Saturday, July 4, 2015

Six Days – Chapter Eight - Ruth - Rut

I had wondered enough throughout all of this what God was up to in all of this, or more to the point, where is God while all this crap is going on? I mean didn’t God always have a hand in the battle of good and evil despite what Lou had told me about “the rules” while at the same time I would assume that there are much better people in hell to fight the good fight against the angel of the Devil. I had to ask why not Attila the Hun or someone else equally as skilled at chaos as Darius, and Lou had to burst my bubble by telling me Attila had a different residency, and why not after all? Nothing has made sense since he walked into my life and why should that change now?

Gabriel got up from the counter and made a half hearted salutation on his way out the door. Something about that angel that gets under my skin but I’ll accept my blasphemous ways in saying that. Lou seems to get along with him alright but he definitely isn’t very talkative when Gabriel is around. Lou spoke right up the second his brother left the diner, “He’s probably right but I’d like to know it for certain,” and then he trailed off to do something that looked like pondering.

I had to ask, “Why doesn’t he just go up to wherever it is they hang out and ask God herself, or is it against the rules to question God?” and I felt kind of silly asking the question and awaited Lou giving me some sort of long drawn out answer as to why he was sent out of heaven for questioning this and that. I was treated to more ponderous silence. I didn’t really have anything to break the silence with so I went about my business, filling the last few coffees in the diner, and making sure everyone had a check. It’s amazing that I hadn’t gotten a reputation as a bad waitress since Lou came into my life. Nobody here these days has taken much notice to my slacking ways but then again most of the people coming in here these days don’t have all that hustle and bustle of a life with the plant gone.

I turned around after dealing with everyone and Lou was gone. Nice of him to say goodbye but I guess expecting manners from Satan is kind of silly at best regardless of how many of the old stories don’t appear to be true. The God angle has me wondering aloud, and what’s left of customers took notice of me talking to myself. Many of them probably figured my spinsterhood is finally catching up with me and that brought a smile to my face when I thought of that. I had to take a minute and think about what my ex-husband is up to and if he is still going to play the Jake game with me, or he is full bore Darius now? I remember well what Gabriel said about not knowing where God was so I will keep that as my answer to it all for now.

Jimmy walked out of the kitchen and said, “I’ve got everything cleaned up Stacy, how bout you just throw the last few dishes in the dishwasher and I’ll open tomorrow?” and then I knew that I was crossing over a point in time I had been in. Of course this was the only thing exact. Everything else had changed but damn if Jimmy didn’t ask me to leave identically. Some people never change.

I nodded at him and he started rushing into the back to get out of here as fast as he could, and exactly as he had before. I started cleaning counters and thinking to myself again. The last time around Lou was in here with me, and although he wasn’t this time I looked out the side window to see Jimmy scrambling to his car exactly as he had the last time. It’s just incredibly odd. I felt a bit lonely as I collected my thoughts and went back to the many things I had to ponder thanks to everything.

The fact that I am a cog in machinery that I don’t totally understand is still wearing thin on me. Being fearful of things I already know are going to happen is more oddly complex than I can get across to anyone as I write this I even feel insanity creeping over me. I could explain it like this. When you have those arguments in your mind about silly things and they involve someone else, but you expect them to play a part that you set out for them in your mind already, and it never does? When you expect someone to come in and they will say this, and then you will say that, and then it will end this way, and it never does. That’s normal, and you go through that almost every time you try to predict the future, and I on the other hand have actual intimate knowledge of the future. I have lost the normalcy of things never happening the way you expect them to, and that is far stranger than being wrong.

Then of course there is what was far stranger going on in my mind at the time. Take all of that and add a new dimension to it. I actually know what the future holds because I actually lived it, was imperiled by it, and could remember so vividly, and now I have the looming fear that it still won’t happen! Take the whole ordeal with Ricky as it appears that that whole situation had rectified itself. Now with this jump ahead and then back again where everyone has forgotten, even the angels, does he lose his soul again? Who would have ever thought I would use the word imperiled twice in my life much less twice in a paragraph. I am a riddle wrapped in a potato sack.

This scared me a bit because I happen to care about Ricky no matter how big of an idiot he was. For the most part he really is too dumb to be involved in anything bad on his own and the fact that Darius had tried to involve him in evil made my blood boil, and Lord knows I was going to do something else stupid if that happens again, and how messed up is that? I already know how that turned out and I don’t care. This is how my mind was spinning and churning and I of all people knew that there were forces at work. Not “the forces at work” that everyone so casually throws around when they want to describe two lovers meeting, or a promotion at work, or just owning the winning lottery ticket. Nobody ever talks about the actual forces at work that sends the Devil out there hunting down an angel that he created behind the scenes, with the fate of all humanity on the line while a single mother from Kansas shifts the very fabric of time. To be honest with you, the whole concept of her ex-husband escaping hell and being involved in all of this somehow with his doppelganger abilities just adds nuance to it all really.

