The First Sin
By Lisa Beth Darling
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
While she was gone I looked through every nook and cranny I could find. I looked at the books she reads, the movies she watches, and the music she listens to. I snooped through an open pile of mail that showed me nothing remarkable. I opened the medicine cabinet and found more bottles of the painkillers she offers me a few times a day. There were tubes of toothpaste and brushes still in their packaging. That was it. No aspirin. No cold medicine. If I’d been wiser about this world I might have known something was a bit off about Evie. The linen closet offer me clean towels and sheets along with a wide array of soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, scented bath oils and salts, along with a wicker basket full of incense and candles.
Evie’s bedroom offered up little of interest. There was nothing under the bed but dust. In the nightstand drawers I did find a good sized dildo and bottles of lubricating oil. I also found more candles and more incense in one drawer and boxes of what looked to me like fancy chocolates. The bureau held drawers of shirts, night shirts, and underwear most of which were of the comfortable variety and not, unfortunately, of the hot and sexy variety. Beneath the unmentionables my hands were deep in I felt something hard and rectangular. Carefully I pulled out a book. Upon opening it I saw was a book of photographs under which the same neat handwriting appeared listing a description of the picture. The first of which appeared very old as it stared back at me in a faded brown glare. It was a woman dressed in a high ruffled collar with a black velvet choker keeping it secured around her slender neck the broach in the middle was ornate with its scrolling oval trim surrounding a large white stone etched in black with the very detailed image of an apple tree. It was the face that captured my attention the hardest as I ran the flat of hand over its smooth surface and muttered aloud; “Evie.” Those eyes were unmistakable. It was most assuredly her with long hair piled atop of her head in a very neat bun. Her face slightly turned away from the camera showing few lines than what it carried today. Why shouldn’t they? She was just about two hundred years younger when this picture was taken. Almost as though something knew I would want more verification, below the photograph in very neat script was written; Evie, 1839 Topeka, Kansas. I was baffled as I again spoke to myself, “If she’s Immortal why is she aging?”
Of course no one answered me so I flipped the rest of the book which told the story of at least parts of her life from 1839 to present. In that time she’d lived all over the world there were pictures labeled as having been taken across the United States, in France where she seemed to like the small towns on the outskirts of Paris, in England where she had taken to Wales, in Germany where it seemed the towns outlying Dusseldorf was where she called home, Spain, Greece, Brazil, Peru, Australia, and even Persia were kept safe within the bound pages of her memoirs.
Reaching the end, I put the book back exactly the way I found it and closed the drawer. Upon my exit I did my best to leave her bedroom just as ajar as I had found it. As I made my way down the hall toward the rear door of the cabin I began wondering just who my hostess was and, possibly worse yet, if she already recognized me. Perhaps this little slice of desert paradise was nothing more than a trap set by my Dear Old Dad Himself as He ejected me from Hell. He always did things for a reason—as twisted and possibly fucked up as it usually was—so there had to be an explanation as to why He’d sent me here to this exact place.
I continued stumbling my way around Evie’s cozy little home when I realized that gnawing feeling in my gut had returned. I was hungry and I had no idea of how to cook anything for myself. I opened her refrigerator to find it full of fresh vegetables, eggs, tubs of butter, and large bottles of iced tea. The freezer was equally full of carefully wrapped and labeled meats; hamburger, chicken, pork chops, steak, and rounder heavier packages marked pot roast. There were large plastic bags laid flat marked; spaghetti sauce, chicken soup, vegetable stock, and so on. The pantry contained a wide array of glass jars containing a variety of home canned vegetables, fruits, and jellies alongside similar foods with colorful labels that I imagined she’d purchased in a store somewhere—perhaps the All-In-One. Most of those were something called salad dressing and peanut butter with a few bottles of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Another shelf contained boxes of dry goods; pastas, rice, bags of flour and sugar and large cans of coffee mainly. For one woman this seemed like a lot of food.
“If I didn’t know better I’d think she was expecting a hard winter,” I mumbled to myself. My stomach grumbled again. Being confused by all of food laid before me and how to prepare it, I went back to the refrigerator and grabbed a ripe red apple. Tossing it up and down a bit, I smiled to myself, “Hello, old friend.” I took a bite of its juicy sweetness. Before I knew it I’d eaten four of them. My stomach settled down and I tossed the cores into her trash bin.
