Short excerpts from the rough draft of Fallen Angel.
The rain was coming down hard and the wind whipped Kell’s lightweight windbreaker out behind him, the pockets full of items smacking him hard on his sides, but he didn’t notice. He was too busy digging, and crying. His mind howled with the winds that blew sticks and leaves into his face. It shouldn’t have happened. He knew how to keep things under control. But he didn’t and now he was here in the back flowerbeds digging.
Hopefully he’d have time to complete his mission before midnight when Uncle Tal would be done with his prayer vigil at church. Prayer. What a croc. What had praying ever gotten him? Look where he was now, digging in the night to hide his sin.
He looked over at the sheet-covered form on the ground next to him and his anger at himself amplified to match the fury of the storm. He reached down and picked up a bottle of whiskey that he’d stolen from under the kitchen cabinet where his Uncle Tal kept it hidden and took a big swig. What the heck, he’d already committed the biggest of sins. What did it matter if he added to it now?
Whiskey was supposed to get you drunk but Kell didn’t feel like it was helping anything. It just made him feel angrier and so he dug faster. The storm continued to pace his mood, flinging rain and debris at him as he worked.
While he dug he poured out his fury. Fury at God. Why would God make someone like him, someone who could do something so terrible? If it was His intention it was a really sick joke. The thought occurred to him again that maybe God had nothing to do with his creation. That left one other option—one he felt was more likely. He dug harder.
Finally Kell judged that the hole was deep enough to keep away animals and that his Uncle Tal wouldn’t dig down to when working the beds later in the spring. He threw down the shovel as he fell to his knees in front of the bundle on the ground.
“I’m so sorry, so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Kell wiped his arm across his eyes inadvertently adding dirt and leaves to his tears. The storm seemed to increase in volume, as if in answer to his pleas for forgiveness. Lightning struck very close. Kell could feel the sizzle of ozone as he heard the air slam back together in a ferocious crack.
“So sorry. Please forgive me,” he sobbed. The lump on the ground didn’t respond. Feeling the silent accusation Kell slowly stood, pulled the bundle into the hole he had dug, and began to cover it with shovel full after shovel full of muddy soil until the hole was filled and he had raked the soil around to look like nothing more than his uncle’s early spring bed preparation.
Sitting back in the muddy grass he felt a flash of gratitude for the storm that would cover his tracks. As that flash dissipated his sorrow and self-hatred returned. Taking another long pull from the whiskey bottle Kell lay back in the muck and cried.
Hutton opened her locker door and saw her scowling face reflected back in her locker mirror. Oh crap. I look like Kelter Skelter. Instantly she felt a pang of guilt for even thinking that thought. It was mean. She sighed as she stashed her book bag and pulled out her history, math and physics books.
When she flipped her locker door closed she found herself face to face with five feet of fairy energy, Aimee. And she didn’t look to happy.
“So what happened yesterday? We were supposed to go to the mall and shop for homecoming dresses?” Aimee’s arms were crossed and her long chocolatey curls vibrated to the tapping of her booted toe on the linoleum floor.
“I’m sorry Ames. I really didn’t feel well yesterday.” She didn’t say she had to stay home on her portable oxygen collector all evening to keep from biting something. “I promise I’ll make it up to you. We’ll go this weekend and pick the perfect outfits.”
Aimee’s scowl softened. “It’s not Evan is it?” she asked.
“No, no not that. Just the stupid blood thing and the stress of the start of school I guess. I just needed to take it easy last night. Besides, you know how Pops gets when I’m not feeling all that hot. He acts like I’m going to break in half.” Hutton rolled her eyes.
“Yep, I totally understand.” Aimee laughed. “Then lets plan for this week—. “Ow!” Aimee yelled as Jester Marks moved on down the hallway after slamming into her. “Jackass!” she called after him. He didn’t even look back.
Aimee rubbed her shoulder. “Stupid jerk. I’d like to see him try that when Luke was around.”
“Ha! That’ll never happen. Jester may be a bully but he’s a big coward. I don’t know why you don’t do some witchy thing to him.”
“Oh, no way. He’ll make his own karma. I don’t want anything I do to him coming back on me. Rule of three, and all that. His day’ll come.”
Aimee was an unusual bird in a place like Lubbock. She was a full on Wiccan, born and raised that way by her mom, Lissa, who also happened to be best friends with her dad for as long as she and Aimee could remember. Her boyfriend, Luke was Wiccan too, but he was newer to the religion. Either way, both of them had put up with their share of harassment at school. Luke was a varsity quarterback, but he had to play three times harder than all the other guys to get consideration, and his parents had had to step in and run interference for him more than once. Nowdays Luke was big enough and tough enough to stand up for himself. Students respected him and he rarely had any issues over religion.
Aimee’s mom had been down to the school a few times, too. Hutton remembered the big issue over religious jewelry when Aimee was sent home from their middle school for wearing a pentacle to school and refusing to remove it. She explained it was a symbol of her religion and insisted she would not remove it unless all students were prohibited from wearing crosses, ankhs, ohm symbols and any other representation of a religion as jewelry or on a t-shirt.
