Meet Lucifer & Michael (part two)

“We manifest as men,” said Michael, “because there has never been a time when it was favourable to manifest as women.”

Ribbet collage

A scene from Moonstruck Consent, book 4 of the not*the*same*river series.

***

I was curled up in my favourite armchair by the empty fireplace in the drawing room, my back to the voices stirring me from sleep. I’d only meant to sit down for five minutes, to wait for Magnus so I could tell him Archer was awake. I hadn’t meant to fall asleep for—I checked my watch—nearly half an hour.

“Have you seen Uriel or Jem lately?” said Michael.

“Not since I came back up,” said Lucifer. “Why?”

“They’re not answering my echoes.”

“You could try going to a Cas—”

“Don’t say it.”

Lucifer sighed. “Jem’s probably just on the road … in deep cover somewhere. You know he never stops. And Uriel …” Apparently, Lucifer didn’t know what to say about Uriel because he was silent for a long time. I peeked around the side of the chair. Eventually, he laughed then said, “He enjoys his gallivanting lifestyle, making friends and influencing people. Gabriel’s probably got him hunting down some lost species of fur or something. Like he did with Raph. He’d just brought up a huge haul of weapons the last time I spoke to him.”

“Up?” said Michael, voice laced with panic.

“Jesus, Michael. The Pacific, not Hell.”

“The last time I saw Uriel, he was dining with Astaroth.” Michael screwed up his nose. “By candlelight.”

Lucifer’s eyes widened, and he sputtered out a laugh. “You don’t think …” Michael shrugged, and Lucifer continued. “That’s ridiculous. You know how Astaroth can’t keep physical state. They’d probably fall asleep before …” Lucifer shuddered.

Michael had a faraway look in his eyes. “But Astaroth is so … persuasive.”

Lucifer smirked. “Something to share?”

“What? No. Well … no. Just worried about Uriel.”

“He can take care of himself. So can Jem.”

Michael hummed then said, “If they haven’t responded by next week, I’ll check Hell. To be on the safe side.”

“We could just summon Astaroth. Find out what’s going on.”

Michael shook his head. “It’s not time.”

“Ah, yes. A time for everything. I wish we’d never laid eyes on that book.”

“Truth is truth,” said Michael.

***

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Meet Lucifer & Michael (part one)

On religious paintings …

Lucifer: At least I’m wearing some clothes in this one.

Michael: Alas, I’m still dressed as a ballerina.

whitelucifer

A scene from Roots and Wings, book 2 of the not*the*same*river series.

***

“I thought you had horns,” said Ezra.

Lucifer looked at him, presumably assessing whether it was a serious observation. “I’m not a goat.”

“There have been sightings of you, though,” said Ben. “The New Jersey Devil, for instance.”

“Probably just a goat,” said Lucifer.

“Aren’t you eating?” I said. “Don’t you get hungry?”

His eyes widened in surprise, then crinkled at the edges when he smiled cautiously, like he wasn’t sure if he was operating his facial muscles correctly. His eyes were gold-flecked, but mostly a mossy green. If he’d been anyone else, I wouldn’t have seen the other things that lurked behind them. Lucifer wore the world’s pain in his eyes, and he let me see it.

“Actually, I’m famished, but … er,” he leaned towards me and said in a stage whisper, “have you got any Weetabix?”

“Our goats like Weetabix,” said Ezra.

I kicked him under the table, then went to get Lucifer’s cereal. It was a bit awkward with one hand. I realised how useless my left hand was. My right hand made art, my left hand made crumbs. I frowned at the state of the sideboard. I plonked the bowl of Weetabix in front of Lucifer and sat back down. I knew he wasn’t actually the devil, but it was funny how Lucifer could get in our house, when other less dangerous beings couldn’t.

“Do you ever get any visitors, Luce?” said Michael.

“I’ve been told my demeanour doesn’t inspire visitors,” he said.

“You must get bored,” said Ezra.

“Not really. People annoy me,” he said pointedly. “Actually, I did have a visitor once. The one with the funny name.”

“That really doesn’t narrow it down,” said Michael, looking at Lucifer from beneath arched eyebrows.

“He played the trumpet.”

“Malachi? Haniel? Cassiel? Fenix? Pheron? Saraph?” said Michael, shoving bacon into his face with his fingers.

Lucifer snorted. “Are they even real people? Anyway, didn’t Saraph play the lute?”

“Oh yes, he did. God, he was annoying.”

“Still, that lute kept the fire going for an extra five minutes,” said Lucifer.

