The road forking together ahead seemed rather quiet considering all of the carnage that was taking place out there. Actually I have no idea what kind of carnage was going on, I took the express train to out of down town and was now forced to walk back. I was thinking about how I should have bought a car if I knew I was going to have to walk back from time travelling events in other parts of town. I’m not sure what time everything actually happened in the town itself but as I dealt with everything in the house I could have sworn I saw the smoke of the town burning, but now I see nothing. Actually come to think of it, the entity known as Jake told me there was smoke coming from the town. My watch finally stopped, but I’d like to recommend the brand for all the time jumps it managed to put up with. Off a bit I could see the street forming properly and the parking lot of the diner, and then finally all the buildings going down the road, all intact. Damned if I ever know what is going on anymore?
The diner came clearer into focus and to my shock I saw what I hadn’t expected but should have knowing how all of the misgivings of my strange life goes now, the seven foot tall form of Darius sprung from the diner furious as he had been when somehow the parchment had explained to him the ramifications of my death. That’s how it should have gone but I never underestimate the ability of things to simply change on me. At this point I was standing there wondering if I should go over there and see if I could get him to underestimate the ramifications of his life. I sure would have liked the parchment right now but apparently that Stacy is in the diner, for all I know sitting under a table eating a sandwich right about now. Darius oddly enough was pacing back and forth across the street oddly and I have to wonder why I hadn’t bothered to just walk over to the window and see what he was up to.
I hate it when an unmistakable advantage is taken away by simply changing. Looking back on it all now I realize that I hadn’t even looked to see what he did after I changed the closed sign around so I might be witnessing what I ignored the last time around. I wonder why time seems to be a more flowing issue now. No more jumping and landing. I was standing here in the street watching this and time doesn’t feel like it is lining up. I started my delusory walk towards Darius simply because I couldn’t figure on anything more idiotic to do, aside from running but it had been a long day already.
Throughout this book I have been totally fascinated by the things I overlooked, like I only remember sleeping the night once from the point I started this until this point although I have lived through five or six days and several times at that. The parchment had told me that I was doing these things normally in the times that I wasn’t trapped in mortal peril or jumping back and forth, but as I relive walking towards the demon of hell that has killed me God knows how many times I remember things like that. After remembering these things I have to think how I could sleep with all this going on? How could I eat? Then I remembered the sandwich I half ate on the other side of that wall while Darius stomped back and forth out here talking to himself. Oh yes he’s also talking to himself something like this, “So they think they are omnipotent, and they can’t stop me?” and “I can’t kill that foolish girl?” and the best of all “I don’t have to follow laws that weren’t ever written for me!”
That last one of course was the one that made him wheel around and force the very wind to create a weird pulsing that literally made the air fold and then shoot straight at the restaurant. If I were to describe it best it reminds me of when you see gasoline fumes and the air around it dances and folds well think that on a much larger scale. The windows all shot inward, but despite glass breaking inward all throughout the front of the diner, the windows in the Geary building next to the diner broke inward only on that one side next to the diner. Another thing I hadn’t noticed previously. Darius was pacing again, furious and now completely ranting, even if he didn’t see me walking nearer to him I was dominating his mind, “I CAN’T? I CAN’T?” and then things like, “I WILL RIP THE HEARTS OUT OF BOTH OF THEM!”
Now of course I wasn’t completely in tune with who “both of them” were but I tried to assume that it was some combination of Lou, Gabriel and I. For all I knew it could have been the dry cleaner and the demonette that rejected him around prom time. Of course you can’t be the only conscious mortal locked in a battle for the very fabric of existence without having a certain level of ego, now can you? My questions to myself were instantaneous and so was Darius. He saw me and he vanished. I have no idea what had happened with him for the amount of time he was gone, but he reappeared in front of me looking frightened. I can’t really even explain the whole ordeal, but for about a minute he was gone and then the way he just appeared in front of me made me jump yes, but made him cower a bit as well when I did it. I did figure it out reasonably quick, considering everything going on and made a smart ass remark that made him lurch back despite how furious he was, “Do you at least get tired when you foolishly whip back and forth like a cockroach trying to harm me?”
This is another one of those moments in my life when I was able to observe the difference between insanity and brilliance, or at least comprehend why people get them confused. The very chaotic nature of Darius is actually explainable. He is trapped in a conundrum of immortality, a perceived omnipotence, and the prisons that were laid upon him by Lou. I get it, and like anyone else would he thrashes around trying to break free of his boundaries, not to mention that in his realm he is very young comparatively. I get it and I don’t like it, but I understand completely and I did at that time too. His insane behavior is normal, and his superior intellect catches onto things really fast and doesn’t like what he grasps on to. That intellect then goes into overdrive trying to figure out a way to change it all. He did the same thing Lou and Gabriel do, but in two instances instead of one. His face settled and he said, “Everything they all tell you and me and everyone else is a lie.”
I took a very short moment to analyze what he was saying and then said, “It makes you angry that you can’t tell the difference between a lie and ignorance doesn’t it?” and his face actually brightened up. I continued, “Most of what they tell you isn’t exactly a lie, it’s just they aren’t omnipotent, and they don’t grasp that and you seem to understand this faster than they do,” and I didn’t even have a moment to comprehend my brilliance over what I just said because he vanished.
The roof ripped off of the diner, and I remember the horror I had felt while I was in there looking at it. Out here it was a rather fantastical thing to behold. I assume that Darius ripped it from the building using his amazing speed but because of the physical limitations of the roof it stopped him dead when he hit the edge of it, and then he simply hovered there standing on the top of the wall that ended up collapsing the second he had finished throwing the roof back. I never saw a moment of this while in the diner where I appear to still be, but from out here it is just odd to watch. The second the roof started falling over the other side, Darius vanished again, and within a few seconds the wall started falling over itself. My human mind doesn’t process all of this in real time and now I can see how the makers of movies like “The Matrix” used slow motion effects to simulate speed. Try looking at the real thing and it makes sense, but now that I think about it I am happy my son made me watch those movies. The metaphor alone helps me now.