The door opened and the bell on top of it alerted me to the customer walking in. I looked at the clock and was pissed at myself for not changing the open sign to closed fifteen minutes ago like I should have but the rules have always been that customers come in, customers get fed, and I have nobody to blame but myself for not having changed the sign. Of course I assumed it was Lou, because Lou had been here the last time when Jack and Darius had attacked us. Then again I started getting that horrible feeling that Lou didn’t remember that, for whatever reason he didn’t remember that. I never even had a chance to finish that whole thought. I wasn’t thinking clearly anyway, so I turned towards the door and the coffee pot slipped from my fingers as I was paralyzed in fear.

The hulking figure of Darius had already walked in and as the pot smashed on the floor he was walking over to the counter. He never took his eyes off of me, the entire walk in and over to the counter. The terror filled my body and I was at a total loss for anything at the moment. In a different time and a different mindset I would have been happy if there were a couple of stragglers still left in the diner to at least allow me the false sense of security when a lunatic enters the diner, or at least someone who looks like a lunatic. In this case I have no real basis for whether Darius is a lunatic or not. He’s certainly evil. You can’t take your mind off of that in the least; he’s demonstrated his ability to kill without remorse. He’s being hunted down by the angel of hell, because he’s a bigger bad than Satan himself, but then again I have only heard that from Satan himself.

On a brighter note, Darius is close enough to have me quite dead if he wanted to, and on another bright note, my sense of jaded had me perfectly within my faculties as he walked in and sat down. Damn if it wasn’t my day to close up. What I heard scared me because I had heard Darius before, or I had thought that I did. Now I needed to do a double take and figure out why this strangely German accent was coming from Darius. It was very polite actually, just a bit ominous. His closed up eye, all sunken in was hard not to look at, as he surveyed me and said, “I would like a cup of coffee please, with cream.”

Blearily, I proceeded over to the coffee pot, while my body started demonstrating whether or not I would be set in a certain level of paralysis over the encounter. My mind and my limbs still worked so I figured fate would have it that I would be serving coffee to the most terrifying person I know. When I put the cup down in front of him I started pouring, and he started talking again, “I’m not going to insult your intelligence as long as you don’t insult mine,” and it took me by surprise but I looked at him and nodded. He wasn’t all that unattractive; he was just hardened and frightening through his immensity in all forms. He started again in that same thick accent that was probably more Czech than German now that I had an opportunity to hear it. The words were still clear English and perhaps there could be a form of learning curve with him being so young in immortal terms. “I know that you know me, and I know that I know you. I watched the other two walk out of here and I know that they talk to you,” and his words trailed off before he added strangely, “Are you God?”

I practically started choking on my own air. I realize that Darius tends to lose his memory around me after a jump, but this was pushing it. I finally learned to put a coffee pot down before I smashed this one. I was trying to think before I spoke, and all that came out was some indiscernible noises. Finally after I had cleared my throat for the last time I could get away with I asked him, “What in the world would make you think that I am God? Don’t you know who God is?”

There was an odd look on his face like he was trying to understand something. I felt rather sorry for him before he said the very last thing I even thought of in all of this, “I am the only thing in the known spaces that wasn’t created by God, why would you think I would know her face?” and without even batting an eye, or a look, or anything for that matter, he took a drink of his coffee, after he unloaded an entire cream pot into it. He grimaced like it was too hot and started blowing on it. Could he really have a better sense of heat than his maker?

I said to him, “Your creator drinks his coffee black and swallows it all scalding hot,” and he looked up at me as if he just learned something new himself. I waited for him to say something and when he didn’t I asked him, “What are you doing here on Earth?”

He looked at me and said in a matter of fact sort of way, “I am trying to be free,” and then he blew on his coffee some more before adding, “I don’t know anything about my maker. He created me and then he saddled me with his burdens. Then he wanted to destroy me, I have absolutely no interest in knowing anything about him, I just wish to be free of his yoke,” and I could hear a bit of Lou’s words in the words of Darius. My mind wanders in the gray area from time to time and I could see this strange paradox of how most creatures desire to be good and some are just typecast. Even by Lou’s own accounts what Darius just said was quite plausible. He asked me another question which made me a little more uneasy, “Do you happen to know where they went?”

Now aside from the fact that I had no idea where they went it seemed rather implausible that I would tell him no matter whom he was or what he could do to me, or even if I thought he wasn’t all that bad. That was when my mind realized that like Lou and Gabriel he walked in here with a feeling he knew me, but not knowing that I know anything. For all he knows he might think that I don’t know about the horrible things he did, and is trying to beguile me. Again I am playing with a very dangerous animal, and calling him something as simple as an animal isn’t doing him proper justice. This is evil incarnate I was repeating to myself over and over again and then I spoke, “I have no idea where they went, they both were looking for you, so I don’t think this would be the safest place for you right now,” and that was what I was looking for. His facial expression changed so quickly that nobody but the thoroughly jaded would have seen it.

