Dissolution, Chapter 1: Rebel Spirit (Original Story)
I came up with this based on a theme requested by “K4KING” on ZeldaDungeon.net’s forums. He suggested writing about angels being perceived as evil and demons being perceived as good, without actually swapping their true alignments. I liked the idea and this is what I came up with, and I’m definitely going to write more on this. I shoved a good bit of lightly symbolic stuff in here… some of it corresponding to my own beliefs. I don’t mean this to be anti-religious in any sense… kinda the opposite actually.
Also you have no idea how many times I accidentally misspelled “Joseph” as “Jospeh” and had to fix it during editing. xD Credit to milos for the stock photo I used for the preview image.
She was beautiful. That was all he could think at the time and it pushed all other thoughts from his mind. He couldn’t see her face, or anything. He could only see her back, covered in a white robe as she lay face-down on the concrete. But she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.
Joseph’s day had been much of the usual. He got up in the morning for work, a task for which he was obligated as all able-bodied people were. The usual grizzly sights abounded as he was commuting. He was aware of private acts taking place in dark corners of the streets as usual. There was somebody dead when he got off the bus. Just laying there on the street, covered in blood. He felt sick. He always felt sick. His life was ugly. It had been his entire life, living in his city. He’d heard it was better elsewhere, but he never could know for sure. He just had other people’s word for it; all of his requests to relocate or even to go on vacation were denied. So he was stuck in the dirty, disgusting, UGLY place he’d lived in his entire life.
His eyes lingered on the body there for a while, and he thought “Deja vu.”
He felt sick.
After his hours were up, he just wanted to get home as fast as he could. It was clean, he kept it that way. No one could hurt him there. But outside his door, there she was, lying in a pile of feathers. The single most beautiful thing he’d ever seen in his ugly life.
“Luce,” Joseph uttered, blinking and remembering where he was and what he’d been doing. He wiped his tears off on his sleeve. He had been crying. He hadn’t even noticed it.
Joseph walked over to the girl.
“Hey, are you okay?” he asked her. As soon as he said it, he regretted it. What if she was dead? Like the man on the street?
But she wasn’t. The slightest movement of her head betrayed that she had heard him, and after a few moments of awkward silence, she sat up using her arms and slowly turned to look at him.
“Oh,” he gasped.
He realized she wasn’t… or she…? She looked like a girl to him. That’s how she looked. Physically, that’s what she was. But somehow, even though it wasn’t rational, he kept thinking she wasn’t a girl… but he couldn’t figure out why.
“Thank you,” she said, taking the glass from him and gulping thirstily. Her voice was… he couldn’t describe it.
“Yeah…” he said in a daze.
Joseph sat down in a chair at the kitchen table, straddling it. He watched her as she sat there drinking. She finished quickly, and after a moment of looking at the glass, she turned to him and looked straight into his eyes. She looked away immediately. Their eyes hadn’t met for even half a second. But he felt anxiety now, for reasons he couldn’t begin to understand.
“So, what we-”
“Ah!” she cried, interrupting him. Her hand shot to her chest near the front of her shoulder and she dropped her glass. She turned her head around and felt at her back.
“What’s wrong?” he asked urgently, jumping up and moving over to her.
She got up and rapidly moved away from him, knocking over the chair. “Nothing, nothing. Do… do you have a bathroom?”
“Yeah…” he said, unconvinced. He pointed down the hall and she quickly shuffled away, still holding her chest.
Joseph stared after her in confusion — and maybe amazement — before he moved to clean up the glass. But he stepped on something soft. He looked down and lifted his foot to see. Feathers. He stared after the girl, now out of sight, forgetting about the glass. He shook his head and began to pace, debating with himself whether he should do what he was thinking of doing. Eventually he made his way over to the bathroom door and reached for the doorknob, but hesitated as he held onto it. His head cocked slightly as he thought about it again, only a second later pulling his hand away. He held his forehead as he turned around and walked back into the kitchen.
She came out a few minutes later, stopping in the hallway and staring at him… without making eye contact. There was blood on her clothes, feathers stuck to it.
“You didn’t open the door,” she said.
“Mm,” he acknowledged. “I know you’re about to ask me, so no, I don’t know why.”
“I wasn’t. I already know why.”
He raised his eyebrow but didn’t ask what she meant. She walked past him. Everything she did was… hypnotizing. And the weird thing was, even with how she looked, he didn’t feel any… well, anything towards her. Nothing sexual. No attraction. It was that feeling again. Like she wasn’t what she seemed, or wasn’t what she was.