Darius again was directly in front of me, and I said to him, “This doesn’t do you any good, and you just keep doing it?” and then he slowly reached his hand through my head. It was an amazingly creepy feeling but I continued to lecture him. It’s obviously the mother in me that said, “You do remember everything that happens when I shift time, but you just refuse to admit that you do don’t you?” and of course in a brilliant example of throwing him completely over the top I said to him, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
It was the first time that Darius ever actually directly answered a question that I had asked him in what would appear to be honesty, “I was created knowing everything, and you don’t exist. What you do doesn’t happen,” and he pulled his hand back before speaking to me for the last time ever, “If I don’t figure out a way to make you not exist, then I will be trapped in these six days for the rest of my existence. The only way I can think of left to get around you, is to make it so everything else doesn’t exist, and then there isn’t a place for you.”
He vanished, but I already know what he was off to do. The Texaco went up like a nuclear blast that I had seen on television as a younger girl. You never see that footage anymore do you? As I see it in real life, the compressed concussion that it gave off because the fire had so obviously started underground within a confined space. Now that I could see it first-hand the way the street tore apart, and the buildings around it engulfing in flames, it was far scarier that I had noted the last time. It also demonstrated that he had simply wanted to destroy everything. We were at the point where he was walking from the fire and slaughtering the good citizens that thought they were helping him. I had been so fixated that I never thought to look over at the destroyed diner or myself who had finally entered my field of vision ahead of myself, a mere twenty or so feet. I finally grasped the concept of two Stacy’s and one consciousness. How many times was the other Stacy out there ramping Darius up and making things worse? I had wondered why his temper was so explosive and unexplainable, but now his temper right now seems to fit.
The long drawn out process of making Stacy jaded is an education to say the least. I am standing twenty feet behind myself and as I think about it all I never even noticed I was here. I thought about it and I was fixated on what Darius was doing down the road. I remember thinking if I could just die this would all go away and I could start over somewhere else. Now that I was in the process of reliving this I know that it was actually cowardice. I didn’t want to live through this moment. Since then I had seen worse albeit more rewarding as I killed my son’s best friend and thought my son was dead. Now I see this as a piece of cake, even as Darius again is throwing dead flaming corpses into the building across the street and those buildings had so easily burst into flame.
The thirty year old GE logo fell from Gino’s Electronics and Watch Repair. Under better circumstances I might have been happy about this since that stupid old sign made us look like a hick-berg. The other Stacy didn’t see that since she was staring at Darius, and I was left here to admire the rest of his handy work. Tony who was Gino’s great grandson’s wife owned Ella’s Flowers and Gifts, which was engulfed in flames and nobody was coming out the front door of that shop. Joan’s Jewels which never sold a new jewel in all of the years I have been alive, was exploding outward. Joan was Ella’s deceased mother and she had merged the two stores. Guitars mostly went flying out the front window, since almost every kid in this town tried the “Rock Star” lie to get through childhood here, just to sell the guitars when reality set in and they had to get a real job. That was a good piece of Joan’s Jewels’ pawn business and the late Joan of course being the matriarch of the largest family in town before she died. They own every business basically, including the bank. None of this is wholly important right now but having watched these people die again I figured they deserved some story time.
Darius’ crazed frenzy of death and destruction looked different from back here. I would have wondered from this vantage point if Darius was making me think it was worse than it was in reality. Of course it probably was being changed this time around by the shift in time. I also stopped paying attention to what I was doing in front of me until I heard myself yell out “Run you fools! Get away from him!” and again I looked ahead to see the people that were running back into doomed buildings. I remembered quite clearly that it was strange that Darius wasn’t using his omnipotent speed to create destruction and now as I am seeing it from behind myself, and I know that I had caused this with a later version of myself that he must have been putting on a show specifically for me. He was trying to break me and now I have to wonder if he is seeing me running at him from the diner and assuming that it is the same me that he couldn’t touch.
I watched my stumbling form trying to get down the road but only for a second as I figured again, I needed to scope out the rest of the goings on in this moment and that is why there is two of me. I can’t let go of the whole belief that there is always a cosmic plan in all of these things that simply happen for no reason other than to satisfy the cosmic plan. I wasn’t too far off as somehow little things that I couldn’t gather the first time around were coming clearly into focus now. Now I remember being blinded by my own anger as I saw Darius picking up the Toyota Prius that he had picked up the last time, just with the power of hindsight my Spider Man like need to crack a joke thought it comical that this Prius wasn’t exactly saving the planet was it? Even looking back on it now I really have to admit that I have some serious issues, but I also had a bird’s eye view of the way the car deflected in mid air and somehow darted downward skidding into the outside walls of the Five and Dime that I had mentioned before had my Doctor’s office over it. This I remember exploding and taking the building down in a fast heap, and I also remember Darius killing the people coming out of the building. Time was changing before my eyes, but strangely so it was changing before my eyes in the past or the current or whatever. The Darius destruction show was getting less impressive every time he did it.
He again grabbed the pole and I was impotent down the road to do anything about it. I took my eyes off of his swinging of the pole long enough to see that a strange face shimmered just over his shoulder. It would have been terrifying if I had seen it in the state I was in up ahead. In less than a minute Darius is going to take the last swing he takes at that building, and then he is going to kill me again. I wouldn’t remember anything after that but now all of a sudden I start getting a very bad feeling, that makes the shimmering face that seems to barely be cloaked by color and the sky behind it. It hit me like a blow to the abdominals, but I am probably going to watch myself die, and I bet I don’t have the constitution to handle it. Who the hell is the shimmering face and body following Darius around?
