A Fallen Angel Walks Into A Bar…, by Christina “DZA” Marie
There’s a quote in Revelation—that book of the Bible that tells everyone how the world is going to go to shit because people didn’t follow Dad’s rules. It goes “The stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.”
Not a lot of people know this, but when that was written, “stars” was code for “angels.”
Erelah Blum, former bannerwoman for Gabriel’s host of angels, at your service. Been at the job since Lucifer went AWOL and took a third of Heaven with him. Amazing how little that means in the face of one screw-up.
Now you may be thinking: what is a fallen angel doing in a crowded bar with her personal trainer in post-apocalyptic Earth?
Well, the Four Horseman are out, all the goody toe-shoes are up in Heaven, all the troublemakers are down here, all the demons are spilling out of Hell, and they cancelled NCIS. Any of them is a good reason to get drunk, don’t you think?
Unfortunately, just because I no longer have my wings doesn’t mean I’m completely devoid of all of my angelic traits. In other words, my body is completely unaffected by alcohol, even if I down the entire bar’s worth of tequila.
James, my personal trainer, can get drunk, the mortal bastard. And he’s doing a mighty fine job of it.
“If you’re hung over for tomorrow’s session, I’m not paying you,” I warn, sipping my brandy.
“Yes, you will. It’d be stealing if you didn’t, and that’s a sin.” He slams back another shot of whiskey.
“I thought you were in AA.”
“I’m in NA,” he corrects, but gets a water instead of more whiskey. “Alcohol’s nothing. Cocaine, now that’s a problem.”
I look around the bar. It’s not seedy but not exactly high-end, either. One of those half-hidden spots in the suburbs where middle-class people go after work to loosen up, and college students spend their parents’ money, and a few war veterans sit in the corner reminiscing about the good ol’ days. It has wooden walls, red leather chairs, and the bar stools creak as I sit on mine. Cozy.
It’s Friday night, which means it’s jammed with humans, making it difficult to pick up any signs of the supernatural. This is prime demon feeding ground (which makes it prime demon hunting ground), but so far I’m the only non-human here. I expect to get another half hour or so of peace and quiet before something supernatural comes looking for a snack. Last month I caught an imp in the dumpster out back (they like collecting the empty beer bottles for some reason). A few weeks before that a bigger demon had tried munching on a patron in the parking lot; the would-be human victim had been so drunk he’d thought the whole thing was a hallucination, which is fine by me.
These days, you don’t want to be anything supernatural on Earth, even if you’re an angel only trying to help these idiots. Humans like to simplify things that really shouldn’t be simplified, lump everything together and slap a label on it. I am supernatural, not of this world. So are demons. Therefore, in humanity’s eyes, I am a demon.
I know. It doesn’t make any sense. Try telling that to an angry mob. And yeah, I get why humans would be mad at angels. Their god is condemning them to a literal hell on Earth and angels serve God. But that doesn’t make me a demon!
Of course, you don’t want to be human, either. Demons eat humans.
Really, you just don’t want to be on Earth at all.
And if you are a supernatural being stupid enough to end up here, then you definitely don’t want to jeopardize your life (because yes, I can absolutely die now that I’ve fallen) by fighting demonic beings in crowded places. These days I’m still not sure what’s going to get me killed first: the demons or the humans.
Which leads to James’s question of, “So…why are we doing this again?”
“Because if I hunt down enough demons and send them back to Hell, Dad might let me back in Heaven,” I say, and not for the first time. James is a forgetful drunk.
“But…He let them out of Hell. If He wanted them in Hell, He wouldn’t have done that.”
“Not necessarily. They’re just another part of humanity’s punishment; another way for everyone to make it back to His good graces by groveling and suffering,” I remind him.
“It’s already been a year,” James says. “That celebration thing or whatever is next week, so it’s been exactly three hundred and fifty…seven—no, fifty-six days since Rapture and a couple million people up and vanished on us.” His hands mime an explosion. “Poof! Gone.”