He stood up from his chair, and looked like he was going to exit the diner, which was alright with me. The parchment in my pocket was trying to get my attention and I instinctively slid my hand into the pocket to grab it, but that was when Darius struck, he flew across the room with the speed that I had seen in him and Lou but through the blur he had picked up a passenger, which would be me! The next thing I knew he had me up against the wall, and he had ripped the parchment out of my hand. When he looked at it, he dropped me instantly, and I started gasping for air. His hand that had been crushing my windpipe was so strong that it hurt to try and breath. On the floor I saw the piece of parchment in front of me, and it was completely blank. The hulking form of Darius was gone as well. I don’t know what the parchment had said to him but I was happy it had gotten rid of him all the same.

The second the parchment was in my fingers the words started scrawling along it, “Never trust any immortal regardless of who they report to serve,” and as the words wiped themselves away more came in, “Darius didn’t understand the ramifications of your death, but he does now.”

The ramifications of my death aside I needed to know what that was all about. I asked the parchment and it revealed nothing to me. I inquired about the ramifications of my death and again it gave me nothing. I walked over and put the sign “Closed” in the window and locked the door. Everyone knows that the angels of Satan don’t enter closed establishments right? Nothing makes sense so what do I care? I just didn’t want to deal with anyone right now. I went back to the counter and pulled out a cup and poured coffee into it. I then walked out back into the kitchen and pulled out a loaf of bread. It was oddly satisfying to finally do something normal in all of this. I was going to eat like my looming depression told me to, and this was going to involve peanut butter, jelly, and that strange marshmallow stuff that the owner of the diner orders and got me hooked on. Back east where he was from they called it “Fluff” and it’s delicious. Especially when you are about to lose your mind in a manic form of dementia, and at the time I was totally owed that.

I started smearing jelly on top of the peanut butter and the white rubbery goodness of the Fluff all over the other slice. Out of the corner of my eye I could see something written on the parchment that I had just tossed on the counter. It had a very peculiar question written on it, “What do you think happens when you die?” and I knew the answer to that. I didn’t say anything when the words dissolved and reformed, “Well now he does too,” and I figured that it made sense that he didn’t want to have time shift again just to have to forget everything. Even as I was wondering why the parchment told him that it started scrawling quickly again, “It’s time for the end game Anna.”

I didn’t even consider who was on the other end of this parchment. I never had and I probably should have been jaded enough to think that somehow I was stuck in someone else’s strange game. The term “end game” really put it into perspective anyway. I took my sandwich and sat underneath the table that I was under when I first met the parchment. At least when everyone else lost their minds and their memories the parchment or whoever the parchment really was had my back. It only made sense to sit under the table which we met. There was no logic behind it. I was just sitting somewhere that made me feel safe so I could enjoy my insanity and my sandwich.

The second I placed my back against the pedestal of the cheap table, I took another bite of my sandwich. My nerves were so shot that they didn’t even work. The windows imploded all around the place and I just watched the glass shower down all around the diner. My vantage point under the table was still the perfect place to avoid any of the glass as it bounced harmlessly off the table above me. I continued to eat even as the pieces of curtain wafted to the floor torn from the windows where they had rested and the glass like a good sandblasting tore the decorations from the wall. I heard the coffee pots smash, and I took another bite of my sandwich. Half of it was gone and I wasn’t making any sudden moves until I was finished with it.

Well at the time that was what I was thinking but truthfully I never finished that sandwich. The glass and the shredded everything else had finally settled to the floor completely when I was taking the first bite of the other half of the sandwich. That was the last bite I had because the roof ripping off the place and hurtling into the building across the street forced me to my feet and dropping the sandwich. My insanity was still quite relevant as I was first pissed off that I had dropped my sandwich in all that glass and then wondering if I could wipe it off, when the entire front wall facing the street fell outward and landed in the small parking lot that the diner sits in. Darius stood alone in the middle of the road staring at me. His entire face, missing eye and all was seething, and I finally lost it by yelling out, “Still pissed off over what I did to your eye huh?” and in that instant he totally vanished leaving me in a panic, insanity or not.

The building rage in Darius manifested in an explosion clear down the street. I watched the only gas station in town completely erupt into a ball of fire. The ball of flames darted up above the wall on the left of me that still stood and I ran out into the middle of the road to see it better. Even from the distance that I was staring at it, the light coming off of it was painful almost like staring into the sun only worse. The foreboding I felt as I knew that there were at least two people working in that station right now and probably a car or two sitting in there. You couldn’t see anything from inside the fireball, but screaming started coming to me from down in that general vicinity. I know for a fact that none of it came from that side of the street, as that ball of flames had already engulfed the grocery store on one side and the clothing store on the other. I couldn’t tell if anyone made it out of those buildings either. Early afternoon on a Monday meant that these two locations were full, and I could feel the tears streaming down my face.
I started walking terrified and slightly dreamily towards the mayhem. I would be lying if in the back of my head I didn’t start thinking that I needed to get down closer to all of this so that I could die in it. Nothing is a foregone conclusion that my death would bring us to another point in time although it has been surer than even taxes. My death changed the rules of the game. The end game, as the parchment had said to me, and here Darius was losing his mind in the middle of town and for what reason, he had to understand that none of this accomplished anything for him? On another note how can the town be exploding so ferociously without Lou coming along and dealing with his mistake?