If I only knew what was about to happen, I watched the shimmering face which appeared to have a shimmering body underneath it. I realize that I only see it because I know what is happening and can ignore the pandemonium that Darius is creating. In real time you can’t take your eyes off the train wreck, but in Hell’s Play land you can simply let the other you do all the observing of the chaos. Then again the chaos the other me was observing didn’t completely look right when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Darius took a long swing at the bank as he had before but the pole slipped from his hands and bounced less harmfully against the stone of the bank than it had before when the thing collapsed. This time he didn’t wheel around and simply notice me in the road as he had the last time, he stomped around furiously looking at the other me. I’m pretty sure by the way he acted, that whatever that shimmering form was, Darius thought it was me that was interfering with what he was doing.
I didn’t hear what Darius said to the other me a couple of blocks away but slowly the head moved around after Darius pointed at me, and I was looking at myself turning and looking at me. She didn’t look all that surprised to see me though, and she turned and started walking towards me. I get the feeling that Darius didn’t have a conversation where as he explained to her that she is an old and tired God or anything along those lines. Darius didn’t even move he just watched her walk towards me and I can’t even imagine what has happened. This was the time when Darius had gone streaking off towards the schools to kill and maim as well as having come back with who he thought was my son. Come to think of it the only person that hasn’t been my son over the last week is my son, isn’t it? I was now standing in front of myself and before I could do anything she shoved the parchment into my hand, “We have less than a minute, and he’s going to kill me. Yes the timeline changes every time and yes he knows it. He doesn’t know that he hasn’t got a clue where you and I came from and when, so he doesn’t realize that I walked out of that diner not being the Stacy that you had been roughly three hours ago,” and then she stopped and looked over her shoulder at Darius who was watching us, “He thinks…”
I never heard the end of that as my own head was ripped off of my body. I stared at the broken body that fell to the ground and then I saw, the body of Darius behind it that had obviously just appeared behind me with his blazing speed. He tossed the head off to the side, and then leaned over a little to talk to me. I had blood all over me, and so did he. To be honest with you I think at the time I was cracking up because reliving this sounds worse than it was at the time. I had hardened my soul in the days leading up to that moment and at best I could say that I saw humor in all this at that moment. I should probably worry about myself but I’ll get to that in a bit. “Not feeling so smart now are you?” he said to me as he leveled his index finger to poke me in the chest. His hand slipped right through me as it had before, and he was obviously angry.
It took everything in me to ignore the remarks that filled my head. I walked through him and towards the two walls of my diner that were still standing. I could feel Darius’ gaze at the back of me like laser beams expecting some sort of explanation, and I gave him something to think about anyway, even if I didn’t look at him and kept walking. “Do what you need to jackoff, you don’t have anything to threaten me with at the moment,” and I probably shouldn’t have said that technically, but I knew some other things that he didn’t quite figure out, and I was hoping that he didn’t yet.
I heard the explosion that was the elementary school and I felt there was no need for me to look at it while it balled up into flames. I’m sure if anyone had been watching this they would think I was a heartless bitch right about now. They would be right because I had accepted that this rampaging angel child could not be satisfied by anything I did, and I wasn’t playing anymore. I just walked over to the diner and sat on the cement steps that led up to where the door would have been. The way the wall had fallen forward it managed to leave the steps in tact as they were between the shattered glass and aluminum door. I looked off to the fork opposite the one I lived on and again the smoke was rising aggressively from the place I heard the crashing, hallow metallic sounds like came from that direction sounded a lot more like doors being kicked in than they had the last time. The same explosions, and then there was a lot of smoke coming out of the small elementary school. Those propane tanks on the side of the high school made the sound of simple beer cans as he punctured them the same way he did the last time. I sat and thought, more analyzed what he was actually doing assuming that I would be back here again, if my recent death meant anything. The fireballs over the high school were identical to how I remembered them. Darius simply appeared in front of me but he didn’t have Jake in his hands he had nothing in his hands, and he was irate to say the least, “Where are all the children?”
I of course ignored him, because there was no benefit to acknowledging him, and more over he was relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Apparently things have been changing all over the place and he can’t keep track of his own chaos in the least. I sat there and started whistling a tune. Most likely it was “Whistle while you work,” since that seems to be all I ever have in my mind to whistle. Darius didn’t have a clue what to do and to be honest with you, if I had been faced with the same situation, only for something I desperately need that was perhaps a lot less evil, I would have thrown a temper tantrum. This was the first time he didn’t and how odd is that? He walked past me and jumped effortlessly onto the landing of the floor of the diner, fully exposed as again the walls are missing. I didn’t even pay attention, as I watched around for a certain beautiful stranger to show up any minute now. Sure he would wear a black hat, but you can’t have it all.
Now of course what is the matter with Lou? Yeah I know I have asked this before but as Darius has his run of the town, Lou is doing Lord knows what? If he can run as fast as the fastest thing then the second Darius stops to harass someone or do something rotten Lou should have just appeared and dealt with him. This had been getting on my nerves for some time now, to be honest with you but as I have now relived this day and only the bad parts over and over again it was making me bitter. I was a bit angry still that Darius just went to kill all the children of the four communities that send them to these schools, and then had the audacity to ask me where they were when he failed. Think about that for a moment and then continue to read! Darius still looked as hideous as he had the last time all burned up in spots, but far less blood on him than the last time. It was like a strange objectivity lesson in the progress of thwarting the things he does the second and third time around.
There was no awkward stumbling around this time because I basically knew that nothing he does can harm me. The fact that I now know he can’t harm Jake stole more of his power of angry persuasion from him. Of course he wasn’t trying to intimidate me. He was simply throwing things around behind me in what was left of the diner and I was sitting on the cement stairs that at one time had led up to the door. I didn’t give him a second glance while he did it and I probably should have, if only to stave off the reaction he was going to try and get out of me, which he did. Leave it to someone with an infinite amount of time and an infinite capacity to learn to finally sort something through enough to become a real nuisance, but Darius found what he was looking for under all of the diner destruction.
