The swinging double doors burst open, revealing a large, dark space with bodies twisting to the beat of the music.
Uriel stepped through the door, his brother Muriel behind him, and drew out his sword. He slashed left with it at the couple making out beside the door.
The head of the girl fell down and rolled over the floor, stopping at Uriel’s feet before the headless body cracked like plaster under a hammer and disintegrated into dust.
The boy screamed and everything stilled, including the music, then cries and yells filled the space and people emptied a wide circle around them, trying to get as far away from them as possible.
You know what to do? Uriel glanced at the black-haired child-like boy, whose body started to grow and change into a beast from a nightmare.
The boy nodded.
Uriel sighed as he stepped forward, his blade slashing here and there, transforming more people into dust. He raised his eyes to the glass wall above the DJ booth where a blond in crimson suit stood, watching the events below.
Petsha. He looked so calm and self-confident, but his hands laced behind his back must have started to tremble at the sight of him, Uriel thought. Because, he, after all was, Angelica’s personal delivery boy, and Angelica was the Deadeaters’ worst nightmare.
He climbed the metal stairs against the wall, ignoring the noise and chaos from the floor bellow. He pushed the door open and stepped into the narrow, cluttered office.
Petsha stood in the corner of the room and Uriel’s younger brother, Haniel, at the office’s back door, probably the only escape route available to Petsha.
Uriel closed the door. “I see your escape routes still lack imagination.” And even if it hadn’t, Petsha could never penetrated Haniel’s net that surrounded Petsha’s club like a bubble and was made especially for trapping Deadeaters.
Petsha murmured something incomprehensible.
“I assume you know why I’m here.” Uriel strode toward the desk.
“I got the message.”
Uriel went around the desk, laid the sword on it and sat behind it. “You know the penalty of disobeying. Why risk it?” He leaned his elbows on the table and his chin on his laced fingers.
Petsha leaped forward and smashed his hands against the desk, bending forward. “You don’t know... you don’t know.... that thing... The things she does to me.” His fingers trembled against the wooden surface. He took a shaking breath, straightened and stepped backwards. “You just don’t know.”
Oh, but he did. Uriel combed his fingers through his hair. He knew too well what Petsha went through every time Angelica summoned him into her lab. He had experienced it firsthand. His gaze slid toward a black-haired teenager. And he had gladly allowed Angelica to do whatever she wanted with him and had even tied himself to her with a Binding Promise. Everything for Muriel’s and Haniel’s freedom and so that they would never have to suffer Angelica’s experiments.
“You just don’t know,” Petsha repeated, staggering backwards until his back hit the glass wall.
A small growling sound drew Uriel’s attention to Haniel.
“I’m thirsty.” Haniel smoothed his hair tied into a ponytail.
“Then go, feed,” Uriel said.
A smile stretched Haniel’s lips as he nodded and rushed toward the door through which Uriel had entered the room. He went through it .
“You might as well sit down,” Uriel said to Petsha. “Cleaning up your place is going to take some time.”
Petsha slid down on the floor and buried his face into his hands, whimpering a string of unconnected words.
Uriel stood up and went toward the glass, mimicking Petsha’s previous posture. “The number of Deadeaters has increased again. You should be more mindful. By now you should be aware how Prva dislikes it and how she deals with it.” She always sent them, the Dumes-- and sometimes her personal guards, the Numuns -- to reduce the Deadeater population. Those missions irritated him even though the Dumes used them to fill their bellies, but Prva always paid well and in exchange for their services she offered them lodging and protection for his brothers.
He looked down at the floor below them. At Muriel and Haniel who turned Deadeaters into dust by either severing their heads or feeding on them. There were no more humans present to witness the sight, they had run out of the door and through Haniel’s net at the first sight of Muriel’s beast. And thanks to the Deadeater drugs in the humans’ drinks that made them pliable victims they wouldn’t remember anything that had happened. Good. It spared him from having to kill humans and the whole bloody mess the killing of a human caused. He grimaced; all that flesh and guts and post-mortem secretion... so dirty.
