“You guys are driving me fucking nuts! Would you please stop thrashing around so much — I’m trying to work here, do you not see this?”
Despite her two fat cats relentlessly ripping at her fake Persian rug in an attempt to relax their ceaseless nervous energy, Nora Bellamy, a cat lover and believer in good solid conversation always sought out a dialogue with her pets. The cats were clearly upset by the rattling, scratchy sound coming from outside the house.
Looking over at Wodka, the fat calico tabby, she asked, “What do you think? Pigeons? You think the birds are back in the gutter?”
Wodka, whose expression signaled nothing but terror, had little to say in return. Nora was used to this.
On occasion, Nora would answer for them.
“Mom, I’m buggin’ out over here. That sound outside — it’s really getting to me. Could you please fix it?”
But, in this case, both cats were spooked, and from the look in the two sets of crazed round eyes, it wasn’t going to end with a comforting hand sliding through the fur of a couple of soft, furry backs. No, that essay that she was trying to finish off — the one on modern day demonology — it would have to wait.
Nora was aggravated but resolved to take care of things. She removed her eyeglasses, set aside her laptop, and got up off her chaise lounge to go check out what was causing all the feline hysteria. As she lifted off the seat, she knocked aside one of the books she was using for research — a book about the carvings and statues mounted on the outer walls of ancient French Cathedrals. The noise took the other tabby by surprise, and sent the cat flying up onto one of the tables where Nora kept a row of porcelain angel statuettes.
“No! Tookie, get down!”
Tookie, the Turkish Angora, jumped off and in her wake was left a newly broken Archangel Michael, severed at the head. Nora knew she shouldn’t have shouted like that, but the cat’s tail was so close to one of the lit votive candles. And though Tookie escaped unharmed, poor Archangel Michael never survived the uproar.
Nora picked up the body of the little handmade statuette and felt the prong that extended from the neck area. An armature. Nora had taken sculpting back in art school, even tried to make her very own angel statue at one point, but the damned clay never conformed to the armature in the way she wanted it to. Her angels always ended up looking like demented, melting devils. Wings and all.
I guess that what’s you get for trying to make an angel, she thought, remembering how filthy her fingers looked caked in terracotta. She placed the beheaded Slayer of Demons back down on the marble counter and made a mental note to buy crazy-glue, tomorrow.
With Tookie nowhere in sight, she figured the cat was overwhelmed with guilt and probably taking up residence beneath the bed.
Good. Nasty varmint. ‘Cause I’m comin’ after you, wabbit!
For whatever reason, she always chose to talk to Tookie in Hanna Barbara voices. Tookie was her little idiot cat, whereas Wodka was the one she went to for advice.
“OK, Wodka, let’s go see what’s going on outside.”
The house was dimly lit, just as Nora adored it. Candles everywhere, little glistening chachkas, trinkets, museum pieces… She loved her home and thought of it as a cloister, a dark gallery of replicas and relics. As a writer who specialized in angel and demonology, this dark fortress was her “cave of inspiration”, as she liked to call it, and her most famous literary rants were all created while sitting on the chaise lounge, right there in her beautiful, angel-ridden bedroom.
Nora unlocked the front door and peeked to see if there was anyone out there. The flapping sound was unnerving in so much as it couldn’t be pinned down, location-wise.
“Where the hell are you?”
Scanning the perimeter of her immediate environment, she heard the rasp of wings beating rapidly, almost chaotically, and yet — she couldn’t see any sign of a bird, or birds. The sound continued and from what Nora could make of it, whatever was creating this flapping effect couldn’t possibly be a bird — it was too “large” a sound, too sweeping. But something here felt insidiously wrong, almost unnatural.
No, not exactly “unnatural,” she thought. More like… against nature.
As a researcher and professional skeptic, she knew that most paranormal incidents could be attributed to any number of mental projections. Rarely was there ever a truly inexplicable event that couldn’t be broken down and analyzed with logic. So-called, “apparitions”, both visual and auditory, usually found their origins deeply embedded within the mind. And “things that go bump in the night” almost always turned out to be simple nothings, unworthy of a notation in anybody’s book of supernatural occurrences.
Nora reached into the umbrella stand by the door and retrieved an old samurai sword. She knew nothing about proper unsheathing and even less about actual fighting, but she assumed that if someone — some thing — was out there looking at a woman grasping an enormous katana, poised for battle — “it” might think twice about advancing.