“Tribulation lasts seven years,” I say.
I roll my eyes, and I’m about to explain what that is (again). But James’s eyes are drawn to the TV screen in the corner. Some football game or whatever is going on and someone scored a touchdown. The wrong team, apparently, since everyone in the bar starts booing and swearing.
It never ceases to fascinate me. A year of demons, plagues, and everything Dad can think of to throw at humanity with six more years to go until He finally puts everyone out of their misery…and the biggest tragedy of the night is a damn sports game.
Everything has changed, and nothing has changed.
I roll my shoulders, wincing as my back protests. I’ve been sitting in the same position for too long. Still no sign of a demon. Maybe I’ll get a night off.
It used to be a lot worse, my back. To the point where I couldn’t move any part of me without screaming in pain. Angelic healing and physical therapy helped with that. Now it’s just a matter of rebuilding muscle.
That’s where James comes in. I thought I could hide it from him, keep the scars from where my wings had been ripped from my body hidden. But then he saw me fight a minor demon a couple of weeks ago, and that kind of spilled the beans.
The good news is James knows the difference between an angel and a demon and didn’t report me to the authorities. Instead he bugs me on my hunts, makes sure no other humans get hurt, calls an ambulance if needed, gets drunk to make up for my lack of getting drunk, etc.
While James is distracted by the epic pain of a lost football game and orders another drink, a man in a leather jacket slides in the seat next to me. His smile has more in common with a shark than a human. “What’s your sin, baby?”
I roll my eyes. “Of all the torments brought by the end of days, bad pickup lines have got to be the worst.”
He either doesn’t hear that over the gentle roar of the bar, or doesn’t want to. “Pretty little thing like you…no wonder they kept you out of Heaven.” He slides a hand over my thigh. “Would’ve been too tempting for the ang—shit!”
Conjuring my sword wasn’t a conscious decision, but I find myself pressing the slim blade to his throat anyway. “Hands. Off.”
He obeys, and scuttles away.
I vanish my sword, and it’s gone in a blink. Only the bartender has seen; everyone else is too drunk or too deep in mourning for their game.
The bartender swallows. “I don’t want any trouble, ma’am.”
“Just don’t diss NCIS and you’ll be fine,” James says, finishing his water. “She’s here to protect the humans, not eat them. You trust me, don’t you Nate?”
Nate the bartender slowly nods. James pushes his empty glass at him. “More, please.”
While Nate fills the glass, half an eye on the two of us, James turns to me. “Okay, explain the sword thing.”
I frown. “What about it?”
“It’s just…there when you need it, gone when you don’t. Do you hide it up your ass, or something?” He looks behind me at my butt.
I push him back. “James!”
“What?” he giggles.
I sigh. “It’s…it’s hard to explain. It’s magic, okay? I summon it, and it’s there. I vanish it, and it’s gone. End of story.”
James snorts. “Well, that’s anticlimactic.” He takes a swing of water. “What is your sin, anyway?”
I glare at James. “Watch it.”
“I’m curious. It’s not every day an angel crashes down to earth.”
“What was yours?” I counter.
“Stole money to pay for drugs.” He drinks more of his water. “Yours?”
I don’t answer. Something’s caught my eye behind his shoulder.
It’s Oya. A woman who looks like an Egyptian goddess, serving beer to slobbering drunks. Her afro gives her a black halo that turns dark red in the right light. And I know that if she gets close enough she’ll smell like peppermint…
James follows my gaze, then turns back to the bar, rolling his eyes. “This again.”
“What?” I ask, snapping back to reality.
“You’ve been ogling that waitress for ages. Ask her out. It’s not like it’s the end of the world if she says no.”
“Is that it?” James asks. “God doesn’t like dykes?”
“God’s perfectly fine with being LGBT.”
“Really? Isn’t there a ‘thou shalt not lay with a man…’”
“That was about ancient soldiers raping their POWs,” I say.