“You want to know what I am,” she said, her back still turned as she began to disrobe.
Joseph looked away instinctively as she removed her robe, but only moments later he could feel her eyes on him and he felt compelled to look back. Now he could see where the feathers had come from. Stretching out from her back were two wings, which gingerly unfolded, covered in blood. The rest of her body was covered in two other pairs of wings. It was as if she hadn’t disrobed at all; she was still completely covered by the other wings. There were six, altogether. Only the uppermost pair was unfolded. She was looking at him, but her gaze was somewhere just below his eyes. His nose or cheeks, maybe. She wouldn’t look into his eyes again.
“You’re…” Joseph began, thinking and changing his words. “You look like a demon.”
She tilted her head. “Demon?”
There was a long silence.
“I see,” she said finally.
She moved over to him swiftly and leaned into him before he could react, putting her palm on his forehead.
“You’re an antitheist,” she said. She frowned as she said it.
“Yes…” he replied slowly.
“Why?” she asked.
“You’re asking me this time?” he asked.
“Why?” she repeated.
“…Never felt right to me.”
She moved her palm away and took a step back. She wasn’t looking at his face now, just gazing nowhere in particular. “What didn’t?”
He looked at the ground. “Lucifism. Never felt right to just… cut loose. Do anything. Always felt like there were lines I shouldn’t cross. Lines that nobody should cross.”
“And you believe that even if it’s blasphemy?” she asked.
“Can’t avoid believing what I believe. I just don’t tell people about it,” said Joseph, looking at her again with a scowl. “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I shouldn’t be. It doesn’t make sense.”
“But it feels right.” The girl turned away from him and walked a few paces in that direction.
He stared at her, confused at how readily he opened up to this girl. He waited for her to say something, but she didn’t. No explanation, no questions, no nothing.
Finally, he asked her. “What are you?”
Her head turned slightly, but she didn’t look at him. “…A demon.”
He shook his head in frustration, his hands on his hips. “A demon. Right. So you’re saying Lucifism is real, then?”
“It doesn’t matter what they call me. I don’t really have a name. It only matters that they switched the names.”
“Who’s they?” Joseph asked.
The girl looked at him again, but she didn’t answer. She just waited.
“…The angels?” he asked.
Her meaning had started to dawn on him. “So… what, then? It’s a lie? Angels are really deceptive, winged dictators, and the demons are really red-skinned men? We had it all wrong?”
She didn’t answer.
“Did we?” he asked.
“I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to decide,” she said.
“The angels would gladly tell me!” Joseph cried in anger. “They’re always telling us things.”
“I am not an angel,” was all she said.
Joseph stared at her a moment in frustration, then pounded his fist on the table, swearing aloud. He held that position for several minutes, before speaking to her again.
“So how did you get here then?” he asked her.
She was quiet for a minute, then, sadly, she said “Exorcism, I suppose.”
Joseph thought for a minute and remembered that word coming up recently. Several of the angels, on the official broadcasting networks, said they were trying a new procedure to rid the world of demons for good and free the human race. They never really explained what it was, but one of them had come by this neigborhood drawing weird markings on the ground, but he left without talking to anyone and erased the symbols. He had been out there for hours, but no one dared to ask him about it.
“So that’s when the ang- Or… the demons. That’s when the demons brought you here?” Joseph asked.
There was loud knocking at the door.
The girl quickly moved to Joseph and whispered in his ear.
“Answer it,” she said. “Quickly. Do whatever they say. Cooperate.”
He gulped. But he nodded. He watched the girl move into the bathroom to hide, then he quickly walked past the bathroom to the front door and looked through the peephole. Outside there were two men in trenchcoats and Stetson hats, but he could see their faces though they were shadowed. Red skin, cracked and disfigured faces. They were angels… or… they were actually demons.
Joseph opened the door. One of the creatures immediately walked lightly past him, casually looking around. He strolled into the kitchen. The other waited at the door and turned to Joseph.
“May we come in?” he asked.
Joseph nodded. He tried to keep his face clear of whatever emotion he felt. They definitely knew about his repeated requests to move out of the city or at least to switch jobs and probably suspected he was a problem citizen.
“I am Jack, and he is John,” said the demon, stepping in the way his friend had. “Tell me, has anything strange happened lately?”
Joseph slowly closed the door, thinking about what to say. “Strange… how?”