“It did, indeed.” Michael laughed. “To tell the truth, I don’t remember anyone who played the trumpet.”

“Perhaps played is a bit strong,” said Lucifer, scooping his cereal onto the spoon. “He made a dreadful noise with it. Well, whoever it was, he came to see me once. Reminded me why I don’t like visitors.”

“I see what you mean about Michael,” I whispered to Eden.

“I knew that you would,” she said.

“I need to paint him.”

She laughed. “Good luck getting him to agree to that.”

Michael’s tongue came out to lick his fingers, his face smothered in meat grease.

I laughed. “I mean, he has the table manners of Henry the eighth but …”

“What about him?” said Amethyst.

“That he’s magnificent,” I whispered, faking a swoon.

Amethyst rose her eyebrows, looked at Michael, then said “Hmm.”

“Did you ditch those shares, Grandad?” said Archer.

Michael scowled. “I wish you wouldn’t call me that.”

Archer shrugged. “Did you?”

“Of course. Back in May, when you told me to. Right on time too.”

“But didn’t you tell Magnus you were at the AGM?” said Eden.

“So, I lied.”

“What were you doing?” said Eden.

Michael ignored this. “I hated those meetings,” he said instead, a disdainful look crossing his greasy face. “Why do they need to get their ducks in a row? They don’t even sell ducks. They should get their quinoa salads in a row, or their admittedly very comfortable underwear. The only thing worse than the AGM is school staff meetings. Yawn.”

“The only thing?” said Lucifer, mouth twisted into a smirk.

Michael pointed his barely used fork at Lucifer. “You’re right. Cascade meetings are the worst. But at least when Raguel says we’re singing from the same hymn sheet, we actually are.”

“Oh god, really?” said Lucifer. “He still does the hymns?”

“He thinks Azrael can hear him,” said Michael. “And God.”

“He sings to God?” said Eden.

“Oh no,” said Michael. “He sings at God.”

“What’s Cascade?” I said.

Michael looked at Eden, who said nothing. “I’ll tell you when you’re older.”

***

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No Good Comes: Theo meets the body snatcher

He ignored the face one, picking up the nude. “Oh my god, is that what my knob looks like when I’m dead?”

litdiedcoll

This is a first draft partial scene (currently scene 18)  from No Good Comes. Stephen King is now Theodore Eidolon. Erin’s POV.

***

“It’s Saturday, for god’s sake. Don’t you people have homes to go to?” I said, glaring at a kid called Sam, the closest thing Cascade had to an intern.

He looked at his shoes and I felt like a wanker.

“Ignore her,” said Theo. “I’ll make her bring you an Easter egg next week.”

“I’m allergic to chocolate,” said Sam, shoving his fists into the pockets of his too-big trousers.

Theo stopped following, which meant I either had to stop and loiter, which would make me look weak as fuck, or stalk off like a diva, which was much more my style. Even the office-blue carpet tiles didn’t do much to dull the thud of my heels.

“What sort of life do you have when you’re allergic to chocolate?” said Theo. “You must feel so empty.”

Sam shrugged. “Not really. I make up for it by eating all the pistachios.”

“Leaving aside the obvious disparity between the tastiness of chocolate and the tastiness or lack thereof of pistachios, I acknowledge your preference. I’ll make sure she brings you a bucketful.”

I leant against the wall next to the lift, arms folded.

Sam grinned. “Roasted and unsalted.”

“Noted,” said Theo, his tone the most imperious I’d heard yet. He strode towards the lift, standing quietly next to me while we waited the few seconds it took for the doors to open. When we got inside and turned round, everyone was still watching us. Theo shouted, “Good work, people. Carry on.”

Once the doors were closed, we burst out laughing.

“Oh, my god, who are you, Teddy?”

“I’ve always wanted to be that guy,” he said. “I mean, not forever. Just every now and again, I want to channel my inner insufferable wanker in a room full of strangers.”

“In that case,” I said, “mission accomplished.”

Theo looked at the illuminated circle on the panel and said, “What’s in the basement?”

I grinned and said, “The sewing room.”

“Which is what?”

I leant against the wall. “It’s where the bodies are made.”

“You’re being deliberately obstructive.”

The lift stopped, and we stepped into a grey, wipe-clean corridor.

“You’re about to meet the infamous body snatcher.”

Theo made a very girly noise, then followed my lead, squeezing a dollop of hand gel into his hands and rubbing them clean. We backed through the swing door, then turned to face the room.

Jesus, the undertakers were in.

“Entertaining?” I said, when Ophelia looked up.