“Alright you fucker, if there’s somebody out there, show your face now!”
Nora shook with the adrenaline that accompanied the thought of a possible confrontation with a dangerous stranger.
Once again, the loud flutter of wings.
“Come on in, you bastard! What the hell are you waiting for?” Nora considered that she might have been paranoid in thinking it was more than just the elements at play, but when a wind current so unusually cold blew through her short, black hair, she immediately felt her courage withdraw. She was not ready to take this on. She retracted her bravado, eeked out a tiny, “Holy crap,” shivered and re-entered the cloister.
She slammed the door, placed the katana back in the umbrella stand and ensured the padlock was tightly sealed. She looked over at the completely puffed-out Wodka and said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing. Just the wind. Come on, let’s go to sleep.”
Creepy, she thought to herself, still shivering from the icy-cold draft that seemed to pass right through her body.
She stood in the bathroom, preparing for bed. Beginning her nightly ablutions, she gazed into the mirror and remembered that horrifyingly comedic scene in “American Werewolf in London,” where the dead friend suddenly appears in the mirror, behind his lycanthropic old buddy.
“You’re not going to pop up in the mirror behind me, right?” Looking behind her, all she saw was the smoothed out tail of Wodka, as the cat calmly exited the bathroom.
It must be great to be a cat, she thought. No matter how traumatized you get, give it a few minutes and it’s erased from your memory forever. Nice.
As she entered her bedroom, Nora noticed that Tookie had already forgotten any prior incident as well, and was in place, at the foot of the big, comfy bed, waiting for lights out. She blew out the candles, assuring herself that she would finish her essay in the early morning, and slipped under the soft, warm comforter — faithful cats in tow.
With one tiny little candle by her bedside, ready to putter out on it’s own within minutes, Nora turned on her side, ready to let sleep claim the night. Only one second before her eyes shut, she saw a large winged creature, lying in the bed, right beside her.
Nora screamed, but no sound came out. The creature put a finger to her lips and silenced her. The shock made it hard for her to process what she was seeing. There was no question of ghosts or phenomena, nor was there any hint of doubt. “Seeing was believing” in Nora’s world, and right before her eyes lay a very large, very statuesque sort of…gargoyle?
He couldn’t have been a gargoyle, though the wings and the stone-like “flesh” seemed to point that way. Terrifying yes, but he was not without beauty. In fact, his beauty was painfully evident as he reclined casually against one of her pillows. His skin was a pale grayish hue with a hint of blue in it. Long, dark brown hair appeared to flow over his bare, marble shoulders. He was braiding it as he looked at her — directly at her, with large amber-colored eyes.
“I thought we’d start out with a nice, intimate little talk. Perhaps I should introduce myself.”
He reached over and gently skimmed the surface of Nora’s face with the very same finger he silenced her with only a moment earlier. Terror kept her mouth shut. This was no mere “thing that went bump in the night.” This was a very large presence — male, winged and overwhelmingly dangerous. He had a body that looked like it could withstand an earthquake, a voice that seemed to evoke all kinds of perversion, and a cool that would be best left unquestioned.
As he spoke her name, the wind sucked out of her lungs. Her mouth opened and as the last syllable of her name was spoken, she exhaled one very soft word.
“Yes,” she gasped.
The winged man smiled. His smooth, sharp canines spoke of rough sex and unimaginable depravity.
“My name is Inserat. I’m your angel.”
Nora managed to slide backwards and off the bed. Tangled in the chocolate brown comforter and Egyptian cotton sheets, she accidentally yanked the heavy brass lamp down upon her head, as she fell to the carpeted floor.
The pain of the blow was of no concern to Nora. In fact, concern was no longer a viable character in the theatre of the soon-to-be-unconscious. It had slipped away, just as the cocoa colored satin pillows did from her grasp when she tried to reach for them. Like the scent of recently extinguished votive candles or the fear a cat harbors until it is time for food, so went the consciousness of Nora Bellamy.
In the near blackness, she looked up and saw a strange sight: A large, slim, silvery man with great white wings was peeking over the side of her bed, gazing down at her. His talons were grasping tightly to the silky sheets, and his pleated hair seemed to release from its previously braided state, spilling down upon her face. She blinked to clear her vision, and right before slipping into complete and total darkness, she saw a face.
It was the face of an angel.