I woke up from my confused daze of sitting there and staring off into what would have otherwise been a very beautiful day quickly enough. To sum up my problem as it was at the time, I was starting to treat myself as if I were as intelligent as the immortals that I was immersed in for the last week. I didn’t comprehend that there was a fragile balance between what was happening and what I was fortunate, or unfortunate depending on how you look at it, to have going for me. It had just sunk into me that I was impervious to anything Darius did at that moment in time, and I was egotistically overlooking the fact that Darius had the capacity to figure out why quicker than I did. I can still feel the burning from inside my pocket as the parchment tried to get my attention and ran out of time to do so.
In an instant I remember flying forward and smashing my face against the ground, with the wind knocked completely out of my lungs. My face was in so much pain as I obviously cut it up badly and there was dirt and gravel stuck in the wounds now. I hadn’t been paying attention so I had no idea what had actually happened, and I think if I had the shock would have been just as great if not worse than having it take me by surprise like this. Of course this was one of the first times I actually started crying out of pain too, since Darius had managed to make me smash my face against the ground, causing excruciating, real time pain, without the jumping through time that I usually went through when he had caused what must have been painful deaths to me. I was barely able to roll myself over before he was upon me, which makes me think he was enjoying, playing with his food. Had he wanted to simply abuse me, or kill me it could happen in the fractions of seconds in which he and the rest of them move. No he was finally in control as long as he kept his temper in check, and surprisingly he was whistling.
When I finally had slid myself around to face Darius I barely had enough time to see him fly backwards as if his chin had a fish hook in it and again like it had happened before exactly, Gabriel was upon Darius. 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, but this time he yelled at me “Will you at least run this time, foolish girl!” and I had every inclination to take his advice. Of course it was going to be after I wriggled my way out from under my own dead body, that Darius had used to knock me off the cement perch I was sitting on ignoring him.
I stumbled out from under myself, and I thank the Lord that I was born with a strong stomach, and besides I had already thrown up everything in me a while back when I was the Stacy he killed in the street. My hideously mangled body was not something nice to look at. The diner had crushed me and I had burned in places from what I can only assume was a stove fire, but it looked far worse than that. My body looked like it had actually died each and every time it had died and just accumulated all of the damage and wreckage of dying each time. My neck looked like it had been broken not once but several times, and I would hate to think what I would look like for the undertaker the next town over. It’s amazing what goes through your mind when you are faced with certain death but that was what went through mine. I had lost the grasp that there really isn’t much left of this town, and the world is probably next because I was worried that I wasn’t leaving a particularly pretty corpse behind. Gabriel beckoned to me again, “Jake is in a safe place, run!” and that made a lot more sense this time as I didn’t have who I thought was Jake in my arms now, and I had already gotten the speech from the real life parchment.
Gabriel in his own rights is still a very bad ass angel and as I left the situation I learned to look over my shoulder more often now. He grappled with Darius and managed to land some impressive blows to him, despite the obvious size difference and more importantly the difference in ideology. I had made a full on sprint out of it when I felt the familiar smash of something hit my back and send me flailing to the ground again. The tears really came out of me this time as the force of hitting the ground not only knocked the wind from me again but had felt like it had shattered my ribs. I didn’t even turn and look up at whatever was to become of me; I just laid there and cried. I played Russian roulette with a demon and I just wanted the pain to stop long enough to catch my breath. Stupidity is not a girl’s best friend.
I felt a hand on my arm. It was gentle and even though it startled me a little I felt like I could trust it. My lungs were filled with air again and the pain in my face and hands had totally gone away. At first I thought I was finally dead, and not only was I fine with that, at the time I was elated. I turned my head and gazed upon a familiar face, and didn’t even say a word. I pushed myself up onto my knees and looked around me, to see that I was in the parking lot of the high school again. The last vestiges of people were piling in to what was most likely the memorial for those that died in the Skillings plant again. I was not amused, but I noticed that I wasn’t being looked at either. You have to admit that when you are flat on your face on the ground, you wish everyone would just walk by and not notice, but when they finally do it just doesn’t fit.
Reactions to my surroundings aside, the face of my son next to me helping me to my feet, made me instantly assume that this was one of those strange things that just happen to me. I hate it but I can’t do anything about it. He was humming as I brushed myself off. It’s a strange but normal reaction to what is going on, so I decided to do what I always do and roll with the world as it turns without my permission anyway. I looked at the state trooper respectfully manning the door, and there he was seven feet of monstrous man with one eye. This was for the most part exactly like I remember it aside from the fact that I had that “second opportunity” to pay attention to things. I didn’t exactly know how to react to Darius, and worse yet I didn’t know if now that I have jumped back in time again, if this was my ex husband Jack next to me.
As if reading my mind the person standing next to me that looked amazingly like my son piped right up, “Just ignore Darius when we walk by him,” and I had no reason to doubt what I was told. After that stunt Darius pulled with my dead body I have basically decided that I just have to get through the day. I’m tired, so amazingly tired as I walk towards the door and past the hulking monster that has already killed me God knows how many times. Jake spoke again, “Welcome to my world Anna.”
I remember thinking that I was finally getting somewhere. It was amazing how the form of my son Jake just patted me on the shoulder the second I thought that as if I were a small animal in need of reassurance but getting pity because I didn’t know what I thought I knew. He guided me over to a seat, and I wondered why we were playing this strange game. Once we sat down he leaned forward just like Jake would do, with his elbows on his knees, and then started talking again, “You managed to fall in here before, and your ex husband was waiting for you. The only good news I have is that he is dead, and gone, so you don’t have that problem this time around, but you have a far worse problem as far as I am concerned,” and I didn’t really even register my own peril I was just relieved that Jack was gone. Of course he was all about telling me what the far worse problem was, “I have run out of tricks to keep you alive. The next time you die, you die, and I want you to know that so that you can treat your life as preciously as anyone would in a mortal situation,” he looked around the room, “I think it is only fair that you know that since I’ve given you a lot of extra things to get used to, like not dying and all.”
I looked at him and in all earnestness said, “I haven’t looked at myself as immortal, so I expected to die one of these times,” and he smiled at me and nodded his head. “This is why Darius lost his eye and hasn’t been able to get it back?”
