CELESTINE: A LONG WAY FROM TOMORROW
CELESTINE: A LONG WAY FROM TOMORROW
BY JONATHAN SYPHAX
IN THE BEGINNING...
"...When the great fall happened, "the angels wept."
...And all else that fell, in some timeless abyss between heaven or hell, made their place here! Three female scribes, known as "THE ORDER," had sat as the first council members and dwelled in the great, timeless halls of "Seraphim, located outside any world we known.
It is "The Council's," Heaven, their Zion!
But there would be a fall. Men sit in those seats that those three, female scribes once held so dear. They were placed there only to bleed, and die to protect them! Evil took shape; it became hungry, prideful, and ran like a plague over the land! Septum, who was the high priestess and eldest of the original council members did, indeed, bear witness to her ancestor's dissension from heaven, and had cradled, in her most distant stares, a great bit of grief.
War was evident! Blood drenched the soil! The sky turned red. So…Septum, who sat upon the war council, called on Harem, also a direct descendant of those fallen angels. Harem, leader of the "The Clive,"(a branch of "The Fire Clan,)" whose own bloodline would later make up one of the second of the new councilmen was immediately placed as war ambassador. He was also directly linked into Septum' bloodline, she was believed to dabble in a bit of magic, shape-shifting to be exact; it was said that Septums' link to The "Fire Clan," enabled her to change shape and transform herself into a powerful, winged lizard, DRAGONS! They possessed the heart of the great serpent master, "Talons!" Minx, the son of Harem was called, by his father's side!
The bloodletting was fierce and swift! The damage was total! Harem fell in the battle! But the dark army did indeed fall! But not without its casualties! Minx, along with () and () took the councils seat! (Celestine mother, who also sat on the original council seat due to illness, had died as well! Victory, at last, belongs to "The Council!"!
The "DARK ONE" was slain!
But Evil never dwindles, but wormed its way from planet to planet, cosmos to cosmos and, eventually, fell to earth. But no true victory can be complete if tainted by darkness, in the halls of Seraphim; judgment would be sure and swift. It would be given a name, before the final judgment of God, a name set to have always has been whispered as clearly as a song.
"Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you've gone away
You've gone away
You don't feel me here anymore"
Seether: Broken from the Daredevil soundtrack
Present time: New York
Present time: New York
The invading sky smears a muggy, gray film. Below it lies a Chapel, its steeples tower over the busy streets, slicing the clouds in 2. For me, the dead of night cuts like a straight razor. Before me, just inches, the chapel door is slightly cracked; splitting the light into two creeping lines, occasionally flashing in and out under the door’s threshold, indicating movement. He's here! Waiting…for me! Fancy that!
I enter and the door creaks. I am certain it gave my presence away. Not that it matters though. Aside from Prose, I am certain the chapel is empty. Daemons are daemons. The dead is to be placed beside the dead. It is way past the time of service. I take a few steps, past the chapel doors and stand stern, fist clinched. like a warrior, poisedI’m in my best, badass, take names, Diana Prince, aka Wonder Women pose. More movement. Nothing I can't handle. I hear my mother’s soothing voice.
“My daughter. My light. My blessed! This is what you were made for. This is what you are.” Granted, she is not here with me, but her sprit, her essence, the very lessons she taught me are. Her soul is anchored to my heart.
"The alter! Daemons fancy the alter!" His heals scrape the pristine, tiled floor. I turn towards the front of the church. Temple’s dark figure hovers just before it, his heals tapping down mere inches from it. His twilight, dead eyes are locked onto me, and, in his right hand is a set of rosary beads. A dirty towel is draped over the communal bowls side. He slips his hands into the communal bowl and wrenches them, but there isn’t enough of God for any communal bowl to wash clean what he had done. Temple removes his hands, gives them a few good shakes, takes the towel and proceeds to wipe them with an old, dirty hand towel.
"You're here! Good. Very good!” Temple says. A hissing sound trails from his lips, latching on the end of each word.
He’s a sick piece of work! He was a cult leader, highlighting as a pastor at the local Methodist Church; cut up a few kids really bad while he was at it, and just left them in his basement, like some soiled linen used to clean a furnace. He also tortured and killed Maisa, the assistant to my mother and one of my closest and dearest mentors...and friends. I can’t help but think of how many times she must have begged for her life. Yeah Sir-re, this is one job I will get a kick out of doing.
