A Dangerous Man
By Adam Dixon
Cold swamp water splashed and rippled as the angel fought against his bonds. It was useless; the spells etched into the chains around his wrists were ancient and beyond his power to overcome. His arms were stretched out and the chains were tied to strong trees on either side of the bank; he could feel his tendons stretching to near breaking point. His wings were broken, his feathers matted with blood. He recognised the area and knew that he was somewhere in New Orleans, Louisiana. He looked up at the figure crouching at the bank.
“What can you possibly gain from doing this, human?” he asked, his voice still strong despite his treatment. “Binding and torturing an angel of the Lord is not something a wise man should attempt!”
“I’m not a wise man, angel. I’m a dangerous man,” the figure responded in a gruff voice. “Acknowledge the difference and despair.” He chuckled at his remark, sounding pleased with himself. He stood up and a long coat settled around him like a shroud. He was a short man with broad shoulders and large, thick hands. In the near-darkness not a lot could be observed, but the angel could make out greying hair and the glint of a pair of spectacles on his nose. The angel could sense the dark power emanating from the man, it distorted the air and clung to him like tar.
“You have kept me here for two full days,” said the angel. “Is there something you seek to accomplish by binding me so? I demand to know the reason for my imprisonment!”
The man on the bank regarded the angel for a few moments, before pulling a revolver from one of his coat pockets. In a quick, fluid motion, he cocked the barrel and fired. The angel cried out in pain as the bullet smashed into his left shoulder. Blood splattered across his face and he moaned as the muscle beneath tore from the tension. Sinews stretched and ligaments groaned audibly. He gasped and clenched his teeth as he fought the darkness creeping into his vision.
“You’re in no position to make demands, angel,” the man replied, cocking the revolver again. “I suggest you get that into your thick skull, or you will regret it.”
“Why are you doing this?” the angel cried, his voice wavering. For two days he had kept his resolve firm, safe in the knowledge that his prayers would be answered and his escape would be assured, but now it was beginning to crack.
“Curiosity,” the man replied. “I already know how to kill you, but where’s the fun in that? I wanted to experiment a little, figure out what makes you squirm.” The man grinned in the darkness.
“The Lord Almighty is not without mercy, human,” the angel said, trying to fight the fear that gripped him. “If you release me now and repent, you may yet save your soul.” The man threw his head back and laughed. The sound echoed through the swamp, bouncing off the trees in nightmarish cacophony.
“Now that’s funny!” the man said. “Really, that’s rich! Thanks, but my soul is beyond saving, no matter how forgiving your God may be. Personally, he can shove his forgiveness where the sun don’t shine, ‘cos I’ve stabbed, shot and strangled my way through the last thirty years and I’m not planning on stopping soon. Oh, it’s been so much fun!” The man laughed again, uncocking his revolver and spinning it on his finger.
“I’ve killed more people than I can count; I gave up trying years ago. But unfortunately, being untouchable started to get a bit stale after a while.” He stopped spinning his revolver and jammed it back into his coat. The angel could almost feel the fire coming from the man’s eyes, and he barely suppressed a shudder.
“You saw something when I touched you, angel.” The man sounded excited. “When I held your wrists to put the chains on, you groaned in your sleep and your eyes flickered. You saw something about me, didn’t you? What was it? Tell me!” The angel shuddered and lowered his head.
“I saw…visions,” he said, narrowing his eyes. “They contained you…grappling with the monstrous denizens of the night, and killing them…occult females with fire in their hands and blackness in their hearts…spectral beings and fanged men…” His eyes widened and his head shot up. “What is this, human? What in the name of the Almighty have you been doing?”
“Expanding my targets!” the man said, his voice feverish with glee. “I needed to find the thrill from killing that I’d lost, and lemme tell ya, it’s worked a treat!” He broke off, laughing and clapping his hands together.
“That’s where you come in, my feathery friend!” he continued. “You’re the jackpot I’ve been working towards! The big prize, wrapped up and all mine!” The angel began to tremble in his bonds. He could sense the twisted glee within the man and his heart grew cold with fright.
“Oh, human,” the angel whispered. “How low the Devil has brought you in his unclean grasp…”
“Let’s get one thing crystal clear…” the man’s voice had an unpleasant edge to it. There was a small splash as he leapt nimbly into the fetid swamp. The angel watched with rising panic as the man waded steadily towards him. The ooze stained the man’s dark coat as it rose above his waist. As he moved closer, three alligators who had been sampling the strange blood in their waters fled the area in terror. The man stood before the angel, the moon reflecting faintly in the lenses of his spectacles. He reached into his coat and withdrew a thin cylindrical object. Slipping one hand behind the angel’s neck he stepped in very close; it was like an embrace between lovers. The angel gasped in pain as the man pressed the object against his lower abdomen. It was sharp, oh so sharp!
“The Devil has no power over me, angel,” the man rasped, staring into the angel’s terrified eyes. He pressed harder and the sharp object pierced the angel’s flesh. He screamed in pain and a wild look of understanding passed over his face.
“You have it! This cannot be!” he stammered, horrified. “You possess the Holy Lance!” The man chuckled and looked down at the object in his right hand. It was the remnants of an ancient lance, the wooden shaft darkened with age but the bronze point still wickedly sharp. It slid from the angel’s skin smoothly, and he admired the blood which trickled down it in crimson rivers.
“Yes, the fabled Holy Lance,” he said with amusement. “Also known as the Spear of Destiny, if you’re feeling dramatic. Or even Lancea Longini, if you’re feeling pretentious.” He cackled and pushed the blade back into the angel’s side. The creature roared in agony, struggling desperately against his chains.
“How?” the angel asked through gritted teeth. “The Lance has been hidden and guarded for a millennia! How have you come to possess it, mortal?”
“Let’s just say that I gave its guardian a compelling reason to give it up,” the man said, a maniacal gleam in his eyes. He drove the spear-point even further into the angel, who gave an ear-splitting screech. Drenched in sweat and breathing laboriously, the dying creature raised his head to glare at his tormentor.
“God damn you, mortal,” he spat, fury clearly visible along with the horror in his eyes. The man grinned once again, his pink tongue darting across his lips.
“God can’t touch me, angel,” he whispered in his ear. “Nobody can.” With that, he withdrew the Lance from the angel’s side and buried it in his chest. The angel’s scream was unearthly in pitch and volume, causing the very air around them to hum and vibrate. A brilliant white light shone forth from his torso and illuminated the swamp. It lasted perhaps two seconds before it faded, leaving the man blinking. A rainbow of colours danced before his eyes in an aura surrounding the angel’s body. Once it had dissipated, he withdrew the bloodied Lance and stepped back to admire his handiwork. The angel’s wings had vanished, the skin on his shoulder blades was seared black and the smell of burnt flesh stung the man’s nostrils.
“Hmmm, now that’s interesting,” he muttered. He used the Lance to lift the angel’s face and studied it for a moment. It was odd how human it looked in death; it looked like any of the hundreds of men he had extinguished. He felt a little bit disappointed, but his excitement was so intense that he didn’t care.
“I definitely have to kill some more of these guys,” he said with glee. “I haven’t felt a rush like that in decades!” He chuckled and let the angel’s head fall. Reaching into another pocket he pulled out a golden key and unlocked the chains around its wrists. The angel fell into the water and floated away, face down. Wading back to the bank, the man pocketed the Holy Lance and began humming to himself. As he walked off into the night, the alligators slipped back into the water and swam towards the offered meal.