Now when I say “blocks” I mean the amount of distance between side streets like you would in Wichita or Kansas City or I would assume any of those large cities all over the country that I have never been within a hundred miles of. There’s just a lot more distance between our side streets when you are on our main street. My diner for example, what was left of it right now, wasn’t nothing more than a large dining car from an old train with a couple of side buildings built onto it. The parking lot around it encompassed the rest of its portion of the “block” between two normal sized buildings, one stone and wood, one brick and other masonry, but all three patches of odd sizes. This was on the first block that made up downtown, and then there was a big fork that led off towards the schools, and another that led off towards half of the houses in town, mine included. The three blocks between me and the explosion was about a half mile because of the differences in the size of each block. You don’t measure the length of your walks in a small town by blocks but by miles. Unfortunately I was watching a block of my town on fire and people screaming and burning while I was walking towards it terrified.

Directly across the street from all of this I could see people scurrying into the street from the four buildings that made up the electronics store where that huge “GE” logo had hung above the door albeit lopsided for my entire life, the flower and gift shop which never really had a good selection of flowers or a current selection of gifts, the jewelry store which was also and more frequently the local “pawn” shop, and the mediocre post office. I also watched something more horrifying as I walked closer to it all. Darius walked out of the flames on the one side of the street and some of the people went running towards him. My mind was screaming at them to stay clear, and the Good Samaritan in all of them assumed he needed help. If they had only known that they were running toward the angel of death, and not trying to keep someone away from him. If they only had more time to run from him as his sweeping arms tore the people who approached him the quickest clean open. The blood flew in all directions, and those that were frozen in the horror of it, weren’t able to turn and run away fast enough before the crushing blows of already dead bodies hit them.

I was starting to run towards this pandemonium instinctively, almost maternally. I was screaming as loud as I could, “Run you fools! Get away from him!” and those that didn’t need my warnings were already running back into the buildings and the false safety that they possessed. The truly possessed in the street walked backwards maniacally, and slowly. The fact that I know this freak’s speed is that of omnipotence and he can merely vanish from point to point makes it that much scarier to watch him carry half bodies in his arms back to the fire. I stumbled to my knees and looked up at him soaking torsos of dead humans in flame, spinning and launching them through windows of the buildings across the street. Each smashed in window let out a huge burst of flame as exploding carcasses hit whatever appeared most flammable inside. I threw up on the ground in front of me, as the smell of burning flesh wafted straight at me as the wind picked up. More screams came from such a short ways away, despite the seeming miles down there on my hands and knees.

The buildings were quickly engulfed in flames, and I hadn’t even gotten back up on my feet yet. Something strange and under earthly was making everything that much more flammable. I was angry now. I was angry at this vile demon Darius for doing this, angry at Lou for not being here to stop any of it, and angry at God for leaving all this chaos for the rest of us to deal with. I clearly remember how I looked up at the sky wondering why I had to be engaged in this and others with real power, real skills did nothing. I made it to my feet as Darius picked up a car and threw it through the two buildings that made up the next block. My doctor’s office over the Five and Dime where I have gotten ice cream sodas and prescriptions my whole life exploded from the car, and anyone who has made it out onto the streets in one way or another gets killed by the rampaging Darius.

I was running again, frantic trying to get to the point of frantic chaos to do something. Lord knows all I knew how to do was die, and that wasn’t going to be much help if we don’t go backwards. I can’t control that was all that I was thinking, but then again, if we went forwards I could get rid of all of this by saying goodbye to the most beautiful man I had ever seen, forever. How could I really be saddened over losing Lucifer? I was though and I started jogging faster, I was horrified by Darius ripping one of the four metal light poles that the bank paid to put out front of it some years back. He hit the side of the building with it causing a lot of damage. Another huge swing smashed into the side and the roof on the one side started to buckle. The terrified patrons and employees of the bank filed out of the doors and even as I was stumbling towards the ground again I saw Darius swing the pole smashing many of the people leaving the bank into indescribable piles of broken bones and blood. After mowing down as many people as he could in yet another sweep of the huge pole he hit hard and true against the side of the gothic stone bank allowing the roof to finally sink far enough to rip in the sides that still stood. The bank simply collapsed under its own weight.

