Warning! This content may contain scenes of violence, strong language and religious connotations.
“Always so punctual”, cooed Samael to the young girl that was leaning against the wall near the T.V. Of course, she wasn’t really a girl that looked no older than fifteen, the strawberry blonde hair and deep blue eyes were a lie. An image to help the humans transcend to their next destination with as much ease as possible. Even if the humans were as corrupt as Johnny Bianchi. She was a reaper. Tasked with delivering souls to the great heavens, to the fiery depths of hell or if they’ve had a very fun life they’re plonked in the middle, which ironically is questionably the cruellest place.
Purgatory was a place not even an angel could enter. Where humans who have not been as honest as they should be but not as evil either. There were stories, there always were. Lawless they said, humans still within their flesh forms fighting it out with each other. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride all still playing their part. Humans still being tested. Samael would have loved to see it. He couldn’t though, not because he was an angel. Well, not just because he was an angel, but because he couldn’t go anywhere. Not heaven, not hell, stuck on the earth with the beings he despised. Punishment for disobeying dad.
The truth was the humans didn’t bother him as much as they did. Not entirely. It was more the unchanging days, he needed days like these, new humans to aggravate, new places to call home. Just for that small momentary feeling of winning, of change.
“I’m early actually”, said the reaper pushing herself off the wall. “He was supposed to die by alcohol poisoning.” Samael was sure that the saying ‘if looks could kill’ descended from the reapers. Control freaks, that’s what they were, if a piece of dust was off from the way a human was ‘supposed’ to die they would lose their mind.
“I thought you’d be happy”, smiled Samael, “I helped, you’re welcome”. The reaper paid him no attention as she stalked her way towards the dead man’s body slumped against the kitchen island. A trail of blood dripping down from where his head had collided with the corner.
She knelt beside him and studied his injury, her hand floating around his face but never touching. “I don’t kill, I just collect”, she said finally standing back up to face the grinning angel.
Samael sat on the back of the curved sofa, meeting the reapers glare, “Ditto”. It was true, angels couldn’t kill without the expressed permission of the Almighty, but Samael knew there were loopholes to every deal.
“Yes, it’s obvious that you had no involvement with this man’s death”, said the reaper her voice laced with sarcasm.
Samael raised his hands up in mock surrender, “All I did was talk to the guy officer, he then slipped on some grapes that for some reason were on the floor, by his feet.” Samael dropped his hands, his eyes drifting to the blood-soaked towel next to the fifty-three-year-old naked guy it belonged to. “Kind of feel sorry him. Johnny Bianchi, a man who fought his way to the top by lying, stealing and killing, trips on a bunch of grapes.” Samael chuckled, “There’s got to be better ways to go.”
“There is”, snapped the reaper, “alcohol poisoning”.
Samael scoffed, “yeah so much better”
“It was how he was supposed to go” sighed the reaper.
“I gave him something to be remembered by. No-one ever remembers the guy who died by alcohol poisoning”, he pulled a disgusted face, “Now the guy that died by falling on grapes, who will forget?”
“I doubt he’ll care where he’s going”, she said staring at the body, “Why are you always with the bad ones?” She wasn’t wanting a reply.
Samael gave one anyway, “They have nicer places.”
The reaper ignored him and stood back placing herself in front of the body sprawled on the ground. Samael knew what came next, he stood up from the couch and walked over to the window giving the reaper space but wanting to watch the show. She placed her hand in front of her, palm up, and curled in her fingers creating a fist. Johnny’s body started to brighten, a blinding display of light resonating from the limp being. If any human were to walk in all they’d see was Samael staring at the body of an overweight, fifty-three-year-old naked guy drenched in blood. They always did miss the big picture.
The light started to contract into an orb that floated across the reaper’s knuckles and then in between her and Samael. It hovered a foot above the height of the reaper and then light spilt out, a big gasp of breath breaking the silence in the room. They didn’t need to breath, it was instinct, a part of their brain trying to cling on to life. Johnny stood there, eyes wide, mouth agape, slightly transparent in the form of his soul that glittered like the gold he wore around his neck.
“Johnny Bianchi?” the reaper asked, her voice soft. To Johnny it must have sounded soothing, to Samael she sounded bored.
Johnny turned to her his eyes looking like they were going to pop out of their sockets, “who are you?” he spat.
“Johnny you died”, she responded, gesturing with her hand to his blood-soaked body on the ground. Johnny gasped as he saw himself and stepped back. “I’m here to take your soul.”
“Can you sound any creepier?”, said Samael, the ghost of a smile at his lips. Johnny snapped his head towards Samael, his confusion turning to anger.
“You”, he snarled a fat finger pointed in the angel’s direction. “You killed me.” He clenched his fists as his face fell into a scowl.
