does. Honest. And no,
stop looking at me like that.) It’s not that I’m ticklish, but it felt like when someone just
barely touches the top of your arm—it’s enough to make anyone shiver. Izzy looked up
from her feathery pillow (that happened to be me…) with a rather sickeningly cute grin.
“Sorry…they’re just too cute.” My shoulders fell out from underneath me. “Izzy…give
me my glasses and sword before I’m forced to do something rash.”
Izzy let go of my wing and gave a fake sigh. “If you insist.” She reached into her
left pocket and pulled out my pair of rectangular frames. I quickly put them on, wings,
ponytail, and higher voice disappearing almost instantly. I wonder if I should start duct
taping my glasses to my face. I reached behind me, grabbed the black leather jacket,
dusted it off, and donned it, zipping it. Izzy reached under her chair pulled out my
nameless, presumably-French sword. She dusted off the scabbard and tossed it to me. I
strapped it onto my back and then found my backpack next to hers. With it on, I looked
like some generic college-bound action hero pent up with generic style and even more
“What was up with you earlier, Izzy? You just went off into sort of a trance.”
She smiled. “Sorry about that. I was probably speaking babble, wasn’t I? Yeah, well,
that hasn’t actually happened since I was a kid.” She shrugged. With that, Izzy undid the
dead bolt. We walked out onto the stage, past a very, very surprised professor, hopped
off the stage, and walked to the doors in the back, disrupting the class as we went.
Wednesday, November 13
As I should have probably mentioned, it’s been unseasonably warm for this time
of year. Of course, it really doesn’t get freaking cold until January and February. That’s
when it starts going into single digits. Yet, so far this month, it’s been high fifties, as
opposed to the normal 30-40 Fahrenheit. Well, last night, that changed. A brief storm
came over and deposited a bit (three inches) of early snow, knocking the temperature
down to where it should have been.
So, naturally, I had my waterproof hiking boots, Land’s End coat (blue to almost
match the symbols on my wrists), and…lined cargo pants. I didn’t bother with gloves,
but I did break out my ear warmer—my hair stays pretty toasty by itself. And under a
wonderfully joyful steel grey sky and after a long day of class, I was mentally but not
physically exhausted, and had somehow agreed to join a convoy for hot chocolate at the
Coxes’ house before heading home.
“Admit it, Lind, you got off easy.” I looked at Izzy, who, except for a pair of
boots and a scarf that looked several decades out of fashion, was dressed in her normal
manner. “How so?” “Well, when the half-invisible whats-it was attempting to snack on
Ms. Novak, most people didn’t notice you until you had already gotten up to the stage.
Of course, most of the other students had fled in terror. Most, mind you, not all. At least
the rest they left when they decided that class was unofficially all but cancelled. Your
reputation was mostly saved by luck.” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. “And what
reputation would that be? Sure, it’s improved slightly, but most people think I’m beyond
crazy. Frankly, I think I’m rather sane. Look at all the things that I’ve tolerated—I
simply think the rest of the world is out of it.” Izzy simply smiled and shrugged.
“Whatever. Just tell that to the girl with blond hair.” Eric Moore finally spoke up from
the back of our roughly echeloned walking order. “What girl was this? Have I missed
Izzy put a finger on her cheek. “Probably.” Lauren yawned before offering, “I’m
surprised it didn’t make the news, what with a teacher being attacked.” The sound of
hurried snow-crunched footsteps came from behind. It was Ian. “Sorry I was late. A
teacher was attacked by a student?” Izzy turned around and began walking backwards.
“Not exactly…Ms. Novak was injured, well, temporarily injured anyway, but it wasn’t by
a student.” Ian frowned. My party of slightly-out-of-it non-adventurers momentarily
stopped at the cross-walk to one of the minor side-streets that crisscrossed campus.
Lauren held out her hand. “And it wasn’t one of those things either, though it
does look fairly nasty. I thought you said it couldn’t be out in the daytime?” A woman
ran past one of the parked cars on the one-way street, running at full sprint. Behind her
was a human-sized quadruped creature in a very, very dark grey, almost black, silently
lolloping behind the woman. “Crap.” I had been greeted with two unpromising
epiphanies: first, the wraith-like creature was out during the day (it was overcast). The
second was that its intended victim was Melanie Foster, whom I thankfully had not seen
since the ill-fated Halloween party. Melanie reached for the solid wooden door of the
closest building, a café, hurriedly opened it, and pulled it closed behind her. The wraith
stopped, clawed the door, and then stopped, tail slowly waving.
Izzy started laughing. At first it was a small chuckle…then it grew to a guffaw
and finally, a half-maniacal debilitating laughter that after a few seconds, instantly
stopped in a rather disturbing fashion. “Hey, what’s that girl? Timmy’s trapped in the
well again, and you’re going to have to save him?” “Izzy…” “Well, face it, Mr. Ross,
you’re eventually going to have to take off your glasses and expose your little…how
should I put it…‘skin problem’.” I kept a neutral expression. “Why?” Izzy shrugged. “I
dunno…save innocent lives, reveal your ‘alter-ego’ to untold millions. People will notice
sooner or later.” I started slowly walking towards the café. I’d kill the thing with my
bare hands if I had too. Ian asked, “What exactly was that about?” No one answered
I had just about had it with Connelly this afternoon when a voice popped into my
head. “Use it.” The voice certainly wasn’t mine, since it sounded rather feminine.
Without thinking, I said out loud, “Use what?” Izzy called out to me. “Talking to
yourself already? Haven’t we agreed that’s my job?” I turned around and glared at her.
The voice came again. “You know what to do.” Don’t you just hate it when disembodied
voices ask you to do something and then upon further inquiry, claim you have inherent
knowledge? I hate it even more when they’re right. I half-consciously found myself
holding my right hand out in front of me. I then firmly spoke a single word: “Durandal.”
There was cool but not cold feeling around my hand as it momentarily glowed
with blue light. The light paused before shooting left, materializing the arming sword
that should have been in my bedroom. Along with it came its scabbard over my back, the
sling somehow adjusted to fit snugly even with my coat on. Eric yelled, “Where the hell
did that come from!?” I turned around and grinned. “France…originally.” I rushed off,
blade in hand.
I stopped fifteen feet from the door and let out a large breath. My glasses
temporarily fogged over. How was it exactly that the sword-summoning trick worked
with sealing glasses on? My only guess was that it had something to do with the woman
and the related second curse, both of which did not seem fazed much by my glasses. The
wraith turned around and let out a whorling growl.
The creature lunged forward. The sword, despite being decent sized, wasn’t
heavy or even awkward. In a motion that felt strangely natural, I put my left hand behind
my right on the hilt and brought the sword over my head before slamming it down on the
wraith. It was instantly bisected. As in, two clean, mirror-image halves, both of which
turned to smoke and dissipated in the next gust of breeze.
I let out a rather deserved sigh. There was one problem solved. Rather
painlessly, at that. “Lind! Behind you!” I turned one-eighty, and lo and behold, two
more wraiths had apparently appeared out of nowheresville, charging like bison with mad
cow disease. I caught the one in front with my best impression of a golf swing. It went
satisfyingly poof. The second (third) one stopped, and began side-stepping like some big
cat at a circus. I waited for it to pounce. It didn’t. Instead, it feinted, turned sideways,
and ran towards the glass window of the café and leapt towards it.
Not to my surprise, it shimmered and passed cleanly through the window.
Great…these stupid things go through walls? How trite and overused is that? Regardless
of the originality of the demon, I grabbed the tall vertical loop of a door handle with my
off hand and flung it open. I rushed past the thin dividing entry wall and towards the
main seating area. “Excuse me, I’m looking for a—.” I was answered with screams. I
looked down and then looked up. Part of them were probably because people noticed I
just brought a melee weapon into a coffee shop. The other half had to do with the smoke-
colored monster that had overturned a table and was stalking the customers.
I ran forward, dodging a chair. (Notice I didn’t trip on it!) The wraith turned
towards me, briefly regarded me, and then regarded the three patrons it had cornered; one
of which happened to be Melanie. As I approached, the wraith lunged at her. “Damn
you!” I blinked. It had disappeared. Not even an artful puff of smoke.
Shortly thereafter, Melanie stood up as if she’d been shot from a field gun. She
ran over a table, braced her arms, and dived through the window the wraith had entered.
It didn’t take an Izzy to figure out what had happened. I ran back out to the side door I
had entered and kicked it open. Izzy was just outside the door, with her glasses off.