Darius dropped the pole and started skulking towards me standing in the middle of the road after my dead stop. Faced with this freak I had no idea what I was supposed to do next. Of course none of this made sense, and when would it ever? His clothing was splattered with blood, and much of it had gotten on his face and in his hair. His one missing eye was far from being his most grotesque feature now, and he spoke at me. When I say he spoke at me you just had to be there to understand. The words lunged from his mouth even, “You could be God for what I or anyone else would ever know?” and I thought immediately that it was very strange for him to take this tract. He continued, “Look at you! You pathetically stand there doing nothing while I kill, while I destroy, and you have the ability to stop it. You are every bit the God I have learned about,” and he vanished to reappear less than an inch from my face, “I think it is because you are old. I think your omnipotence grows tired,” and again I said nothing and didn’t move but to quiver a little.

He vanished again, and I didn’t move a muscle. I just listened, because I had learned that whipping around trying to see something that moves this fast is impossible but the noises they create will come to you in the normality of what I understand. Far off I heard a crashing, hallow metallic sound like perhaps doors being kicked in just a little more forcefully. More explosions, bad explosions, I turned around and looked down the other fork, off in the distance from the direction I would have gone home on any other day, There was a lot of smoke coming out of the small elementary school just past the fork. I simply bristled, thinking about what he did to that school, but bristled more when I heard the huge explosion almost instantaneously from the moment there were puncturing sounds. They almost rolled over each other, and it was obviously the gas tank on the side of the high school, and then it hit me, but within an instant of the fireball coming out of the trees that block my actual view of the high school, that hideous face covered in blood and burns was directly in front of me again.

I stumbled backwards and landed awkwardly after stumbling over my own feet. On my rear I quickly was trying to adjust my position in case I had to move in a flash. The limp body of Jake being held by the back of his shirt froze me solid to the spot. I looked up at Darius with fury, and was about to lunge when he threw Jake’s dead body on top of me, and smashing me back onto the ground under his weight. I started screaming because of the sheer panic that your dead son being thrown on you entails. Darius took one step towards me and then in a comical sort of way he just started flying backwards with his head tilted back. The speed of it was faster than say a normal human hit, but surreal in the way that it played out in my mind, slow motion, and Darius finally hit the ground flat on his back. The golden hair was the only clue as to the streak of human form that descended on Darius, then in an arc that was so fast it almost resembled a rainbow in front of me, Darius hit the ground again face first.

Gabriel was upon Darius again holding his head up so that Darius’ one eye looked straight at me, his neck painfully stretched back as if the tendons would rip out, “Run you foolish girl!” Gabriel yelled at me and as great of an idea as it sounded like my mind wasn’t in the right location. I had barely crawled out from the lifeless body of Jake, and I had him splayed out on my lap and having a hard time accepting the world as it was moving. I wanted to die and be with my son wherever it was we were going to end up, “Jake is in a safe place, run!”

I didn’t want any of the afterlife dogma thrown on me right now. I realized at the time that I might be far more enlightened than most but I wasn’t in the mood for trying to be happy that there is a great place we are going considering that in this place I don’t like God very much. Yes I can blame God for all of this and I have every right to. Gabriel beckoned me with his eyes to move, I could see it and in a way I should have been willing to do so as he was doing what he was bound to do, protect me, even though I had never gotten around to telling him why. He was demonstrating his lawfulness as he held Darius in a position of weakness. I had no idea that it wouldn’t last and I should have seen it in that flash of light that left Gabriel’s eyes as he lost his grip on Darius’ hair and chin.

In a dangerously scary moment, I watched Darius reach up and grab Gabriel by the head. His hands were so huge that he could palm Gabriel’s entire head, and then rip him from on top of him. Gabriel’s knee lifted off of Darius’ back and in an arc like the rainbow I had seen Gabriel turn Darius into, this was more like an ax as it is being wielded on a particularly tough log. As that body of Gabriel smashed against the pavement tar shattered in many directions from the impact. It was scary to see, and I didn’t know what would happen when immortals fight like this. In general, as bad-ass as Gabriel appeared when he came and took out Darius with surprise on his side, he didn’t have the fierce size and attitude of Darius. Now that Darius has broken the pavement with him he lifts him up and I don’t see Gabriel moving, and if I respected the sacrifice he made I would be moving and I wasn’t.

I was terrified of what was going on, but I jumped back three feet at least from my own rear end when I felt Jakes hand squeeze my arm. My feet were scuttling under me as I was trying to get away from my imagination, but what I saw laying on the ground where I had been was my son reaching out towards me. I lurched back towards him and saw out of the corner of my eye Gabriel making one last attempt to get me to leave, and instead I chose to clutch onto my son and pull him into my arms. When I lifted my head I saw the light go out in Gabriel’s eyes. Darius stood up and ripped Gabriel in half right in front of me, and then threw the two pieces of what was left of him down towards me, but they shattered apart and became dust, covering both Jake and I. I turned over trying to shield Jake from everything that was happening, and my mind should have wandered into the unreality that I was mired in.