His eyes slipped to the trembling heap beside him. He sighed. Uriel actually felt pity for him; how could he not when he knew very well where he was taking him?
He shook his head. He put a hand into his dark, long coat and pulled out a bag of pills. He took one out and put the rest away. “I assume you would prefer to be unconscious?”
Uriel gave him the pill that would put a Deadeater coma for three or four hours.
Petsha swallowed it and then a few moments later he slid sideways on the linoleum floor.
Uriel gazed through the glass again. He could see a few Deadeaters, shivering under the tables or crouched down in the corners. His fangs dropped down and he slid his tongue over them. He should use this opportunity to feed, too.
Uriel tossed the body he carried over his shoulder onto the operation table that one of Angelica’s Aradmas had brought from the storage. She hadn’t used one of those since... since she had used it on Muriel, and Uriel in a rage had smashed the thing, transforming it into debris. That was the day they had made their deal.
“Unconscious?” A floating transparent woman with feathered wings and a yellow glow over her white shape leaned over Petsha. “Again?”
“Having them quiet and motionless is more practical for transportation,” Uriel said to Angelica. “And it doesn’t makes any difference for your experiments.”
“I need his senses awake.”
“Than wait a couple of hours for him to wake up.”
The edges of Angelica’s wings, dress and tips of her fingers coloured dark grey, telling Uriel about her displeasure.
“Or would you rather have him harmed because he struggled too much during transport?”
“I prefer him unspoiled.”
“Yes, I imagine. Maybe you should make a deal with him like you did with me; that way he couldn’t ignore your invitations.”
“Maybe I will.” Angelica’s fingers embraced Petsha’s head and white wisps started to enter Petsha’s head.
Petsha’s body started to tremble.
Uriel’s jaw tensed. He could see himself lying in Petsha’s place. A memory of his childhood years, full of pain and of anger because of the weakness that kept him from fighting against Angelica. He’d had nothing to live for back then . He had been in a stupor, full of wishes for death that never came no matter what Angelica did to him. The only thing that gave him comfort were his memories of his mother singing him lullabies or talking to him while he was still in the safety of her belly.
But then Angelica had created Muriel and then Haniel, the two missing pieces of his soul. And with them by his side he had been able to breath for the first time and for the first time, the world had shone in colours. With them he was whole.
He turned his back on Angelica and strode out of the lab and across the hallways out of the building into the grey darkness of twilight.
Haniel waited for him in the golf cart at the building’s front steps.
Uriel gave him a tired smile before he sat down beside him.
“Tough night, huh?” Haniel drove off.
“Same as yours.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t have to deal with Angelica.” Haniel guided the cart across the path that wound among the trees and sparsely scattered houses.
“Lucky you,” Uriel said.
They arrived before the house at the edge of the large estate.
Uriel climbed off the cart, but he didn’t follow Haniel into the house; instead he waved him off as Haniel stopped at the door waiting for him.
He went around the house. He crossed the garden until he came to the tall, brick wall. Bat-like wings appeared on his back and he widened them, using them to jump to the top of the wall.
He loved this time of day, between twilight and dawn, the short time when the air was still fresh and when the first hints of light were visible at the horizon. He deeply inhaled the cool air. It smelled good, a hint of forest and grass and the night air. It smelled... it smelled like freedom. He rubbed the upper part of his right arm where a black and red tattoo, the visual evidence of his deal with Angelica, marked his skin.
Someday, he wouldn’t just smell freedom, but he would live it, he and his brothers. Those were the only two things he wished for: his brothers’ safety and his freedom. And it might happen sooner than later.
Lately he could feel a change in the air. It was telling him that something was coming, something was going to change. Change, yes.
He glanced for the last time at the forest that stretched behind the wall and the yellow light that rose behind him before he descended to the ground with a flap of his wings. Yeah, the changes were coming soon and he could hardly wait for them.
* * * * *