“What about the whole ‘thou shalt procreate’ thing he told Abraham?”
“You know, that’s the only part of the Bible you humans have actually paid attention to. Everything else—don’t kill, don’t steal—none of you were listening, were you?”
“Not really,” James admits.
“Are you two bickering again?”
I jump in my stool. Oya’s standing right behind me and James. I swear, I’m going to put a bell on her neck. (Or maybe a collar…no, brain, bad!)
“Our relationship is half bickering, some physical therapy, and the rest is drinking,” James says, giving Oya his winning smile. It makes me glare at him. My hand itches for my sword when he waggles his eyebrows at her. “But don’t worry, sweetheart. Neither of us are wearing wedding rings.”
“Good to know.” Oya turns her back on James and focuses on me. “You looked like your back was bothering you earlier. Everything okay?”
Of course she’d ask that. I overheard her last month say how she has a nursing license and works at the hospital part-time…
“Everything’s fine,” I say quickly. “I just…had a bit of a nasty fall about a year ago. James and I are working on it.”
Oya gives me a sympathetic look, fiddling with her crystal necklace. “I make ointments…a little hobby of mine. I can give you something for the pain.”
I shake my head. “No, I’m good. Thanks, though.”
Oya shrugs. “All right. But if you change your mind…” She takes a tiny slip of paper out from the pocket of her apron and puts it next to my brandy. “Nate, I’m done for the night.”
The bartender waves her off. The smell of peppermint ripples in Oya’s wake as she leaves.
James coughs. “She gave you her number.”
I look at the little paper next to my drink, slightly curled at the edges. She’s written her number in cursive loops in a black pen. I flick it away like a bug.
“Oh, come on,” James groans.
“Celibacy gets you brownie points from Dad,” I say over my brandy (why, oh why can it not get me drunk?). “And I need all the help I can get.”
“That asshole banished you from Heaven!”
“I deserved it.”
I deserve the crippling back pain, the grueling workout sessions, and the demon fighting in the dirt. I do not deserve any kind of affection a woman like Oya could give me. That makes her a temptation, not a blessing.
At least, that’s what I tell myself.
James rolls his eyes. “Oh for the love of…”
There’s more, probably something that would make JC bitch about the inappropriate use of his name. But I don’t hear it.
The man in the leather jacket is back, and he’s brought half a dozen friends. In seconds, James and I are cowed against the bar.
“We don’t want your kind here,” the man says, his shark-like smile gone.
“What kind is that?” I demand. “Is my skin too dark for comfort?”
I’ll never understand human racism, but that doesn’t mean I won’t use it. No one likes to be called a racist.
Doesn’t work this time. One of the men shouts, “You’re a fucking demon, bitch!”
“Hey, whoa, now, hold up.” James stands from his stool and gets between me and the guys. “If she were a demon, she’d be chewing your ass and spitting it out before you could blink, instead of sitting at the bar, not bothering anybody, enjoying a drink.” He turns to the guy who came onto me. “This one’s just pissed because he struck out.”
“She pulled a sword out of nowhere and damn-near cut me with it!” he snaps.
James makes a face. “I think you’ve been having a few too many. I was sitting right there and I didn’t see a sword.”
One of the men shoves James back. “Are you with her? You suck her clit and so she doesn’t turn you to mince meat?”
“She’s not into guys, and I prefer redheads. So I don’t see how that would work for either of us,” James replies. “Just cool off, man.”
“Gentlemen,” Nate calls. “I want no brawling in my bar. If this is a problem, take it outside.”
One of the men nudges my shoulder. “Show me the sword, demon.”
I sip my brandy.
He nudges me again. “Come on. Show us the sword.”
I ask Nate for another drink.
Then I feel it. A sixth sense deep in my gut that flares up and tells me that calling my sword would actually be a pretty good idea right now.
“I have to go,” I say, jumping off my stool and starting to push through the guys.
One pulls me back, keeping me against the bar. “You’re not going anywhere, except Hell.”