The scene turned rather quickly and I again realized I was on my knees in the middle of a destroyed town holding Jake as tight as I could. I was also praying to the God of my understanding and hoping upon hope that I could figure out a way to get Jake out of here if nothing else. Gabriel had completely disintegrated and covered us in dust that is blowing away while Darius seemed none too shocked that he had either destroyed an angel, or banished him somehow. He tried desperately to defend us from the hulking monster that grew from obscurity into immensity, and somehow managed to shrink back to his intimidated albeit manageable size. He started skulking towards us as if an immense victory was upon him. To say I was simply terrified is an understatement because even with all I have been through in the last few weeks or more, I hadn’t a clue what this even would illicit in me. I couldn’t even imagine that my death would save the world this time after what I saw happen to Gabriel.

The burning schools behind Darius were the ultimate backdrop to the carnage and chaos that he had unleashed. I could hear screaming far off in the distance but I could hear no discernable noises from anyone human within visible distance of where I cowered clutching my son. Jake in his own rights appeared to simply be allowing me to clutch him for my own security and apparently nothing more. His lack of trembling as I know full well that this time he witnessed every bit of the hell on earth that I have, was oddly suspicious. I was having trouble dealing with the mass of emotions and thoughts that were flooding my body and above all of it, I was just plain scared. I could feel Darius standing over me, looming and just about to play with his food. His voice as menacing as ever stated, more than said, “Its time I deal with you. I’ve had enough of your shit for one eternity,” and the hope filled me with the trembling that came from the young man in my arms when Darius said the word “shit,” cuz Jake wasn’t someone who would be effected by that word.

In a flash of lightning Jake flew from my arms knocking me hard out of the way, by the time I looked up what I saw were the two creatures that started this game. Lou had Darius clutched by his massive jowls and Darius struggled to get free. There was no getting free as the clutch of immortality and omnipotence was far more engaging than the will to be free of it. I finally understood the irresistible force and immovable argument I had heard a dozen times at least from that one science teacher in school that treated us all like we were potentially Einstein.

Then again it also reminded me of the chicken and the egg as he laid it out to. In actuality Lou had Darius and Darius potentially could get away. In actuality the potentiality can be prevented and now it was only a question of how long it would take Lou to squirrel away this demon back into hell where it belonged. Potentially that could take an eternity, and despite my jumping hither and thither, Lou was running out of time to even exist. Less than a twenty hours if my calculations were correct

My heart started sinking actually as I watched the greatest evil known to mankind wrestling with the greatest evil known or unknown. The carnage that had to take place to allow for this moment was amazing, and not as disturbing as it should have been under the circumstances. I had become so jaded that it was an easy understanding that I had in knowing that Lou had to let Darius destroy all that which he had control over while at the same time destroying everything around it. I worried a bit about Gabriel, as I watched the most beautiful man on the planet clutch at the throat of the scariest. The back of the button down shirt that Lou had on was starting to shred up the back as his own immensity was becoming apparent. Darius appeared to even be getting smaller as the epic struggle commenced in front of me.

Darius struggled with everything he had but the irresistible force was far too much for the immovable object in this case. I would have been more impressed by the circumstances at hand if it weren’t for the blinding pain that started coursing through my body as I was being lifted up off the ground by my hair. The sheer strength it took to lift me up, being no frail flower in my own rights meant it could only be one person. As far as fear and confusion went I had had enough, and I kicked back hard before both of my feet left the ground. The hold on my hair released instantly, and the huge figure of the “other Darius” buckled as I had given enough force to break his knee, but in these terms was simply a surprising, but minor injury. He was furious as he screamed in pain. No more Germanic or Czech accent it was a normal American dullard accent, and both eyes looking at me.

The form of Darius was having a hard time maintaining itself, as Jack was swapping in and out of his forms. The pain I had inflicted on him must have somehow affected his ability to maintain his shape. It appeared that he had a hard time maintaining his ability to even use the strengths of whomever he is. I sprung at him like a cat, the fury in me was overwhelming but I had him by the head and started lashing him around. His face was total confusion I could imagine as he was having trouble maintaining form and understanding what I was thinking at the same time. I was thinking at a base primal level, and the one thing I knew from the scary books and movies I had seen was when all else fails, remove the head and the body is destroyed. There was a fear coming from Jack as he realized that he wasn’t exactly able to prevent it and he couldn’t figure out why. Neither could I but that head was coming off. I flew from him and smashed hard into a park bench before tumbling along the ground.

I was lying on my stomach and looking up at Jack, now firmly planted as the form of Darius again. The only thing I could think of was to keep his attention and hope he continued to come after me.  The thought of him helping out his friend while that battle was going on with Lou scared me to no avail, even more than the thought of my own death, or even the time it would take to try and assess whether I was broken in pieces or not. Jack skulled over to me as Darius had earlier. I was dead, and there was nothing I could do about it. I glanced over to see how the battle between evil and eviler was going, and Lou was still bending Darius back in a most painful looking arch as Darius held on for dear life. It was going a bit more easily than I had thought it would, but back to staring down Jack as he approached I started to stand up and brush myself off.