“Oh, such perfect angels they are, your "council," but have they not killed? And They send you to rid the world of what they classify as evil or unjust. Do you think anything you do here will matter? Dear child. Little, brittle, Celestine!”
My mind cuts him off, but Temple seems not to pick up on this. He is just caught in his own dark, twisted bravado…and more theatrics. He peers up at the light and cranes his neck. “You have no idea the gifts I gave her in her death." He lets out a tired growl. " I carry no guilt about what I have done to her." He lays down the towel on the altar's edge. "...Or what I will do to you."
“Kill me? Is that what you think? I wouldn’t count on it. But you can try!” I begin summoning the Masuri Blade. My weapon was given to me by my mother; and it suits me just fine. There is a whizzing, hum as the pentagram upon my waist begins to glow a humorous gold. There is a sharp, haunting crackle as it forms. Blue light pulses from the pentagon and forms a perfect, misty, sphere in my hands and cools and it is now a solid, silver sphere of mystic metallic blue. My hands shake. I begin reciting "The Councils'" prayer.
"Dear council, guide my hand...and my spirit to protect those who are innocent…” There is a sharp jerk from him at the mention of the word …innocent, a twitch I can only compare to a rabid wolf. His eyes widened and begins to slosh a horrid, mossy green. His fangs extend far beyond his gum line, as spittle molts like thick syrup from them, glopping onto the church floor. More theatrics. Deep down I know he's scared sh****. THEY ALL ARE! The rest of the prayer chimes in like a dreamcatcher.
"…so, my strike will be swift and without hesitance! Let whatever’s blood I spill wash away the darkness stalking us, and, upon this judgement, grant the evil one’s deliverance…from their deepest sin." He runs a cobalt black tongue along his powered, white teeth.
“I freed them, cleansed them, and gave them their immortality, cut by cut. Tear by beautiful tear. And the best part is, you weren't there to stop me.” My jaw tightens as his smile widens, exposing pearl colored teeth as they curve beyond his shinning, velvet lips. My fist tightens. A sharp hiss lisped through.
“I'll gut you, Daemon scamp.”
I grasp the hilt of both sides of the Musuri Blade so tightly that it's digging an indentation in my palm. I pull the blade apart, igniting a blue, bursting spark, separating it into two individual halves.
I slide the blade just inches down, just below eye level, raise an eyebrow, inviting him in! I couldn't stop a delightful smirk from breaking through.
I charge him as he swipes his claws at my head. I duck, sliding under his strike, circle behind him and grapple him up by the neck, slipping my grasp into a sleeper to wean him down. My arm is vice gripped around his throat now like a bear trap. I shove his head forward, placing pressure on his cerotic artery to make him blackout... but he is stronger than I had ever imagined. He delivers an elbow to my ribs and launches the air right out of me, following it with a second elbow, archling my entire body to the side, contorting its angle to an odd U curve. I loosen my grip and stumble back. He stands before me with his shoulders hunched, his claws gleaming against the candlelight, set for a second dance.
“I must move quickly!" I somersault over him and land directly in front of him and swipe the Musuri Blade across his cheek. His skin opens up like a gutted fish and a trail of black, oily blood pours from his cheek. It follows from the blades end, hooking in the air, landing like a mallet onto the chapel floor. Bullseye! No room for hesitation. I follow the action with a swipe to his throat. This is all done in one seamless movement. More blood jets out his butchered cheek and rushes over his chest, quickly carpeting the floor. His knees buckle and his legs do s rubbery, puppet like dance. He tumbles down to his knees as more blood flows down his neck and blanket his chest. Huffs of breath pops out through the slit like a gas leak, as more smears his lap. The wounds begin to heal. The skin begins to bind, and the bleeding slows down to a little more than a trickle. My jaw tightens and I must force my teeth from grinding to dust.
"Seems, "gawk" like we are not that different "gawk" after all!"
"I'm nothing like you!”
"Oh? I know more about you than you wish to believe, gawk…and your share of precious victims!!"
"No one I judge are victims! And certainly not you!"