Having gone through every room in the small house I was about to sit down again when I heard a strange sound.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
I looked up, I looked down, I looked left and I looked right. The sound grew louder.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
I discerned it was coming from the left and somewhere behind me so I took a few steps in that direction. That’s when I realized there was a second door to Evie’s house. Standing there I looked through glass that had a strange wave pattern to it making it so that I couldn’t clearly see through it. I did see the outline of someone standing on the other side. He spoke in a tone ringing of authority.
“When someone knocks on the door you open it, Lucifer.”
I didn’t want to open the door as I had the distinct feeling there was something horrible on the other side. It made skin crawl, turn cold, and erupt in those prickly bumps again. “No, whoever you are, you’ll have to come back later. Evie’s not here.”
“I’m not here to see Evie, Brother.”
Before I knew it, without the door opening, the man on the other side walked right through it. He was tall like me, had dark hair like me but his was longer and starting to gray. There were lines on his otherwise handsome face as he stood there in a long brown coat, faded blue jeans, and well-worn boots. He leaned rather heavily on a gnarled wooded staff as he gazed me and sighed.
“I’m here to see you, Luce.”
With dread, I stepped back from him as I felt my eyes grow wide, “Raphael, long time no see, Brother. What are you doing here?”
The Archangel of Mercy and Healing bridged the distance between us. He stopped for a second to gaze me looking me up and down in one quick glance before he sneered and walked past of me to the open living room. There he stood in the middle of the room with suspicion glaring in his green eyes. “That’s what I was going to ask you. What in the Name of Our Father are you doing out of Hell?”
Getting my back up a bit I challenged lightly, “I could ask you nearly the same, Brother. Why aren’t you in the Silver City?” It was clear from his question that my first instinct upon seeing him again after so many millennia was wrong; Our Father didn’t send Raphael here. No, he was already here. But for how long and why? These were the thing I wanted to ask him but his nose crinkled as though the stench of something rotten was invading it, even the expression on his weathered face soured as he gauged me closely.
“Mortal, it’s true, you are Mortal. At least for now.” Raphael shook his head and snorted. “What did you do this time to piss Him off?”
My head was starting to throb and I didn’t want to answer his question so, instead, I asked him another, “What do you mean ‘for now’?” Deep in what most people assume is a cold black heart I already knew the answer but I needed confirmation. Who better to get it from than Raphael?
“Not even God can strip you of your Immortality forever. He can’t take away what is inherent in you.” Raphael wandered over to the couch and sat down. “It’s only temporary. Now, what did you do and why did He send you here?”
Admitting the truth was not a problem especially, I reasoned, if it got me on to other things. “I got booted out Hell. I corrupted the place so much that Dad threw me out.”
“Of course I did it on purpose, I was sick of being in that…that…that Hell Hole.” Raphael didn’t flinch he just sat there staring at me with a disapproving frown. My hip started hurting again so I settled my body down into the easy chair across from him. “Next thing I knew I was here and being run over by a truck.” I pointed at my Brother, “Your turn. Why are you here? How long have you been here? And, oh yes, by the way, where exactly is here? It’s starting to look like a very strange place from my perspective.” To my surprise and confusion, Raphael smiled then he began to chuckle so hard it turned into full laughter. Before I knew it his face was red as he wiped tears away from his eyes. “What is so funny?”
“Aw, Luce, you crack me up. You always did.” Wiping the last of the tears from his eyes his body settled down as he turned serious once again. “You have to leave, you can’t stay here, you understand?”
“That’s a fine how-do-you-do,” I scoffed and raised my broken wing to him, “In case you didn’t hear me, I was hit by a truck, mowed down in the middle of the street like a rodent. I can’t go anywhere right now. Not that I am not looking very forward to the day I can. I didn’t work that hard to get ejected from Hell just so I could hang around this boring place.”
Raphael sat back on the plush couch knowing the truth was always in his Brother’s eyes and there it was. But that didn’t make the situation any less dangerous. “You have to leave.”
“I got that part already, thank-you-very-much. If you don’t tell me what’s going on here I’m going to get very angry and….”
“And what?” Raphael dared. “You’re Mortal and you’re wounded. I left the Silver City on my own with all my Powers intact, so what are you going to do, Brother? Throw a little temper tantrum? Scream? Cry? Kick your feet?” Swiping a hand down his face he shook his head and muttered, “This is a nightmare.”
My Angel Blood started to steam, I didn’t like the fact that Raph was right and I was basically at his mercy if he decided to keep information from me. There wouldn’t be a damn thing I could do about it in my current condition. So I snapped at him, “Yeah, well, it’s not exactly what I had in mind either. Start talking.”