Amazingly so Jack disguised as Darius remained emotionless. There were times when he would display joy as he screwed with me, and other times he would display shock when I did something to thwart him. For some reason I had a set of instinctual tools to deal with him even when he was in the form of the great demon, and now I think he realizes it and is afraid of it. Of course it doesn’t stop him from trying to destroy me all the same. It’s funny in its own way how my demons take on the form of Lou’s demons and vice versa. Jack was halfway across the road and quite intent on coming and ripping me to shreds, or whatever it is that he was going to do. Before Lou would have come to my rescue, but in this case he no longer could do that as he had promised Gabriel at the expense of Gabriel’s protection over me that he would never do that again, and Gabriel had even given up his own existence to keep his end of the bargain. Lou was lawful enough to hold up his own.

I didn’t think I just reacted as Jack faced me, his massive arms were within reach of grabbing me, and that still left me a good two feet away from him being in my grasp. I lunged forward and hit him in the jaw with everything I had, well before he had time to react and stop me from doing it. In the real world it wouldn’t have really worked but this was a far stranger set of circumstances. The man I just struck was not immortal, he was dead, and he was not the smartest of men when he was alive. He was taking on the form of an immortal entity with omnipotent presence but he was not himself any of that. This all shocked him when a frail woman that he had never taken seriously or respected reacted with force towards someone that only the insane would. My fist connected, and unfortunately it didn’t do anything. The massive hands of Darius as possessed by my ex husband Jack lashed out and had me by the throat and were about to start lifting me into the air to choke the life out of me once and for all.

I didn’t want to give him any of the satisfaction of this moment. In an instant I considered the ramifications of what was about to happen and Jack, despite his “Darius” looks was being the same selfish jackass he had been during his entire lifespan. He was staring into the eyes of the woman he impregnated, left for broke and cared not for the child she had with him. He was looking into this woman’s eyes wanting to kill her simply so that it would launch time ahead and hopefully eliminate the very existence of Lucifer, and flood heaven with all of the sickness of hell. I distinctly heard the voice in my head say, “This is the man that you had a child with, you stupid little girl. Now what are you going to do about it?” This wasn’t a happy thought but it was enough to make me think, and react. All that came out of my mouth was a muffled set of squeaks because the air didn’t pass my throat that was being clutched my Jack.

I was correct, in my assumption that Jack veiled in his mask of omnipotence still couldn’t handle the fact that I was smiling after I had said whatever it was he couldn’t hear. He dropped me to the ground and then stood over me before demanding, “What makes you think you are so clever before your death?” and then in a growl of laughter he said, “Well your death, perhaps.”

I looked up at him from my crouched position on the ground; he was now blocking my view of Lou and the real Darius. I took a deep breath just to expand my lungs before I said to him, “You’re such a fucking coward, I can’t even imagine that you would want to face God after she sent you out of hell in the first place,” and the look on this Darius’ face became very grave. Then it shot out a broad smile, which was sickening to behold before he kicked me, and I went tumbling back and into the bench I had been thrown into the first time.

Jack walked over to me and in the true fashion of a bad guy that turns into a simpering idiot in the moment of his greatest triumph, Jack just had to explain to me how brilliant he was. I would have expected nothing less from him, since this was the type of behavior he would have when one of my friends would catch him sleeping around. He used to go and tell me about how they tattled on him because of how he had them the week before, and inevitably that would be the only true things he had told me. Bet you had wondered until now why I appeared to have no friends in this God forsaken town. To think that I here wanted to save all of these people that Darius had murdered and to do so I had to be on my knees in front of Jack of all people. All of this had time to rest in my head as Jack had picked me up by face, and I could barely see him from around his smallest finger which in the form of Darius was larger than any of mine. He said maniacally, “Well Stacy it all becomes moot when I launch us all into tomorrow, you fucking idiot.”

The pain inside my temples as I was pretty sure that this time he was just going to crush my head, but he wasn’t finished explaining himself, “I didn’t have a clue who sent me back to the earth and I don’t care I had no allegiance to anyone, but I reappeared in the same spot I had burned to death. I walked out of the fire because I had no flesh to roast,” and with that said he stared at my one eye that was free, “I was basically the first human to know about Darius and he seemed to have no problem dealing with my lack of flesh. After he grabbed me and slammed me to the ground I felt so powerful that I instinctively shot back at him and the two of us wrestled for hours on that hill as the building burned,” and again he stared into my eye. “We would still be fighting there if your friend hadn’t showed up and attacked me. You see I didn’t know what was going on and your pal Lucifer thought I was Darius and Darius himself disappeared leaving me there to be the target of Lucifer’s astonishment.”

