Short Stories, first time in print
The Fallen, a short story by AOA's Young Writer of the Year 2008, Anthony Valpreda, is published here for the first time.
This is the first of 3 parts. Check back next month for part 2!
The Fallen Part I: Archangel
Once, I was like you. Human. Now I am something less, something doomed to walk the Earth for eternity, a phantom in the night. You can call me Zayne. Zayne Archangel, a name I chose for myself when I became what I am. I am tall, muscular, pale, and I have short black hair, with insane and disturbing red eyes.
I was turned to what I am, the very thing I despised, a demon, when I killed a man for trying to kill my one love, a woman named Annabelle Stone, in 1902. She was tall, had long flaxen hair, and baby blue eyes, and a grace that came to her no matter what she did. She was truly a beautiful creature and I was lucky to have her, but she died anyway from her injuries sustained in the attempted rape, and I sold my soul to the devil to gain revenge, when I killed her murderer, the coward who used a gun. Ever since, I have especially despised rapists and gun users. Now, I walk through the years, never changing. I take the souls of the wicked to hell in an effort to gain redemption to see my love again, but I also keep the just and true from over running the underworld. I also put the demons of the underworld back where they belong when they escape and begin reaping havoc on the world. Now in the year 2102, I was chosen to save humanity, to maintain the fragile balance between darkness and light, me, the one thing on this Earth that could walk between the two ethereal realms, and not go to one side or the other. One man as it were, to protect the righteous from the legions of darkness, and the legions from the all pervading light of the just, true, and good, the champion of balancing humanity. To have one, you need the other, so the world wouldn’t be thrown into chaos from an imbalance. One day, I believe it was a Friday, around 3 p.m.; my fight for humanity inauspiciously began.
I was out walking the streets in Los Angeles, just patrolling for anything to deal with, dressed in a black leather jacket, white turtleneck sweater, black jeans, and combat boots, with dull black on shiny obsidian black Flak Jacket type Oakleys with red lenses, to keep my unusual eyes covered. I wasn’t really walking anywhere in particular, sticking to the shadows, not paying attention to my surroundings with my conventional senses, but I was probing with my mind trying to sense evil, when I was passed by a young woman. I didn’t see her face, and I ignored her, until I sensed him. I looked up, my eyes narrowing. I saw a short hulking man standing in a doorway, leering silently after the woman that had just passed him. I sensed the pure evil rolling out of his mind. He started walking after the woman when she turned down an alley. I sighed, and followed him into the dead end alley. I saw the woman, fumbling with her keys, trying to open a door, but the man walked up silently behind her, and grabbed her, causing the keys, and the woman’s purse to drop to the dirty pavement. Seeing this, I pulled out some black leather biker gloves and put them on, as the woman shouted out.
“Hey! Let go of me you dirty creep!” She yelled, before he clapped his hand over her mouth.
“I am gonna have fun with you sweetheart.” He said in a wheezy voice. He hit her in the face, causing her to hit the ground, head first. He started undoing his pants. Just then, I saw the true demon in his body, and knew I had to act now. My knife jumped from its sheath in the small of my back into my hand, seeming of its own accord. I stepped up behind the scum bag and growled low in my chest. This guy turned, his pants unbuttoned, saw me, and pulled out an antique .38 revolver, pointing it at me.
“I can do this without the gun.” I told him in a voice like an arctic night. I didn’t like guns. He started shaking when I took off my glasses, and he got a good look at my eyes. Then he pointed the gun at the woman.
“Stay back or I’ll kill her.” He wheezed, taking up the slack on the trigger. What I did next happened very, very fast. I reversed the grip on my knife so I was holding the blade, and I threw it in perfect form to connect blade side with the demon’s chest, right in to his black heart. He was still alive when I walked over and picked him up effortlessly by the throat. I pulled my knife out of his chest, and cleaned it on his shirt, re-sheathing it. I then stared into his eyes, weighing his sins. A portal to hell opened up on the ground, all fire and brimstone, and I held this demon over it. Hell wraiths, the guardians of this underworld, which looked like nothing more than dense shadows with claws started trying to reach the fresh soul I held just above them. With the reflection of the flames on my face and in my eyes, I looked right into this demons face.
“You shouldn’t have tried to do this.” I said, letting go of his throat. He screamed as he fell, and then screamed again as the hell wraiths ripped him apart. The portal closed after I kicked the gun into it, and I turned to the woman.
“Are you alright M’am?” I asked, taking a knee next to her prostrate form, keeping my hands in view.
“Y-yes. What happened?” She asked, trying to sit up. I helped her to stand before answering.
“I killed the man who attacked you.” I said, donning my Oakleys.
“Thank you.” She said, dazed. She started to fall, but then I caught her, putting my arm around her waist.
“Let’s get you inside.” I murmured softly, scooping the keys and purse off of the pavement and opening the door while supporting her effortlessly. I closed the door behind me, and reached for the light switch next to the door. With the increase in the level of brightness, she looked at me, and I her. I felt as if electric fire was racing over every square millimeter of my skin, and I almost fell from lightheadedness. I was staring into the face of my beloved Annabelle. I seized a small table for support, and gasped one word, as I ripped off my glasses to be sure. It was as if I was looking into my memory. I started hyperventilating.
“Annabelle.” And then I hit the floor, passed out from my lack of oxygen.
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