“Lind, Melanie just blurred past me. She’s possessed.” I nodded. “I know.” In the
distance, I saw Melanie flawlessly jump five stories and land on a rooftop. “Tell you
what. I’m sick of this.” I sheathed the sword, pulled off the scabbard and began
unzipping my coat. “What are you going to do, pray tell?” I pulled off my coat and
quickly half-folded and half-wadded it. “What does it look like? I’m taking off my
glasses and going after that thing.”
“Here, hold on to these.” I folded my shirt and then handed it to her. I wasn’t yet
cold, but it was getting that way. Izzy smirked. “So, Clark Kent, you decided to put the
spandex on after all?” I leered at her. “It’s only because my parents raised me to have a
conscience. And let me tell you, it’s downright irritating having one sometimes. I have
a feeling I’ll be skipping the cocoa.”
And with that, I replaced the sword sling, and in an act of utmost stupidity,
removed my sealing glasses, placing them in a Velcro-fastened pocket. Apparently,
yesterday I had missed the massive change in inner-ear balance that comes with growing
fourteen feet of wings in two and a half seconds. I heard shouts of all types from through
the broken window and further agitated commentary from Lauren’s peanut gallery,
including a “Holy” followed by a word that wasn’t so very much so, courtesy of Eric.
The Melanie-wraith jumped another rooftop. I’m pretty sure that the moral responsibility
circuits of the brain override (at least temporarily) the effects of the social embarrassment
circuits, or else I would have been already dead.
I took one step forward, and with all the determination that wasn’t already
queued, I constricted my new shoulders muscles…and I was airborne. A few more slow,
comfortable flaps and I was roughly ten stories up and several hundred feet forward,
which felt like a good altitude to reconnoiter. I flared to stop (don’t ask me how…the
process was very automatic) and just…stopped. In mid-air. With my wings motionless, I
was hovering perfectly, able to pivot and rotate at will. Here are I am, a Physics Major,
breaking enough of its laws to make Newton weep openly.
Well, I spotted the still-very-demonically-possessed Melanie and found myself
swooping downward like a bird of prey. I quickly caught up to her and caught her just as
she had landed from another ludicrous leap, sword ready. She said nothing, but backed
up slightly and grinned demonically (how else would you have expected her to grin?).
As she smiled the unholy smile, the marionette brought her right hand up to her neck and
made a flat sweep across it, indicating a rather exasperatingly trite gesture. “Fine then.”
I sheathed the sword once more and overlaid my hands. The now almost-familiar
veined circuitous pattern of blue extended from the symbols on my wrists and began
glowing. The demon actually seemed frightened at the prospect of this, and Melanie
made another jump paying no heed to gravity. I likewise took flight with my whitish-
blue fifth and sixth appendages. I actually realized I had an advantage—powered flight.
As Melanie slowed near the apex of her jump, I was still moving, and with my
outstretched, glowing left hand, I tagged her in the middle of the back. Her body bent
and recoiled towards me as I saw disassociated smoke leave her body and slowly
dissipate. It also killed the girl’s momentum, so I ended up catching her.
I felt my hands tingle, and when I looked down, they were gloved. Though
gripping Melanie, the gloves were a brilliant shiny white with bright blue seams and
edges. The material was odd; a sort of cotton and silk blend, if there was such a thing. It
was soft, comfortable, and felt unbelievably sturdy.
About half a minute later, I had the unfortunate fortune of having Melanie wake
up. Of course, she instantaneously latched on to my shoulders in a rather tight hug that
made me lose a few feet in altitude. (If I can hover and don’t actually stall, how did I lose
altitude?) A brief glance told me her eyes were glazed over. “You were an angel. I knew
it!” “Please let go of me.” She giggled. “And why would I want to do that? I might
fall.” I could barely breathe and had a hundred-or-so pounds of dead weight squeezing
me to death, and on top of it, it was complaining. “Well, how about I drop you?” “You
wouldn’t.” “Oh, believe me, I’m planning to.” And as I reached a grassy strip in front
of my parking lot, I pried Melanie off me and watched her plummet to the grass…a good
three feet away. The wings flared by slanting back almost vertically and I landed at
almost no velocity…on one foot.
Izzy, thankfully, was standing by our respective vehicles. I replaced my glasses,
(the rather cool gloves disappearing as I did so) sighed, and waited for the snappy
comeback. There was none. In fact, Izzy seemed rather…flustered, and her cheeks had a
just a trace of red in them. She handed me my shirt. Oddly enough, I had just started
shivering. The scabbard, which had not even touched either wing root, came off as I
quickly donned my inner and outer ware. “Thanks.” She nodded meekly. “Sure.” And
with that done, I did the only reasonable thing. I got in the car and fled the scene.
Friday, November 15
Sorry, no humorous aside today. Really, there isn’t going to be one at the start of
this entry. I’m not even sure how that trend started. Anyway…it’s a wonder my head
hasn’t exploded yet, considering all the things that have happened and what I’ve learned.
I’m still not done with this journal, since Ariel is currently glaring at me, having told me
to put it down. Listing everything might be a little painful for my memory, so what I
have already just rewinds a bit to this afternoon. Actually, the location of today’s
scheduled insanity might be humorous or at least, contain a nugget of irony if you
extrapolate a lot. I’m running out of margin space for this intro, so what follows is what I
had previously written concerning today.
I normally don’t stop by the cafeteria on campus. Shan’s cooking is some of the
best ever, so I normally eat breakfast with her…and Izzy, who seems to miraculously
show up at mealtimes. However, I do stop at the chow hall for lunch, depending on how
busy I am, who’s going to be there, and of course, the current menu’s contents. Today
was not one of those days—it was a “special” trendy meal that used Sterno-powered pans
instead of the normal lines and removed 90% of the seating.
I was actually merely walking by the lunch room (building, one of two, actually,
but I’m not picky) when a woman ran past me looked rather harried. “Is your cell phone
working!?” She was several years older than me; I’m guessing a senior or grad student,
with red-brown hair that was put up in a “broom” shape (trapezoidal, for the technical) in
the back with a slight ponytail overlapping it. Anyway, she dug out an insanely thin
clamshell phone and began punching buttons like mad.
“I actually don’t have a cell phone, why?” The girl took an unsteady breath.
“The doors to the cafeteria are locked; nobody can get out, and there’s a terrorist or
somebody holding people hostage inside.” This struck me as patently absurd. First, the
doors have push-bars, and on top of that, there were multiple exits. Secondly,
terrorists…in the state with the second-smallest population? There are no obvious big
population centers or any places of tactical importance…I mean, there are 600,000 people
in the entire state; Oklahoma City had a good 500,000, and if you include all its suburbs,
it’s got 1.3 million people. Why go after here?
“Can’t people just use the push-bars?” She shook her head. “They aren’t
working—locked, jammed, or something.” I nodded slowly. “And what’s this about a
terrorist?” She shrugged. “I…I don’t know. I really couldn’t hear from the people
inside.” I sighed. “Go find a phone that works and call 911. I’ll see what I can do.”
“What can…?” The woman trailed off and went back into a jog.
As I neared one of the entrances (the one most resembling a “main” entrance), I
could see the people crammed next to the steel and glass doors. As I approached, I could
hear the constant murmurs from underneath the door seals. Several people tried the door
handles, but the bars weren’t even moving. Still others were fiddling with cell phones.
Since Izzy and thus, her lock picking skills were elsewhere, I figured, it was time
for overkill. A slight repeat from Wednesday was warranted. I yelled to anyone who
might be able to hear me. “Stand back!!” I pushed my glasses further up my nose. With
that, I held out my hand, and just for luck, closed my eyes. I then simply spoke the word
“Durandal”. I felt a cool chill as my right hand grasped something and a slight weight
appeared on my shoulder. I opened my eyes, and thankfully, my sword had materialized
in my grasp. Rather handy, if I do say so myself.
So, with sword of awesome in hand, I proceeded to go after the hinges of one of
the doors, which were thankfully on the outside, while the crowd suddenly grew silent.
Balancing the sword in my right hand, I put my left just above the pommel and brought it
down over my head. The sword sliced through the hinges and part of the door as if they
were water. Since when can a steel sword slice through…well…steel? The hinges
clattered to the ground, but the door held fast. Since it had worked this well, I figured,
couldn’t this probably simply go through the door?