I palm-strike his nose. Blood sprays and he staggers back, clutching his face. I slither through the crowd and out into the crisp nighttime air.
The parking lot is something right out of one of James’s bad horror movies. There are rows and rows and rows of cars, and the parking lot is L-shaped, leaving a good chunk of it hidden from the bar by trees and bushes. The perfect ambush spot. I call my sword and run through the lot, skidding to a halt once I’ve turned the corner and can see beyond the wall of trees.
Oya’s standing next to her car, her purse resting on the hood. She’s staring down a man.
This man is not human.
“Beelzebub,” I call, putting a popping emphasis on the bub.
On the inside, I’m having a complete breakdown. I deal with imps and minor demons. Beelzebub is a major demon. Major demons are bad. Major demons are powerful. Major demons are something I cannot deal with.
Dad, if you’re listening, I really need some help, I pray. Send Michael, send Raphael—hell, send that asshole Gabriel. Just send someone down here right friggin’ now!
Beelzebub turns to me and sighs. “Really? Can’t a man enjoy a meal in peace?”
“Is that a sword?” Oya gasps.
“Oh, you didn’t know? One of your patrons is an angel.” Beelzebub grins. “A fallen angel, it appears. Whatever did you do to piss off dear ol’ Dad?”
“Leave,” I warn, giving myself props for sounding like a badass when all I want to do is turn tail and run.
But I can’t leave Oya to face this monster alone.
“You were a minor being even before you fell. You don’t have any power over me.” Beelzebub turns back to Oya.
Straight into the spray of her mace.
Beelzebub screams, covering his mouth and chest where he was hit. It startles a jump out of me. Mace is not supposed to be effective on demons…
“Is that holy water, you bitch?” Beelzebub shrieks.
“Witch,” Oya corrects, and holds up her crystal necklace.
Blinding white light erupts from the crystal, making Beelzebub shriek. I whoop and charge the demon, and in a moment of sheer stupidity, I think that maybe the two of us can take him.
The feeling ends before I even reach them. Claws erupt from Beelzebub’s hand and he slashes at Oya, killing the light.
I scream as she falls, and swing my sword.
It’s embarrassing how easily Beelzebub ducks, and slashes at me. I jump back, and he keeps coming. It’s like a game of dodgeball for me, except the balls are demonic claws that will kill me if I’m hit.
Seriously, Dad. Anytime now.
I see James creep around us out of the corner of my eye, heading for Oya. He must’ve given the guys the slip, or calmed them down or something. It doesn’t matter. I just want him to grab Oya and get out.
Beelzebub’s claws come at me and I try to block with my sword. He grabs my wrist so hard I think it’ll break. He tries to give me a right hook and I catch his fist, and we’re stuck there, glaring at each other.
Beelzebub stomps on my foot. I yowl and let go, and fall on the pavement. Beelzebub takes a step toward me. In a blind panic, I slash with my sword.
I score a lucky hit, slicing open his thigh. His flesh hisses when touched by holy metal.
He staggers, but stays upright. He glares at me. It looks like I’ve done nothing but piss him off even more.
But then he freezes, his head tipped to the side. He turns and runs out of the parking lot, disappearing in the shadows.
Taking the victory without wondering why the demon left the party early, I vanish my sword and run to Oya.
“She’s still alive,” James says. Red seeps through his fingers as he puts pressure on the parallel wounds across Oya’s neck and chest. His skin is ghostly white against the crimson stream and Oya’s black skin. “Erelah, you can heal her, right?”
“You can, right?” he presses, his voice edged with panic. “You’re a fucking angel!”
James’s eyes almost pop out of his skull. “What?”
“I mean…” I’m almost laughing even as I start crying. “Where she’s going has to be better than this, right?”
I freeze at the familiar voice (Dammit, Dad, you have the worst timing) and set my jaw. “Gabriel.”
James goes pale, but he keeps his focus on Oya. I turn to face my ex-boss.
