Saturday, June 30, 2007

Page 4

In the midst of small talk that consisted of Lily naming the scientific names of plants, insects, and reptiles with Az trying to name the common name, the girl stood, her plate falling to the ground upside down. She clutched her head, eyes wide and panicked, sweat beads forming and clinging to her forehead and upper lip. She stumbled forward toward the water.

"They scream! Agonizing cries, so many all at once," Mad whispered. She turned to them. "Make them stop! I can't take the pain! Deafening, they plead but there's nothing I can do! Why me!" Upon uttering the last two words, Mad threw herself to the ground, curling into the fetal position and, oddly enough, speaking in tongues. A few languages they understood--French, German, Spanish, even Yiddish--but a few sounded ancient, unearthed only in horror movies or satanic cults, or rare cases of demonic possession. They didn't even bother to try to decipher it anymore. Lily just recorded what she could in a notebook, misspellings and all, for posterity's sake. Who knows, they might run across someone along the way who could make sense of it all. Az went to Mad and checked her vitals, which seemed to be running on a razor's edge. He wondered how long it would be before Mad's heart burst in her chest. These crazed episodes grew more frequent, the closer they traveled to New Promise. Azrael was convinced the dark one was there, but couldn't understand where Mad fit into the puzzle. He wasn't sure he wanted to find out, either.

Something bound them together for this mission, and he knew others would join along the way. But why? For what? To rescue a humanity that seemed content to suffer? To save the world? From what and for what? These were just some of the questions that sprang to his mind, but none of them seemed to have tangible answers. And even though that stirred his frustration, still he plunged ahead toward the unknown and a probable certain death.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Page 3

Just as he divided up the breakfast on three plastic plates, the girl drifted from her tent, walking on tip toes led by her nose, like Toucan Sam on the old Fruit Loops commercials he remembered from his youth. Just follow your nose, it always knows...

"I smell heaven," she whispered.

"No, just breakfast," Azrael said, flicking his cigarette.

Lily frowned, walking over and snuffing it with the toe of her boot before picking it up and putting it in the garbage bag. He snickered and shook his head.

"The world is goin' to hell in a hand basket and you worry about the occasional litter. You never cease to amaze me, Lil," he said.

"Well, I have to do my part, even if no one else does his," she stressed, sticking her tongue out at him and sitting next to the girl.

"Is that a promise?" he said, licking his lips.

"You'll just have to wait and see," she said, winking. The girl was oblivious to their obvious flirting, choosing instead to concentrate on shoving huge forkfuls of food into her mouth. The bad dreams always left her drained, of energy and mental stability. Food seemed to get her back on track.

"You could try tasting it before you swallow," Azrael said, tossing a water bottle toward the girl. She barely acknowledged that he was even there, nevermind that he spoke. He snorted. Lil stifled a grin. She couldn't decipher how Az really felt about Mad. Sometimes he seemed fatherly, at times protective, and at others he treated her as burdensome, like caring for her was a job, a chore, something shoved on him without warning. She supposed it really was. An odd connection linked them; Lily felt it from the very first day, but she had yet to understand what it involved. She wasn't sure she wanted to find out. Ignorance is bliss if it's timed right.