It very well could. I pressed the sword into the door frame just above the latch,
until half a foot of blade was inside the entryway, and then putting pressure on the blade,
I carved away the lock assembly. It slices, it dices, it kills demons, and…it’s a chainsaw
replacement…? Well, the door teetered and one enterprising young man landed a kick to
the main glass portion. I hopped back as the door fell and landed on the pavement,
cracking the glass. The guy looked at me. “Hell, thanks man…and dude, that is one
sweet sword. Where’d ‘ya get it?” I grinned. “France.” I sheathed it and helped the
small flood of eager refugees out the door, before going in myself.
The inner doors were unlocked, and few people noticed as I opened the doors and
joined the massive crowd. Everyone’s eyes seemed to be fixed on something at the other
side of the dining hall. I craned my head and looked. There were two hostages, being
held up in the air by the “terrorist’s” arms. Except, instead of the drug-crazed hippies,
radical wannabe Confederates, or fundamentalist Middle-Eastern zealots that rounded out
the standard lineup, the antagonist was a giant.
The beast wasn’t like the glimpse I had had of the thing in psych. That thing was
mostly human, just big in a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk sort of way. This thing was only
vaguely humanoid. It was exactly the sort of thing that sprung to mind in Western
society when someone mentions the word “demon”. The demon was a good fifteen feet
tall, looked like a human from the neck down, with deep blackish red skin and burnt
armor. Its head was that of a bull’s. It smelled distinctly of burnt charcoal. And in its
six-fingered right hand, it was holding two women by the necks. One was whimpering,
while the other had glasses and an annoyed look on her face. I had trouble making them
out at this distance, but my stomach told me that one of the girls was Izzy.
“<Bring me the angel! I grow tired of waiting, humans.>” The bull-demon-
giant’s voice echoed, not just against the walls, but in an inner echo much like that of
Izzy’s trance. Unlike Izzy’s trip to la-la land, the “original” voice was harsh, grunted,
and screeching, unlike Izzy’s flowing, elaborate tongue. The free-of-charge English
translation made it quite clear what the thing was looking for…namely, me.
And with most of the involuntary audience transfixed in a mass-media-like stupor
awaiting something bloody, I started easing forward and to the left, near the lunch lines.
It was time to go commando. And no, I was not thinking of removing any of my clothes.
Though not qualified for this line of work, I figured with the sword on my back I had at
least a good thirty percent chance of surviving.
If I could just slip into the one of the covered, empty lunch lines, I would have at
least some superhero-esque concealment. I finally broke out of the crowd a few feet from
the entrance/exit to the line. I didn’t make it any further than that.
I had apparently just walked into the demon’s…well…aura…thing…and was hit
with a wave of nausea. And naturally, before I could take another step, my glasses
sprung off my face. The next three seconds seemed almost instantaneous—my glasses
flew onto the ground and skidded a good foot before stopping, my hair instantly regrew
itself and tied itself with the annoyingly mysterious hair band, gloves appeared on my
forearms, and there was a slight pressure as my shirt tightened. There was a sight pause
before I saw pieces of expensive cotton shirt go flying. I had lost another piece of
clothing to my stupid wings. At least the nausea went away.
“Crap.” It was all I could say. I yanked off the remainders of sleeves off my
arms, ignoring gasps, expletives, and at least one Hail Mary aimed at me. The scabbard
was still intact and on my bare shoulders. Convenient. Irritatingly convenient. I sighed.
“Lind, get your stupid winged ass over here!!” Yep, it certainly was Izzy.
I walked out in the crowdless, tiled open area, noticing that the tables that should
have held the banquet had been slammed out of the center and towards the walls. I was
very thankful that my chest wasn’t flabby. Of course, it wasn’t a six-pack, either. That
was probably another good thing.
The demon turned towards me. A female voice in my head whispered, “Foraii.”
The beast grinned. “<Took you long enough. I think I’ll dispose of these.” And with a
begrudging grin, he flung the two captives held between his massive fingers backwards
and over his head. Have you ever seen humans tossed like careless lawn darts? I
watched as Izzy tumbled once and hit the back concrete wall flat-on a good sixty feet
behind the demon. There was blood and a horrible cracking sound…the only plus side I
could come up with was that it wasn’t head first. Izzy’s doll-like body stayed suspended
up on the wall momentarily, and flopped to the ground, leaving a red streak on the off-
ivory walls. The other girl fared little better, hitting one of the regular-use tables moved
to the corner, hitting it end-on and impacting against the metal side supports and wheels.
The demon snorted. “<Hmph…here I was, told to find an angel, and I all I find is
a wimpy demi-human with wings and a sword. You’re a waste of my time, mortal. What
do you have to say to that?>” The response came automatically as I took the unnamed
sword from my back. “I say…that I’m going to eviscerate and utterly destroy you before
the day is over.”
It laughed. An unbelievably, low and disturbing laugh. It was actually less laugh
and more the sound one would expect to hear from a Kodiak bear choking on a large
weasel. I found myself growing…angry. An understandably righteous fury, if you will.
It wasn’t the usual menthol-like tingle; my entire body felt like it was, well…burning in a
rather cold flame. I looked down, and a soft, brilliant blue glow had formed over my
skin, not from the gloves or the symbols on my wrists, but just from me. My vision
distorted, as if my rage was exaggerating distances—the room seemed to lengthen and
widen, but also clear. I found myself subconsciously gripping the sword tighter.
It was exactly at that moment I that I felt the strangest and most disorienting
sensation I had ever felt in my life. Imagine that you glue your arms together with heavy-
duty foam-based double-sided adhesive. Now imagine you peeling your arms apart
slowly, being thankful that you applied the adhesive strip to the bottom of your arms, so
as to avoid most of the hair. It’s uncomfortable, but not overtly painful. Take that
feeling, multiply by a suitably, irrationally large whole number, and stick that feeling
inside of your chest. That’s the feeling you get when a soul leaves your body…and in
case, it was a soul other than mine.
While I standing there dizzy, still glowing, I heard a voice next to me. “Well,
that’s certainly an improvement. So nice to be out of you.” I turned my head. There was
the woman I had been during my bouts of involuntary narcolepsy, with a majestic face
inset with silver eyes and long, golden hair. It was also the face I then recognized from
the playground and my dreams as the little girl. Across her cheeks were two long,
wedged slash-like symbols in a deep red. At the top corners of her face were symbols
resembling right triangles, with the tips rounded off. Most odd was that in the center of
her forehead was another red sigil that vaguely resembled a butterfly, or at least the )(
shape. And to top everything off, she was wearing what could only be described as
angelic armor—a gleaming gold breastplate offset with heavy cloth-like armor.
Sprouting out of her mid-back were wings—flame-red at the base that changed to a
brilliant red orange, a bright vermillion, with swirls of white near the tips. The wings
were thinner, each I’m guessing three-fifths the size of the pair I still somewhat-
awkwardly had on my back. And she had six of them.
“Hey, there Lind,” said the angel. She smiled and held out her left hand. I went
to shake it, but the burning sensation, though not painful, rapidly increased. I looked at
my feet and my arms. A glowing, pure white pillar of light extended from my ankles and
from my wrists, moving towards the center of my body. A second or two later, I was
totally blinded. When my vision faded back, I felt a bit strange, but otherwise intact.
The one major thing is that the light had co-opted my remaining clothing and replaced it
with the most impressive outfit I’ve never owned.
I was wearing white, lace-less boots that extended almost to my knees. Over
them was a pair of fatigue-like slacks in the same white, edged with a stripe of brilliant
cerulean on the outer seams. A matching long-sleeved shirt was underneath, for lack of a
better term, a duster coat. The coat, which hung to just below my knees, had a held-open
vertical collar, and was designed to hang open in the front with around a five inch gap
laterally. It was cinched at the waist by a shimmering, teal sash with a pattern quite
similar to the circuit pattern previously on my hands, only in gold.
With the exception of the sash, all the fabric was a brilliant white that seemed to
have an almost silver-tinged reflection. The material felt like a weird blend of cotton and
silk, and though very soft, it felt very sturdy, almost like…armor. All of the designs and
the edges of the duster, pants, and the straps on the boots were all the same brilliant
cerulean. Most amazingly, my wings were not affected by the clothing, instead simply
passing through the shirt and duster as if they weren’t there.