I don’t know how long it took Raphael to spin his tale but I do know that, had I been standing, by the end of it I would have been reeling on my feet. Like me, Raphael had a fight with Dear Old Dad. A big one. Raphael was tired of looking down on the Earth and seeing so much sickness, so much suffering, he implored Dad to let him end it. When Dad disagreed for the thousandth time, Raphael had enough. Without the Grace of Dad, Raphael couldn’t blanket the world with healing but he knew that if he came down here he could help ease the suffering. So he left the Silver City, by his count, some five hundred years before my sudden arrival. During that time he carried out his mission from continent to continent healing and comforting the sick until he happened upon Grey Village roughly a hundred years ago.
“It’s a good place, a peaceful place, one that doesn’t deserve to be destroyed. That’s why Father sent you here, isn’t it?” He shook his head again.
“No,” I whispered, “I don’t think so, I don’t know why He sent me here, I still don’t even really know where here is except some dusty bit of nothingness in the middle of nowhere.”
Raphael continued shaking his dark head as he clasped his sun withered hands together, “I want to believe you.”
“I’m the Devil, remember?” I spat. “I never lie and you can’t lie to me. Father will never be able to take that away. What is this place?”
With a sigh he shook his head for the last time and spoke slowly, “An Oasis. The Land of the Lost is what she calls it.” His worried face broke out into a grin as he sad eyes sparkled a moment, “Some other calls it The Land that Time Forgot. Either way, I guess it’s true. If you’re here it means our worst fears are coming true; Father knows about this place, He knows they’re here.” Rubbing his chin his lips turned tight and his stare grew far less amused, “You know He was never good at sharing His toys.”
I remembered Evie saying that Grey Village was populated by people the world no longer wanted. The blood in my veins that had steamed turned suddenly cold, “Who is here? What is here?”
Raphael slowly uttered a small list of names; Diana, Cerdwin, Apollo, Ares, Shiva and Thor. Then he went on to say there were Nymphs and Fae living in the town alongside all manner of Lesser Celestial Beings who were eventually driven to near extinction by their more powerful Brother. “There’s more like them out there, some hiding, some in places of power with riches so decadent it ruffles my wings.”
I admit the whole idea of this magickal little village in the middle of nowhere was sounding more and more intriguing but still, “I have no intentions of disrupting your quaint little family. All I want is to get better and leave here.” Hoping to gain a bit of his trust I raised my good hand and uttered the words Humans considered important, “I swear. I have no idea why Dad sent me here and I’ve made no deals with anyone. I didn’t even know this place existed until I finally made it out of Hell.”
“Yeah, it’s not like it ranks right up there with Las Vegas, LA, New York, or Paris, right?”
“Definitely not,” I assured and lowered my hand. “I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t want any part of it.”
Nodding his head and almost smiling, Raphael rose to his feet, “In a few days I’ll come by with some money—enough to get you off to a really good start—and all the papers you’ll need, I’ll get you some credit cards, try make up a backstory for you.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
The almost smile turned into a fully grin, “You’ve spent all these millennia punishing their souls but you know about their ways and customs. I’ll give you a crash course, how about you move out of here and into my house?”
The idea was perfectly reasonable and yet I balked. “I’m comfortable here.” I looked deep into his eyes and saw the concern for Evie he tried to mask. “I’m not here to harm anyone. Evie is perfectly safe with me besides she seems to like my company.” I stopped short almost as though I’d tripped over my own words; if Raph was here and all of those other magickal creatures were here, “Who’s Evie?” I muttered. “Does she know who I am?”
Raphael began the short trek to the back door, “If you haven’t recognized her and if she hasn’t told you then maybe its best if you leave here without knowing.” He stopped for a moment and glanced at me over his shoulder, “But if that’s the case this has got to be the best and weirdest joke Dad has ever played. We both know how much He likes His little jokes.” Without waiting for a reply he turned away and again and resumed the walk to the door with the reassurance, “I’ll be back with everything you need to start your new Earthly life and then you’ll be on your way.” He opened the door and let himself out without closing it.
Normally I would have just slammed the door with the powers in my mind but being temporarily Mortal I had to haul myself up from the chair and do it manually. I was going to shout something witty and arrogant at Raphael as I saw the last of his shadow walk out of my sight before I gave the door a good hard shove. However, my attention was drawn to something different, something completely unexpected and right before eyes.