“Oh yes, this is reality in here. Even if you can’t see it the same way Darius, Lucifer, Gabriel or even God can see this place. What happens in here really happens in here,” and then he took a moment to ponder what he was going to say next. I actually understood that this was what he was doing, so I watched the strange memorial service that was going on. I hadn’t seen this the last time because I was too busy dealing with the mortal peril and all. There was a clown up front juggling beer bottles with a balloon animal hanging out of his mouth. I made a grunting laugh, and the Jake beside me looked forward and then said, “Yeah, in case you were wondering this isn’t your imagination making this. That’s a strange assumption; this is what is happening, nobody ever came to get that clown and he’s never complained. I think most of the people waiting in here like him.”
He took a deep breath and then started explaining something to me. It was hard to comprehend at first but it was very simple. This was probably what made it so hard for me to just “get it” as he talked about it. When he spoke the words, “This is where you go every time you die,” I gasped because faced with it as often as I was you would have thought I would be used to it. Apparently I still wasn’t but he continued along, “This was how I managed to play with time, and nobody was the wiser. I could bring you here and insert you back into normal time, even though it got harder for me to keep it within the six days I needed you to maintain for me. You see that Darius is in here, and despite your friend’s assertion that he is keeping Darius in your town it’s actually me, because I don’t let anything leave your town without coming here first and then I can send them back,” and it was so simple it just didn’t make sense that he could do this.
I was about to ask a question but my son’s finger came up and held itself over my lips. I decided to continue listening, “I watched Lucifer come into your town like I bound him to do and I simply decided that I could give him that assistance in his six days to hopefully get Darius under control and back into hell where he belongs technically,” and he stopped to look ahead as I laughed at the clown now riding around on a unicycle juggling baseball caps that he steals from the rednecks in the crowd. The voice started up again but had an aside, “If there were anti-depressants on this side of the veil of reality I would need them myself for sure,” and he sighed after I giggled a bit. Along he went, “Then along came you, and the entire game changed. Everything Darius had done to that point affected nothing but then you were sitting right here where you sit now, and you just asked me as I walked by ‘Excuse me, but why am I here?’ and I for the first time in all of my existence was in shock,” and I was able to comprehend very quickly as I scoped around the room that everyone in here was dead. I hadn’t actually taken the time to realize that inside here I didn’t really recognize anyone, but those that I do were either in the explosion, or the carnage that Darius had committed since, as well as God knows how many strangers that obviously died elsewhere.
I asked a question, because I thought I was at least owed that, “Why does Lou simply disappear and show up all the time?” and after I saw the lack of comprehension on Jakes face I added to this, “I mean, why is it that with all of his speed and understanding and ability to see everything happening at all times does he not catch up to Darius when Darius stops to do evil stuff?”
This entity in my son’s body laughed and said, “You haven’t figured that out yet?” and after I shook my head and gave him a look that said ‘obviously not’ he stopped laughing, “There’s two of him just like there is two of you,” and then before I could say anything else he said, “Well there was two of you, and there was three of him if you include that ex husband of yours,” and he held up his hand before adding, “no, I still don’t understand your ex husband. Lucifer isn’t going to have to worry about him. He came here and I watched one of God’s representatives come and get him, and I have a feeling that he will wish he is back down in Hell before his eternity is over with,” and he had a wicked grin on his face. He shook it off and continued, “I still don’t know what his story was, so when I found myself tracking three Darius’ or three Anna’s or two Jake’s or whatever form he was in, I was just as confused as anyone. He never registered in my consciousness, and would have stayed out of my view forever if he didn’t have to show off. When Lucifer finally destroyed him once and for all I figured I’d have to sit on him until Lucifer was finished, but I think the wrath of God told me how he got out of Hell,” then after he surveyed my face he stated, “and I will be keeping that Darius here with me, so you are both playing with your own chips. He won’t be keeping Lucifer occupied anywhere else now, but he might not stop to play anymore either.”
I was worried because I understood almost everything that he had told me, and it really should be far over my head. If I thought I was jaded before this is as bad as it gets. My only question left was one we had been over before, “Why me?” and he looked at me in all earnestness.
He didn’t answer right off the bat, he took a half a moment to ponder and then he started talking about something else, “I have asked myself that question a quadrillion times over the last, well I guess the term for infinity doesn’t translate, so you’ll just have to get what I mean. I have been here before the person you would call God and worship. I have been here a lot longer than all the angels and the devil that you spend your time with. Nobody has every answered my question of ‘Why Me?’ and as I know full well, there are things more powerful than your God, I can guarantee you that there are things more powerful than me,” he stopped for a moment to see if I comprehended and I actually did, so he went in a different direction, “Up until six days ago you didn’t know that there really were powers greater than yourself, but you just assumed that there were, and you did this for the better. You could scream to the sky asking ‘why me’ and get no answer in return. I still have this problem, but I also believe that there is something more powerful than me out there that gives me a higher meaning and purpose,” and he started nodding and I nodded along with him, “I could say, ‘why not you?’ and leave it at that but I won’t. I’ll say something that I tell myself whenever I feel like existence isn’t fair, and I have to continue along being ‘the law’ that all of the immortals between you and I blame when they don’t get their way. You Anna, were chosen by God knows who to be the person to do this, and I think whoever did it made a great choice.”
What I was looking at now was surreal because I went from watching that clown swallowing fire at the front of the gymnasium turned auditorium from the bleacher seat, to watching Lou standing in the middle of the street in front of my diner screaming at the sky. My rear end was planted on the floor of my diner like some strange amphitheater of its own. There were still only two walls up around me, and the town was destroyed but not on fire, or even smoking. The building next to the diner that had blocked most of my view down the street wasn’t a problem now. It was a blackened pile of ash. No water had been used to put out any of these fires. The buildings and their relative remote location in the flatlands of Kansas simply burned until they were done. There didn’t appear to be another living soul in the town, just Lucifer, the Devil, Satan himself standing in the middle of the town raging at the top of his lungs, “Face me you Coward!” and keep in mind the top of his lungs is like listening to an activist with a bull horn.