Along with the clothing came an odd sense of distance. It’s a bit hard to
explain…sort of like when you’re in half-consciousness from lack of sleep or half-
sedated. It was just a sense of…well, partial disembodiment. I wasn’t numb, by any
means; I just felt that wasn’t as anchored to my self as I had been. It was a slightly eerie,
almost humbling, but almost simultaneously empowering feeling. Something told me
that with the sensation, or lack thereof, that the last major shred of my humanity had just
floated out the window.
Once I regained my senses, I shook the angel’s hand. It was just as warm as
mine, if not slightly more so. The golden-haired, six-winged woman nodded. “My name
is Ariel. I’m a seraph angel.” “Um…Lindsay Ross.” Ariel grinned. “I know. I’ve
known you for a while.” I thought about it. She was right, but the fact remained. She
had not been the cause of my “curse”—without my glasses, I was still an angel, or part of
one, anyway. Her removing herself from me hadn’t rid me of the fact, which meant that
curse number one was mine alone. Great. “So, how exactly have you…?” I was
severely lacking the words I needed. “I’ll explain later. What’d you say we take care of
the rather perturbed greater demon standing over there?” She pointed a pale, bare hand in
the general direction of the giant with the bull’s head. The two of us turned almost in
synchronicity to face the demon.
Though he still had a rather fearsome face, the events of the last twenty seconds
were evident in the size and dilation of the beast’s eyes. It was actually scared. And if
you’ve ever seen a demon afraid of you (I’m sure the list of those who have is pretty
short), it’s actually a wonderful, enlightening feeling; one which you can’t help but grin.
Ariel cocked her head. “Well, well, Foraii. I haven’t seen you since Solomon totally
schooled your ass. How did you like being forced to teach astronomy? Are you still
busy being Asmodeus’s majordomo?”
Foraii said nothing but gave what I’m guessing is the greater demon equivalent of
a “heh”. He then began sinking into the floor. At the same time, I watched as several
smoke wraiths began rising up from the floor. Ariel shook her head. “Oh, no, there’s not
going to be any of that.” She held out her hands and spoke a few choice words in what
I’m guessing to be Hebrew. Both the demon lord and the wraiths were shunted above the
floor, as circular symbols in a brilliant white encircled the demons momentarily and
flashed once before fading.
Ariel grinned. “Nothing like a good sealing spell. You have to love Naming
magic.” I turned towards her and shrugged. “I guess…” “Well, I think it’s time to
remove mister ugly.” Foraii held out his massive hand and started chanting. At the same
time, the angel next to me held out her hand and in not quite a yell spoke the word
“Requiem”, as her top and bottom pairs of wings angled almost straight up and down,
An axe appeared in Foraii’s massive grip. And when I say giant axe, I mean it.
The thing was as tall as he was (roughly fifteen feet) with a head five or six feet across
and a notched blade. A pistol appeared in Ariel’s right hand. The demon gets an axe, I
get a sword, and she gets a gun? “Wait, why do you get a gun?” Her eyes tracked left
without moving her head. “Oh, trust me, yours is better.” “How does that work?”
“Because it’s the Durandal. As in, the Durandal.” “Okay…” Ariel leveled her weapon,
which besides having a rather odd body design, didn’t appear to have had any moving
parts except the trigger. An aura of brilliant, almost flame-like light surrounded her. I
think I know where the imagery of the girl bathed in non-consuming flame came from.
Five quick pulses of luminescent orange impacted the wraiths, dissolving them into rather
large tufts of smoke.
“Now, Lind, would you care to do the honors? El knows, you need the practice.”
I looked at the cow-headed giant, and then glanced at his two victims. Izzy was…still.
The other girl was conscious, but still breathing shallowly. I flexed the sword (which I
then supposed was itself called the “Durandal”) in my grip a few times. The monster still
seemed several steps out of my league, though I had mentally notched up my chances of
survival. “Sure. The bastard happens to have killed my best friend a minute ago.” The
demon smiled. My eyebrows narrowed.
“Actually, I wouldn’t worry about that.” I glanced at her. “What!?” “Mister
Ross, you’re an archangel. One that’s currently mortal, but still…death is only a minor
inconvenience.” Something hit my brain just then—after all, no one had explicitly
confirmed my suspicions. And here was the genuine article saying it like last Tuesday’s
news. My mind was spinning with several dozen (more like a gross of) questions, but I
had something to do before then.
So, I took a rather deep breath and briefly looked over my shoulder. A good
portion of the onlookers had left through the door I had destroyed, but a larger portion
had stood watching. When I looked back, most of the impromptu audience stayed silent,
but a few smiled or raised thumbs up. I noticed two familiar faces among the front of the
crowd. Ian Evans stood with a wicked grin and the Hawaiian shaka gesture, while
Lauren had a tiny smile and the V sign. With that, I faced forward.
“Well, Foraii, I’m not one to renege on what I’ve said.” I put my left hand on the
hilt and took a stride forward. The greater demon merely shrugged and gave another
snort. “<Bring your worst, human.>” “Gladly.”
I leap forward, assisted by a single flap of my wings. Foraii brought his massive
two-handed axe into a sideways sweep. In an easy reaction, I pushed off the ground and
flew vertically, the axe and its air current passing harmlessly under me. As I neared the
demon’s head I prepared to remove it. I slashed…and instead of his head, I hit and
effortlessly sliced through the demon’s massive left hand, lopping it off. The appendage
quickly dissolved, as its owner let out a howling roar of pain. The sound was blood-
curdling, or should have been. In my current state, it barely fazed me.
I stopped my hover with a thrust and a controlled fall to the back of the demon.
And I as turned around, I was blindsided with the giant axe. “Careful!” I barely felt it,
even though it sent me flying. It hadn’t even pierced the cloth of my duster coat—this
stuff was armor! Going along with the partial detachment I felt, the pain was just barely
enough to inform me of what had happened. I found myself hurtling backwards and
sideways, and with a few flaps, I slowed myself and landed sideways on the red brick
inner wall of the dining hall. Foraii took the opportunity to charge forward, lowering his
head like the animal he resembled. I leapt forward and to the right, easily clearing the
impact zone and managing to slash at the demon’s left knee. It bellowed, and turned
around. I was smiling. A mellow, warm passion of…for lack of a better term, just
retribution flowed through my veins. Did I even have veins right now?
Foraii drew towards me and slammed his axe down vertically, throwing linoleum
and concrete in the air. I found myself almost unconsciously dodging the attack. The
demon, still showing no problems with wielding its ridiculous weapon with a single hand,
lashed out with another horizontal swipe. I then had the clever idea of holding up the
Durandal and attempting to parry the blow. The blades made the awful sound of
screeching steel as I found myself skidding backwards slightly on the soles of my boots.
A rather jarring but otherwise painless vibration ran up from my wrists.
Durandal’s blade held fast, and I pressed it against the blade of Foraii’s dirtied
axe. There was a slight creak, and then my holy blade bisected the axe head. The
Durandal appeared to be very good at cutting things in half. Asmodeus’s second stood
still for a moment in utter shock. It seemed like a good opening, so I stepped forward and
executed a wing-assisted jump. I wound my arms up over my left shoulder and gave my
best slash as I traveled, cutting Foraii from groin (step one: remove mind from gutter
before your face finds its way there) to head. I twirled up into a smart and surprisingly
easy backflip, and lunged forward, using the momentum to spear the demon in the face.
The blade pierced the demon through his bovine nose and I kept pushing forward
until I ran out of sword. I hung in mid-air, hovering a few moments before I decided that
if my stunt hadn’t fatally wounded the beast, leaving my only weapon embedded in him
might be an unwise move. I gripped the hilt with both hands, and removed the blade,
jerking it to the left. It exited through a slash wound. There was surprisingly little blood,
and what fluid I did draw seemed not to even stick to the Durandal.
I landed and awaited the outcome. It was pleasing, to say the least. Foraii inhaled
sharply, and then collapsed forward. Cheers floated from behind me. As I watched, the
demon’s flesh began to slowly smoke, smolder, and finally catch fire in a reddish black
flame. The smell of sulfur filled the air as the gigantic corpse slowly dissolved. I
replaced the Durandal on my back and folded my wings. A hand patted me on the
back…the wing root actually. It was the seraph.
“Not too shabby…a little sloppy perhaps, but that’s to be expected. Nothing like
a baptism of fire for training. Well, that’s part one—I believe you have some casualties
to take care of. I’ll grab those glasses of yours.” Ariel’s holy firearm disappeared as she
strode towards the entrance, her wings losing their extreme angles and returning to
horizontal. I moved to the far corner of the lunchroom.