"EVERYONE IS A VICTUM!" He yells, coughing out another batch of blood. He says it with such vile hatred that his body shakes. His voice breaks apart to a goat like cackle and what once was his face is now a broken, patchwork of broken, loose skin, contorted bone and peeling, yellow, grouted skin. A sinister grin rip through his once terrified expression, and rivers of blood wave through his pitiless eyes. "And you will learn this most of all!" Temple leans in, saliva seething from his pulled back lips. “You can’t save them...none of them!!! I will gut them all, "gawk "everyone closest to you, just as I had done to your blessed Maisa, just as I will do to that surrogate **** of a sister "gawk", Arista! Just as I will do to you.” My eyes widen. My fingers dig in tighter around the blade handle. How does he know her? If he even thinks of hurting her…I would gut every daemon as a result; I would leave a highway of bodies in his wake!
"Yeeeesssss." He hisses. “I know her well!”
“I will not let you hurt them. I will never let you hurt her!
" You won't be able to save her…or your precious council! You will weep for her! You will…"
"Guilty!" I say, and swipe the Musuri blades across his chest, one after the next, each slash deeper than the last. Blood splatters out in all directions and huge, gaping tracks of torn flesh flaps open like lips. More blood drips from the blade's stained tip.
I swipe the blade across his neck…one last time, cleaving his head right off! Blood spurts out from the arteries. His head tumbles in the air like a shot put and crashes down into the chapel floor with an unsettling splotch! It rolls and slows down to a series of bounces, slamming into the patrician wall and rocks to a sudden, jolting stop! The body give a good twitch. The chest of Pros' carcass contorts. It is consumed by a burst of orange and red heat. The chest emits a horrid cracking sound, like burnt kindling, as the Daemon’s fingers spider up from the chest cavity, ripping it open and pry’s its way out. The fingers web their way further up from the split like spiders’ legs, coiling out of the top edge of the chest, shoving it apart. The body gives a final death spasm...and stills. The chapel floor flies open. The smell of burning charcoal and sulfur fills the air. The floors shake and splits. Smoke smolders up from the gaping crack of the floor. A spirit, we call a "Reaver," climbs up from underneath the crack in the wood as the daemon pry’s itself up from what is now the Temple’s cracked chest. Its whole body is cloaked in a pulsing, red glow. Black dots outline its kindling, scorching its frame. The Daemons jerks towards the Reaver, as it’s old skin suit, what remains of Temples body, as we call it, sits as a dark marker beneath him. The Reaver lets out a high pitched, a grotesque rearoooowwlll that would crawl up any other human’s spine. But not mine. The Reaver's head snaps to the right. The Reaver hovers and waits. Immediately, the Daemon tries to scurry away, but the Reaver only smiles, waits a few moments and grapples the Daemon by the ankle. It tumbles forward. Its frame thunders down to the hardwood floor! The Daemon tries to fight, scratch, clawing, but its cracked, black nails only tear up swirls of tile and The Reaver begins pulling the Daemon towards him. Wood churns up underneath the daemons black, chips nailed, tracking lines like some wounded cougar dragged through the snow. It begins to kick, but the action only infuriates the Reaver further, as he gives his ankles a harder yank until there is a loud crack. The bone breaks, jutting out the skin and, as the Daemon lets out a dying yelp, as his eyes bulge out in fear. The daemon is further pulled towards the steaming hole and is pulled waist up into the hole, but he is still trying to escape, still trying to dig his nails deeper into the wood, screaming, crying, clawing! Cupping his forehead, The Reaver pry’s it back, cracking his neck in the process. The Reavers fangs juts forward, protruding out from the gum line. He lets out an anchored gawk. In a matter of seconds, he is pulled under the chapel floor. And the carcass that was once Temples aging body only flashes into a hellish red and orange lightshow of smoldering skin, left there was no more than a smoking husk of ash.
The deed is done! This evil has been extinguished! For now!
A huge, wooden cross depicting the Crucifixion of Christ hangs over the priest frame. Christ's head is bowed down. I stop. I don’t know why I was compelled to do so, or to gaze up at him; but I did. I can't move. I can't think. I am crippled by his mercy. I find myself a bit…broken, no more than a dying shadow of my better self. I pray...
"... I know I could have pleaded to the council for him, and they would have listened. Maybe I could have saved him, forgiven him. Maybe I could have helped him find some sense of…peace. But Maisa, my dear Maisa, was killed on his, dirty table, by his hand! HIS HAND! And, Oh, dear God, I was too late to stop it! I must live with that, somehow. And no matter what I try to feel, how I try to rationalize what happened...and what I have lost...I am no closer to understanding your ways! Dear God, what am I to do? I WILL have to keep the guilt of this lose wherever I go. I can try to forget...and... if I ever find the strength, maybe forgive, in the hopes…
…I can set the wrong things right."