“I did not”, said Samael, placing his palm to his heart as if wounded. “I can’t kill anyone, dad won’t allow it. But, while we are on the subject of your death, would you rather die by alcohol poisoning or by slipping on grapes?”
Johnny fists slacked, “slipping on grapes?” His brow furrowed as he turned to see the smashed grapes near his feet, the juices mixing in with his blood.
“See”, said Samael to the unimpressed Reaper “slipping on grapes much funnier death.”
The reaper scoffed, “it doesn’t matter now, we need to go.” She went to grab at the human still gawping at the feet of his once flesh body, he pulled away before she could touch him.
“Where are you taking me?” he demanded stepping away as the reaper stepped forwards.
“Oh, nowhere good Johnny boy”, said Samael pointing towards the floor.
“Down?” he asked and Samael nodded solemnly, “I was a good Catholic. I believe in God, I prayed to him. He is our Lord, our Saviour. I was a good Catholic.” He stared between Samael stationary by the window and the young girl that was still approaching him. He made it around the kitchen island and grabbed for a knife his hand falling through the handle. He frantically tried, again and again, each time his hand going through the object.
The reaper soundlessly came up behind him, his hysteria opportunity to touch him and she did. The glittering gold of his soul became gold mist a raging typhoon where Johnny was once standing, it wavered and then shot up but before it could reach the ceiling it stopped. Stretched out as a glittering gold line it was pulled back down, lassoed under the floorboards until every spec was gone.
“I also assume you will clean the flesh suit too?” said Samael his eyebrows raised.
“You assume incorrectly”, said the reaper making her way around the kitchen island and standing near the body once again. “Stay out of trouble Samael.”
“You know I can’t do that, Loe” he grinned, dipping his chin as a goodbye.
Loe’s mouth twitched. Such charmers the angels were. “Your brother is down by the way. Just as a warning, not that you deserve one.”
Samael’s smile stayed but his eyes narrowed, “Which one?” he asked coolly even though he knew the answer. If any of his siblings were down it was because dad had sent them to do something specific and once it was done they’d go again, no more reason to stay. Only one would stick around long enough for other celestial beings to take notice. Only sent for the tough jobs. For trouble.
“Michael”, confirmed Loe, “he didn’t look happy”
“When does he?” replied Samael. Loe dipped her chin as Samael did to her and then was gone, no trace the reaper had been in the room at all. Samael turned back to the city below, the window allowing him to take as much as it in as possible. He could see them down there, hear them. Scurrying around like ants. Centuries had passed and although he saw the fun that humans brought, he could not see how they could ever be as pronounced as him.
He was focused on a man stealing the purse of a teen when his vision blurred. He leaned back to see the window fogging up, not the whole pane just the part that was in front of his face. He sighed staring into it as letters appeared. ‘Meet me at the Fall Blume Café, five pm, Michael’ the message read. Samael rolled his eyes and wiped away the condensation. Then watched as the thief tripped over a wooden box that mysteriously shot out from one of the stalls. The contents of his coat spilt to the floor as the teen looked around to the commotion finding her purse.
Warning! This content may contain scenes of violence, strong language and religious connotations.
Johnny stepped out of the shower and grabbed for a towel hanging over the rack. He wiped the water from his eyes then rubbed his hair, draping it around his neck when finished, he wrapped another around his waist, his gut helping to keep it in place as he tucked the towel underneath. He bypassed the mirror and stepped into his bedroom, warm light engulfing him as the floor-to-ceiling window showed the city’s skyline reflecting light from one building to another below. The activity never stopped down there, the 12am crowd simply replaced the 12pm crowd in a coordinated overtake of bodies throughout the day.
He looked over to the clock near his bed 1:54pm, early enough he thought. Throwing the towel that still hung from his neck on the bed he went over to the cabinet across the room. He picked up the half-empty bottle of scotch and poured some into the small glass sitting next to it, downing the glass in one mouthful, he picked up the bottle again and was about to pour another when he heard women laughing. Women laughing in his apartment. In his apartment where he lived alone.
He settled the bottle down and moved towards the door that lead out to the living room. He tried to steady his breathing as he turned the handle, opening it a sliver. The corridor appeared empty, but the voices grew louder. “She’s lying, she’s such a liar, I just hope the other girls can see it before it’s too late. Look out for snaaake.” Johnny closed the door as up-tempo music started playing and a different woman’s voice replaced the first, discussing a party she planned to throw that night. He scurried to his bedside table and pulled out a gun, the weapon shimmering as it was welcomed into the light and went over to the door, opening it enough so he could squeeze through. He slowly stepped out into the corridor, stilling whenever the floor made a groan or the drips from his still wet body met the ground.