The girl who had hit the end of the table did not move when I approached her,
which was rather disheartening; I did, however, see a flicker of eye movement. I put my
hand below her nose—she was still breathing. “It’s okay, just relax.” I placed my gloved
hands around her sternum and prayed. Just for curiosity’s sake, I left my eyes open. The
glowing blue aura I had seen earlier formed around me like an outer shell. The light
flowed over her…and her eyes slowly opened as the blood that surrounded her
disappeared—I’m hoping it went back into her. She sighed and then looked me square in
the face. “Um…thank you…I think.” I held out my hand, and helped her up. “Don’t
mention it.” As she slowly walked back towards the still-present crowd, several of her
friends ran out to greet her.
In the distance I thought I could hear a low whine or wail. I listened for a
moment and finally disregarded it. I moved to the wall, and below the crimson-speckled
patch of plaster brick was Izzy…or what was left of her. I was fairly sure that her neck
had broken, and I couldn’t see any new bleeding. Her brown hair was mottled with half-
dried blood. I touched the underside of her jaw and waited. No pulse, though the body
was fairly warm. She was dead. I wasn’t really moved by the discovery—I really should
have been, but I just kept staring at Connelly’s body like an onlooker. How was death
just a “minor inconvenience”?
Slowly, the light bulb went on. Maybe the laying on of hands wasn’t the only
miracle I was now capable of doing. I called out to Ariel. “Hey, you’re the
professional…how exactly do I pull a Lazarus?” She responded. “I would tell you, but
you already know.” “What the heck is up with you and your stupid claims of I ‘already
know’ and inherent knowledge? It’s seriously irritating.” “Shut it, stop contemplating it,
and just do it. You’re a smart kid, Lind, except when you get stubborn and refuse to act
I sighed and turned back to Izzy. Yep, she was still dead…crud. I took several
deep breaths and finally tried to relax. It was then that my hands and mouth almost
started working on their own. “Izzy…I say…just, please get up.” I hugged her. “I don’t
care if you want to drag me to crazy parties or make fun of my hair or my high, girly
voice. Just…please get up.” I thought I noticed Izzy’s neck re-align, but the distinct lack
of glowing suggested it was my eyes playing tricks. Without thinking or perhaps it was
simply automatic given my state, I kissed her. On the lips! I pulled my face away from
Behind thankfully intact oval lenses, the green eyes of pointy death bolted open,
and two arms grabbed me, pulling my head back down on top of hers for another kiss. I
was startled, to make a rather large understatement. When I was free from the green-
eyed squid/prophet, I pushed slightly away from her. “Izzy!?” The girl had started
crying. I sat backwards. She wiped the tears from one of her eyes with her right index
finger. “I must be…I must be such a bother…I keep dying, don’t I?” That merited
I helped Izzy up. She stumbled once. The blood around her neck and hair was
gone, but there was a still a small puddle on the ground and the splatter where she had
impacted the wall. “Raphael and Luke would be proud. Catch.” I turned around and
caught a tossed pair of glasses, courtesy of the female angel behind me. I looked at the
glasses, thought about it, and with the number of people around, it might not hurt to leave
them off, temporarily.
I then heard the whining sound again, and this time it was close enough that I
instantly recognized it as a police siren. The senior had apparently gotten through. A
shiver ran down my back and through my wings as I watched through the windows as
several Crown Vic’s and what looked like an armored SWAT van stopped in front of the
dining hall. The back of the van opened. Ariel watched and asked, “All those in favor of
getting the heck out of dodge?” My hand instantly went up; both Izzy’s and Ariel’s right
hands had also been raised. “Motion passes by unanimous consent. We’re out of here.”
Ariel spoke a few more carefully selected Hebrew words. My vision went loopy, while
the ceiling, floor, and my stomach started forming into curves impossible to describe
using mortal calculus. I had figured out what a point-blank teleportation spell felt like.
With another lurch, Lind’s vision returned…and he found himself falling four feet
vertically on his face, thankfully to grass. Izzy smirked. “That was fun. Sort of a reverse
roller coaster.” Lind got up, and quietly noted that he was able to do so without his usual
lightheadedness. The trio had arrived on a small park at the opposite edge of campus.
“What the heck was that?” The six-winged angel smiled. “A teleportation spell,
Izzy stared at the majestically good-looking six-winged woman that stood next to
her. “I’m going to take a bit of a leap here and assume you’re an angel? And judging by
the appearance, you’re either an aspect of Lind, Lind’s an aspect of you, or you
were…possessing him?” The woman calmly nodded. “The last, actually. My name is
Ariel.” She held out her pale hand. Izzy shook it. “Izzy Connelly.” “I know.” Lind
gritted his teeth at the last statement.
Ross, who was still holding on to his rectangular wire frames, quickly placed
them over his eyes. The long silver hair, jacket, pants, boots, and even the gloves quickly
dissolved, leaving Lind in his previous clothing: he was still devoid of a shirt. It was still
rather wintry outside. “Stupid wings. That’s the second time I’ve lost clothing to them.
Izzy, I hate to ask this, but do you have anything I could borrow? It’s kinda cold out
here.” Izzy grinned weakly. “My bag is sorta…back in the Cafeteria.” Ariel nodded.
“That’s not much of a problem. Lind, did you bring anything?” “I left my backpack in
my car, if that’s what you’re asking.”
The angel snapped her fingers, and the two bags materialized in mid-air, lingering
momentarily before gravity caught up with them. Lind resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
“You didn’t actually have to snap your fingers, did you?” “Nope.” Izzy dug through her
pack and retrieved a jacket. It was an odd combination of windbreaker nylon and cloth—
horizontal bars of white on a pink background. Lind examined it briefly. “I’m not even
going to complain today.” Izzy handed it to him. He quickly donned it, and zipped it up
to the collar, placing the Durandal’s scabbard over the pink and white jacket. Izzy
chuckled. “You know, I figured if I could wear your pants…that it might work the other
way around. I guess you’re just that girly even with the glasses.” Lind gave Izzy his best
Izzy-style death glare.
Ariel walked between the two. “Oh, and about those wings of yours…” She held
up her right palm and pressed it against Lind’s forehead. It felt like a mentholated
branding iron, because, in a sense, it was. “Egh…” The angel stood back and admired
her work. From her bag, Izzy removed a compact (which, oddly enough, was something
that Lind had never seen her carry or use) and opened the mirror. There was an
additional bright blue symbol on his face, perfectly in the middle of his forehead. It
consisted of the same opposed wing or featherlike crescents as on Ariel’s face, though
Lind’s symbols were subtly connected by a small circle. Lind put his hand over his face,
and the new symbols slowly appeared on the top of his right palm. “That’s a wing
binding sigil. Whenever you take your glasses off, you can now consciously determine
whether or not to suppress your wings or even your armor. Quite handy, if I do say so.”
Lind was distracted by the fact that the odd sense of distance had not disappeared with
either the glasses or the new spiritual tattoo. “Hey, Ariel? Even with this thing and my
glasses, why do I still have this weird sense of…detachment?”
“Oh, that’s simple. You’re not human anymore.” Ariel’s wings and armor faded,
revealing a heavy t-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, and tennis shoes. Except for the odd
symbols on her face, she looked entirely human. As mildly androgynous as Lind was
with his glasses, but still human. She had placed a pair of glasses over her face—ones
with familiar looking rounded rectangular wire frames. Izzy grinned. Lind shook his
head. “I’m not even going to ask. Actually…I am going to ask. I have a lot of
questions, and since you’re the only heavenly agent I know of…and because you said
that you would, I’d like my explanations. Plural.” The angel nodded. “How about over
lunch? I’ve always wanted to try eating.” Izzy poked the back of Lind’s loaner pink
jacket. “Have you been to Watson Sandwiches?” The once-again near-blond youth
thought momentarily. “Not for a while.” “Good. You’re buying, then.” Lind opened
his mouth to say something, and whether he thought better of it or simply decided he was
too tired to make an effort of it, Lind shrugged, closed his mouth, picked up his
backpack, and began walking to the nearby sidewalk.