He looked at me sitting where I was and I could tell by the look on his face that we had entered zero hour, and the fate of his existence was upon us. He didn’t look infuriated or scared or anything. He looked resolute, and steadfast. It was a bit strange, considering that it didn’t take a brain surgeon to accept that it was the next day and probably within an hour of the end. He walked over to me and stood in front of me. “I’d ask you how you got here, but I really don’t care anymore. Come to see me off?” and if I didn’t know any better I would have thought Lou was drunk. He sure was wobbling and acting strange.
After he picked up a rock and launched it at the crumbled building next to the lot the destroyed diner sat on it exploded into a ball of soot. The pieces of charred wall that put up no fight against it just fell to the ground. “This is it then, you are going to stand in the road and scream at Darius until you disappear?” I asked him.
He laughed again like a drunk man, “I have no choice!” and then like a crappy drunk he started into a strange tear filled sentence, “I never had a choice, and now I show them,” pausing for a moment to add “all,” with a little extra gusto. He stumbled and then caught himself on the side of the diner barely holding himself up. Then he managed to get himself up onto the exposed floor of the diner and sit. “Humans don’t even comprehend how the things they put into their body are killing them,” and he burst out into a laugh, “I’m drunk,” and then he fell back onto the floor sprawled.
I decided to go with what I knew, “So you’ve decided to get drunk and celebrate the end of yourself?” and that would be sarcasm.
Lou sat up and looked straight ahead, “Oh hells no, I have never been effected by alcohol, I am intoxicated by the strangling of my existence,” and then he looked at me quickly, “Wow am I a downer or what?” but within a second he started again, “This is what it would be like in the last minute before you drown. I am simply dying for lack of a better word.”
This wasn’t what I expected in the least. The OK Corral appeared to be empty and the shoot out wasn’t happening. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on with Darius and why he could exist while Lou was strangling to continue. I didn’t even bother to ask, I knew it had something to do with him not understanding the law. I checked my pockets to see if I still had a piece of parchment that could help me with these things but apparently when “The Law” had told me I was playing with my own chips now, he meant it. “I know why Darius doesn’t have to follow the rules like the rest of you, if it would make you feel better to know that before you disappear,” I said instead.
Lou stopped enjoying his euphoria long enough to steady himself, and then say, “What the fuck? Oops potty mouth!” and then he burst out into laughter again. He didn’t really care but passing time and getting to the other end of all of this was still part of the plan. His legs were pointing straight up into the air as he laid on his back with his arms in a supplicated pose.
I started talking if only to see if I could get Lou’s approval one last time, “He was leaving this world often, and you couldn’t even detect it. Every time I died one of him was drawn into another reality with me and then was sent back. He never really was ignoring the rules, he just had a way around them that was beyond you, and for that matter beyond him,” and Lou fell back down again sprawled out only this time on his face. He rolled over onto his back and put his hands under his head like he meant to do it the whole time. I had to interject before I continued, “Good recovery,” and then went back to what I was saying, “I have horrible news for you though, so you might want to stand up and get ready for it.”
Lou didn’t act as if he was going to move from his position lying on the ground. I was fine with that since I finally had knowledge that he didn’t. I actually had knowledge that every immortal in this stupid tale doesn’t have and my friend at the top of the food chain gave it to me all along, and accidentally explained it to me. It was so obvious, but Lou doesn’t do obvious so well. It was bad enough that I didn’t figure this out all along, but the fact that Lou didn’t just tells you how closed minded someone is when they think they know everything. “There’s only one Darius left, and he knows it,” and Lou stopped me there.
“I don’t understand what you mean by one Darius?” and he was totally serious, and even sat up and tried to understand what I was saying.
That was different, but then again why would he know what I meant by one Darius? There is a chance that he doesn’t even comprehend the concept of more than one Stacy. I started explaining in simple terms because I had a feeling he would be lost as anyone else regardless of his immortality. Not to mention he was drunk, “There was another entity that was keeping Darius in this vicinity so that you could get him, and he was doing it by dragging Darius into a place where people go when they die,” Lou nodded at me as if he understood all of this. I went on, “then he would send Darius back when he crossed out of this zone, but to do that he apparently had to have two Darius’ so that one was always there and the other could be contained and sent back,”
Lou interrupted me here, “Of course your friend doing all this crap couldn’t just help me get rid of him could he?” and then he stopped and said, “It’s called purgatory, and everyone ends up there. Nobody actually guards it or anything so I don’t know who you are talking about, but please go on.”
I figured it was best to just carry on and tell the explanation. At the very least Lou wasn’t disagreeing with me, “When Darius killed me I went there, and apparently I knew where I was, and that took the entity by surprise, but he used that to send me back at different times so that your six days would never end, but I think you knew that for the most part,” and he nodded. I went on, “The problem is that Darius found a way to stop my involvement by forcing my two selves to come together, making it so that there is no ‘Stacy’ conduit to hold you in these six days.”
Lou simply looked at me, and didn’t say anything. Then after I said nothing he started stammering along like a drunk college professor, “I thought you couldn’t go to purgatory and ended up bouncing back into here, and that was what changed time. I didn’t want to worry you with details like that because it would just be scary, and unproductive,” he wobbled a bit back and forth and then I saw him try to get up and stumble to one knee, “Some good it all did because it’s going to be the same end as I had hoped for all along and could have happened days ago, for all I care,” and then he fell down on his side again and started laughing.
