"Missing" from Fallen Host
"Missing" from Apocalypse Array (in .PDF format)
Our regularly scheduled program is briefly interrupted for a short vignette....
This scene takes place after the end of the epilogue of Archangel Protocol. The date is June 2079 (making Dee, approximately eight months pregnant).
This is NOT a spoiler. This scene will not appear in Fallen Host nor any (potential) following books in the Archangel Protocol universe. It is intended for entertainment purposes only. Please do not reprint or repost without the author's consent.
This is NOT a spoiler.
This scene will not appear in Fallen Host nor any (potential) following books in the Archangel Protocol universe. It is intended for entertainment purposes only. Please do not reprint or repost without the author's consent.
I looked over at the depression Michael left in our cot. We had fallen asleep with his hand cupping my extended, pregnant belly. I woke up because I needed to pee, and he was gone again.
I pulled myself up awkwardly out of the bed, and made my way down the hall to the bathroom. The Malachim had moved again. This time we were in an abandoned office building near the edge of the glass city. The Medusa hadn't hit the building, but it was close enough that normal people didn't dare live in it. That made it a perfect hide out for Rebeckah's outlaws.
My fingers traced the nubby fabric of the cubicle walls that separated each tenant's "room." Finding the main office suite door, I shuffled down the hall to the bathroom. I squinted as the lights flickered on. Everything looked ugly and distorted in fluorescent light. I couldn't possibly be that tired and old. What happened to that special glow I was supposed to have?
I gave up on the mirror, and headed for the stalls. Though the Malachim's hackers had been able to hook up an auxiliary generator for power, plumbing was another matter. I held my breath to avoid the stench, and did my business as fast as possible.
Speaking of smells, I'd have to make another foray out to the Y's shelter to beg for a shower. Usually, they took pity on my swollen belly, and let me in without too much hassle. You could never tell, though. Last time, some over zealous social worker called the cops and tried to keep me occupied with a fire and brimstone preacher who railed on me about the sin of unwed motherhood. Luckily, I could still pick up the police frequency on my LINK and I heard them coming in enough time to give the preacher a good judo kick to the knee. I'd had to skip my shower that week, though, and now I was, shall we say, over-ripe.
I stopped for one last look in the mirror. A pimple was forming on my chin. I sighed: glow, my ass.
The bathroom was one of the few places in the building that had windows. It was a mere sliver of a thing-much longer than it was wide, but I pressed my face up against it to feel the cool spring air on the glass. Rain had started falling again. The moon was a blur of light behind the clouds. The building was shaped like an "L." I could see the opposite roof. Legs dangled over the edge. A jumper? The cop in me got curious. I turned off the light, and went to investigate.
I negotiated the stairs slowly. The Gorgons' Christmas lights flickered cheerfully on the hard concrete walls. It felt like forever before I reached the doorway marked "roof" in bright yellow paint. If the figure was a jumper, he probably had had plenty of time to complete his suicide. I pushed the door open slowly, just in case he was still there. I didn't want to startle him.
The door had been propped open with a mop pail. That was a good sign. Jumpers didn't usually care if they locked themselves out of the stairwell.
"Hello?" The rain seeped into my cotton socks as I stepped out onto the roof. The cold air made my nostrils stick together, but, compared to the bathroom, the air smelled fresh-well, fresh for New York anyway.
"He gives, and He takes away."
It was Michael's voice. Or, rather, it was the voice belonging to the man that Michael had become. My beautiful angel had been broken.
"Hey, big guy," I said softly. I picked my way over to where he sat on the edge of the roof, trying to avoid the large puddles. Michael, as usual, wore no shoes. "You should come back inside. Get warmed up."
He hugged himself, and rocked back and forth repeating the verse. "He gives, and He takes away."
When I touched him on the shoulder, Michael looked up at me with haunted eyes. "He takes away!"
I didn't even flinch, even though he got up in my face. At six foot something, he towered over me. I'd seen bigger people than I turn-heels and run when faced with Michael's rants. I was used them. I just gave Michael a tired smile.
"He do." I nodded, smoothing a curl away from his bright gray eyes. Michael hadn't shaved in almost as many days as I hadn't showered. His face was a dark patch of half-formed beard. "I don't understand it either. Let's get you inside. Besides, my socks are soaked."
Michael looked at my feet. He was frowning. I'd confused him.
"C'mon," I said. "Let's go back to the manger, Joseph."
That broke the spell. "The baby," he said. He stood put his arm around me. As though our roles were reversed, he quickly moved us toward the door, using his body to shelter me from the wind. Times like this when he was lucid and protective, I could almost remember what he was like before--strong, handsome, and so completely certain.
I let myself lean into him, as we made our way back down the stairs.
Though his arms felt good around my shoulders, I wondered if I'd be better off alone. It would be easy to leave him. I doubted if he'd even realize I was gone. This was hardly the first time he'd wandered off.
I looked up at his face. His expression set in a hard, determined line, as if it were taking all of his concentration to stay focused on where he was and what he was doing. He was trying to hold it to together for me.
"Could you go back to Him, Michael? If I wasn't around-- would you?"
We'd reached the main hallway, and he let me go long enough to open the door for me. His mouth worked, as if trying to find the words. "For everything there is a season."
"A time to weep," I said, touching his cheek.
He frowned. "No. A time to sow."
Michael watched my face earnestly. I got the sense that he was trying to tell me something profound. But, I'd had to give up my coffee for the pregnancy, and, anyway, it was two forty-five in the morning according the LINK. I didn't have the brainpower or the energy for his riddles.
"Okay," I said, rubbing my face in my hands. "Just get me back into bed. I'm exhausted, and freezing."
He frowned again, but helped me find my way to the cubicle farm in the sudden darkness of the interior hallway. Michael's voice was low, and close to my ear, " 'As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee....'"
I knew what he was trying to do...sweet-talk me with a little something from Psalms. "Yeah, but how does the rest of it go, big guy?"
His hand gripped mine tighter. "Forget the rest," he said, pushing the door open to the large room that had been subdivided by dozens of half-walls."What part of the Bible is that from?" Not that I had the whole thing memorized, but since Michael mostly spoke in verse I'd gotten a sense of the flow and rhythm of the words. I whispered as not to wake any of the others sleeping. I could hear snores and soft breathing as we passed each cube.
"Michael, Chapter 1 verse 2."
"The Book of Michael?" We reached my cube. I knew because I could feel the plastic flower I'd pinned to the fabric wall. I tried to see Michael's face in the darkness. "Are you making a joke?"
"I think I was, yes."
"Huh," I said, but I was smiling. I aimed for his lips, but, in the dark, I kissed him on chin instead. "Good one."
Cupping my chin in his hand, Michael drew me into a kiss. It was the kind of romantic gesture I normally swooned for. I loved the feel of a strong man's hand under my jaw, pulling me close. But, his breath stank.
I let him kiss me anyway, but there was no weakening of the knees, no special tingle in that certain tender rose of womanhood. Instead, I mentally counted the seconds until it was over.
And held back tears.
I wanted to want him, I really did. Michael hugged me tightly, and I rested my head against his chest. Our baby kicked against his stomach, and Michael murmured something soft and loving, unfortunately it sounded like something from Revelation. I didn't listen. I just held him.
"Come to bed," I said, and we sank down into the cot. Michael's stomach was warm against my back, and his hand cupped my belly. I knew when I woke up he'd be gone. But, I didn't think about those things right now.