Watson Sandwiches was one of those local eateries that thrived on its location—
just outside campus. The sub shop was littered with small signs featuring half-serious
slogans and ironic half-statements, not the least of which was the pun “Watson
Sandwiches?”. The sense of humor, location, and general quality of food allowed the
entrepreneurship to have a chance against the various national chains nearby. Lind was
simultaneously reading one of the diagonally aligned placards, checking his watch, (it
just before three) and holding the door open for a man slightly older than him, carrying a
folded apron. The trio entered and was met by a personable man who was on the border
between twenty-something and thirty-something.
“I’d like to apologize in advance if your orders take a while. Geoff just left,
which means I’ll have to hold my own for the next hour until the early-dinner shift
starts.” Izzy nodded. The man behind the counter tilted his head and raised an eyebrow
momentarily at the odd facial markings on two of his customers before looking Izzy in
the eye. “So, what sounds good?” The employee took another glance at Lind. “Is…that
a sword on your back?” “Probably.” The man swallowed. “Well, sir, there’s a…sign on
the door, we don’t…” Ariel had walked up to the counter, and placed her hands down on
it, leaning forward and giving a very, very disconcerting, but silent stare. “Never mind.
What can I get you three?” Lind had a very good idea what had happened to the street
Izzy, being Izzy, ordered a turkey sub with a slightly bewildering amount of
fixings and condiments, along with a hot chocolate. Lind got the same beverage, and an
almost-plain turkey sandwich. The other angel, however, took a good three minutes
being verbosely excited by the options available to her before settling on a beef sub with
a compromise of add-ons. Lind dug out his wallet and paid the man, who according to
his nametag was named “Josh”. Lind pressed his glasses against his face. “And by the
way…Josh…if our conversation sounds freakishly weird, feel free to ignore it. I’ve just
been a weirdness magnet for the past few months, today especially. I would also
appreciate it if you didn’t make any drastic assumptions based on my clothing,
companions, or conversation.” Josh slowly nodded. “Okay…”
Lind dropped his sword scabbard and bag at a table and unzipped it, removing a
small leather-bound volume. He flipped it to a point a fifth through marked by a single
violet ribbon. After digging in the front pocket, he removed an ink pen and began writing
feverishly. Ariel turned her head, her golden locks slightly bunching. “What are you
doing?” “Writing. Don’t interrupt, please.”
Despite the employee’s warning, the sandwiches were ready surprisingly fast.
Izzy found the table after looking around the corner to the other part of the L-shaped
seating area. They were the only customers in the establishment, and except for a
mounted TV in one corner playing a re-run of Jeopardy!, the room was fairly quiet.
Lind wafted his hot cocoa, decided it was still scalding, and looked at the newest
member of the group. “Okay…Ariel…mind if I have my explanations now?” “Oh?
Sure. Ask away. You might want to put the book away, though. You’ll have plenty of
time later.” “I think I’ll leave it out, thanks.” Ariel gave her intense yet holy stare. “I
doubt you’d be able to keep up, and I don’t want to stop too much or slow down. Sorry,
but that’s just the sort of person I am. I’m rather…impulsive sometimes.” Lind sighed,
closed the pen in his journal, and placed it next to the Durandal’s cross-guard.
“What am I?” “Now, or beforehand?” “Both. All.” Ariel took a deep breath.
“Well, Lind, you are currently a mortal angel.” Izzy looked up from her chocolate.
“Mortal angel?” Ariel nodded. “Essentially, you’re an angel stuck both in a mortal form
and here on Earth until you die, at which point, you’ll just be an angel. Other than that,
you’ve got most all the abilities, perks, and privileges that come with the package.”
Ariel took a short break for taste-tasting her food, and then continued. “Basically,
it’s not a matter of you, but more your soul.” Lind nodded pensively. “So, my soul’s the
reincarnation of an angel or something?” The seraph removed a large chunk of her
sandwich. “Or something. It’s nothing that complicated, really. You were just born
with a twin soul. Part of you was born angel, and part of you was human. As you got
older, and as I’m sure you noticed, if you used your powers, it slowly caused the two to
merge. It’s not karmic remnants of a previous angel or anything…just a quirk of the
Izzy blinked. “A quirk?” Ariel nodded. “This is pretty good…yeah; people born
with the souls of angels are just a side-effect of the way the Boss made the universe. It’s
rare, mind you. Come to think of it…really rare.” Lind practiced staying calm and not
blinking, having more success at the first than the second. “Okay. So how rare?” Ariel
eye’s fluttered momentarily. “Let’s see…if my memory serves me—you’ve have to
excuse me, I’m a seraph, not a power, so knowledge retention isn’t exactly my thing—
it’s only happened once before, to a woman in Judea a few thousand years back.” “And
what happened to her?” Ariel smiled weakly at Izzy before plainly answering her
question. “She was killed by demons on her seventeenth birthday.” Lind blinked. Izzy
blinked and tried to not fall out of her chair.
“Well, if you think about it, had you died, Lind, before you finished transforming
all the way, you would have simply died a human, but now, killing you would literally
make you stronger, since it would just rid you of the restrictions of being a human.”
“Okay…” “So, now, hell should pretty much leave you alone—they’d only be making
things worse for them if they killed you. Speaking of which, that’s where I came in. The
Boss has been very non-interventionist in most things as of late, seeing as he’s a fan of
free will and all, and well, omnipotent middle knowledge comes in handy. But in this
case, He assigned you a bodyguard…me. Your abilities started in about thirteen years
ago, I think.” “When I was six, yes. That’s when these things,” Lind pointed at his
hands and face, “appeared. What are they exactly?”
“I’ll get to them in a minute. Anyways, the day I showed up, a good forty greater
demons of Foraii’s class decided to arrive and attempt to kill you off. If there’s one thing
to understand about angels and demons, it’s that we have the quality, they have the
quantity. I took them on single-handedly, and well, it almost destroyed me. Don’t get
me wrong, killing a seraph is almost impossible, but they came very close. So, I was
weak enough that I could only manifest a simpler physical form, and then I got this
seemingly great idea.” Lind sighed. “Let me guess…the form was the young girl at the
playground, and the clever idea was to co-opt my body?” “In a manner of speaking. I
figured if I temporarily merged with you, I could leech off your abilities, which would
have added bonus of not only regenerating me a bit faster, but thus suppressing your
abilities for the time being. Of course, you had to unknowingly mess that up.”
Lind finished off his beverage. Alex Trebek was congratulating last month’s
winner. “Of course. What did I unknowingly do?” Ariel smiled and tapped her glasses.
“Well, I didn’t know you had a pair of angelic sealing glasses in your closet. I’m sure
you’ve figured out how they work, since they’re actually pretty simple. Anyways, those
suppressed me as well, and your own powers tended to keep me buried except in short
spurts. I’m also afraid that whenever I did manage to overpower the glasses’
suppression, that some of my power might have inadvertently bled off and sped your
transformation.” Lind nodded. “That would be curse number two.” “Curse?” Izzy
intervened. “Lind was rather annoyed at his talents and apparently your intervention, so
he considered them ‘holy’ curses.” Lind got up and got another cup with ice water.
Ariel took a moment to process it, and began laughing before it changed to a grin.
“That’s…that’s certainly a new way to put it. I suppose though, knowing Lindsay, it fits
him perfectly, doesn’t it?” “You don’t have to refer to me in third person when I’m ten
feet away.” “Yep. Wait…why did you say knowing Lind?” Ariel’s smile increased
further. “Well…despite having my soul shoved in a dusty corner, I was able to
continually eavesdrop on his consciousness. Just for safety’s sake.” Lind took that
opportune moment to (accidentally) choke on his water and fall backwards in his chair,
hitting the floor a split second later. His two companions laughed.
Lind regained his bearings, rolled to the side, righted himself and his chair, and
gave a droll grin to the higher-ranking angel. “Well, then, I guess my mild paranoia my
entire life was justified. I guess you’re not really paranoid if they actually are watching
you.” The seraph smiled. “That’s the spirit.”
“You said something about a wing binding sigil…what the frick are these things
on my face and hands?” Ariel grinned. “Angelic markings. They’re the sort of thing
that are just a bit too powerful to be suppressed by sealing glasses. Can I see your
hands?” Lind extended his arm. Ariel grasped his wrist and examined it. “Huh…I’ll
be…the sigils of spiritual warfare. You are special.” Izzy turned her head. “Spiritual
warfare?” Ariel gave a quick nod. “Yep. A rather rare type of angelic sigil. When
active, they allow one to engage in spiritual warfare simply by touch…that is, you can
exorcise any demon through just touch and damage and destroy them in the process,
depending on rank of course.” Ariel paused, her eyes flickering. “Oh, that’s right, you
have used them before, haven’t you, Lind? That’s all there is to it, really. My markings
aren’t anything special.”
