by LaVerne Thompson
Snippet Copyrighted 2018
Dressed in the color of the night, black jeans, black t-shirt, Nathanial crouched on the roof of the condo building on G Street NW. It was the perfect perch for him to observe the bundled up stranglers wondering out of the Verizon Center, after the late night basketball game. It might be early March in Washington, DC, but the icy wind causing people to snuggle into their thick coats showed winter seemed in no rush to release its bitter hold.
A group of three men, all in their early thirties paused on the sidewalk right below him. Their voices were loud and exuberant as they relived the thrill of the game.
Running a ball from one end of a room to another never did much for Nathanial. Not that he ever played any sport that didn’t end in someone bleeding to death or maimed. Then again, it wouldn’t be a human sport but he’d watched them from time to time. Now football, a full contact sport, where you could whack the hell out of your opponent, suited him much better. But these men might disagree. Even seated eleven stories high Nathanial could hear their conversation like they stood right next to him.
Two of the males wished their friend Alvin good night.
“You sure you don’t want us to walk with you, Al?”
“What am I a baby?” At six two, two hundred and fifty pounds he was anything but. All three of the men laughed and patted each other on the back before two crossed the street entering the garage there.
Nathanial grinned at the short form of the man’s name, Alvin was his full name. He’d pulled that from his consciousness.
Alvin continued walking past the building where Nathanial crouched, oblivious to his presence, as it should be until much too late.
Nathanial continued to track Alvin as he went around the building to the alley at the back. There was an entrance to a garage from the alley for the condo building. A friend had given Alvin the access code so he could park there so he wouldn’t have to pay. Cheap bastard.
But Alvin couldn’t get into the front entrance to access the garage, so he had to go around to the alley entrance. All of this Nathanial gleaned from the man’s thoughts. Since Alvin’s name wasn’t in his little book, he would ignore him. Nathanial unfolded his dark wings, which looked like steel carved to give the illusion of feathers and the very tips were jagged crimson edges as he spread their full six feet length on both sides. He leaped over to the next building on his nightly troll.
A stray thought caught his attention and stilled his movement. Instead, of moving away, he shifted direction over to the other side of the building and looked down upon the alley. There were no lights on down there other than the little illumination provided from the lighted windows on either side of the buildings framing the alley. However, Nathanial could see just fine, even in total dark. He was after all, born of darkness, so felt at home in its cold embrace.
He didn’t even need to use any of his other senses this time to scan the area. There, hidden behind a dumpster lay a male in all dark clothing to help him blend in the shadows. Nothing good was on the male’s mind.
Nathanial grinned in anticipation of the inevitable. This is what he searched for night after night for the last hundred and forty years. A job he’d been trained for and one he loved. Souls for the taking. Those listed in his little red book, and even more fun, new names to add to it. A soul was going home tonight, only not the home it had anticipated. Then again, with this act he wasn’t sure what the fuckwit thought would happen.
Alvin entered the alley. Not once did he feel uncomfortable, a big guy like him he was confident most would not give him any trouble. Besides, there were still plenty of people walking about and even though this was the city, the area known as the Penn Quarter was relatively safe.
He was feeling pretty good. His team had won and he didn’t have to pay thirty bucks to park. He’d gotten lucky his friend was out of town and let him use his parking spot in the building. But cutting through the alley wasn’t too bad. About ten yards away from one of the two garage doors that were the coded entrances, he passed a dumpster. He wasn’t sure what made him turn, but even then it was too late.
Nathanial watched it all unfold, as he’d seen something similar play out a thousand times before. Same shit different…nope, same.
The first gunshot entered Alvin’s abdomen.
“Ouch. That’s gotta hurt,” Nathanial said to himself. He stayed in Alvin’s consciousness.
The only reason Alvin knew for sure he’d been shot was because his stomach suddenly blazed, his insides were on fire. The second shot he only heard, by then his body had already gone numb. His eyes were wide open as he gazed up at…stars…yes stars in the sky. He felt something, fingers touch the side of his neck, and saw a face, one he’d seen before many times. You! He wanted to shout but couldn’t get the word out. Then he heard footsteps running away. Before all went dark, understanding dawned. The sound of chimes filled the air, they called to him, pulled him out of his sleep.
Alvin opened his eyes and saw…light…like the stars had grown and swallowed up the rest of the universe. They blazed a trail from this world into the next. His body rose drawn to it…yet something held him back. He gazed down and his body still lay on the ground where he had fallen. A dark crimson liquid began spreading onto the ground, originating from him.
The lighting just enough to show him and for him to know the liquid around him was blood. His! “Nooooo….” The wail came long and deep. In that one moment, he knew clarity. Dead. He was dead. The chimes were calling him. He shook his head unable to tear his gaze away from his dead form. His chest rose and fell in memory of breathing, which he no longer did. The chimes stopped and the stars were once again in their place in the heavens, then he felt a blast of heat swamping his back, swinging around he saw him.
Nathanial dropped from the rooftop, his dark evanescence like wings spread wide from his back to slow his descent as he landed behind the slain male. He heard his thoughts and read the dead’s even before answering him. He needed to strike this bargain quickly before any of the others showed up.
Alvin’s name wasn’t already in his little red book. The man did not wear his master’s mark and was in fact destined for another place. But his violent death and desire for justice bound Alvin to Earth. He’d refused the first call to the light, at least until one of those flipping white wings came to personally collect him. With each soul they fought over, Nathanial hated the white wings more. He took great pleasure in thwarting those, stealing souls from right under their noses. Oh yes. Now, if he could turn Alvin’s need for justice into something darker, like revenge. He only need prod poor wronged Alvin a teeny bit.
“Yeah Alvin. Afraid it’s so.” Nathanial confirmed the obvious. Sensing the other questions. The male was hurt, angry and at that point in time, hated his wife and the man who’d killed him. Her lover. Nathanial planned on fueling those emotions.
“What the hell!” the man cried at the sight of the demon.
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