She’d been promptly expelled from school, and Lyssa had promptly filed a lawsuit. In the end the school backed down and Aimee was allowed to wear her pentacle. She also paid the price for sticking to her guns. That year her locker was defaced regularly, people shoved raw liver through the vents, and her books were stolen from her locker or desk repeatedly only to turn up around school with Satan’s Handmaiden, Witch, Whore, Evil Spawn of Satan and other ridiculous words written all over and inside them.
Strangely Aimee never complained. She refused to get new textbooks because she said they’d just ruin those too, opting instead to carry the defaced ones around the school like an honor badge or something. She said they needed to see what they’d done and see that she wasn’t scared of them. Hutton was horrified and had her own inner struggle over Aimee carrying around those books. It was embarrassing, but Aimee and she’d been best friends since they were in diapers. In the end Hutton sucked it up and took her own razzing for being friends with the enemy. And after a while things calmed down and people pretty much left them both alone. At the end of the school year Aimee’s mom had to pay for the damaged books. She never commented either other than to say that the kids’ behavior reflected their parents’ fears.
Hutton studied her friend for a few seconds before she spoke. “You’re a better man than I am, Ames.”
Aimee’s pixie face lit up with laughter as they stepped into the stream of students moving down the hallway. “Well considering neither of us are men, I’m not sure if that’s a compliment, but I’ll take it. Lunch at Ly Chi’s?”
“Sure, that’d be great. See you in a few hours,” Hutton called out as she ran for the stairs. Why did first period class have to be on the third floor? Just as she started up the second flight she spotted Kell coming down, head down, usual scowl on his face. Too bad he’s such a grump. He’s really kind of cute. I bet he’d be totally hot if he knew how to smile. As if he knew she was thinking about him Kell he looked up directly into her eyes, and there went that electric zing again. Oh crap.
Hutton tripped over a step and stumbled, dropping her notebook and sending papers flying everywhere. Kell looked back down and kept on moving. Hutton scrambled to pick up her homework and notes before they could be trampled. That jerk! He didn’t even offer to help, she thought as she stomped back up the stairs. She looked down where Kell had continued on to only to find him staring up at her. Not again! Hutton had to force herself to look away as she made her way up the final flight to the third floor. The bell sounded just as she crested the top step and she had to dash across to her AP History class to make it in the door before it stopped ringing.
Hutton realized she was all goosebumpy as she slid into her desk dropping her books on top.
Oh this was so NOT good.
As dusk settled in Kell carefully crawled up on top of a stack of old ruined chairs next to the boarded up entrance of the abandoned dance hall, doing his best to be as quiet as possible. Once on top of the stack he found himself just under the eave of the entrance area and in front of the only window in the whole building. He used his thumbnail to scratch a tiny hole in the paint that had been plastered across outside of the glass, and thanked the universe that the paint was on the outside and not on the inside. Otherwise he’d have no idea what he was walking into.
Wrapping his hands around his face and eyes to completely cut out any light and help him see the dark interior of the building a bit better, Kell found that with his superior vampirish vision it didn’t take long for his eyes to adjust to the gloom and find the only source of light in the far corner. Kell's heart skipped as his eyes registered what was going on in the far corner of the building. Hutton was there, and so was Aimee, both attached by their arms to manacles, which were attached to chains that held them suspended about a foot off the floor.
Hutton was awake and glaring at an old rugged looking vampire wearing a crumpled cowboy hat. Aimee’s head hung and her long hair covered her face. She wasn’t moving. Two other vampires stood to the side, one with gray hair wearing a business suit. Kell guessed it was probably Simon Baker. The other one was all too familiar. Jester! Kell felt face heat with anger. He was going to see to it that Jester paid the price for setting them up, for getting him kicked out of his house, and for hurting the one person he had ever felt happy with.
Kell almost lost his footing, and the stack of chairs wobbled and groaned under his weight so much that he had to take his hands away from his face and grab the windowsill to settle himself. He took a deep and shaky breath before carefully reaching into his pocket for his cell phone. Pulling up his messenger he sent out a mass text to the group, “HURRY!” He slipped the phone back into his pocket and turned his attention back to the window and the scene inside.
Just as he peered back in Hutton lifted her feet up and landed a kick square in the center of Baker’s chest, knocking him back several feet. Jester reacted with a hard punch across Hutton’s jaw. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth and she turned her glare from the old guy to Jester. He didn’t hear what she said to him, but she followed it by spitting blood in his face. Jester wiped the blood away and stepped forward, careful to avoid Hutton’s feet. He whispered something in her ear that caused her to glare harder and struggle more before he moved to Aimee, grabbed her hair and yanked her head back violently. There was blood running down her neck. Jester smelled her hair and then leaned in to take another bite.
No, this is not going to happen.
Kell made a quick check of his backpack. He had his personal stake, a bag of salt and a small squirt bottle of holy water. Not much for facing off a nest of vampires on your own. He needed time but there was no time left for Aimee. Kell stuffed the salt in his pocket, grabbed the stake in his right hand and the squirt bottle in his left. Here goes nothing. He leapt off the stack of chairs and shot through the window sending shards of glass flying everywhere. Three vampires hissed in unison as Kell stood up, stake in one hand and holy water in the other.
He looked pointedly at his ex-friend. “Hello Jess. Do you and your pointy-headed little friends want to come out and play?”