“So, what about my sword? You said it’s the Durandal, right? What exactly is a
Durandal?” Ariel’s shoulders slumped. “You’ve never heard of the Durandal?” Izzy
and Lind shook their heads. “Kids these days…well…it’s most famous as the
unbreakable sword of Roland, from the epic of the same name. Supposedly, he used it
against Saracens to defend Charlemagne, but really, it was just a bunch of also-Christian
Basques that were feeling snarky and they jumped him when Charlemagne left him. Yep,
the Durandal…the Durandal cuts through just about anything—
heathens...demons...mountainsides...” Lind blinked. “Mountainsides?” “Mountainsides.
It’s actually Gabriel’s sword, though. It had been loaned to Roland, and it was still
hanging out in Rocamadour. I couldn’t leave you, but I talked with Gabriel, and she's
essentially giving you the Durandal on ‘permanent loan’.”
Izzy crunched her eyebrows together. “Wait, did you just use ‘she’ to refer to
Gabriel the archangel?” “Yes. To the extent that gender applies, Gabe is female. It's a
female name.” “But I thought that Gabriel was a male archangel.” “Originally, it was
written down correctly, but somewhere along the lines, somebody screwed up and so
humanity thinks of her as male. And if you ask her, she finds it very amusing. Yep,
good old Gabe. The Boss's favorite page girl. Whenever He needs some official
announcement, Gabe’s the first with her hand up. Apparently, it annoys some of her
fellows, since some of the lesser angels can rarely get jobs. But then again, I should be
singing 24/7, so I can't really complain.”
“Singing?” Lind looked at her. “Are all angels as perky as you?” “I should hope
not. Take a look at say Metatron: he just sings, catches up on reading, and studies magic.
Or, actually, a better example might be Azrael. He’s a nice fellow, sure, but he’s a
workaholic of an archangel. He’s never once taken a vacation in the history of time,
though he has rarely taken the occasional day off, but then only on off-days when his
subordinates have empty schedules. And even then, he just works in another department
for the day; he just isn’t capable of resting. Isn’t that what the Sabbath is for?” Izzy
raised her hand slightly. “Who exactly is Azrael?” “Oh, Az is the archangel who’s in
charge of the Angels of Death.” Lind nodded. “Let me guess…white hair, grey robes,
black wings, and a no-nonsense look on his face.” Ariel grinned, the red slash-like
symbols on her face not moving in the slightest. “Yep! That’s him. Oh, that’s right…he
reaped one of your teachers, didn’t he? Poor guy had some crazy medical conditions,
The pair stayed in silence for a while before Lind broke it. “So…you mentioned
seraphs and archangels and all that. Explain.” Ariel shrugged. “Well, there’s a
hierarchy of angels, naturally. I’m a seraph. Seraphs are at the very top—we’re angels
of fire and light with six wings, tasked with carrying the Boss’s throne, leading the choir,
and that sort of thing. We’re also supposed to be the highest-ranking members of the
Boss’s Army, though not many seraphs do that sort of thing. I sure do…after all…you
can only sing the trisagion so many trillion times before it starts getting old.” Izzy waxed
off her sandwich. “Trisagion?” Ariel nodded. “Oh, you know…Sanctus Sanctus
Sanctus or holy holy holy…that sort of thing. I normally work with Nathanael and
Seraphiel. Nate, he’s pretty cool, and Sera’s a decent gal. I’m also good friends with
Gabe—she’s a hoot—and Raphael.”
“Below the seraphim you have cherubim. Not chubby babies, but angels of light.
Not much to mention to about them, except that ol’ Lucifer was sort of a weird
seraph/cherub hybrid. He had a serious attitude problem. And since angels have free
will—we can do anything, but we’re still accountable like any other beings—he
vamoosed and went evil. After that, you have dominions, virtues, principalities, rulers,
authorities, powers, and thrones, in that order. They’re bureaucracy and middle-
management.” Lind cocked an eyebrow. “Bureaucracy?” “Bureaucracy. Even heaven
has its red tape. Of course, we’re a few thousand times more efficient that humanity can
dream of, but it’s still bureaucracy. Take dominions for instance: middle management.
They just delegate duties. That whole group is clustered together. Next, you have your
archangels, of which there are a lot more than seven, and your standard angels. They’re
the messengers, soldiers, and general do-gooders, and thus hang around earth more than
the rest. For example, if you hear about ‘guardian angels’, it’s most likely it’s just a
Lind nodded. “So, you said I’m an archangel. How come?” Ariel shrugged.
“Well, your predecessor was going to be one, and your wings have the classic archangel
shape, so it’s a good assumption.” Lind sighed briefly. “Well, then, what about that
Asmodeus and what was it…Foraii?” Ariel finished off her sandwich, savoring it
momentarily before responding. “Ah, the Qliphoth. Lucifer kinda declared himself
emperor of nasty things, so naturally, he has nine kings under him…ten, depending on
how you look at it. As for Asmodeus, he’s one of kings, though I’m still not sure why he
personally was sent after you. He’s got that huge sword, sure, but he sucks at combat.
He’s a bit of a fruit, actually. Gambling is more in-line with him.” “Thus explaining the
poker cards and the fact that he looked like part of the B Team.” Ariel chuckled. “Yep.
Now, Foraii was his second-in-command, much better at combat, but he’s now
permanently toast, courtesy of you.” “And the smoke wraiths?” Ariel frowned.
“Wraiths? Smoke…oh! Those are technically ‘telane’; they’re a type of shade. But
‘smoke wraith’ is a pretty good translation.”
“So, anyone else in heaven or hell play cards?” Ariel grinned. “Well, now that
you mention it, yes. The Son does have quite the knack for contract bridge.” Lind
coughed. “You’re telling me that Jesus Christ plays a trick-taking four-player card
game?” Ariel nodded. “Yeah, and he’s good at it. Scary good.” Izzy looked more than
confused. “Okay, what about the whole saving of souls thing?” Ariel shrugged. “What
about it? He’s an aspect of the Boss; he can bring salvation, answer prayers, and play a
weekend game of cards at the same time, no problems. Seriously, though, you should
have seen Him when humanity invented whist. It sort of went downhill, or possibly
uphill, from there. Yeah…now the Son asked his Dad if he can play in a bridge
tournament during the Second Coming.” Lind nodded in minor disbelief. “So…end of
the world…when’s that?” “Not for quite a while.” “Works for me.”
Lindsay got up to get the group refills of hot cocoa and ice water for himself.
“So, then, what am I?” “Well, Miss Connelly, don’t let this go to your head, but you’re a
prophet.” Lind smirked from across the room. “I knew it!” “How can I be a prophet?”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong. You’re not the questing, preaching kind…more of the
clairvoyant well-wisher type.” Izzy gave a weak smile. “Okay…” She indulged herself
on the second cup of hot chocolate. “Mmm…You can speak Babel, right?” “I think so.
Just not intentionally.” Lind looked at Ariel. “I am missing something? You mean to
tell me that the language Izzy speaks while in a trance is the original language of
humanity?” “<In a nutshell, yes.>” Lind covered his ears. “Ow…that still doesn’t
sound right. So…”
A loud clattering sound from behind the counter derailed Lind’s train of thought.
He turned to see Josh picking up a few steel pans, eyes glued to the TV set in the corner.
Lind’s eyes tracked the distance and stared at the black box in the corner of the room.
Over the slight buzz of the set was the actual sound. What should have been another
afternoon game show or niche entertainment show was instead the local news desk with
an obnoxious “special report” logo in the upper corner.
“So…what?” Lind gestured mildly at Ariel, and pointed at the TV. “…happened
on the campus of UVM here in Burlington.” The shot of the anchorwoman was replaced
by that of a map zooming in, a labeled peg appearing at the appropriate position. “What
was previously thought to be a terrorist-hostage standoff at one of the campus’s dining
halls is turning out to be more much unexplainable. Though the situation has ended
safely, authorities are still unsure of what exactly happened. We go now to our reporter
in the field, Robert Johnson. Rob?” Lind continued blinking, before quietly adding, “no
good can come of this.”