With its brilliant show of green, yellow, red, pink, purple, and more the garden stood in stark contrast to the desert that surrounded it. There were vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers including two very old apple trees under which sat a white wrought iron bench just waiting for someone to come along and enjoy their shade. Just as I began to wonder how such an Eden was made possible in the middle of the wasteland I saw the border surrounding it. A wall nearly three feet high and filled with rich soil that Evie had to have trucked in from somewhere. I didn’t imagine such a grand endeavor as this one came cheaply. In the middle of the garden stood an impressive water fountain where Atlas held up the World. From its base stretched marble pathways lazily winding their way around the lush tranquility.
I found myself whispering it aloud, “Eden.” Like a thunderbolt from Zeus the truth struck me dead in the heart, “Eve.” That was what Raphael was trying so hard not to tell me. I couldn’t help but think of how right Raph was; Dad always did have the wickedest sense of humor. “Eve.” I deduced that after my graceless descent into Hell, she’d been cursed by Dead Old Dad Himself. He damned her to walk the earth for eternity in shame. In an ironic twist, no matter what He did, Eve The Mother of Humanity stayed true to herself and her graceful benevolent nature. My eyes turned upward to the blue sky as I muttered, “You bastard.”
Back inside, I went straight to the bathroom and for two of those lovely pills which I knocked down my throat dry. Then I went into my bedroom trying to get my temper under control before I trashed Eve’s nice little house. With both fists clenched tight, I paced around as I thought out my situation. Raphael was right to be worried about my presence because it did mean that Dear Old Dad knew of theirs. Dad was never one to share the spotlight. Did He intend to barter with me; my Immortality in exchange for destroying this little hamlet of tranquility? It could be it although, if it came to it, I would have thought that He’d strike a bargain with Michael or even Gabriel. It was my place to punish the guilty not to kill the innocent.
But Eve, poor sweet Eve, Dad hated her with the burning passion of a thousand suns. In His eyes she was guilty of the most egregious sin, the first sin ever committed, and that was something He would never forgive. When she finally died she would go straight to Hell. If I hadn’t left Hell then I would be the one forced into punishing her unjustly. Or maybe not. In Hell, I held the power to forgive souls if I found them to be unjustly damned, I could go even against God Himself and override His decision thereby allowing that soul into the Silver City. Surely, for her I would have done exactly that.
Dad knew it.
Now, I wasn’t in Hell.
I was here. I was just another Mortal man wandering around with six billion others. Maybe that was the catch; while I was Mortal it would be easier for Dear Old Dad to control me, to whisper in my ear, and to set me up to do what He wanted. He would use my own weaknesses against me such as my short temper and the unexpected feeling of jealousy that was starting to pervade my being.
“You crafty Old Bastard, I won’t do it, do You hear me? I won’t do it. No matter what You say. No matter what You do. No matter what You offer me, I will not hurt her.” Almost as if in answer to my rant the floor beneath me and the walls around me shook violently for a moment. Just as I was about to shout out again that’s when I heard her voice.
“Sorry, sorry about that, the wind caught the door.”
“Don’t test me on this one Father because You will lose.” Gathering my composure I walked out of the room to meet her.
“Did I wake you? You look a little dazed.”
It was hard to get my mouth moving at first as I stared at her plainly seeing her for the first time since my arrival and wondering how I could not have recognized her. “No, I was awake.” I struggled with what to say next but she began pulling clothes out of a big white bag and handing them to me as she told me to try them on as best I could. My hands brushed over hers and time stood still as it done so many many years before. I knew that no matter what, I didn’t want to play this game so I whispered her name, “Eve?”
She gave me a sad smile as she gazed deep into my eyes and saw the truth, “Hello, Lucifer. It’s been a while. So long that I was hoping you wouldn’t recognize me.”
“I almost didn’t,” I confessed watching the sadness grow in her eyes. The last time I laid eyes on her she was still a woman in the prime of her youth and beauty now those things had faded and in their place were wisdom and elegance. “Don’t worry I’m not here to hurt you. I would never do that to you.”
In return she whispered, “Just seeing you again hurts,” as she let go of my hands.
I felt another emotion that had always been foreign to me; shame and for the first time in eons I was utterly speechless. All I could do was take the clothes from her and go back to my room. In there, my head spun, my heart sunk, and my hands still tingled with the touch of hers.
END CHAPTER TWO of THE FIRST SIN by LISA BETH DARLING-ALL RIGHTS RESERVED