John called from the kitchen. “Paranormal activity, sir. Anything that just shouldn’t happen. Something unnatural.”
Joseph pretended to think for a minute then shook his head. Both the demons, who had been watching him, turned to look at each other at his response. John moved out of the kitchen and got uncomfortable close to Joseph, looking down at him.
“We’re talking about demons,” said the real demon. “Have you seen anything that fits the description in the books? Deceptively beautiful? We know one appeared in this neighborhood, and there’s a pile of feathers outside your door, sir.”
Joseph just stared, trying to think of what he should say, but Jack didn’t wait for him, and stepped forward to speak.
“We know that your loyalty to the society is doubtful, Joseph. You haven’t been to church in a long time. Now, many do not attend church often, and that is fine because they may be busy with their work or they could be going out on the streets to commit virtuous acts. But you spend most of your time at home and have repeatedly requested a different job, a different home. What have you been up to, sir?”
Joseph gulped. He desperately tried to figure out what he should tell them, and then he remembered what the angel girl had told him. She told him to cooperate. So he decided to trust her.
“O-okay,” Joseph stuttered. “There’s one in my house. I didn’t know what she was, I swear. When you knocked on the door, she ran to hide and I didn’t see where she went. But she’s still somewhere in here.”
John smiled twistedly and nodded. “Good boy. Since you told us, you will not be punished. Trust me on that. Now wait by the front door. We’ll find her.”
Joseph nodded and did as they said. He didn’t think that was true. That they weren’t going to do something to him. He could tell that they were lying. But he listened to the angel and did everything they said.
The demons moved into the other rooms, looking for the angel, and as they moved out of sight, she emerged from the bathroom and walked up to Joseph, putting her hand on his cheek.
“Good. Good,” she said. “I’ll handle this. I’ll make sure you get out of this.”
He closed his eyes. “Fine. Just answer something for me, will you?”
He opened them again and looked at her, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Tell me in YOUR words what’s really going on. What you are. What they are. What’s happening to the world.”
She stared into space for a minute and then shook her head.
“Why not?!” he yelled, a little too loudly. He could hear them running.
The angel turned away from him. “Because you will have to decide for yourself.”
Joseph didn’t respond to that as he stared at her and watched what happened next. The two demons ran out of a doorway into the hallway, stopping when they saw her.
“Well, well, well,” said John. “That certainly looks like an angel.”
“Demon,” Jack corrected.
“Yes, yes, of course. How silly of me,” John replied. He glanced at Joseph and winked.
John lifted his hat and out of it he took a small dead animal. What type it was was unrecognizable; it was mangled beyond recognition. He grabbed it by the tail and held it out at the angel. As he did so, the creature seemed to come back to life and it convulsed and cried, as though it were in agonizing pain.
John smiled and returned the creature to his hat. “Definitely got one here. It worked. The test worked. This is mighty good news.”
Jack put his hand on John’s shoulder. “Are you going to take care of it or should I?”
“I’ll do it,” said John, grinning. He removed his trenchcoat and hat and set them on the floor, kneeling on the floor and shifting his posture so that he was standing on all fours. And then he ran at the angel, howling as he charged.
Joseph was more afraid than he had been in his entire life, but he watched the angel as she unfolded all of her wings and out from her body a blinding light drowned the room in white. Joseph squeezed his eyes shut, and all he heard was howling and snarling until the light disappeared and he opened his eyes.
One demon was now just a pile of ash. The other was burned, but he was intact and lying on the floor. And so was she. He ran over to her and knelt. She was covered in blood, cuts all over her body.
“Oh, man,” he said. “What can I do?”
She just shook her head. The light came again, and when he opened his eyes, this time she was gone. Joseph stayed there, kneeling, not knowing what to think. Then the demon… he couldn’t tell which one because his face was so badly burned now… he stood up. Joseph looked up at him in fear.
The demon looked around. He seemed completely dazed, and didn’t look like he was thinking straight. Then he looked down at Joseph.
“Hm, guess we…” he began, frowning as he stopped. “Don’t know why I said that. Guess I was mistaken. There’s no demon here.”
Joseph blinked. “Huh?”
“No demon here,” he repeated. “Guess the exorcism didn’t work. Sorry to bother you sir.”
The demon took one last, confused look around the room, then left through the front door. Joseph stayed there for a while, not knowing what he should even think after all that had happened. Then he went into his bedroom and lay down on his bed.
Joseph knew one thing for sure. If he never felt right about the world as it was before, then he certainly wouldn’t now.