The thirty-something man in a sports coat and tie started his spiel, standing
outside of a certain entrance that was curiously enough, missing a door. “That’s right,
Tammy. What was originally we thought to be some sort of terrorist attack, possibly a
follow-up to the events of last year, is now turning out to be much more supernatural.
He’s what we do know: just after noon, around two hundred students and employees
were somehow held captive by a…thing that some are calling a monster, or even going so
far as to call it a demon. A student armed with what is described as a medieval
broadsword somehow removed this door behind me, allowing most of the hostages to
escape. The student then confronted this monster before disappearing.” Tammy’s voice
was overlaid onto the image. “Disappearing?” The reporter nodded vigorously. “Oh,
and we have with us Sergeant Downey from the Burlington Police Department. What
can you tell us about this incident?” The camera panned over to police officer in full
olive drab armor and tactical gear, an absolute rarity for the city. “Well, the situation was
defused by the time we arrived. We never saw the suspect, or the supposed benefactors,
so all we have to go by are some rather strange personal accounts.”
The news program shifted back to the studio. Josh, Lind, Izzy, and Ariel’s
collective gaze was affixed at the box. “We have just received some amateur footage
from one of the captives, shot on his handheld video camera. We’re converting it to a
type we can show, but in the meantime, we do have a bit more information on this
breaking story. Apparently, this creature was described as over ten feet tall, bipedal, and
roughly human-shaped. It had taken two hostages but had taken no other actions.
Shortly after the door was destroyed, two people described as having…wings were
attacked by this creature. The monster was somehow killed, and both it and the supposed
‘angels’ disappeared from sight. Wait…we should have the footage right about…now.”
Much to Lind’s displeasure, someone had indeed had a camcorder with them.
Though the sound was spotty, it was apparently one of those new model handheld
cameras with image stabilization. The user apparently also had knowledge of the zoom
feature. From a position somewhat near the front of the crowd, one could clearly see
Lind’s glasses rocketing off his face, followed by the brief transformation. Even the
separation of Ariel from Lind was outlined clearly, her form appearing insubstantial
before clarifying. Lind’s involuntary clothing upgrade blinded the camera’s lens, and by
the time it adjusted, the flash of light was over. The camera user had briefly outlined the
fight before reaching maximum zoom while pointing at the two victims on the far wall,
the image just barely shaking.
The man behind the counter let out a low, painful wail. Lind glanced away from
the box, watching the now terrified and anguished expression forming on the Josh’s face.
He glanced briefly at the TV, and after deciding he knew the plot, he continued watching
the sandwich shop employee. A few minutes later, Josh’s eyes widened, and he gave a
sigh only slightly larger than the total capacity of both his lungs. Lind heard the
momentary drop in high-frequency pitch that indicated a scene change on the TV.
The news special cut back to the reporter and policeman. “Incredible…it’s like
something out of the New Testament, played out right here. So, sergeant, if you find
these two ‘angels’, what is your department planning on doing?” The bulkily equipped
man shrugged. “Nothing at this point. If this truly is a supernatural or miraculous event,
then I seriously doubt we’re going to find them. Even if we do, they performed a
vigilante action and healed out the only victims of this incident. The campus police may
want them for weapons violations, but if possible, my department will be giving them
Connelly and Ross’s pulse rates quickly dropped as the news once again cut back
to the newswoman. “We have just received reports that the student with the sword has
been identified as Lindsay Ross, a freshman student at the university. It is unknown but
highly suspected that she’s also one of the ‘angels’ seen in the footage.” Lind burst up
from his seat. “What is it with people and assuming that I’m female just from my
name!?” Sense quickly trickled back into the young man’s head. “Crud.” Josh was
staring at his unusual customer, followed by glancing at the TV, and then back at Lind.
Josh walked from behind the counter and towards Lind, who was still standing
next to his wooden chair. “So, that was you, I think?” Lind’s stomach instantly
contorted. He looked up at the man, whose several inches of height difference seemed to
be exaggerated. Lind lowered his head, and out of glum lips came the word “yeah”.
Instead of the expected verbal or physical abuse, Lind was met with a paralyzing hug.
“Thanks. Thanks…” Lind twitched uncontrollably. Finally, Josh let go of him, choking
back mild tears, before he held out his hand. “Joshua Watson, founder of Watson
Sandwiches.” Lind meekly nodded and shook the hand. “That…that girl you saved, the
one with the short, dark brown hair…” “Yes…?” “Joyce is my kid sister. I don’t how to
put it, but thanks.” Izzy’s eyes widened and she muttered something about the girl being
half her brother’s age. Thankfully, Lind missed it and Josh, still choked up, ignored it.
“Well, Ross, was it? I think you just earned yourself free sandwiches for life. It
sounds crazy, I guess, but…you saved my sister’s life. It’s not really a fair trade,
but…it’s what I have.” Lind continued blinking. “Okay…sure.”
The tension defused, Lind’s now tired eyes went back to the TV. “…have
received word from our parent network in New York. This breaking story will be
featured as their top story on the national news at 6:30, with the two other networks
expected to at least have it listed as a major story.” Lind’s legs collapsed from under
him. Izzy dived after him.
Once the blood returned to Lind’s head, he sat up. “God…” Ariel grinned.
“He’s listening.” Izzy held out a hand and yanked Lind to his feet, where he was still a
little bit shaky. “What kind of sandwiches will you be wanting?” Lind looked at Josh
Watson. “Pardon?” “Well, I figure you might want to get home before every Geraldo
and news network within a few hundred miles converges on your doorstep. It sounds like
you’re becoming a media circus. You might want some food before you’re barricaded in
your own home.”
Lind found a chair and sat down while Izzy took care of the necessary
requisitioning. “Jeez…having that weird feeling that deep down you’re not human is one
thing, but to have something like this…all I would have wanted was a simple thank you.”
Ariel pulled up her chair and patted him on the shoulder. “Not to worry. All things are
possible through the Boss, ya’ know. That and I’ll be sticking around for the next few
hundred years to help you out.”
A good ten minutes later, Lind was handed two large handled paper bags filled
with a multitude of breaded rations. Josh glanced at the woman with long hair and the
strange red tattoos. “You’re that other angel, aren’t you?” She grinned. “Yep. I am
called Ariel. I’m here for on-the-job training, so to speak.” Josh slowly nodded. “Nice
to know the Man Upstairs still decides to visit. Take of care of that boy.” “Of course.”
Izzy was first out the door, followed by Ariel who held it open. Josh tapped Lind on the
shoulder before whispering into his ear. “Oh, and, take care of your girlfriend, you
hear?” Lind was exhausted to the point where most of the request flew through his head.
“Girl…?” Josh gently shoved him out the door with a smile. The first employee of the
evening shift glanced briefly at the departing trio before she entered the store.
Lind, despite his packages, quickly passed his companions in the walk to the
parking lot in question. “Well, Shan is going to freak when we get home. Actually,
scratch that…she’s probably got the whole story and she’s probably done freaking out by
now.” Ariel poked Izzy in the shoulder. “So, are you and Lind…” Ariel trailed off into
a whisper before she broke out into laughter. Izzy turned a shade of scarlet not unlike the
red of Ariel’s sigils. She adjusted her glasses, and took them off for cleaning. She
glanced at Ariel. Behind her back were her six wings, semi-transparent in a manner that
suggested that the angel’s glasses were not totally effective, though Izzy doubted that
other people could see the appendages. She then glanced at Lind, who had the same
effect going for him.
“Hey, Ariel, you said Lind’s an archangel, right? You know, he hasn’t taken
singing lessons.” Ariel blinked. “Okay…that’s an odd thing to bring up.” Ariel took off
her rounded-rectangle frames. Her eyes went to their deep silver and her hair went from
golden blonde to an almost metallic gold, but otherwise she stayed perfectly the same.
She glanced at Lind. Behind his back, his invisible blue-to-white wings stood folded.
They seemed slightly different, and the angel noticed they were wedge-shaped creases at
the horizontal extremes. Each wing seemed as if slowly splitting into three. “Holy…”
Ariel grinned wildly before laughing. The two girls replaced their glasses.
Lind turned and began walking backwards. “What was that about?” Izzy smiled
innocently. “Nothing.” “I highly doubt that. I think it’s something that you’re simply
refusing to mention.” Izzy went into a cat-like grin. “You’re quite right.” Lind set the
bags down and unlocked the driver’s side door of his car. “Let’s get home. I don’t even
want to think about Monday.” Izzy smiled. “There’s always Scrabble.”