Friday; 12:00 P.M.
"IT'S BEEN ONE YEAR since I killed Temple! One year since Mayra's murder. Thousands of dead Daemons later, and I’m still trying to feel something real, within, what is my crazy life."
I am, standing before the hotel window of some low-end dive called "The Golden Diamond, or The Golden Nugget, or saddle. Well, it’s Golden something. Ahh, nugget! That's it." But who calls their place “The Golden Nugget anyway?” Sounds more like some side dive buffet. Any minute you would expect Clint Eastwood to ride in some one horse town on his trusty steed, his dusty hat tilted to the side and his six shooters at the ready, saying, “Hey, do ya feel lucky punk, well, do ya?” Seriously... but there’s no Clint Eastwood here, and I sure as heck don’t have no six shooters at the hip! Be nice though. Anyway, I must keep things low key! Last thing I need is some foaming at the mouth “daemon” following me!
That’s what I do. I kill daemons! But not now; right now, Daemons are the last thing on my mind. In this instance anyway. What does blip up on my problem radar is the younger, attractive man sitting on the edge of my hotel bed. I’ve been “with him," if that is what you can call it, for 2 years.
“Celestine?” His voice trails off. I am wearing nothing. My arms are crossed in front of my chest. My palms are cupping each elbow. A thin, bottle necked track of dirt road spins out before me. Nothing but space.
“Celestine?” He says again. His hazel eyes glint a bright twilight and his stare cuts through a set of thin, intertwined locks. They run down to his shoulders, over his dark skin. It shines like a brass ring. He is sitting on the edge of the bed, half naked and all hunk.
"Ceeeleessstiinnnee?" He whispers, but this time he says it with a much slower drawl, much like a moan, as if my very name is some precious vase he's just might drop and shatter to pieces. I don't want to look at him again. It's always easier that way.
"Celestine?" I give him one glance and turn back at the dirt road ahead.
"You better go?" I answered.
"That's not what you want, do you? …Maybe we can make this…"
"Don't say it…don't even think it." I make an off, psttst sound at the mere idea.
“...Permanent.” He said it. He had to say it, and draws in his stare. I don't turn around. But I don't budge. He stays seated on the side of the bed, stands up and approaches me. He is over my shoulder now, and I could feel his warm breath smacking my back and crawls up my neck. He runs his lips over my shoulder, leaving small kisses with each brush. His shirt is bundled up by the leg of the bed. “Slowly. Slowly,” he does this. "So slow." I am hardily able to breathe.
"Look at me…Celestine?" I do not. “Please…look at me.
“I want to.” I think. “God, how I want to," and not just because of what we did, but because of how he helps me to...forget, the pain, the loneliness, the...guilt; but wanting this, possibly even needing this to be one bit different doesn’t stop all this from hurting any less, from feeling a tab bit…real.
“No!” I balk. My body begins to tremble as he slides his warm lips away from my shoulder, walks back towards the bed and grabs up his Docker jeans. He slides on his pants and yanks them past his waist, only to grabs his shirt up from the rug.
"Please…." He whispers. There's a slight crack in his throat, a choking upon his words that he tries to lull away with a casual breath. “Damnit, he's not making this easy."
“Are you sure you want me to go, Areal.” I winched, as my back stiffens all at the same time. I don't like people using my middle name, Areal! It was a special name, my mother’s name. What right does he have to assume, after one evening of lovemaking,(if lovemaking is what you can call it), that he knows me and can pry lose my most intimate secrets? No! Those things he doesn’t need to know. Those things he did not earn, nor deserve, not with what I do. I’m barely able to hide the shaking of my body.
“Yes. I want you to go…NOW!” I said.
“Ok,” he whispered, raising his hands in defense. I kept my back facing the door. He walks towards it, reaches it and grasp his coat from the back of the door handle...and stopped. His mouth hangs open like a Venus fly trap, trying to find something, anything to say to draw me in, to move me closer to him. I didn’t look back. His mouth clamps shut.
"Thank god. I was almost going to give in. How could I be so…"
"…Are you sure you want me to go? We don't have to leave things like...this!" He asks.
“…Foolish.” I think.
"Yes! I want you to go…NOW!" He hesitated, but only for a few moments, and turns toward me; trying to find something, anything to say to draw me back in, but the words, they just hang there, like a Venus fly trap, only to expel into a low, inaudible hum. But what can be said? There’s nothing left. Nothing at all! No dangling sentiments. No false goodbyes. Nothing! No! There is just me, in an empty hotel room, looking out to the bottleneck of a winding road just before me.
