Guest Author ~ Erica HayesPosted: February 22, 2013 | |
A fallen angel with a mission and a medical examiner who’s lost her faith are fighting for their souls in a glittering, near-future Manhattan…
Blind faith is for fools. That’s what Dr. Morgan Sterling believes. And she’s going to prove it by curing the zombie plague ravaging her city’s slums. She’s certain it’s not a sign of the End of Days, but a nasty disease—until an angel appears in her morgue in a flash of glory.
Luniel is not just a fallen angel. He’s a powerful warrior sworn to fight evil in hopes of a chance at redemption. He’s after the demon princes who are stealing the seven vials of holy wrath which, when perverted, will unleash eternal hell on earth.
To stop the plague, Luniel needs Morgan’s help, and her faith. But Morgan believes science is their salvation. If the zombie plague is a demonic curse—and if Luniel is true—he’ll have to prove it. Even if he loses his heart to true love or his soul to Hell…
Today, of all days. It was Thursday. The world couldn’t end on a Thursday.
Luniel, the fallen angel, crouched on the shore of Liberty Island in a hot August sunset with blood lapping at his feet. It licked the rocks beneath his boots, clotting. All the way across the bay, to the firelit Brooklyn shore and the gleaming blue arcs of the Narrows Bridge, what used to be water gleamed sick and scarlet.
The angel sniffed the air, and tasted copper. A dead fish bobbed belly-up, pale white flesh and fins. He poked the warm liquid with his finger, and licked. Yeah. Definitely blood. And human. There were seaweeds and algae that sported the same fleshy color. But Luniel had tasted enough blood in his three thousand years to know this wasn’t algae.
He straightened. No breeze flicked his long black hair back. In his human guise, he had no wings. He scanned the distant shore with sharp blue eyes, further than any human could see, and his nose twitched. Hunting. For something. Anything. A trick. A college prank. A fish slaughterhouse. Overflow from some industrial accident, one of the factories along the built-up Jersey waterfront spilling toxic chemicals.
Not a sign of the Apocalypse. Not God’s wrath.
Across the bloody bay, Babylon’s glittering towers razored the red sky, the decadent sprawl of skyscrapers and spires they once called Manhattan. The sunset flashed on steel and mirrored windows, glaring in competition with neon lights and rainbow columns of virtual advertising. Even from here, Lune’s preternatural ears detected buzzing electrics, the faint digital beep of comms towers, snatches of conversations, and in his magical angelsight, the city glowed, green with the living, pulsing energy of human souls.
Helicopters lasered their searchlights through smoke and heat haze, sweeping over burned-out housing projects and shining condominiums. Traffic noise hummed, the groaning subway, horns and engines and wailing sirens, police and fire and the ever-more-urgent ambulances. At the height of summer, plague had stolen into the Empire State like a homicidal houseguest, more frightening than California dengue and deadlier than arctic flu, and people were afraid.
But terror happened in Babylon, the world’s richest, rottenest city of sin. You only had to look at the shining glass spire piercing the sky, one hundred and ten stories high, built back in wiser days where a pair of ill-fated twin towers once stood. The world had turned ever more rapidly to shit since then, but Luniel still remembered that day well. That day, angels dived for earth, fiery wings flashing, but it was too late. Even the fallen, like Lune, were powerless. The people screamed and died and thought the world was ending.
Horrific? Yeah. But the monkeys had no idea what they were in for.
What the end of the world would really be like.
Luniel shivered. This wasn’t over yet. It couldn’t be.
He dug into his jeans pocket for his phone, and speed-dialed. Trendy SIM implants in your ears were all very well for humans, but fast-healing angelflesh rejected biotech. The irony was pleasing and bitter. “Come on, Ithiel,” he muttered. “Answer your rotted phone.”
Ithiel was still on heaven’s A-list, but he and Lune stayed in contact. If anything was going down, Ith would know. But voicemail kicked in, his brother’s laid-back laughter: I’m busy. Leave a message. If I give a shit, I’ll call back.
Luniel swore—even after centuries, defiance felt good—and waited for the beep. “Party never stops upstairs, huh. Call me, asshole,” he said, and ended the call.
A week. Ithiel hadn’t answered for a week. And now this.
It could be stupid luck. Coincidence. Random events colliding like flotsam.
But after two millennia spent dealing out heaven’s wrath, and going on another one walking the earth and seeing it all from the other side, Luniel was wearily certain that what goes around, comes around to kick you in the balls.
Coincidence was bullshit. Nothing was random. Everything happened for a reason, and fate was one dastardly, despicable motherfucker you just couldn’t avoid.
But inexorably—inexplicably—the blood lapping at his feet made him angry.
Defiantly, recklessly, sinfully angry.
Erica Hayes was a law student, an air force officer, an editorial assistant and a musician, before finally landing her dream job: fantasy and romance writer.
She writes dark paranormal and urban fantasy romance, and her books feature tough, smart heroines and colourful heroes with dark secrets.
She hails from Australia, where she drifts from city to city, leaving a trail of chaos behind her. Currently, she’s terrorizing the wilds of Northumberland.