Cado Angelus

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They’d trapped him cleverly. Baited the trap with the child. Her child. The one he hadn’t known about, but recognized instantly as his own. Winglets. Primaries just losing their down as true feathers grew. His wings, and her face, that soft, heart-shaped face, the golden skin a perfect setting for the black almonds of her eyes. The child — his daughter — there, in the middle of their arena, innocent, though she wouldn’t be for long unless he acted.

The irony didn’t escape him: the hypocrites waving their religious tomes with one hand and readying themselves for ravaging with the other. They would rape innocence in order to trap one who had stood where they never would stand, had sung with a voice they could not even hear, had left what they said they strove for in order to have what they took for granted.

He’d known it was a trap, and yet he was powerless to avoid it. He could not, would not let this child — his child, dear god, his daughter — pay with her sweet soul for the sins of his body. He’d stooped, wings pointed to the sky, spilling air, screaming, towards her. At the last possible instant, he’d drawn her to his chest, cradled her for the first and last time, and thrown her with all his might, knowing she’d be caught and cared for by the Watcher his skriegh had summoned.

The net was spring-loaded, deployed as he’d spread his wings to capture the sky and pull him out of the stoop that saved her and damned him. He fought, tore at the cording, tore at the arms and chests and faces of his captors. But even the strength of angels cannot prevail against hypos filled with haldol cocktails.

The chains had come while he was out; the beating, the carving curse of proclamation when he was fully conscious. “Cado Angelus” they had chanted, as if they were informing him, as if he didn’t know who and what he was. He strained against the manacles as they kicked groin and gut, battered face and back.

Now they’d left him, finally, alone in disgrace, the light of a single spot illuminating his shame. He hung there from his bloody wrists, and wept even as his secret heart rejoiced, tears and joy leaping from the same knowledge: he had a daughter; he’d saved her life. One touch, one brief touch, and it was all the father he would ever be to her. He prayed it would be enough.

When the weeping stilled, when he could weep no more, he waited. There would be more, he knew. With every shift of the air, he tensed, bid farewell to life and prayed for death as the imagined cross-wielders approached. But they never did. They left him, deserted him, denying him the comfort of even the hatred of others, for hatred is better than emptiness. 

His shoulders screamed, pulled just enough from their sockets to allow slight movement. Movement which seized his rotator cuffs and scraped, compressed, twisted, far more painful than the strain he sought to relieve. His throat ripped with the force of his agony escaping, the only part of him that could leave this place, his shrieks.

He came to the end of himself over and over. Relinquished his hold on life, wooed death, seduced her with his charms — and always he found himself living still. Living, yes, but hardly sane anymore. He welcomed the madness, the hallucinations, for at least they were companions, the … things … that crawled over and under and through him, sinking phantom teeth into his kidneys, munching with acid-dipped molars on his testes, dancing a pink waltz over his cheekbones and into his ears, slithering around his back to emerge from his navel, skittering antennae over the soles of his feet.

And then even they left him. A shell, empty. Alone.

Long after he’d given up even his fevered prayers for death, he heard it. Another hallucination, he thought, though the auditory terrors were far rarer than the visual and tactile. He ignored it. It persisted, would not for god’s sake leave him be. He decided — if his ravaged thought processes could still be called ‘deciding’ — that paying attention might convince it to stop. 

A small voice. Whispering. Oh, god, no, not that, don’t be that, don’t give me hope, I killed hope, it’s gone, I don’t want hope, please, hope hurts, don’t give me hope!

But there it was. “Daddy, I love you.”

He wailed, trying to drown that voice with his own sounds.

But there it was. “Daddy, I love you.”

He wept bitterly again, the resurrection of feeling, of emotion yet another weapon of torture.

“Daddy, I love you.”

He denied it. He refused the sounds, the words, the thought; refused them admission.

“Daddy, I love you.”

He had no strength left to fight. He was used up, wrung out. The words played in his head, skipped here and there, until he knew he was thinking them and then after a time, saying them. Out loud. 

And as he said them, he rocked back onto his heels and stood. “Daddy, I love you.”

Terror overtook him and he bellowed. It was gone, his pain was gone. That frightened him more than anything else, more even than the beetles that scuttled from his mouth in the depths of the hallucinated lunacy.

The trouble with terror is that it’s so intense it cannot long be sustained, and when the terror was gone, and the pain was gone, and he lived still, the voice was still there.

“Daddy, I love you.”

“Baby, I love you.” He was shocked to realize that was his own voice, not a repeat, not unison, but a reply, a response. Interaction? Interaction implied Other. The voice implied Other. Could it be that he was not alone after all?

“Daddy, you made me happy.”

Dear god! There was Other. Something, someone besides himself. 

“Baby, I love you. You made me happy, too.”

Sudden searing pain and he was on his knees again, sobbing, twisting, unable to get away. His shoulders, his arms, god, he couldn’t take this, not now, not after everything else, not after hearing her voice. He. Could. Not.

As suddenly as it began, the pain vanished. It didn’t subside; it vanished in an instant. One millisecond there; the next, gone.

And on his quivering biceps, purifying the scars of the proclamation of his shame, “surrexit angelus” — risen angel. He stared, uncomprehending as the manacles fell away and his arms fell to his sides. 

“Surrexit …. I … don’t … how could … why?”

And from the seven directions, the Voice he hadn’t heard for centuries. “Baby, I love you. Come home, my Lucifer.”

He leapt to the sky, crying, “Daddy, I love you!”

 

[image credit unknown. Information appreciated.]

About suzanawylie

Suzana Wylie is the not-very-pseudo pseudonym of Susan Wylie Wilson, because let's face it, there are lots of Susan Wilsons around, and as an author, I want readers to find ME and not the bazillions of others. I've been writing all my life - since I learned to hold a pencil anyway - and can't NOT write. Other people have to breathe to live; I have to write.
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3 Responses to Cado Angelus

  1. Erin O'Quinn says:

    To know there is light is enough.

    Thank you for this bit of heaven.

  2. M. Peters says:

    Oh WOW. I don’t know what I was expecting at the end, but that was not it – and WOW. Lucifer – our Lucifer – has always intrigued me, and your take here has brought that interest back a hundred fold. WOW. Just … WOW. Can even Satan be forgiven? Maybe so.

    Maybe so.

    • suzanawylie says:

      Does he *need* forgiveness? Perhaps all he needs is to be found, loved, shown that he, too, can love. Is that not enough to gain freedom?

      You’ll notice my take on the other side is very different in this one than in To Jefrumael. I’m ambivalent like that, oh yeah.

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