She glanced at the three men sitting around the table, in their sombre braces with their shirt sleeves rolled up, like she’d forgotten they were there. Sharpy was doing a crossword on a tablet. He grinned a creepy undertaker grin because that’s what he did. He took pride in looking like Lurch. Baz and Eddie looked like normal people who didn’t hang around dead bodies all day, even though they did. They were playing rummy and drinking tea.

Ophelia said, “This him then?”

Theo waved, and Ophelia grinned.

“We were just off, Nixon,” said Eddie, winking at me on his way to the door.

The other two followed. Baz winked at Theo who smiled adorably. Sharpy lurched out of the room.

“What’s behind the curtain?” whispered Theo, nodding at the curtained off area to the left of Ophelia’s desk.

“Dead things,” I whispered back, wriggling my fingers at him.

“So this is the body snatcher?” said Theo.

I prayed that he wouldn’t mention her height. Ophelia hated being smaller than her dad, who, believing with his whole heart that there was nothing worse than a person who was both big and loud, overcompensated for his noise by making himself short. Deliberately. This was a travesty as far as Phee was concerned. She also looked more like her dad than any of her other siblings and felt some degree of luck at having escaped the big, bushy beard.

Ophelia’s hands went to her hips, and her eyebrows shot up while she waited for my excuse.

“He saw your name come up on words with friends,” I said.

I saw the moment the light came on in her eyes. “Tell me, Erin, what does piragua mean?”

What was she talking about? I didn’t even remember that one.

Theo said, “It’s a type of boat.”

Ophelia had this gleeful look in her eyes. She clapped her hands and something gross flew off. Theo and I jumped back.

She rolled her eyes and said, “It’s synthetic. I knew it though. I knew you were cheating somehow.”

“She wasn’t cheating,” said Theo. “I just butted in and—”

“It wasn’t him,” I said. “He was only brought up yesterday.”

“He said he butted in,” said Ophelia.

Theo looked at me in a please-dig-me-out-of-this-hole way.

“You don’t have to know what a word means to play scrabble,” I said. “I have no idea what io is, or zax, or qi. Seriously, nobody knows what those words mean.”

Ophelia squinted at me, then sighed. “I suppose I can let you win once.”

“Twice,” I said.

“Twice,” she allowed. “So, what are you guys doing down here?”

“He wanted to meet you,” I said.

“Did you make dead me?” said Theo.

Ophelia bounced on her toes. “Yep.”

“Do you have a photo of the me you made?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact.” She made a grimacy-frown face. “Did you want to see it?”

Theo narrowed his eyes. “Do I want to see it?”

She shrugged. “It’s not particularly gory. We use make-up on the bruises anyway, so we don’t bother with those. Makes no sense painting on bruises just to cover them up again.”

“Okay, then,” said Theo.

We followed Ophelia to her desk, and Theo jumped when he looked at the area behind the curtain where a dead-not-dead body was laid out on one table, and a real dead body, covered on three sides with a portable freezer cabinet that billowed puffs of cold air, was laid out on another.

Ophelia rummaged in a filing cabinet, then slapped two huge photos on the desk. One was of Theo’s face, eyes closed. The other was of his naked body.

He ignored the face one, picking up the nude. “Oh my god, is that what my knob looks like when I’m dead?”

Ophelia managed, “I can’t—” before she snorted out a laugh, reaching for a tissue to catch whatever flob she was dribbling while she died laughing.

“It looks like a pig in a blanket,” he said.

Ophelia continued to snort-laugh, while Theo continued to examine his dead penis.

“She did a great job with your hair,” I said, picking up the other photo. “And the break in your nose, look.”

He nodded. “So, did someone else do … I mean did you make the whole thing?”

“No,” said Ophelia, biting her lip until it bled. “I got a man to come in to do your cock and balls.”

“Really?” said Theo.

“No, you dipshit.” Then she was off again.

“She doesn’t get out much,” I said.

“So, are you going tomorrow?” she said, when she’d finally stopped behaving like a five-year-old who’d just heard bum on the telly.

“Why does everyone keep asking me that? I always go.”

“Because Joey’s going to be there,” said Ophelia.

“Oooh, who’s Joey?” said Theo.

“My—” How did I even explain who Joey was? He was everything to me when we were kids. He was the gay one. I was the fat one. We loved the same films and music and art. Then he hit twenty-one, and twenty-two, and thirty, and forty. He’d be fifty in a month’s time. I was still twenty. I wasn’t sure which of us was more resentful.

“Her best friend,” said Ophelia.