I stood up over him and offered him my hand. He didn’t take it as he just lolled back and forth enjoying his state of euphoria. I just said to him in all honesty, “I happen to care about this world and I am not going to let you destroy it Lou. The Law, as you like to call him let me know perhaps accidentally, perhaps on purpose that it takes faith to get anything done, and that everyone has to believe there are powers greater than them,” and Lou’s eyes opened up and he propped himself up. It was a good thing because he didn’t want to miss what happens next. “You were the one that told me what happens if you cease to exist, and with that comes that whole story about Eve and the apple, and the vengeance of God. My world as I know it ends with your decision to have never ruined Eden, and that’s not an option to me, because I like this stupid little town and my stupid little life, and even if I don’t get to keep any of it, somewhere there is another single mother working in a diner that just wants to see tomorrow, and I have faith that I can give her that,” and he started stumbling to his feet as it dawned on him what I was saying, “Time for you to grow up Lou and accept that this world is every bit as much YOURS as it is hers and you’re going to save it, because if you don’t YOU completely destroy it, not Darius.”
I walked towards the middle of the street. The entire town was a shambles, and as Lou slowly started stumbling towards me, and then a little quicker, I saw the very thing that had been eluding Lou for all this time standing down at the end of the road as if he were admiring his own handiwork. I was always one for melodrama despite my protestation of it all throughout this story. Lou never noticed the steak knife that I had carried away from the wrecked diner with me, and even from this distance I could see the shock and horror all over the face of Darius. It was shocking how my voice picked up the immensity that Lou’s had carried when I yelled out, “With my death you spawn of Hell time falls back to before you were even created, and then I win! You hear me, I WIN!”
The knife came plunging in towards my chest the second Darius vanished, and the instant the knife started breaking the skin of my chest there was an explosion of light less than three feet in front of me. It was like a scene from Star Trek when a star goes supernova, but it was so close to me that it should have been blinding. It was the pain of the knife plunged into my chest that was blinding. The light simply dispersed and Darius was being pounded on by Lou, and when I say pounded on, I mean Lou had tackled him in the speed of light and was laying blows down on him that sounded like explosions. I of course had fallen to my knees and I could feel my body getting warm. I could see the one hand of Darius trying to force the face of Lou away from him, while both hands and knees of Lou were completely dedicated to removing Darius from the earth.
In theory it all sounds wonderful, but I could feel my chest straining harder with every inhale. My air intake was short and it was getting shorter. I laid myself on the ground just wanting to be comfortable while the end happened, and I watched the, would be savior of the world in such a beautiful but evil package take his responsibility seriously again. I would have liked to believe that my faith gave him faith, or at the very least my scolding gave him responsibility for this world. My eyes started closing on me and I did what I could to keep them open, but my last gasp was to see Darius throw Lou from him, which darted my eyes open. Then again with my eyes wide open I saw something completely different than what it appeared at first, and somehow it forced more air into my shrinking lungs and added a little strength to my torn open heart.
Darius had no real look of victory on his face as Lou rose up in the air. I remembered what it was like when I saw the two of them fight before and everything was at such a fast speed that it almost appeared slower than possible. As Lou rose up in the sky from where I thought Darius had thrown him I was able to ascertain the awkward position in which he was raising. Perhaps the blood was leaving me so fast that I was hallucinating, but what happened next changed that thought which was flooding my brain in the last minutes of my life. I wanted to sleep but more over I wanted to know why Lou was being lifted up into the air. I really wanted to know why he was propelled back into the earth with a force like a cannon, and he completely disappeared as if the ground had no matter to it. It was intimidating to say the least, but my cares were dissolving as fast as I was.
Of course as I was lying there waiting to just fade away, I was able to see a much different Darius than the one I had seen all along. This one was absolutely terrified. There was fear in him that I couldn’t comprehend. Fear like that of an immortal. I’ve been scared, and I have been terrified, and I have seen many people in various states of terrified especially lately, but this was blood curdling terror on a scope that you and I will never know. He had never known fear and now he comprehended fear in all of that you would expect from someone who is that much larger than life itself. My eyelids were starting to close again, and in that second before they shut I watched his hand dart out at me, and his eyes were wider than any I had ever seen. The panic was instantaneous and like everything he actually wasn’t it was immortal, as his entire body erupted into a volcano of hellfire that shot straight up into the heavens. Then my eyes finally closed and I died.
I was sitting on that stupid bench again, where I had sat so many times before after the known world had collapsed in on me. In a different part of this story I would expect Lou to just walk across that field and sit next to me to explain everything away and make me feel better about the world. The figure that started just “being” across the field was much smaller than Lou, which thankfully made whoever it was an awful lot smaller than Darius. That was a good sign anyway, but the person walking towards me had a very feminine walk. That of course would be because it wasn’t a man it was a woman, and a rather attractive woman if I do say so myself. Whoever it was managed to put on an exact cloning of me right down to the clothes I was wearing, minus the blood and the knife. Looking down I was quite happy to see that I was minus the blood and the knife too.
The woman I watched walk to me stopped dead in front of me and she had a smile on her face so big that I couldn’t have imitated it, even though I had the proof it was possible now. She actually started talking in a voice that didn’t sound at all like mine, but close enough to make me think that I really do sound that dumb on the answering machine messages at home and at work. “I know I’m supposed to be partial to everyone but I really do love you Stacy,” came out of my mouth, and then the sick smile came back. She plunked herself down on the bench next to me and said, “You made up for Eve and a myriad of other disgraces to our gender, I could just eat you up.”
I didn’t even look at her I just stared off into the field. I said nothing and didn’t want to analyze the heresy that could be coming out of my mouth anyway. I didn’t feel like crying but it had been such a long series of days, and about fifteen minutes ago I had assumed I was finally going to get some rest, even if it was permanent. It was almost like she was reading my mind, “You’re done here Stacy. Darius isn’t coming back, he never existed. You can’t say anything wrong, and I’m in your debt..”
I totally lost it, “You tell me that I can’t say anything wrong and I am just simply done! HA!” and I was staring right at her when I did it but had a hard time lashing out at a twin of myself, “You don’t even have the respect to show yourself to me as you are!” and she smiled again. How dare she smile at me like that after all these days of hell I have lived over and over again.