One desolate road back home. CHAPTER III
I had to move away from the hotel! It felt, somewhat, as if I were leaving the scene of a construction site that is way too devastated to remove the dabree.
I needed to feel…normal.
A cold frappe chino and a great book. I got it. I was certainly hell-bent on both. I decided to head down to my absolute favorite place on earth, Barnes and Nobles and Starbucks, (there must be a Starbucks in the Barnes and Nobel or I won't go, perfect combination!) It only took me 10 minutes to get to the local town square, and, in no time at all, I found a parking spot. On top of that, it was just two blocks up from my destination: adjacent to a Dunkin Donuts. Paint me green and tell me it’s Christmas, I’m set! I pulled into the parking spot, turned off the engine and got out. I love the unsuspecting, ease of a "rural life," the calm, slow atmosphere of the town square. It made me feel so...regal? I began walking down the main street. (add a little more). The world began to spin. My surroundings washed out to a white haze. As I stumbled my way off to the side, tripping my way through the crowds. I tried to find some way to gain my balance. I was hardly able to stand. I propped myself against the lamppost and anchored myself against it to hold myself up. I mean, my palm was pressed flat against it. My heels dug into the sidewalk, providing me with more support, as not to slip. Still, my legs shook like they were made from lasagna, as the world clouded into a dark, gray fog...and faded out.
I didn't know exactly where I was, but I did know it was a bar. The place was relatively empty and clogged with cigarette smoke. The scent of Marlboros and cheap cologne clogged the room. Chairs lined the main bar counter, and, at the end of it was a man hunched over, his face pinned down towards the table, his forehead pressed down, into the back of his hands. My sister sat at is center. Of, by the door there was grumbling; heavy, unsynchronized footsteps. I counted three men.
"Adele?" I called. Her head jerked up, towards the direction of my voice, but I could tell, by her distant gaze, she did not see me, nor could she pin down my voice.
The three more men came in, almost single file, loud, and already a bit wound up. They looked no more than in their mid to late 20s, (description of them) bad news, any way you slice it. Two of the three young boys broke away from the pack and slid into a booth on the right-hand side of the very beginning of the bar. (description). The remaining one was eagle eyeing my sister. (describe) He continued down the side of the bar, right in her direction. She pressed her palm against her purse, where I know, a Remington switch blade rest. The leader moved further down the bar and sat in the stool right next to my sister,(I assumed he was the leader because the other 2 dunder heads sat, waiting to make a move). He reached for her legs, as if a mere unintentional show of skin was as welcomed to a touch as a sibling’s kiss to their parents cheek. He leaned in close and whispered some inaudible words in her ear. Immediately, there was a heated exchange, yelling, cussing. I couldn’t hear it, nor, could make out her words. I can feel their anger, their hatred. I could feel her anger boiling…and her fear.
"Touch her and you're dead! Each one of you! You hear!" I balked! People walked by, giving me odd looks, but what the hell did I care! These three scumbags are about to come at my sister! Not on my watch!Not today! Not ever!” Her face was locked in a determined rage I know all too well! I saw her hand raise and lash down savagely, jerking the leaders face to the side, reddening his cheek on impact. His other goons stood up and immediately begin to charge her. The man, who was slapped, moved his palm from the side of his face and stared at his fingers; on them was blood. It was tracking down his cheek. He vice gripped her wrist and answered with a fist right to her lip, busting it open on impact. Her head did a sharp snap to the right as the strike knocked her to the floor.
"Sis!" I screamed.
"Help me! Someone help me!" She screamed. As she clawed and kicked and looked towards the flashing sign outside. "Joes Bar and Grill" flashed in the indifferent night. The address hung like a grave marker on the street sign, just outside the bar. (Put Name) I know that place. The buzz of the neon bar sign was hushed only by my sister’s screams. "Don't! Please don't," she cried.
"I must get to her! I must protect her." Time seemed to straddle by like a dying hag.
The leader went to his knees and pinned her arms down to the floor as the other two assailants held her legs apart. A line of slobber ran from his bottom lip. The leader cupped his hand around her neck and squeezes, as tears spills down her face.
For more of this exciting tale, you can pickup the novel and see what happens next, due for release in 2021