Reaching the end of the corridor, he peered around the corner. “I just – just don’t know why you’d do that to me. Why would you do that? Why? Why?” said a distraught woman on screen of the TV to a man who looked like he had used an entire bottle of gel on his thick blonde hair. The light of the screen illuminated the man watching it. He was sprawled over the large sofa that followed the curve of the coffee table in front where his feet were resting. One of his arms ran down the head of the sofa while the other fumbled with the volume button on the remote.
Johnny stepped back and rested his head against the wall. Who was he sent by Luca? Rizzo? Ricci? Johnny couldn’t imagine any of Ricci’s men lounging about on the job, Rizzo’s boys were too stupid to find their way on the forty-second floor of an apartment building and that’s without the security that was stationed in the lobby. One of Luca’s? He peered around the corner, the man looked young, not a boy but couldn’t be more than thirty, he was muscular, but his dirty blonde hair wasn’t the profile of Luca’s crew. Luca’s crew was made up of the Capurso family and rugged noses and jet-black hair was present in every one them.
Hitman, maybe? Must be a cheap hitman, there were plenty of opportunities to kill him. Whoever he was, he was an idiot, one for entering the home of Johnny Bianchi and two for not killing him when he was in the shower, he would put up a hell of a fight now and Johnny Bianchi never lost. He pushed himself off the wall, raised his gun and turned the corner.
The couch was empty. The TV continued to blare but it was no longer being watched. Johnny spun expecting a weapon to be aimed at him from behind, instead, he found the man hunched over the kitchen island from across the room, picking at a handful of grapes. The man tossed one in his mouth, his eyes trained at Johnny, intrigue spread across his face. Johnny re-aimed his weapon, but the man did nothing but pop another grape in his mouth. “Nice towel”, he said in a voice as smooth as the fruit he was eating. Johnny sneered but said nothing, the silence an opportunity to assess his opponent. He didn’t look familiar, yet there was an easiness about him that made Johnny less cautious than he should be about someone who had just broken into his home.
His gun still aimed in the intruder’s direction, he asked, “who sent you? Was it Luca? You know he lost half of the family’s money on the tables, I’m sure I can double his investment.” Johnny’s brow furrowed, but he corrected it before confusion could settle on his face. Why was he bargaining with this guy? He was the one with the power, it’d be so easy just to shoot, but his finger made no move to the trigger.
“No, no Luca”, said the man, a smile crawling across his face as if he could hear Johnny’s internal struggle.
“Then who are you? Why you here?”
“Right, sorry, where are my manners”, the man stood straight and threw the grapes over to him, supposedly to catch but as Johnny was reluctant to drop his gun, he let them bounce off his chest and to his feet. The man continued as if nothing happened, “I’m Samael”, he said placing a palm to his chest, “and this”, he outstretched his hand and ran it across the open space between the living room and kitchen “is my new home”. Irritation throttled the confusion that was playing in Johnny’s mind, he scoffed, his finger finally reaching the trigger, which seemed to only add a gleam to Samael’s eye. “Yeah, you know I was surprised too, I had a penthouse a few years back”, he puffed out a breath audibly, “coming up to twelve years now. I’ve been living in one of those houses in the suburbs. You know the ones, big, more bedrooms than you need, a mile-long garden, friendly neighbours”, said Samael, a knowing smile at his lips. He walked towards one of the windows, “But you can’t beat that view, huh?” he sounded far away by the end as if he could see each individual person down there.
Johnny shook his head slightly, he knew the guy had just told him he was going to kill him and take his home, but his voice dripped with something else. Something that stopped Johnny raising his gun and shooting him square in the head. His voice dripped promise. Johnny placed his gun on the counter with a thud that made Samael’s eyes travel to it and patted it, letting his hand rest on top, “How about we make a deal? You tell me who you’re working for, you then change allegiances and I don’t shoot you between the eyes and throw you from that view you love so much.”
Samael’s mouth twitched, he started to speak but then looked over to near the TV. Johnny turned his head slightly in the same direction but saw nothing than the cartoon now playing on the screen. Samael tutted, “Ah, now as much as I love making deals, Johnny boy, especially when at least one participant is naked I must decline. Looks like your ride’s here.”
Johnny ground his teeth, he was done with riddles, this guy may know something but he wasn’t going to tell him and that made him a liability. “Then we’re through here”, he sneered and grabbed for his gun, his finger coiled around the trigger as he took one step forward and fell. His foot covered by the juice of the grapes that once laid at his feet, he could do nothing but stare at the sharp granite edge of the kitchen counter he was now tumbling towards. His head hit the side with a smack that echoed around the room.
“Poor, poor Johnny boy”, he heard the promising voice titter, as he felt himself slide to the floor, a trail of red following and then nothing.