I was about ready to explode again when she ruined that too by saying, “I’m sorry,” and it completely deflated me. There was no excuses following it, it was just an earnest apology, and to be honest with you I don’t think anyone has ever apologized to me so easily. She nodded along with me and then said, “I can’t help the way I look Stacy either, because you should have realized when you were hanging out with the cosmic sense of humor in purgatory, that what happens here just happens here and there isn’t all that much a lot of us can do about it,” her smile was almost infectious but if people in this town had seen it on me they would have suggested medication and therapy. “This is how I look right now, but someday you’ll see me in a different form, but for that I sincerely apologize. I also apologize that you were stuck in all of this. I really had nothing to do with that either and I couldn’t actually interfere until you tried to kill yourself, and then I was bound to deal with everything. You see Stacy when you forsook Lucifer you accepted me, which is a good thing, but when you accepted the Law you bound me to you just like Lou had bound Gabriel to you,” she then looked out into the field herself, “In medieval terms Stacy you became my champion and you didn’t have to. You don’t even remember it but you saved the world when you attached your life to it.”
If you’re confused then that is a good thing because I was too. I finally spoke up in a more polite manner but a bit confused, “I was just playing poker. I didn’t know what would happen, but I figured that Darius would fall for it and maybe Lou could get him before the world ended,” and the smile got even wider still, as impossible as it sounds. I might have to try some of that smiling. With the right lipstick I could probably land me a millionaire.
“You have a member of your fan club down in Hell right now that thinks you are the smartest human ever and I bet would call you smarter than most of the angels,” and my dazed and confused expression convinced her that it was time to continue. She put her hand on mine in a very comforting gesture, “Lucifer counted on you to do something radical and he played on your ‘limited’ while still very good sense of the way things are. He wasn’t losing his grip and becoming drunk, he was just playing a game and hoping that you would go along,” she flipped her hair back. I was thinking that I should stop doing that it looks awkward, “This was when you ruined everything by telling him what happened with you and Darius, and then telling him that he owed the world because he created it every bit as much as I did,” and then she gave me a stern look. I was about to say something and then she continued, “all my hard work aside, you had a point. The problem was when he expected you to just appear to be helpless to Darius, perhaps Darius would come after you and then Lucifer could intercept him.”
I had to interject my comments, “but killing myself lowered the bar didn’t it?” and God nodded at me but then gave me a big hug. “You wonderfully unselfish little thing,” she piped up. “After Gabriel had been willing to give his life for you, I was double bound to you, after you explained to Lucifer that the world was not going to suffer because of either of you, and then the melodrama of course, I was bound to you for a third time when Lucifer fought back Darius at the cost of your life,” she then reached over and grasped my chin making sure that I was looking into her eyes. When she said this next it was very important and perhaps the most important thing she said yet, “I can say whatever I want to about Lucifer, but your friend Lou had a very hard time allowing someone to kill you for the betterment of anyone, and he also meant what he said about wanting to cease to exist,” she released my face and then said sarcastically to the ground, “eternity of listening to him cry about that you start to believe him after a while.”
I smiled because it was nice to see that she gave it back to him. I couldn’t completely understand all of this, but to be fair I have never understood all of this lawfulness, and the rules and all of the other crap. Here she had just demonstrated that she could interject in all of this and had. “Did everyone actually die?” was all that came out because all of the other questions just didn’t mean all that much. I just didn’t care about these angels and such anymore.
She laughed and it was one of those silvery bell style laughs that I always wished I could fake. She said, “People die all the time, and they all either go to a place much nicer or much worse. You can’t mourn the loss of everyone who ever lived Stacy, but if it makes you feel any better, the only person who died in this town over the last six days was you, and the jury is still out over whether you will stay that way,” and she appeared dead serious when she said it. My fingers and her fingers were both drumming on the bench in unison. She looked down at both of our hands and said, “That is a strange but oddly calming habit. You totally fascinate me, but I think that you have a lot more left on your plate here on earth. Besides I hear your son is going to be one amazingly screwed up kid if he doesn’t have you to talk to about all this.”
I just started shaking my head back and forth thinking about how messed up Jake will probably be, “Do you think everything Jake has seen can be explained away somehow?” and before she could reply I had to say something smart, “just asking because you are kind of the original mother of the year and all?”
She started laughing about that one and it wasn’t the silvery bells sounding laugh like the last time she laughed, no she finally nailed my snort laden un-ladylike laugh and she even covered her mouth because the laugh made her want to laugh. When she got herself under control she said, “I hate to admit that I, like your friend downstairs from here, don’t know everything. I can whoop his butt in Trivial Pursuit but that doesn’t mean I know everything. I also don’t know a fraction of what your friend that was hanging out in purgatory knows. I can honestly say that I am jealous of Gabriel because, like you he has now met him. I never have. Gabriel brought a rather interesting point up which I think I will share with you, since he noticed that your son was sharing space with her,”
I interrupted again and I should have known better, I have been here before, “He’s a she too?”
God shrugged and then said, “I don’t know, I never met her, but I am not going to assume that a male would be able to keep control of absolutely everything and mind the law, would you?” and she had me there. She cleared her throat and then finished her last thought, “Gabriel is a smart cookie, don’t let his honesty issues fool you, but when he said that your son will forever be altered by the collective intelligence that the two of them shared I figure that you have a real road ahead of you, and I should know, because I have created some real know-it-alls in my days,” and she patted my hand as stood up, “How that transpires I don’t know, but I better leave you here to help him out with that,” and she shook my hand all cordial like then said, “I look forward to spending more time with you, but not for say another seventy years,” and she was about to turn around when she seemed to remember something really important, “don’t make me take your knives away from you,” and she just started walking away.
I asked out loud but not really expecting an answer, as it was the perfect time for an unanswered irony, “So what am I supposed to do now?” and my hands flopped down on the bench.
God stopped dead and then turned around. With her hands on her hips she looked at me and gave me an appraisal just like I would have given Jake if he had said something stupid, “You can do anything you want to,” and then she pondered for a moment, “Go home and hug your son, because you two have a lot to talk about. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and you will think everything is small stuff now.”