I still wriggled from time to time trying to gain some sort of release, but it was a waste of time. I simply hoped that Lou was dragging Darius into hell behind Jack and that somehow he made it before time shifted. Jack still felt that he had more of the story to tell and he continued, “It was Lucifer that was ranting at me about how I needed to go back into hell where I belong, and I should just accept the law as the law. But when he grabbed me there was something strangely powerful about it all, and the only thing left was my retaliation which was equally as powerful. It took him by surprise and I managed to escape. I haven’t a clue how, but when I came to, I was by our old house where you and Jake still live,” and then he got a very evil grin, “but I guess living isn’t exactly an issue for you pretty soon. I just wanted you to know that I have hidden in every shadow and played every angle, I have become that idiot Mary so that I could figure out what you know. I have become your son so that I could spy on you, and I have even gone as far as to become you on an occasion or two just to fool Lucifer into telling me more of what I know,” and the pressure mounted on my head as he finished what he was saying, “and you both are too stupid to get it, and he calls himself omnipotent. When he ceases to exist, then Darius ceases to exist, and I never even got as far as to think of hell collapsing into heaven or any of that inner struggle crap that you two cry about. All I cared about was that Lucifer never created Darius to kill me, and I just finish my day at work, and you go back to being the pathetic waitress, with a pathetic son, and no hope of ever being anything.”

In an instant that just completely confused me, but only for a second I hit the ground and Darius was standing in front of me saying, “What makes you think you are so clever before your death?” and then in a growl of laughter he said yet again reminding me of where we were, “Well your death, perhaps.”

I looked up at him from my crouched position on the ground this time and responded, “You don’t even know that you have been here before do you?” of course he was still blocking my view of Lou and Darius as he had before. I remembered to take a deep breath and launched myself straight into him. The shock and astonishment disrupted his coherency like it had before. I hit him clean in the throat with my elbow, more because I didn’t want to have to listen to his stupid story all over again. He deflected me and threw me back down to the ground in front of him, his shape was morphing into Mary in front of me, and then back to Darius. His reliving of these things prior to my death and jumping back what, twenty minutes? This must be driving his system crazy.

He again said maniacally, “Well Stacy it all becomes moot when I launch us all into tomorrow, you fucking idiot,” but my laughter stopped him short as he must have realized that he had said that before as well. In a way I was thinking that we would be stuck in this loop forever and ever. He didn’t think about anything as he ripped me up from the ground by my hair with one hand, and then snapped his other hand around my throat. I could feel the tears stream down my cheeks, as the evil bastard I gave my virginity and every last bit of my emotional stability to, was going to kill me for the fourth or fifth time and this time after insulting our son repeatedly and demonstrating his disdain for absolutely everyone but himself. Good riddance to bad rubbish. I could only hope to finally die for good this time as my eyes slowly started closing.

This of course was what I had started closing my eyes expecting to happen. I was barely still coherent when everything started happening quickly and with no time for me to react to any of it properly. If Jack had wanted to he could have just snapped my neck instead of choke me, but he was enjoying the sight of seeing my slow death. This man was far sicker than I had even given him credit for an hour ago. He never had the opportunity as his head ripped off of his body directly in front of me and his nervous reaction maintained me in air by my neck long enough to see Lou’s face from between the place where Jack’s shoulders and head were separated in a wide gap. Make no mistake it was Jack’s face and Jack’s body as the form of Darius that he had been was completely wiped from him the second his head left his body. The fury and rage in the face of Lou screamed “Lucifer” and I could see the most horrifying thing on the planet now in the face of the most beautiful man that had ever been. There was no blood or gore from my dead husband either because I would assume he was already dead, and I saw this from my knees where I had fallen along with Jacks body. Now he appears to be destroyed. Lucifer started turning back into Lou, and then as he tried to become calm he said, “If I had to listen to that asshole again I probably would have lost my ability to tell right from wrong. Has he always been so pathetically shallow?”

I just nodded. I was sick of trying to talk with all of the stress that had been put on my throat repeatedly. Of course there was a burning question that had to be answered and I needed to ask it to get that out there, “What happened to Darius?” and I expected something really bad had happened after I squeezed those words out.

He turned around and in a very strange action launched the head of Jack up at the sky. He screamed in a voice so loud that they must have heard it in Wichita for sure, “I have had enough of your games!” and I never saw the head again, just so you all know. Where it ended up is a mystery, for all I know he managed to hit God with it. He looked at me and in a much more measured voice he said, “I have no idea. I was forcing him into the earth and listening to your idiot ex husband explain how he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their stupid dog, and then poof, no Darius just the three of us,” and he looked at Jacks body on the ground in disgust. After a sigh he said, “I didn’t even have time to think he might have been Darius before he started explaining the dastardly plot again. I was just happy to end his involvement in all of this.”

I can honestly say that at the time he wasn’t half as happy as I was to see Jack’s involvement in this entire saga end. I looked at Lou and said, “Where is his soul now?” which made me think that it was petty of me to ask, and Lou didn’t seem to find it so petty, as he smiled back at me, telling me exactly where he went. I had to add at that point, “Makes you want to end this Darius thing so you can go down and torture him for a while doesn’t it?” but Lou didn’t smile. Lou didn’t say a word, and his face drooped for a split second as he didn’t want to even think about it. I knew what he wanted and assuming he could keep me from dying he was going to get it by tomorrow afternoon. Then he vanished.

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