“We had an argument,” I said, which was the understatement of the century. I’d barely seen him in the flesh in six years.

We used to be the kind of friends who laughed hard and often, so in tune with each other, with identical senses of humour. People would watch us, see our dynamic, be envious of it. He’d lived so much life without me now that our dynamic had shifted. We both felt it, and others looked at us like they could see the pathetic sparks failing to catch alight. Nobody could see what we had in common anymore, they wondered why we hung out together. Maybe it was paranoia, I don’t know. But we argued about it a lot.

Sometimes, I felt like I should let him go and he clung to me. Sometimes, he wanted to let me go and I sunk my claws in deeper. The tug-of-war had been going on for something close to twenty years now and it was getting harder to hang on.

“Tell me you’re not dressing up,” said Ophelia.

“Yeah, I’m not.”

“Good, because we don’t need any terrified kids. Halloween was bad enough.”

“Yeah, but it was Halloween,” I said. “You’re supposed to look creepy at Halloween. None of this American shit with dressing up like a cupcake or fairy.”

“Unless it’s the cupcake of doom,” said Theo. “Or the fairy of unfiltered gore.”

Ophelia said, “You had live snakes in your hair.”

“I didn’t have live snakes in my hair, they just looked alive. And I was Medusa.”

***

Meet Caleb Morrigan

“Who the hell are you?”

The Irish voice came from behind us, and we all spun to see the dark-haired guy standing outside the kitchen doorway in his boxers, t-shirt and socks. He had a box of rice krispies in one hand and an upturned beer bottle like it was a weapon in the other.

calebfriwrite

A mixture of quotes and partial scenes from books 3-6.

Caleb is a bi vampire with unsettling food habits and a reputation for seducing nuns.

From Sean’s diary …

After so many years of carrying my mother’s wish that I find my family, there he was, Caleb Morrigan. I didn’t even need to check that we were related, I just knew. I found myself in his face before I even knew his name. He was a festering pile of bones, well beyond redemption by ordinary means, and halfway to death if the way he looked at me was any indication. He looked at me the way my mother had, like he saw right into my soul and found it warring with itself. To see someone look at me with such pity when their own innards were a spit away from spilling was sobering. I filled the poor lad with brandy, took out all the metal I could, bit and fed him, then strapped him to the bed and hoped for the best.
***

Ten minutes later, Caleb was in the kitchen, lured by the smell of bacon and eggs.

“I haven’t felt this bad since …” Caleb’s face scrunched up while he tried to remember. “It’s a toss-up between that night with Moonie when I broke my arm falling out of a window, and the time I ended up stuck on a tour bus with that weird Swedish band and their fish vodka.”

I was dishing up Caleb’s food when I heard Albert sing, and I froze because it was so unexpected.

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’m miserable now.

“Oh, shut it,” said Caleb, groaning into his hands.

Albert didn’t shut it. I put a plate in front of Caleb and ruffled his hair.

“Ah, you can’t faze me now,” said Caleb. “I have bacon.”
***

“Give it here, you horrible shit-witch.”
***

“You haven’t lived if you can’t own up to watching a human stag wake up in the woods with frilly knickers wrapped around his antlers.”
***

“That boy’s charms swept through my convent like typhoid.” —Sister Carlotta on Caleb Morrigan.

From Sean’s diary …

He managed to give four of the nuns in the room the idea that they were the object of his desire, and by the time I picked him up, having been held captive by somewhat curious nuns for eight hours, he had another four convinced, all of them set aflutter by a sweet-talking Irishman. And as if that wasn’t enough, half of BOSS would have thrown itself at his feet if Albert hadn’t been there to calm them all down. As it was, three of them were ruined when they threw themselves at him, and even Albert couldn’t stop the last one chasing us down the road.
***

“And were you going to walk into the village,” said Caleb, pointing to the pinwheels in Leia’s hair, “or simply project yourself as a hologram from a small droid?”
***

“I’d rather wipe my arse with a brillo pad than sit through another biblical epic.”
***

“Why is my tongue too big for my mouth? I think … have I been poisoned again? My tongue’s too big.”
***

“Drunk and stupid,” said Caleb, grinning at Albert. He lurched to his feet, swayed, then sat down again. “You look funny,” he said, pointing at Albert. “And you. And you. And you. And you.” He pointed at Daniel and Rhiannon and two entirely invisible people.
***

