Saturday, June 10, 2017

Case 7 - Ep. 2: Heaven's Blind Spots

Trapped and Bloody by Beki Yopek
The Reaper and I swooped into Hooverville in the early 1930s, and it was prettier than a slumtown tornado, but not by much. Seattle city officials had burned down nine acres of shanties because homeless hobos had erected them on Seattle Port Commission land. The flames had killed the tin-roof shacks better than the residents, and hundreds of men were busy re-building the flimsy walls that went around their moth-eaten mattresses. Odors of burnt wood and b.o. mingled in the air like they did in my home Circle, New Purgatory. Only we had strippers’ perfume and sweet wine scents on the wind to spice up the place. 

I tucked my newly filled Blood Magic folio into the inner pocket of my trench coat and flew in close to The Reaper. “You can smell the death from here. Guess we’ll be busier than we thought.”

The Reaper shouted the way an avalanche does. “Keep your guard up, Avaline. Human death might be natural, or it might be engineered by The Pneuma Coalition.”

Raising a hand to block the sun’s glare off Elliott Bay on my left, I grunted. “Yeah, don’t remind me how powerless the law is. You’d think Heaven would be better on the enforcement end of things.”

“The Volunteer Guardian Angels can only watch so many cities at once. America’s economy is in a recession. Humans have thrown themselves from buildings rather than face reality. Do not forget where I found you last year after firing you.”

My lip zipped itself shut without me asking it to. That made two times The Reaper had worked with me after the biggest screw ups I’d screwed up. It was time to rebuild, not repeat the past.

I checked that the twin stilettos in the holster at my back were there, then touched down at the edge of the bay with The Reaper landing next to me. He gripped Seversoul in one black bony hand, and secured the hood of his robe over his head with the other. The sight of the scythe sent a spike of adrenaline through me and I marched right for Hooverville’s center, intent on finding the Septuplet who’d dodged Heaven Law, caused hundreds of human deaths, and blamed it on The Great Depression.

Mud squished under my boots and I made a mental note not to wear my Aurora flats or Persephone heels to work. Earning my job back with The Reaper meant utter professionalism, including work boots-with something in the toes-and weapons I’d left at home before. This was a trial run, so I paid attention to every fresh soul we passed on the way to Hooverville’s center. Half of them were chockablock full of life force, and the other half were drained husks that barely had any shimmer left to them. Every piece of information I could glean was a piece that could help me keep this job for centuries to come.

Spinning and tripping in the muck, I faced The Reaper and stood straight. “There’s no leadership here. The humans are rebuilding, but it’s like they expect to get burned out again.”

The Reaper swept Seversoul through a dozen souls and the drained ghosts around them. He made sure he didn’t hit the half-built shanties by accident. “Are there demons about?”

“No demon thieves,” I replied, “and no signs of any kind of magic. No Surface Magic, or Brimstone Chemistry, or--”

The Reaper harvested dozens more souls and a cluster of ghosts. “What are The Septuplets known for?”

I put a hand on my hip and watched raggedy men in dust-caked shirts moving in and out of the nearest shanty, carrying sheets of tin and hammers. “White collar super powers. Fourteen beings in existence have super powers, and The Septuplets make up half of them.”

“Can magic cause destruction like this?”

Taking in the burned soil and the plywood the men hauled into town, I said, “Blood Magic could. Or maybe some Heaven brand of magic. I can’t see a sign of it though. No demon’s blood, no pictures, no writings on the tin or in the dirt.”

“Logic should be telling you something important.”

No angel would use Heaven magic to burn a hobo homestead to cinders. Plus, no Septuplet I knew had a power that could immolate nine acres at once. Sure there were hundreds of souls here, but if The Pneuma Coalition was using magic or powers to devastate the homeless here, the SPD or VGA would have seen something by now.

A rolling tenor I recognized spoke from within the nearest shanty. “Thank you, Mayor Jackson. It is an honor to assist the residents of your little conglomerate. Rebuild. It is the best thing for everyone.”

Jack Te-Konos emerged from the shanty with Apathy following along behind him. Jack’s torn-up blazer and ruff flapped in the breeze, and that smug attitude matched his slicked down hair and tar-colored wings. Apathy, the bald careless Septuplet, cracked a smile when he saw me and The Reaper. One wink and Apathy was airborne, flapping toward Elliott Bay where the sun was setting into the rippling waters. 

I snarled and snapped both wings out, ready to stick it to Apathy in a high-speed flight. Jack spoke something in French and a tin wall from a nearby shanty blitzed me like a linebacker. I leapt upward and barrel rolled to avoid the attack, but the fallen angel yelled more French words while I did. A second tin slab sandwiched me against the first one in mid-air. 

Reaching for my Blood Magic folio, I screeched, “You don’t get to screw with me a third time.”

Jack’s shout reverberated against every air molecule around me and The Reaper. “Heaven intervened on your side and that backfired. Now The Coalition has human officials under our claws too." 

Pinned by two heavy slabs of metal, I couldn't even reach the stilettos in their holsters. 

The fallen angel extended a hand and hissed more French spell words. Then he swept his greezy hair back. "I explained you were flying into a hurricane. Not my fault you didn’t listen, Avaline.”

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