He’s dressed in his white robe, but has a blue jacket over it. Anything below sixty degrees is arctic to him.
“Where is she going?” I demand, hating the way my voice cracks.
“What business is that of yours?” Gabriel replies.
“I need to know!”
Gabriel sighs, giving the sky (re: Dad) an annoyed look before turning back to me. “Did it ever occur to you that she was sent in your path to help you, not tempt you?”
I stare at him. “She’s a witch. Dad’s not a fan of witches.”
“He’s also not a fan of pork, but there are plenty of bacon-lovers up there.” Gabriel points to James. “He’s here to help you, too, for that matter. He may be an ex-junkie, but he has some good advice.”
James doesn’t even give a smartass reply.
Gabriel goes around me until he’s standing right over James and Oya, who’s gasping and struggling to breathe. He bends down and brushes his fingertips over her forehead. The blood recedes and her breathing comes easier.
“You have one hour to get her to the hospital,” Gabriel says, standing up straight. “I suggest you hurry.”
And without even a “Bye, nice to see you again,” he leaves.
I stand there like an idiot for a full twenty seconds before Oya coughs and snaps me back into action. I gather her in my arms and stand. “James, get the car.”
He doesn’t move. “Was that…the Gabriel?”
“As in, ‘Hey, Mary, you’re gonna give birth to Jesus’ Gabriel?”
“James!” I snap. “Car. Now.”
He finally moves. Oya curls into my chest, staining my shirt with blood. I don’t care, and start walking to James’ car (which is of course all the way on the other end of the lot).
“…knew it,” she huffs.
“Quiet,” I say.
She ignores me. “Knew it…an angel…Didn’t say so…Sounded like a bad…pickup line.”
I pause, then snicker. “Better call Heaven, there’s an angel missing.”
“Must’ve been…too tempting…for the angels.”
“Thou shalt not be too sexy for Jesus.”
I start laughing so hard I almost drop her (shouldn’t laugh, it’s a medical emergency; don’t care). Oya snickers and coughs a bit of blood. James pulls his van up in front of us.
I set us in the back and start using my (albeit limited) healing powers to patch Oya up the best I can. “Did you give the assholes in the bar the slip?” I call.
“Not exactly,” he says. “I made a bad joke about PMS that put them in a good mood, then told everyone it was a pocket knife, not a sword.”
“We’ll wait a month before going back there,” I decide.
Oya whines. “I like it when…you show up. Makes my day.”
I huff a laugh. “Under normal circumstances, I’d suggest we go on a date. I’ll wait until you’re not bleeding out.”
Her breathing is getting stronger. She nods. “What are you…doing here…anyway?”
I hesitate. “My boss didn’t trust me, so he tempted me with a promotion to archangel. Then he gave it to a guy I absolutely hate and who didn’t deserve it at all. I…punched him in the face.”
Oya scrunches her eyebrows. “You punched…Gabriel?”
“Yeah…That’s frowned upon up there.”
James starts making strangled laughing noises up front. We ignore him.
“Huh.” She smirks. “I summoned…a demon…named Clauneck.”
I wince as James calls from the front, “And how’d that work out for you?”
“Well, it wasn’t the best way to…pay off student loans…but it worked.”
I shake my head, grinning. “Do me a favor and don’t summon any more. This job’s hard enough.”
Oya raises an eyebrow, giving a cheesy-ass smile. “Can I get an…angel instead?”
I kiss her forehead and cup her cheek. “Absolutely.”
Christina “DZA” Marie is a God: creator of worlds and giver of life. She details the happenings of other, greater gods’ worlds and the lives of their creations (such as George R. R. Martin and Rick Riordan) in her blog Dragons, Zombies and Aliens, where her followers pay obeisance to her and listen to her Word concerning her online literary series The Flying Cobras and her various short stories. She welcomes all followers, believers, and laymen of the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror.
0 Click to show the author some love!
Tags: Christina "DZA" Marie, fantasy, horror