Caleb spun around, his arm outstretched, cucumber in hand. “En garde.
***

“Love is a cage.”
***

“I didn’t seduce your wife,” said Caleb, with a sigh. “She wouldn’t let me.”
***

“I won’t make excuses for myself. I’ve always been an arsehole.”
***

“That’s what I do, angel. Everyone knows I’m filth. I drink and I lust.”
***

“I beg to differ,” said Caleb, lifting a bottle to his lips. “Whiskey is the perfect solution.”
***

“It was the things I saw. I never knew blood came in so many colours. Or that I’d ever see a man’s face charred black like coal. Or that I’d see my own intestines.”
***

“I didn’t encourage her on purpose. She caught me looking at her mouth. How was I supposed to not look at her mouth? She looks like she’s been snogging a tub of lard.”
***

“I’m not a bloody vampire.” Kite jerked a thumb at a laughing Caleb. “He is.”

“No way,” said Noah. “He’s too … laddish.”

“I’m offended,” said Caleb.

“He’s so … so harmless.”

“Still offended,” said Caleb, his face drawing into a frown.

“Is he … some kind of pet?”

“Jesus Christ, Noah,” said Caleb. “I’m going right off you.”

“Sorry, I just don’t understand why anyone would invite a vampire into their house. If you really are a vampire.”

“You want proof?”

Noah nodded, then watched as Caleb clamped down on his own wrist, fangs lengthening and stabbing into his flesh. Blood seeped from the holes, tracking its way around Caleb’s wrist before he pulled his mouth away. Caleb licked up the blood and held out his rapidly healing wrist for Noah’s inspection.

“It could be a trick,” said Noah, leaning away from Caleb.

“I could try it on your wrist.”
***

“God, no. Don’t tell Leia,” said Caleb. “You do that, and I nominate you to sew my balls back on.”
***

“What good ever came of creeping about in underground tunnels?” muttered Caleb. “I’ll tell you what kind of good. None kind of good.”
***

“I’m no fecking angel,” said Caleb, as the ancient nun came into view. “Jesus, she’s got more wrinkles than my—”
***

“Just before you pulled me into the water,” he said, gasping, “someone shot me in the arse.”
***

“If we don’t hurry up, someone’s gonna need to amputate my arse.”
***

“If you laugh at me, woman, I will haunt you.”
***

“You know what we need?” said Caleb. “A good night out.”

“I’m not going river-dancing with you.”

“You couldn’t keep up, angel. I was thinking bingo might be more your speed.”

“Bingo?” I laughed. “Maybe I could do with a night out. I’ll see if there’s a decent band at the Rabbit Hole this weekend.”

“There you go.”

“I could invite Sister Josephine,” I said. “She knows how to party.”

“Oh god, no.”

“But you love nuns.”

“That is a gross exaggeration,” he said, turning me around to face him. “Don’t forget to invite your favourite Irishman.”

I gasped. “Jedward are in England?”

“Gobshite.”
***

It was a week before I got out of bed, and that was only because Caleb dragged me out and threw me into the shower in my pyjamas.

“In two days, it’s my birthday. And if you think I’m celebrating while my favourite person is wallowing in her pit like some kind of grieving hippo, you’re sorely mistaken. We,” he pointed between the two of us while the hot water thundered onto my head, “are going to the Rabbit Hole, just like you said. We’re going to get rat-arsed. Well, you are. I’m being a good boy. And we’re going to river-dance, and behave in appropriately inappropriate ways, because it’s not every day a man turns ninety-nine.”

“Ninety-nine?” I said, leaning out of the shower to grab my toothbrush. “You’re ninety-nine?”

“Yes,” he said proudly.

“That’s adorable,” I said, through my foamy mouth.

“That’s disgusting,” said Caleb, when I spat toothpaste down the shower drain.

“Says the butt-scratching king of Ballycastle.”

“And how is ninety-nine adorable?”

“Because everyone else around here is ancient. You’re practically a child.”

“A child? Oh, you’re a cheeky mare. And here I was feeling bad for you.”

“I don’t need your pity,” I said, dropping my sopping wet pyjama bottoms to the floor. “I’m free as a bird.”

“I’ll leave you to it then,” he said. “Before you get any more naked.”

I pulled his head into the shower, giving him a big smooch on the cheek. “Thanks, nun-botherer.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, shaking his head and flicking water everywhere. Then he shouted, “cow” at me as he left the bathroom.
***

“I can’t open my eyes.” Caleb’s voice was barely a whisper. “And I really want to because it’s redder than Hell’s ring-piece behind my eyelids. And twice as puffy.”

***

If you want to read more about Violet’s favourite Irishman, a first draft scene from book 5 featuring Caleb can be found here.